AUTISM IN GIRLS
Autism is a spectrum condition which means there are many presentations.
This list is endorsed by Dr Judy Eaton – Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Please follow her blog via the link at the bottom.
This is not a definitive list but details some common traits shared by autistic girls:
- Can present contrastingly in different settings; girls can camouflage or mask their feelings until they are in a safe environment before they release their emotions. This often leads to a lack of belief in other settings, such as a school saying is fine and parents are reporting differently.
- May appear to be shy or avoid interacting with others, or struggle to make the first move socially, but are also keen to have friends. They may have 1 or 2 close friends but will converse in a rehearsed or scripted manner, desperate to fit in, so will try and hide their difficulties. They can struggle with social niceties and may mimic rather than naturally respond. They may appear awkward during conversations.
- Although they make eye contact, it is fleeting and superficial.
- Can show empathy and compassion, but maybe 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 more socially acceptable and tend to be animals, pop bands, social media, and literature.
- Can struggle with changes to routine and may appear anxious.
- Might be oversensitive to sensory stimuli such as taste, texture, temperature, noise, smell, and light.
- Can find it difficult to moderate 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, lack self-belief.
- Any speech or language difficulties are usually more subtle, with no language delay.
- May have an exceptional memory for dates and facts.
- They may be seen as quirky to peer groups 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.