Autism in young girls is often misdiagnosed or overlooked. A doctor explains why.

When Cosi, 16, was in sixth grade, she says she was struggling in school and struggled with anxiety, but neither she nor her mother Lisa knew why.

“It can be very difficult to go through these struggles that set you apart from a lot of other people for no reason,” Cosi told CBS News.

He was finally diagnosed autismA developmental disorder which can affect social skills, communication and behavior.

“It really happened after about three years of trying to figure out why certain things at school were difficult for her, why she was having difficulty,” her mother said.

Autism is often neglected among young girlsand even misdiagnosed, says Dr. Cynthia Martin, senior director of the Autism Center at the Child Mind Institute.

“We’re seeing higher rates of anxiety or depression diagnoses and autism is really going unnoticed,” Martin says, adding that the reasons can vary.

Sometimes girls don’t meet the criteria for autism and tend to be better at masking symptoms by imitating their friends’ behavior. But getting an accurate diagnosis can be life-changing.

“Knowing that it comes from a neurodevelopmental disorder can help them understand themselves better, navigate the world better, and advocate for what they need,” Martin says.

Although autism is thought to be more common in boys, it is important for parents and clinicians to pay attention to signs in girls. If a child has trouble understanding social rules or handling conflict with friends, experts say you may want to consider an autism evaluation.

If a diagnosis is not made, a young person may not receive the support they need or develop other behavioral problems.

Cosi says her diagnosis, along with therapy and medication, helped. Today, she encourages other girls who struggle to express themselves.

“Sometimes you might know yourself better than anyone else, and you might be going through something, and no one else will know, and if you don’t talk about it and try to find those answers, then you won’t not,” she said. .


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