The struggles of women who mask their autism
Even so, not all women who camouflage say they would have wanted to know about their autism earlier—and researchers acknowledge that the issue is fraught with complexities. Receiving a formal diagnosis often helps women understand themselves better and tap greater support, but some women say it comes with its own burdens, such as a stigmatising label and lower expectations for achievement.
Because so many more boys are diagnosed with autism than girls are, clinicians don’t always think of autism when they see girls who are quiet or appear to be struggling socially.
William Mandy, a clinical psychologist in London, says he and his colleagues routinely used to see girls who had been shuffled from one agency or doctor to another, often misdiagnosed with other conditions. “Initially, we had no clue they needed help or support with autism,” he says.
Over time, Mandy and others began to suspect that autism looks different in girls.