Initiative for Girls and Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Welcome to the Initiative for Girls and Women with Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Yale Child Study Center, supported by a gift from the Imagine 247 Foundation. We are in the 2nd year of of the Initiative, working to address the unique needs of girls and women with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Over the last ten years, ASD interventionists and researchers have begun to appreciate that the development of socialization and communication processes for girls and women is quite different from that of boys and men. Unfortunately, the research and intervention implications of these differences have not been systematically addressed for girls and women with ASDs. The Initiative is designed to address these communication and socialization differences through recreational and communal activities.These activities allow our participants to pursue their particular interests and leisure activities in a safe and supportive environment.

The purposes of the Initiative are:

  1. To understand the unique needs of girls/teens and young women with ASDs;
  2. To promote social development through recreational and communal activities and to measure gains in social development, a sense of personal competency and self-worth;
  3. To educate others and inspire research regarding the unique profile and needs of girls with ASDs.

Yoga for our Young Teens

alt textLani leading our class
Lani leading our class
Our young teens and tweens decided to give yoga a try. We are working with Lani Rosen, who is a certified Yoga Instructor. Lani has a master's degree in early childhood education from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA and she has been teaching yoga to children, teens and adults for many years. Our first class was a peaceful and wonderful experience.

Initiative Wins Community Service Grant from Autism Speaks!

Autism Speaks has awarded the Initiative a Family/Community Service grant to conduct a program to prepare young women for competitive employment, with an emphasis on networking skills, interpersonal skills in the workplace, and creating and using social media to develop a digital presence that supports continued employment opportunities.  More information is available on the Young Adult Page...


Conference: Sex and Gender Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Sponsored by the Autism Science Foundation and Autism Speaks, a full day conference on Sex and Gender Differences was held in New York City on October 29, 2014. The participants included scientists, parents, women on the spectrum and other interested stakeholders.....


Interview on WATR, Talk of the Town, on the Girls and Women's Initiative

On November 26,  Kathy Koenig, the Director of the Girls and Women's Initiative was interviewed by Larry Rifken, the long time host of Talk of the Town, WATR, 1320-AM.  Kathy answered general questions related to autism spectrum disorders and spoke about  the needs of children and adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. An important focus of the discussion was understanding how girls and women are affected, and how this differs from what we know about boys and men. The discussion highlighted the unique needs of girls and women diagnosed with ASD, and spoke about the efforts of the Initiative to serve this growing population.


Movie night for Older Teens: "Girl Rising"

A bunch of us got together on Friday, Oct. 17 to view "Girl Rising," from director Richard E. Robbins. This is the story of nine ordinary girls from Peru to Ethiopia to Cambodia who overcome the obstacles barring them from seeking an education. Check out our Teen page to learn more!!

Young Adults Dinner

On Sept 21st, Members of the Leadership Group for the Initiative had dinner in New Haven to talk through issues of concern to young adult women on the spectrum. We are planning on a screening of the film "Chocolate" a 2008 martial arts film about a young woman with autism who becomes a martial arts master. The movie comes highly recommended by one of our members, who takes a special interest in the avant-garde!

Shopping and Museum Trip

Some of our young adults spend time in New Haven today (August 10) shopping, eating and visiting the Yale Art Gallery. We figured out some things we like and some other stuff maybe we don't want to do in the future! Check your email for upcoming notices!

Horseback riding

A group of teens visited Hidden Acres, a therapeutic horseback riding facility in Naugatuck, CT on Wednesday July 9 at 11 am ( We met with the Program Director, Jeanna Pellino, for a tour and to find out about taking care of and riding horses. Our first lesson was Saturday, July 18. We had a great time riding and getting to know our horses. They're pretty sweet! We had the chance to ride on August 2nd and again on August 30. It was so much fun that three of our teens have signed up to continue at Hidden Acres

Movie night for Teens: "Frozen"

On May 23rd we had a Movie Night at the Child Study Center, including some snacks and a board game before we sat down to watch "Frozen", the latest and greatest Disney film. It seemed as though everyone had seen the movie multiple times before this showing but judging from the enthusiasm and the singing, nobody was bored! We're grateful to Cassie, from our Leadership Group, who joined the activity and provided some additional support for participants.


Some of our teens met for Pizza and browsing at Barnes & Noble on Sunday, April 27th. We met at Est, Est, Est on Chapel street in New Haven.We had fun chatting about movies and books we like. Everybody seems to love Frozen, the Disney movie, and even though we've all seen it, we agreed we'd want to go again! After pizza, we headed over to Barnes & Noble to check out the books - everything from science to the American Girl series to the Warrior Cats. Frozen yogurt with sweet toppings were next, at Pavita's suggestion, and we were tired and full by the time we were getting picked up. We missed some of our friends from the last meeting!