Health: Autism Diagnosis in Boys and Girls

The Story: 

Although autism manifests itself both in boys and girls, it has become customary to think of autism as predominantly a boys’ disorder — typically showing up in the period between their second and third birthdays. According to conventional counts, there is just one girl with autism (or “autism spectrum disorder”) for every four boys.

A New Look:

But scholars are taking a new look at this apparent discrepancy. Perhaps autism is simply less often diagnosed in girls than in boys. A quiet passive demeanor in a boy may be seen as potentially pathological by observers who would regard the same behavior in a young girl as normal, or at least within a normal range.

Another factor: in day care or kindergarten context, some girls take others under their wings. The mentors will jump into a situation in a protective way when the less mature or adept girl seems confused.  Among boys, such mentor-protege relationships are rare at that stage. This means that social isolation and the lack of social skills may simply be more obvious to adult observers among the boys than among the girls.

In Pill Form:

The true difference in occurrence as between boys and girls, if any, then, may be overstated in the differences in the rate of diagnoses.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.