Women's Institute Thinking differently: Autistic and ADHD women and girls

The Women's Institute has long been recognised for its role in advocating for women's rights and empowerment.

It has been made evident in recent years that ADHD and autism are often under-diagnosed and misdiagnosed in females. This is largely due to the fact that the diagnostic criteria were historically based on male presentation of symptoms. The Women’s Institute aims to rectify this by promoting understanding of the unique challenges faced by neurodiverse women. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) are both lifelong conditions. ASC affects social interaction, communication, and behaviour. ADHD is characterised by affected behaviour included inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.In addition, both conditions sensory sensitivities are commonly present, necessitating awareness and accommodation.

Autistic and ADHD traits in women and girls often go unnoticed or are misattributed to other conditions. “Neurodevelopmental specialists and clinical psychologists highlight that autism and ADHD symptoms in women can often be misunderstood and misdiagnosed by medical professionals”. The Women’s Institute highlights the delays in receiving necessary support and services that many women and girls face. Furthermore, by emphasising the distinct symptoms and challenges faced by women, the campaign hopes to encourage healthcare professionals to consider these factors during diagnosis.

To effectively support autistic and ADHD women and girls, it is essential to transition from traditional approaches to more inclusive and understanding methods. The Women’s Initiative campaign has facilitated the formation of support groups and online communities where women with ADHD and autism can connect and share experiences. These support networks offer a safe space for women to discuss challenges and provide mutual encouragement and fosters a sense of belonging. 

The campaign also provides accurate information about autistic and ADHD women's experiences helping to dispel misconceptions. An information pack is available for the Women’s Institute’s website, outlining intentions, offering information, ways to take action as an individual, busting misconceptions and emphasising the necessity for the campaign. 


The Women's Institute has a vital role to play in championing the rights and empowerment of all women and girls, including those with autism and ADHD. By recognising and addressing their unique challenges, they aim to create a society that embraces neurodiversity and supports the full participation of all individuals.