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Unveiling the Spectrum: Recognising Autism in Girls

Understanding and recognising autism in girls is crucial for early intervention and support. While autism spectrum condition (ASC) is often associated with boys, it's essential to shed light on the unique traits exhibited by girls on the spectrum. In this blog post, we'll explore the characteristics of autism in girls and provide insights on how parents can spot the signs.

  • Social Challenges:

Girls with autism may present with subtle differences in social behaviour. Unlike boys who might display overt social difficulties, girls on the spectrum may attempt to mimic their peers, making their challenges less conspicuous. Parents should observe social interactions, noting any difficulty in maintaining friendships, understanding social cues, or engaging in reciprocal conversations.

  • Imaginary Play:

While many girls engage in imaginative play, autistic girls may demonstrate limited or repetitive play patterns. They might become fixated on specific themes or objects, displaying intense interest while struggling with more diverse and spontaneous forms of play. Parents should be attuned to any rigid play behaviours that deviate from typical developmental milestones.

  • Sensory Sensitivities:

Sensory sensitivities are common in individuals with autism, and girls may experience these sensitivities differently. Some girls may have heightened sensitivity to certain textures, sounds, or lights. Parents should observe their child's reactions to sensory stimuli and note any aversions or preferences, as these can provide valuable clues.

  • Communication Challenges:

Girls with autism may exhibit challenges in communication, including difficulties in expressing emotions or needs. Unlike boys who may display more overt communication struggles, girls might internalise their difficulties, leading to anxiety or frustration. Parents should pay attention to any atypical language development, including delayed speech, repetitive language, or difficulties in understanding non-verbal communication cues.

  • Special Interests:

While it's common for children to have specific interests, girls on the autism spectrum may develop intense, focused interests that dominate their thoughts and conversations. These interests may be more subtle than the stereotypical "obsessions" seen in boys with autism, making them easy to overlook. Parents should take note if their child's interests interfere with daily activities or social interactions.

Spotting the Signs:

Recognising autism in girls requires a nuanced understanding of the spectrum's varied presentation. Parents should:

  • Trust Their Instincts: If something feels atypical, seek professional evaluation.

  • Monitor Developmental Milestones: Track social, communication, and play development for any deviations.

  • Stay Informed: Be aware of the diverse ways autism can manifest in girls.

  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with healthcare professionals or specialists for comprehensive evaluations.

By understanding the unique traits of autism in girls, parents can play a crucial role in early detection and intervention. Recognising the signs and seeking appropriate support empowers families to provide the necessary resources for their daughters to thrive on the spectrum. Every girl is unique, and with awareness and understanding, we can ensure that they receive the support and acceptance they need to reach their full potential.

Helpful Websites & Information

National Autistic Society -

CAMHS (Child Adolescent Mental Health Service). Surrey CAMHS is now called Mindworks -

Speak to your child's school SENCO who should offer support and guidance.

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