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.
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
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