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Increasing Awareness of Women with Autism Spectrum Disorders

By HERWriter
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Autism related image Photo: Getty Images

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.

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EmpowHER Guest

Before making decisions regarding your child’s treatment, you need first to collect information concerning various alternatives available. Learn as much as you can, examine all alternatives and make a decision on your child’s treatment based on his needs.
Autism spectrum disorder

May 1, 2011 - 11:29pm

There is a need for better understanding for all women with disabilities, especially Autism. I always wonder where the girls are. Special Education classes are filled to the brim with boys but sometimes my girls were the only ones there getting any help.

April 13, 2011 - 10:24am
EmpowHER Guest

Autism (sometimes replaced by the term autistic) is a complicated developmental disability that causes or triggers problems or troubles with group relations, interactions and communication.

Autism spectrum disorder

April 4, 2011 - 12:55am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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