Girls and women on the autism spectrum
Dr Will Mandy, UCL Clinical Psychology Department
OS6 Seminar Room, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol, BS8 2BN
Will Mandy is a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer at University College London (UCL). His work aims to improve the recognition of autism, and to develop new interventions to help autistic people. He has a particular research interest in improving the identification and care of females on the autism spectrum, who are currently at high risk of going unnoticed and unhelped by clinical and educational services. He also studies sub-diagnostic autistic traits in non-clinical populations, and the role these can play in the development of a range of common childhood, adolescent and adult mental health problems. With colleagues at Great Ormond Street Hospital’s National Centre for High-Functioning Autism he has developed and trialled interventions to help children with autism transition from primary to secondary school, and to teach children about their autism diagnosis, with an emphasis on fostering their sense of self-worth and pride.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are more commonly diagnosed in males than in females: the male-to-female ratio is three-to-one in epidemiological samples and as high as ten-to-one in clinical practice. This likely reflects an underestimation of the true prevalence of ASD in girls and women, arising from systematic biases in diagnostic criteria and clinical services. As a result, females with ASD are less likely to receive an accurate and timely diagnosis, which reduces their chances of benefiting from appropriately targeted health care and educational resources.
This talk will consider the reasons for the under-recognition of females with ASD. This will include the proposal that there is a female autism phenotype that is not well captured by current diagnostic criteria, which were largely based on male cases. In addition, initial evidence for environment contributions to under-diagnosis of females will be presented. Clinical and research implications will be considered.
All welcome, no booking required.