Nearly half of adults with autism live with a family member and about one in five is unemployed, according to a new analysis 1. Only 5 percent have ever been married. The findings suggest that many middle-aged adults with autism have little independence. The work echoes a study from last year that. Autism Dating Service is part of the Online Connections dating network, which includes many other general and autistic dating sites. As a member of Autism Dating Service, your profile will automatically be shown on related autistic dating sites or to related users in the Online Connections network at no additional charge.
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Appropriate support throughout schooling Ideally, Sophie would have been diagnosed as a child. She could have benefited from specialised support throughout her schooling, as is legally required in France and other countries. This support would have made her less vulnerable, giving her the tools to defend herself from bullying in the schoolyard and helping her learn with teaching methods adapted to her way of thinking.
Upon leaving school, her diagnosis would have opened up access to labour rights, such as disabled worker status, which would have helped her find an adapted employment. Originally, autism was thought to only rarely affect women. The criteria defining autistic symptoms were based on observations in boys. This phenomenon, also present in other areas of science and medicine , has far-reaching implications today.
Similar test results for boys and girls To diagnose autism spectrum disorder ASD , doctors and psychologists evaluate quantitative criteria using tests and questionnaires, but also qualitative criteria, like interests, stereotyped movements, difficulties with eye contact and language and isolation. But while autistic girls show similar test results to autistic boys, the clinical manifestation of their condition differs , at least in cases where language has been acquired.
With social-imitation strategies, for example, autistic girls have fewer troubles making friends than autistic boys ; they have seemingly more ordinary interests than boys for example horses, rather than maps of the subway ; while less restless than boys, they are more vulnerable to less-visible anxiety disorders, and more adept at camouflaging their stereotyped and soothing ritual behaviors.
In other words, their autism is less obtrusive , which means their symptoms are less obvious to their families, teachers and doctors. On the nature side of the argument, some hypothesise that girls are better equipped for social cognition and more apt at caring roles. This would explain why they appear to be more interested in the animate cats, celebrities, flowers than the inanimate cars, robots, rail networks. When it comes to nurture, girls and boys are not brought up in the same way.
Socially acceptable behaviours differ according to sex. Although autistic children are more resistant to this phenomenon, the pressure to conform is so strong it still ends up influencing their behaviour, as illustrated by the case of Gunilla Gerland.
Observing that adults could not fathom that a little girl might not like these things, she resigned herself to getting gifts of jewellery, and even learned to thank the giver, before stashing the object away in a box at the earliest opportunity.
Skilled in the art of camouflage As autistic girls grow up, the gap between how their condition and that of boys manifests widens. Since September , the Francophone Association of Autistic Women Association francophone des femmes autistes , or AFFA has been fighting for recognition of the specific ways autism manifests in women.
A learned society on autism in women is also being created in France, bringing together the general and scientific communities, with the goal of promoting dialogue between researchers and autistic women. A specific questionnaire for girls Historically, major figures in autism research believed there was significant prevalence in women. The Austrian child psychologist Hans Asperger for whom the syndrome is named put forward the idea as early as , as did British psychiatrist Lorna Wing , as early as Some researchers aim to better understand the specific characteristics of autism in women.
Other studies are attempting to adapt diagnostic tools for use with female subjects. They presented their work at May conference in San Francisco.
While there has been an initial trove of interesting results, current research into the specific characteristics of autism in women is raising more questions than it answers.
However, the confusion could be considered a necessary step toward the acquisition of knowledge, provided the women affected can contribute to the research and share their point of view on the direction the work should take. Ordinary citizens can also work towards ensuring autistic girls have the same rights as their male counterparts. By gaining a better understanding of the different forms of autism, everyone can contribute to a world in which children and adults with autism can find their place, and help fight exclusion by creating an inclusive society.
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