Objectives: To investigate the associations between gender and symptom presentation and emotional comorbidities in a sample of HFA children and gender, age, IQ-matched neurotypical children. Primarily this study investigates the effects of diagnostic status and gender on symptom expression and emotional functioning.
Methods: Thirty-two children (8 HFA females, 8 HFA males, 8 neurotypical females and 8 neurotypical males) were included in the preliminary analyses. Parents completed the SCQ and each participant completed the BASC self report.
Results: Preliminary analyses indicate a significant interaction between diagnostic group and gender on the SCQ total score, F(1) = 7.57, p < 0.05. HFA males are reported as more symptomatic than HFA females, whereas gender was unrelated to symptom scores within the control sample. Additionally, analyses indicated a significant effect of gender on internalizing problems with the BASC-SRP, F(1) = 5.42, p < 0.05, such that females, regardless of diagnostic status, endorsed more internalizing problems than males.
Conclusions: These data suggest that while still meeting diagnostic criteria, HFA females are perceived by their parents as less impaired in social communication than HFA males. Given that all females self-reported greater internalizing symptoms, it may be that HFA females are more aware of, and sensitive to, their social environment and therefore present as less classically symptomatic in the social and communication domains. The results will be discussed with reference to implications for gender-specific diagnostic and intervention strategies.