‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid
‘Meghan is right. Working mothers do have to choose between being present or being paid

Amanda Cassidy

What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce
What to try this weekend: Gluten-free vegan churros with a caramel dipping sauce

Meg Walker

How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial
How to increase your confidence and why it’s crucial

Niamh Ennis

The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting
The scariest thing about Halloween? Competitive parenting

Sophie White

Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs
Add some colour to your living room with these punchy cushion designs

Megan Burns

Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge
Five perfect matte lipsticks that your mask won’t budge

Holly O'Neill

Slightly Christmassy movies that are totally acceptable to watch before Halloween
Slightly Christmassy movies that are totally acceptable to watch before Halloween

Lauren Heskin

This Glenageary home with a charming double-height extension is on the market for €1.875 million
This Glenageary home with a charming double-height extension is on the market for €1.875 million

Megan Burns

Surrogacy: ‘As soon as I lay a foot on Irish soil I become a legal stranger to my son’
Surrogacy: ‘As soon as I lay a foot on Irish soil I become a legal...

Amanda Cassidy

Cuffing season is upon us and singletons need to know what to look out for
Cuffing season is upon us and singletons need to know what to look out for

Christina McLoughlin

Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits


by Lauren Heskin
22nd Oct 2020
Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits

A number of studies have found that autistic girls are better at camouflaging autistic traits than boys in order to fit in, resulting in a late and sometimes missed diagnosis.


Autism spectrum disorder is considered more common in boys; they are four times more likely to be diagnosed with it than girls. However, some studies are now finding that the discrepancy between genders might not be as high as we think. This is due to camouflaging techniques used by girls that hide their disorder through the early stages of childhood.

Autism is typically diagnosed around the age of three in boys and four in girls. Research has shown that early detection and intervention can greatly improve outcomes. Delayed diagnosis means autistic children don’t receive the specialised support they require, putting them at a higher risk of mental health problems, including depression and suicide.

This study, along with a number of others it references, found that autistic girls are adept at “camouflage”, which refers to “strategies used to appear less autistic in social interactions.” There are two different types of camouflaging. Compensatory camouflaging is the processes required to recognise the gap between how an autistic person feels they are different from others and how they should outwardly present themselves in a social environment, while the other is behavioural camouflaging. This refers to specific behaviours performed in order to bridge that gap by hiding autistic traits

A group of autistic women interviewed for one of the studies described strategies that included “learnt phrases and facial expressions from TV, books and magazines, social imitation, and masking autistic traits.”

These techniques start from a young age. Autistic girls tended to have better non-verbal communication skills and would spend more time with their peers, even if they weren’t directly interacting with them, than autistic boys and were more likely in general to use behavioural camouflaging. One study gives a playground example that while an autistic boy might sit apart from his peers, an autistic girl might play near them without actually engaging with them, allowing their disorder to “fly under the radar”.

However, this did not carry over to teenage years, when social interaction becomes much more complex and the disparity much greater. One study showed that teenage girls used “‘masking’ strategies to appear more socially competent, which were often motivated by a desire for friendship.” However, these learned childhood strategies were too simple for developing teenage relationships and therefore autistic teenage girls struggled to maintain friendships beyond the initial stages.

Such late diagnosis can lead to lead to long-term struggles for autistic women. Their ability to recognise the growing gap between their own social abilities and that of their peers led to “difficulties forming friendships and feelings of rejection”. Camouflaging also led to difficult psychological questions, with one teenager describing it as an “identity crisis” because they were “pretending to be the same as everyone else”.

As a result, many autistic women reported issues with their mental health, with depression, anxiety and eating disorders being the most common.

 

Featured image: Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash


Read more: Clonakilty celebrates two years of being Ireland’s first autism-friendly town

Read more: Will students with ASD and health conditions be left behind? School guidelines leave a lot unsaid

Read more: ‘I am tired of people saying I don’t look or sound autistic. Attitudes need to change’

Also Read

Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits
premium BUSINESS
CAREERS IN CONVERSATION: Seminar 1 Your Career Narrative

The first instalment of Sinead Brady’s career seminar series is available to watch now and is all about how to...

By IMAGE

Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits
BREAKING STORIES
With a two-hour Oprah special, Adele is truly giving the people what they want

We might have to wait until November 19 to hear the rest of the album, but here’s everything we know about what to expect.

By Megan Burns

Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits
BREAKING STORIES
Dogs Trust is encouraging Irish employers to allow dogs in the workplace

With many people having made a long-awaited return to the office this week, Dogs Trust Ireland is urging employers to...

By Sarah Finnan

Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits
BUSINESS
Employers must do more to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace should be a thing of the past, but unfortunately, employers are not doing enough to...

By Colette Sexton

Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits
MONEY
No ordinary housing crisis: ‘We are angry, we are frustrated, we are stuck’

The typical path through life – grow up, get married, buy a house, have kids – is no longer so...

By Amanda Cassidy

Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits
BREAKING STORIES
Wally the walrus swaps Ireland for Iceland

There were concerns over Wally the walrus’ whereabouts but thankfully he’s popped his head above water and has been spotted...

By Sarah Finnan

Study finds autistic girls diagnosed later than boys because they’re adept at “camouflaging” autistic traits
BUSINESS, EVENTS
Are you a new startup or an SME looking to scale up? These 3 industry leaders could make all the difference to your bottom line

At this year’s IMAGE Business Summit, we welcome three Irish industry leaders to ‘The Experts’ Chair’, where they’ll discuss the...

By Shayna Sappington