Being a girl in a boys' world: investigating the experiences of girls with autism spectrum disorders during adolescence

J Autism Dev Disord. 2014 Jun;44(6):1261-74. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1985-6.


This study investigates the experiences of adolescent girls with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) during adolescence. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three mother-daughter dyads and two additional mothers. A range of issues were highlighted covering physical, emotional, social and sexual domains. Some of these issues were similar to those experienced by boys with ASD during adolescence, such as negative implications of late diagnosis, challenges of transitioning to and coping with high school, 'hands-on' role of parents into adolescence, difficulties adjusting to the increased demands of adolescent hygiene routines, and the importance of learning personal boundaries in interactions with others. Other issues discussed were of particular relevance to adolescent girls with ASD, such as difficulties socialising with neurotypically developing girls, sex-specific puberty issues, and sexual vulnerabilities. This study highlights an important research area and is a preliminary step towards understanding the experiences of adolescent girls with ASD and their families.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / diagnosis
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / physiopathology
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Comprehension
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Menarche
  • Mothers
  • Schools
  • Sexual Maturation
  • Social Adjustment