Author: Kim Berry, Paediatric Occupational Therapist
3 min read
Boys are diagnosed with autism at a greater rate than girls.
Our understanding of autism in Australia has improved significantly in recent years. As our thinking has evolved, it has become apparent that there may be a difference in the way that characteristics of autism present in girls and boys.“Kim Berry
While everyone’s experiences of autism are different, there are some characteristics that boys on the spectrum are likely to display in two areas:
- Social communication and interaction
- Repetitive or restricted behaviour, interests or activities
It is generally accepted that the rate at which boys in Australia are diagnosed with autism is higher than in girls. There is thought to be a 4 or 3:1 ratio of boys diagnosed as being on the spectrum compared to girls, although most researchers also accept that this is not likely to be a true reflection of the prevalence of autism across the country.
There are no conclusive or universally accepted reasons as to why more boys are diagnosed with autism. Although, this has increasingly been an area of interest for researchers in recent years.
Some of the reasons that have been suggested for this disparity include:
- A longstanding perception that autism is a ‘male condition’.
- Tools used to support a diagnosis may be biassed towards identifying the characteristics more commonly displayed by boys.
- Boys with characteristics of autism are more easily identified by parents, carers, teachers or health professionals.
- Boys are likely to be diagnosed much earlier than girls, even when their severity levels are similar.
So what can autism in boys look like?
- not responding to their name.
- avoiding eye contact.
- not smiling when you smile at them.
- getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound.
- repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers or rocking their body.
- not talking as much as other children.
If your son or a child in your care is exhibiting some of these characteristics, it may be helpful to seek professional advice. It’s worth looking into.
Although this may prompt feelings of uncertainty, speaking to a qualified healthcare professional like your GP or an occupational therapist can help you better understand your child’s development. They can also assist in identifying what services you may need.
For more information about autism or to make an enquiry about an occupational therapy assessment for your child, contact MoveAbout Therapy Services. You’ll be connected with an experienced and compassionate paediatric OT.
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