Study: Girls diagnosed with autism later than boys

TIME reports that research examining “gender differences” in kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) suggests that “girls have different, less obvious symptoms compared to boys, which could be why they are generally diagnosed later.” After examining “data on people with ASD and their family members using” the Kennedy Krieger “Institute’s online registry of 50,000 people,” investigators “found that in general, girls were diagnosed with ASD later than boys.”

The Fox News website reports that the study’s findings “showed that girls with a type of autism called pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) – which is characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills – were diagnosed at an average age of four years old, compared to 3.8 years old in boys.”

Researchers also “found that Asperger’s syndrome diagnoses also happened later for girls – at 7.6 years old compared to 7.1 years of age for boys.”

The study’s lead author “said findings suggest that when it comes to social cognition, or the ability to interpret social cues, girls struggle more than boys, while boys have more difficulty with more obvious symptoms like severe mannerisms and repetitive behaviors.”

HealthDay points out, “Results of the new study were … presented … at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego.” Since these findings were presented at a medical conference, they should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the “peer review” process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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