New research suggests many girls could be suffering with undiagnosed autism -as they are better at covering up signs of the disorder compared to boys.
Teachers are six times more likely to identify boys as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than girls, with parents twice as likely to make the same assessment.
But a study by University College London found autistic traits were more common in girls than previously thought.
Researchers used a series of tests to analyse emotional reactions in more than 3500 participants in the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol.
In the tests, participants were asked to identify emotions of people as happy, sad, angry or scared.
They were then asked to attribute one of the same four emotions to an animated triangle and circle moving around a screen.
Boys and girls who were previously identified as having attributes of autism were more likely to make mistakes when identifying sad and scared places and wrongly identify faces as happy.
When the genders were contrasted, girls with autistic traits were found to be better at recognising emotions in the photographs but fared less well identifying the triangle and circle cartoons.
This suggests that girls might be better at masking the signs of autism in social situations but are less able to do so in unfamiliar settings, the study reported.
Source: Herald Scotland