Screen Readers Skip to Content

Gender Identity Issues More Likely Among Children with Autism or ADHD

Outline: Study finds gender identity issues more likely among children with autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity problems and related disorders.

Main Digest

Children and teenagers with an autism spectrum disorder or those who have attention deficit and hyperactivity problems are much more likely to wish to be another gender. So says John Strang of the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC, USA, leader of the first study to compare the occurrence of such gender identity issues among children and adolescents with and without specific neuro-developmental disorders. The paper is published in Springer's journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Children between 6 and 18 years old were part of the study.

They either had no neuro-developmental disorder, or they were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a medical neuro-developmental disorder such as epilepsy, or neurofibromatosis.

Gender Variance

The wish to be the other gender, known as gender variance, was assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist, one of the most commonly used behavioral report inventories for children and adolescents.

Participants who wished to be another gender had elevated rates of anxiety and depression symptoms. However, these were lower among participants with autism spectrum disorders. This is possibly due to their impaired social reasoning which makes them unaware of the societal pressures against gender nonconformity.

Strang and his co-workers' study is the first to report on the overlap between ADHD diagnosis and coinciding gender variance.

It supports previous studies that have shown increased levels of behavioral problems and/or disruptive disorders among young people with gender variance. Navigating a child's gender variance is often complex for children and families. The presence of neuro-developmental disorders makes diagnostics, coping, and adaptation even more challenging.

"In ADHD, difficulties inhibiting impulses are central to the disorder and could result in difficulty keeping gender impulses 'under wraps' in spite of internal and external pressures against cross-gender expression," says Strang, who suggests that the coincidence of gender variance with ADHD and ASD could be related to the underlying symptoms of these neuro-developmental disorders.

Strang continued,

"Children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders may be less aware of the social restrictions against expressions of gender variance and therefore less likely to avoid expressing these inclinations. It could also be theorized that excessively rigid or 'black and white' thinking could result in such a child's rigidly interpreting mild or moderate gender nonconforming inclinations as more intense or absolute."

Reference: Strang, J.F. et al (2014). Increased Gender Variance in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Archives of Sexual Behavior. DOI 10.1007/s10508-014-0285-3


Similar Documents

(i)This information is from an external source (Springer). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity, and/or length. If you are connected with this page and want it corrected/updated please contact us.

Help Spread Disability Awareness
Connect with Us on Social Media
Cite: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English. Author: Springer. Electronic Publication Date: 2014/03/12. Last Revised Date: 2018/08/20. Reference Title: "Gender Identity Issues More Likely Among Children with Autism or ADHD", Source: Gender Identity Issues More Likely Among Children with Autism or ADHD. Abstract: Study finds gender identity issues more likely among children with autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity problems and related disorders. Retrieved 2019-11-16, from https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/sexuality/identity.php - Reference Category Number: DW#324-10146.
Important Disclaimer:
Information provided on disabled-world.com is for general informational purpose only, it is not offered as and does not constitute medical advice. In no way are any of the materials presented meant to be a substitute for professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on disabled-world.com does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.