Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 1301–1310 | Cite as

Challenges of Females with Autism: A Parental Perspective

  • Marilena MademtziEmail author
  • Pavita Singh
  • Fred Shic
  • Kathy Koenig
S.I. : Parenting Children with ASD


Most studies investigating the experiences and needs of individuals with ASD have largely focused on males. Hence, this study investigates parents’ perspectives on the challenges that their daughters with ASD face. In total, 40 parents of 40 females with autism (age range = 4–29 years; mean = 15.9) participated in the study. Five separate, 2-h long focus groups were conducted, with 7–10 participants in each group. Field notes were analyzed using thematic analysis. Some of the issues parents discussed were similar to those experienced by males with ASD, such as challenges in social interactions. However, other issues discussed were of particular relevance to girls with ASD, including difficulties socializing with other girls, sex-specific puberty issues, barriers in accessing intervention and sexual vulnerability.


Autism Spectrum Disorders Autism Females Girls Parents Focus group 



The authors thank Claire Foster, BA and Stephanie Valencia, BA from the Yale Child Study Center, for reliability checks and comments.


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Hilibrand Fellowship and Marilyn and Jim Simons.

Author Contributions

KK and MM conceptualized the study. KK designed the protocol and recruited participants. KK and PS run the focus groups. MM and KK conducted the analyses and interpreted the findings. MM, KK and FS drafted the manuscript, and all authors contributed to manuscript editing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicting interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the Human Investigation Committee of Yale University School of Medicine and permission was obtained to write to the parents of female patients who had been evaluated at the Yale Child Study Center Developmental Disabilities clinic. The parents signed an informed consent before their participation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marilena Mademtzi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pavita Singh
    • 2
  • Fred Shic
    • 3
  • Kathy Koenig
    • 1
  1. 1.Child Study Center, School of MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.School of Public HealthYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Seattle Children’s HospitalUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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