Autistic females face greater difficulty carrying out daily tasks, finds study
Women and girls with autism may face greater challenges with real world planning, organisation and other daily living skills, than boys, according to an analysis.
The findings showed that girls were struggling more with these independence skills of executive function including the ability to make a plan, get organised, and follow through on the plan as needed, and adaptive skills such as the ability to perform basic daily tasks like getting up and dressed or making small talk.
“Our goal was to look at real world skills, not just the diagnostic behaviours we use clinically to diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD), to understand how people are actually doing in their day-to-day lives,” said Allison Ratto, psychologist at Children’s National Health System in the US.
This was surprising because in general, girls with ASD have better social and communication skills during direct assessments, the researchers said.
“The natural assumption would be that those communication and social skills would assist them to function more effectively in the world, but we found that this isn’t always the case,” Ratto said.
For the study, published in the journal Autism Research, the team collected parent-reported data on 79 females and 158 males meeting clinical criteria for autism spectrum disorders, ranging in ages from seven to 18 years old.
“Our focus in caring for children with autism is equipping all of them with strategies and skills to allow them to function and succeed in day-to-day living.
“Enhancing our understanding of how biological differences change the presentation of autism in the long term is crucial to giving every person with ASD the tools they need to succeed in life,” she added.