Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder that impacts brain development. It is called a “spectrum disorder” because no two cases of autism are the same. Each case of autism can range anywhere from mild to severe. Autism may impact an individual intellectually, and may also impair an individual’s communication skills and motor coordination. Autism is the one of fastest-growing developmental disabilities in the U.S. Currently, there is a lack of solid research proving the exact causes of autism. Most individuals are diagnosed with autism around the age 3. As of 2014, every 1 in 68 U.S. children is diagnosed with Autism. Boys are nearly four to five times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism. Many researchers have questioned the gender differences between the prevalence of autism in males compared to females.
An article written by Alexandra Sifferlin in TIME explained the reasons why girls are less often diagnosed with autism in comparison to boys. A study performed in the journal titled Molecular Autism, looked at 112 boys and 27 girls with autism between ages 3 and 5 years old, along with a control sample of 53 boys and 29 girls without autism. Researchers in the study used diffusion-tensor imaging to look at the corpus callosum, which is the largest neural fiber bundle in the brain, in the young children. The researchers found that the organization of these fibers were different in boys compared to girls, especially in the frontal lobes, which play a significant role in executive functions.
Another study performed by a separate group of researchers found notable differences in symptoms between autistic boys and girls. The researchers found that girls with autism generally display less obvious behavioral symptoms at a young age compared to boys. This could explain one of the reasons why autism in girls may go unnoticed or may be diagnosed later.
From Alexandra Sifferlin's article that included various research studies, I learned that it is critical to gain a better understanding of how gender differences in autism affect how children are diagnosed and treated. By understanding the biological differences between children with autism, we can gain a better understanding of autism as a whole.
Sifferlin, Alexandra. "Why Girls With Autism Are Diagnosed Later Than Boys." Time. Time, 28 Apr. 2015. Web. 04 June 2015. <http://time.com/3837896/autism-girls-diagnosis/>.