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A mother explains misperceptions about her daughter with autism

About one in every 68 children in the U.S. has Autism spectrum disorder, the CDC says.

However, it’s much more common in boys – with about one in every 42 boys diagnosed, compared to one out of every 189 girls.

It’s this disparity, and the societal expectations around it, that prompted a mother to write this piece for Huffington Post. In “Why You Cannot See My Daughter’s Autism,” Pauline Campos recounts her family’s journey from Maine to their new home of Minnesota – and stopping at a diner for a quick bite.

“That’s where a waitress directed a comment at Campos’ 9-year-old daughter, as she sat there with an iPad.

‘You’re a big girl now,’ [the waitress] said, matter-of-factly. ‘Your mother shouldn’t have to order for you.’

There was no point in correcting her. … My daughter is not rude. She’s not a brat. She can do a lot for herself. At 9 years old, she’s animated with those she is comfortable with ― but sensory overload in public settings means she’s probably playing ‘Minecraft’ on her iPhone.”

What follows is Campos talking about the specific experience of raising a girl with high-functioning autism (which used to be called Asperger’s syndrome), when many people’s understanding of the condition is based on boys, who tend to have more outward displays.

It’s pretty interesting, so make sure to go read the full piece.

And for more on the differences in behavior researchers have found in boys and girls with autism, check out this study by Stanford Medicine (which talks about how girls have less severe repetitive and restrictive behaviors), or this story from Scientific American.

In Minnesota specifically, a study found about 17,000 people with autism spectrum disorder enrolled in a health care program in 2010. About 60 percent of them were under 18 years old. Another study found white and Somali children in Minneapolis were more likely than black and Hispanic children to be identified as having autism spectrum disorder.

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