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Why Is Autism More Common In Boys

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New Clues Emerge About Why Autism Is More Common In Boys

Why Autism is more prevalent among boys in today’s world

Autism spectrum disorders are roughly five times more common in boys than girls, for reasons which have long eluded doctors and researchers.

Now, a new study lends support to the so-called “female protective model,” which suggests it takes more extreme genetic mutations to produce symptoms of autism or neurodevelopmental disorders in girls than in boys.

“Females require more mutational ‘hits’ to push them over into a state of autism, intellectual disability or developmental delay,” Evan Eichler, a professor of genome sciences with the University of Washington and an author on the study, told The Huffington Post. The findings were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics on Thursday.

Eichler and colleagues analyzed DNA samples of more than 15,000 boys and girls with neurodevelopmental disorders, and just under 800 who had been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

They looked for what Eichler called “really bad” gene mutations, things like copy-number variants and single nucleotide variants .

Girls who had been diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders and autism spectrum disorder had more harmful mutations than boys. Therefore, the theory goes, girls’ brains may need more mutational “hits” to push them over into a state of autism, intellectual disability or developmental delay.

Eichler said that the new study does not “solve” anything, but he hopes the findings help fit one more piece in a complex puzzle.

Differences In Gender And Sexuality Identification

Sexuality is often discussed within the autistic community, with many observations that identities other than cishetero seem to be more common than is observed in the neurotypical population. There have not been many formal studies on this to date, however members of the community speculate that autistic individuals generally have different ideals, perceptions and desires than neurotypicals or simply do not comprehend or agree with society’s expectation, making them more apt to diverge from the norm.

A study looking at the co-occurrence of ASD in patients with gender dysphoria found 7.8% of patients to be on the autism spectrum. Another study consisting of online surveys that included those who identified as nonbinary and those identifying as transgender without diagnoses of gender dysphoria found the number to be as high as 24% of gender diverse people having autism, versus around 5% of the surveyed cisgender people. A possible hypothesis for the correlation may be that autistic people are less capable to conform to societal norms, which may explain the high number of autistic individuals who identify outside the stereotypical gender binary. As of yet, there have been no studies specifically addressing the occurrence of autism in intersex individuals.

What Does Autism Look Like In Girls

Although every child with autism is different, here are some common characteristics in girls with autism:

  • A special interest in animals, music, art, and literature
  • A strong imagination
  • A desire to arrange and organise objects
  • Not wanting to play cooperatively with female peers
  • A tendency to mimic others in social situations in order to blend in
  • An ability to hold their emotions in check at school, but be prone to meltdowns or explosive behaviour at home
  • Strong sensory sensitivities, especially to sounds and touch .

While girls with ASD are less likely than boys to also be diagnosed with ADHD and conduct problems, they are more vulnerable to internalising problems, such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders. As we learn more about autism in females, we appreciate just how important timely diagnosis, effective support, and understanding can be.

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Each Autistic Child Is

TI=Totally InterestingSM=Sometimes Mysterious

Autistic spectrum disorders refer to a set of disorders characterized by neurodevelopmental anomalies leading to altered social interactions and repetitive behavior. Autism is one such disorder and is the result of several genetic and environmental factors.

The symptoms are often apparent during infancy or before the age of 30 months. These include language delay, less attention to social stimuli, repetitive movements, etc.

Although the precise etiology remains unclear, several factors have been associated with the risk for developing autism. One of the mysteries underlying autism is the strong gender bias and the fact that males are four times more likely to be affected.

There is no clear understanding for such a bias, but it is well implicated that there are surely certain molecular mechanisms or factors that increase the risk for boys and/or protect girls from developing autism. The theories and explanations for the same have been provided below.

Gender Distribution Of Autism Disease

Why is autism more common in boys?

Why autism is more common in males, but not correlated with x chromosomes, researchers have explained that a percentage is considered a low value by many, but when it is looked at generically, it is too much.

Because of the presence of two x chromosomes in daughters, daughters are more likely to recover from this mutation if this genetic mutation occurs, but boys are more likely to have sex with the mother when the x chromosome is taken from the mother by taking the y chromosome and the mother sends the mutated x chromosome to the baby they explain.

After this situation is determined, it is aimed that as a result of the studies done, it will cause to develop in the field of medicine so that such situations can be detected in the time of the baby mothers womb. By examining the chromosomes of the baby in the mothers womb, it can be clearly stated whether it has Downs syndrome or not. Work towards this is continuing to develop in the field of autism every passing day.

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Common Characteristics Of Boys With Autism

Autism, a developmental disorder that primarily affects communication and behavioral skills, is diagnosed four times more often in boys than in girls. While professionals are not entirely sure why autism statistics show that the disorder appears to skew highly toward the male gender, there are some theories that attempt to explain the common phenomenon of autism in boys. One possibility is that autism has a genetic component that is more likely to affect the male brain. Some experts suggest that boys display symptoms and characteristics of autism in a more obvious manner than girls do, resulting in a disparity in the number of diagnoses given.

