Is autism more common in men or women? Although statistics seem to show that there is a significantly higher prevalence rate of autism spectrum disorders in men, some women autism advocates believe there needs to be a better understanding of women who have autism.
National Autism Awareness Month
Awareness of autism in general is increased through days, weeks and months dedicated to autism, like the upcoming National Autism Awareness Month in April, and World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
Amanda Glensky, a spokeswoman for Autism Society, said in an email that National Autism Awareness Month started as National Autism Week in 1970, and grew eventually into a full awareness month.
“Each year, the Autism Society strives to take advantage of the public’s month-long focus on autism to inspire people to join with us in our mission to improve lives,” Glensky said.
One major initiative of the Autism Society is to focus on the current budget crisis.
“State and federal budget cuts threaten to hurt access to needed services and supports,” Glensky said. “Already, people with autism are unemployed or underemployed, and often, families struggle to provide support for their loved ones.”
Women with autism
Sharon daVanport, the executive director of Autism Women’s Network, said that more clinicians and leaders in the autism community are recognizing that autism is not just a man’s diagnosis.
“They’re thinking that that margin is not as wide as they thought it was,” daVanport said.
She said men with autism might be more obvious than women, since even at a young age women are held to higher standards in behavior, and they try to meet those standards.
“Females are learning to pretend, we’re learning to mimic other people,” daVanport said. “We watch other people and how they talk, how they do things. And we become very good actresses, and because of that we tend to go unnoticed until we get older. Most females diagnosed on the autism spectrum, many are adults before they actually are detected.”
She said there are some obvious differences between men and women who have autism. For example, women generally adapt socially with more ease than men.