Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Autism and Asperger's Syndrome Underdiagnosed In Women? Oh yes, I think so!

Hello Aspierations blog visitors!

I read an article earlier this evening that I wanted to share just in case you haven't seen it yet.

Autism and Asperger Syndrome underdiagnosed in women, researchers say - Times Online

I am encouraged to see that this information is out there to discuss and I am looking forward to reading what other professionals, caregivers and autistic individuals think about the topic at hand.  For what it's worth, I do believe that future studies will support this assertion.  I would hope that such studies would help improve acceptance, awareness and advocacy for women on the spectrum to get the supports that they need.

In my own case, I was not aware of my own Asperger's / Aspieness until after my youngest son was diagnosed with autism at age 2 and my oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at age 8. 

That isn't to say that I didn't know something was different about me.  If you read my blog posting, Before I Knew I Was An Aspie, My Puzzle Piece Never Fit,  I was acutely aware as early as elementary school that I didn't fit in with my peers but for most of my life, there was other "reasoning" that I used as a potential explanation / justification for why I felt like I never belonged.  (i.e. I was adopted, gifted, shy, tomboy, an only child, etc...)

Many people who are on the autism spectrum also have other health issues and comorbidities.  A few that come to mind that I have read about or experienced myself or with my children are sensory processing dysfunction, depression, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, anxiety, eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive behavior.  Of course not all people who have these comorbidities are on the autism spectrum and not all people on the spectrum have these comorbidities but for many, these are not mutually exclusive.

I am sure there are many women out there, especially those in their mid 30s and above who do not know about Autism / Asperger Syndrome but are wandering around life with a diagnosis of one or more of the comorbidities above.

Perhaps they attribute that comorbidity as to what makes them feel different, not knowing the underlying issues they might be going through on a daily basis are of a much more complex and interwoven nature.  Would a diagnosis of Autism / Asperger's make a difference?  For some I think it would literally be a lifesaver.  The peace of mind in knowing ... the "A-HA" moment... knowing there are others out there walking a similar journey... being able to understand one's past and present better.... that can often spell out hope for the future.   I know it did for me.

I welcome the opportunity to participate in research of adult women and/or Moms on the autism spectrum and I encourage other ladies to as well even if it seems scary or counter-intuitive.  Autism is a spectrum condition and presents differently from male to female, from person to person.  That being said, the more data out there to pull from, the more that people know about us, the more potential to identify certain traits or characteristics that might help those with autism or Asperger's Syndrome have a better quality of life for themselves, their children, their spouses and their extended circles.

I am all for a better quality of life for my children, myself, my husband, my parents and those in this world who identify with someone on the autism spectrum.

If anyone knows of any ongoing research studies, please feel free to let me know!

Until next time,
Come As You Are...
  Let Your Light Shine....

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