When you look at Beth, autism is not the first thing that you would think of. She is bright, open, smiley, makes great eye contact and comes alive when you start talking about Harry Potter. Sarah-Jane Critchley, an autism professional and parent writes in Teachwire.
Before long, you start to realise that your entire lesson could be hijacked by her in depth characterisation of Hermione.
Unless she can persuade other children to join in her specific game, she will struggle to play at all.
Like many autistic girls, she seems on the edge of things, rather than in the centre. She is struggling and yet you wouldn’t know it.
She is working so very hard to fit in, yet at a huge cost. She is overwhelmed and the effort is exhausting.
It can feel almost impossible to meet the needs of each and every girl, especially when so much of their pain is internal, but if you look deeper, it isn’t hard to spot the child who is deeply unhappy and uncomfortable.
It can help you to know that when you create the right classroom environment and get it right for these incredible vulnerable girls, you will be helping all of your pupils – and boys mask, too.
Unsupported and unidentified autistic girls and women are far more likely to experience mental illness, exploitation and abuse in later life, so it is vital that we provide support to give them the best opportunity to develop into the amazing potential which they hold, for their benefit and for ours.
10 things that might suggest a girl is autistic
- She has a very strong sense of justice and will stand up for other people, causes or animals.
- Any change to the class or school routine leads to a difference in her behaviour (she may lash out, go silent, or become ill).
- She either avoids (or seeks out) loud noises, strong smells, flavours and textures.
Read the full article Why autism goes unseen in girls – and how you can spot it.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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