First Signs of Asperger Syndrome in Bright Young Girls Pre-school – Updated December 11th, 2016

Updated 11/12/2016

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Tania Marshall© 2013-2021. All rights reserved. Aspiengirl and Planet Aspien are trademarked. Thank you.

The following list is my official working screener document consisting of the unique characteristics and traits of pre-school girls with Asperger Syndrome, or AspienGirls. It is not a research-based formal assessment tool. This list comes from the many pre-school girls I have worked with over the years. I have assessed, observed, diagnosed and worked with hundreds of girls and women of all ages across the lifespan. This document is based on my clinical anecdotal evidence and research by other well-known professionals. I will be modifying and/or updating this list from time to time. This list was written from my reflections, observations and experience, and is written in no particular order. No one person needs to have every trait, and it is rare that a person would identify with every trait.

***Please be mindful that research often lags many years behind anecdotal, observational and clinical work. Tania has completed the sequel to her best-selling book I Am AspienGirl, entitled I Am AspienWoman, both published best sellers and IPPY eLIT Gold Medal Award Winners. The following profile was created for family members or professionals who are considering a formal diagnosis and to assist mental health professionals in recognizing Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism in pre-school females. Females with Asperger Syndrome experience their symptoms in varying levels, so while some AspienGirls are highly introverted, others may be extraverted. I will be writing about “subtypes” more in the future. This list typifies many of the young AspienGirls I have worked with. I can be contacted at for diagnostic impressions assessment, intervention, support, interviews, workshops/conferences, and translations.

First Signs of Asperger Syndrome in Bright Young Girls Pre-school

This blog is at the back of I Am AspienGirl Pre-School

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In my clinical practice and experience with hundreds of females, I have become familiar with some very subtle common and early first signs of Asperger Syndrome in young girls, from birth through to pre-school years. The following are some very common early characteristics, traits, gifts and talents that I have seen in my work over the years.

1. Intense emotions: In particular, separation anxiety, stress, anxiety or distress. This is coupled with an inability to be comforted by affection, distracted by a toy or change in situation, or by discussion or conversation with an adult. Anxiety and “shyness” is very common.

2. Sensory sensitivities: There are most often sensory sensitivities involving vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch, balance and/or movement and intuition or a 6th sense. This is known as sensory processing disorder (SPD). First signs may include a sensitive head, not liking to have their hair brushed or washed, clothing sensitivities, and/or food sensitivities.

3. Coping with transitions and/or change: An inability or difficulty coping with change or a resistance to change.

4. Language skills: Atypical or unusual traits in terms of the development of language skills. May have more formal or pedantic use of language. May not be able to express in words what she wants to say. Articulate.

5. Speech: May not typically be delayed; however, there may be a loudness or softness in the voice. May regress to babyish talk when stressed, anxious, or avoiding something. She may have begun talking very early.

6. The social use of language: May be apparent in that the linguistic profile can often include semantic-pragmatic difficulties, so that the pedantic speech may be apparent and their are noticeable eccentricities with the “art of conversation”. May use bigger words than her peers. She may also be socially immature, in comparison to her peers.

7. Hyperlexia: May have taught herself to read before formal education. AspienGirls often have an intense interest in reading and develop an advanced vocabulary.

8. Play: Adults may notice the AspienGirl may not want to play with others or she may direct others’ play, rather than play in a reciprocal and co-operative manner. There is an element of her being “controlling” or “bossy”. She may tell adults that she finds her peers play confusing, boring, or stupid. She may prefer to play on her own, with her animals/toys or with boys. If she is extraverted, she may have difficulty with personal space (hugging and/or touching too much, poking or prodding, bumping or touching them, continually calling her peers names, not understanding that a best friend can play with others). Often may need more solitude than their peers or may not be able to socialize for as long as their peers are able to. Engages mainly in parallel play and seeks the company of adults/educators throughout the day.

9. Interests: An AspienGirl’s interests are usually different to other typical girls in its intensity and quality, rather than the actual interest itself. Often, play can be observed as more of complex set-ups, organizing, sorting, collecting, or grouping items rather than actually playing with them. She may be observed re-enacting a social scene from her own experiences at daycare. A commonly observed interest is collecting stationary/art items, teddy bears, and the like. They may line up colouring pencils in a particular order of colours and have collections of erasers and/or journals.

10. Conventionality: AspienGirls are born “out of the box” and may be observed playing unconventionally. Some prefer Lego, the sandpit, trucks, cars, or dinosaurs. Many think in different or unconventional ways, asking continual and exhausting amounts of questions pertaining to how things work, why things are the way they are, or why people do or say certain things. Many are quite highly sensitive and will ask about death and/or what happens after death.

11. Appearance and clothing: Young Aspiens may look more tomboyish in appearance or ultra princess-like, usually preferring clothing that is comfortable. She may want the tags cut out of her clothes and complain about the seams in her socks. She may prefer to wear the same outfit day in and day out.

12. Imagination: AspienGirls often have advanced imaginations preferring to spend time involved in; fiction, books, fantasy worlds, fairies, unicorns, ponies, Pegasus, talking to and/or having imaginary friends, or imaginary animals. This may be observed at times to the extent that the child may believe they are an animal, a fairy, and so on. There may be some difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality.

13. Writing: AspienGirls are often interested in writing and write their own stories on sticky notes, journals, and have an interest in fiction at an early age.

14. Nature and animals: AspienGirls have an intense love for nature and animals, often preferring them over people. They have an empathic and intuitive relationship and an understanding of animals rather than people.

15. Gifts and talents: Most, if not all, AspienGirls have gifts and talents including, but not limited to; singing (perfect pitch or perfect relative pitch), music, art (drawing, painting and other mediums), languages, acting and performing, dancing, writing, a superior memory and intelligence.

16. Determination: A strong will, determination, stubbornness and/or competitiveness, argumentative (with teachers, parents, or other adults), or a need to be right (even when she’s is clearly wrong). This may be labelled as Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

17. Facial expressions and emotions: A discrepancy between facial expression and feelings. For example, a “fake” or unnatural smile, intense facial expressions or lack of, or inappropriate facial expression to the situation. May not understand or be confused by facial expressions. May laugh when she is in trouble.

18. Attention issues: Parents may have taken her to a hearing specialist due to not responding to her name, being “in her own world”, and/or thinking she may be deaf.

19. Hyperempathy: May be very sensitive to social justice issues, abuse towards animals, nature, or the elderly. May experience the emotions of others. May wonder why they feel different to others.

20. Intuitive: May tell you or know about events and people that they cannot possibly know about. She “knows” certain things without knowing how she knows these things.

21. Curiosity and questions: May ask an endless array of questions that at times, cannot be easily answered. May ask why they feel different to their peers or why their peers are not like them, or have the same interests.

