Autism in Girls

As a child play therapist…working with

 

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children is the BEST part of my job.  Children are always eager to change, to grow and learn… they are insightful, witty, creative, funny, imaginative and curious about themselves and their world.  Over the past twenty years I have worked with many amazing girls, who appear show symptoms in relation to Autism.

Autism is a diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Volume 5.  According to the DSM, Autism CRITERIA is important in understanding specific behaviors and experiences for children.  While the criteria is not gender-specific, some of the behaviors and symptoms for autism is.  This is why many girls are not readily diagnosed with autism by their physician.  Girls present autism symptoms and behaviors differently than boys.  As a play therapist, one of my key initial assessment questions are around understanding whether the child may have behaviors or symptoms which appear “atypical” for children their age.

The following articles may be a helpful start:

What Are the Signs of Autism in Girls – Is Asperger’s in Girls Overlooked?

Signs of Autism in Girls

The first step is speaking to your family doctor for a referral to a developmental pediatrician specializing in Autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  In your first appointment, ensure to present a diary of some of the behaviors seen in your child, the difficulties they experience, and daily log of meals, symptoms and experiences.

Talk to your child’s school.  If needed, speak to the teacher about a Individual Educational Plan to support their progress in school.  If your child experiences sensory difficulties, ask the school for an occupational therapy assessment.  An Occupational Therapy Assessment assesses your child’s sensory needs and can provide meaningful recommendations on interventions to improve their environment and achieve success.

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Behavior Therapy is the new wave in teaching your child healthy ways of managing their symptoms, developing social skills, and communicating.  What is ABA?

According to Research Autism Net,

Play therapy refers to a large number of treatment methods, all applying the therapeutic benefits of play. Play therapy differs from regular play in that the therapist helps children to address and resolve their own problems. Play therapy builds on the natural way that children learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Through play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development More.

Play therapy is an excellent treatment for Autism, as well as is part of an holistic approach in supporting a child with autism, their parents and their family.

I have worked with many girls who have symptoms related to autism and/or are diagnosed with autism.

First step…

a proper diagnosis and support through behavior therapists, assessments, and more are critical to addressing the symptoms and providing a healthy, safe, and accessible environment for your child.

Play therapy…

Teaches your child how to use language to express their emotions, to identify how their body is feeling so they can seek appropriate support, and to understand their thoughts and how it influences their feelings and behavior.  This Cognitive Behavior Therapy approach is helpful to support your child use their words instead of acting out through tantrums or behaviors.

Many children who have special needs may experience difficulties with their peers.  Play therapy can help build their self-esteem and identity so they can feel happy and content with themselves.

Girls who have autistic traits and symptoms may struggle with anxiety and perfectionism.  Play therapy can help with teaching children how to manage their anxiety in healthy ways.  As well, as helping children to manage transitions, to reduce their need for perfectionism, to identify their triggers, and to help your child experience greater success with their emotions.

Published by

Nicole Perryman

Nicole Perryman, CEO of Perryman Consulting Sevices (PCS). PCS provides equity advocacy, consulting, training and clinical assessments and treatment.

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