Sex differences in age of diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder: Preliminary evidence from Uganda

Emmanuel Bonney, Catherine Abbo, Collin Ogara, Michele E. Villalobos, Jed T. Elison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study was performed to determine (a) the age at which autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is first diagnosed in Ugandan children receiving mental health services, (b) whether age at diagnosis varies by sex and clinical presentation, and (c) the average age of ASD diagnosis in children manifesting comorbid conditions. A retrospective chart review was performed and demographic as well as clinical data were collected from children with ASD diagnoses who attended two mental health clinics in Uganda between 2014 and 2019. Descriptive statistics such as percentages, means, and standard deviations were used to summarize the data. Independent t-test was also performed to determine differences in the mean age of diagnosis between males and females. Two hundred and thirty-seven (156 males, 81 females) children with ASD were identified. The average age of ASD diagnosis was (6.9 ± 4.0) years. A statistically significant difference in age of ASD diagnosis was found between males and females (t = −2.106, p = 0.036), such that on average females received a diagnosis at least 1 year later than males. Of the 237 participants, 53.6% were identified with ASD only, 16.0% had ASD and ADHD, 10.5% were diagnosed with ASD and epilepsy, and 7.2% had a diagnosis of complex ASD. The results confirm delays in access to ASD diagnosis and suggest that females are more likely to receive a ASD diagnosis later than males within the Ugandan context. ASD awareness should be intensified to improve public or professional knowledge about ASD to enhance early identification in Uganda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalAutism Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the Fogarty International Centre (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health under grant number D43TW009345 awarded to the Northern Pacific Global Health Fellows Program. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Funding information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 International Society for Autism Research and Wiley Periodicals LLC.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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