For so many girls with so called ‘High Functioning Autism’ support is lacking, not because the girl in question doesn’t need support but because the criteria’s both for diagnosis and support are inadequate at meeting their needs.
So why do so many girls remain undiagnosed and unsupported?
Girls With Autism are more likely to mask than their male peers
To the inexperienced eye girls on the Spectrum often look as though they are not only coping but thriving. In public, they often look extremely well behaved, reserved and well disciplined. They may excel in school or do academically less well, but either way they will often try hard. The cost of that is often not seen until they return home and the mask slips off. At which point they experience meltdowns, shut off from the world or become so anxious they experience physical symptoms.
For parents the battle feels never ending. They are accused of poor parenting, told that their child is ‘fine’ and denied support to help them learn to cope with their complex emotions.
Girls With Autism Often Emulate Social Skills With Skill
Girls With Autism are often able to emulate the social skills their peers exhibit with skill. To an outsider observing for a short period of time they appear Neurotypical. It’s often only when deviation from the social scripts they have learnt is needed that the differences between they and their peers show.
Instead of praising them for their ability to learn social skills and teaching them further skills that will enable them to cope in new environments. They are often labelled as ‘difficult’, ‘challenging’ or ‘uncooperative’. Their huge achievements, become their downfall – leaving them too able to receive support yet juggling an increasingly different balancing act of managing social situations without that support.
There Are Far Fewer Specialist Provisions For Girls
If an academically able girl does not manage in a mainstream setting there are far fewer options for her than her male counterparts. I could sit here and list multiple options for boys, but when it comes to girls, I can only think of one option five hours drive from us. Thecreality means that many more parents of girls are forced to opt out of thecsystem, simply because even if the funding is available there often isn’t a placement which can meet need.
And this reality has an impact not only on those girls needing placements, but also on others, because the reality is a lack of specialist places often also means a lack of specialist knowledge for other teachers to draw on.
It is time for change
As parents of girls we have to stand together and say ENOUGH. We have to educate their schools about masking and we have to take action.
We can’t rely on others being the action takers.
As parents we need to equip ourselves with as many strategies as we can, and we need to implement them. But more than that we need to give our children the power of independence. The power to make Strategies their own. The gift of self esteem.
Others should be doing more.
But the reality is that takes time. They don’t move at the pace our girls need them to.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do that will make a very real difference.
Read as much as you can. Arm yourself with information.
Take a look at #UNIQUEANDSUCCESSFUL: The Club – the scheme that empowers children and young people by recognising how incredible they are.
Come along and join our free Facebook Group #UNIQUEANDSUCCESSFUL: The Community so we can support you on your journey.