20. Interests: Interests are usually similar to neurotypical girls, but the intensity is unique or unusual. An obsession with knowledge on a topic of interest is common.

21. Nausea: May have vertigo or motion sickness (e.g. on a car trip)

22. Habits: Thumb-sucking can last until age 9 or older, biting of nails, and/or grinding of teeth.

23. Co-ordination: May have Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), hypermobility, clumsiness, or poor muscle tone. May not be able to catch a ball, ride a bike, or may have poor handwriting.

24. Anxiety: May have social anxiety, muteness, or separation anxiety. She may grind her teeth or be excessively clingy.

25. Fear: May have fear and/or phobias (insects and butterflies, dark, separation from mother).

26. Sleep: May have sleep issues.

27. Personality: May be intensely shy and introverted or very extraverted to the point of annoying her peers or family members.

28. The Social Hierarchy: Misunderstands and is unaware of the social hierarchy. May behave as if she is the parent, parenting their parents, their siblings, peers, or teachers. May not understand that she is a “child” or how to “be” a child. May be isolated, alone, or teased by her peers. May have a boy for a friend rather than girls. May not understand that she is a child (e.g. believing they are an animal or an adult).

29. Avoiding demands: May avoid demands due to anxiety (also known as demand avoidance or Pathological Demand Avoidance).

30. Epigenetics: There is a family history of Asperger Syndrome, Autism, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, or Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP)

31. Maturity: May display interests that are more mature or less mature than her age group. May act at times more mature or less mature than her age.

32. Moral compass: A concern for the rules and a strong sense of justice. May have difficulty with perspective taking, theory of mind, social thinking and context blindness.

33. Social and emotional delay for her age, yet seen beyond her years.

34. Self-taught: Parents may observe some “self-taught” abilities and/or the child may resist being taught by others.

35. Safety: May lack a sense of “stranger danger” or safety. May wander, have social naivety, be too trusting, take others literally, and have a lack of boundaries

36. Gender: Some AspienGirls experience gender confusion very early, expressing a desire to be the opposite gender. They may not feel strongly either male or female.

37. A tendency to have intense social justice issues and to “police” others, which are often not appreciated by their peers. At times, she may have a misguided sense of justice and an inability to “let things go” or may not understand the issue is not her business

38. May be the “teacher’s pet”, may to interact with their peers not as a “peer” but in more of adult manner

39. A tendency to be too emotionally honest and unable to hide their true feelings

40. May have gastrointestinal issues, gluten, wheat, casein sensitivities to intolerances/allergies

  1. Subtle eye contact differences, often only observable to a trained clinician
  2. Empathy – may lack empathy (knowing what to do and how to respond emotionally  in certain situations) but have too much sympathy
  3. Repetitive questioning or repetitive sentences or wording

41. Camouflaging

Strategies employed by bright girls to hide their characteristics and/or fit in with other girls. Please see more here

What to look for in Kindy/pre-school/Grade 1

Camouflaging, including masking, assimilation and compensation as noted in my 2013 blog on camouflaging here

Separation anxiety from parent or caregiver

Seeks and/or prefers the company of adults or educators throughout the day

Intense emotions often observed by crying

Sense of justice, adherence to rules, telling on others (or herself), described as bossy

Can make friends but may have difficulty maintaining more than one friendship. It is the quality of the social interactions, as compared to her peers, that is the key indicator

May be clingy to one peer

Often has an advanced reading ability

Correcting the teaching or others

May be observed by herself and/or wandering around alone

Teachers may view her as the odd one out, “odd” or “different”

Passive and.or resistant to contributing to class group work/discussion and/or lack of interest in classroom activities

May be viewed as the “teachers pet”

The key social diagnostic characteristics include: A. PLAY: may not be motivated to play with female peers. May play with boys or alone B. IMITATION: using copying and mimicking to imitate and attempt to fit into the social world. This helps them cope with their social confusion. C. INTEREST: a lack of interest in what their female peers are interested in or their typical play. A tendency to role play adult roles. A tendency to spend the majority of the time “setting up” the scene rather than playing with it. The interests are often similar to their peers, but it is the “intensity” of the interest that is the difference. There are differences in the areas of play, friendship and social situation abilities and interests.



About Tania Marshall


Tania holds a Masters of Science in Applied Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is a two-time Gold Medal award winning IPPY eLIT award winning author and a two-time nominated ASPECT Autism Australia National Recognition Award Nominee for her work in advancing he field of female autism. She regularly provides diagnostic assessments, support and intervention. Tania is a Best Selling Author, Child and Family Psychologist, Autism Consultant, an APS Autism Identified Medicare Provider, a Helping Children With Autism Early Intervention Service Provider, Better Start Early Intervention Provider, a Medicare Approved Mental Health Provider and a Secret Agent Society (SAS) Trained Group Facilitator.

She is both publisher and author of the Aspiengirl Book Series at

Tania is the founder of Aspiengirl®, Planet Aspien, The Aspiengirl  Project and the Be Your Own Superhero Project and the Planet Aspien App (available at iTunes or Android)

To enquire or book assessments, problem solving sessions and/or support, please e-mail Tania at Tania has completed the first two in a series of books on female Autism. Her book series is available for purchase at

To enquire about her book series, interviews, articles, workshops, conferences or translations/translating of her books, please email Tania at



Tania Marshall© 2013-2017. All rights reserved. Aspiengirl and Planet Aspien are trademarked. Thank you.

254 thoughts on “First Signs of Asperger Syndrome in Bright Young Girls Pre-school – Updated December 11th, 2016

  1. This is me and my daughters and my step-daughter!!! You are so bang on..
    can’t wait for the book 🙂 Thanks Tania Namaste 🙂

      • hi i dont know how to comment but am after some advice sorry its so long but would appreciate anybody who has the time to read this.., my niece is 3 yrs old and has alot of these signs,but also is very behind with her speech and motor skills eg cant ride a bike, struggles to climb up the sofa, has only just learnt to do a very small jump but can walk and run ok but looses balance easily., but is excellent with jigsaws/computers etc and loves playing with small figures, they have their own special order and only certain characters can ‘play’ with each other. she has alot of obsessive issues, and throws the biggest tantrums youve ever seen it got to the point when she was coming around my place my own kids at 3 and a half yrs old ( twins ) were telling her to go home because they couldnt cope with the crying, admitidley her mum has been a soft touch n let her get away with too much, and has become more firm and set boundries and her behaviour has improoved a bit but its a gut feeling something just isnt right…she went to a speech therapist and a few months ago was diagnosed with glue ear, when she went in for her op the surgeons said she didnt have glue ear so its unknown as to why her speech is that of a 18 month old, she almost has the same tone to her voice as a deaf person, despite contacting health visitors doctors etc they are refusing to test her untill she is 4 yrs old so another year yet which i feel is precious time at this age, we do have an autistic cousin who is high on the spectrum but hes not blood related but there are very similar signs, and we all went on a train ride the other day and there was a lady who has an aspergus son and is currently studying aspergus and autism in children and she even said although she cannot officially give her opinion, she does feel that my niece does display aspergus signs but its on the borderline mark, which is why we are struggling for doctors to back us because they think shes just a typical girl that needs ‘disciplin’ . any advice on this would be appreciated, but please no nasty comments as in the past people have said aspergus and autism dont exsist and are just excuses for ‘bad parenting’ immature idiots. … ps merry christmas x

