Diagnosis, coping and misconceptions: mothers’ and autistic women’s perspectives of the female autistic phenotype

Carrie Ballantyne*, Janie Lauglan, Karri Gillespie-Smith, Doug McConachie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Abstract

Objective:
The understanding of autism spectrum condition (ASC) is based on a male-centered phenotype with the male to female ratio at 3 to 1 (Loomes et al., 2017). Females are also believed to mask their social difficulties and behavioural problems, which can take place during clinical assessments (Ratto, et al., 2018). They are more at risk of being undiagnosed, as their difficulties are either mislabelled, or missed entirely (Lai & Baron-Cohen, 2015), even when experiencing the same level of difficulties (Rynkiewicz et al., 2016). Consequently many females are undiagnosed, so miss out on interventions and support (McBride, 2020). The current study aimed to investigate the experiences of girls and women who have undergone an ASC diagnosis.

Methods:
A qualitative methodology was used. A sample of 6 mothers of autistic female adolescents and 6 autistic women participated in individual semi – structured interviews.

Results:
Using a thematic analysis, three different themes emerged from the mothers and women: Diagnosis, Female ASC Phenotype, and Misconceptions.

Conclusions:
This study shows the importance of understanding the lived experience of the individual and the unique challenges of being an autistic female or parenting/supporting an autistic female adolescent and it encapsulates the coping strategies used. It highlights the lack of knowledge on how females present differently from males and the struggle for diagnosis. More training programs for doctors, teachers, and health visitors, so they can gain adequate awareness while providing the opportunity for early interventions are suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2021
EventThe British Psychological Society Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference - Online, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Sep 202117 Sep 2021
https://delegatereg.eventsair.com/dev2021/programme

Conference

ConferenceThe British Psychological Society Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleDEV 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period15/09/2117/09/21
Internet address

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