In the early hours of Sunday morning I lay awake, having been woken up my youngest little boy. I groped for my IPhone to scan through the latest news stories. One story in particular caught my eye, the 'revelation' in the online Guardian newspaper about Susan Boyle and how she has finally gained a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. I have to say though that I was not particularly surprised.
This poor woman, I thought, she has lived through 52 years of doubt and misdiagnosis, now she can finally get the help and support that she needs. What must it be like to go through life not being understood or not even understanding yourself? But while reading the article I found myself thinking about the thousands of other women out there who are also misdiagnosed or who cannot gain a diagnosis of Autism. Susan states that she had to go and seek a diagnosis for herself, nobody helped her.
"I went to seek a diagnosis from a Scottish specialist...Nobody told me to. I thought I had a more serious illness and couldn't function properly." The Guardian
Now is the time for the Government to listen and act. There needs to be better diagnostic criteria for women and girls with Asperger's Syndrome, the system at the moment is failing young women and girls.
Autism campaigner and advocate Monique Blakemore who has Asperger's Syndrome is at present campaigning on this matter. She has recently submitted a survey which contains the opinions of 100 women with Asperger's Syndrome entitled 'Asperger Women UK, Autism Strategy Review', to the Department of Education to use in its review of the Adult Autism Strategy. Monique was not diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome until she was 39.
"My own diagnosis was at 39 years and only when I began to research the feminine expressions of autism could I begin to relate to Asperger."
Her Review also contains startling facts about the women who are on the Autistic spectrum. "Only 63.49% were able to obtain a diagnosis through the NHS and 27.55% receive no support and feel no one understands their family and needs."
Monique is also going to be discussing Susan Boyle and how women are referred for diagnosis ten times less than males on BBC Manchester this week.
Olley Edwards, another female Autism campaigner and author/film maker is also campaigning for better diagnostic criteria; she herself has undiagnosed Asperger's and has daughters who are on the Autistic Spectrum. She recently set up an online petition 'Awareness of Asperger's Symptoms in Females', where she states that there needs to be female only criteria for diagnosis of young women. At the moment for every five males that are supported with Asperger's Syndrome, four females remain unsupported.
I now think that there has never been a better time than the present to raise these issues. Susan Boyle by talking openly about her diagnosis and the length of time that it has taken to eventually be diagnosed have most certainly opened the floodgates for other women to come forwards and share their experiences as well as petitioning and raising awareness for better diagnostic criteria for women and girls.
Surely change needs to happen.