News & Current Affairs

September 17, 2008

Autism ‘may be missed in girls’

Autism ‘may be missed in girls’

Stressed woman

Girls may show different symptoms

Girls with mild autism are less likely to be identified and diagnosed than boys, a study suggests.

Researchers examined 493 boys and 100 girls with autistic spectrum disorders.

They found the girls showed different symptoms, and fewer signs of symptoms traditionally associated with autism, such as repetitive behavior.

The researchers, who presented their work to a Royal College of Psychiatrists meeting, said this might mean cases among girls are missed.

“We shouldn’t assume autism or Asperger syndrome will look the same in both sexes
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
University of Cambridge

Autism is thought to affect four times as many boys as girls – but the latest study suggests this might not be the case.

Most of the children featured in the study had been seen at the Social and Communication Disorders Clinic at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Additional cases came from Sunderland and Finland.

All the children were classified as “high-functioning”. They did not have classic autism, but did have difficulties with socialising and communication.

Relationship obsessions

The researchers, who have yet to publish their research, found that the girls were more likely to have obsessional interests centred around people and relationships.

However, these interests were more likely to be acceptable to their parents, and therefore tended not to be reported to doctors.

Characteristics such as shyness and over-sensitivity, common to people affected by autism, are sometimes deemed to be typically female traits
Judith Gould
National Autistic Society

In addition, these types of obsessions were less likely to be discovered using standard diagnostic questionnaires.

The investigators said more research was needed to analyse how autism spectrum conditions manifest differently in the sexes.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, an autism expert at the University of Cambridge, agreed.

He said: “This is an important clinical issue and there are too few studies addressing it.

“We shouldn’t assume autism or Asperger syndrome will look the same in both sexes.

“There may be many factors leading to these conditions either being underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed in females, or leading females to require a diagnosis less often.”

Judith Gould, of the National Autistic Society, said: “We hear from many women who have been diagnosed later in life.

“The way autism is presented in women can be very complex and so can be missed.

“It might be that due to misconceptions and stereotypes, many girls and women with autism are never referred for diagnosis, and so are missing from statistics.

“This may mean that many women who are undiagnosed are not receiving support, which can have a profound effect on them and their families.”

Ms Gould said it was also possible that girls were better at masking difficulties in order to fit in with society.

“Characteristics such as shyness and oversensitivity, common to people affected by autism, are sometimes deemed to be typically female traits.

“However if a boy were to display such characteristics, concerns may be raised.”

1 Comment »

  1. Here’s an article that gives a very good explanation why more boys have Autism!

    By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.

    Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of Cambridge University Research Center created a firestorm of controversy a few years ago with his claim that autism was the result of an “extreme male brain”.

    Dr. Mark Geier and his son David believe Baron-Cohen may be exactly right. I recently spoke with David Geier about these issues.

    According to David Geier, the father-son team first became interested in this question after viewing a poster in which Dr. Boyd Haley showed how the addition of even a small amount of testosterone greatly enhanced the destructive power of mercury.

    Through the work of Dr. Jill James, the Geiers were aware that people with autism had significantly lower levels of glutathione. In their investigations the Geiers found that testosterone blocks the body’s ability to make glutathione and that mercury binds to glutathione, thus inactivating whatever stores the body may already have.

    According to the Geiers mercury also raises testosterone levels, while dramatically lowering glutathione. At special risk would be those individuals who have a family history of low estrogen and high testosterone. The Geiers’ theory might tie together several disparate findings and give hope for those children who have not fully recovered through bio-medical interventions.

    A known side-effect of high testosterone is precocious puberty, or the early development of adult features in children. When the Geiers went looking for signs of precocious puberty in the autistic children in their clinic they found it in approximately 80% of their patients.

    According to the Breast Cancer Fund, over the past forty years the age of puberty in girls has dropped one to two years. The Geiers believe this is a population-wide effect of mercury from the vaccines. When the Geiers tested seventy children with autism for abnormal testosterone levels they found results outside the normal range in approximately one-quarter to one-third of their patients.

