Empowering Autistic Girls and Women

What is Autism

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Autism is a spectrum disorder and no two people will experience autism in the same way.

In the books, Autism is classified as a combination of complex neurological, behavioral, and developmental disorders. The term Autism is derived from the Greek “autos” which means “self” relating to separation and aloneness

Clinical literature and research findings have until very recently centered around males .

Four times as many boys as girls receive a diagnosis of an ASC ,it may be that Autism is more prevalent in boys but many females  believe that this is due to the different presentation of Autism in females and a high number feel that there difficulty’s are overlooked ,they struggle to receive either a diagnosis or recognition of there difficulty’s

This is beginning to change slowly .More and more females that are on the spectrum are speaking up and this is due in part to the wonderful work of females on the spectrum such as Temple Grandin ,Donna Williams .Rudy Simone and many others.You can find out more about the names you hear in the Autism World here 

Through the use of this site and our work to raise awareness we hope to overcome the sense of alienation that many Autistic Women feel and empower them .

So What Is Autism?

Autism is a Cognitive pervasive neurological condition present from birth , the symptoms begin to show in early childhood and are characterised by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.

Autism  is a complex disorder, and most scientists who study Autism  believe that there is no single cause.there are likely many causes for multiple types of Autism With the increase in study’s in the new field of epigenetic ,s it is becoming clear that there are many different factors that could make a child more likely to develop autistic behaviors Autism, including environmental and genetic factors.

Through the increasing acceptance of Neurodiversity, more and more people are beginning to view Autism as a neurological difference that is very complex and one that researchers still don`t understand well. We are now beginning to see less pathologising and more acceptance of Autism as a unique difference.

An Autism community is forming and individuals on the spectrum are now beginning to stand up for their rights as  a minority group.professionals are referring to Autism as a condition, rather than a disorder and the emphasis is being placed on the  positive aspects

Autism is a spectrum condition which means that is the umbrella term for a cluster of symptoms and traits, while all autistic people share certain difficulties their condition will affect them in different ways. This could include being over or under sensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours. It may also include processing disorders. and development delays which may affect areas such as delays…like speech, comprehension, social skills, mobility .

Donna Williams sums it up very well in her “Fruit Salad” in which she defines all the separate components that make up her Autism  Read more here 

Just as all neuro typical people are unique so are we, we all have our individual likes and dislikes and our own unique personality’s and life story’s.Donna Williams once again explains this very well when referring to her person-hood.There are many different types of autism. The Autistic Spectrum contains many “disorders” and symptoms and you can find out more about these in Donna’s  articles and through the links on our pages .

Autistic individuals may also have co -occurring diagnoses such as anxiety, OCD, PTSD, anxiety, depression. there is a growing number of people who believe that the emotional well being of those on the autistic spectrum and the development of mental illness is due to the lack of support once an Autistic individual  reaches adult hood. and the pressure that is placed on an individual to conform to society and to fit in .

Depression often develops when socially isolated .Because of society’s reaction to  behaviors which are outside the social norm Autistic individuals have often had to deal with  being the subject of everyone’s gossip,bullying , disability discrimination and eventually social rejection ,.Because these individuals don’t quiet fit in they are often isolated and lonely and this in itself can lead to depression and in extreme cases where an individual is the victim of severe and constant bullying this can lead to severe depression and even suicidal behaviors .

That is what makes “What is Autism is a difficult question to answer .A better question is what is your perception of Autism .Historically it has been seen as a disease and a disorder but more and more are beginning to see it as a neurological difference that presents challenges. It is a far more positive to way to look at it with a disease or a disorder you have to find a cure

A Challenge you find ways to overcome!

