Posted: Wed 8th May 2024

Lack of Support for Autistic and ADHD women and girls raised in Senedd by North Wales MS

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales


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North Wales MS and Chair of the Senedd’s Cross-Party Group on Autism, Mark Isherwood MS, has called for a Welsh Government Statement on support for Autistic and ADHD women and girls, highlighting the findings of a research project by a North Wales-based charity.

Speaking during Tuesday’s meeting of the Welsh Parliament, Mr Isherwood said that research carried out by Holywell-based charity ‘KIM Inspire’ found that the lack of recognition and appropriate support for neurodiverse girls and young women across North-East Wales is leading to high levels of distress, low self-esteem and self-harming behaviours.

He said: “I call for a Welsh Government Statement on support for Autistic and ADHD women and girls. The National Federation of Women’s Institutes’ report, ‘Understanding the Experiences of Autistic and ADHD Women’, published in March, which features the lived experiences of neurodiverse women, found, for example, that 90 per cent of survey respondents expressed a lack of awareness of autistic women and girls within healthcare settings, and that 75 per cent felt there is insufficient support available for Autistic individuals and their families.

“North-Wales-based charity ‘KIM Inspire’ has also published the findings of their six-month research project in 2023, ‘Supporting Neurodivergent Girls and Young Women across North-East Wales’. These included that the presentations of Autism and ADHD in girls and young women continue to be overlooked by statutory services, that parental blame is frequent, and that the lack of recognition and appropriate support is leading to high levels of distress, low self-esteem and self-harming behaviours.

“Both reports want to see action from decision-makers to improve the diagnosis process for women and girls, make more support available post-diagnosis,

and help break down the stigma and prejudice that too many Autistic and ADHD women still continue to experience. I call for an Oral Statement in Welsh Government time on this vitally important matter accordingly.”

In her response, the Trefnydd, Jane Hutt MS, thanked Mr Isherwood “for drawing attention with this report to the needs of autistic women and women who have a diganosis, in terms of ADHD, and the needs that they have, as neurodiverse women in our community”.

She added:“It’s also very helpful to hear that feedback from your North Wales charity, but I know that the Minister will be taking this on board. I will draw this to her attention, in terms of the response, which has to be a consistent response across Wales, but it is, obviously, in the context of the ways in which we are supporting and responding to the needs of neurodiverse people of all generations and genders in Wales”.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Isherwood said: “It is not right that many females are left undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or without support.

“For years, I have been raising this with Ministers in the Welsh Government, highlighting that while Autistic girls face many of the same challenges as Autistic boys, in general ‘boys explode and girls implode’.

“This is a very real problem, evidenced by a large body of casework that I have, of girls being denied diagnosis because of schools reporting that they cope so well in school, despite the fact that they’re then going home, melting down and, in many cases, self-harming and, in one of my own past cases, even attempting suicide.”

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