Autism is a spectrum disorder that Taylor et al considers to be “a development disorder, manifested early in childhood and characterised by a spectrum of abnormal social and communication skills and unusual behaviour” (Taylor et al: 2013) Autism has many traits and to meet the criteria for diagnosis an individual doesn’t necessarily display every character.
What is clear is that autism is caused by differences in brain function, which are thought to develop before birth. It is not curable, however understanding the disorder is key to its management.
When looking at the spectrum the main difference in either end is that of IQ. Those that are high functioning will usually have the capability of attending main stream schooling, as they are academically very capable, although this is not always the best educational setting for the child. If a child diagnosed with autism is high functioning, has social difficulties and has special interests (An obsessive interest in a narrow and probably unusual topic) It is possible that this Child has High Functioning Autistic Spectrum disorder (HFASD) or Asperger’s as it was previously diagnosed as. A child with Asperger’s is frequently referred to as an Aspie
Autism was first identified in 1940s and it has generally been accepted that the number of males significantly outweighs the numbers of females. Among diagnosis statistics, the ratio 1:4 female: male diagnosis rate is one that is commonly quoted. There are minimal variances in this ratio, however when decimal figures are rounded up/down they show 4:1 (4.3:1 Lai et al 2011).
Women are an under recognised minority among the autism community. Initial research was purely done on boys and therefore any gender differences in the displayed traits was not documented. Bargeria et al conducted research and believes that “there is a female autism phenotype; a female specific manifestation of autistic strengths and difficulties, which fits imperfectly with current, male biased conceptualisations” (Bargiela et al 2016). Therefore, this needs to change before a fairer gender split in diagnosis can be attempted and public knowledge of these gender differences needs to be raised to also to achieve this.