Girls, Repetition and Autism

Boys are about four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism (autism spectrum disorder) than girls. Because of this, there is plenty of information out there about boys and this condition, but less so for girls.

While there are many signs appearing early on in both boys and girls that can be traits of autism, one that is proving less frequent in girls is that of repetition.

Children with autism are often prone to repetitive behavior by doing, playing with, watching, or listening to the same thing over and over.

A new study recently published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders shows that girls exhibit this behavior far less than boys do.

The research was based on more than 2,600 people (of all ages) with autism affiliated with a group called the European Autism Intervention.  The greatest difference in this repetitive behavior was seen in children ages five years and younger—when autism may first be detected.

Data was gathered from two standard diagnostic tests—the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R).

Boys at this age ranked significantly higher in severity for repetitive behavior over girls.

As repetition is not the sole indicator of autism, other characteristics to look for include:

             Restricted behavior or range of interests

             Developmental challenges

             Difficulty interacting in social settings

Extreme shyness can also be associated with autism, but it is often overlooked in girls who tend to be more quiet and mild-mannered than boys.

Experts say that while this study was small, it suggests there is much more to learn about how differences in this condition affect and present themselves in boys and girls.

(Adapted from Spectrum)

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