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Girls and Autism

One Mother’s Perspective on Raising a Daughter with Autism

When my daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of four I had no idea how few girls were being diagnosed. Not only was I overwhelmed but I felt very alone having a girl. I have always felt that being a girl with ASD would be different than being a boy with ASD because girls tend to be more social and society expects girls to be more social. As the years have gone by I believe being a girl with ASD is very different. Girls tend to get overlooked by educators because many of them are smart and reserved. Unfortunately, when a girl is over looked, this can cause the girl to internalize many depressive emotions. I think it is very important for parents with girls to understand how lonely these girls can be. Parents must be active in setting up play dates for our daughters and help them navigate social situations.

My daughter wants others to know that she is like any other preteen girl; she wants to fit in and be included. My daughter feels that schools need to have girl social groups for those who are struggling socially, because being the only girl in a social group with boys at school isn’t helpful because she can’t relate to some of the boys on the spectrum. For example, she doesn’t have the same special interests as the boys.  Talking about Pokémon in a social group isn’t very helpful for the girl who is into dolls!

We have done several different types of therapies over the years, many have been helpful. The most helpful therapy to my daughter was introducing an adult female with ASD who is a role model. This woman understands what it is like to be a girl with ASD and has helped our daughter to feel understood and accepted. In addition, a female role model with ASD can show our girls how they can live in the social world and be productive in society, while helping parents understand their child’s perceptive on situations.

As we move forward my hope is that women and girls with Autism Spectrum Disorders will join together to support and help each other like so many other female groups.

Articles:

Autism:  It’s Difference In Girls

Sex and Gender Difference In Autism

Book Recommendations for Girls on the Spectrum:

Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum: What Parents and Professionals Should Know About the Pre-teen and Teenage Years by Shana Nichols

Asperger’s in Pink by Julie Clark

The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls (American Girl Library) by Dr. Lynda Madison

The Feelings Book: The Care & Keeping of Your Emotions (American Girl) by Dr. Lynda Madison

Women From Another Planet? Our Lives in the Universe of Autism by Jean Kearns Miller
This is collection of writings by women on the autism spectrum. The book offers up their stories, their perspectives and provides information that will help the rest of us understand, appreciate, and and respect these amazing women.

Asperger’s and Girls by Tony Attwood, Temple Grandin, Teresa Bolick, Catherine Faherty, et al.
An insightful book with up to date information on Asperger Syndrome in girls and women from some of the leading individuals writing on this topic.

Girls under the Umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders:  Practical Solutions for Addressing Everyday Challenges by Lori Ernsperger and Danielle Wendel

Middle School: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About – A Teenage Girl with High-Functioning Autism Shares Her Experiences by Haley Moss