      • Thank you for your site! I have a son with Aspergers and a sleep disorder and and I think my mum and I have some Aspergers also. My nephew has Autism. Sometimes its really hard to keep going but we will get there hopefully in the end.
        I think a lot of people who are specialists, i.e. completely obsessive and clever in only one subject area are often Aspergers. For my son it’s physics, for me it’s art and for my mum it’s building lots of houses.
        My son had severe sensory avoidance problems, e.g. starving at 2 years, super hearing so issues like he was bashing his head on the cot until he was black and blue (the first time he made his head bleed), he never slept, and still has sleep issues, so I have post traumatic stress disorder from the first really bad first 6 years of looking after him.
        He is doing really, really well now. I wonder why I’m not doing so well now and maybe some of my issues come from Aspergers? For example I didn’t see the point of talking to adults as a toddler and I was tested for deafness at age (5-7?) As I would play by myself for hours, which I remember being fantastic! Being inside my head was wonderful and much better than boring people. Family members would clap their hands behind me and I wouldn’t react. I saved and traveled around the world twice, the second time by myself, at 23yrs, to see as many galleries and art as I could. I was in lots f dangerous situations and was not bothered at all.
        I had a few other traumatic events in my childhood so it’s impossible to separate all my behavior and mind set clearly.
        I was an early reader, although dyslexic? (I kind of invented my own spelling system). At high school I was reading at least 6-7 books a week. I also spent a lot of time trying to breed insects. I had pet spitfire caterpillars and paper wasps that I would feed leaves and flowers. I also liked playing with bees. Although my son was very obviously Asperger’s I don’t think I would have met the full criteria.

  2. Totally agree with all of these first signs, describes me well as a child. My daughter however really struggles with reading and writing and is in no way hyperlexic. However she also has ADHD which could contribute a lot as she has such difficulty focussing and organising her thoughts.

    • No, please don’t have doctors confuse you! I hope you have reconsidered her ADHD diagnosis. I know this is an old post, but MANY Aspiengirls are inadvertently diagnosed with ADHD because the doctors and teachers don’t understand the differences to look for and many of the same symptoms manifest in both disorders. I was diagnosed with ADHD first but only much later learned I had Aspergers. It’s hard to diagnose girls specifically because there is still so much focus on how the disorder is manifested in boys that they don’t diagnose girls properly until much later. I’m sure your daughter only has aspergers and her symptoms just mimic a lot of ADHD symptoms. Please don’t have her on medication for ADHD! This would hurt her imagination and all of her special gifts. And we’re very sensitive to these types of medication. I hope you and she are doing well and the ADHD diagnosis is no longer part of her prognosis so that she gets the best guidance and healthcare for her to succeed and be proud of her differences! Aspiengirls untie! 🙂

  3. This sooo describes me… thank you! I am glad there are people paying attention to this, at least for the next generations of young ladies who can face acceptance and support rather than confrontation and negativity. I was expelled from Montessori Pre-School when I was 3 years old, for taking teacher directions as they were given rather than as they were intended. I wish those teachers, not to mention my mother, had been given the information here.

  4. these traits some not all, describe my stepdaughter. she is only 2 but i can see some of these in her. her mom, my girlfriend, was literally diagnosed a week ago with have Asperger’s she is a level 1. with her daughter, how do we go forward? i mean i love them both and will treat them no differently. i think love can heal all. we are worried when she gets into school that other kids may pick on her, and what do we do? also, we are worried about having a child of our own. my girlfriend is worried she may not be able to handle a child with severe autism. lots of questions help would be greatly appreciated.

  5. I do not want to violate copyright, but may I post a link to this on facebook? Also, I’m a therapist who is on the spectrum, and would love to be able to refer clients to this list with an appropriate citation, of course. Is that permissible?
    It is a great list, and really fits me and most of the women in my family of origin.

  6. My son has Autism and I’ve often wondered if I do as well. A lot in this list describes me. My son’s official diagnosis is Autism Spectrum Disorder, but he’s always acted like an Asperger’s Syndrome child. I see a lot of his traits in me.

    • Hi Angie, we are now becoming quite aware of a distinct female profile. In my clinic, I do see some gender differences and girls are diagnosed later due to their ability to compensate. I do see boys with some of these traits, but boys tend to externalize, are less able to compensate socially, and so on. I will be writing a Blog on gender differences as time permits. All the best:-)

      • Holey molley!! I have two boys and both are ASD and i just thought my daughter was an OTT princess who was destant to boss everyone around, tell them how to act and never actually keep a friend because of her very strong personality! She has had gastro issues since born and suffers from seperation anxiety mainly at night that we see a sleep specialist…. Never ever did i think she might also be ASD cause she is so different to the boys! Wow has a got some processing to do now!

  7. Hi Gillian, thank-you for your message. My blog is merely to provide awareness of the female profile and what to look for, in terms of first signs, so that a diagnosis can be confirmed or ruled out. A diagnosis can only be confirmed when family history, developmental history, presenting issues, teacher/parent comments, previous reports, observations and formalized assessments have been completed. Hope that helps:-)

    • Hi Tania, I agree awareness is really important and valuable. I just worry that people see these checklists and start diagnosing themselves as being on the spectrum without even seeking further formal assessment. And I don’t think that’s very helpful to people who really do need help. Many adults seem to self-diagnose after their own child is diagnosed with ASD. If it helps them understand their own child, I can see the value. But it seems to me to be more about “healing the inner child” in the adult than focusing on the actual child. Would be really interested to hear your thoughts on this.

      • Hi Gillian, The majority of adults that have come to me seeking a formal dignosis had first self-diagnosed. Some of them have a child on the Spectrum, others have a family member or members on the Spectrum (may not be officially diagnosed). In my experience, it is extremely difficult for most adults to receive a timely diagnosis, if at all. In terms of females, we know that they receive a diagnosis far later than their male peers. I have provided these checklists to educate the public, the community and for professionals. I have had many people print off my checklists and take them in to their professionals to assist with a diagnosis. My checklists are taken directly from assessing and diagnosing hundreds of individuals of all ages and both genders, with Asperger Syndrome/High Functioning Autism, in addition to the research literature and other specialists observations. Having said this, I am aware of people who self-diagnose themselves with Asperger Syndrome, who do not meet the criteria, but rather of a personality disorder, or in some cases, they meet criteria for both. Hence, a formal diagnosis by a qualified and experienced professional is a must! Hope this helps? Thank-you for your comments.

