In many ways, autism is the same for girls and boys. Yet in terms of severity and treatment, there are significant differences between how autism affects each gender. This article discusses those differences with an emphasis on statistics drawn from scientific research..
The “autism in girls checklist” is a list of questions that can be asked to determine whether or not a girl has autism. The checklist includes questions about the child’s behavior, communication skills, and social interactions.
<img “=”” src=”https://imagedelivery.net/FNIeVelzVpbuv4Ccsk3seg/a61e3ba6-d911-407b-3d52-b360de117900/public” alt=”— How Autism Differs for Girls & Boys (Science & Statistics)” style=”display:none”>
Boys outnumber females with autism in a disproportionate ratio. For every female diagnosed with autism, three males meet the criteria.
When this number was announced in 2017, academics were ecstatic. Prior research claimed the disparity was significantly bigger, which experts blamed on misdiagnosis. They warned us that girls were falling between the gaps and that they weren’t receiving the support they needed. The logic is that the more females who get a diagnosis, the fewer instances will be neglected.
Others, on the other hand, aren’t so convinced.
According to some experts, evidence suggests that guys have autism vulnerabilities that girls do not. Others argue that since the diagnostic techniques we employ are designed exclusively for males, we may never be able to detect all of the girls with autism.
The more we learn about the differences between boys and girls with autism, the more we can improve our testing, treatments, and methods. Perhaps, in time, we will be able to provide the support that females with autism need while also acknowledging the very real dangers that boys confront.
Is it possible that genes are to blame?
Boys and females have physical distinctions that go beyond skin deep. According to scientists, a female brain is anatomically different from a male brain, as well as having a distinct genetic makeup. These two elements may provide some protection.
The cortex, or outer layer of the brain, is densely packed with nerves that control:
When compared to males, women’s cortices are thicker. According to a 2017 research, having a thin cortex, regardless of gender, increases the chance of autism.
The theory holds that since women’s cortexes are naturally thicker, they have built-in protection against autism. They have some spare tissue, thus the illness may manifest in a moderate form for them, if it manifests at all.
In addition, women’s genetic makeup differs from men’s. Males have one X-chromosome, whereas females have two. Researchers discovered an X-chromosome mutation linked to autism. Because women have two, a flawed version may be overridden by the cleaner half of the pair, providing additional protection.
These kinds of studies are just getting started. More research should be done with:
Despite the need for greater investigation, preliminary findings point to biological variations that might explain discrepancies in diagnosis.
Are Expectations the Root of the Problem?
Our expectations of boys and girls perpetuate gender stereotypes. Certain academics and experts feel that how we perceive how girls and boys should act might mask some autism symptoms while exacerbating others.
This topic was investigated by researchers in 2019. Their research materials included:
- Parents. Adults who are parenting children with autism spectrum disorder were studied.
- Twins. Over 30,000 youngsters were enrolled in the study.
- Data that has been established. As a control, they selected research that had already been published.
Boys with autism had higher autism-specific scores than their female counterparts, according to the study. The girls with autism, on the other hand, showed very different test outcomes than neurotypical females.
To put it another way, the boys scored well on autism scales. Even when their autism scores were modest, the girls were quite different from their contemporaries.
Bullying is triggered by differences. According to this research, females with autism may be overlooked in normal exams, even if their friends notice something is wrong. Do we make the situation worse by enabling females to bully one other?
Bias is the focus of several studies. Do we believe there will be more guys with autism and so test them more often than girls?
Researchers tracked youngsters from birth in one study. The youngsters were given autism testing on a regular basis, and the gender gap between boys and girls remained. Some people believe the exams are to blame.
Tests for autism may check for signs that are generally associated with men, such as:
- Hyperactivity or impulsivity are two terms for the same thing.
- Problems with conduct.
- Rather of holding difficulties within, people tend to externalize them (by shouting, for example).
- Peer shunning or a lack of social skills.
Experts believe there may be a distinct female type of autism that requires a specialized screening technique. If females are expected to be quiet, calm, obedient, and nice by society, this pressure may lead them to conceal or transform their autistic tendencies.
Do girls try to hide their autism symptoms?
Masking occurs when individuals hide their symptoms in order to avoid being detected. Some experts feel that females with autism are skilled at concealing their difficulties, despite the fact that they persist. This might prevent them from receiving the assistance they need.
Masking, according to experts, may include:
- Interests. Autism causes intense fascination with a small number of themes. Maps, mathematical equations, and other adult-appearing things might be the focus for guys. Girls, on the other hand, may like gender-appropriate items such as unicorns or horses.
- Social abilities. Girls with autism are more likely to make eye contact and smile than guys with autism.
- Order. For persons with autism, routines and structure may be soothing. This is often disregarded in females as conventional feminine hygiene.
- Imitation. Some autistic females are aware that their interactions with the outside world are unique. They learn to replicate as much as possible from their classmates.
Girls who are good at disguising pay a high price. According to studies, individuals experience greater levels of despair and anxiety in adolescence than their peers. If they never get the proper diagnosis, they may be treated for illnesses they don’t have, with negative outcomes.
People with autism, for example, often have limited dietary habits. Girls may be misdiagnosed with anorexia and forced into programs that solely deal with disordered eating. These girls may never approach food in the manner their therapists hope they would until the autistic component of their eating is addressed.
Spotting Autism in Boys & Girls
Autism research is still going on. As we learn more, statistics and our general knowledge change. For example, although scientists may detect autism-related brain abnormalities in newborns while still in the womb, they can’t diagnose autism using a brain scan. To establish an official diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, doctors depend on interviews with parents and children.
Autism may be diagnosed in youngsters as early as two years old, according to specialists. The disease may be accurately diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 24, while most children are diagnosed around the age of three. Your doctor will inquire about important dates, such as:
Notes from family members, babysitters, and other caretakers may also be examined by doctors. Teachers may also give comments to older youngsters.
Symptoms of autism in a girl include:
- A strong desire to learn about animals, literature, music, or art.
- A vivid imaginal existence.
- A need for control over her surroundings as well as her relationships.
- Excellent mimicking abilities.
- Sound and tactile perceptions have been improved.
Boys may exhibit some of these symptoms, but they may also exhibit at-school behavior issues, poor language abilities, a refusal to establish eye contact, and a desire for strange vocal noises.
Consult your doctor if you notice symptoms in your kid that appear unexpected or out of the ordinary. Request a second opinion from a psychiatric or mental health specialist if your doctor disagrees with your evaluation. Autism may be difficult to detect in some children, and it’s not uncommon for parents to fight for months before receiving a diagnosis.
The importance of a diagnosis is that it links your kid to treatments that may assist. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment, for example, may help your kid comprehend autism and learn how to improve abilities that have been hampered by it.
Although ABA treatment may be intensive, resulting in long-term consequences, specialists know how to make it entertaining and engaging for children. It could be the answer your family has been searching for.
High-functioning autism is a condition that may occur in teenage girls and boys. It can cause difficulty with social interaction, language, and communication skills. In girls, the symptoms of high-functioning autism are often more severe than in boys. Reference: high-functioning autism teenage girl.
- high-functioning autism in females symptoms
- gender differences in autism
- female autism test
- average age of autism diagnosis in females
- late diagnosis autism female
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.