As of 2012, autism can be found in 1 in 68 children. 1 It was noticed that boys are more diagnosed than girls (1 girl to every 4-5 boys). 1 Is autism really more common in boys than girls? Or are we missing autism in girls?
Autism in girls can be hard to see. Girls with problems dealing with people can be seen as shy. They may live for years without knowing they have autism. This delays diagnosis and treatment. Boys are noted earlier than girls by 2 years.
Most of the time, a child with autism has problems dealing with people, and has repetitive behavior. Girls are aware of these problems but they are good at hiding them. Girls with autism want to deal with people, but don’t know how. They may start copying what others do. ‘They pretend to be normal’. 2 Girls with autism get tired from copying. “It is like math all the time”.2
Unlike boys, girls don’t flap their hands or jump all the time. They may not play with wheels of cars or trucks. These are other reasons for the delay in diagnosis.
Some teen girls love numbers and focus on their weight. They start counting every food they eat. This may end up having an eating problem. An eating problem may be a ‘face’ of autism in girls. Girls with an eating problem and girls with autism have similarities. They are both rigid, love details, and hate changes. Some children with autism are picky eaters with a strict diet.
Autistics can’t read between lines. Girls miss that someone is creepy. They are more at risk for abuse and taken advantage of.
Girls with autism want to make friends. They play with regular toys (dolls or Barbie). They have fewer behavioral problems. They have fewer repetitive moves. They are more at risk for feeling down or worried. They are more at risk for abuse
Girl with autism will need special help. Girls benefit from social groups that teach them how to:
- take care of themselves;
- be appropriate when dealing with people;
- make friends; and
- protect themselves from abuse. 3
If you would like to read more about this topic:
- Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders October 2016, Volume 46, Issue 10, pp 3281–3294, The Experiences of Late-diagnosed Women with Autism Spectrum Conditions: An Investigation of the Female Autism Phenotype Authors: Sarah Bargiela, Robyn Steward, William Mandy , http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-016-2872-8
- Autism—It’s Different in Girls. New research suggests the disorder often looks different in females, many of whom are being misdiagnosed and missing out on the support they need by Maia Szalavitz on March 2016, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/autism-it-s-different-in-girls/
- Attention Finally Being Paid to Girls at Risk of AutismSomer L. Bishop, PhDa, Jeremy Veenstra-Vander Weele, MDb, , , Stephan J. Sanders, MD, PhDa, http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(16)00008-3/abstract
- Autism Behaviors May Differ in Boys and Girls. Study also found gender differences in brain of children with the disorder. By Tara Haelle, https://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-health-information-26/autism-news-51/autism-behaviors-may-be-different-in-boys-and-girls-702957.html