New study suggests males and females with autism should be researched differently

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The University of Virginia Health released a study saying males and females should not be measured on the same autistic spectrum. 

According to this study, prior research done primarily on males, meant to represent both males and females, has led to a lack of information on females on the spectrum. 

A tri-state resident, Annie Galloway and her older brother Joseph Galloway, experience firsthand some of the differences between males and females on the spectrum. Joseph was diagnosed when he was 7-years-old. Thirteen years later, Annie was also diagnosed. 

“It’s harder to tell if a woman is autistic,” said Annie. She further explained people are typically surprised when she tells them she is autistic. 

According to the study, one of the biggest differences between males and females is social cues, such as facial expressions and gestures. 

The director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center, Dr. Marc Ellison, explained those differences and the way females are socialized makes identifying females who may be on the spectrum much harder. 

“A four-year-old boy who’s not talking in class is noticeable. A 4-year-old girl who doesn’t talk in class is considered shy and polite,” said Ellison.

Annie said she is excited for this study and studies that may follow as it “will bring awareness to women [and allow them] to take another look at themselves and say, ‘is what I’m experiencing what everyone else experiencing, or am I assuming that?” 

The University of Virginia Health said it is looking forward to using this study and further research to get “the right treatment to the right individuals.”

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