      • Hi Gillian, wow! Yes, it is fascinating. I know 4 other PhD students besides myself who are working on female Autism. Are you doing the same? Knowledge explosion coming!

      • Hya Gillian…. I agree with you absolutely …. This is about healing the inner child… The little girl who was thrust into a harsh world where sensory issues were not even recognised let alone made allowances for and helped…So there is years or misunderstanding to be put right and a very frightened and often abused inner child to nurture. My daughter just 4 is being assessed for special needs and I feel she has autism….she is so beautiful; so full of love yet has no boundares whatsoever…. It took a lot of patience from the nursery staff to help her with social situations a year ago and because Rosie is high functioning she has the intelligence to attempt to fit in socially now. I’ve observed her in playschool following her peers around and copying behaviour… But when she gets home the autism traits come out… the meltdowns the wrapping up of all her toys into presents and collecting these presents in paper bags…. The building of a tower in yellow bricks… the throwing… the sensitive hearing, the grazing of food, the lack of boundaries in public places… the lack of fear… We are at the point where we cannot go out any more simply because there is always some meltdown or scary incident….. but the medical profession here locally just do not recognise autism in girls neither are trained jn managing behaviours or understand the different way it manifests itself in girls – so I am just the “neurotic mother”…. and doubly so because with researching autism for Rosie I have realised why I have always felt so different and struggled with things – because I have Aspergers syndrome… DOUBLE WHAMMY! ” and thanks to Tania’s research and evidence which I took to my dr I have now been referred for formal diagnosis…. AND MY INNER CHILD IS HEALING TOO … 🙂

      • Hi Melanie, thank-you for your important message. One of the concerns I have is that many parents, in particular, mothers are being blamed for their children’s behaviors, quirks, oddities, and so on. Some mothers have been accused of having Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP or MBP) and only by sheer determination have been able to find a trained professional who then is able to give the correct diagnosis. I am pleased to hear you have been referred for a formal diagnosis. All the best.

      • Hya Tania….. Thanks for your lovely message … And YES I have been referred for a formal diagnosis. My GP has written off to 2 agencies after reading your profile and me informing them that it was their duty to get me the correct diagnosis….. However I have been blamed for Rosie’s behaviours and I have lived with the constant worry that she will be put in care for over a year now, which I know would absolutely traumatise us both………I am a single mum and because am a mystic and a truthseeker and the black sheep of the family my family actually wrote to my dr concerned about me and Rosie’s lack of eye contact with them… which instigated a cascade of events… me having to prove my mental health twice, then social services being involved twice, which is completely unnecessary as I am an awesome mum… … I have called the police twice to protect myself from my families concerns….It has been awful Tania and I do not know really how I have managed to hold myself together as my support system has all but broken down… Basically I have been presecuted via the system….. My sister took Rosie out for a few hours and of course Rosie was really well behaved and with her echolalic speech she passes as neuro typical to the untrained eye….. My sister came back saying to me “there is nothing wrong with this child. All that is wrong is your belief system and your parenting skills”… Of course I just told her to go away (non to politely)…. Then she was writing about it all over her facebook wall, slandering me and talking about a minor all over her facebook wall so I called the police as I had had enough then my sister told social services that I was poisoning Rosie to make her ill…When I actually go out of my way to purify our water and avoid food chemicals……With that accusation of course it has to be investigated and Rosies GP turned up on my door step………… I am absolutely traumatised at what has happened here and the ignorance that is so prevelant. Two things have “saved my arse”…. the fact that Rosie is doing so well and is so happy despite autism (which has not as yet been diagnosed and there doesn’t seem to be any health professionals locally that recognise it ) and she is seen every day very well loved and nurtured by the nursery and the fact that I have educated and researched all of this… But it is an absolute nightmare… and I do not know how to put an end to it… I have been misunderstood, misinterpretted and traumatised…and its not easy to be emotionally strong when all this has happened and as you know to effectively parent an autistic child you have to have your wits about you and be strong… and I do need help with managing her meltdowns and lack of boundaries…

  8. If only I had known then… my daughter is 25 now, but when she was 5 I persuaded my GP to refer us to Child mental health. I had known something was up with her since birth (refusal to be comforted, head banging, arching away when cuddled) but the health visitor blamed my “neurotic parenting” – for a child who potty trained herself at 2 and was reading and doing her 5 times table by age 3. CMHS said there was nothing wrong with her, she was bright and intelligent, and there was nothing wrong when she was 9 and oddly picky about food and noise (“it’s a phase – be firmer with her”). Or at 13 when she started self-harming, and emotionally disengaged (“it’s just puberty, they go through this”). And we didn’t get a diagnosis until she was 16 and sectioned – with attempted suicide from bullying, gender confusion, not fitting in, being obsessed with elephants – and the wonderful psychiatrist from another county, a different CMHS, just said “so what support have you been getting with her autism? There doesn’t seem to be anything on file..” and proceeded to put in as much support as she could from then on. IQ off the scale, EQ nowhere. Acting ability superb – but unable to recognise a real emotion or read facial expression; having her written work published, but unable to string a sentence together verbally to someone her own age without excruciating shyness or unintended agression. If only someone had listened and seen the signs….

    • Dear Silver Unicorn, many of the families I see have said that they “knew from birth that something was different” about their child and they also have discussed the challenges of getting professionals to listen to them. Unfortunately, stories like yours are all too familiar to me. Thank-you for your message and I hope you receive the support you need.

      I strongly advocate for early diagnosis and early intervention to support the presenting issues, but also to prevent professionals like me from seeing the undiagnosed teenager who has gone off the rails, the undiagnosed adult who also now has a personality disorder and/or the undiagnosed adult who is now in jail or addicted to drugs and alcohol. I also see many adults with undiagnosed or recently diagnosed Asperger Syndrome or Autism who fail to achieve healthy emotional and social reciprocity in their work, personal or social relationships. Rather than work through the common and typical stresses of arguments or relationships typical of any relationship, they tend to overreact, misinterpret others intentions and/or dramatically burn bridges and blame others for their own circumstances adn choices. Having said this, I do not believe it is ever too late to receive a diagnosis and/or receive intervention, as long as the individual is accepting of it and works to improve his/her skills.

      • So true. What a great service you are doing. I knew at birth but hit every brick wall. Professionals let me down for years at age 8 we have finally found help. Bless you and your work hope it helps others.

