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Gender differences in emotionality and sociability in children with autism spectrum disorders

Head, Alexandra M, McGillivray, Jane A and Stokes, Mark A 2014, Gender differences in emotionality and sociability in children with autism spectrum disorders, Molecular Autism, vol. 5, no. 1, Article 19, pp. 1-9, doi: 10.1186/2040-2392-5-19.

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Title Gender differences in emotionality and sociability in children with autism spectrum disorders
Author(s) Head, Alexandra M
McGillivray, Jane AORCID iD for McGillivray, Jane A orcid.org/0000-0003-2000-6488
Stokes, Mark AORCID iD for Stokes, Mark A orcid.org/0000-0001-6488-4544
Journal name Molecular Autism
Volume number 5
Issue number 1
Season Article 19
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2014
ISSN 2040-2392
Keyword(s) Autism
Female profile
Friendship
Social skills
Summary Background
Four times as many males are diagnosed with high functioning autism compared to females. A growing body of research that focused on females with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) questions the assumption of gender invariance in ASD. Clinical observations suggest that females with ASD superficially demonstrate better social and emotional skills than males with ASD, which may camouflage other diagnostic features. This may explain the under-diagnosis of females with ASD.

Methods

We hypothesised that females with ASD would display better social skills than males with ASD on a test of friendship and social function. One hundred and one 10- to 16-year-olds (ASD females, n = 25; typically developing (TD) females, n = 25; ASD males, n = 25; TD males, n = 26) were interviewed (using the friendship questionnaire (FQ)) with high scores indicating the child has close, empathetic and supportive relationships. One parent of each child completed the FQ to assess whether there are differences in perception of friendships between parents and children.

Results

It was found that, independent of diagnosis, females demonstrated higher scores on the FQ than males. Further, regardless of gender, children with ASD demonstrated lower scores than TD children. Moreover, the effect of ASD was independent of gender. Interestingly, females with ASD and TD males displayed similar scores on the FQ.

Conclusions

This finding is supported by clinical reports that females with ASD have more developed social skills than males with ASD. Further research is now required to examine the underlying causes for this phenomenon in order to develop gender-appropriate diagnostic criteria and interventions for ASD.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/2040-2392-5-19
Field of Research 170102 Developmental Psychology and Ageing
Socio Economic Objective 920403 Disability and Functional Capacity
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2014, BioMed Central
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30062449

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Psychology
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Created: Wed, 09 Apr 2014, 13:37:31 EST by Penny Andrews

Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.