It's true--boys are diagnosed with Autism four times as often as girls. Even with similar levels of trait severity, women and girls are less likely to be diagnosed than boys and men. But why?
Why is it so difficult to diagnose girls with Autism?
Girls with Autism often go undiagnosed because they do not fit Autism stereotypes and may mask symptoms better than boys do. Yet a growing body of research shows that the condition is more common in girls than previously thought (Leach, 2022).
Girls with Autism are sometimes better at controlling their behavior in public. They might be more interested in making friends than boys with Autism, and the restrictive interests that are so evident in boys may actually be stereotypical interests for girls, i.e., horses, unicorns. Girls just tend to get by. They might not understand what is popular or common with their classmates or age-range, but girls will try to follow and imitate what they see (Arky, 2022).
All of this can make for a more subtle version of Autism that a doctor may not recognize. Some girls with Autism are even misdiagnosed or completely missed by current diagnostic tools (Arky, 2022).
What is the Cost of Missed Autism Diagnoses in Girls?
As they age, undiagnosed girls with Autism may begin to question: Why won't others be my friend? Why don't I fit in?, often leading to depression, anxiety and loss of self-esteem. They may become targets of bullying or sexual predators. Eventually, girls with Autism work so hard to fit in that it often wears them out emotionally.
The Autism Society of Greater Akron has compiled a list of resources that will shed light on the idiosyncrasies of girls with Autism and the structure of the diagnostic tools that make diagnosis more difficult.
What to Know: Autism in Girls
Autism is more common in boys than in girls. This can mean that parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers may be less likely to look for symptoms of autism in girls.
Stereotypes about typical male and female behaviors can cause some people to miss some symptoms. Many people think of girls as naturally quieter or more content to play alone than boys. However, speaking less and preferring to spend time alone can both be symptoms of autism.
Symptoms of Autism in Girls
Could your daughter, or another young girl in your life, have autism? The answer may not be as obvious as it would be if you had a son. That's because signs of autism in girls and women are not the same as those in boys and men. They can be easy to miss, particularly in cases of high-functioning autism.
Why Many Autistic Girls Are Overlooked
Many more boys than girls are diagnosed on the autism spectrum: .... Researchers point to genetic differences. But clinicians and researchers have also come to realize that many “higher functioning” autistic girls are simply missed. They’ve been termed the “lost girls” or “hiding in plain sight” because they’re overlooked or diagnosed late.
Autism in Girls: Jumping Hurdles on the Path to Diagnosis
An autism diagnosis can affect people in many different ways. For some, it can be negative and put up additional barriers to education and employment. For others, however, it can be positive and open the doors to the support that they and their family need. It can also bolster someone’s sense of self and belonging within the autistic community.
What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew
Sharon DaVanport, an autistic and disabled activist and the founding executive director of the Autism Women’s Network, says the group’s book, What Every Autistic Girl Wishes Her Parents Knew, was born when AWN went online. “Parents most commonly inquire about how autistic women approached various topics when they were their daughter’s age,” says DaVanport, one of the book’s three co-editors. “This led to the idea of putting together a publication where parents could readily access a wide variety of views and suggestions from autistic adults."
Girls and Boys on Autism Spectrum Tell Stories Differently, Could Explain “Missed Diagnosis” in Girls
Boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) ... A new study from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) examined differences in the way girls and boys on the autism spectrum used certain types of words during storytelling.