Have you ever wondered what might be behind the fact that there are four times more boys than girls currently diagnosed with ASD? Spectrum News has put together an intriguing compilation of short articles that offer perspectives on why there is a gender gap in ASD.
Is ASD present as often in girls as in boys, but are girls’ symptoms subtler? Do girls more closely imitate social behaviors of others, such as putting on makeup and learning how to interact in groups in school? One author, mother of a son with autism, did not realize she herself had ASD until adulthood. She writes beautifully about how her own challenges made helping her son more difficult sometimes but that receiving a diagnosis helped her gain more insight on her past and also brought joy; she and her son reveled together in some of their intense interests.
Do our research and clinical methods fail to recognize ASD symptoms more commonly present in females? In the piece “Lost Girls,” one young woman with high-functioning ASD had seen 14 psychiatrists and been given 9 diagnoses before she was finally correctly diagnosed, no doubt causing her stress and harm in the 10 years it took for her to receive her ASD diagnosis.
Or, are females actually protected genetically from ASD relative to males? Do symptoms differ due to socialized gender or biological sex? Calls for ASD research that includes both sexes in both animal and human research have intensified, and it seems like major funding agencies are listening! Expect to see more research on sex and ASD soon.