Freeform

Recognizing Women on the Autism Spectrum

By Alex Torres
Contributing Writer

Growing up with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD for short, I’ve learned so much about the disability and the impact it has on people’s lives. From how we think, learn, feel and see things differently from everyone else, people have progressively seen the wonders of people with ASD such as Hans Christian Anderson, the fairy tale author, and Dan Aykroyd, the comedian actor. Through trials and triumphs, people with ASD have been getting more recognition in today’s society. However there’s the issue that when a person thinks about someone on the spectrum, it immediately points to a male. 

Why is a male on the spectrum the first thought that comes to people’s minds? It turns out that the ratio of males and females with ASD are at least 3 to 1, according to Nicholette Zeliadt’s, “Autism’s Sex Ratio, Explained”. The reason for such a gap because most girls and women on the spectrum may have been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by parents, doctors, and teachers who usually think the disability is solely diagnosed in boys and men. Behavioral Health Specialists are the ones to detect the typical signs of ASD such as repetitive behaviors, strong fixations, and social skills difficulties. According to, “Autism Signs Can Be Different in Girls”, these symptoms are harder to identify with females than males, like showing more social interests and less obvious restrictive interests and repetitive behaviors. Their research also indicates that, because of the difficulties of finding the apparent ASD symptoms for females, their diagnosis can be under-identified or misdiagnosed as ADHD or anxiety. One notable ASD woman who was misdiagnosed was famed singer, Susan Boyle.

According to Kate Hagan Gallup’s, “The Truth About Susan Boyle’s Medical Misdiagnosis”, Boyle was diagnosed as “brain-damaged” after complications at birth. However, it wasn’t until a year after her success on “Britain’s Got Talent” that Boyle was correctly diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) as stated in Peter Russell’s “Singer Susan Boyle Reveals Asperger’s Diagnosis”. Boyle commented, “It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid, I was told I had brain damage. I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what’s wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself.” I can only imagine how other ASD females must resonate with what Bolye felt: misdiagnosed, under-identified, underrated. These words may describe females on the spectrum, but “invisible” isn’t one of them. Yes, our ratio is small, but that doesn’t mean that we’re nonexistent. If we let others think of us that way, or worse we’d let ourselves to think that way, then we wouldn’t have had the impactful ASD females we’ve come to know like Temple Grandin (activist, author), and Daryl Hannah (actress). We do exist. We’re not invisible. We have a voice; the question is are you ready to listen?