Late diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder—Journey, parents' concerns, and sex influences

Michael Davidovitch*, Sivan Gazit, Tal Patalon, Yael Leitner, Ran S. Rotem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite increasing awareness for diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and initiating treatments early in life, many children and adolescents continue to be diagnosed at a relatively older age. Focusing on children who first received an ASD diagnosis at age six or older, this study aimed to describe the symptoms that parents reported when ASD was diagnosed, follow the patients' clinical trajectory prior to receiving the diagnosis, and describe differences in symptoms and prior diagnoses between males and females cases. We included 258 children (205 males and 53 females) who were first diagnosed with autism at age 6–18 in 2017–2018. We retrieved demographic information, neurologic and developmental symptoms, diagnoses, and medications dispensing history from the children's electronic medical charts. The data indicated that prior diagnoses of language delays and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were common among children with a late ASD diagnosis. Two thirds of the children were prescribed one or more medications to treat psychosocial and behavioral conditions before receiving a late ASD diagnosis. Difficulties in social relationships with peers were the leading reported symptoms by parents at the time of ASD diagnosis. Across these different domains, some differences were found between males and females, including a somewhat higher cognitive level in males, who were also more likely to present aggressive behavior.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAutism Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • ASD
  • autism
  • late diagnosis
  • parents concern
  • sex


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