    Curiously, the affected girls seemed to have even higher testosterone levels than the affected boys, leading the Geiers to conclude that was necessary to overcome the naturally protective effects of estrogen.

    The testosterone molecule is also the perfect shape so that when it is combined with mercury the mercury will be tightly bound to the testosterone, making it impossible to remove from the body with chelators.

    Let me say that again.

    Testosterone binds with mercury, thus rendering it invulnerable to chelators. The chelators can then only pick up the free-floating heavy metals. If true, this is extremely important revelation.

    Fortunately, traditional medicine has made tremendous inroads in moderating abnormal hormone levels. The drug Lupron has been used for many years to lower testosterone and has an excellent safety record according to the Geiers, with many people remaining on it for five to ten years. It is the treatment of choice among medical professionals for precocious puberty.

    The Geiers theorized that if they were able to temporarily turn off testosterone production with lupron, they might be able to release these trapped stores of mercury.

    In a discussion with a fellow medical professional the Geiers were curious as to whether anybody had tested what increased testosterone would do to normally developing children. The medical professional told them that testosterone shots were routinely done for boys who have undescended testes. Perhaps it’s not surprising, but during the course of the therapy the boys exhibit obsessive-compulsive traits, and near-autistic like tendencies which fade in the months following the end of treatment.

    The Geiers claim to have treated more than two hundred patients with a combination of lupron until the point at which testosterone levels normalize, then DMSA to chelate out any remaining mercury. According to David Geier, there have been tremendous changes, “almost like a light switch” as these children make rapid improvements.

    Treatment of children with autism by lupron seems to have some unique characteristics. Normally, a single injection of lupron is enough to bring down testosterone levels to normal levels, but when children with autism are administered lupron their testosterone levels often go up. At first it was theorized that this represented lupron resistance, although the makers of the drug when contacted by the Geiers claimed to have never heard of such a result.

    For lack of a better description, it seemed as if the bodies of children with autism were “stuffed” with testosterone and as the body’s natural production of testosterone was temporarily interrupted it came pouring out of the body’s hidden stores. A modified lupron protocol was then created, with testing of testosterone levels guiding more frequent administration of the drug until testosterone levels are normalized.

    The Geiers have found that the best results are achieved when patients are given a slow-release shot, and a daily injection.

    The earliest patient was Wesley Sykes, whose mother is the Reverend Lisa Sykes of the Christ United Methodist Church in Richmond, Virginia. Three years ago, when Wesley was nine-years-old the Geiers told her about this idea. Besides being non-verbal, nine-year-old Wesley was having erections in the shower, masturbating, sporting peach fuzz, and had a two-inch growth spurt which Lisa had attributed to his good health. After talking with the Geiers it became clear to Lisa that Wesley was experiencing precocious puberty.

    Working in concert with Dr. Mary Megson, it was discovered that Wesley did indeed have high testosterone levels.

    As the first patient the Geiers were surprised to find that a lupron shot which should have taken Wesley’s testosterone levels from 25 to 0, only reduced it to 18. During that time, though, there were significant changes in Wesley, such as reduced hyperactivity, being able to swing on a swing, and beginning verbalizations. Consistent testing of testosterone levels guided the Geiers in how often to administer the lupron.

    In an interview with Reverand Sykes which can be found on the internet, she recounted how she and the Geiers came to the conclusion that the testosterone had “bonded to mercury and soaked into his tissues.”

    In the same interview Sykes recounts how the age of puberty in the United States has dropped two years, while in Scandinavian countries which demanded thimerosal-free vaccines in 1991, there has been no drop in the age of puberty.

    The identification of testosterone with mercury retention might also explain another one of the long-standing mysteries of autism, namely why so many children with autism develop seizures in adolescence.

