By Lauretta Iyamu
Reading time 5 minutes ⏰
Girls who suffer from an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes delay receiving a diagnosis, which has a direct impact on their development in society. However, you note this phenomenon is even more marked among girls. A female characteristic differs from the male when it comes to ASD, the latter being more associated with the typical characteristics of autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview
Autism is not a mental illness and is not linked to psychological problems. It is a neurological disorder that affects the development of people who have it. Since ASDs manifest in several ways from one person to another, it is difficult to identify them. However, these differences are particularly noticeable at the level of;
Verbal and non-verbal communication
Interests and behaviours that are restricted and/or atypical.
A study conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that the prevalence of ASD in Canada is 1 in 66 among the young population aged from 5 to 17 years old. An estimate of 1 in 42 boys has an ASD, while the proportion is only 1 in 165 among girls. This report means that the prevalence of ASD is four-time higher in boys than in girls. A good question you may be asking could be, is this marked difference linked to a predisposition in men, or a lack of knowledge of the female ASD profile?
How does the female ASD Profile stand out?
Girls are associated with better communication and language skills than boys of the same age. When it comes to ASD, this somehow camouflages the difficulties encountered in communicating with peers.
Also, girls who have ASD are associated with an increased ability to observe the behaviours of other and imitate them, which allows them to adapt better to a social context due to an interest in other who seem better developed. They have less aggressive behaviours towards their classmates and those around them than their male counterparts.
In addition, while boys with ASD often have unusual interests, girls are more likely to be associated with strong interests in certain aspects of their lives such as music, animals, TV shows, etc.
What to do in case of doubt?
Whether a girl or a boy, the best thing to do if you suspect the presence of an ASD is to consult a professional. Only doctors and psychologists are qualified to make an ASD diagnosis. You can also other professionals such as occupational therapists and speech therapists because they can have a beneficial impact on stimulating the development of the child. These professionals will observe the behaviour of your child to detect signs that could help the doctor, or the psychologist issue a diagnosis.