As I thought about writing a “Women in History” blog, my mind wandered to a recent article I read about why girls with autism are diagnosed later, and less frequently, than boys. From my own experience, our classrooms with children with ASD typically have one girl to every six boys. Additionally, the girls often demonstrate less significant impairment than the boys. As Dr. Paul Lipkin, director of the Interactive Autism Network at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, stated: “We have little understanding of the roots of these differences. Are they biological, social, diagnostic, or tied to other factors, such as screening systems?”
Irrespective of biological reasons, boys tend to be more physical and verbal, drawing attention in the classroom. In comparison, girls tend to internalize their frustrations and keep silent, despite possible emotional issues. This may be why boys are identified at a much earlier stage than girls.
Additionally, symptoms reported among the children differed by gender as well. Girls often have difficulty reading social cues, while boys have increased repetitive behaviors, i.e: hand flapping. Only as boys grow older do they experience the same social issues as girls.
Research such as this helps us to not only better screen children at an early age, but also understand that the best practices may differ for boys and girls. This will enable us to provide the best educational opportunities to both genders.