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 Marilyn and Jim Simons. We are in the 3rd 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 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.


Halloween Party for the tweens

We wanted to have a fall get-together for our tweens this year, and we decided on a Halloween Party as a way to bring everyone together. We decorated pumpkins, did crafts and had fun snacks and games.   We hope for other activities for our young girls in the new year!

Yoga for our youngest girls 

Our tweens and young teens working with Lani Rosen, who is a certified Yoga Instructor. Lani has a master's degree in early childhood education from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, and she has been teaching yoga to children, teens and adults for many years. We had six sessions that were peaceful, calming and fun. Our friend Samantha summed up the final session by telling Lani how much the group would miss her and her gentle and affirming method of instruction.

Movie night for Older Teens: "Girl Rising"

A bunch of us got together  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

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  ( 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"

We had a Movie Night for tweens and teens 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!

Felicity House: A home for women with ASD in NYC


Felicity House is a private community space devoted to women on the autism spectrum -- a place where women can express themselves freely and seek connection and learning that will help them lead successful lives.  Felicity House was conceived by a young woman who has devoted time and thought to the needs of young women with autism spectrum disorders, and realized that women with this set of challenges need a place where they can meet, socialize, create, learn and laugh.... a place where they can thrive.  We are pleased to introduce you to Felicity House, which shares our objective of promoting community through social and recreational activities for our young women. 


Check out Felicity House at


Kathy Koenig


Initiative Leadership

Check the list of the primary members and for information on the advisory board.