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Call for Action following The Big Shout – Girls on the Autism Spectrum Conference

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The Big Shout – Girls on the Autism Spectrum Conference took place in central London on 27 January 2017. During the event a Call for Action was heralded and the audience of educationalists, parents and other professionals were encouraged to capture ideas. Based on a synthesis of these opinions, key themes were identified as the Call for Action.

The National Forum for Neuroscience and Special Education (NFNSE) - see details below - now has a framework for taking the issue of girls on the autism spectrum forward. 

Here the resulting Call for Action is mapped out:


•           Training for professionals and families to recognise and refer girls with suspected autism or related conditions

•           Revision of existing diagnostic tools to include girls with autism

•           Addressing diagnostic delays for girls with autism 

•           A more joined up approach to screening, diagnosis and post-diagnostic pathways for girls


Education and Training

•           Autism and girls-specific training for all educators and families

•           More joined up working between all services and families

•           Understanding and addressing the complete needs of girls (holistic vs academic achievement)



•           In depth research on exclusion and/or school refusal and its impact for girls with autism

•           An emphasis on personalised good outcomes for autistic girls

•           Investigating links between autism and secondary mental health issues (e.g. eating disorders, self-harm)

•           Linking neuroscience with school-based research to learn from the reality of autistic girls’ educational experience


Mental Health

•           Training on autistic girls’ mental health issues and strategies for professionals and families

•           Seeing beyond the presentation of mental health to the autism that may underlie it (and vice versa)


Parents and carers

•           High quality post-diagnostic guidance and support for parents/guardians and young people

•           Support for parents/guardians in parenting autistic girls

•           Valuing parents’/guardians’ and young people’s expertise


•           Awareness-raising among employers about the strengths of autistic girls

•           Greater opportunities for supported employment and job coaching


About the National Forum for Neuroscience and Special Education (NFNSE)

The National Forum for Neuroscience and Special Education (NFNSE) was founded in 2011 by Professor Barry Carpenter CBE, Professor Francesca Happé and Dr Rona Tutt OBE (a Past President of NAHT). It emerged from discussions about how to facilitate closer working between neuroscientists and those working with children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).


The aims of the national forum for Neuroscience in Education are to:  

  • provide a platform for neuroscientists and teachers in special education to engage in dialogue,
  • encourage discourse around the changing pattern of childhood disability,
  • and share insights from both fields which lead to innovative practice, leading to improved learning outcomes for children.

Future Plans

During 2017 and 2018, further developments are planned to bring the work of neuroscientists and teachers closer together, including: 

  • Taking forward the outcomes of the Girls on the Autism Spectrum- the ‘Big Shout’ conference
  • Encouraging more researchers in the field to link with schools and more teachers to have an opportunity to work with scientists
  • Providing briefing papers of current research to keep teachers abreast of developments in the field
  • Linking with other individuals and organisations with similar aims

"This is a pathway to a better understanding of the most complex children in our schools and ensuring they receive a quality of education that is second to none." - Kim Johnson, National President NAHT, Annual conference 2016

Find out more about the National Forum for Neuroscience and Special Education here.

Below is a flyer outlining the Call for Action.


Page Published: 08/03/2017