Until recently, it was believed that autism was much more prevalent in males than in females, but that the latter suffered from much more severe symptoms.
However, new research is beginning to show that autism presents differently in girls, which means that many aren’t correctly diagnosed and, thus, don’t get the support they need. Even if you think you already know what autism symptoms look like, the following could help you better understand what specific signs to look out for in girls.
Males with Autism Have Become the Standard Profile
Since autism was first discovered by Leo Kanner in 1943, the male profile of symptoms has been treated as the standard. Although many experts accept the widely-reported male-to-female ratio of autism of 4:1, there’s no way of knowing if this is 100% accurate.
Boys tend to present with symptoms previously thought to be more stereotypical of kids with autism. Including behaviors like:
- Fixations on clarifying and organizing
- A natural talent for mathematics and technical systems
- Interest in computers and other machines
- Difficulty deviating from routine
Unfortunately, treating male autism symptoms as the norm has meant that many girls are diagnosed much later or go undiagnosed entirely.
What Autism Looks like in Females
While some girls may have similar symptoms to boys, they may also present with a spectrum of symptoms unique to their gender. These can include:
- A propensity for social imitation
- A tendency to interact directly with others
- Greater shyness or passivity
- More imaginative inclinations
- An interest in people and animals
- Superior linguistic abilities
Again, girls with autism will not necessarily present with all of these symptoms. Some will display impressive linguistic skills but have no interest in animals, for example.
It’s important to recognize the early signs of autism in both genders, so they can be accurately diagnosed and get the earliest interventions possible. Many studies have found that the earlier children are diagnosed, the better chance they have of being receptive to therapies and improving behavioral symptoms.
Right now, it’s believed that approximately 1 in 68 children in the U.S. have autism, but the number could actually be much higher. Parenting children with autism is difficult enough with an accurate diagnosis; raising a daughter who isn’t properly diagnosed will come with all kinds of unnecessary challenges.
If you think your daughter may be autistic, the first step is to seek a diagnosis. Woodburn Pediatric is here to help. Give us a call at 503-981-5348 to set up an appointment.