1st Edition

Girls and Autism Educational, Family and Personal Perspectives

Edited By Barry Carpenter, Francesca Happé, Jo Egerton Copyright 2019
    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    Often thought of as a predominantly ‘male’ disorder, autism has long gone unidentified, unnoticed and unsupported in girls – sometimes with devastating consequences for their social and mental well-being. As current research reveals a much more balanced male-to-female ratio in autism, this book provides crucial insight into autistic girls’ experiences, helping professionals to recognize, understand, support and teach them effectively.

    Drawing on the latest research findings, chapters consider why girls have historically been overlooked by traditional diagnostic approaches, identifying behaviours that may be particular to girls, and exploring the ‘camouflaging’ that can make the diagnosis of autistic girls more difficult. Chapters emphasize both the challenges and advantages of autism and take a multidisciplinary approach to encompass contributions from autistic girls and women, their family members, teachers, psychologists and other professionals. The result is an invaluable source of first-hand insights, knowledge and strategies, which will enable those living or working with girls on the autism spectrum to provide more informed and effective support.

    Giving voice to the experiences, concerns, needs and hopes of girls on the autism spectrum, this much-needed text will provide parents, teachers and other professionals with essential information to help them support and teach autistic girls more effectively.


    About the Editors


    Preface – Professor Sheila, the Baroness, Hollins

    Foreword – Sophie Walker

    PART 1: Introduction

    Chapter One: Where are all the autistic girls?: an introduction - Barry Carpenter, Francesca Happé and Jo Egerton

    Chapter Two: What does research tell us about girls on the autism spectrum? - Francesca Happé

    PART 2: Girls and autism – the lived experience

    Chapter Three: The advantages of autism: a personal journey - Katie Buckingham

    Chapter Four: Raising the voice of the lost girls - Carrie Grant

    Chapter Five: Introducing ‘What we want the world to know’ from the girls of Limpsfield Grange School - Girls of Limpsfield Grange School and Sarah Wild, Head Teacher

    Chapter Six: Black girls and autism - Venessa Bobb

    Chapter Seven: Girls Group: respecting the female identity of girls with autism in a school setting - Sharonne Horlock

    PART 3: Girls, autism and education

    Chapter Eight: Leadership issues in the current educational climate - Rona Tutt

    Chapter Nine: Building a specialist curriculum for autistic girls - Sarah Wild

    Chapter Ten: Included or excluded?: school experiences of autistic girls - Jane Friswell

    Chapter Eleven: Girls who ‘can’t help won’t’: understanding the distinctive profile of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and developing approaches to support girls with PDA - Ruth Fidler

    PART 4: Autism, adolescence and social networks

    Chapter Twelve: What do we know about the neuroscience of autism in girls and women? - Meng-Chan Lai

    Chapter Thirteen: Mental health and girls on the autism spectrum - Tina Rae and Grace Hershey

    Chapter Fourteen: Friendships on the autism spectrum - Felicity Sedgewick and Liz Pellicano

    Chapter Fifteen: Help us make our own way: talking to autistic women and girls about adolescence and sexuality - Gillian Loomes

    PART 5: Autistic girls – looking to the future

    Chapter Sixteen: Girls for the future: transitions and employment - Jo Egerton, Helen Ellis and Barry Carpenter

    Chapter Seventeen: Supported teachers supporting girls: a whole-school model of support for the education of young people with autism - Sarah-Jane Critchley

    Chapter Eighteen: Run the world, girls: success as an adult autistic female - Rachel Townson and Carol Povey

    Chapter Nineteen: Epilogue: a call for action - Wenn Lawson


    Barry Carpenter, CBE, OBE is professor of mental health in education at Oxford Brookes University, UK.

    Francesca Happé, FBA FMedSci is professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK.

    Jo Egerton is a schools research consultant, running school-based research courses for teaching school alliances and academies.

    "This book provides an excellent combination of personal experience and current research to highlight the importance of understanding girls and women on the autism spectrum. Throughout the chapters the issues of importance that are presented over and over again are about the need to value strengths and individuality; develop relevant strategies; be flexible; and build supportive networks, including ‘true’ friends; to ensure autistic girls grow into strong and self-reliant young women who can be whatever they want to be. I would recommend this book to anyone teaching, working with, or supporting young autistic women, who wants to contribute to their future success." - Dr Debra Costley, Associate Professor of Education, University of Nottingham, UK.

