Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by a change in brain development that causes differences in social communication, as well as repetitive and stereotyped behaviours.
For those living with this condition, sensory changes، hyperfocusis usually common.
“People with autism have a different way of perceiving the world. This prompts them to direct their attention to other elements of the environment that are not necessarily social stimuli. In a crowded environment, for example, it is possible that the noise of a tool or a car engine in the street draws their attention more than the sounds of people ,” explains psychiatrist Mirianne Rivers-Biasau, professor at the International School of Development (EID) in Brazil.
This is why people with autism behave and learn differently from what is socially expected.
“I learned, for example, to act in a certain environment because I noticed and someone taught me, like my mom. What happens with people with autism is that they can learn to interpret other people’s actions and understand what is expected of them but that doesn’t happen naturally.”
It is the process of trying to imitate behaviors that are considered socially acceptable in groups such as friends at school and work and even in family relationships that is known as “Social camouflage” or “hide”.
“Since it is not normal for people with a neurotype, these situations end up expending more brain energy and the person can become physically and emotionally exhausted,” the expert explains.
The effects of social camouflage on autistic people
Various studies show that social camouflaging efforts by people with autism are associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
One of them was published in 2017 in the scientific journal wadingIt is assumed that men suffer more from these effects, because women generally have less difficulty camouflaging.
Sensory overload crises can also contribute to these conditions, which is why diagnosis is so important. Once we know someone has autism, we can start working on boundaries with that patient. Instead of spending four hours at a party, for example, So someone might be more comfortable staying for just two hours,” Bissau says.
Social camouflage is more common in girls and women
One of the theories accepted by science is the difference between the brain of men and women.
Some studies, such as an analysis published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral ReviewThe female brain has been shown to be more subtly developed in areas that correspond to social behaviors.
This means that more typical behaviors, such as those represented in series with autistic heroes, such as “The Good Doctor” and “Atypical”, are not frequent in women on the spectrum, especially if they are of a moderate degree.
“This makes it difficult even for girls to diagnose.”highlights Joanna Portulis, coordinator of the Autism Spectrum Disorders Program of the IPq Institute of Psychiatry (Institute of Psychiatry) at Hospital das Clinicas de São Paulo.
According to a study conducted in Sweden, the estimate is 10 boys diagnosed for every girl.
Another issue, Bortoliz explains, is that the fear of making “social mistakes” is greater and that girls’ hyper-focus tends to focus on interests not very different from those of their peers of the same age.
In addition, society itself already sets many rules for girls, and this requirement makes them begin to camouflage early.
If the diagnosis does not come in childhood, it is possible for women to better mask the signs of autism, delaying the diagnosis for years.
“I once heard Temple Grandin, an autistic psychologist, say that the idea of you having autism is that you gradually become less and less of a person with the condition, because you keep learning how to act. She says it’s like acting in a play. Theatre.”
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