According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, significantly more boys have been diagnosed with autism than girls. In fact, it appears about four boys have a diagnosis for every girl. In the past, researchers theorized autism was more prevalent in boys because of genetic differences. But recent research has indicated there may not be a significant gender gap in autism at all, but rather it appears this way as girls tend to present their neurodivergent behaviors differently, and so they tend not to be noticed. There’s even a term for them: ‘lost girls,’ named for the way they’re overlooked. Girls are often raised with different social expectations than boys, which could be a contributing factor in the different symptom presentations.
Learn more about precisely how and why autism appears differently in girls now.
Diagnostic Data Derived Around Boys
Autism is a difference in neurological development that causes sensory processing issues, repetitive behaviors, and trouble learning social skills and verbal communication, the extent to which varies based on the individual, hence why it is typically considered a spectrum condition. But according to clinical neuropsychologist Susan Epstein, the classic model of symptom presentation is based entirely on boys. In fact, most of the research regarding autism has been based on male patients. In fact, researchers now believe these models of autistic behavior may have actually hindered progress in understanding autism and how the brains of individuals with autism function. Boys tend to be loud and have obvious hyperfixations, while the presentation in girls may be more subtle. The main takeaway is this: Autism can present in hundreds of unique ways, and limiting diagnosis to one very narrow set of characteristics is detrimental.
Keep reading to learn about how overlapping diagnoses may come into play in girls with autism next.