Autism 'may be missed in girls'

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by tansy, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. tansy

    tansy New Member

    Girls with mild autism are less likely to be identified and diagnosed than boys, a study suggests.

    Researchers examined 493 boys and 100 girls with autistic spectrum disorders.

    They found the girls showed different symptoms, and fewer signs of symptoms traditionally associated with autism, such as repetitive behaviour.

    The researchers, who presented their work to a Royal College of Psychiatrists meeting, said this might mean cases among girls are missed.

    "We shouldn't assume autism or Asperger syndrome will look the same in both sexes"
    Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
    University of Cambridge

    Autism is thought to affect four times as many boys as girls - but the latest study suggests this might not be the case.

    Most of the children featured in the study had been seen at the Social and Communication Disorders Clinic at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Additional cases came from Sunderland and Finland.

    All the children were classified as "high-functioning". They did not have classic autism, but did have difficulties with socialising and communication.

    Relationship obsessions

    The researchers, who have yet to publish their research, found that the girls were more likely to have obsessional interests centred around people and relationships.

    However, these interests were more likely to be acceptable to their parents, and therefore tended not to be reported to doctors.

    Characteristics such as shyness and over-sensitivity, common to people affected by autism, are sometimes deemed to be typically female traits
    Judith Gould
    National Autistic Society

    In addition, these types of obsessions were less likely to be discovered using standard diagnostic questionnaires.

    The investigators said more research was needed to analyse how autism spectrum conditions manifest differently in the sexes.

    Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, an autism expert at the University of Cambridge, agreed.

    He said: "This is an important clinical issue and there are too few studies addressing it.

    "We shouldn't assume autism or Asperger syndrome will look the same in both sexes.

    "There may be many factors leading to these conditions either being underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed in females, or leading females to require a diagnosis less often."

    Judith Gould, of the National Autistic Society, said: "We hear from many women who have been diagnosed later in life.

    "The way autism is presented in women can be very complex and so can be missed.

    "It might be that due to misconceptions and stereotypes, many girls and women with autism are never referred for diagnosis, and so are missing from statistics.

    "This may mean that many women who are undiagnosed are not receiving support, which can have a profound effect on them and their families."

    Ms Gould said it was also possible that girls were better at masking difficulties in order to fit in with society.

    "Characteristics such as shyness and oversensitivity, common to people affected by autism, are sometimes deemed to be typically female traits.

    "However if a boy were to display such characteristics, concerns may be raised."

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2008/09/16 23:22:12 GMT

  2. hermitlady

    hermitlady Member

    My 16 yr old daughter is "mildly autistic", devel disabled (mentally 4-7 yrs old), bipolar, oppositional defiant and intermittent explosive. She did not get the diagnosis of autism until she was 9, however they did call her Pervasively Devel Delayed which is sort of in the autism spectrum. Her pediatrician just kept telling me, "she'll catch up". What did I know, I was a first time mom who had never been around kids before!?!

    The sad thing about kids like her getting diagnosed at an older age is that they miss out on several yrs where they could have gotten services and therapies to help them as they develop.

    I finally was able to get her into the Regional Center as a client w the Autism diagnosis, into Spec Ed at school, and have monthly Psychiatrist appts with our County's Children's Mental Health Dept.

    Finding help for her was so very difficult, it still is. Now that Autism is out in the spotlight more, I hope to see more services available thru the county, state and school districts. Insurance companies just do not want to pay for private schools (she's in one paid for by state of CA), hospitalization, residential care etc. And of course all of that is very expensive.

    We're trying to get her into residential placement pd for by the state (under the same Assy Bill that pays for her school), we simply cannot afford $4-5000 a month! When your entire family is in constant turmoil, daily screaming, fighting, throwing, hitting, kicking, death'd think there'd be some help! Not so easy I'm finding out.

    We've had to call 911 and the police have taken her down to the county Children's Eval Center three times over the last year. She gets so out of control and there's no way we can calm her down, she's scary. There they basically just wait for the kid to calm down, talk to them and send them $900 a pop which the ins co won't cover. It's so frustrating, there needs to be more help avail.

    Sorry for the rant, this is just my life lately. She's bigger and stronger than I am and she gets crazy dangerous. I hope better diagnostic tools will become avail because this Autism thing is an epidemic it seems. I hope nobody else ever has to go thru what we have, my poor daughter. We love her so much, but sometimes she's so incredibly mean it's frightening.
  3. Janalynn

    Janalynn New Member

    I just can't imagine how tough life is on a daily basis for you. Of course you love your daughter with all of your heart, that doesn't make the difficulties much easier (well I suppose it does in some ways).
    I have a nephew who is autistic. My brother is so fortunate as his disposition is very gentle and kind. He's a lover. My cousin's son however is severely autistic and cannot live at home. He is too destructive. He can't even go to my Aunt's home (she's 80) because he breaks things and is very powerful. He's over 6 feet tall. They've been kicked out of hotels and most places they've stayed while traveling to visit family. It is such a sad and tragic story that many many families are facing at epidemic proportions.
    My heart goes out to you. Just wanted to send you a personal note - for strength and courage...that God does know who he is giving these children to. At least that is my belief. You will do the best you can.
    Hugs to you my friend.
  4. Missizzy

    Missizzy New Member

    Our family also struggles with autism. Several of our adopted children have spectrum disorders and our biological grand-daughter is high functioning autistic. I know just what you are talking about, hermitlady, as our girl has most of the same diagnoses and behaviors. Her mother is a teacher and is seeking help from the Regional Center. The number of children diagnosed has just imploded. It is really incredible.

    I wanted to point out another interesting article on this important issue. It is at:

    This is another story about how many overlook girls with autism. I have to say, though, Tansy, that I'd never heard about obsessive relationships being a symptom. Isn't that interesting how this might overlap with Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder? I swear all these disorders must be next door neighbors in our brains!!

    One last observation is that children in the foster care system are also under diagnosed and over-looked. We just welcomed home a young man in foster care with a diagnosis of mental retardation. I knew he was also autistic from the moment I met him as did the special educators at our school. How sad that this young man missed out on years of intervention due to the lack of diagnosis. We all have so much to learn.