What is autism?
Autism or autism spectrum disease (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause serious social, behavioral, and communication problems. Autistic patients learn, communicate and interact in an unusual manner. But it may vary from person to person. Some people with autism require a lot of help while others may need less.
This is how people with autism behave differently:
- They find it hard to communicate and interact with people
- They have a hard time understanding what other people think or feel
- They get easily irritated by bright lights or loud noises
- They get anxious about unfamiliar situations and events
- They take longer to process information
- They usually do or think the same things again and again
Autism does not have any cure and the only treatment is supportive. Being autistic does not mean a person cannot live a good life.
The actual cause of autism is unknown. It can affect many people of the same family too. Autism is not caused by:
- Bad parenting
- Vaccines like the MMR vaccine
- Or any infection.
The behavior of a child with autism:
These type of behavioral patterns are usually seen in a patient with autism:
- Unusual body language
- Lack of interest
- Problems in communication or delayed speech
- Movements that are repetitive
- Difficulty in understanding other people’s feeling
- Obsessive about unusual objects
Autism in girls:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects 1 in 54 children in the United States across all ethnic groups and is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls. Depending on age, some of the symptoms in children at a certain age become apparent whether they are in girls or boys. For example, when a girl has sensory processing issues, problems with motor skills, or hyperlexia it can be much easier to realize that she is autistic.
The symptoms of autism are not very different in girls than in boys. But girls tend to hide their behavior more than men.
The common forms of camouflaging include:
- Girls find it hard to make eye contact during conversations
- Try to prepare jokes ahead of time to use in conversation
- Mimicking the social behavior of other people
- Imitate expressions and gestures of others
That is why women are less likely to get diagnosed with autism due to their camouflaging.
Women with autism have:
- Less of an ability to adapt
- More emotional problems
- More social difficulties
- Cognitive and language problem
- Behavioral problems such as aggressiveness and acting out
- Inability to become hyper-focused on a subject or activity
Signs and Symptoms:
Challenges with social skill:
Challenges with social interaction are more profound in women than in men. It is easier for autistic girls to mimic the behavior of others. During the stage of puberty, social interactions become more complex, the social difficulties of girls with this disease become more obvious.
Special interests and obsessions:
Individuals with autism spectrum disease tend to adopt special interests like memorizing any timetable, plane models, etc., These are more related to boy hobbies. Asperger’s syndrome in boys and girls is different. Boys may collect information about topics of interest while girls tend to align interest in a more focused way.
Sensory processing issues:
Sensory processing issues include difficulties processing normal things such as exposure to intense light, high pitch sound, or touch. It is common for many people to get triggered by the sound of a person scratching fingernails on a wall, but for autistic people, it may sound familiar.
Individuals with ASD think more in terms of pictures than natural language. People conceptualize patterns in their minds and solve complex problems.
What causes autism in women?
There is a theory that might explain the cause of autism in women called the “extreme male brain” theory. According to this theory, during pregnancy, fetal may get affected by high levels of male hormones in the uterus that may influence brain development.
Diagnosis of Autism in Girls:
There is no medical test to diagnose autism in girls. So, it can be difficult to evaluate. But they are diagnosed much later than boys because girls tend to mature faster than boys and develop social skills sooner. There are symptoms of autism a psychologist or pediatric neurologist must look for.
There is no cure for autism, but medications can help to manage certain related symptoms. Autistic girls can participate in social skills classes and manage their co-occurring conditions.
It is vital to keep in mind that people with autism can live fulfilling and happy lives. A diagnosis will help the patient to look for further therapies and resources. Even if a girl is already well into adolescence, the skills she can develop through therapy are invaluable. Girls with autism who struggle usually suffer from drawing social boundaries or maintaining healthy relationships. They become higher at risk for sexual exploitation and experience mental health issues. Autistic girls, unfortunately, suffer from abusive relationships.
Therapies for autism in girls:
Girls with autism spectrum disorder have a variety of options available for therapies. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is helpful for young girls (under the age of five), but older girls can benefit from it as well. A method called “talk therapy” is beneficial to help autistic girls. In a psychotherapy session, the therapist will introduce problems to the child, and they both work together and find out solutions. In a psychotherapy session, patients can ask questions, talk about their feeling and seek guidance.
Autistic children can also opt for Occupational Therapy (OT). It helps them in establishing a routine and in carrying out daily tasks. An occupational therapist should intervene and help autistic patients, especially girls, learn skills that can help them at home, school, or in their social circle.
Autism in girls exhibits differently than boys with Asperger’s syndrome and other forms of autism spectrum disease. The signs of autism in girls are different as they become more socially awkward, they try to mimic the behavior of others, and they may have special interests and obsessions and can have sensory processing issues like intense lighting or sounds of touch.