    • Hya Tania… Would you be an angel please and delete this and my previous comment… as it probably is not going to do me any favours with things as they are… Many thanks and blessings Melanie

    • It makes me so mad to read these stories. My eldest was diagnosed just short of her 18th although she had been in the Camhs system since 14 due to similar circumstances. I queried her problems socialising and emotional meltdowns with change when she was at Primary. All they were interested in was matching her comprehension academic levels to her Hyperlexic reading abilities….constantly told she was just shy and would improve in confidence. Secondary was an absolute nightmare similar in detail and it got to the point that she had to drop GCSE’s and work in isolation at times due to meltdowns. At sixth form and three pyschiatrists later, she was diagnosed, after three years of being dignosed as severely depressed and constant changes of medication…to the point of Crisis Team involvement. This list makes so much sense and it is heartening to know that there are good, informative people pushing forward with studies on females. Best wishes x

  9. Pingback: aspergers and girls | surviving anorexia

  10. Every single one of your above characteristics applies to me. I was diagnosed with AS at the age of 50…… and at this point it hasn’t helped me a whole lot, other than to finally know I am not crazy, but rather different. There are no adult services for my age in our area at all, they stop when people turn 30 or so……….. apparently, people must either outgrow AS by then, or they don’t live past that age (sarcasm).
    BUT I am getting more autistic as I grow older, and could use support! I am 60 now, and I guess will ‘muddle through’, as usual.
    I do recognize those characteristics in some of my granddaughters (and grandsons, which present obviously somewhat different), but people in my family get quite angry at me for suggesting that……… it would obviously be a major ‘catastrophe’ if grandchildren of mine would be like me in any way….. I must be quite unacceptable to my children it seems.

  11. You have just describe my 8 year old daughter exactly! She hit every developmental milestone early. Spoke early, walked early. At 4 she was teaching herself to read as we drive down the road by reading street signs. She also has been an overly active child but thinking as her brother she would “calm” down in kindergarten. She didn’t. We were referred to neuropsychiatrist @ 5 for diagnosis. In which we were given ADHD. Sent to OT @ 6, which diagnosed SPD. She has been going weekly for over a year to OT. When we stop, her world crumbles again. Psychological & Academic testing, IQ 120. They say ADHD & some anxiety but not enough characteristics to warrant a diagnosis. “Must be all behavioral”. She keeps things in line & order & knows if they have been moved. Gets extremely upset when moved. Very artistic, loves to draw. Has never played with dolls, barbies or any girlie things. Just play with “things”. Doesn’t understand her peers sometimes but does well mimicking. She acts like whomever she has been with for the day. She has fiends but dictates how they play instead of playing. I feel there is something more going on. How do I approach this with her neuropsychiatrist?

  12. hi my daughter is 11 for the past 6 years we have seeked help for her,We go to camhs where they said at 1st my daughter had aspergers or autism,because the school did not think this they changed their minds.We then saw a asd specialist who said she has got traits and asd features.My daughter has got so much anger in her,she also does not give eye contact what so ever.She has special education needs and iep,i am going crazy being told different things,please can someone help thankyou

    • Hi Karen, strong emotions are a key feature as can be eye contact (but not always for females). It is often not until the teen years does the social aspect of Aspergers become apparent. It is often the anger, emotions, anxiety or an eating disorder that is initially picked up. It does seem as though organizations have identified her. Only a specialist who has the required training, experiences and seen quite a few females can make that judgement. All the best.

  13. @ conscious8alchemy, Melanie, is it? Your story is heartbreaking and I hope you get some support for yourself and Rosie soon. Unfortunately, blaming the parents for a child’s autism is a longstanding problem. In fact, Kanner started the trend in 1943 when he blamed the children’s traits on their parents’ (especially mothers’) aloofness. Of course, back in those days, mothers mostly stayed home with the children, so if a child was not developing typically, who else would get the blame but the mother? On this subject, I recommend Sue Miller’s novel Family Pictures. It’s about how a mother in the 1950s gets all the blame for the child’s autism and how this destroys the family. From a personal perspective, I can say that prior to my own daughter’s diagnosis of ASD/Asperger’s, plenty of family members suggested I give her to them “for a weekend” so they could “straighten her out”. This is obviously just ignorance, but it’s unfortunately an all-too-common experience for parents with a child with autism. You eventually develop a thick skin and tell them where to go with their advice. You know your own child best, so get informed about autism, then trust your gut and do what you believe is best for Rosie. Keep your relationship with her strong. You’re her rock and she will need you.

  14. I have two adult children on the spectrum. My daughter is Asperger’s she has graduated from university with a honours B.A. but still struggles to get and keep work. Everyday I worry that she will have a emotional melt down and lose her current job. All you can do is live one day at a time and be thankful that today was a good day and if it wasn’t then tomorrow will be better. Although you can learn from the past and use that knowledge to improve future outcomes you can’t get stuck reliving the mistakes of the past. One of the best strategies I’ve learned from my children is to look at your mistakes and analyse what happened and what you can do differently and move on there is no advantage to beating yourself up over what has happened you can’t change the past. Knowledge is power.

  15. My mom says she knew something was a bit off with me when I was a child. I had good grades, obeyed my parents and teachers and didn’t threw tantrums or misbehave. But I didn’t had any friends, had trouble socializing, refused physical and eye contact, my non-verbal and motor skills were awful and most of the time I was in my own little world. However, doctors didn’t see what was the issue until my teens when self-steem issues and some self-harming came in. I was diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder at age 14, Borderline Personality Disorder at age 18 and finally as an Aspie at age 21. It was hard but I finally managed to finish university and now I have a stable job and a few friends (not that I’m a social butterfly though). So to all the moms with children like me, don’t give up! I think following therapy are important, but the family and peer support is also important.

  16. Me! Me! Me! I’m in my mid-60’s and it is actually a sort of pleasure to look back and see I was right! I WAS/AM different, but to me it is in a delightful way – and folks can see it if they choose to look – a few have. Once I started to look back and write down all the expressions of the aspieness that I could identify, but the list was getting long, and I saw I could never really capture them. Some of the rememberings are really cool, others – well, painful or yucky. The yucky ones, I see now more clearly, came from folks who really just didn’t know any better. I feel I have a deep and sweet inner life and perspective that others just can’t get to. I am grateful. I always liked being different, but didn’t like that I was encouraged to “fit in.” Many happinesses, whoever reads this! 🙂

    • I’m also in my midishe sixties and agree finding out I was aspie was the best thing that has happened. I am so grateful for the insight. Never to late! As a man I so aprechiate Tania’s blog for woman.

  17. My youngest was diagnosed at 10 years old, and I was as well right along side her at 36. If I knew then what I know now…oh I say it all the time. This is my daughter to a TEE…she’s 17 now and still suffers with separation anxiety and anxiety in general, loves to be alone, loves to paint and hates anything social. I always said I was her ‘interpreter’ when she was little…it seemed that only I could figure out what she was saying…she used made up words for things that it seemed only I got. LOL

  18. The issue with the seam in the socks! OMG, I would wonder why she would pitch such a fit about the seams in her socks. I started buying seamless socks because it caused such a ruckus in the mornings getting her ready for school.

