Clare Harrop, Brianne Tomaszewski, Orla Putnam, Claire Klein, Elena Lamarche, Laura Klinger

Are the diagnostic rates of autistic females increasing? An examination of state‐wide trends

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

BackgroundAutism has been considered a ‘male‐dominant’ condition. However, recent research suggests that autistic females are underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and later diagnosed. Females may also have different and more nuanced behavioral profiles. To examine diagnosis rates of females, we used 20 years of state‐wide data to characterize historical trends in the diagnosis of autism in females to determine whether the proportion of females diagnosed with autism has changed over time.MethodsData were drawn from 10,247 participants (males = 8,319, females = 1928) who received an autism diagnosis between 2000 and 2021 from state‐wide autism centers associated with the University of North Carolina TEACCH Autism Program.ResultsThe rates of females diagnosed with autism increased at a greater rate compared with males. Age of diagnosis remained consistently higher for females. Late diagnosis (defined as 13+) increased over time across both males and females, however, was more commonly associated with females, particularly those with co‐occurring intellectual disability.ConclusionsOur results indicate that the proportion of females diagnosed with autism has increased steadily over a 20‐year period, which likely reflects greater societal knowledge of how autism may manifest differentially in females.

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