As girls with autism seem to struggle more than boys while performing routine tasks like getting dressed or making small talk, it may delay or prevent autism diagnosis among them, a study has revealed.
The findings add to the growing evidence that girls with autism may show symptoms differently than boys and that some of the social difficulties experienced by females with autism may be masked during clinical assessments.
“Based on our research criteria, parents report that the girls with autism seem to have a more difficult time with day-to-day skills than the boys,” said lead author of the study, Allison Ratto.
“This could mean that girls who meet the same clinical criteria as boys actually are more severely affected by ongoing social and adaptive skill deficits that we don’t capture in current clinical measures, and that autistic girls, in general, may be camouflaging these types of autism deficits during direct assessments,” Ratto added.
The study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, used an age and IQ-matched sample of school-aged youth diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to assess sex differences according to the standard clinical tests, including parent reported autistic traits and adaptive skills.
“Though today’s clinical tools do a really good job identifying boys at a young age with a wide range of symptom severity, they do it less effectively for girls,” said Lauren Kenworthy, Director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
“We have to find better ways to identify girls with autism so we can ensure the best approaches reach all who need them as early as possible,” Kenworthy added.