Females With ASD May Struggle More With Day-to-Day Tasks Young women and girls with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience more difficulty completing daily living activities than their male counterparts, according to a new study. Published in Autism Research, the study looks at executive function and adaptive skills in young women and girls with ASD. Skills examined included making ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   October 01, 2017
Females With ASD May Struggle More With Day-to-Day Tasks
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   October 01, 2017
Females With ASD May Struggle More With Day-to-Day Tasks
The ASHA Leader, October 2017, Vol. 22, 13. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.22102017.13
The ASHA Leader, October 2017, Vol. 22, 13. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.22102017.13
Young women and girls with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience more difficulty completing daily living activities than their male counterparts, according to a new study.
Published in Autism Research, the study looks at executive function and adaptive skills in young women and girls with ASD. Skills examined included making and following through with plans, as well as basic daily tasks such as getting up and dressed and making small talk. The researchers compared 79 females with ASD to 158 males with ASD (all ages 7–18 and matched on age, IQ and level of ASD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms).
Researchers from the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD) at Children’s National Health System, the National Institute of Mental Health and The George Washington University collected parent-reported data from various rating scales of executive function and adaptive behavior. According to this data, females had greater executive function problems than males and markedly worse adaptive daily living skills.

“This study highlights that some common assumptions about the severity of challenges faced by girls with ASD may be wrong.”

As most studies on ASD have focused on males, there is a paucity of information available on ASD traits exhibited specifically by females. Additionally, females have shown to have stronger communication skills and are more adept at “masking” their social understanding deficits during diagnostic interviews, which may contribute to a lack of understanding of this population’s specific challenges.
“This study highlights that some common assumptions about the severity of challenges faced by girls with ASD may be wrong, and we may need to spend more time building the adaptive and executive function skills of these females if we want to help them thrive,” says Lauren Kenworthy, CASD director and the study’s senior author.
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October 2017
Volume 22, Issue 10