Inside the UK’s only school for Autistic girls” we get a glimpse into the lives of Autistic girls as they go about their day at Limpsfield Grange School. This School is the only state school in the UK that caters exclusively to Autistic girls. During 2014 the school opened its doors for 6 months to film the Documentary ‘Girls with Autism”. The school is located in Surrey, England, had 110 students ranging in age from 11 to 19.
Nine years on we are still advocating for more awareness around Autistic women and girls, along the bias in the significant lean in diagnosing boys at a rate of 4 to 1.
The Hidden Challenges of Autism Diagnosis in Girls
Autistic girls often experience social isolation, anxiety, and depression. A recent study reveals alarming figures, indicating that many Autistic girls are going undiagnosed. While the commonly accepted male-to-female Autism ratio is 4:1, projections based on diagnostic bias suggest a more accurate ratio of 3:4. Shockingly, 80% of Autistic girls remain undiagnosed by the age of 18, which has severe implications for their mental health. This situation arises due to biases that hinder the diagnosis of females, exacerbated by the exclusion or limited inclusion of women in Autism research studies.
Creating a Supportive Environment at Limpsfield Grange College
Limpsfield Grange College is UK’s first state college for Autistic girls. Providing a nurturing and secure environment for girls to thrive academically and emotionally. The school offers an array of programs and activities meticulously designed to foster social skills development and enhance self-confidence.
Felicity and Kezi, both students at Limpsfield Grange School, exemplify the resilience and potential of Autistic girls. In mainstream educational settings, Felicity struggled to cope, often resorting to running away. Her mental health deteriorated, leaving her on the brink of a breakdown. Sadly, no one could explain the reasons behind her struggles. Felicity’s mother suspected her daughter’s Autism at the age of 4, but medical professionals dismissed her concerns. It took a decade before Felicity received a formal diagnosis.
When people don’t understand me, I feel really annoyed.Felicity, Limpsfield student
Similarly, Kesia, recognising her differences from her peers, faced challenges in being understood. She found it frustrating that her attempts to express her unique struggles went unheard. Kesia’s mother tirelessly fought for three years to find a doctor who understood Autism in girls and could provide a diagnosis. Throughout this arduous process, Kesia’s mental health suffered immensely.
Too different to be normal, and every time I tried to say that people wouldn’t listen, and it was just about how everyone is unique, which is rubbish actually, because there are people who are more unique and need help.Kesia, Limpfield student
Limpsfield Grange School stands as a beacon of hope for Autistic girls, offering them an inclusive and supportive educational environment. By addressing the underdiagnosis of Autism in girls and providing specialised programs, the school empowers its students to embrace their individuality and achieve their full potential.
As we learn more about Autistic traits in Women and girls, we hope that more educational institutions recognise and can work with Autistic girls to better support mental health and well being. We also continue to advocate for awareness and acceptance with far more public representation.