Girls can be autistic too

December 28, 2017


While recuperating from a cold, I poked around the Internet today and found an informative article on how girls are failing to be appropriately diagnosed with autism, leaving them without much-needed support. It's titled: The Missing Autistic Girls. You can find it at, which is the website for film Director George Lucas's educational foundation. 


As for the article, it points out that girls are diagnosed with autism much less frequently and often at an older age than boys. This is likely in part because autism manifests itself differently in girls. New research is finding that autistic girls may display fewer repetitive behaviors than boys and tend to be more social, verbal, and engaged. Although they may be more social, on closer look, they often lack important social skills. 


Girls with autism also tend to be obsessive and have a hard time regulating their emotions, which leads to diagnoses of anxiety disorder, depression, and ADHD instead of autism because the former disorders are more easily identified and diagnosed.    


With the apparent differences between boys and girls with autism, the treatment for girls may need to be tailored by gender. The article mentions Pivotal Response Treatment, which is derived from applied behavioral analysis, as treatment that may help girls with autism. PTR motivates children with autism to learn typical behaviors such participating in back-and-forth conversations.  


With this new understanding of autism in girls, we can look forward to girls more readily getting the help they need at a younger age.


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Martha Millar

A special education attorney















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