Autism affects male and female brains differently

  • Posted

Posted 11/08/2013

A recent study of 120 men and women, half of whom have autism, revealed that more work is required to understand how autism affects girls. Autism affects 1% of the population and is more common in boys – studies have therefore previously been focused on males. The experts said that girls with the condition could be more stigmatised than boys and it could be harder for them to be diagnosed at all.During the study, MRI scans were used to examine how autism affects the brains of both males and females. Looking at the brains of healthy males and females compared with those with autism showed that the brains of females with autism ‘look’ more like but are not the same as a ‘healthy’ male when compared with healthy females. The same kind of difference was not found in males with autism.The doctor carrying out the study said that: “What we have known about autism is mainly male based to date. The research shows that it is possible that the effect of autism manifests differently according to the gender.Therefore we should not blindly assume that everything found for males or from male predominant mixed samples will apply to females. There needs to be more research and clinical attention toward females on the spectrum”A Director of the National Autistic Society said: “Historically research on autism has been largely informed by the experiences of men and boys with the condition. It is important that the study will help the understanding of how the condition differs between the genders. Girls can be more adaptive than boys and develop strategies which mask what we traditionally think of as signs of autism. This ‘masking’ can lead to a great deal of stress and many girls do go on to develop secondary problems such as anxiety, eating disorders or depression.”Julie Crossley, a medical injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal, comments: “Although autism is not a condition that we as medical injury lawyers come across often, it is helpful to understand how and why there are differing aspects between the genders. The brain is a complicated organ and the more we can understand about how it works and the symptoms of these disorders the better.”


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