The autism-related characteristics that are most often associated with boys are aggression, hyperactivity, and social immaturity. Boys who are on the autism spectrum often display negative behaviors in an external way while at school or at home, making the disorder easier for teachers and parents to recognize and seek treatment for. Boys are much less likely than girls to mask their autistic traits by copying the social behaviors that are exhibited by neurotypical children. This theory suggests that autism may not in actuality occur more frequently in boys, but that girls are often underdiagnosed due to their tendency to internalize certain symptoms.

Diagnosis Of Autism Spectrum In Boys And Girls

Now lets take a closer look at infancy to teen in boys and girls and their development through the lens of ASD:

Table 1: Signs of Autism in Children

As evident from the short synopsis of events in a childs life, that a boys developmental stages may play a role in diagnosis while;a girls developmental stages may actually hinder a conclusive diagnosis until much later. Girls tend to progress faster than boys in speech, command of the language and in avoiding confrontation.

Here is a detailed analysis of;Autism behavioral patterns in Girls and Boys:

Table 2: Behavioral Analysis of Autism in Boys Vs Girls

Fig 4

This aggression, being one of the most common signs of autism in toddlers, is actually a blessing in disguise as parents tend to get more concerned and;;seek medical help for diagnosis of Autism

Children learn from their environment and the people around them. Children learn to seek;attention in their own ways whether it be good or bad attention. What they want and need is attention! Too often today the outpouring or need for attention is brushed off as autism and sends parents running to their doctor. Yet the little girl who went to her room and played is assumed to be looking for good attention, when in reality this too can be a sign of autism which manifests later in girls.

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Genetic And Gender Differences Associated With Autism

One theory about why autism appears to be more common in boys suggests that the disorder stems from one or more defective genes on the X chromosome. This genetic theory, proposed by D.H. Skuse, is based on the idea that boys, who have only one X chromosome, are more susceptible to autism because they do not have the protection of a second normal X chromosome as found in girls. Other genetic-based autism theories examine the possibility that boys are more susceptible to the disorder due to the mutations of several genes located on different non-sex chromosomes.

Some scientists and researchers speculate that the structure of the male brain, which tends to be wired in a technical rather than an emotional sense, is more conducive to the displaying of externalized autistic traits. Girls who have an autism spectrum disorder may be better able to conceal their condition due to a higher development of the brain centers that regulate concepts such as social awareness and the capacity to empathize with others.

Presently, the greater incidence of autism in boys cannot be fully explained by any conclusive research findings on the part of scientists or mental health professionals. It is hoped that continued studies on this topic will provide insight as to whether autism can be definitively linked to gender differences.

Asd Prevalence In Males And Females

Studies say: Autism more common in boys

From the first published descriptions of autism, it has been a male-typical disorder: 8 of the 11 cases described by Kanner , and all 4 cases described by Asperger , were male. Prevalence surveys conducted since have reported a range of male biases from 1.33:1 male:female to 15.7:1 , and a commonly referenced consensus ratio of ~4:1. Intelligence level affects this sex ratio: males are substantially over-represented among high-functioning cases, and males and females are more equally represented among cases with severe intellectual disability ; a 1999 review reported median sex ratios of 6:1 among normal-functioning subjects and 1.7:1 among cases with moderate to severe ID .

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Sex Differences In Genetic Contributions To Asd Risk

Biological theories for the sex difference in ASD prevalence most frequently take the form of a multiple-threshold multifactorial liability model , in which females have a higher threshold for reaching affection status than males . Thus, genetic studies operating under this model hypothesize that females with ASD are likely to be carrying a higher heritable mutational âloadâ than affected males. This model predicts that relatives of female probands should be at increased risk for ASD as compared with relatives of male probands, which is supported by a recent twin study . In contrast, other studies have failed to support the genetic loading hypothesis, including a study of 882 families and another recent study of high risk siblings of autistic probands that found that only the sex of the sibling was a significant predictor of their future ASD status . However, a new study of more than 9000 dizygotic twin pairs from population-based cohorts provides the most conclusive demonstration of female-protective factors to date, showing that siblings of autistic females exhibit significantly greater autistic impairments than siblings of autistic males . This finding also supports a role for heritable variation in ASD liability under the threshold model.

There Are Four Boys Diagnosed For Every Girl Why

Autism Spectrum Disorder is diagnosed based on the presence of deficits in social communication and interactions and the presence of restricted or repetitive interests and behaviors. It is described as a spectrum because people with ASD range from non-verbal individuals who barely function in society to Nobel Prize winners.

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one in 68 children in the United States, a number that has stabilized in the past five years.

There are four boys diagnosed for every girl.

Why the gender discrepancy?

Researchers believe that the typical male brain produces more repetitive or restricted behaviors and more narrowly focused interests than the more empathetic and verbally skillful female brain, according to Dr. Sara Jane Webb. One theory describes autism as the extreme male brain.

