Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sex differences among people with autism may be minimal

Autism looks similar in girls and boys, suggest results from a large study of medical records1.
Girls with the condition score slightly better than boys on some measures of social function and language ability. But boys and girls show no differences in autism severity, cognitive ability or age at diagnosis, the study suggests.
The effort is the latest to probe sex differences in autism, which is diagnosed in four boys for every girl. Many clinicians say social difficulties are subtler in girls than in boys with autism.
The new findings, published 13 February in Autism, counter the commonly held assumption that there are distinct sex differences in the nature of autism, says lead researcher Joanna Mussey, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The researchers may have failed to capture some disparities, however. For instance, the results relied on tests that do not score repetitive behaviors — a core feature of autism thought to be particularly prominent in boys.