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, 46 (10), 3281-94

The Experiences of Late-diagnosed Women With Autism Spectrum Conditions: An Investigation of the Female Autism Phenotype


The Experiences of Late-diagnosed Women With Autism Spectrum Conditions: An Investigation of the Female Autism Phenotype

Sarah Bargiela et al. J Autism Dev Disord.


We used Framework Analysis to investigate the female autism phenotype and its impact upon the under-recognition of autism spectrum conditions (ASC) in girls and women. Fourteen women with ASC (aged 22-30 years) diagnosed in late adolescence or adulthood gave in-depth accounts of: 'pretending to be normal'; of how their gender led various professionals to miss their ASC; and of conflicts between ASC and a traditional feminine identity. Experiences of sexual abuse were widespread in this sample, partially reflecting specific vulnerabilities from being a female with undiagnosed ASC. Training would improve teachers' and clinicians' recognition of ASC in females, so that timely identification can mitigate risks and promote wellbeing of girls and women on the autism spectrum.

Keywords: Autism spectrum conditions (ASC); Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); Diagnosis; Female autism phenotype.

Conflict of interest statement

Sarah Bargiela, Robyn Steward and William Mandy all declare that they have no relevant conflicts of interest. Ethical approval All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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