Speaking at a recent Pacific Science Center lecture, Webb, the co-director of the Psychophysiology and Behavioral Systems Lab at the Seattle Childrens Research Institute, shed light on the tangle of genetic and environmental factors that lead to autism. She and her colleagues use electroencephalography and other methods to find links between brain development and autism.

Stay informed about issues affecting Seattle-area families. Sign up for our newsletter.

For more information on Webbs research and to sign up for studies on gender and autism, visit and click on Research: Current Studies.

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Is Autism More Common In Boys Youll Be Surprised To Know

Autism is a complex multifactorial disorder characterized by altered neural development, and is more frequently observed in males. There is no single reason that can explain such a bias clearly, but several hypotheses and explanations have been put forth.

Autism is a complex multifactorial disorder characterized by altered neural development, and is more frequently observed in males. There is no single reason that can explain such a bias clearly, but several hypotheses and explanations have been put forth.

Is The ‘y’ Why


Signs of autism can appear as early as the first year of life, and may hinge on which sex chromosomes a person has.

“Evidence suggests that altering sex chromosomes impacts both reward-related behavior in animals and neurodevelopmental disorder risk in humans,” said Grissom. “For example, people who are XXY have a much higher chance of being on the spectrum than XY, who in turn have a much higher chance than XX.

“Secondly, a Y chromosome can allow the developing fetus to respond to hormonal signals from the mother that permit male-specific developmental changes. interacting with our autism-associated genetic variants.

“The good news is, with ours and others’ work we now have two outcomes to look for when we try to find the roots of the sex difference: our behavioral changes, and our protein changes.”

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Why Autism Is More Common In Men

Research has proven that autism is constantly spreading and that this rate is increasing day by day. It has also been found more in males when researching the sex of a large proportion of autistic patients. Why autism is more common in men, can you continue to read the answers to the questions as if there is a specific reason for this.

They Often Go Undiagnosed Because They Dont Fit Autism Stereotypes And They Mask Symptoms Better Than Boys Do

Beth Arky

Many more boys than girls are diagnosed on the autism spectrum: more than four boys for every autistic girl, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control. Researchers point to genetic differences. But clinicians and researchers have also come to realize that many higher functioning autistic girls are simply missed. Theyve been termed the lost girls or hiding in plain sight because theyre overlooked or diagnosed late. They dont fit the stereotypes or their symptoms are misinterpreted as something else. And they may be better at hiding the signs, at least when theyre young.

Even when girls presentation is clearer, they can be overlooked. Take Melissas two children. Both have an autism diagnosis. But while daughter Lisas symptoms were much more obvious than son Justins, the girls were waved off for three years by a variety of clinicians.

On paper, Melissa says, she seemed to check all the boxes. Lisa had a significant language delay she didnt speak in sentences until she was 4 did no pretend play, and had several meltdowns each day. There were also other signs, like lining up her stuffed animals, spinning in circles, and constantly seeking sensory input. She was also unable to handle any change in routine.

Though Lisas challenges qualified her for Early Intervention at 18 months, it wasnt until she was 6 that a developmental neurologist would diagnose her with autism.

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Findings Highlight The Need For Sex

Boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder , yet a growing body of research shows that the condition is more common in girls than previously thought, strongly suggesting that new methods are required to diagnose the disorder at younger ages.

A new study from Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia examined differences in the way girls and boys on the autism spectrum used certain types of words during storytelling. This study found that autistic girls used significantly more cognitive process words such as think and know than autistic boys, despite comparable autism symptom severity. The results were recently published in the journal Molecular Autism.

The authors suggest that identifying differences like these opens the door to making sure girls with ASD receive the diagnosis and support they need to achieve the best possible quality of life.

A misdiagnosis means many girls do not receive early intervention and that standard interventions may not be appropriate for meeting girls unique needs. Many autistic women are not diagnosed until they are adults and report significant social challenges and a profound sense of being different from their typically developing peers.

This study was supported by the Autism Science Foundation, the Eagles Charitable Trust, the McMorris Family Foundation, the Allerton Foundation, and a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant 5U54HD086984-03.

Hypothesis Of Female Underdiagnosis

Simon Baron-Cohen, “Why is Autism More Common in Males

The prevalence ratio is often cited as about 4 males for every 1 female diagnosed. Other research indicates that it closer to 3:1 or 2:1.

Some authors, clinicians and experts like Judith Gould, Tony Attwood, Lorna Wing and Christopher Gillberg have proposed that autism in females may be underdiagnosed due to better natural superficial social mimicry skills in females, partially different set of symptoms and less knowledge about autism in females among experts. In his preword to the book Asperger’s and Girls, Attwood writes: “These tentative explanations for the apparent underrepresentation of girls with Asperger’s Syndrome have yet to be examined by objective research studies.”

Specifically, Gould has discussed the idea that a pervasive developmental disorder called pathological demand avoidance, which is not officially included in diagnostic manuals may offer a glimpse about how autism in females may present in some cases.

Female phenotype

Some have suggested a differential phenotype for autistic women; “a female-specific manifestation of autistic strengths and difficulties, which fits imperfectly with current, male-based conceptualisations” of autism.

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