A Sex Difference in ASD prevalence:

Autism is an extensively studied neurodevelopmental disorder, with multiple differences, one of which is related to gender (Van et al., 2014). However, the DSM-V (2013), a widely used diagnosis tool, does not include clear causes for autism including those pertaining to gender differences; still needing to be studied. Until recently, autism has been characterized primarily by studies extracting from male sample populations. Females are more likely to be missed or misdiagnosed. Furthermore, there is some evidence suggesting that females might be diagnosed later than males on average.


The major symptom differences between female and male:

According to research (Halladay et al., 2015; Van et al., 2014), men and women with autism are likely to exhibit completely different behavioural patterns, skills and levels of intelligence, etc. (Table A). Therefore, more research is required to characterise the relationship differences between gender and autism, in such to avoid ascertainment bias such as male phenotype (Van et al., 2014). This would provide a more appropriate and accurate instrument for autism diagnostics and solution based interventions for both male and females.

  Table A


The Differences Between Female and Male with autism



Higher rate of ASD risk factors

Lower rate of ASD risk factors

Present higher scores in IQ tests

Present lower grades in IQ tests

Perform more functional social behavior

Perform less functional social behavior

Show less repetitive behaviors

Show more repetitive behaviors

Tend to have a higher language ability

Tend to have lower language ability

Have a higher level of memory skills

Have a lower level of memory skills

Have a higher level of cognitive flexibility

Have a lower level of cognitive flexibility

Present more skills in verbal fluency

Present fewer skills in verbal fluency

Show more skills in social-communication

Show less skills in social-communication


Authors: Jialin Dai, M.Ed. & Grace Zhang M.Ed.

Edited by: Francesca Dansereau, M.Ed, PhD (candidate)

Year: 2020



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Halladay, A. K., Bishop, S., Constantino, J.N., Daniels, A.M., Koening K., Palmer K., Messinger, D., Pelphrey, K., Sanders, S.J., Singer, A.T., Taylor, J.L., & Szatmari, P. (2015). Sex and gender differences in autism spectrum disorder: summarizing evidence gaps and identifying emerging areas of priority. Molecular Autism, 6 (36), 1-5. DOI 10.1186/s13229-015-0019-yVan, W., Van, E., Groen, W., Van, D., Oosterling, I., & Van, D. (2014). Gender and age differences in the core triad of impairments in autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(3), 627-35. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1913-9