    According to Reverend Sykes, it might be because their already high testosterone levels are pushed from “the stratosphere into orbit” by the additional testosterone production which accompanies the change to adulthood. The high testosterone produces seizures and aggressive behavior.

    Now twelve years old, Wesley is reported by his mother to be extremely calm, typing with a keyboard, affectionate and interactive. In addition, the inappropriate sexual behavior vanished and with his keyboard he seems to have a fairly good grasp of his emotions and what is happening around him.

    When a therapist was late for a session, he became agitated and when she later questioned him he was why he was upset he typed back, “I miss u.” Another time he did not seem to be interested in a computer game suggested by his therapist and wrote to her, “This sucks.”

    While his receptive language is excellent, his verbal language opened in brief windows during the lupron treatments, but did not remain. They are continuing with the therapy as his porphyrin tests indicate some mercury still remains in his body.

    Personal Thoughts

    I believe this may be an enormous advance in our understanding, while giving hope to those children who have not received the full benefits of a chelation protocol. In short, why do some children recover and others seem to hit a wall beyond which they don’t improve?

    Other physicians, like Dr. Jeff Bradstreet are looking at the usage of other medications, like spironolactone as a hormone modulator. There may be other ways to moderate testosterone levels in autistic children if indeed they are shown to be abnormal.

    In a previous column I recounted how a hormone test showed my daughter to have high testosterone levels and our doctor is looking to treat it first with supplements because she likes to be conservative.

    I am heartened by the claim of David Geier that this is something you can get any endocrinologist to test, and if the testosterone level comes back high, lupron is their treatment of choice.

    The only caveat is the understanding that children with autism are not likely to respond in a normal fashion so there needs to be more frequent monitoring of hormone levels.

    This is a really big idea. Wouldn’t it be great if this turned out to be another big piece in the struggle to get all our children back?

    If you’d like to view interviews with either the Geiers or Reverend Lisa Sykes click HERE.

    Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor of Age of Autism.

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    There has also been improvement in verbal communication.

    Posted by: biomedmama7 | 04/22/2008 at 11:33 AM

    The Geier protocol is doing wonders for our daughter’s seizures, behavior, cognition, happiness, and overall feeling better – and we haven’t even begun chelation yet.

    It is my understanding that he was invited to and recently attended a DAN! think-tank. I wish all the ‘good guy doctors’ could get together and devise a comprehensive protocol which includes everything from A to Z, catered to each child’s individual needs.

    I do believe that mainstream doctors wouldn’t accept it as it (autism via mercury poisoning) is a $90 billion dollar per year industry (expected to more than double in the next decade) and estimates suggest that the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines will result in a 25% drop in “business” for doctors.

    I hope the ethical, non-greedy doctors won’t be deterred.

    God help those pregnant moms in poorer countries for whom Pampers has a 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign. The one vaccine – a (Thimerosal-containing? ) tetanus shot.

    Posted by: biomedmama7 | 04/22/2008 at 11:16 AM

    I got excited about this treatment a few years ago – right after Lisa Sykes started it with Wesley. One of my young son’s “stims” is to rub his private area on things – rocking back and forth. Chelation also had no effect on him. So, I really thought this would be the answer for us! But, alas, Dr. Megson told us that his testosterone levels were normal.

    Yet, I am very happy for the kids who are showing high testosterone levels. This is truly an exciting breakthrough – and I applaud the Geiers for their courage to pursue this research. Such good news that some children are improving with this treatment. Another piece of the puzzle – hooray!

    Posted by: Sara Reider | 04/22/2008 at 09:48 AM

    I have a close friend who’s going through fertility treatments. Like some women who were living too close to Ground Zero on 9/11, she had trouble conceiving and I got to hear the blow by blow. She brought up a really interesting point about treatments designed to raise estrogen. If estrogen were artificially raised too high, the hormone feedback system would counter by raising androgen levels and a fertilized egg wouldn’t implant in a high-androgen “environment”. She wasn’t told this by a doctor but had to google it and then confront the doctor with it. She’s a bit on the vanguard over a lot of things and, for instance, convinced us to stop drinking bottled water and to get a water filter two years ago because of the bisphenol A issue and synthetic estrogens.

