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Autism 'affects Males & Females Brains, Differently'

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#1 Snickas


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Posted 09 August 2013 - 06:10 AM


Autism affects male and female brains differently, a study has suggested.

UK experts studied brain scans of 120 men and women, with half of those studied having autism.

The differences found in the research, published in journal Brain, show more work is needed to understand how autism affects girls, the scientists say.

Experts said girls with the condition could be more stigmatised than boys - and it could be harder for them to be diagnosed at all.

Autism affects 1% of the population and is more prevalent in boys, so most research has focused on them.

In this study, scientists from the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine how autism affects the brain of males and females.

Male and female brains differ anyway - tissue volume is greater in males.


The study looked at the difference between the brains of healthy males and those with autism - and then healthy females and those with Autism.

There really needs to be more research and clinical attention toward females 'on the spectrum'”

They found the brains of females with autism "look" more like - but still not the same as - healthy males, when compared with healthy females.

But the same kind of difference was not seen in males with autism - so their brains did not show "extreme" male characteristics.

Dr Meng-Chuan Lai, who worked on the study said: "What we have known about autism to date is mainly male-biased.

"This research shows that it is possible that the effect of autism manifests differently according to one's gender.

"Therefore we should not blindly assume that everything found for males or from male-predominant mixed samples will apply to females."

He said future research may need to look at males and females equally to discover both similarities and differences.

Dr Lai added: "Lastly, there really needs to be more research and clinical attention toward females 'on the spectrum'."

Many girls go on to develop secondary problems such as anxiety, eating disorders or depression”

Carol Povey, Director of The National Autistic Society's Centre for Autism, said: "Historically, research on autism has been largely informed by the experiences of men and boys with the condition.

"This important study will therefore help our understanding of how the condition differs between genders."

She added: "Girls can be more adaptive than boys and can develop strategies that often mask what we traditionally think of as the signs of autism.

"This "masking" can lead to a great deal of stress, and many girls go on to develop secondary problems such as anxiety, eating disorders or depression.

"It's important that we build on this study and more research is conducted into the way autism manifests in girls and women, so that we can ensure that gender does not remain a barrier to diagnosis and getting the right support."

EXACTLY what I've said all along.
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#2 clarissa


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Posted 09 August 2013 - 10:59 AM

all that research, all they had to do was ask us!!!!!

girls with autism seem never to fit in

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#3 Jolly Roger

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 07:49 PM

Like I said on Facebook - we discussed this on ASDf half a decade ago.

#4 madferretlady


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Posted 09 August 2013 - 08:39 PM

agree so much. My daughter is 13 and somewhere on the ADD ASD spectrum(s). She is so socially isolated, so passive, so anxious all the time. She always has been. She is now clinically depressed and on anti-depressants. In contrast my 17 year old ASD boy functions well in his small group of friends (an eclectic mix of boys who are just as odd as he is, and "normal" boys who "keep an eye on" him to make sure he is ok.) 

#5 Jolly Roger

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 08:59 PM

Boys "fight and flight" - girls "tend and befriend."

To achieve this, girls mask their pain and endure it. Uneducated and misinformed professionals interpret that as "coping."
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#6 FallenAngel68


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Posted 10 August 2013 - 11:45 PM

My 9 yr old daughter was always a very passive child who just didn't appear to want or need to interact with her peers.  This was first picked up  in her MS nursery when she was 3 1/2.


Around the age of 6-7 yrs old, she seemed to have some interaction with her male peers.  Having observed her in the playground from a distance, her female peers seemed to exclude her, get up & walk away when she tried to sit with them etc.  I came to the conclusion that maybe it was because boys don't appear 'clicky' & just seem to enjoy the moment at play that she was able to have some sort of inclusion with them.


She starts her ASD specialist school in September & has had several transition days.  It was fantastic to watch her interact with the children there and witness how they greeted each other (a handshake, a little bow or a hug).


I also have an adult daughter who, looking back on her growing up, is probably on the spectrum.  I see so many similarities between my daughters & what worries me is that my older daughter, through struggling to fit in, hold down a 9-5 job etc, suffered a breakdown a couple of years ago, tried to end her own life & was soon after diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

#7 Mikkimoo


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Posted 09 September 2014 - 02:07 PM

Is there any advice/help/coping mechanisms for adult women with asperger's? Especially single parents. I'm really struggling at the moment. I have a 19yo Aspie son, and a 15yo daughter. I am partially deaf and have recently realised I'm further along the spectrum than I thought, it would explain decades of anxiety/depression.

#8 Mozzy


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Posted 09 September 2014 - 08:19 PM

Best bet is to look for local support groups / social groups they tend to have a lot of knowledge.


Of course you can go to the GP and ask to be referred to a psych as well.


Welcome to the forum.

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#9 maximus prime

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 08:51 AM

Lucy and Jack are chalk and cheese, something their paed found fascinating as they shared the same genes and upbringing. Jack receives more understanding and support because it is very obvious and if he isn't happy he will ensure those around him aren't either. Lucy internalises all her anxiety and stress and as such is thought to be fine.


In mainstream school support seems to be used to minimise disruption to the other children's education moreso than actually supporting the children themselves. Obviously when a child isn't at all disruptive as many girls aren't then she isn't seen as in need of support. 

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