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Earlier this month Yale School of Medicine was awarded a $15M grant from the National Institute for Health (NIH) to study Autism in girls. Another grant, another study. But wait! What makes this one different is that it will help researchers study Autism in females. We’ve known that Autism affects males way more than females (boys are four times more likely to have ASD than girls), but we’ve never really known why.

The team’s principal investigator, Kevin Pelphrey of Yale, has a daughter with Autism, so he has a bit of a personal stake in this. His team will be working in collaboration with researchers from UCLA, Harvard, and University of Washington. Because there are much fewer girls than boys with Autism, girls are often left out of studies researching drugs and/or treatment methods. This means that there really haven’t been many studies to even include girls with Autism at all.

“We have this long-standing knowledge… [autism] affects males much more predominantly than females, but we don’t know why,” says Lisa Gilotty, program officer for the National Institute of Mental Health – a subdivision of the NIH. “Dr. Pelphrey’s grant will focus on the sex differences: understanding how and why there’s this difference. There’s really nothing else like it.”

Those of us with girls on the spectrum have one thing to say: FINALLY! We are hoping that this will help lead to information about our girls’ ability to process information, their cognitive differences from boys on the spectrum, their reaction to meds, which therapies seem most effective for them, and most importantly, how they develop and change over time, especially over the time of hormonal shifts in the body.

Looking forward to the work this team does and the findings they’re able to produce.

Do you have a girl or boy on the Autism Spectrum? What would you hope could be learned from a study like this?