Fact sheet for information and discussion on the gender imbalance in diagnosis of Autism, an Autism Spectrum Disorder


When it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorders, boys far outnumber girls in being diagnosed, with the ratio being estimated at least 4:1. There is no clear reason for this, but some theories have been put forward for as an explanation.


the extreme male brain

Some years ago, the Men are from Mars Women are from Venus series of books proved very popular in exploring the differences between males and females in a way that appealed to the non-scientific reader. Other more scientific approaches have found males to be less empathetic and more technically minded than females - though of course this is not true in every case. It can be argued that the typical male personality is naturally inclined toward some of the characteristics of Autism and Asperger's syndrome, so boys are more likely to be diagnosed simply because girls generally have more developed social skills at a given age and will perform better on diagnostic tests. Studies have found much higher prevalence in boys at the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, while the ratios appear to be closer to 1:1 at the low-functioning end. In addition, a study published in 2006 suggested that men over 40 are more likely than younger men to father a child with Autism, and that the ratio of Autism incidence in boys and girls is closer to 1:1 with older fathers.


failure of accurate diagnosis

Another theory is that females are under represented because they fail to be diagnosed accurately. Girls and women may pose a greater ability to mimic socially appropriate behavior than their male counterparts. Females may be just as out of depth in interactive situations, but are more able to mask this by pretending to be socially competent.


diagnosis due to misbehavior

Diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder often occurs at school and will often come about because inappropriate behavior has called attention to the child. Statistically males are more likely to engage in behaviors that brings them to the attention of school authorities, so possibly female students are more likely to 'slip under the radar' when it comes to a mild Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) being diagnosed. This also opens up the possibility of male students with behavioral problems being mistakenly diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder by an inexperienced practitioner. There have also been accusations made of schools being motivated to diagnose Autism and Asperger's syndrome in borderline cases in order to attract more funding.


As with many aspects of Autism, Asperger's syndrome and other Autism Spectrum Disorders, more research is needed before causes of this gender imbalance can be stated with certainty.


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This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation. It is derivative of an Autism and Aspergers-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org

Boys far outnumber girls in being diagnosed, with the ratio being estimated at least 4:1  when it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorders such as Autism and Asperger's syndrome