Girls With Autism Poo-Pooed by Doctors?

Filed under: Medical Conditions, News, In The News, Weird But True, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens, New In Pop Culture

girls with autism picture

Only one out of five kids with autism are girls. Credit: Corbis

Girls with autism? How absurd.

Only boys could be that socially clueless.

A Swedish researcher tells United Press International that's the prevailing attitude of the medical community toward girls with autism and attention deficit disorder.

Svenny Kopp, a University of Gothenburg doctoral student at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden, says when girls show symptoms of autism and seek help, their problems are often -- to use the clinical term -- poo-pooed by doctors.

That could be because it's generally boys who are autistic. According to the website Girls With Autism, four out of five autistic children are boys.

Kopp looked at 100 girls who, before reaching adulthood, went to the doctor because of difficulties with social interaction and/or concentration and were eventually referred to the pediatric neuropsychiatric clinic at Sahlgrenska University Hospital between 1999 and 2001.

"We could see that their parents had been concerned about the girls' behavior or development during their first few years of life," Kopp tells UPI. "They had also asked for help at an early stage, but hadn't been given a proper diagnosis."

Compared with the control group of 60 girls without any known serious problems, the 100 girls showed severe psychological, social and motor skill problems.

"The results are particularly disturbing given that these girls did not generally have a disadvantaged social background and were mostly of normal intelligence," Kopp tells the wire service.

The moral of the story, Kopp tells UPI, is that the health care system does not take girls with autism or ADHD seriously enough.

"It's a shame, as we now have effective treatments for both autism and ADHD," she says. "We therefore need more training across the public sector on girls with mental problems, social interaction difficulties and/or attention problems."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.