Configuring the autism epidemic: Why are so few girls diagnosed?

  • Jens Seeberg
  • Fie Lund Christensen


Autism has been described as an epidemic, but this claim is contested and may point to an awareness epidemic, i.e. changes in the definition of what autism is and more attention being invested in diagnosis leading to a rise in registered cases. The sex ratio of children diagnosed with autism is skewed in favour of boys, and girls with autism tend to be diagnosed much later than boys. Building and further developing the notion of ‘configuration’ of epidemics, this article explores the configuration of autism in Denmark, with a particular focus on the health system and social support to families with children diagnosed with autism, seen from a parental perspective.

The article points to diagnostic dynamics that contribute to explaining why girls with autism are not diagnosed as easily as boys. We unfold these dynamics through the analysis of a case of a Danish family with autism.

Seeberg, J., & Christensen, F. (2017). Configuring the autism epidemic: Why are so few girls diagnosed?. Tidsskrift for Forskning I Sygdom Og Samfund, 14(26).