Girls and autism

from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/prog...

Most people tend to think of autism as a male disorder ... but emerging research shows that girls often have different symptoms which cause them to slip through the net—misdiagnosed or undiagnosed by clinicians. We look at why girls on the autism spectrum present differently, and whether these sex differences are biological or environmental.

From the transcript ...

Francesca Happé: I think we know very, very little really about how autism presents in girls and women. There are some studies, but the main problem is that the studies start in a clinic. And so you can see there is a circularity. If we are missing women and girls with autism because we are not good at recognising them, then studying those we do spot isn't going to tell us very much about the ones we miss.

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Hannah Belcher: Things like depression, anxiety, OCD and borderline personality disorder are really common misdiagnoses for females with autism, and people don't tend to look at the root of them. So with OCD I say that someone with OCD may have to turn a light switch on and off a certain number of times because they feel like something bad will happen, whereas someone with autism may do that and it's quite a soothing mechanism. And I think with girls in particular this has been misconstrued as a different disorder overall. I think that's the main problem with the misdiagnosis.

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Hannah Belcher: I think it's a general problem with psychiatrists, that they aren't given a thorough training on autism. So the view they have is also quite stereotypically male, so it's still a challenge getting through to the doctors that there is a difference.

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Francesca Happé: Some of my friends with autism will say, 'If I could take a pill tomorrow and wake up without autism I would do it instantly because my autism makes me so frightened of the world and so unable to go out and do the things I want to do that I hate having autism.' And then I have other friends, women with autism, who say, 'Autism is who I am and what I am and I wouldn't change it. It is me.'