Did you know that autism is more common in boys? A significant amount of research shows a 4:1 male-to-female ratio in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) [*].
Whether you’re a parent or teacher, you know that caring for them can be tricky due to challenges in their executive functioning and social communication. However, it’s important to know that support is always available.
In this article, we’ll be covering the signs of autism in boys and the necessary steps to take when looking for support.
What is Autism?
The American Psychiatric Association defines autism as a complex developmental condition in which the degree of impairment in functioning varies between individuals. More specifically, those with autism have difficulties communicating with others and have restricted interests and repetitive behavior [*].
Furthermore, they have sensory processing differences, which makes them avoid or seek out sensory input. They also get easily anxious with changes in their routine, new and unfamiliar situations, and overwhelming environments.
Though autism isn’t an illness or disease, people have it for the rest of their lives. It tends to present itself from a very young age — in fact, as young as 12 months old. Interestingly, boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed as autistic compared to girls, although it may be possible that the condition is under diagnosed in girls.
Identifying whether a child is autistic or not can mean the difference between receiving adequate support and not getting any. However, with proper support, they can live happy lives and even independently as they grow into adults.
What Are the Signs of Autism in Boys?
Some of the most common signs of autism in boys can show when they’re still babies, while others tend to appear later in life. These signs include but aren’t limited to the following:
- Not responding when called
- Avoiding eye contact
- Doesn’t show facial expressions
- Not smiling when you smile at them
- Repeating the same phrases
- Getting extremely upset if they don’t like a certain smell, taste, or sound
- Repetitive movements such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers, or rocking their bodies
- Not talking as much as other children
- Not doing as much pretend play
As our understanding of autism has improved, a lot of people who may not have shown these signs are now recognized as autistic. This is especially true among girls and women, who do not always manifest these signs.
In the same way, some boys and gender-divergent kids (also known as gender-diverse or gender-variant) may receive a later diagnosis — or none at all — if the above-mentioned classic signs are absent.
What to Do if Your Child or Student Is Showing Signs of Autism
The next best step is to seek professional advice. You can do this by making an appointment with the child’s developmental pediatrician, psychologist, or a speech-language pathologist [*].
In fact, the CDC mentions that parents, childhood educators, and caregivers can all participate in developmental monitoring or observing the child’s ability to meet developmental milestones at a certain age [*].
Support for Parents and Teachers of Autistic Children
Some autistic kids need extra support with their learning, including acquiring new skills like reading and writing. To help them thrive and keep them engaged, here are some resources you can use:
- Insights from Autistic Educators: This blog features autistic educators who share their insights from having the condition themselves.
- Understanding the Autism Spectrum Comic Strip: Feel free to print or save this comic strip, which would make a great addition to your office or classroom!
- Signs of Autism in Girls: Since we’ve focused only on autism in boys, this resource helps you understand the condition in girls. It discusses how it manifests in their friendships, interests, communication, and more.
- Helping Autistic Children Make Friends: This expert guide is very helpful for parents and teachers who want to help their little ones develop relationships with others.
- My Child is Autistic: Now What?: This is a great place to start as it offers advice and help for parents coping with their child's diagnosis.
- How to teach Autistic children to read - Tips and Tricks: This blog has everything a parent or teacher needs to teach an autistic child to read. It outlines the best ways to help them learn in a fun and engaging way.
- Varying support needs: This resource shows how some autistic people have high support needs, while others may require only a little support and may even be fully independent.
- What top tips would you suggest for supporting children on the Autism Spectrum?: Check this out to learn some great suggestions from a Speech and Language Therapist to engage your child in their learning.
- SEND Parents Group: This Facebook group by Twinkl offers inspiration, support, and ideas for parents and caregivers.
Children with autism may need more support than most kids, but know that the condition doesn’t stop them from living full and happy lives. Simple adjustments, such as being aware of their sensory needs, helping them avoid loud noises and crowded places, as well as giving them plenty of warning about any changes, are enough.
Remember that you’re not alone and neither is your child! The resources we shared above will increase your knowledge of autism. You’re also free to send it to a friend or relative who may find them useful.