Undiagnosed Autism Poses a Risk for Girls

Adolescent girls with undiagnosed autism face significant difficulties.

This pervasive developmental disorder often goes undiagnosed in girls, due in part to the differences in how girls and boys socialize. But once a diagnosis is confirmed, girls need help to overcome the challenges they face.

The right treatment, such as a residential academy specializing in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), can help girls gain the skills they need to succeed in life.

undiagnosed autism

Autism and the Social Habits of Girls

Because girls develop specific social skills that can mask ASD symptoms, this condition can go unnoticed. As a result, adolescent and teen girls do not get the help they otherwise would, had the disorder been identified earlier.

Whereas boys tend to isolate themselves, high-functioning girls learn how to blend in with their peers despite battling the many challenges of autism. Consequently, parents, teachers and caregiver may overlook key indicators of ASD.

Characteristics such as unwillingness to make eye contact and compulsive or fixated behaviors are often chalked up to personality quirks as long as girls don’t display a marked inability or unwillingness to socialize.

The Risks of Undiagnosed Autism in Girls

Although it may appear that girls are engaged socially, those with ASD only give the appearance of socialization. Instead, they simply remain in proximity to others without making any real connections.

When young patients get an ASD diagnosis, they benefit from early intervention strategies. These strategies provide the skills that normalize social development, improve awareness of social cues and help forge meaningful relationships.

Without this early assistance, young women don’t learn how to converse or form meaningful bonds with others. They may never make friends or conduct themselves appropriately in social or professional situations.

Often, these young women falter academically and socially and become labeled difficult or troubled teens.

Helping Girls with Previously Undiagnosed Autism

Fortunately, programs exist to help adolescent and teen girls who receive a late ASD diagnosis. Prominent among these is the PEERS program, originally developed at UCLA. The PEERS program helps girls with autism develop critical adaptive skills necessary for dealing with distress and forging relationships.

Residential treatment programs and schools for autistic teens provide the intensive help and support necessary to help overcome diagnostic delays.

The Spark Program at Peers Academy, a part of Utah’s Heritage Community, provides the resources that adolescent and teen girls need to overcome neurodevelopmental challenges like ASD.

Using a caregiver system carefully attuned to developmental differences, this program combines individualized treatment with academics, structured social engagement and recreation. Students have the opportunity to grow and thrive in an environment that provides security and facilitates skills development.

If your daughter or another young woman in your life was recently diagnosed with ASD, Peers Academy can provide the environment she needs to succeed. Contact one of our compassionate, professional team members today to learn more about how the Heritage Community and Peers Academy can help adolescent and teen girls with previously undiagnosed autism.