In this July 7, 2016, photo, Evee Bak, left, talks with her brother Tom Bak while they wait to talk with reporters at the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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Think autism and an image of an awkward boy typically emerges, but the way autism strikes girls – or doesn't – may help reveal some of the developmental disorder's frustrating secrets.Autism is at least four times more common in boys, but scientists taking a closer look are finding some gender-based surprises: Many girls with autism have social skills that can mask the condition. The causes of autism aren't known.WHAT SCIENCE SHOWSBrain imaging suggests there may be an additional explanation for why many girls with autism have more subtle symptoms than boys, Pelphrey said. Even in girls who clearly have autism, he said, brain regions involved in social behavior that are normally affected are less severely impaired.Also, recent studies on autism-linked genes have found that girls can have the same kinds of genetic mutations seen in boys with autism, but not show symptoms. Autism screening, recommended for kids starting at 18 months, uses tools based on research in autistic boys, said Rachel Loftin, clinical director of an autism center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
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