Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autism in Girls

I missed this article from August 5th's New York Times Magazine by Emily Bazelon on autism in girls. It's heartbreaking in its description of the social isolation and depression that girls on the spectrum might be in greater danger of suffering, simply becasue social connections are so important to girls' self-esteem and social awkwardness is a more acceptable male trait.

"Because there are so many fewer females with autism, they are “research orphans,” as Ami Klin, a psychology and psychiatry professor who directs Yale's autism program, puts it. Scientists have tended to cull girls from studies because it is difficult to find sufficiently large numbers of them. Some of the drugs, for example, commonly used to treat symptoms of autism like anxiety and hyperactivity have rarely been tested on autistic girls. "

"No doubt part of the problem for autistic girls is the rising level of social interaction that comes in middle school. Girls’ networks become intricate and demanding, and friendships often hinge on attention to feelings and lots of rapid and nuanced communication — in person, by cellphone or Instant Messenger. No matter how much they want to connect, autistic girls are not good at empathy and conversation, and they find themselves locked out, seemingly even more than boys do."

1 comment:

The Glasers said...

My daughter with autism is eighteen years old and shows no signs of depression. Last year, I asked her who her friends were and she named her dog, her family (i.e., us), and extended relatives. We are working on shoring up her relationship skills so that some day she will have friends outside of the family. In the meantime, I am thankful she has such a broad definition of friendship!