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Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Autism Research Database
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC)
 
Project Element Element Description

Project Title

Project Title

Behavioral and cognitive characteristics of females and males with autism

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Frazier, Thomas

Description

Description

Autism is a complex developmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction as well as the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviors. Autism occurs about four times more frequently in males than in females, and the male-to-female ratio can be as high as 10:1 among high-functioning individuals. Previous studies suggest that females who have autism may show weaker language and motor skills, greater social impairment, and fewer restricted and repetitive behaviors compared with males who have autism. However, most studies of sex differences in behavioral symptoms and cognitive characteristics have included only small numbers of females, making conclusions tentative. Thomas Frazier and his colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation are seeking to better understand sex differences in autism using the Simons Simplex Collection, which includes data from more than 2,000 males and 350 females with autism. The researchers plan to evaluate sex differences in social communication and restricted and repetitive symptoms, other psychiatric symptoms, verbal and visual ability, specific language skills and adaptive daily living skills. Sex discrepancies in the prevalence of autism also suggest a possible need for sex-specific thresholds when making the diagnosis. Frazier’s team plans to use autism symptom and trait information from unaffected first-degree relatives to examine whether families with affected females have a greater ‘genetic load,’ meaning that females require more genetic ‘hits’ to cross the threshold from neurotypical behavior to autism. If unaffected first-degree relatives from female-affected families show higher autism trait levels than do unaffected relatives from male-affected families, this idea would be supported. Finally, with the newly proposed DSM-5 diagnostic criteria in mind, the researchers aim to evaluate whether males and females should be assessed for autism by different criteria that are based on sex-specific symptom patterns.

Funder

Funder

Simons Foundation

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

60000

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2012-2013

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 2SB. Launch three studies that specifically focus on the neurodevelopment of females with ASD, spanning basic to clinical research on sex differences by 2011. IACC Recommended Budget: $8,900,000 over 5 years.

Project Link

Project Link

Behavioral and cognitive characteristics of females and males with autism (External web link)

Institution

Institution

Cleveland Clinic Foundation

State/Country

State/Country

Ohio

Project Number

Project Number

239713

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Private

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

Behavioral and cognitive characteristics of females and males with autism | 0 | 2014 | 239713
Behavioral and cognitive characteristics of females and males with autism | 0 | 2013 | 239713

 
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