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Autism and gender experts point to existing evidence about significant co-occurrence of autism and gender diversity

Leading researchers and self-advocates refute suggestions that little evidence exists for the co-occurrence of ASD and gender diversity November 02, 2018

WASHINGTON – A group of international clinicians, scientists and self-advocates across the fields of autism and gender diversity report that current published studies do clearly identify a significant subset of people with gender differences who also have co-occurring autism. 

The article, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is a response to an earlier 2018 publication in the same journal which disputed the idea that a co-occurrence of gender diversity and autism is common.

The new publication investigates rates of clinical autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses among gender-referred individuals as reported in existing studies. It was written by 21leading autism and gender experts as well as transgender autistic self-advocates.

“Many of us have served for years as gender care providers, witnessing the common co-occurrence with ASD, as well as the impacts that this co-occurrence can have on a person’s ability to self-advocate for gender needs, gender exploration and gender affirmation,” the authors write.

They identify that clinical diagnosis of ASD was 4.1 to 17.5 times more common in gender-diverse individuals than in the general population, per the seven available studies that report this information. John Strang, Psy.D., director of the Gender and Autism Program at Children’s National Health System, was the lead author. Members of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, including some who have the co-occurrence themselves, also served as contributors.

“We work and live with the co-occurrence of autism and gender diversity on a daily basis, and we are concerned that perpetuating misunderstanding about the co-occurrence places individuals at risk to not receive the care and support they need,” the authors write. “There is much to be done to evaluate and understand this phenomenon, but our focus remains on understanding and supporting these people to discover and achieve life fulfillment within the framework of their own neuro- and gender-diversity.”

Media Contact: Jennifer Stinebiser | 703-568-8825 | 202-476-4500

About Children's National Health System

Children’s National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has served the nation’s children since 1870. Children’s National is one of the nation’s Top 5 pediatric hospitals and, for a second straight year, is ranked No. 1 in newborn care, as well as ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. It has been designated two times as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty outpatient centers in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia. Home to the Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is the seventh-highest NIH-funded pediatric institution in the nation. Children’s National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels.

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