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It's different for girls by Dorothy Jarvis-Lee

In 1979 Joe Jackson released a song which was a minor ‘hit’ in the UK “It’s different for girls”. It was a sentiment that resonated with many women.

Interviewed in 2012, Joe Jackson said “It was something that I heard somewhere that struck me as a cliché. The sort of thing that someone might say. And again, I thought, What could that be about? And that maybe the idea was to turn it on its head and have a conversation”.

For young women living with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome their experience is hardly a cliché and its certainly hard to have a conversation about it. Every day can be a challenge because we all need to be understood, appreciated and respected for who we are as individuals. For young people and women in particular achieving that is often a long way from being straightforward.

Many women (and men) feel they need to hide characteristics associated with the autistic spectrum especially before they have received a formal ‘diagnosis’ to confirm their way of thinking and behaving. This is because autism continues to be referred to and understood as a ‘disorder’ by the majority of health and social care professionals and by extension by the ‘neurotypical’ amongst us. It’s also because people living with autism share a common experience - that it is difficult to fathom the intricacies of the so-called ‘normal’ population and their complex and confusing social, emotional and intellectual proclivities and inclinations.

ubu’s vision has always been to enable everyone to achieve the level of citizenship they have a right to by transforming people’s lives through minimal but effective support.

In her recent ‘graphic novel’ style book, “Camouflage. The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women”, Dr Sarah Bargiela explores many of the issues faced by young women. ubu serves many people living with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome and we found the approach in this book engaging and responsive. This is very much in line with the way we train our teams to serve those we support, developing a broader and less prejudiced ways of working. We have seen how important it is to help each other to better understand how autism in young women in particular is still not widely recognised and is often misrepresented or even overlooked.

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