Diagnosing Autism in Girls
Did you know…
- Past research has suggested that autism in boys is four times more common than autism in girls. However, newer research suggests that this may not be true.
- Current diagnostic methods may overlook girls.
- The criteria for diagnosing autism spectrum disorder are based on data derived almost entirely from studies of boys.
- Even when girls have the same presentation and symptoms of a boy with autism, oftentimes the diagnosis is delayed or dismissed because of gender.
- Some girls may instead be given diagnoses such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and even anorexia.
- Historically, girl’s symptoms had to be much more severe to warrant the diagnosis, leading to delays in treatment.
- Interestingly, girls with autism are indeed different from other girls in how their brain analyzes social information. But they are not like boys with autism.
- Instead, the autistic girls’ brains look like that of a typical boy of the same age, with reduced activity in regions normally associated with socializing.
In the article, there is much more information about current and upcoming research. Kevin Pelphrey, a leading autism researcher at Yale University’s world-renowned Child Study Center and father of a 12-year-old autistic girl, is leading a collaboration with researchers at Harvard University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Washington to conduct a major study of girls and women with autism, which will follow participants over the course of childhood through early adulthood.
We experienced a delayed diagnosis, probably due to Jessica’s gender as well as her accompanying diagnoses. Three years passed before we officially got Jessica’s diagnosis from an Independent Evaluation. That delay cost her three years of autism focused educational interventions.
Szalavitz, Maia. “Autism–It’s Different in Girls.” Scientific American. N.p., 1 Mar. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.