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Tue Feb 9, 2016, 04:54 PM


In autism, the social benefits of being a girl


Infant girls at risk for autism pay more attention to social cues in faces than infant boys, according to a Yale School of Medicine study — the first one known to prospectively examine sex-related social differences in at-risk infants.

This difference in observational skills could help protect female siblings of children with autism from developing the disorder themselves, according to lead author Katarzyna Chawarska, associate professor in the Yale Child Study Center and in the Department of Pediatrics. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry....

The infants were all shown a video of a woman smiling and cooing at them, while she was doing other activities like pointing to toys in different parts of the screen, and preparing a sandwich. The team tracked where the infants focused their gazes, and for how long.

“We found that the girls in the high-risk group displayed more attention to people and their faces than all other infants,” said Chawarska, who is also director of the Early Social Cognition Laboratory at Yale. “This increased access to social experiences during a highly formative developmental period predicted fewer social impairments at 2 years of age. It is important to note however, that this may not prevent ASD in high-risk females, but could mitigate the severity of autism symptoms.”

This might explain why there are proportionally so many Autistic women in our nascent self-advocacy movement. Suits me fine! I have no desire to be part of anything that is 80-20 male.

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Reply In autism, the social benefits of being a girl (Original post)
KamaAina Feb 2016 OP
SheilaT Feb 2016 #1
mapol Sep 2019 #2

Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Sun Feb 14, 2016, 11:31 PM

1. Interesting.


I am the mother of a young man on the spectrum, Asperger's, and because he was my first child I simply did not understand to what a huge extent he simply did not tune into others.

When my second son was born, I misinterpreted his actually normal behavior, as hyper social. Had they been born in the reverse order, I would have understood very early on that the autistic son really was very different.

Meanwhile, he's a success story. Just got his bachelor's degree in physics, as the age of 33, and has applications in for grad school. I think he will go a long way.

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Response to KamaAina (Original post)

Wed Sep 11, 2019, 04:43 PM

2. This is not necessarily the case, KamaAina.

As a matter of fact, many females (though not all) are less intelligent than many autistic males. When it occurs in girls, it's often more severe, as well.

Yet, being female, while it won't necessarily protect her from autism per se, might protect her from being intellectually disabled and/or having other comorbid disorders along with it.

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