Signs of adult autism in women as Christine McGuinness and Mel Sykes are diagnosed
16th November 2021

Previously regarded as being a condition to exclusively affect men, women including Christine McGuinness and Melanie Sykes have recently revealed their autism diagnoses.

Affecting how people communicate with the world around them, both Christine and Melanie have mentioned the sense of relief that they have felt since receiving the news.

“And as much as I’m not totally surprised by this news, it’s still been emotional for me to accept, but it’s quite a relief as well,” penned Christine in her upcoming autobiography.

Meanwhile mother of two Melanie said that her diagnosis was “life changing” as “finally, so many things made sense”.

Taking to Instagram with a heartfelt post, the TV star said: “I cannot begin to tell you the sense of relief this is for me and how much I celebrate this diagnosis.

“I now have a deeper understanding of myself, my life, and the things I have endured.”

With autism less likely to be spotted and diagnosed in women, here’s the signs to look out for:

What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people interact with the world, simply meaning that autistic people’s brains work in a different way to 'neurotypical' folk.

As autism is a spectrum, everyone with autism is different – while some may need no support in their everyday lives, others may require help from a carer.

It's unclear what causes autism, or if it even has a cause. It's something that people are born with and may affect different families, just as Christine has spoken about her experiences raising children with autism.

In the UK, 700,000 people have ben diagnosed autism.

What are the signs of autism?

Common signs of autism include:

  • Appearing to be blunt or disinterest in others
  • Difficulty saying how you feel
  • Getting anxious if routines change
  • Finding it hard to make friends, or preferring to spend time alone
  • Feeling anxious in social situations
  • Not understanding social “rules”
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Having highly focused interests and hobbies.

People living with autism often have other conditions including ADHD, anxiety, depression and epilepsy.

The gender diagnosis gap

Though the National Autistic Society note that 1% of the world’s population are autistic, research into autism mostly focuses on men, meaning that there is a gender gap in those who receive a diagnosis.

Another key factor in the lack of diagnosis in women and girls is that females are more likely to ‘mask’ their behaviours and therefore appear to function better in social situations. Quite often, this leads to them getting a late diagnosis, or facing difficulty accessing the relevant support.

Common forms of masking include:

  • Forcing eye contact
  • Preparing things to say in advance of social interactions
  • Copying the social behaviour of others.

Recent research now estimates that the ratio of males to females with autism is 3:1, highlighting how many women are going without a diagnosis.

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