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Abstract

It is frequently reported that females are likely to receive an autism diagnosis at a later age than their male counterparts, despite similar levels of autistic traits. It has been suggested that this delay in diagnosis may in part reflect the propensity of females, more than males, to engage in camouflaging behaviors that reduce the appearance of autism-related traits. This article presents two studies which examined the relationship between gender/sex, camouflaging, and age at diagnosis in two samples of (cis-gender) autistic adults. Study 1 included data from three online samples including 242 autistic men and 570 autistic women aged 18–75 years. Study 2 included data from a longitudinal population-based sample including 24 autistic men and 35 autistic women aged 20–24 years. Camouflaging was measured with the self-report Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q). Overall, the results showed that, on average, females were diagnosed later than males. There was a stronger relationship between camouflaging and age at autism diagnosis (AaD) for females, compared with males. Within sample one, there was a significant camouflaging-by-sex interaction; high-camouflaging females had a later AaD. The role of autistic traits and changes in attitudes towards female autism and camouflaging need further exploration. These findings highlight the need for greater clinician and key stakeholder awareness and understanding of camouflaging behavior, particularly for females, during the diagnostic process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-636
Number of pages10
JournalAutism research
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2023

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