Is Autism really less prevalent in girls????


Recent statistics show that 1 in 68 children have a diagnosis of Autism. These statistics also show that boys are almost four times as likely to receive an accurate autism diagnosis over girls. Boys often receive a diagnosis in early childhood where the average age of girls receiving a diagnosis is 9 years old.



This difference in diagnosis ratios has been attributed to:

  • Girls with autism presenting differently
  • Gender bias in existing screening tools and diagnostic criteria
  • Existing stereotypes about how autism presents
  • Lack of clinician’s training and experience in recognising autism in girls


Common traits seen in girls.

She may display extreme focus on her special interest (commonly animals, people, nature, books, art)

She may be described as being either ‘extremely shy’ or not aware of ‘social boundaries’

She may contain her anxiety in public but then melt-down or shut-down once home

She may be overly dependent or reliant on one friend who may play a nurturing and protective role, and have trouble coping without them

She may be extremely interested in socialising, but unsure how to approach making connections

She may have sensory sensitivities (e.g., noise, food, clothing, temperature)

She may exhibit extreme reactions to minor events (e.g., changes to the classroom routine) and have difficulty controlling her emotions

She may be very controlling in social play with peers and have great difficulty with reciprocal play

She may interpret language literally

She may be more fluid in her gender identity (e.g., prefers less ‘girly’ clothes or be extremely ‘girly’)

She may be extremely empathetic, nurturing and sensitive

She may have a great attention to detail

She may appear to have a good imagination

She may be a perfectionist in some areas and at the same time be disorganised with basic routine tasks

She may prefer playing with boys in physical activities and may be perceived as being a `tomboy’. This may be because she sees girls as too socially demanding.

This list has been developed with the help of clinical psychologists Dr Danuta Bulhak-Paterson, and Dr Janine Manjiviona. This is for information purposes only, and should not be used as a diagnostic checklist. Please refer to a clinician for further information.


If this blog raises any questions or concerns you have for your daughter please contact Bridges for Learning to discuss how we can assist you or your local GP or paediatrician


Source: “Spotlight on Autism” by Yellow Ladybugs and the Department of Education and Training Victoria

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