Brief Report: Predicting Sex Differences and Diagnosis from Early Parent Concerns


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research is largely based on males, and females with ASD are at risk for under-identification. Research recommends listening to parent concerns since these are often predictive of a child’s eventual diagnosis. This study examined how patterns of parent concerns predicted sex differences and eventual child diagnosis (ASD or developmental delay [DD]). We performed a secondary analysis with n = 273 children ages 36–72 months. Results suggested males with ASD had a higher likelihood of repetitive behavior and speech and language concerns compared to females with ASD. Females with DD were significantly more likely to have problem-solving concerns; whereas, males with DD were significantly less likely to have social communication concerns compared to females with ASD.

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All authors contributed to the study conceptualization and methodology. Data analysis was performed by Anna Wallisch and Sarah Behrens and reviewed and discussed with Brenda Salley, Rene Jamison, and Brian Boyd for further interpretation. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Anna Wallisch and all authors reviewed and edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Anna Wallisch.

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Wallisch, A., Behrens, S., Salley, B. et al. Brief Report: Predicting Sex Differences and Diagnosis from Early Parent Concerns. J Autism Dev Disord (2021).

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  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Developmental delays
  • Parent concerns
  • Females