Case study: Cross-gender preoccupations in two male children with autism
Persons with autism frequently exhibit circumscribed interests and unusual preoccupations. In this case study, two young males with autism are presented who have preoccupations with feminine gender-stereotyped activities and objects. These types of preoccupations in children with autism have not been reported in the literature, but may be more prevalent than realized due to parental underreporting given the negative stigma associated with feminine interests in young boys. The development of gender identity in young children with autism has rarely been addressed in the literature. It seems unlikely that these two cases can be categorized as gender identity disorders. Understanding these preoccupations in the context of autism rather than focusing on the gender identity issues has important implications for treatment. These cases point to the need for further study of the complex interplay of environmental and neurobiologic factors affecting gender identity roles and preoccupations in autism.