Why Are You A “Male” Autistic?

It’s no secret that males with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are frequently stereotyped and labeled as violent and “masculine.”

The latest evidence suggests the label can be harmful.

A new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University has shown that while most males with ASD exhibit some symptoms of autism, the prevalence of autism among male children with autism is actually quite low.

And the study, which was published online last week in JAMA Pediatrics, found that only 2.6 percent of males with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASDD) actually met the criteria for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) as defined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) — a number that has remained fairly stable over the years.

The researchers found that men who reported they were male on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and had a diagnosis of autism spectrum-related disorders were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with ASD.

However, only about 1 in 100 males with ASDs were actually diagnosed with autism, compared to more than 15 percent of all males with the disorder.

While this may be due to the high rate of male-to-male transmission of ASD, it also points to a need for further research on how ASD symptoms can be assessed and diagnosed in males.

In the study’s follow-up, the researchers also looked at data from the Autism Society of America (ASA), which is comprised of more than 20,000 individuals across the U.S. and the U, and which has a large ASD sample.

ASD is characterized by pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) characterized by impairments in social interaction, language, and communication.

The prevalence of ASD among men with ASD was similar to that among all adults, the authors wrote.

“In fact, the association between ASD and autism spectrum conditions was statistically significant only in the male sample,” the researchers wrote.

For example, among men diagnosed with ADOS, the average prevalence of autistic symptoms was 13.9 percent, which “was significantly higher than that of adults with ASD (12.5 percent).”

According to the researchers, their findings also point to the need for more research into how to better identify male and female children with ASD, especially given the low prevalence of diagnosis.

In a statement to The Huffington Post, the Association for the Study of Autism and Developmental Disabilities (ASAD) called on the Johns Hopkins researchers to update their findings to reflect more accurately the prevalence and distribution of ASD symptoms among male and females.

“The APA’s diagnosis guidelines for ASD are outdated, based on incomplete, outdated data, and do not reflect the complexity of ASD and its spectrum of symptoms,” said a statement from ASAD, which is also a parent group for males with Asperger’s disorder.

The American Psychological Association (APSA) has also released guidelines on how to assess autism spectrum diagnoses in adults.

The guidelines, which were developed by a panel of experts in the field, include a list of diagnostic criteria that the APA recommends for adults and include a checklist for parents to use to help identify a child with ASD and to determine if they have the disorder themselves.

The APA has also recommended that autism diagnosis be a primary diagnostic concern for males and females who are at high risk for developing ASD.

While some clinicians continue to argue that a diagnosis is more important than a child’s gender, the American Psychological Society (APS) has called for more rigorous research on the matter and for better methods to measure the prevalence.

“As clinicians, we have a responsibility to be vigilant about our diagnostic tools and tools that might be biased toward males or toward males who have ASD,” said Dr. Elizabeth McElroy, a professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at Johns Young Women’s Hospital, in a statement.

“A child diagnosed with an ASD should be identified and appropriately evaluated as a boy or a girl, depending on the diagnostic criteria and the severity of symptoms.”

This article was originally published by The Huffington Press and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.