Kids with ASD, ADHD more likely to wish to be the other gender

Amira A

According to new research, children and teens with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD are much more likely to wish to be another gender than children without that diagnosis. This comes from the first study to compare the occurrence of such gender identity issues among children and adolescents with and without specific neurodevelopmental disorders.

Gender variance higher with ASD and ADHD

The study looked at children between the ages of 6 and 18 years. The children fell into several categories: no neurodevelopmental disorder, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), a medical neurodevelopment disorder like epilepsy or neurofibromatosis. Gender variance, or the desire to be the opposite gender, was measured by the Child Behavior Checklist, one of the most commonly used behavioral reports. Gender variance was found to be 7.59 times higher than the control group in kids with ASD. It was 6.64 times more prevalent in the kids with ADHD. There was no difference in the other groups.

May be related to difficulty inhibiting impulses

“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,” noted John Strang of the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC who also suggested that the coincidence of gender variance with ADHD and ASD could be related to the underlying symptoms of these neurodevelopmental disorders.

May also be rigidly interpreting gender characteristics

“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,” concluded Strang.

Source: Archives of Sexual Behavior, MedicalNewsToday
Photo by Amira A at

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