'Social Camouflage' May Lead To Underdiagnosis Of Autism In Girls
Girls appear to have mastered what some call "social camouflaging," says Amanda Gulsrud, clincial director of the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental Clinic at University of California, Los Angeles. Gulsrud develops school interventions for children with autism. The interventions are based, in part, on earlier research done by colleagues at UCLA, who did a study looking at how boys and girls with autism interact with their peers on the school playground. The boys clearly stood out as being different, Gulsrud says. They were very isolated from the other boys, who were in a large group playing sports. The boys with autism were the ones "circling the perimeter of the yard, or off by the tree in the back."
Girls with autism, on the other hand, didn't stand out as much, she says. They stuck close enough to the other girls to look as if they were socially connected, but in reality they were not really connecting. "They were not having deep, meaningful conversations or exchanges," Gulsrud says. They were flitting in and out of that social connection.