AUTISM IN GIRLS
Autism is a spectrum condition which mean there are many presentations. This is not a definitive list. This list is endorsed by Dr Judy Eaton – Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Please follow her blog via the link below.
- Can present differently in different settings, Girls can camouflage or mask their feeling until they are in a safe environment before they release their emotions, this often leads to a lack of belief from other settings, school say she is fine and parents are reporting differently.
- May appear shy or avoid interacting with others, struggles to make first move socially but is also keen to have friends. May have 1 or 2 close friends, will converse in a rehearsed or scripted manner, desperate to fit in, so will try and hide their difficulties. Can struggle with the social niceties. May mimic rather than naturally respond. They may appear awkward during conversations.
- May play appropriately with toys and engage in pretend play, have imagination and create fantasy worlds. May arrange toys into groups or sets. May still enjoy playing with toys that you would expect them to grow out of. Can be creative.
- Although Girls make eye contact, it is fleeting and superficial.
- Can show empathy and compassion but may be confused by non-verbal social signs. Can struggle with non-verbal communication such as tone of voice and body language.
- Their special interests are usually socially more acceptable and tend to be animals, pop bands, social media, literature.
- Can struggle with changes to routine and may appear anxious.
- May be over sensitive to sensory stimuli such as taste, texture, temperature, noise, smell and light.
- Can find it difficult to moderate her feelings when frustrated. This can lead to meltdowns that appear to be disproportionate to the situation.
- Can lack confidence in their ability, afraid of failing, making mistakes, lacks self belief.
- Any speech or language difficulties are usually more subtle, no language delay.
- May have an exceptional memory for dates and facts.
- They may be seen as quirky to peer group because of dress sense, hairstyle or vocabulary.
Dr Judy Eaton has recently written a book titled ‘A Guide to Mental Health Issues in Girls and Young Women on the Autism Spectrum: Diagnosis, Intervention and Family Support’, which was commissioned by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (The book can be viewed on Amazon here.)
Dr Judy Eaton’s Blog – Help for Psychology
NASEN has put together a wonderful booklet on how to recognise autism in girls.