AUTISTIC FEMALE RESOURCES
GIRLS TEND TO SLIP UNDER THE RADAR
The truth is, in many of the medical models of autism, many of those signs may not present the same in an autistic female. So there needs to be diagnostic differences in the assessments as well for females. Many females can be sociable, they can camouflage themselves well, so just how do we know where to look. I will list down useful guides hopefully to be able to help both parents, individuals and professionals alike. In Singapore the support needed for autistic females is lacking. There is no specific place they can seek advice for, or mentorship, or even just to seek help in parts of their lives.
Misdiagnosed, misunderstood or missed altogether, many women with autism struggle to get the help they need.
DIAGNOSING AUTISM FOR FEMALES
Dr Judith Gould is the Lead Consultant at The NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism and retired as Director of the Centre in 2015. She is a Chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist, with over 40 years experience, specialising in autism and learning disabilities.
In order to address the concerns raised, new screening and assessment tools are being developed and designed, mindful of the differences in male/female presentations of ASD. One such tool, The Girls Questionnaire for Autism Spectrum Disorders (Attwood, Garnett & Rynkiewicz, 2011) was developed by Dr Tony Attwood and colleagues over a number of years, here in Australia. The work, since renamed Q-ASC Questionnaire for Autism Spectrum Conditions Age 5 – 19, was presented at IMFAR (International Meeting for Autism research) in May this year in San Francisco. The questionnaire is recommended for use as a screening tool—a script for diagnostic assessment—not for a diagnosis. At the time of writing, a scoring system for the questionnaire is still to be developed. Currently, the research and validation is being finalised in Australia in collaboration with other international parties.
SUPPORTING WEBSITES FOR FEMALES
Help 4 Aspergers and the International Aspergirl Society (IAS)
Women and Girls Online Support - Scottishautism
FACEBOOK SUPPORT GROUPS
Aspire: The Female Autism Network
Autism Spectrum Women's Group
Autistic Women's Association
Support organizations in Singapore for Autistic girls is still not around. There are many reasons why I feel this is important. Firstly there can be many misconceptions about their needs, and thus their needs might get invalidated in many places like schools and social activities. The other bigger concern is exploitation in workplace, sexual harrassments, abuse in relationships, rights to body privacy in sped education settings and might face many other co-morbid mental health stressors. Do click on some of these online resources for such information so that at least you can have some form of guidance and do join online support groups as well. Never try to face this alone. All of us are inter-dependent, and we can build this support and journey through life together.