    Now I’m wondering if bisphenol A is playing a complementary role in autism by causing hormone backlash in infants– synthetic estrogen leading to increased testosterone. Someone here raised the important point that artificial hormones in meat and dairy could be contributing to early puberty in some children, though in our kids’ case, they were only given organic everything. I did drink bottled water while pregnant and nursing, though, and they were sipping from water bottles from the age of six months, gnawing on plastic baby toys all along and probably getting doses of plasticizer from many sources.

    In any case, the testosterone/mercury theory has always rung a bell with us in regards to our kids’ injuries. We were very compelled by the Geiers’ statement that the reason that methyl B-12 and other autism treatments seemed to work so well was because methyl B-12, secretin, etc., lower testosterone. Aside from any chemical tinkering, we suspect that our twins have inherited natural hormone levels which contribute to susceptibility– high testosterone males and go-getter females run strong in both sides of the family.

    And how tragic is that? If environmental autism is weeding out particularly masculine males and female athletes, leaders and CEOs, what’s the future going to look like?

    Posted by: Gatogorra | 04/22/2008 at 07:49 AM

    Fascinating stuff, Kent. I’m just in awe of all the progress that is being made, without the help of the medical profession or government. Of course, it is sickening that it is all happening without their help, and I hope one day they are sorry, really sorry, for what they have not done.

    Meanwhile, answers and help are being found. You can’t keep a good parent down, eh?

    Posted by: Sandy Gottstein | 04/21/2008 at 07:56 PM

    Good, important article. But to keep this testosterone-mercury-glutathione link from being instantly kicked into the tall grass by those who want to rubbish the Geiers every chance they get & never listen to anything they have to say, I’d like to point out another perspective on the matter, that brings in the role of glutamate in this discussion – an excitotoxin present in vaccines (MSG). It’s in a longish paper by Russell L Blaylock, MD (a former neurologist) entitled ‘The Danger of Excessive Vaccination During Brain Development: The Case for a Link to Autism Spectrum Disorders’. It should be on his website: An excellent paper, with this section headed ‘Why Males Are Affected More Often’. I highly recommend the paper, and this section in particular for its contribution to this aspect of the ‘debate’. Also the work of Carol Hornlein (at on the important role of glutamate in all this, and its link with the genes they are discovering in relation to autism.
    We’re getting there. Well done, everybody, in this mission for understanding, and ultimate action. Which is way late; but better late than never, with the medical-pharmaceutical-government complex willing to sacrifice all those who have suffered from the side effects of vaccines ‘for the sake of the whole’. That whole is getting mighty peaked-looking, with all the chronic illness & disease going on. Even though it’s certainly a boon for the drug companies. Anything for a buck….but let’s not go there, just yet. Let’s stick with the science; which IS falling into place.
    As long as we don’t make the mistake of falling into the trap of those who would hope to stonewall on this matter, by thinking ‘we’ have to come up with peer-reviewed studies in the establishment’s select journals before anything substantive can happen in this matter. What ‘peers’ are going to jeopardize their reputations and careers by signing off on the progress that is being made? Except the really honest ones. Those lonely souls who must be deeply torn by now. No; good science – ie, factual science, not science that supports one point of view – will out, wherever it gets posted, and commented on. The tobacco industry’s power finally faltered. Big Pharma’s will, too, with evidence that parents can take to Congress and demand action on – or to their respective state legislatures, which may not be so beholden to the corporate interests controlling the federal legislature. Let’s keep hope for a breakthrough wherever it takes place. Another Robert Kennedy Jr. article, and the whole mighty edifice might start crumbling….so keep up the good work, AOA. We’re wearing them down. Parents certainly aren’t going to be the ones to give up in this battle. That’s powerful stuff. The best.

