Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls. This is why the majority of the research done on autism is focused on males. However, this is doing a disservice to females with autism. New research indicates that there are differences between the behavior and brain structure of boys and girls with autism. This new information suggests that perhaps there are many more women with autism out there, but they are being underdiagnosed due to a bias in the research. Further research into the differences between girls and boys with autism will help parents get the resources they need to better treat their girls with autism.
One facet of autism is repetitive and restrictive behaviors. However, it appears that girls do not show these behaviors as often as boys do. These behaviors, such as hand-flapping, rocking, narrow interests, and a need for routine, are in many ways stereotypical autistic behaviors. Autism in girls is more subtle and less obvious. Another facet of autism, difficulty connecting in social situations, may also manifest differently in girls than boys. Girls with autism may have an easier time hiding their symptoms related to communication. Boys with autism are likely to avert their gaze, respond inappropriately, or not respond at all in social situations, making this symptom quite obvious. On the other hand, girls are more likely to mimic social interaction in a way that may appear normal at first, but upon further inspection, seems to be exaggerated and false.
The most recent research also indicates that there are structural differences between the brains of girls and boys with autism. In the parts of the brain associated with motor function and activities, boys had different brain patterns. This indicates that some of the behavioral differences between girls and boys with autism are related to the structure of the brain.
Clearly, more research needs to be done in order to effectively identify better treatment for girls with autism. Until then, trust yourself to know your child and what is best for her. For more autism resources, visit Normal Life Inc.