International Womens Day

Happy International Womens Day!
A day to celebrate woman all over the world!

Did you know that Autism is less likely or less diagnosed in girls?
Parents of girls on the spectrum, such as myself, are helping to raise awareness about female Autism and the fact that there needs to be better recognition, acceptance and diagnosis.
As a mum I blog my girls good and bad moments and how she copes daily.
I am here to share my experiences and show support for girls and women on the Autistic spectrum.
We had to fight for diagnosis for my girl, we had to fight to lose the stigma of Autism, and had to fight the stereotypes.
We had to fight the Doctors that told us it was unlikely to be Autism because she is a girl.
We had to fight the Doctors that said she had Autistic traits but probably wouldn’t get it recognised or diagnosed, because she is a girl.

My girl has Autism.
My girl has a diagnosis.
We won the fight.

Courtney Love, Darryl Hannah and Susan Boyle are just a few women who are ‘famously’ Autistic.
I use famously as a loose term as it still isn’t widely accepted that women can be on the spectrum, nor is it widely recognised.
Boys outnumber girls in being diagnosed with Autism.
The most widely published ratio is 4:1 meaning 4 times as many boys than girls are diagnosed with Autism.
Parents are faced with barriers from professionals when they suspect Autism in their daughter.
More often than not it is blamed on behaviour, anxiety or paranoid parenting.
We had all of that…..infact we still do!
Getting a diagnosis for a girl is very challenging, stressful and difficult.
Girls don’t fit the narrow criteria of the male dominated guidelines and so parents have to fight to be heard.
Girls present differently to boys, this needs to be addressed and recognised in the diagnostic criteria.

What is not difficult to see are the challenges that girls on the spectrum experience.
People just don’t believe the level of anxiety, social isolation and anger that they feel…..that they are made to feel because they are being told what they experience is ‘normal’, ‘for girls’.
The stereotypical idea that Autism only affects boys is still out there…..
The reality is, however, that it is affecting both sexes, but goes undiagnosed in alot of girls.
Not primarily because Doctors don’t see the Autism, but because girls seem to have developed a coping mechanism, they are more subtle, can engage in social situations and make eye contact.
They use behaviours such as masking and mimicking so they can fit in and be like everyone else.
They exhibit less severe and different symptoms to boys.
The severity is what makes professionals question the diagnosis.
Girls tend to be on the less severe, high functioning end of the spectrum.

The awareness that girls present very differently to boys with Autism is increasing……..but very slowly.
Gone are the days where Autism was thought to be a male condition.

But still being a girl with Autism is hard.
It isn’t readily accepted. The help isn’t out there.
Diagnosis is being missed and girls are going on to develop mental health problems as they mature.

As a parent of a girl with Autism I will continue to share my experiences, the daily ups and downs and coping methods!
I will continue to draw strength from the amazing women/mums of Autistic children that I have met.
We will continue to support each other.

Happy International Womens day to all the girls and ladies who have Autism, and also to all the Mums, Carers, Nans, Teachers, Nurses……anyone who has been touched by Autism in their lives.

Together we will stand proud and support each other.
Together we will raise awareness of our girls.

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