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Autism diagnosis six years longer for girls, research finds

PUBLISHED

"I knew I always felt different, but I didn't know I was autistic."

For Rhiannon Lloyd-Williams, it would take until she was 35 to learn just why she felt different.

Now research by Swansea University has found it takes on average six years longer to diagnose autism in women and girls than in males.

A study of 400 participants found that 75% of boys received a diagnosis before the age of 10 - but only 50% of girls.

It also found the average age of diagnosis in girls was between 10 and 12 - but between four and six for boys.

Now charities in Wales are calling for greater investment into services to help better understand autism in females and speed up a diagnosis.

"The parents responding to the study said there was a marked impact on the girls mental health while waiting for a diagnosis," said Steffan Davies, who carried out the research.

"Girls represented in the study had a lot more pre-existing diagnosis, which suggests they are being misdiagnosed with anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and that tends to defer from the root diagnosis which tends to be autism."

Autism UK said this gender gap has long been an issue and is the down to the diagnosis criteria and research used, which has been focused around young boys.

"Many girls end up missing out on education, because the environment they're expected to learn in is just too overwhelming, while accessing healthcare can be difficult. Women are often not believed," said executive director Willow Holloway.

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Source: BBC News, 23 May 2022

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