Gender/sex differences and disparities within autism spectrum disorder
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For a long time, autism spectrum disorder has been considered a predominantly male condition. However, emerging literature suggests that this imbalance is not due solely to etiological differences but rather to other factors. Disparity in diagnosis, because of biases, co-occurring psychiatric disorders, and limited understanding of autism manifestation in females, causes these individuals to be diagnosed with autism significantly later than their male counterparts, if at all. The delayed diagnoses or misdiagnoses of females contribute to later and lesser treatment and worsened outcomes. Furthermore, certain traits of autism in women, such as camouflage and a tendency toward internalized symptomology, exacerbate this effect. Unfortunately, this becomes a self-perpetuating issue: the reduction in the number of diagnosed females results in an underrepresentation of the sex in subsequent autism studies, and this, in turn, contributes to the misrepresentation of the female gender in autism. Thus, in addressing this complex issue, clinicians, researchers, and communities target these many intertwined challenges. Modifications and new initiatives continue to be developed to better accommodate autistic females and make strides to bridge the gender/sex gap.