Mental Health

Gender Non-Conforming Youth & Autism Spectrum Disorders

Dr. Jason Bolton

The Help Group

Workshop Session #1

9AM - 10AM -

Session Overview

Although exact prevalence in youth is not established, it’s clear that an increasing number of children, youth and young adults are presenting for evaluation and management of gender identity issues. The prevalence of individuals of all ages identifying as transgender and/or experiencing gender dysphoria seems to be about 0.2%-0.3% of the population.  While gender variation is not a disorder, these youth are known to be an underserved population with specific medical and mental health needs. They are at risk for being victims of abuse and rejection by family, friends, and peers; and developing mental health issues, including mood disorders, suicidal thinking, self-harm behaviors, and anxiety.  Tantamount to this talk,co-occurring autism spectrum disorders are increasingly being recognized in transgender youth. Studies have shown that those with ASD are 4 to 8 times more likely to identify as transgender or experience gender dysphoria than the general population. There is currently no well-researched understanding of this relationship though neuro-biological theories and theories based upon common characteristics of those with ASD have been described.  In accordance with these emerging data, The Help Group, especially within its Non-public schools geared towards students with ASD, has experienced an obvious increase in the number of students referred with ASD who are gender non-conforming. This presentation will highlight The Help Group's identification of this phenomenon and our plans to address this emerging and critical need.


Dr. Jason Bolton has over 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents and families with histories of abuse and neglect, social-emotional challenges, and developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorder and learning differences. A licensed Clinical Psychologist, he holds a B.A in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma, an M.S. in Applied Behavioral Studies from Oklahoma State University, and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Alameda. He is The Help Group’s Vice President of Programs and previously served the agency as Clinical Director and Chief Psychologist. Dr. Bolton's expertise includes effective leadership, innovative program development, and responsible fiscal oversight of quality programs. He serves on the the Board of Directors of the California Private Special Education Schools and Agencies as Finance Chair. Dr. Bolton is a proud father of triplet girls and, as a parent-consumer of developmental and special education services frequently refers to his family as a glowing example of the power of early intervention.