As a Psychologist in Palo Alto, One Of My Favorite Things To Do Is Work With Autistic Women
I wanted to write this article about women with autism because it is Women’s History Month. I know a neurodiverse woman’s life is not easy. Usually, by late elementary school or middle school, they start to notice they are different from other children. It seems much harder for them to make and keep friends. If they did have friends as a young child, in middle school and high school it’s hard for them to keep those friends. Their friends seem to go down a different path so they are left walking alone.
Autistic Meltdowns Often Look Like Mood Swings
Autistic Women Might Be Diagnosed With Depression
Many autistic girls and women accurately receive a depression or anxiety diagnosis. But, sadly, they do not receive an autism diagnosis. This can leave them feeling confused and incomplete because the cause of their troubles may not be fixed with traditional anxiety and depression treatment. For example, feeling like a social outcast, or defective because they don’t fit in with peers, can cause depression. It is very common for girls and women on the autism spectrum to experience loneliness, isolation, low mood, sadness, irritability, fatigue, and hopelessness which are typical symptoms of depression. To effectively treat the root of these symptoms, the role of autism needs to be identified and addressed.
Many Autistic Women Also Suffer From Anxiety
Similarly, addressing the relation between anxiety symptoms and autistic traits can lead to better treatment for women with autism. For instance, many women on the autism spectrum thrive when there is predictability and routine in their life. Unexpected events, such as the teacher changing the college syllabus, could trigger anxiety and even a meltdown. Also, black and white thinking is common for women on the spectrum and frequently contributes to anxiety. So, understanding how that is tied to the autistic brain processing style can be key to treating anxiety. Furthermore, understanding how autism-related sensory sensitivities such as loud noises, or itchy clothing tags can cause anxiety is crucial to effective anxiety treatment.
I find that for women on the spectrum, there are lots of daily anxiety triggers that lead them to have very high levels of anxiety. Therefore, if their day goes wrong, it can feel like the last straw. This causes them to withdraw or meltdown. When autistic women become aware of how autism impacts their anxiety, they feel more empowered and able to manage anxiety as it arises. They no longer feel overwhelmed by anxiety.
I Help Autistic Women Cope With Challenges In My Women’s Group
In this autism therapy group you will:
Learn and practice social skills with your peers in a supportive environment
Discuss the issues that matter to you as a woman with ASD
Get helpful tips for making friends, initiating conversations, and dating
Learn self-care and relaxation strategies to help you cope with sensory overload and prevent meltdowns
Talk about autism resources in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area
- Reach out to Open Doors Therapy to schedule your free 30-minute phone consultation,
- Attend a 1-hour intake meeting with an autism therapist. Then, you will learn more information about this group and make sure it is a good fit for you.
- Join the Women’s Group to meet other autistic women in the South Bay Area!
Other Autism Services at Open Doors Therapy
Our Palo Alto/Bay Area autism clinic focuses solely on providing therapy for high-functioning neurodiverse individuals and their families. We help those who identify as having Asperger’s, high functioning autism, ASD, undiagnosed autism traits, etc. Therefore, our autism therapy services include individual therapy, parent counseling, and group therapy. Additionally, we offer several group therapy options that include college students with autistic traits, working professionals with autism, neurodiverse adults, women who identify as neurodiverse, and neurodiverse youth & caregivers. Lastly, I have been writing blogs to give autistic individuals and their families more information about relevant topics and resources. Please contact our autism therapy clinic to get more information about the ways we can support you or your loved one so you can lead a fulfilling life.
About the Author
Dr. Tasha Oswald is a trained developmental and clinical psychologist. And, she is the founder and director of Open Doors Therapy, a private practice specializing in autism therapy services in the South Bay Area, near San Francisco, CA. Dr. Oswald specializes in helping neurodiverse teens and adults and facilitating social skills groups.