  19. This describes me and my childhood. My 8 year old son was diagnosed with HFA a year ago and my BPD mother’s first, wonderfully sensitive reaction was ‘that’s what YOU have!!’. Which I initially took offense to as I saw it as her way of absolving herself of any blame for our difficult relationship and ignoring her own shortcomings. With time, reading and reflection however I have come to the conclusion that if I am not on the spectrum I am certainly at the aspie end of neurotypical. I don’t know how a diagnosis now might help me, other than to heal my inner child and have a confirmed bond with my son (and if this helps him to feel understood and supported it would be worth it .) I am in WA. What is the process for an adult assessment via Skype? Thanks and regards.

  20. My daughter (now 12, dx with aspergers 3 years ago) exhibited many of those signs when she was younger. At the time, no-one had a clue about aspergers in girls including me but then my son was diagnosed with ASD and I could see how my daughter was meeting the triad of impairments. It was different to her brothers; more gentler in a way but the difficulties (and strengths) were there. The SPD, the communication problems, the intense play, the intense emotions (she couldn’t separate from me easily), the strong will, the curiosity (I always remember her first obsession with sloths) – incredible interest in this animal at a very young age. Unfortunately her teachers disputed what I said. They couldn’t see her difficulties and thought she was deaf (later proved not to be). I think in part they only understood aspergers from the male perspective which made them blind to girls like my daughter. Eventually I got an assessment and she was diagnosed with aspergers when she was 9 but it was interesting how many professionals asked me how I recognised it in my daughter. They would often comment that it was unusual to get a diagnosis so young because normally (here in the UK anyhow) most girls are not picked up until their teens when other difficulties have emerged.

  21. Thank you for this information. I will make a copy and keep in my file fro reference.
    My 5 year old daughter has had 3/4 ths of these traits all of her life and sometimes I can see all of theses traits. I knew something was wrong early on and It took about a good year before someone really took notice of what I was trying to tell them about my daughter. She was diagnosed at the age of 3 1/2. Very frustrating to say the lest. I felt the earlier the DX the earlier we could start with intervention for speech and some of her SPD. I am now advocating for her in the public school, where she attends all day kindergarten. The good thing is her teacher is a great advocator, but the district puts off giving her the special OT / Speech services she needs. So the Mom/advocate has to speak so that my child’s voice and needs can be heard. The school year has been a struggle but I am trying to get special services in place for her now so that the services will continue during her school years. We have been through a couple of really good therapist outside the school but we have had to transition from one to the other (the1st) due to husband in military and transferred, my daughter had a really hard time with that. (the 2nd) was good in her field but she did not specialize in my daughters DX. She was a Child Behavioral Specialist and she graciously filled in until we found a Specialist in Autism. We have found a great Autism therapist and an Awesome OT specialist. Mommy is starting to see a little light.
    It seems as if we will be in a lifelong struggle advocating for her while educating others about this DX. Why is it so hard to diagnosis this children and how do we educate the public school systems ?

    • Dear Veronica,

      Thank-you for your message. I think that the “struggle” to advocate and educate others will occur for some time. It often takes years for research to catch up to anecdotal clinical evidence or new areas, i.e. female Autism. It is challenging to diagnosis young girls because there is still much brain growth and neuroplasticity. Another factor is that awareness and education about the female profile is lacking, partly due to a lack of research and education. Aspergers in general is a relatively new condition (although it has always been around) and female Aspergers is even newer. Another factor is that young girls generally are quite well behaved in school and “become part of the wall”, so that they are not even noticed. For parents at home though, it’s a whole different story, as many girls meltdown from the social exhaustion. I am aware of a few PhD student, like myself, who are researching female Autism, so be prepared for a knowledge explosion! All the best! My first book is available for pre-order at if you are interested. The second in the series is on the adult female profile and due out in July, 2014.

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  23. Hi my name is belinda and I’m a mum of two girls one of them is 12 years and my other daughter is 6 years my youngest we have noticed that from a young age she was alot harder work than my 12 year old was she constantly on the go she hurts the dog and cats she dont sleep very good she won’t play with her toys for long she is brillent with reading and on computers but is struggling with doing work at school and at home because she can’t keep still and can’t seem to concentrate for long she comes home from school with ripped cardigans on the sleeve wen she’s fiddling with her hands and she always wants food biscuits n oat she can get the school she is at have noticed she is hard work and told me to get her tested for ADHD she loves water that’s her best thing to do but I worry because she seems to have no sense of danger she runs across roads and talks and try’s to hug people she doesn’t no ASD and ADHD runs in my family and my daughter is under going tests but I’m worried they will say she’s fine but I no there’s somethink not right and she has been under going tests for nearly a year now and I feel in the dark with it all as nobody has told me anythink there is so much more that has happened with her but I cant put it all down as I would b here all day sorry how long this is I would love any advice I’m not sure what to do for the best xxx

  24. If you are like this as a child, and we’re not diagnosed, what can that look like? My husband tells me I’m a great “actress.” My face changes from interacting with one person to the next and then alone with him I am “blank” or may daydream because I’m tired. I’m 31 years old now and have adapted very well aside from high (!) levels of anxiety and the occasional “episode.” I can get really frustrated and do odd things to cope when overwhelmed that are embarrassing later. I’m new to this…is there help for someone at my age? I’m asking any kind readers and the writer for suggestions… I’ve heard of swings and weighted blankets…pressure does slow my “antsy angst” feelings. I’m not sure how to get help. I always thought I had a severe (according to my doctor) anxiety disorder, but something clicked when I met a friend who had Autism Spectrum… Thanks. 🙂

  25. Pingback: What in the World is Going On in Autism – March 2014 Edition // Autism Awareness Centre

  26. wow this is a great site! I think blogs are so helpful with real people and real examples/stories that people can relate to…So here goes my story..This is a story about Miss Olyvia 8.5 y/o busy bee…she’s my third…since she was born I knew she was different…never coo’d in her crib upon waking, very serious late talker, on the go…go..go..early intervention denied at 15 and 21 months due to speech delay, but enough words good enough for them..then preschool teacher and myself request another evaluation around 3.5 speech had improved, once they evaluated her in all areas they saw soooo much more..fine and gross motor delays, speech delay, they gave us in house speech and ot..but it became very draining on her because being in her home and ot was not meeting her extreme sensory seeking behavior…she started pulling at the seams under her armpit, not just was socks and underwear/pull-ups an issue but just clothing in general…long story short, we got a pt evaluation and she was delayed in her executive functioning and crossing her center line, w sitting w low tone, I finally got her out of the house to services in a sensory gym where they did pt/ot there…what an eye opener…all her symtoms got better with sensory input…just cleared her head and she was more comfortable in her body..she had no friends in pre-school, she felt different and still is…moving forward five yrs, she has seen a developing pediatrician,x2, a pysiotrist x2, a phycologist now and has been recieving services for ot,pt and speech since in third grade still undx, just sensory issues and adhd from neurologist..they suggested stim meds but im not comfortable because I truly believe she has aspergers…socially she tries, but controls everything, she’s obsessed with littlest petshop toys makes homes and takes over my entire house, she is the most messiest person i have ever met,but there’s this disconnect of emotions, she truly is angry a lot and frustrated hates music singing will only wear certain clothing, hates the bath or basic hygiene needs, lacks any kind of empathy tortures the dog, and no matter what kind of discipline I use it never sticks nor works, its like she doesnt understand..Im going for a 2nd opinion..very concerned for her future, if I tell her it’s 9:00 shell correct me with “No it’s 8:57, she’s horrible at math but pays attention to weird details of things very literal thinker, can’t get her to fall alseep at night

