Why girls may not show autistic signs until puberty

Posted by: alisrowe, June 29, 2015

eden-with-friendIt is a known fact that girls very often go undiagnosed until they are in their puberty, or even when they hit adulthood. This may lead to feelings of frustration, loneliness or even despair, with these girls.

Now why is it so many girls go undiagnosed? We can find the answer in developmental psychology. When children are toddlers, they don’t really indulge yet in playing together. They play what is called a ‘parallel play’. This means even though the children are, for example, sitting at the same table, they will each be involved in their own world, and conducting their own play. In this sense they don’t really need to conduct social interaction yet.

Toddlers will learn social interaction from mimicking their parents, or other carers. You can see this in ‘pretend’ games, and copying other people’s behaviour and words. At this age, the toddler doesn’t yet make differentiate between genders – there isn’t a difference between boys and girls.

At the end of the toddler stage, boys will start identifying with boys and men, and girls with girls and women. The toddler will now start mimicking the behaviour from the sex they are. Erikson calls this the oedipal and phallic phase.

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