Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 1261–1274 | Cite as

Being a Girl in a Boys’ World: Investigating the Experiences of Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Adolescence

  • Elizabeth K. Cridland
  • Sandra C. Jones
  • Peter Caputi
  • Christopher A. Magee
Original Paper


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.


Autism Female Girl Adolescence Qualitative Family systems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth K. Cridland
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sandra C. Jones
    • 2
  • Peter Caputi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christopher A. Magee
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Health InitiativesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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