Children who think they are transgender could have autism
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Children facing hormone treatment after being diagnosed as transgender could in fact be autistic.
Youngsters who believe they were born in the wrong body are seven times more likely than others to be on the autistic spectrum, said Dr Kenneth Zucker. The autistic trait of ‘fixating’ on subjects could convince children they are the wrong sex.
Dr Zucker was speaking after losing his job amid claims that he was trying to ‘cure’ children by questioning why they become gender-confused. He believes they may be suffering from autism, anxiety or depression, with many growing up not to need sex change surgery they may regret.
‘Just because kids are saying something doesn’t necessarily mean you accept it, or that it’s true, or that it could be in the best interests of the child.’ His view on autism is backed up by a Dutch study that found almost 8 per cent of patients at a gender identity clinic were on the autistic spectrum – seven times the general rate.
It has been suggested that cross-gender behaviour may be caused by some autistic children’s attraction to ‘unusual interests’.
He had been accused of trying to use ‘conversion therapy’ to cure gender-confused children, despite recommending medical intervention for those who continued to feel they were in the wrong body.
He was even told he could be putting children at risk of suicide by trying to discover if they had other mental health issues. Questioning whether these children should receive treatment, he once said: ‘A four-year-old might say that he is a dog – do you go out and buy him dog food?’
With studies suggesting 80 per cent of gender-confused people never have sex change treatment, Dr Zucker said: ‘You are always trying to think about what these behaviours mean, you are trying to understand what is the relationship between surface behaviours and underlying feelings.’