This book review is for all the autism parents who have a girl child. Since the autism ratio for boys and girls is highly biased in favour of boys, resources for helping the girl child are precious few. This book is written by Shana Nichols, a clinical psychologist, with over a decade of experience with autism kids and adolescents. The book specifically focuses on what parents and professionals should know about the pre-teen and teenage years, the most problematic years in the life, more so if the girl child has autism.
The first chapter is “What do we currently know about Girls and women with autism spectrum disorder” and talks about a lot of aspects like epidemiology, diagnostic ratios and how girls with autism are different from autism boys, such as they may not exhibit classic symptoms of autism, may be less hyperactive and aggressive, may be more social and shy, may have better communication skills, etc. and how this may lead to a delayed diagnosis of autism.
The second chapter is – approaching Adolescence, the age of anticipation, anxiety, adaptation and acceptance. It covers many aspects of the specific challenges of adolescence in autism girls. The third chapter is Puberty and includes topics like ASDs and adjusting to puberty, navigating pubertal changes, etc.
The fourth chapter is The Red spot and deals with periods, pads and pelvic exams and discusses everything from practicing skills ahead of time to preparing for the first period to the gynaecological exam. The next chapter is – Feeling Good inside out and helps parents with tips on building your child’s self perception and self confidence, the most important tools for a teenager. The topics include body image, weight management, developing independence, self reliance and responsibility as well as self regulation and emotional understanding.
The sixth chapter is the social landscape of adolescence and is all about friendships and social status, understanding friendships and developing friendship skills, etc. The seventh chapter deals with healthy sexuality for girls with ASDs. The eight chapter is very important as its about Keeping girls safe- promoting personal safety in Real life. The signs of abuse, building a safety circle, reacting to abuse, respecting others boundaries and safety on the internet are some of the aspects covered.
The ninth chapter is very good and its about the personal journey of a mother and her daughter with Asperger syndrome. The personal experiences of an adolescent asperger as well that of her mother on parenting a adolescent asperger are interesting. The book concluded with the chapter – Embracing change.
If you have a girl child on the autism spectrum, please read this book as it will equip you with knowledge to help navigate her adolescence and teenage years.
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