Study finds evidence of gender bias toward diagnosing boys with autism

A study at Exeter University has found that because boys are more likely to have ASD than girls, there is a gender bias towards giving boys a diagnosis of autism even when girls’ symptoms are equally severe. The researchers examined data collected from a long-term study (the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) and have published the results in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. They suggest that the popular conception of autism as a ‘male’ might contribute to this bias.

The study also found that although the average age of mothers of children diagnosed with autism was three years older in the population generally, this could be explained by the fact that older mothers may simply have more confidence in obtaining a diagnosis of ASD for their children. Mothers’ ethnicity, class or marital status did not have any bearing on the results found.

Source: Exeter University
Ginny Russell, Colin Steer, Jean Golding. Social and demographic factors that influence the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 2010


Click here for more research reports on autism

First Publishedin 2010

Top of page