• A Subtle Profile With a Significant Impact: Language and Communication Difficulties for Autistic Females Without Intellectual Disability

      Sturrock, Alexandra; email: Alexandra.sturrock@manchester.ac.uk; Adams, Catherine; Freed, Jenny (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-08-09)
      The presentation of autism in females is poorly understood, which is thought to contribute to missed or later- age diagnosis, especially for those without intellectual disability. Dedicated research into social and behavioral differences has indicated a specific female phenotype of autism. However, less has been done to explore language and communication profiles, despite known sex/gender differences in typically developing populations. This article provides a synthesis of recent work from this small but emerging field. It focuses on a series of four preliminary and explorative studies conducted by the authors and embeds this within the wider literature. Findings suggest a specific profile of language and communication strengths and weaknesses for autistic females without intellectual disability (compared to autistic males and typically developing females). Furthermore, despite the relatively subtle presentation of difficulties (compared to autistic males), the impact on functionality, social inter-relations and emotional well-being, appears to be equitable and significant. The discussion highlights the need for further empirical research and proposes areas for investigation. Implications for clinical practice include the need for better recognition, testing and provision of interventions dedicated to the language and communication difficulties for autistic females. This has relevance for diagnostic, mental health and speech and language therapy services.