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Autism Awareness Month – Looking at girls with ASD

So, we are coming to the end of April – Autism Awareness Month, and I thought I would share an interesting article around Autism awareness, particularly in diagnosing it in young girls.

The article talks about how diagnosing girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be “tricky” (Lowry, 2017). Some of the main reasons include:

  • Girls present differently to boys, despite the core symptoms of ASD being present

  • ASD is much more prevalent in boys (3.4:1), so more attention is paid to how it manifests in boys, with recent research staring to look at gender differences across core symptoms.

The article analyses two research studies (Van Wijngaarden-Cremers et al. (2014) & Hiller et al. (2014)) that look at the gender differences in ASD symptoms, both using two different methods of research.

The article concluded that more research would assist in better understanding ASD in girls, and the main reasons it stated for why ASD is harder to detect in girls was as follows:

  • “Their behaviour at school may seem less impaired or concerning than that of boys

  • They may show fewer and random restricted, repetitive behaviours

  • They may be better able to regulate their behaviour and adjust to a variety of settings

  • Their imaginative play may be better than boys’

  • They may seek out friendships, even though they have trouble maintaining them

  • They may have some ability to engage in conversation, share their interests, and use gestures” (Lowry, 2017)

In all, it was an interesting read and the two research articles provide much needed information in assisting professionals in identifying girls with ASD. I agree with Lowry that identifying girls with ASD is “tricky”, particularly as our evidence and experience of the condition is very male dominant.

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