Autism spectrum signs in girls are often overlooked when it comes to being diagnosed due to parents and teachers not recognising the signs. This is due to the fact that most studies on the signs of Autism in the 1930s/40s were conducted only on boys. They concluded that a child with Autism would be socially withdrawn and obsessed with technical things; children who did not have these characteristics were either misdiagnosed, or simply slipped through the cracks.
“Nobody likes to recognize stereotypes, but in this case, focusing on stereotypical male behavior may actually be harming girls who need care.”
Thomas Frazier II, PhD. Director,
Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health, Center for Autism
The issue here is we should not assume autism spectrum disorder will look the same in both sexes. As parents, and teachers, we view the obsession of people and relationships as normal characteristics in girls, and therefore tend not to report them to a doctor. However if a boy displayed the same behaviour it would cause some concern.
“Characteristics such as shyness and over-sensitivity, are common to people affected by autism, and are sometimes deemed to be typically female traits”
National Autistic Society
The data which is being used today would suggest that it’s time for the medical profession to revisit how they diagnose females. Not only in the differences between male and females with ASD, but also how best to educate parents and teachers to insure these girls don’t slip through the cracks.
Here are some shared traits that are common in some girls with autism, however if you have any concerns you should talk to the parents so they may make an appointment with a doctor.
She may be overly well-behaved and compliant at school so as not to be noticed or recognized as different, but at home may have emotional outbursts.
She might be withdrawn and struggling to make friends at school.
Obsessive interests in people and relationships.
There is an excellent 20 page mini-book published by the Association of Special Educational Needs (Nasen). It is a quick guide to supporting girls with autism spectrum conditions for teachers and anyone that is working or supporting girl pupils with special educational needs.