Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 1304–1313 | Cite as

Sex Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from a Large Sample of Children and Adolescents

  • William MandyEmail author
  • Rebecca Chilvers
  • Uttom Chowdhury
  • Gemma Salter
  • Anna Seigal
  • David Skuse
Original Paper


Sex differences have been found amongst toddlers and young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We investigated the presence and stability of these ASD sex differences throughout childhood and adolescence. Participants (N = 325, 52 females; aged 3–18 years) consecutively received an ASD diagnosis at a clinic for assessing high-functioning ASD (mean verbal IQ = 92.6). There were no IQ sex differences. By parent report and direct observation, females had less repetitive stereotyped behaviour (RSB), with male-equivalent levels of social and communication impairment. Teachers reported males with ASD as having greater externalising and social problems than females. The female phenotype we describe was stable across our sample’s age range. Their milder RSBs and less severe difficulties at school may lead to under-recognition of ASD in females.


Autism spectrum disorder Pervasive developmental disorder Sex differences High-functioning Comorbidity 



We would like to thank the young people and parents who generously gave up their time to take part in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Mandy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebecca Chilvers
    • 2
  • Uttom Chowdhury
    • 3
  • Gemma Salter
    • 4
  • Anna Seigal
    • 4
  • David Skuse
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Institute of PsychiatryKings CollegeLondonUK
  3. 3.Bedfordshire CAMHS, South Essex Partnership NHS TrustBedfordUK
  4. 4.Institute of Child HealthBehavioural and Brain Sciences Unit, University College LondonLondonUK

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