Autistic Girls Undiagnosed due to Camouflaging Behavior

Image by Bessi from Pixabay

Dr. Todd A. Ward

A new study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and discussed in The Guardian, found that autistic camouflaging artificially reduces diagnosis rates in girls as compared to boys.   Camouflaging is highly stressful and effortful for girls, and was described as “constantly having to be something they’re not” by Dr. Julie Hadwin of Liverpool Hope University.  But it is done as an effort to fit in with peers.

Among the results in the study was the finding  that autistic and non-autistic girls had nearly the same scores on a social art task, but boys had large differences.  Deficits in skills is a core deficit of autism.

But camouflaging is hard to maintain over time, according to experts, and Jolanta Lasota of Ambitious about Autism warned that “camouflaging could be catastrophic for autistic girls and women” and helps feed the stereotype of autism being a male condition.

Raising awareness of camouflaging, experts say, can help reduce its prevalence.

What do you think?  Is raising awareness enough or should more be done?  Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!


Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA is a science writer, social philosopher, behavioral systems analyst, and the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which aims to connect behavioral science to the world in an engaging, non-academic way.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  His publications follow a theme of behavioral systems analysis, organizational performance, theory & philosophy, and language & cognition.  He has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward can be reached at [email protected]

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