Barriers to Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis for Young Women and Girls: a Systematic Review

Georgia Lockwood Estrin*, Victoria Milner, Debbie Spain, Francesca Happé, Emma Colvert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


There is increased recognition that women and girls with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are underserved by the clinical criteria and processes required to receive a diagnosis. This mixed-methods systematic review aimed to identify key barriers to obtaining an ASD diagnosis in girls and young women under 21 years. Six themes were identified that focused on perceived gendered symptoms, namely behavioural problems, social and communication abilities, language, relationships, additional diagnoses/difficulties and restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests. Five themes were identified as (parental) perceived barriers to diagnosis, namely compensatory behaviours, parental concerns, others’ perceptions, lack of information/resources and clinician bias. This review highlights the importance of enhancing widespread understanding and recognition of ASD presentation in females across development. PROSPERO Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (ID 2018 CRD42018087235)

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalReview Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number4
Early online date29 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Oct 2020


  • Autism
  • Barriers
  • Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Gender differences


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