“A 2012 study by cognitive neuroscientist Francesca Happ of King’s College London and her colleagues compared the occurrence of autism traits and formal diagnoses in a sample of more than 15,000 twins. They found that if boys and girls had a similar level of such traits, the girls needed to have either more behavioral problems or significant intellectual disability, or both, to be diagnosed. This finding suggests that clinicians are missing many girls who are on the less disabling end of the autism spectrum, previously designated Asperger’s syndrome.
Unfortunately, the autistic tendency to be direct and take things literally can make affected girls and women easy prey for sexual exploitation. O’Toole herself was the victim of an abusive relationship, and she says the problem is “endemic” among women on the spectrum, particularly because so many are acutely aware of their social isolation. “When you feel you’re too difficult to love, you’ll love for crumbs,” she says.”
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