Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 1698–1711 | Cite as

What About the Girls? Sex-Based Differences in Autistic Traits and Adaptive Skills

  • Allison B. Ratto
  • Lauren Kenworthy
  • Benjamin E. Yerys
  • Julia Bascom
  • Andrea Trubanova Wieckowski
  • Susan W. White
  • Gregory L. Wallace
  • Cara Pugliese
  • Robert T. Schultz
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
  • Angela Scarpa
  • Sydney Seese
  • Kelly Register-Brown
  • Alex Martin
  • Laura Gutermuth Anthony
Original Paper

Abstract

There is growing evidence of a camouflaging effect among females with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), particularly among those without intellectual disability, which may affect performance on gold-standard diagnostic measures. This study utilized an age- and IQ-matched sample of school-aged youth (n = 228) diagnosed with ASD to assess sex differences on the ADOS and ADI-R, parent-reported autistic traits, and adaptive skills. Although females and males were rated similarly on gold-standard diagnostic measures overall, females with higher IQs were less likely to meet criteria on the ADI-R. Females were also found to be significantly more impaired on parent reported autistic traits and adaptive skills. Overall, the findings suggest that some autistic females may be missed by current diagnostic procedures.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Sex differences Diagnosis Adaptive skills 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funding for this project was provided by grants and financial support through several institutions, including: The Isadore and Bertha Gudelsky Family Foundation, Children’s National Health Institute IDDRC P30 HD040677, Pennsylvania State Department of Health, The Philadelphia Foundation, Pfizer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Virginia Tech Center for Autism Research, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R03HD081070). We are grateful to the children and families who participated in this study.

Author Contributions

ABR collected the data, ran the analyses, and wrote the paper. LK served as co-principal investigator for one site of the project, collected the data, helped design the analyses, and wrote the paper. BEY served as co-principal investigator for one site of the project, collected the data, provided feedback on analyses, and wrote the paper. JB provided insight and feedback on the interpretation of analyses and edited the paper. ATW collected the data and edited the paper. SWW served as co-principal investigator for one site of the project, collected the data, provided feedback on analyses, and edited the paper. GLW collected the data, helped design the analyses, and edited the paper. CP collected the data, provided feedback on analyses, and wrote the paper. RTS collected the data, provided feedback on analyses, and edited the paper. THO collected the data, provided feedback on analyses, and edited the paper. AS collected the data, provided feedback on analyses, and edited the paper. SS collected the data, managed the database, and edited the paper. KR-B provided feedback on analyses and edited the paper. AM served as co-principal investigator for one site of the project, collected the data, provided feedback on analyses, and edited the paper. LGA served as co-principal investigator for one site of the project, collected the data, helped design the analyses, and edited the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison B. Ratto
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lauren Kenworthy
    • 1
  • Benjamin E. Yerys
    • 3
    • 4
  • Julia Bascom
    • 5
  • Andrea Trubanova Wieckowski
    • 6
  • Susan W. White
    • 6
  • Gregory L. Wallace
    • 7
  • Cara Pugliese
    • 1
  • Robert T. Schultz
    • 3
    • 8
  • Thomas H. Ollendick
    • 6
  • Angela Scarpa
    • 6
  • Sydney Seese
    • 1
  • Kelly Register-Brown
    • 9
  • Alex Martin
    • 10
  • Laura Gutermuth Anthony
    • 1
    • 11
  1. 1.Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Center for Neuroscience Research, Children’s Research Institute, Children’s National Health SystemThe George Washington University School of MedicineRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Colorado School of MedicineAuroraUSA
  3. 3.Center for Autism ResearchChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryPerelman School of Medicine - University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Autistic Self Advocacy NetworkWashingtonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech Center for Autism ResearchVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  7. 7.Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing SciencesThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  8. 8.Departments of Psychiatry and PediatricsPerelman School of Medicine - University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  9. 9.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  10. 10.Laboratory of Brain and CognitionNational Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA
  11. 11.Pediatric Mental Health Institute, Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of MedicineAuroraUSA

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