Girls on the spectrum

If you have a daughter who has been diagnosed with autism you probably struggled to obtain a diagnosis. The reason for this is because, on average, boys are four times more likely to obtain an autism diagnosis than girls. That is not to say that boys are four times more likely to have autism, it’s just that autism in females can often go unrecognised and therefore undiagnosed. Autism in girls presents slightly differently than in boys. Girls often have the ability to mask or camouflage their symptoms, which can mean that they may never get diagnosed, or may not receive a diagnosis until adulthood.

In my opinion, I think the diagnostic criteria needs to be different for girls. If it were different, then it is likely that more girls would obtain an autism diagnosis which would be helpful when seeking support, and having a better understanding and awareness about why they may feel different to other girls.

Do you know an autistic girl?

  • Girls with autism can often have a very vivid imagination and may use it to find an escape from the world that surrounds them and into something more of their liking where they can be in control.
  • Similar to boys with autism, girls don’t always play well with their peers. They love to be in control and may like to act as the Mum or the teacher in role play so they can be in charge. They can struggle to make friends and may only have a few close friends with similar interests.
  • Does she look you in the eye? Girls with autism can find it difficult to make eye contact. They may appear to be shy, but it’s actually one of their communication challenges. In some cases, girls on the spectrum will have selective mutism and may not speak in certain settings.
  • Similar to boys with autism, girls can have a sensitivity to clothing textures and may prefer to wear clothing that is more comfortable. This may also relate to food textures and they may have aversions to certain foods.
  • Females on the spectrum can present with mood disorders. This can be linked by the difficulty for them trying to fit into social settings during the day and then coming home and releasing their frustration.
  • Girls on the spectrum don’t like to be touched, or have a resistance to being hugged, kissed or touched, often shrugging off a hug or avoiding it all together because it makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Females with autism can become quite focused on a particular topic, and may well become an expert in that topic. Some famous females with autism include:
    • Temple Grandin – scientist and animal behaviour specialist
    • Greta Thunberg – environmental activist
    • Susan Boyle – singer, winner of Britain’s Got Talent
    • Daryl Hannah – actress and environmental activist

If you think your child has autism you need to start by talking with your General Practitioner and asking for a referral to a specialist, preferably someone who is known for diagnosing females with autism.

SASI Guest Parent Blogger

Image courtesy of