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Why are so many autistic girls missed in school?

These are the summary notes for the course “Why are so Many Autistic Girls Missed in School?” which can be accessed by all members or via a 2 week free trial. AUTISTIC GIRLS CAN BE HARD TO SPOT Autism was originally believed to be a condition that only affected males.  As such, the diagnostic criteria are all skewed towards a typical male presentation.  Many girls (and some boys) do not present in this way and can be easily missed.  Girls are often first diagnosed or misdiagnosed with a variety or mental health issues Girls are great imitators and learn to copy others so we are less likely to pick up on issues Girls learn to ‘mask’ from an early age, hiding their difficulties in engaging with the world Special interests in girls are often far more socially acceptable e.g. animals, ballet, popstars Girls can be ‘hyper-emotional’ which is the opposite of what we may ‘expect’ to see in autism SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR There are several signs that can help us to pick up on possible autism in girls but remember, once you’ve met one autistic person,  you’ve met one autistic person…. So this is not a fail safe list! It is also possible (indeed common) for a young person to be both autistic and to have other co-occurring issues including a range of mental health and learning related issues as well as questions around gender and identity.  (It is of interest to note that the statistics for gender dysphoria are incredibly high amongst the autistic population compared to neurotypical peers.  Anxiety…. ASD + anxiety go together like peas and carrots sadly… Many come across as shy or quiet May go to great lengths to avoid certain places / people / situations Dual personality – seems fine at school but struggles at home  Directing and controlling play & conversation, unresponsive to ideas of others Avid readers (girls often learn a lot about ‘how to be’ from reading fiction) Struggle with friendships from about age 9 or 10 (when others get fed up for being directed) Becomes overwhelmed sometimes and either shuts down or melts down Academically able but inflexible / perfectionist PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR SUPPORTING It’s important to note that the path to diagnosis is long, and the support we can put in place does no harm, so if autism is a possibility and school, family and the child are all on board, supporting a child ‘as if’ autistic can make a big difference to their ability to thrive in school.  A key issues with autistic girls is that they are often bright and compliant and terrified of getting things wrong, which often means that they excel in the classroom and aren’t seen as a ‘problem’ and we assume that they are managing in all areas of their life.  But their academic intelligence may not be matched by their emotional intelligence and if they are not supported to thrive, then over time pervasive anxiety and exhaustion can begin to impact on every domain of their

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