    Posted by: Stan | 04/21/2008 at 04:41 PM

    Kent, thanks for bringing this topic forward and with such useful detail. I know both the Geiers and Lupron are controversial and even to address it seriously is likely to bring criticism. but i must share for the first time my own personal observation from a couple of years ago. again this is not a recommendation, just an anecdote, but i am of the opinion that anecdotes are important, and the ones that mean anything will sort themselves out over time.
    Anyway, I was at the Geier’s home — you know, the one with the fake paneling or whatever the NYT decided to ridicule it for — to discuss lots of things with them. I had never heard of Lupron, but while I was there a child, a boy of somewhere in the 7-9 range i would guess, came for a Lupron shot. He was bouncing around the house in his own world while they got set up. I was just killing time and not paying much attention except to watch the child behave in what seemed to me like a very autistic way — no eye-contact, no interaction, no concentration.
    He got the shot, and within a VERY few minutes he seemed like a different child to me. He came up to me, interacted, made eye contact. Most of all he was so much calmer.
    Again, I’m not offering this as an endorsement. You could probably shoot someone up with valium or some of the psychotropic drugs we DON’T want used on children with autism and manage to calm them down, or zone them out, or shut them up for some period of time.
    This kid, however, was not zoned out, he was back from the zoned-out zone, however temporarily or coincidentally. Just had to put this on the record.

    Posted by: Dan Olmsted | 04/21/2008 at 12:12 PM

    Thank you, this is very interesting. Question: Do higher levels of testosterone contribute to premature puberty in girls, or just in boys?

    Another contributing factor to premature puberty in girls may be the substance in plastic that mimics a female hormone.

    I have heard the Geiers’ use of lupron being bashed by those on the other side of this controversy, and I’m happy to have a chance to read your concise description of the rationale behind it’s use.

    Posted by: Twyla | 04/21/2008 at 11:42 AM

    “According to the Breast Cancer Fund, over the past forty years the age of puberty in girls has dropped one to two years. The Geiers believe this is a population-wide effect of mercury from the vaccines.”

    I’m not so sure about the mercury. There are an enormous amount of artificial hormones in the milk, cheese and beef we all eat. I think that because of these hormones, we are seeing a large number of teenaged girls with precocious puberty. It’s an interesting theory, though, and I’d like to see more on it.

    Good post!

    Posted by: Craig Willoughby | 04/21/2008 at 10:56 AM

    “In a discussion with a fellow medical professional the Geiers were curious as to whether anybody had tested what increased testosterone would do to normally developing children. The medical professional told them that testosterone shots were routinely done for boys who have undescended testes.”

    We need to remember that estrogen dominance is yet another aspect of a dysfunctional endocrine system. Estrogen dominance can lead to seizures as well if there is insufficiency of progesterone. Its just that all the focus so far has been on testosterone that people do not necessarily know this.

    Here is an old link from an autism list (a public one).

    Posted by: Estrogen anyone? | 04/21/2008 at 10:04 AM


    I was very pleased to see something finally written about this connection. We have seen some nice things on the Geier protocol. I have one of those girls with high levels of testosterone. She has savant skills when it comes to languages, music, reading skills, computer skills, and video games. Although she still has these skills, I am also seeing some very sweet play with her stuffed animals that we did not see before. She is now naming them and choosing a different one to sleep with at night. Her appetite has decreased and cognition has increased. Her monthly porphyrin tests have steadily decreased without any chelators other than her supps. I am hopeful that we will continue to see these changes but testosterone in this population is a very stubborn foe that does not want to release its grip very easily…this fact alone should have all the “experts” scratching their heads…why does lupron behave differently in this population?? It is not enough for the drug makers to just say they have “never heard of such a result” from their drug.

    Comment by Barbara Snipes, MA, CCC-SLP — September 18, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

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