Welcome to FIGS.
We are an organisation working to support, educate and bring change
We believe girls are being let down by the current system operating in the UK. Whether it’s protracted diagnosis, misdiagnosis or total lack of suitable provision, the system needs to be more reflective of female Autism on every level.
Currently the assessment tools used to screen for Autistic Spectrum Condition are male- centric: we want tools put in place that reflect multiple presentations, so no child’s need goes unrecognised or unsupported.
What we are aiming to achieve is recognition from the professionals, whether medical or educational. We aim to rally for support and raise the profile of female Autism. We hope with us all working together we can affect change. We can sign post you to support networks and are already in discussion with recognised professionals who feel this is needed. This is a national problem and feel we are stronger as one voice.
Even specialist ASC provision are often taking girls without adapting to their very different needs and vulnerability. We feel local Authorities have a duty to provide environments that are suitable for girls, that reflect their needs and allow them to achieve the best educational outcomes.
So please join us and together we can shine a light on our wonderfully brave, Autistic girls and make people recognise and see what we do every day.
IN THE MEDIA
CHANNEL 4 DISPATCHES
Founder Mandy Chivers featured in the programme to highlight the many families who are forced to home educate their children to protect their mental health.
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Cathy took over the helm of FIGS in 2020. She runs her own businesses from home and is mum to 2 autistic teens, both late diagnosed. Cathy’s daughter Freya was diagnosed at 13 amid a massive mental health crisis and it’s Freya’s story which led Cathy to FIGS.
Mandy was the Founder of FIGS – she’s no longer involved but we didn’t want her to go without a mention!
Mandy is a mum of 6 with the 3 youngest being autistic. It took her 7 years to get a formal diagnosis for one of her daughters and only 3 years for her son, with many exclusions and different schools along the way, which is what led to FIGS.
FIGS’ team is a mix of parents and Autistic adults with experience and passion.
Our ethos is about celebrating autistic girls’ many gifts and talents – not to change them but to support them. We want the world to recognise our amazing girls!
Vicki is part of the FIGS admin team and has also experienced the system failure for her ASC child. She wants other incredible autistic people in her child’s life to help guide and nurture them, and build autistic pride.
Autism in Girls
Autism is a spectrum condition which mean there are many presentations. This is not a definitive list. This list is endorsed by Dr Judy Eaton – Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Please follow her blog via the link below.
- Can present differently in different settings, Girls can camouflage or mask their feeling until they are in a safe environment before they release their emotions, this often leads to a lack of belief from other settings, school say she is fine and parents are reporting differently.
- May appear shy or avoid interacting with others, struggles to make first move socially but is also keen to have friends. May have 1 or 2 close friends, will converse in a rehearsed or scripted manner, desperate to fit in, so will try and hide their difficulties. Can struggle with the social niceties. May mimic rather than naturally respond. They may appear awkward during conversations.
- May play appropriately with toys and engage in pretend play, have imagination and create fantasy worlds. May arrange toys into groups or sets. May still enjoy playing with toys that you would expect them to grow out of. Can be creative.
- Although Girls make eye contact, it is fleeting and superficial.
- Can show empathy and compassion but may be confused by non-verbal social signs. Can struggle with non-verbal communication such as tone of voice and body language.
- Their special interests are usually socially more acceptable and tend to be animals, pop bands, social media, literature.
- Can struggle with changes to routine and may appear anxious.
- May be over sensitive to sensory stimuli such as taste, texture, temperature, noise, smell and light.
- Can find it difficult to moderate her feelings when frustrated. This can lead to meltdowns that appear to be disproportionate to the situation.
- Can lack confidence in their ability, afraid of failing, making mistakes, lacks self belief.
- Any speech or language difficulties are usually more subtle, no language delay.
- May have an exceptional memory for dates and facts.
- They may be seen as quirky to peer group because of dress sense, hairstyle or vocabulary.
Dr Judy Eaton has recently written a book titled ‘A Guide to Mental Health Issues in Girls and Young Women on the Autism Spectrum: Diagnosis, Intervention and Family Support’, which was commissioned by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. (The book can be viewed on Amazon here.)
Dr Judy Eaton’s Blog – Help for Psychology