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A behavioral comparison of male and female adults with high functioning autism spectrum conditions.

Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Pasco G, Ruigrok AN, Wheelwright SJ, Sadek SA, Chakrabarti B, MRC AIMS ConsortiumBaron-Cohen S - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: Males and females also did not differ in self-reported empathy, systemizing, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive traits/symptoms or mentalizing performance.Behavioral sex differences within ASC may also reflect different developmental mechanisms between males and females with ASC.We discuss the importance of the superficially better socio-communication ability in adult females with ASC in terms of why females with ASC may more often go under-recognized, and receive their diagnosis later, than males.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. mcl45@cam.ac.uk

ABSTRACT
Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) affect more males than females in the general population. However, within ASC it is unclear if there are phenotypic sex differences. Testing for similarities and differences between the sexes is important not only for clinical assessment but also has implications for theories of typical sex differences and of autism. Using cognitive and behavioral measures, we investigated similarities and differences between the sexes in age- and IQ-matched adults with ASC (high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome). Of the 83 (45 males and 38 females) participants, 62 (33 males and 29 females) met Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) cut-off criteria for autism in childhood and were included in all subsequent analyses. The severity of childhood core autism symptoms did not differ between the sexes. Males and females also did not differ in self-reported empathy, systemizing, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive traits/symptoms or mentalizing performance. However, adult females with ASC showed more lifetime sensory symptoms (p = 0.036), fewer current socio-communication difficulties (p = 0.001), and more self-reported autistic traits (p = 0.012) than males. In addition, females with ASC who also had developmental language delay had lower current performance IQ than those without developmental language delay (p<0.001), a pattern not seen in males. The absence of typical sex differences in empathizing-systemizing profiles within the autism spectrum confirms a prediction from the extreme male brain theory. Behavioral sex differences within ASC may also reflect different developmental mechanisms between males and females with ASC. We discuss the importance of the superficially better socio-communication ability in adult females with ASC in terms of why females with ASC may more often go under-recognized, and receive their diagnosis later, than males.

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Differential effects of history of language delay on current IQ in male and female adults with ASC.Within adult females with ASC, those with a history of language delay showed marginally lower current verbal IQ (Panel A, right bars, p = 0.053) and significantly lower current performance IQ (panel B, right bars, p<0.001) than those without. This pattern of difference did not exist in adult males with ASC (panel A and B, left bars). Error bar represents standard error of the mean.
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pone-0020835-g001: Differential effects of history of language delay on current IQ in male and female adults with ASC.Within adult females with ASC, those with a history of language delay showed marginally lower current verbal IQ (Panel A, right bars, p = 0.053) and significantly lower current performance IQ (panel B, right bars, p<0.001) than those without. This pattern of difference did not exist in adult males with ASC (panel A and B, left bars). Error bar represents standard error of the mean.

Mentions: There was no association between sex and history of language delay (χ2 = 2.304, contingency coefficient = 0.19, exact significance p = 0.18). Two-way ANOVA showed that for verbal IQ, there was no main effect of sex (F(1,58) = 0.124, p = 0.726) or of history of language delay (F(1,58) = 2.888, p = 0.095), or any interaction effect (F(1,58) = 1.604, p = 0.210). For performance IQ, there was no main effect of sex (F(1,58) = 3.289, p = 0.075), but a significant main effect of history of language delay (F(1,58) = 11.459, p = 0.001), and a significant interaction effect between sex and the history of language delay (F(1,58) = 6.024, p = 0.017). Teasing apart the interaction effect by examining each sex separately, within males with ASC we found no difference on performance IQ (t(31) = 0.687, p = 0.497) between those with a history of language delay (N = 14, mean = 108.8, SD = 13.0) and those without (N = 19, mean = 112.8, SD = 18.7). However, there was a large effect size for a difference in performance IQ (t(27) = 4.146, p<0.001, Cohen's d = 1.80) between females with a history of language delay (N = 7, mean = 90.4, SD = 17.5) and those without (N = 22, mean = 115.6, SD = 12.8) (Figure 1).


A behavioral comparison of male and female adults with high functioning autism spectrum conditions.

