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Study finds evidence of gender bias toward diagnosing boys with autism

Posted Nov 17 2010 10:44am

As dad to a daughter and ‘step-dad’ to a ‘step-daughter’ who are both autistic, I always find stories and studies like this interesting:

With the severity of autistic traits held constant, boys were more likely to receive an ASD diagnosis than girls.


“We wanted to find out what distinguishes those children without diagnosis but with autistic traits from those who have received a formal ASD diagnosis in the clinic,” explained lead researcher Ginny Russell, from Egenis at the University of Exeter. “We thought that there may be social and demographic factors that explain why some children are diagnosed and others are not. Understanding social factors that act as access barriers may provide useful insights for clinicians in practice.”

And one of those things that they found was that boys were more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Also found was the results that ethnic origin, maternal class and mother’s marital status played no part in receiving a diagnosis whereas the average age of mothers with an ASD diagnosis was 3 years higher than in the population generally.

Financial hardship, partner cruelty and affection, home ownership status, maternal mental health, substance abuse, maternal psychopathology, and being in trouble with the police showed no significant associations with a child receiving an ASD diagnosis.

All this backs up the idea that diagnoses – or the art of diagnosing – autism depend on social factors as well as behavioural and biological factors.

  1. Stuart Duncan:
    Should they make adjustments to account for females with Autism and begin diagnosing more of them, the numbers overall will also adjust and our 1 in 110 numbers will again change prompting more "epidemic" outcries... that things are "getting worse".
  2. Trishinspace:
    Heck, just ask any of the women over at AWN when they were dx...for most of us it was much later in life. Most of the studies and criteria are/were based on males. Still a lot to learn about females.
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