The Misrepresentational Gender Gap of Diagnosis in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Name: Geneva Mariotti Year & Program: 2nd year Psychology Project Type: Research Essay

Name: Geneva Mariotti
Year & Program: 2nd year Psychology
Project Type: Research Essay

8 thoughts on “The Misrepresentational Gender Gap of Diagnosis in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  1. My daughter’s diagnosis definitely fit the “male” paradigm. I studied the Lovaas paper way back, and the correlation with lower general mental functioning definitely muddies the waters as well when it comes to delineating ASD behaviours.

    Thanks for the perspective Geneva. Great work.

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  2. Thank you for connecting the dots for me. I have a strong mental image of ASD as predominantly male. Upon reading your presentation I now have a sense as to why. And of course, the limits to diagnosis and camouflage effect with females only add to the gender bias. Congratulations on bringing this forward to be considered.

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  3. Such an important topic! Our experience going through the Toronto District School Board was that there was a maximum of 2 girls (though often only 1) in each year’s autism classes out of 8 to 12 students.

    I found it interesting that you noted diagnoses tend to happen for girls at the lower functioning end of the spectrum. It points to what must be a large gap when it comes to those at other points on the spectrum. I am intrigued as to how much of that gap can be attributed to the camouflage effect mentioned versus the gaps in diagnostic capabilities.

    Well done!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read through the presentation. I’m glad that these findings can be noted in real settings, especially in Toronto as that means that they will be able to invoke real change and improve real lives. When thinking about the camouflage effect and the diagnostic measures limitations, I think they definitely play off of each other in creating the gap such that the diagnostic procedures play a role in allowing for the camouflage of female ASD.
      Thank you for your contribution!

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  4. Hey, I loved reading your poster! This is a subject that is also of interest to me as well. I’m wondering if I could get your contact information so I could email you some questions about the poster/receive the full paper? I’d love to give it a read.
    Question — where do you think research is headed in regards to creating a “female profile” for ASD that is more accurate for diagnosing women with autism? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      First, thank you so much for such a delightful comment. Please feel free to email me at genevam@my.yorku.ca to continue our discussion on this topic, as it is truly a deep one. Sadly, I am unable to share the paper in full until April 10th (final due date) for academic integrity purposes, but I would be happy to add you to the distribution list.

      In regards to your question, the research surrounding the female profile of ASD in the moment is a little difficult, as it essentially concludes that while females have been consistently recorded as differing from their male counterparts, the degree and areas in which they differ are not necessarily consistent across the literature. For this reason, I think the first step in future research is to try and discover a coherent and replicable female profile, which I believe lies in restricted and repetitive behaviours (which seems to be most consistent across research). Additionally, taking into consideration and compensating in measures for the socialization dynamics, in which females are socialized to be more outwardly expressive and friendly. The largest issue I see is a sort of loop issue in research: we need to better understand the female profile to create better diagnostic measures to diagnose all female ASD, but, we need better diagnostic measures to diagnose all female ASD in order to understand the expanse of the female profile.

      This is definitely a deeper issue which could be discussed further, so feel free to email me about more questions/discussion, and in the near future I can send you the paper itself.

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  5. Hi there! I loved reading your poster and listening to your presentation. I honestly feel that it was very well though out and fantastically displayed in a way that was easy for me to understand. I have learned a lot about ASD as well as the shortcomings of our current diagnosis measures and I love the fact that you coined new terms to express theories that haven’t been explored the way you explored them. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for such a nice comment! I’m glad you had a chance to learn about the shortcoming of the diagnostic measures in ASD, as they are the next step in ASD research and practice.

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