New Online Support Programme for Autistic Women and Girls
We are delighted to launch a new initiative to help females of all ages better manage some of the challenges that can accompany life on the autism spectrum.
The Women and Girls Right Click Programme has been designed to provide valuable information in addressing health and wellbeing challenges for females who live with the condition as well as their parents, carers and other professionals working in the field of autism.
We have developed the programme following close engagement with women and girls from the autism community and input from a network of professionals to develop a range of videos and other support materials which are accessible online. The topics covered in the programme include diagnosis of the condition as well as education, employment, positive living and parenting, all from the perspective of females with autism.
Dr Catriona Stewart, co-facilitator of the Scottish Women's Autism Network (SWAN), has carried out intensive studies, which helped develop the programme, focusing on the impact autism can have on the lives of females. According to her research adolescent girls on the autism spectrum may be extremely capable but, without appropriate support can be vulnerable to bullying and may develop health problems including those resulting from self-harming. They will also often underachieve at school.
Meanwhile many women with the condition, even those in employment, married and with their own children, can struggle to keep a job or maintain a successful relationship without proper diagnosis and support. As a result some incur mental health problems later in life.
The new Women and Girls Right Click Programme has been created with the involvement of wide cross-section of females with autism serving as inspiring role models to others, especially those who have been newly diagnosed, sharing the coping strategies they have developed to manage some of the challenges of living with the condition.
We seek to help those diagnosed with autism to lead full and enriched lives and become valued and valuable members of their community. The development of the Women and Girls initiative is an extension to our series of Right Click programmes which are designed to provide online support for people living with the condition throughout their whole life journey.
Charlene Tait, our Director of Development said:
“While we focus on helping all people with autism – male or female – through their whole life journey, the Women and Girls Right Click Programme is designed to help address some of the specific challenges faced by females living on the spectrum. Research shows the consequences of under-diagnosis and poor levels of understanding or awareness of the needs of this particular group can make them especially vulnerable.
“There are negative outcomes, identified in the limited research that has been done on females autism, which can have a hugely detrimental impact on their lives but this is by no means an inevitability. We believe that support through new programmes like this one can help females living with the condition develop and progress so they can get the most out of life.”
Dr Catriona Stewart said: “So many parents of girls and women on the autism spectrum are seeking help, advice and resources and, up until now, these have been lacking. This new programme builds on the real lives of females in the autism community who have shared their experiences and knowledge which is now accessible to help girls and women who live with the condition as well as their families and carers.”
To commemorate the launch of the programme, we screened a special video which saw 11 women come together last month to form a choir for the day. The song, ‘Something Inside So Strong’, was chosen as it seemed to capture the sentiment and spirit of the many stories we have heard from women during the life of the project. We really hope you enjoy it!