Study: Autism affects girls and boys differently - KMSP-TV

Study: Autism affects girls and boys differently

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WJBK - Autism rates are rising. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows cases have increased by 30 percent. Experts say, however, the increase is likely due to better diagnosis.

Diagnosing this developmental disorder that affects social and communication can be tough, but a new study out of the Cleveland Clinic finds a big difference in how autism affects girls versus boys.

Girls are not as singularly focused.  
 
"In girls, it seems like their restricted interests are not quite as easy to detect. So, a girl may have a more age-appropriate interest in dolls, but they only want to talk about certain dolls. And that makes it harder for clinicians to pick up," explains Dr. Tom Frazier.

Dr. Frazier, who led the study, says boys with autism typically have restricted interests.

He says they will often only want to talk about one thing, like dinosaurs or trains.

But the results of this study show the problem is less frequent in girls, which can make it harder to detect.

Dr. Frazier says the findings could lead to the development of new ways or a new approach to diagnosing girls with autism.

"And in these females, because they have less restriction of interest, it may be that we're under-identifying them, that we're not picking them up appropriately. And, in reality, we may have to redesign some of our measures and our diagnostic tools so that we can better capture females with autism," he believes.

Dr. Frazier says the goal would be to identify girls with autism earlier, which will lead to earlier and more tailored treatments.

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