FOR years experts wrongly believed autism only affects boys.
This means hundreds of thousands of women and girls with the developmental condition have gone their entire lives undiagnosed.
Autism is an incurable, lifelong developmental condition that affects how people perceive the world and how they interact with others.
It affects around one in 100 people in the UK and is three to four times more common in boys than in girls.
Girls are often diagnosed later than boys – if at all – so miss out on opportunities for early support.
What are the signs and symptoms of austim in women?
The symptoms of autism in women aren’t very different from those in men.
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However, researchers believe that women and girls are more likely to camouflage or hide their symptoms than men.
The NHS states that it can often be hard to tell if women are autistic, as their behaviours aren't as pronounced as men who might have the condition.
1. Mood disorders
Autistic psychotherapist Sharon Kaye-O'Connor told Insider that women with autism are more likely to experience issues such as anxiety and depression.
Often, she said women will try and mask these symptoms, leading to burnout.
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The NHS states women often have learned to hide signs of autism to ‘fit in’ – by copying people who don’t have autism.
2. The need for certainty
Having a desire for certainty is another sign of autism that women might display, Lister Brooks, clinical director of the National Autistic Society in the UK, explained.
This can then make them feel anxious when they can't control the outcome of a situation, Lister added.
3. Emotional dis-regulation
Lister explained that sometimes, women with autism can struggle to control their emotions.
This could mean they struggle to identify what they are feeling, often connecting physical symptoms to their emotional wellbeing, she added.
4. Sensory overload
If you struggle with sights, sounds or smells then this is also a sign of autism in women, Lister said.
For those suffering, this can become overwhelming, leaving them to feel irritated.
5. Focused interests
Jessica Myszak, a licensed psychologist and director of The Help and Healing Center said: "Their special interests may, on the surface, seem pretty typical — horses, reading, particular television shows, doing nails — but their depth of knowledge and time spent on these topics is much more than you see in neurotypical females".
6. Feeling different
Women who struggle with autism might feel as though they have to hide who they really are and struggle to put their finger on what makes them different, Kaye-O'Connor explained.
To fit in, they might try and adapt the same personalities as people on TV, she added.
The NHS states that women with autism may also be quieter and try to hide their feelings.
7. Struggling with friendships
Dealing with social interactions can be a struggle for people with autism, the experts say.
Lister Brook said women with autism can make meaningful friendships, but added that these friendships can often feel like hard work.
8. Social exhaustion
Myszak said women with autism often feel as though they need to work harder in order to get the same results as others.
This could be when it comes to work or friendships, often leading to social exhaustion.
The NHS states that you should see your GP if you think you may be autistic.
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Guidance states: "If you already see a health professional, such as another doctor or therapist, you could speak to them instead.
"Getting diagnosed can help you get any extra support you might need."
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