Autism in Girls can Lie Hidden

AUTISM Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is diagnosed four times as often in males as it is in females. But is this actually because it’s more common in boys? Last year, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry revealed that the condition may be underdiagnosed in females because the traits we associate most with the condition are masculine, and there’s a growing understanding that the condition can manifest itself in different ways in females.

Girls may be adept at “masking” and may appear more socially active than their male counterparts, but this could be an adaptation to a society where girls are rewarded for being communicative from an early age. A Swedish research team has suggested that the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ), which is still based on research from the 1940s, should be tailored for gender to broaden the catch-net and provide a diagnosis for girls.

Hans Asperger, the Austrian paediatrician who was one of the first researchers to describe autism in children, and whom Asperger’s Syndrome is named after, only studied male subjects. Is it any wonder, then, that there are difficulties describing the condition in girls?

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