Svenny Kopp, a University of Gothenburg doctoral student at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden, says when girls with symptoms of autism or ADHD seek help, their problems are often played down or misinterpreted.
Kopp's thesis focuses primarily on 100 girls who -- before reaching adulthood -- went to the doctor because of difficulties with social interaction and/or concentration, and eventually were referred to the pediatric neuropsychiatric clinic at Sahlgrenska University Hospital between 1999 and 2001.
"We could see that their parents had been concerned about the girls' behavior or development during their first few years of life," Kopp says in a statement. "They had also asked for help at an early stage, but hadn't been given a proper diagnosis."
Compared with the control group of 60 girls without any known serious problems, the 100 girls' performance was severely impaired in all areas studied -- including psychological, motor and social function.
"The results are particularly disturbing given that these girls did not generally have a disadvantaged social background and were mostly of normal intelligence," Kopp says.