This article is evidence-based, verified by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Autism is more common in boys, so people often overlook it in girls. Most young girls try to work hard to decrease the symptoms of autism. If the condition is diagnosed early, it can help them and reduce their suffering. Therefore, it is essential to know the signs of autism and get immediate support from a health care professional.
What is Autism?
Autism a developmental disorder that decreases communication ability. It doesn’t allow you to interact with people effectively. The signs of autism vary from person to person.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of 59 children suffers from this condition. The CDC reveals that boys are more prone to this condition, and autism is four times more likely to happen to boys. Health care providers overlook autism in girls due to this fact, and they may be unknowingly forced to suffer all their lives.
Signs of Autism in Girls
When it comes to the signs of autism, they are the same for girls and boys. Doctors and parents ignore these symptoms because they believe that girls are usually not affected by autism. The symptoms vary between individuals, however, there are a few common signs that every autistic child has:
- They don’t respond to their names even after they are one year old.
- They don’t like it when people carry or play with them.
- They don’t follow instructions.
- When you try to point their attention towards something or point towards an object, they don’t notice.
- Unlike neurotypical children, they lose their abilities. For example, they may have learned a word but stopped using it.
- They find it hard to explain their needs and requirements.
- They don’t understand the feelings of other people. For example, they don’t care when you pretend to cry.
- They try to avoid eye contact.
Apart from the common signs that tend to stay present in every stage of life, there are some symptoms that come at different stages. If you observe carefully, you can find these signs in an autistic child when she is just a year old. However, if you have missed the early symptoms, older girls tend to hide this problem as much as possible. So, how do you notice these signs? Here are a few common signs of autism in older girls.
Autism Symptoms in Adult Females
Here are a few common signs of autism in adult females.
- They tend to follow a similar routine. They don’t like any change in their routine and never compromise on it. If they do, you will find them upset
- They prefer a subject, interest, or activity more than others. It is not like a normal child who has a favorite subject
- If you ask them to do something, they will get very upset
- They don’t have friends because they find it hard to make one. They usually prefer to stay alone
- Autistic adults find it hard to understand common phrases even if you try to explain it. This is not limited to just one phrase
- They don’t explain their feelings, because they don’t know how to do it
- They can’t understand the feelings of others
- They don’t understand what others are thinking.
What are Behavioral Pattern Signs?
Most of the above-mentioned symptoms might confuse you, but they are common in non-autistic people, too. However, all of these signs are not common in one person. If you find all of these, there is no doubt they are autistic and need professional help and special care.
- They repeat phrases and words.
- They have self-harming habits, like banging their heads or biting their body parts.
- They sense sounds and lights less or more powerfully than others.
- They develop a routine and don’t like to change it.
- They repeat their body movements.
- They like food items with a certain texture.
How Are Autism Symptoms Different in Girls?
As stated before, there is not much difference in symptoms among boys and girls. However, girls try to hide the signs of autism. They try hard to meet society’s demands, and you can notice it. Here are a few things to look for in autistic girls.
- They force themselves to make eye contact even when it is not necessary
- They try to prepare phrases or jokes in their mind before participating in a conversation
- They try to copy other’s gestures to look normal
- They often mimic others’ behavior
- They have emotional problems
- In some cases, autistic people find it hard to focus
- They have language problems
- They don’t adapt to new conditions
- They try to find excuses to miss social gatherings
These are some of the common ways through which autistic people try to hide the signs of autism. However, doctors believe that long-term research is required to find any firm differences.
Why Doctors Miss Autism in Girls
Autism is four times more likely to occur in boys. It means parents can easily overlook early symptoms and fail to seek medical advice. However, when parents take their offspring to a health care professional, the professional also ignores it sometimes. Here is why.
Many people believe that girls don’t play as much as boys. They stay quiet and play alone. All of these are signs of autism, but people ignore it because of stereotypes about boys’ and girls’ behaviors.
A few studies revealed that signs of autism are more common in boys than girls. Naturally, you will not see many of the common symptoms in girls. For example, you will not see signs of repetitive behavior in some autistic girls. However, you will find it in most autistic boys.
Similarly, when it comes to social problems, girls spend a lot of time trying to fix their shortcomings. They try to be more active in social events and hide their issues. A study suggests that autistic girls are more social and have more friends than autistic boys. This hides their condition.
Another sign of autism is stress. Autistic boys become angry and misbehave in stressful conditions. However, an autistic girl reacts differently. She tries to harm herself instead of showing anger towards others. By nature, girls are conscious about trying to fit into society so they camouflage the signs of autism better.
When parents don’t understand autism, they often miss the symptoms. This is the reason why girls are often diagnosed later in their life as compared to boys.
Another important thing is that most in-depth studies are conducted on autistic boys. The doctors’ screening tests are mostly based on this research. The difference in symptoms between girls and boys results in misunderstanding. Most health care professionals agree that long-term studies should be conducted on autistic girls to better understand the symptoms.
Are There Any Medical Tests for Autistic Girls?
Technology has helped humanity to discover micro diseases. However, there is no medical test to diagnose autism as of yet. It’s a long and difficult process to diagnose. You have to visit different types of health care professionals.
To start the process, you can visit your regular doctor and discuss the symptoms with them. Depending on the signs, they may suggest you visit a psychologist.
The disorder is difficult to diagnose in older girls. If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, the best thing to do is to make an appointment for further evaluation.
However, if you are an adult and trying to diagnose autism, you need to find a health care provider who understands your symptoms and can guide you further. You can also discuss it with your family members and ask if they have noticed any signs of autism.
How to Treat Autism
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disorder. However, there are medications to help an autistic person fight against medical conditions.
Apart from medications, you will have sessions with a psychologist or therapist. These sessions or talks are important to manage the signs of autism. You can reach out to other autistic people and have discussions about how they are managing their symptoms, as well.
If you visit a long-term health care professional, you will see a gradual change in your symptoms. The health care professional will guide you regarding how to handle situations.
Autism is a disorder found in one out of 59 children. Boys are most likely to be affected, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore the signs of autism in girls. They need your support more than boys, as they will attempt to hide the symptoms. If autism is diagnosed at an early stage, you might be able to take care of your child or loved one to help them live a better life.
If you know an autistic person, you should try to help them by knowing the signs and behavioral patterns. You should acknowledge their feelings within the context of their condition, and you should never put them in an uncomfortable situation.
People often try to bring them to social gatherings when they are uncomfortable so that they will get used to it, but you shouldn’t expose them to such situations. Instead, try to help them gradually overcome their symptoms.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed, MD holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. An avid contributor to the Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune, Dr. Zayed believes in providing accurate and accessible information to general readers. With years of writing and editing content in the medical niche, Dr. Zayed likes to think of himself as a man with a mission, keeping the internet free of false medical information.