The experiences and needs of female adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder

Autism. 2016 May;20(4):483-95. doi: 10.1177/1362361315590805. Epub 2015 Jun 25.


There is limited large-scale research into the lived experiences of female adults who have an autism spectrum disorder with no co-occurring intellectual disability. Drawing on the findings of an Australia-wide survey, this report presents self-report data from n = 82 women with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder in the areas of health, education, employment, social and community activities. Where relevant, comparisons are provided with the male subset of the same study population; however, in the majority of analyses, no discernible gender differences emerged. The findings highlight the diverse and complex challenges faced by women with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder, including high levels of mental health disorder, unmet support needs in education settings and the workplace, and social exclusion and isolation.

Keywords: adults; females; high-functioning autism spectrum disorder; masking; mental health.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Education*
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Services*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Report
  • Social Distance
  • Social Isolation
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women*
  • Young Adult