Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 317–330 | Cite as

Sex differences in autism

  • Catherine Lord
  • Eric Schopler
  • Dennis Revicki


Comparisons were made between male and female children with autism, 384 boys and 91 girls, aged 3 years to 8 years, on nonverbal measures of intelligence, adaptive functioning, receptive vocabulary, perception, and eye-hand integration, and on ratings of affect, play, and relating and human interest. Males showed more advanced performances on eye-hand integration and perception skills on the Psychoeducational Profile (PEP) and had higher nonverbal IQs social quotients, and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) IQs than females. When nonverbal IQ was controlled, the main effect of sex remained; however, sex differences on PPVT scores and on eye-hand integration and perception scale disappeared. Males showed more unusual visual responses and less appropriate, more stereotypic play than females. These results are discussed in terms of hypotheses concerning sex differences in genetic thresholds and in hemispheric lateralization.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arthur, G.The Arthur adaptation of the Leiter International Performance Scale. Chicago: Psychological Service Center Press, 1952.Google Scholar
  2. Bayley, N.Manual for the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. New York: Psychological Corporation, 1969.Google Scholar
  3. Bradshaw, J. L., Gates, A., & Nettleton, N. C. Bihemispheric involvement in lexical decisions: Handedness and a possible sex difference.Neuropsychologia, 1977,15, 277–286.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bryden, M. P. Sex-related differences in cerebral organization. In M. A. Wittig & A. C. Peterson (Eds.),Sex-related differences in cognitive functioning. New York: Academic Press, 1979. Pp. 121–144.Google Scholar
  5. Coleman, M. A report on the autistic syndromes. In M. Rutter & E. Schopler (Eds.),Autism: A reappraisal of concepts and treatment. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  6. Damasio, A., & Maurer, R. A neurological model for childhood autism.Archives of Neurology, 1978,35, 777–786.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Doll, E. A.Vineland Social Maturity Scale. Circle Pines, Minnesota: American Guidance Service, 1965.Google Scholar
  8. Dunn, L. M.Expanded manual for the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Minneapolis: American Guidance Service, 1965.Google Scholar
  9. Hollingshead, A., & Redlich, F.Social class and mental illness. New York: Wiley, 1958.Google Scholar
  10. Lotter, V. Factors related to outcome in autistic children.Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 1974,4, 263–277.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Maccoby, E., & Jacklin, C. N.The psychology of sex differences. London: Oxford University Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  12. Prior, M. P., & Bradshaw, J. L. Hemispheric functioning in autistic children.Cortex, 1979,15, 73–82.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Schopler, E., & Reichler, R.Psychoeducational Profile: Individualized assessment and treatment for autistic and developmentally delayed children. Baltimore: University Park Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  14. Schopler, E., Reichler, R., DeVellis, R., & Daly, K. Toward objective classification of childhood autism: Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS).Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1980,10, 91–103.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Springer, S. P., & Deutsch, G.Left brain, right brain. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1981.Google Scholar
  16. Stutsman, R. Guide for administering the Merrill-Palmer Scale of Mental Tests. In L. M. Terman (Ed.),Mental measurement of preschool children. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1931. Pp. 139–262.Google Scholar
  17. Symmes, J. Evaluating competence and accessibility in autistic children. In M. Coleman (Ed.),The autistic syndromes. New York: Elsevier, 1976.Google Scholar
  18. Tsai, L., Stewart, M. A., & August, G. Implication of sex differences in the familial transmission of infantile autism.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1981,11, 165–173.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Wechsler, D.Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children — Revised. New York: Psychological Corporation, 1974.Google Scholar
  20. Wing, L. K.Early childhood autism. Oxford: Pergamon, 1976.Google Scholar
  21. Wing, L. Sex ratios in early childhood autism and related conditions.Psychiatry Research, 1981,5, 129–137.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Wing, L., Gould, J., Yeates, S. R., & Brierley, L. M. Symbolic play in severely mentally retarded and in autistic children.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1977,18, 167–178.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Lord
    • 1
  • Eric Schopler
    • 2
  • Dennis Revicki
    • 3
  1. 1.Glenrose HospitalUniversity of Alberta School of MedicineEdmonton
  2. 2.University of North CarolinaChapel Hill
  3. 3.Eastern Carolina University School of MedicineUSA

Personalised recommendations