Once upon a time…it was assumed that autism/Asperger’s was a boy thing. That girls simply did not suffer from this milady. Then it was recognized that some did but ‘experts’ still estimated that the ratio was 8 boys to every 1 girl. Dr. Tony Attwood shocked some when he said that he believed that ratio was more like 4 to 1. I used to believe that it was 2 to 1, but recently as I have observed and studied it more in PanKwake and other girls, I have come to question even that assumption.
I no longer believe there is any difference along gender lines in the prevalence particularly of Asperger’s or high-functioning autism. Asperger’s is just as likely in pink as it is in blue. The difference is not in them (our children), but in us and the experts. We fail to see it, misdiagnose it and leave them adrift because of our prejudices, misinformation and false assumptions. Plainly put, we cannot see it because we are not looking for it.
Have you ever played those spot the differences games in newspapers or magazines?
That is essentially what getting a diagnosis of autism or Asperger’s is. There are no blood tests, not even a multiple choice questionnaire that doctors sometimes use to diagnose depression and/or anxiety. It is all a matter of long history taking that can relies heavily upon parental memory of early development, observation of the child’s behaviors and most importantly interpretation by an ‘expert’ who has very little experience with your child. Despite fancy names like ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule), it is still a matter of OPINION…one experts or a panel. And the next one may see things differently.
If that expert or experts subscribe to the view that Asperger’s/autism is a ‘boy’ thing then they can all too easily miss the signs in girls, who do tend to express it differently than their male counter parts. Likewise, the ‘tests’ themselves are skewed to looking for those traditional or male expressions of the condition. So girls, who may have much less trouble making eye contact except under extreme stress, may not score high enough to tick their boxes.
The problem is that it is a vicious cycle that prevents our Aspies in pink from getting the interventions and help that they deserve. But until the ‘experts’ begin to sit on the play grounds as this mom does and just watch her daughter play with other kids…and see how many other girls in that park/school are facing those same challenges, nothing is going to change. You see all the scientific journals, medical texts and DSMs (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of the American Psychiatric Association…the bible for diagnosing ALL mental conditions including autism…and the idiots that took away the differentiation between autism and Asperger’s) can never replace a mother’s instinct.
And this mother is telling you right now…there are A LOT of Aspie girls in pink out there, who we are letting down. We need to raise the alarm, shout and scream until the ‘experts’ get it…Autism/Asperger’s is NOT a boy thing…it is a HUMAN one.