Autism in Boys vs. Girls: Is There a Difference?

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, affects children and adults, both male and female. As a disorder of the brain, it is characterized by repetitive behaviors, impaired social communication, restricted interests, and rigidity.

When considering the prevalence of autism in boys vs. girls, boys are diagnosed with autism about four times more often than girls. However, recent research reveals that the condition may be more common in girls than previously thought.

Many girls go undiagnosed each year, due to gender biases in diagnosing and the fact that girls tend to “mask” their symptoms better than their male counterparts. Girls also may present symptoms differently than boys, leading health professionals to overlook an ASD diagnosis. [i] [ii] [iii]

If your son or daughter has been diagnosed with Autism, we can help.

The Drake Institute uses advanced treatment technologies to create customized treatment protocols for patients with autism. Brain map-guided neurofeedback and neurostimulation help our ASD patients reduce symptoms and lead more fulfilling and successful lives.

For more information regarding our non-drug treatment programs, call us at 800-700-4233 or fill out the contact form.  

What Is Autism?

Autism is a neurological disorder that arises during brain development. Autism is thought to be caused by genetic, environmental, and other factors, and results in brain dysregulation. An unusually high percentage of children on the autism spectrum can show epileptiform discharges, though they’re not having a seizure.  

In 2013, autism was reclassified under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder, a spectrum that also includes Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegration disorder, and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified).

ASD can affect anyone and is considered a lifetime diagnosis. Symptoms are varied and not every patient will experience symptoms to the same degree. There can be mild, moderate, or severe impairment.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

The first alert that autism may be present in children is that the child is experiencing developmental delays vs. neurotypical developing peers. When autism is suspected, we recommend a clinical assessment. We also recommend including a qEEG brainmap in the assessment to determine if there are any dysregulated networks of the brain linked to symptoms.

Parents, teachers, childcare workers, and others who work closely with the child will often be the first to notice if a child is not developing on pace with peers. Keeping a close eye on developmental delays will help you monitor whether a formal diagnosis might be needed. According to DSM-5, autism criteria includes[iv]

  • Deficits in social communication and social interaction
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, or activities
  • Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period
  • Symptoms cause impairment
  • Disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Autism?

Many of the signs and symptoms of autism are revealed before the age of two, and others follow shortly thereafter. This is true for both girls with autism and boys with autism.

According to the CDC, some common signs and symptoms of autism include the following: [v]

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Doesn’t respond to name by 9 months of age
  • Lack of facial expressions (e.g., happy, sad, angry, etc.) by 9 months of age
  • Doesn’t play simple interactive games (e.g., pat-e-cake) by 12 months of age
  • Uses few or no hand gestures (e.g., doesn’t wave hello or goodbye) by 12 months of age
  • Doesn’t share interests with others (e.g., doesn’t show you their favorite toy) by 15 months of age
  • Doesn’t point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age
  • Doesn’t notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
  • Doesn’t notice other children and play with them by 36 months of age
  • Doesn’t pretend to be someone else (e.g., teacher, superhero, etc.) by 48 months of age
  • Doesn’t sing, act, or dance for you by 60 months of age

How Do Autistic Boys & Girls Compare?

Male vs. female autism symptoms are the same but can be expressed slightly differently.

How do autistic boys and girls compare?

Boys are diagnosed nearly 3-4 times as often as girls and may experience more severe symptoms. Girls are often diagnosed later than boys or in some cases, they may be entirely overlooked. [vi]

Autism in Boys

Nearly one in every 42 boys in the US has received an ASD diagnosis. One of the most common symptoms seen in autistic boys is restrictive interests and repetitive play. This symptom tends to be much more pronounced in boys than in girls with ASD. In addition, the topics of interest may be out of the ordinary or less acceptable to others.

Communicating with others is often a struggle for autistic boys. It may be difficult for them to make eye contact and initiate or sustain conversations. [vii]

Autism in Girls

Girls with autism generally experience the same or similar symptoms as boys. The major difference between girls with autism vs. boys with autism is that autistic symptoms in girls may be difficult to detect by the untrained eye, so the presence of autism may be overlooked.

Because girls are naturally more inclined towards sociability, autistic girls make a greater effort to mask their disorder to better fit in with their peers. For example, girls “camouflage” their autistic symptoms better than boys, in an effort to act “normally” around their peers.

For example, a quiet, shy girl who avoids eye contact is more in line with society’s expectations than a boy would. Her quietness or shyness is more likely to be socially accepted, so it’s less likely to trigger concern about autism. 

Added Risks for Autistic Girls

There’s an added risk for autistic girls that their condition may be less likely to be diagnosed than autism in boys, and therefore could remain untreated, causing a delay in receiving support and clinical care.

The earlier a diagnosis is established, the sooner interventions can help the patient improve their development. Because some girls aren’t getting diagnosed as early as boys, they’re at risk of missing out on early interventions that could make a significant difference in their lives.

Without a proper diagnosis, autistic girls may also be more vulnerable to developing disorders like depression, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and low self-esteem, which in turn makes them more susceptible to bullying and peer conflict.

How The Drake Institute Treats Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder can be significantly improved with the appropriate treatment protocols. The Drake Institute uses advanced treatment technologies like brain map-guided neurofeedback and neurostimulation to improve the symptoms of autism.

Treatments are non-drug and noninvasive, making them safe for children, teens, and adults. Moreover, these treatments address the underlying dysregulation of the brain linked to symptoms. 

Brain Mapping

The Drake Institute uses brain mapping to guide treatment. In this stage, our Medical Director analyzes the patient’s brainwave activity to understand the brain’s dysregulation to what is happening with the patient. To do this, we record brainwave activity from 19 sensors placed around the patient’s scalp.

This brainwave activity is then processed through an FDA-registered normative database of neurotypical brain activity for same-age individuals to determine if any brain networks are dysregulated that are linked to the patient’s symptoms.

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback therapy is the next step in treating autism in boys and girls. After analyzing the results of the patient’s brain map, our Medical Director creates a customized neurofeedback treatment protocol for each patient’s specific needs.

These treatment protocols help reduce symptoms of autism by enabling the patient to guide their brain activity to more functional patterns. To maximize improvement in some patients, biomedical abnormalities may also need to be ruled out or identified and addressed. 

Neurostimulation

In addition to neurofeedback, we may also use neurostimulation guided by qEEG brain map findings to gently stimulate the brain into healthier functional patterns. In our experience, some patients may benefit even more from neurofeedback if we also include neurostimulation. We have found this to be particularly helpful for patients with more severe autism symptoms.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

If you still have questions about autism in boys vs. girls, how to identify autism, or how neurofeedback and brain mapping can help your autistic child, call us at 1-800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form.

 

 

[i] https://www.chop.edu/news/girls-and-boys-autism-spectrum-tell-stories-differently-could-explain-missed-diagnosis-girls

[ii] https://childmind.org/article/autistic-girls-overlooked-undiagnosed-autism/

[iii] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28545751/

[iv] https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/screening.html

[v] https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html

[vi] https://childmind.org/article/autistic-girls-overlooked-undiagnosed-autism/

[vii] https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2017/04/autism-spectrum-disorders-the-difference-between-boys-and-girls

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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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