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Autism Symptoms in Boys vs. Girls

Posted 04-11-2013 08:26 PM by ChristaIB
Updated 10-09-2017 07:14 AM by IBJose (providing updated CDC link)

April is Autism Awareness Month, so we are taking this opportunity to provide information about this challenging disorder. In recent years, Jenny McCarthy and other celebrities have brought autism into the mainstream media and advocated for more research studies that examine possible causes of the disorder. There is also increasing attention being paid to changes in treatment approaches for children who have been diagnosed with autism.

You may be wondering: What is autism and how do you recognize the signs that someone may have it?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition caused by genetic factors. Symptoms can be present during infancy, but ASD often is not recognized or diagnosed in children until around age three or later. The symptoms or signs that can indicate ASD include:
  • Difficulty with social communication (i.e. speech delays or trouble listening to instructions)
  • Heightened participation in repetitive, sensory behaviors

Is it possible that we are getting better at recognizing the signs of autism spectrum disorder? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there has been a 78 percent increase in diagnosed cases of autism over the last decade. In fact, current statistics reveal that one in every 110 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with ASD. Studies also show that girls and boys differ in relation to ASD:
  • Autism is five times more common in boys than girls
  • Girls with ASD display greater learning disabilities and more problems with academics than boys
  • Extreme shyness or anxiety in girls can be an indicator of ASD
  • Girls donít always engage in the rocking and spinning behaviors that are associated with autism
  • Boys tend to engage in the typical rocking and spinning associated with autism
  • Girls often focus their attention on games or activities that follow "typical girl" themes like ponies and princesses, and this can mask ASD symptoms
  • Boys with ASD tend to engage in repetitive behaviors, such as lining up blocks and running their fingers through sand
  • Boys with ASD might be bullied by other children, while girls with ASD are able to "blend in" with their peers

Since there are differences in ASD symptoms between boys and girls, many experts will apply different approaches to making a diagnosis. It can be very challenging to diagnose girls with autism, because they have better social skills than even high-functioning boys with autism. Girls with ASD generally display extreme shyness, but it can be difficult to determine if a girl is simply shy or if she is not picking up on social cues from those around her.

Regardless of gender, the earlier in life that a child is diagnosed with ASD, the more effective the treatment results in the long term. Treatment plans for ASD are based on each child's specific needs, not gender.

Updated information about autism is now available from the CDC.

Content provided by the Healthboards Editorial Staff
Total Comments 2


  1. Old Comment
    Phoenix's Avatar

    A Heartfelt Thank You

    Hello ChristaIB.

    I thank you sincerely for bringing this to the forefront.

    Posted 04-26-2013 at 01:30 AM by Phoenix Phoenix is offline
  2. Old Comment
    GrodzIB's Avatar
    Phoenix, that's what we're here for!

    We appreciate all your participation on the boards!
    Posted 04-26-2013 at 11:07 AM by GrodzIB GrodzIB is offline

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