Journal article Open Access

The female phenotype of autism spectrum disorder: The 'camouflage' hypothesis

Allely, Sarah Clare

It is being increasingly recognised that females with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may exhibit superficial social skills which may help them to mask or hide their ASD symptomology. This ability can subsequently impact on the identification of the disorder. This ability to exhibit superficial social skills in order to mask ASD impairments is what is referred to as the ‘camouflage’ hypothesis. It is worth highlighting here that the capacity to ‘camouflage’ social impairments in social situations is increasingly recognised as being one of the key features of the female phenotype of ASD. This paper will explore some of the studies which have investigating camouflaging behaviours in females with ASD. The studies identified in the systematic review by Allely (2019) highlighted that there exists relatively little empirical research exploring this main feature of the female phenotype of ASD.

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