  27. THANK YOU, Tania for your dedication to this field…YOU are heaven-sent and an answer to prayer! I do however, have a question, I read in your description of Aspiengirls that they may experience gender confusion and a desire to be the opposite gender…what in your experience happens with these girls, do they become lesbians or modify their bodies or way of dress to be identified as males? Is it a temporary desire or will it remain throughout life? Any other thoughts you may have on this would be extremely helpful…THANKS AGAIN!!! Don’t give up on these girls, you’re their voice, YOU ARE THEIR SUPERHERO!!!

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  29. My sweet 4 year old granddaughter exhibits many of these behaviors. She is soon to be evaluated, so we will have a more definitive diagnosis soon. I am buying your book so I can be a better grandmother for her. For me, I celebrate her abilities and worry for her socially. I see her trying so hard to be social, but it always comes off as being awkward. I love this little sweetie so much. I hope for success and happiness for her as I do with all my grandchildren.

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  31. Wow, I was told I had aspergers by teachers all the time (My entire family also had it) But I didn’t really know what it was til now! Thank you. (Does it also affect my sense of humor, because it’s really strange and no one else but a few people and tumblr get it)

  32. Oh yeah, my Mom video taped me once, I was probably 2 or 3, and she was calling my name I payed no attention i was just sitting next to my brothers.
    And, in girlscouts my Mom told me she remembers seeing me outside of the group on a swing set, instead of playing with the other girls.
    I’m going to be honest, I still suck my thumb, i’m fudgin’ FOURTEEN.
    My brother has it, too. And, his stimulation comes from shaking his sock around, and I think mine is feeling silky things, like, my paint brush, blankets, I sucked my thumb a lot so it has no texture so it’s very silky.
    My thing is constantly wanting to TOUCH things.
    Like playing with a deck of cards, my hair, anything I can get my hands on.
    My brother fake smiles, but, I more like fake laugh.
    I never realized it, but, when I laugh loudly, people say it sounds ‘fake’
    Another thing is chewing “Oral fixation” I know it sounds sexual and I hate it, but, I can’t help but chew chew chew on things if i’m not feeling a silky thing (Like my nails. I’m not kidding I never have to cut them though whoo!)
    My dad always says I mumble. And for some reason if i’m in a group of people, and I’m talking to them, and I’m not comfortable around them. I’m gonna act really hysterical. I would purposely act creepy to scare them. But, I think it’s making them laugh, but, I’m actually just scaring them.
    I’m EXTREMELY sensitive to touch, and words (Like, mean words)
    Once this girl coughed and it sounded fake and I yelled and told the teacher because I got sensitive about it.

    • “Oh yeah, my Mom video taped me once, I was probably 2 or 3, and she was calling my name I payed no attention”

      Amazing similarities in your story- my mom took me to the doctor when I was 2 because I wouldn’t acknowledge anyone (or even look up) when someone entered the room. Apparently that’s a developmental milestone we all miss.

  33. Thank you for this article.
    I’m trying time get my daughter diagnosed but feel like I have hit walls with my GP. He thinks it is a phase. It isn’t. My sis in law has two children with autism, defined mostly by lack of speech, meltdowns etc. My little girl is highly intelligent, but now she is four and has started mainstream school I have noticed more and more her little traits. I think I have ignored it for a very long time as it’s easier then admitting something is wrong. I have slowly come to terms with it and I will be dammed if I let any harm it anyone say anything bad about my little girl.
    Her traits are, no fear, lack of social understanding, she doesn’t understand jokes, or laughs at things we would know not to laugh at, like how a child in her class has a stutter, and the meltdowns. Her anger is scary sometimes especially when you think she’s only 4, the looks from people hurt and I wish I could make them understand instead of judging me. Routine is another one, for instance we walk turn same way to school everyday. The other day I needed to go to the shop before school, which meant a different way to school. She was fine until we left the shop and went down a different street which meant she immediately became nervous and cried all the way to school. Saying she likes the normal way better. I’m at a loss. I don’t know where else to go. Do I go to the school nurse to get a concern letter before someone listens to me?
    Any reply would be greatly appreciated.

  34. Hi tania I would really appreciate some help. I am a first time mum of a little girl who will be 2 in June. I’m at my wits end with her at the moment. I have no experience of anybody with aspergers or ADHD so I really don’t know if it’s possible my daughter could have one of these conditions or if I’m just easily stressed by what is normal 2 year old behaviour. Sometimes she seems absolutely fine but she does display a lot of what you spoke about. For instance for the last year she would NOT wear a dress, skirt, shorts.. she fought me every step of the way and if I did get one on her she would scream and pull at it until I took it off. It’s not something I was worried about until now that I read more on aspergers and see that clothes can be an issue. In the last month she has started to come around to wearing a dress but still no way for a skirt or shorts. She is also so picky about her socks it sometimes takes her 10 minutes to pick out a pair of socks she is happy to wear. She calls herself a boy and gets really upset if you say she’s a girl. She doesn’t like dolls or anything girly she likes trains and trucks and fire engines etc Which again I wasn’t worried about until I read your Article. She isn’t a good sleeper she never has been she wakes a a lot through the night. She has awful social skills. She screams/growls at everyone who says hello to her or tries to talk to or play with her including family members that she sees everyday (nana, auntie etc) one minute she would love them and the next she’s screaming at them. She gets very irritated and loses her temper very quickly sometimes at the littlest things and lashes out hitting and screaming and gets herself so upset that she is inconsolable. Everyone keeps telling me it’s because she isn’t used to many people or used to other kids since she has never been in a crèche so I have been considering putting her into one but then I’m wondering if I should because she hates crowds and prefers to play on her own so i don’t know if it would do her harm or do her good? She hates getting her nappy changed, every nappy Change turns into a battle of me having to hold her down to change it while she kicks and screams, there is no reason for this I’ve checked everything, the nappy is the right size it’s not hurting her she has no rash etc. she is a very intelligent girl and doing everything she should be doing for her age. She often surprises me saying words that I’ve never thought her that I didn’t know she knew!! It’s her behaviour that worries me the most she has such a temper for a child her age. Our house is a happy house herself and my dad live together and give her plenty of love and support she is not around anger anywhere she goes so she is not learning this off anyone. Please can you advise me does this sound like aspergers or am I being too stressed out and worried about something that isn’t there? Thank you

