Sedgewick's results showed that the girls, autistic or otherwise, had similar scores for social motivation and friendship quality. Autistic girls, however, reported substantially less conflict in their closest relationships when compared with non-autistic girls.
As far as the autistic males were concerned, their relationships were qualitatively different. They were less motivated to form friendships and the bonds they did build were less secure, close or helpful than their non-autistic peers.
One of the key findings was that the relationships of autistic girls were more similar to those of non-autistic girls than they were like autistic male's relationships. The autistic girls were also less likely to pick up on conflict within their relationships than non-autistic girls.
The results are a tantalizing glimpse into how a non-gender specific diagnosis might not always pick out autistic girls. Sedgewick says:
"Our findings show that the problems dealing with social relationships are more subtle in autistic girls than they are in autistic boys, which might contribute to the difficulties detecting autism in girls.
Dealing with conflict with friends and significant others could be an important area to target when supporting girls and young women on the spectrum."