Adult autistic women are still under-recognized (Rynkiewicz et al. 2019). Of more than one billion women aged 50 and over, it is unknown how many are autistic and experiencing menopause. Still considered a taboo topic in many societies, little research exists on how menopause affects autistic women’s health and well-being. Existing studies suggest this often-difficult transition period is associated with many unmet health needs, a frustrating lack of knowledge and support from healthcare professionals, and an absence of resources dedicated to this population (Karavidas &Visser 2022; Rynkiewicz et al. 2022; Moseley et al., 2021).
Menopausal vasomotor symptoms (VMS), or hot flashes and night sweats, are cardinal symptoms of menopause. While VMS are experienced by the majority of women during menopause, in autistic women such symptoms may intensify and worsen sensory sensitivities (Groenman et al. 2022). Recently, more adult women without intellectual disability have pursued a formal autism diagnosis to define their own autistic identity. This often helps them learn to more effectively recognize warning signs of sensory difficulties and meltdowns, and can lead to the self-discovery of unexpected strength, resilience, and confidence in advocating for their needs.