The Autism spectrum is very wide at one end of the spectrum are those that also commonly have an accompanying learning disability and it is this type of Autism that is often referred to as Kanners Autism

Kanner’s Definition of Autism 

  • An inability to relate to people and situations from early life 
  • A failure to use language for communication with others 
  • An anxiously obsessive desire to maintain sameness 
  • A fascination for objects or parts of objects which are handled with skill 
  • Good Cognitive Potential 

Those on this area  of the spectrum may also have severe learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. Many of these individuals are in specialist support services that vary in the level of care and support they provide. Even in the most severe of cases new technological communication methods are finding that non-verbal individuals have deep intelligence locked away .These individuals haven’t had their voice heard until now because they have not had a way of communicating their thoughts.

Individuals who had less difficulty with speech  used to be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome but this diagnosis as now been removed from the DSM 5

Asperger’s Definition of Autism

 Hans Asperger first published his definition of the syndrome in 1945 .His work was rediscovered and translated from its original German to English

Hans Asperger identified:

• Social impairment – extreme egocentricity
• Speech and language peculiarities
• Repetitive routines
• Motor clumsiness
• Narrow interests
• Non-verbal communication problems

You can read more about The History of Autism  here

\Autism is commonly defined by professionals in terms of functioning levels, however many advocates dislike the terminology as functioning levels are often fluid and dependent on many factors including an individual’s current levels of stress,  health and well -being. The environment is also a big factor, as is the level of support an individual receives.

Those who have a co-occurring learning disability and who have complex needs /IQ below 70 receive some support and those who excel in their studies often receive excellent support from a university  .However, those who fall in between these two extremes often receive little to no support. there not actually getting any support because our system has a tendency to fail those with difficulty’s once they reach 18. They have to fit into a society that doesn’t understand them.Many have money worries, relationship difficulties, and problems finding employment .Sadly some also have addictions which have developed as a means of self-medicating the high levels of anxiety that they deal with.These are the individuals who often did not have the difficulty’s recognised until later in their childhood or not at all . With the correct support people with a diagnosis of  autism  can live independent lives. In fact many live completely independently with well paid jobs and homes of their own .though they may have little contact with the world sociably. Autistic individuals without co-occurring learning disabilities  are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but many still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.they are generally aware of their difficulty’s and know that they are different from others ,they want to fit in and have friends and live with the correct support and understanding these individuals can go on to live a full and productive life .Amongst the autistic community are many wonderful, artists, musicians and actors as well as many who have excelled in their chosen field .

Autism is a challenge to be overcome to the best of your ability and Autism is a lesson.

A lesson to anyone who is touched by it .It teaches you that the world is different to every individual, As Autistic individuals we learn to see the world through another’s eyes, we have to because we have to learn to fit into a world that is designed for the neurotypical .We step into your world ! A world that is filled with misunderstanding and sensory overload

It’s time now for Neurotypicals to begin looking into the world and seeing it through our eyes and to actually begin to listen to us .Because Autism is not going away.Maybe by including more Autistic individuals in research and strategic planning and listening to the views and experiences of older individuals on the spectrum then progress can finally be made 

How many people in the UK have autism? 

Around 700,000 people may have autism, or more than 1 in 100 in the population.

There is no register or exact count kept. Any information about the possible number of autistic people in the community must be based on epidemiological surveys (i.e. studies of distinct and identifiable populations).

The latest prevalence studies of autism indicate that 1.1% of the population in the UK may have autism. This means that over 695,000 people in the UK may have autism, an estimate derived from the 1.1% prevalence rate applied to the 2011 UK census figures.

The prevalence rate is based on two relatively recent studies, one of children and the other of adults. The prevalence study of children, (Baird G. et al., 2006) looked at a population in the South Thames area. The study of adults was published in two parts, Brugha et al (2009), and The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha et al (2012). This is the only known prevalence study to have been done of an adult population. 

Source www.autism.org.uk/

The prevalence of autism is about 1–2 per 1,000 people worldwide, and it occurs about four times more often in boys than girls.[9]The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 1.5% of children in the United States (one in 68) are diagnosed with ASD as of 2014, a 30% increase from one in 88 in 2012.The number of people diagnosed with autism has been increasing dramatically since the 1980s

Source wikipedia

 

 

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