Lai MC, Lombardo MV, Pasco G, Ruigrok AN, Wheelwright SJ, Sadek SA, Chakrabarti B, MRC AIMS ConsortiumBaron-Cohen S - PLoS ONE (2011)

Differential effects of history of language delay on current IQ in male and female adults with ASC.Within adult females with ASC, those with a history of language delay showed marginally lower current verbal IQ (Panel A, right bars, p = 0.053) and significantly lower current performance IQ (panel B, right bars, p<0.001) than those without. This pattern of difference did not exist in adult males with ASC (panel A and B, left bars). Error bar represents standard error of the mean.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3113855&req=5

pone-0020835-g001: Differential effects of history of language delay on current IQ in male and female adults with ASC.Within adult females with ASC, those with a history of language delay showed marginally lower current verbal IQ (Panel A, right bars, p = 0.053) and significantly lower current performance IQ (panel B, right bars, p<0.001) than those without. This pattern of difference did not exist in adult males with ASC (panel A and B, left bars). Error bar represents standard error of the mean.
Mentions: There was no association between sex and history of language delay (χ2 = 2.304, contingency coefficient = 0.19, exact significance p = 0.18). Two-way ANOVA showed that for verbal IQ, there was no main effect of sex (F(1,58) = 0.124, p = 0.726) or of history of language delay (F(1,58) = 2.888, p = 0.095), or any interaction effect (F(1,58) = 1.604, p = 0.210). For performance IQ, there was no main effect of sex (F(1,58) = 3.289, p = 0.075), but a significant main effect of history of language delay (F(1,58) = 11.459, p = 0.001), and a significant interaction effect between sex and the history of language delay (F(1,58) = 6.024, p = 0.017). Teasing apart the interaction effect by examining each sex separately, within males with ASC we found no difference on performance IQ (t(31) = 0.687, p = 0.497) between those with a history of language delay (N = 14, mean = 108.8, SD = 13.0) and those without (N = 19, mean = 112.8, SD = 18.7). However, there was a large effect size for a difference in performance IQ (t(27) = 4.146, p<0.001, Cohen's d = 1.80) between females with a history of language delay (N = 7, mean = 90.4, SD = 17.5) and those without (N = 22, mean = 115.6, SD = 12.8) (Figure 1).

Bottom Line: Males and females also did not differ in self-reported empathy, systemizing, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive traits/symptoms or mentalizing performance.Behavioral sex differences within ASC may also reflect different developmental mechanisms between males and females with ASC.We discuss the importance of the superficially better socio-communication ability in adult females with ASC in terms of why females with ASC may more often go under-recognized, and receive their diagnosis later, than males.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. mcl45@cam.ac.uk

ABSTRACT
Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) affect more males than females in the general population. However, within ASC it is unclear if there are phenotypic sex differences. Testing for similarities and differences between the sexes is important not only for clinical assessment but also has implications for theories of typical sex differences and of autism. Using cognitive and behavioral measures, we investigated similarities and differences between the sexes in age- and IQ-matched adults with ASC (high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome). Of the 83 (45 males and 38 females) participants, 62 (33 males and 29 females) met Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) cut-off criteria for autism in childhood and were included in all subsequent analyses. The severity of childhood core autism symptoms did not differ between the sexes. Males and females also did not differ in self-reported empathy, systemizing, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive traits/symptoms or mentalizing performance. However, adult females with ASC showed more lifetime sensory symptoms (p = 0.036), fewer current socio-communication difficulties (p = 0.001), and more self-reported autistic traits (p = 0.012) than males. In addition, females with ASC who also had developmental language delay had lower current performance IQ than those without developmental language delay (p<0.001), a pattern not seen in males. The absence of typical sex differences in empathizing-systemizing profiles within the autism spectrum confirms a prediction from the extreme male brain theory. Behavioral sex differences within ASC may also reflect different developmental mechanisms between males and females with ASC. We discuss the importance of the superficially better socio-communication ability in adult females with ASC in terms of why females with ASC may more often go under-recognized, and receive their diagnosis later, than males.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus