Autism has traditionally been diagnosed more frequently in males, but new studies have shown that autism may have nothing to do with sex. The lower prevalence of autism in girls may be due to specific behaviors that indicate autism going unnoticed.
Let’s take a look at why autism in girls is often overlooked and what those signs are.
Girls & Autism
Why have many signs of autism in girls been overlooked for so long? The short answer is behavioral patterns. While the criteria used to diagnose autism are not different for boys and girls, the way the signs appear may be different.
Signs of general autism normally include:
- Social behavior issues
- Communication issues
- Problems understanding relationships
- A very narrow set of interests and areas of focus
- Stimming (repetitive motor actions and/or sounds)
- Difficulty adapting to change
- Extreme reactions to sensory stimuli
This list is very general and non-specific, but they are related to the criteria used to diagnose autism. The behaviors that show some of these issues, however, can be different for boys & girls.
Signs of Autism in Girls
Some of the criteria used to diagnose autism may go unnoticed by parents or teachers when it comes to girls. These signs can manifest in different ways. Some of the signs of autism that girls exhibit more than boys include:
- Introversion. Girls with autism may be more introverted or be considered to be ‘shy’ than boys. While being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean a girl has autism, being severely introverted may be a warning sign.
- Hyper focusing. Hyper focusing is, broadly speaking, complete absorption into a task. In girls with autism, hyperfocus totally prevents them from dividing attention between more than one thing.
- Lack of social awareness. Another sign that a young girl may have autism is a lack of social awareness. This manifests itself in a girl being unable to establish the relevance or importance of others, leading to a lack of understanding social cues.
- Auditory/Sensory Processing. Severe auditory and other sensory processing sensitivities or issues may also be a sign of autism. This is different than being scared of alarmed due to loud or explosive sounds and more about issues with sounds or sensory stimuli most people take no issue with.
- Social Camouflaging. Social camouflaging can be the most difficult sign of autism in young girls for parents to detect. Young girls with mild autism may go undiagnosed due to seeming socially neurotypical. This makes looking for other signs even more important.
What To Do
If you notice any regular occurrences of irregular behavior, you may want to check in with your child’s pediatrician. A single behavioral issue is usually not enough to seek a medical opinion, but frequent irregular episodes could indicate an evaluation.
Seeking professional medical help is the only way to truly get a proper diagnosis.
ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants
If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans to use ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.