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International Women’s Day 2024

8 Mar 2024

Alice de Coverley



Join us today as we shed light on research into neurodivergent women and girls, so we can advocate for a more inclusive, understanding world. #IWD2024 


Note: Research in this area is not perfect. Studies can have small sample sizes, and broad conclusions may be being drawn from limited data. We post this range of research findings to generate discussion for our audience and hope that you find these snippets thought-provoking: 💭


Explanations for under/misdiagnosis of autism in women include a gendered presentation of autism traits, poor knowledge of the female autism profile + use of diagnostic tools developed/normed for a male population that are not sensitive to the female phenotype (Lai et al., 2011)


We also know that neurodivergent women are at a higher risk of experiencing trauma, bullying and mental health difficulties. 


Girls with autism are three times more likely to be victims of sexual violence than their neurotypical peers (Ohlsson et al., 2018).


A 2022 survey of 1,187 caregivers found 75% of teen girls w/ ADHD also have anxiety, 54% suffer from depression, more than 14% have a sleep disorder, and nearly 12% report an eating disorder — more than 3 times the national average for neurotypical women. 

https://www.additudemag.com/mental-health-crisis-youth-girls-adhd/


Research also shows that autistic females have greater social motivation than males, study social behavior of others, get way more feedback about their behaviour +interpersonal skills, mask their neurodivergence, and develop more internalising traits (Gould, Ashton-Smith, 2011)


Masking or camouflage, which can develop as a protective social quality for neurodivergent women, has the opposite effect when neurodivergent women are meeting with professionals who dismiss or misunderstand their needs because they “do not look the part” (Tint and Weiss, 2017).


Compared to autistic men, women newly diagnosed report significantly higher rates of depression and suicide risk. 


Missed misdiagnosis or a late-in-life autism diagnosis can sadly lead to a fatal outcome (Cassidy et al., 2014).


Misdiagnosis can be particularly problematic for women, who are more likely to have their ADHD missed when experiencing both conditions. 


Girls with autism also may have their ADHD or autistic traits dismissed or treated only as mental health or personality disorders.


Misdiagnosis can be particularly problematic for women, who are more likely to have their ADHD missed when experiencing both conditions.


Girls with autism also may have their ADHD or autistic traits dismissed or treated only as mental health or personality disorders.


Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and ADHD frequently co-occur, with rates higher than expected by chance (Weiner et al., 2019).


Unfortunately, it's possible for one of the conditions to be missed. The symptoms of BPD can be loud and overshadow the quieter traits of ADHD.


The cumulative effect of living with unmet social and emotional needs places significant mental strain on girls and women who are neurodivergent.


This is particularly enhanced when neurodivergent conditions are late diagnosed, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.


Sex differences are prevalent in other neurodivergent conditions. Males are also diagnosed with dyslexia more frequently than females, even in epidemiological* samples. Are there neurobiological reasons for this too or is this more bias? 🤔


*large-scale studies of populations.


🧠 We must do more to ensure that no minds are left behind. This IWD2024 let’s ensure that all women, including neurodivergent women, have their stories, struggles and resilience recognised. #NoMindLeftBehind 💪

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