Friday, August 8, 2014

"The Role of Gender in a Disability Diagnosis"

Boys face a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with a disability than girls. In categories such as Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome and Learning Disability (LD), prevalence ratios for boys and girls are some times as high as 3 to 1.

While genetics may be the most accepted cause of high prevalence rates, there could be other reasons for highee diagnoses. For example, autism has been commonly associated with males. Parents who observe girls with characteristics of autism may attribute it to the child simply being a loner, self-absorbed or quiet in nature. Parents witnessing similar characteristics in a son will more probably suspect disability than assume some other causal factors.

Although more boys in general are identified as having ADHD, African American and Hispanic males are more often diagnosed than any other group. In addition, these two groups are overwhelmingly reprsented in the categories of learning disabled and emotionally disturbed.

More research is needed to determine the overall impact of genetics when diagnosing disabilities and whether gender bias plays more of a role in this equation than previously attributed. Are girls more immune to certain disabilities or are they being overlooked based on gender assumptions?

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