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Why neurodivergent young people need support now

Neurodivergent girls and gender non-conforming young people, particularly those at mainstream school, often miss out on support because sometimes they look like they are 'doing ok', when actually they're not. 

Often they have been socialised to force their neurodivergent traits to stay on the inside to 'fit in' or to stay safe. So they can come across as quiet, articulate and keen to ‘do the right thing’.

But, particularly if you're autistic, internalising your traits like this can cause real harm to your mental health over time. It’s exhausting, isolating and can lead to severe anxiety and depression and other mental health problems.


When you’ve spent lots of time pretending to be someone else, it's easy to forget who you really are. It's harder to express your own wants and needs. And it's harder to stay safe and well.

Neurodivergent women tell us that it feels that you’re always a step behind and can’t work out why – that you just don’t ‘do life’ as well as everyone else, and it feels like it's all your fault.

“I burst into tears saying, 'I am broken. There’s something wrong with me and I need you to work out what it is.' “I thought that I wasn’t a worthwhile human. And I genuinely thought that I would never be fixed.” Holly Smale, author (interview with the BBC)

​How you can help

Right now, start helping her:

  • Explore and express what helps her feel safe and well

  • Know that she’s enough as she is

  • Find people she can be her true self with

Don’t wait for a diagnosis - just listen to what she tells you she needs. The sooner you start, the better it will be for her mental health and her safety later in life.   

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