Will Getting A Diagnosis Be Harder Because She’s a Girl?

I have been watching my daughter over the past couple of months, as many of us who have multiple children do, after an autism diagnosis.

It is evident at this point, that she has a significant speech delay in expressive language, the words she can speak, and her receptive language, the words she understands.

I have been tallying…does she make eye contact, does she point?

We cannot gauge her social interactions with children her age as she has been home since March.

This second time around, I have been watching and wondering how hard it will be to get services in place and hope we won’t need to. 

I know what I am looking for now, unlike what I didn’t with my son, and as I dive down a rabbit hole of worry, the feelings are bubbling to the surface.

She met her milestones.

She crawled, walked, and said her first words on time.

She engaged with us, snuggled, made eye contact, and laughed like a happy baby girl.

I did not think we would walk this path again. 

I came across an an article on The Guardian titled, Siena Castellon: ‘Autistic people are really struggling with how uncertain things are‘ about an extraordinary woman.

The 18-year-old was recently nominated for the children’s peace prize finalist on why girls’ diagnosis of autism needs improving.

Siena is autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic, and has ADHD. She has created her website specifically to support autistic youth and children with learning disabilities, www.qlmentoring.com.

She also launched her Neurodiversity Celebration Week campaign in November of 2018.

This article in the Guardian, highlighted how autistic people are struggling with uncertain times. It highlighted Siena’s morning routine with the same 30-minute playlist. This playlist giving her the ques to move on to the next task.

It explained the importance of schedules and how our unpredictable world right now is extremely challenging.

The article highlights Castellon’s beliefs that gender stereotypes are a problem with diagnosis, that if she were a boy, her diagnosis might have come much sooner.

Castellon describes her feelings that she was different from other children and had additional stressors due to her sensory processing disorder. She was 12 years old when she got a diagnosis after a spell of extreme anxiety. 

Castellon discusses that she thought her diagnosis would make her more accepted and understood, but nothing changed. She faced bullying and misunderstood teachers.

Castellon explains that it is time to take apart the misconceptions and know that it is a spectrum. Also, the government needs to step up and address these long autism diagnostic assessment waiting times. 

As I thought of my daughter not even two years old. I hope she can face the world with grace and drive like Ms. Castellon.

I also felt a wave of fear that things will look different this time as we seek out services and a possible autism diagnosis.

I thought I knew what I was walking into because I had walked this path before.

What I am finding is that it might be very different because she is a girl

I am battling extreme emotions returning to how hard this was when we got our son’s diagnosis.

I can’t imagine fighting harder and louder this time around if necessary because of our child’s gender.

I have stuffed the idea down that we might walk into this world for a second time. 

It is too early to tell if our beautiful, spirited shining star daughter will carry the same diagnosis as her brother.

I often think if this is the case, maybe they will understand each other on a level that I cannot. Perhaps they can share in this complex, beautiful, magnified world that I cannot walk into.

I am grateful that there are girls like Siena Castellon that we all can learn from.

I am hopeful not only for my daughter, but all girls on the spectrum that things can change to help girls get diagnosis and services earlier. 

Written by, Tabitha Cabrera

Tabitha Cabrera, lives in Arizona with her husband, and two beautiful children. She works as an Attorney and enjoys spending her time in a public service role. The family loves nature and ventures outdoors as much possible. Come check out her little nature babies. She writes about their autism journey at peaceofautism.com, also on Facebook and Instagram.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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