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J Autism Dev Disord. 2019 Mar 4. doi: 10.1007/s10803-019-03920-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Speaking the Same Language? A Preliminary Investigation, Comparing the Language and Communication Skills of Females and Males with High-Functioning Autism.

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School of Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.
Department of Human Communication, Development and Hearing, The University of Manchester, Ellen Wilkinson Building, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.
School of Health Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


Understanding the nature of language and communication disorders in High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD) populations may provide insight into why females are more likely than males to go undiagnosed. Language and communication skills were compared between 13 females and 13 males (aged 8.11-11.06) with HFASD. Gender-normative data was also ascertained from 26 typically developing children (TD) matched for age and gender. All children had typical range PIQ, slight variation here was controlled for in analysis. Results show females outperforming males in pragmatic and semantic tasks and in certain language-of-emotion tasks. TDs outperformed HFASDs in above-sentence level tasks, but not in basic vocabulary or sentence level tasks. This study highlights specific strengths/weaknesses in language and communication for female HFASD, which could aid more accurate identification of the female autistic phenotype. It indicates the need for larger follow up studies in this area.


Autism Spectrum Disorder; Gender; Language and communication


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