    "A very well-timed book for the field, it deals a topic that is extremely underrepresented, girls with autism. It offers a thorough exploration of the topic that has a strong foundation in research. It is a very comprehensive analysis, which is particularly powerful when you read the lived experience section. Congratulations to the authors on producing a coherent, engaging and important book." - Phyllis Jones PhD, Professor in the department of Teaching & Learning, University of South Florida, USA.

    "This book is essentially very positive despite the unflinching descriptions of the complexities of life and school and the barriers that exist for girls with autism. It maintains a focus on what is possible and what is achievable even with the current reality for the majority of poorly coordinated support and insufficient services. It is a highly recommended read both for parents and for professionals working in or with schools, colleges, career services, as well as the health and social care sectors." - Dr Rob Ashdown, Editor, PMLD Link

    "What stands out most from this new, highly informative and skilfully edited collection are the lived experiences of the contributors; presented as honest and open accounts by girls, young and adult women describing the way autism affects their relationships with the world around them… For any social worker with an interest in the life course development of girls to adolescents to young adults this book will provide a heartfelt and highly informative insight into the lives of vulnerable and often marginalised females." - Mark Goodman, British Journal of Social Work

    The subject of girls with autism has so far been under represented and this timely book addresses the knowledge gap with a thorough exploration of the topic and up-to-date research... Giving voice to the experiences, concerns, needs and hopes of girls on the autism spectrum, results in a text that will help to provide parents, teachers and other professionals with essential information to support and teach them more effectively.

    Early Years Educator (EYE)

    "Girls and Autism by Carpenter, Happé and Egerton brings together an important blend of personal and family experiences and the current research evidence. The focus of this book is specifically on girls and women on the autism spectrum, an area that has up to now been neglected, due to the attention on boys and men... This book makes an important and new contribution and is relevant to practitioners working in education, health, social care and independent sectors supporting young women with autism." - Professor Michael Brown, Learning Disability Practice

    "This collection of voices is not simply a review of the current knowledge and perspectives on girls and women with autism, but a manifesto. Whether you’re a teacher, clinician, parent, or autistic female yourself, you can play a part in effecting meaningful change... I would urge you to read this important discourse yourself." - Eloise Stark, The Psychologist

    "This summary of science and experience pushes us to look more closely for autism in girls. Credit goes to the authors and other leadership figures who have evidently challenged the clinical, educational and therapist sectors in the UK to recognise the problems of autism in girls and act!" - Dr David Dossetor, Journal of Mental Health for Children and Adolescents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

    "I predict that this comprehensive book will quickly become a course reader for those wishing to research girls and autism. There are contributions from people eminent in a wide variety of fields of autism knowledge, many poignant, thought-provoking quotes from the pupils of Limpsfield Grange school and first-hand accounts, opinions and current research issues. There are five sections: Introduction to Autism in Females; The Lived Experience; Autism and Education; Adolescence and Social Networks; and Looking to the Future. Chapters cover identification, teaching and learning strategies, challenges and advantages of autism, and differing community backgrounds. There are also suggested multi-disciplinary approaches and implications for planning. Female traits, such as masking, are brought to the fore and arguments are made for greater general 'myth busting'. Personal accounts identify how females with autism can still be negatively treated within the workplace, even beyond middle age. Guest ions are raised and answered about sexuality, mental health, transitions and friendships. This book is invaluable for anyone interested in this topic." - Janet Oostendorp, SEN/SpLD Specialist Teacher, Catalyt Tuition, in nasen

    "The broad scope of voices that fill this book, from young autistic girls and established autistic women sharing their wisdom, to the families, educators, support groups and researchers who work with them, is one reason this book is so important and such a success at shining new light on our understanding of such previously misunderstood members of our community. This book will be an invaluable resource for all those who work and live with autistic girls, as well as, of course, to those girls and women themselves." - Craig Warren Smith, Australasian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education

    "Here is a missing piece of the puzzle of autism. A strength of the book is the way that the editors have drawn from experts who write from their own experience and research...  Overall, this book can be recommended especially for teachers, parents and those with autism, it further can be a useful text for mental health and learning disability professionals." - David Rawcliffe, Journal of Mental Health