When people think of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), they usually think of boys or men. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I will share my personal insights about being a girl on the spectrum and the challenges girls face.
Overlooking a Girl on the Spectrum
A girl on the spectrum will present totally different than a boy. Concerned parents looking for the usual signs of autism will often overlook girls and their behavior when in fact, they may have an ASD. For instance, when girls are quiet and introverted, they are seen as just being shy. Shyness is a typical behavior of a lot of females in our society. However, overlooking behaviors such as shyness can lead to a misdiagnosis or no diagnosis early on. The young girl may lose out on receiving therapeutic early intervention. I believe this could be the biggest challenge facing young girls with autism today.
A Girl on the Spectrum Can Blend In
During my school years, I had very little interaction with my peers. However, I believe that I blended in because I looked a certain way. I never really conversed with anyone and that behavior was considered totally acceptable.
The best advice that I could give for girls on the spectrum is to read girly magazines such as one of the following:
I suggest reading these publications so that girls of all ages have ideas of how to blend into today’s pop culture. This will literally save you and your daughter a lot of trouble. Typical teenage girls are very superficial. Girls are judged solely on appearance, not by how social one may be. In that respect, we autistic girls are extremely lucky.
Find a Model for a Girl on the Spectrum
When I was first diagnosed, my mom chose to take me out of the autistic cluster. At that time, I was the only girl. There were no female role models accessible to me, so my mom thought it would be best if I modeled after typical girls. My parents chose to send me to a small co-ed private school so I could model my behaviors based on the other girls. This was a good idea and it worked out very well for our family. However, different approaches may be necessary depending on your child’s individual needs.
From my personal perspective, I always believed that it’s easier to be a girl on the spectrum because we seem to blend in easier. I always thought it was much easier to get by than being a boy on the spectrum in boy world. In boy world, there was always the issue of roughhousing and sports-or-bust that determined social acceptance.
Educate with Resources About a Girl on the Spectrum
There are lots of publications written on the topic of a Girl on the Spectrum. Below is a great place to start your search!