One in four autistic girls will wait over two years to get an autism diagnosis, and for 14% of girls, it will take over four years, according to new research from Ambitious about Autism.
The charity has partnered with Vanish for World Autism Acceptance Week 2023 to nurture a conversation that celebrates autistic girls, breaks down myths and broadens public understanding.
The ‘Me, My Autism & I’ campaign aims to help autistic girls be seen, heard, and supported. It also focuses on the important part clothing can play in helping autistic people feel supported. For 75% of autistic people, keeping the look, smell and feel of clothes the same is important.
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: “Representation matters, and this campaign to mark World Autism Acceptance Week is invaluable in increasing vital understanding of the experiences of autistic girls, who are so often overlooked in society. Autism is wrongly seen as a male disability, with girls three times less likely to be diagnosed than boys. This has been attributed to girls being better at ‘masking’ or hiding their autistic traits. But hiding one’s true self is exhausting and we work with many autistic girls who have reached crisis point after years of having their needs misunderstood or explained away as something else.
“This is why we are so passionate about this powerful campaign and its positive impact, this week and beyond. It challenges harmful misconceptions and outdated stereotypes, offering an authentic representation of autistic girls and their lived experiences.”
As part of the campaign a new short film directed by Oscar award winning director, Tom Hooper will premiere on Channel 4 during Gogglebox on Friday 31 March.
There will also be new free exhibition, “Me, My Autism & I” which opens at gallery@oxo from Wednesday 29 March – Sunday 2 April and showcases the stories of 12 young autistic girls and the clothing items that help make the world more comfortable. The multi-sensory exhibition aims to increase understanding of the lived experiences of autistic girls.
Sally, 24, a member of the Ambitious Youth Network, said: “Autistic girls are keener to ‘fit in’ and ‘be liked’ due to social norms and so we develop complex masking techniques so it’s really hard for people to recognise we’re struggling underneath and may have different needs and requirements. We need to keep researching how autism presents in girls and this needs to be built into autism training for mental health services, schools, the workplace and across society.”
Vanish is donating 25p from every pack of Vanish Gold Range sold in UK Asda stores between March 29 and April 18 to Ambitious about Autism.