A Review of the Role of Female Gender in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

This paper reviews the literature exploring gender differences associated with the clinical presentation of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The potentially mediating effect of comorbid psychopathology, biological and neurodevelopmental implications on these gender differences is also discussed. A vastly heterogeneous condition, while females on the lower-functioning end of the spectrum appear to be more severely affected, an altered clinical manifestation of the disorder among high-functioning females may consequently result in many being un or misdiagnosed. To date, there is strong bias in the literature towards the clinical presentation of ASD in males. It is imperative that future research explores gender differences across the autism spectrum, in order to improve researchers’, clinicians’ and the publics’ understanding of this debilitating disorder.

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Acknowledgments

Paul B. Fitzgerald has received equipment for research from Medtronic Ltd, MagVenture A/S and Brainsway Ltd. He has undertaken research with funding and equipment from Cervel Neurotech. He is supported by a NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship. Peter G. Enticott is supported by a NHMRC Clinical Research Fellowship.

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Kirkovski, M., Enticott, P.G. & Fitzgerald, P.B. A Review of the Role of Female Gender in Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 43, 2584–2603 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-013-1811-1

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Keywords

  • Gender
  • Symptomatology
  • Diagnosis
  • Etiology