Autism doesn’t just affect boys and men, but research on the condition still predominantly focuses on them. Some scientists are finally beginning to include women and nonbinary people in their studies.
Some traits of autism are associated with obvious differences in brain structure, and the scope of these alterations may depend on the person’s sex.
Autistic women’s activity in a ‘social’ brain region tracks with the extent to which they mask their autism.
Autistic people with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity face specific challenges, from having their self-assessments dismissed to difficulties advocating for their gender needs.
Girls and boys with autism show different patterns of brain activity in response to sensory stimuli.
Autism researchers must attend to the need for sex and gender diversity in study design as a rule rather than as an exception.
The brain’s immune cells, called microglia, function differently in male and female rodents. In people, a similar phenomenon may make male brains more vulnerable to autism.
Girls with autism traits have fewer problems with social communication than boys do early on, but their skills worsen by adolescence.