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Episode #101: Autism in Girls and Social Skill Instruction (Carly Millis Jalowiec)
I love hearing from autistic individuals in the field who have first-hand experience with the challenges and reality of diagnosis and therapy. Carly Millis Jalowiec is the Education Assistant at Milestones Autism Resources, today she shares with me her journey to her own autism diagnosis as an adult. Carly provides great insight into the difficulty of diagnosing autism in females and why providers and clinicians have an outdated idea of autism.
Autism in girls is unfortunately too often missed. Carly explains that in the infancy of autism research was focused primarily on white boys with a narrow view of symptoms and presentations. Providers often only find a diagnosis in those with the same profile while social conditioning and traditional gender expectations create varied presentations for autism. Boys will often present autism symptoms in a very outward way while girls will typically internalize symptoms and characteristics.
Carly talks about how arriving at her adult diagnosis leans a lot into her lifelong masking and camouflaging. Masking is a really important topic in the autism field today because so many individuals want and deserve to be honored as themselves. Carly explains how masking can help individuals fit into the world and get through the day but can really hurt themselves internally. She herself says she doesn’t know where she ends and the mask begins. There is an importance to learning to navigate the neurotypical world but not at the expense of losing yourself.
This is where clinicians and providers come in. Social Skills instruction often leads therapy in the direction of hiding or changing an autistic individual with unrealistic goals. Carly stresses the importance of setting goals that do not change the individual or try to “remove the autism” because that simply won’t work. Goals and skills should revolve around redefining what success looks like for each individual in a way that honors their true self.
Research and understanding of autism have changed in such a rapid way, more than any other field. So it is SO important that we have these important, nuanced conversations to increase awareness. You can find Carly on LinkedIn and check out Milestones online for autism resources and information!
Carly Millis Jalowiec is the Education Assistant at Milestones Autism Resources, where she supports the conference team in the preparation and coordination of the annual Milestones National Autism Conference, and assists the organization with clerical and technical support. She is also a late-diagnosed autistic advocate who has become a frequently-requested public speaker, appearing on NPR’s Ideastream radio, Fox 8 TV, and more. Her professional background includes proposal writing, administrative organization, and technology expertise, while her personal background includes a husband, four cats, and too many books. She is honored to be able to share her experiences and advocate for the neurodivergent community.
- What it’s really like is getting an adult autism diagnosis.
- Why is autism often missed in females?
- The difference in autism presentation for males and females.
- Why providers and clinicians have an outdated idea of autism.
- The benefits AND challenges behind masking and camouflaging autism.
- Teaching social skills to honor the autistic individual.
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