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Open AccessArticle

Mental Health Correlates of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Gender Diverse Young People: Evidence from a Specialised Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic in Australia

1
Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia, Perth 6008, Australia
2
School of Psychological Science, Faculty of Science, The University of Western Australia, Perth 6008, Australia
3
Centre and Discipline of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, Division of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences and Division of Paediatrics and Child Health, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth 6008, Australia
4
The Gender Diversity Service, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Child and Adolescent Health Service, Perth Children’s Hospital, Nedlands 6009, Australia
5
School of Population and Global Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth 6008, Australia
6
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Jena University Hospital, Friedrich Schiller University, 07743 Jena, Germany
7
Discipline of Psychology, College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education, Murdoch University, Perth 6150, Australia
8
The School of Human Sciences (Exercise and Sports Science), The University of Western Australia, Perth 6008, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Joint First Authors (Both Contributed Equally).
J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8(10), 1503; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8101503
Received: 6 August 2019 / Revised: 7 September 2019 / Accepted: 16 September 2019 / Published: 20 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Spectrum Disorders)
Research suggests an overrepresentation of autism spectrum diagnoses (ASD) or autistic traits in gender diverse samples, particularly in children and adolescents. Using data from the GENTLE (GENder identiTy Longitudinal Experience) Cohort at the Gender Diversity Service at the Perth Children’s Hospital, the primary objective of the current retrospective chart review was to explore psychopathology and quality of life in gender diverse children with co-occurring ASD relative to gender diverse children and adolescents without ASD. The Social Responsiveness Scale (Second Edition) generates a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) score indicating a likely clinical ASD diagnosis, which was used to partition participants into two groups (indicated ASD, n = 19) (no ASD indicated, n = 60). Indicated ASD was far higher than would be expected compared to general population estimates. Indicated ASD on the Social Responsiveness Scale 2 (SRS 2) was also a significant predictor of Internalising behaviours (Anxious/Depressed, Withdrawn/Depressed, Somatic Complaints, Thought Problems subscales) on the Youth Self Report. Indicated ASD was also a significant predictor of scores on all subscales of the Paediatric Quality of Life Inventory. The current findings indicate that gender diverse children and adolescents with indicated ASD comprise an especially vulnerable group that are at marked risk of mental health difficulties, particularly internalising disorders, and poor quality of life outcomes. Services working with gender diverse young people should screen for ASD, and also provide pathways to appropriate care for the commonly associated mental health difficulties. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender diverse; transgender; autism; ASD gender diverse; transgender; autism; ASD
MDPI and ACS Style

Mahfouda, S.; Panos, C.; Whitehouse, A.J.; Thomas, C.S.; Maybery, M.; Strauss, P.; Zepf, F.D.; O’Donovan, A.; van Hall, H.-W.; Saunders, L.A.; Moore, J.K.; Lin, A. Mental Health Correlates of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Gender Diverse Young People: Evidence from a Specialised Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic in Australia. J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8, 1503.

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