  35. It is certainly helpful and in away reassuring reading the stories of other people. I have been reading through this fantastic blog in the hope of having some of my own questions answered. Unfortunately they have not so I guess I have to ask it myself…
    My 16 year old daughter has just been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers, not sure of the correct term. I think I have known since she was about 4/5 that she has Aspergers and have been working with that knowledge while bringing her up. She first saw a psychologist at 6 who just said she was very shy, then again at 12 where we were told she had “traits of aspergers but not enough to warrant diagnosis”. So we all (the family) just carried on coping and dealing with issues as they came up. By the time she was 16 more issues began to creep out and school became very difficult for as she began to retreat further and further away from the social aspects of her life. Lots of pretty strange behaviour began to be exhibited particularly extreme ‘social anxiety’, yet another label from school psychologist. Anyway…… to cut a long story short, I contacted Tony Attwood’s practice for a recommended psychologist in W.A as I knew we had to see someone who new what they were doing. Sure enough after hours of questioning she received the diagnosis. I have not been able to talk to her about it as she is in complete denial. What do I do with that??? I know I have to tread very carefully and continue to follow my instincts, as I have for most of her life, but I would certainly appreciate some advise or some direction in which to take this.

  36. You describe me perfectly. I was dx at the age of 34 following my sons dx of autism. I am struggling to have the professionals involved in my daughters (aged5) assessment see what I see and you describe. It’s amazing what you are doing, early dx is vital to prevent the MH probs that we suffer as a result of constant misunderstandings and social exhaustion. I cannot wait to read your books. I WILL keep up the fight for my girl and I WILL treat her like the amazing aspie she is.

  37. Your list was making me laugh this morning… You’ve just described 80% of my female friends and a goodly number of the female Rhodes Scholars over the years. If you ever want to test your criteria out against that group to try to disentangle “early signs of autism” from “early signs of awesome women”, give Dr Ann Olivarius at the Rhodes Project a shout. Not only is she the Chief Executive Officer & Chair of the Rhodes Project (, but she has also served on the board of Autistica, the leading UK charity supporting research into autism.

    • Honestly, go with your instinct. If you really think your daughter might have Asperger’s or a form of Autism, it’s probably a good idea to book an appointment with a pediatrician who can help (for me, I was diagnosed by a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician).

      • Print off the list and highlight the ones you see in your child. I have a great table in the Appendix of my first book I am Aspiengirl: the unique characteristics gifts and traits of Young Females on the Autism Spectrum, available at or

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  39. My daughter was dx after 5months of testing just before her 3rd birthday. She showed a few of these signs but now that she is 6.5 – 7in October she has majority of these. Very spot on.

    • I forgot to mention she was first dx with Moderate autism with speech delay. I would say now she is more aspie these days. Her speech has come on in leaps and bounds and Im sure still delayed in some areas but most don’t even know she would be aspie or on the spectrum at all.

  40. I am 24 years old My mom always though i have high functioning autism and several people who worked with autistic people felt the same. However i have never been officially diagnosed and i have no idea were to start on becoming diagnosed. My twin brother was diagnosed with it as a teenager but no one ever bothered to have me diagnosed and i am about to have my first baby. what would you advice i do.

  41. WOW.

    Ok, I’m a 24-year old lady with Asperger’s (I’m not comfortable calling myself a woman yet). Not only did you just describe my childhood, but about half that stuff still applies. I didn’t even know some of this stuff was attributed to AS (like #1. I seriously thought I was an over-reacting drama queen. Huh).

    This… this is gonna make me do some thinking.

      • Awesome! I’m definitely checking that out. And I’m grateful that you’re writing it. So far, I haven’t found much for adults coping with AS (I might be looking in the wrong places though). I’m looking forward to the new book. Thank you!

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  43. After reading this I am beginning to wonder whether I have mild aspergers, I am a teenager from England and my parents would most likely not listen to me seriously if I told them this. My little brother is currently going through the process of being diagnosed (he is nearly three now) and if i mentioned I thought I had aspergers the reply would be that I didn’t have it nearly as bad as him so I should stop complaining.
    I was obsessed with animals and reading when I was younger, I interacted with others at school and had a close group of friends, I never ventured outside of the friendship group though. We would play role play but I would always be the same character. I would get up at 5.45 every morning to watch my favorite animal program, I never missed it until they changed the times. I also preferred to
    At the moment I am a very stubborn person, I have been told constantly I have strong opinions and that I never listen to other people, although this isn’t my intention! I don’t realize when people get bored and so I often make awkward situations for myself and people get annoyed at me a lot, although I really have no clue why which is frustrating!
    I wrote this post because I am struggling in school at the moment with my English lessons, I can not express my ideas as I’d like, they just come out wrong. My creative writing is terrible as well, I often fail to have an opinion I can write down because I don’t know how to word it. I am only good in three lessons really, Religious studies, history and IT (I find it easy to communicate and share my feelings through the internet strangely). I really need some help! Any tips on how I could try to improve my social skills without being diagnosed and letting my parents know???

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  46. OMG, this is me. This explains my struggles. I’m in shock, and a flood of tears now. I have no idea what to do with this information now to get help since there are likely very few specialists who can properly diagnose Aspiengirls. (I’m in SW Florida.) No idea what to do… Thank you for this, though.

  47. THat definitely describes me as a kid I was hyperlexic – three years ahead of my peers and was extrovert to the point of being annoying and used to ask “what would happen if’ followed by really strange questions!

  48. Surprisingly, I have all the symptoms. And I’m a guy. I found this article searching for the monotone voice one, ’cause I have all of them but that one (however my “interior voice” is terrible). I am still not sure I have it, ’cause it’s merely self-diagnosed, but I can’t afford a psychologist for diagnosis or treatment.

  49. I have a 5 year old daughter driving me up the wall. She has 4 brothers, aged 10, 7, 3 and 1. I suspect my husband is “on the spectrum”… Serious Aspergers traits, plus my 10 and 3 year old. The 7 and 1 year old have never displayed the traits the other 3 have. I can “handle” the boys, but my daughter is far more intense. She displays nearly all the listed 30 traits. She starts school next year. She knows all her letters and sounds, can write and sound out words to spell, and is obsessed with drawing. She cannot be distracted when there is something her mind is set on, and if I say something that’s coming up, she incessantly asks over and over, and constantly counts down. She can be downright rude to her close family relatives, which is embarrassing, and often “over-familiar” with boys and men which is unsettling. There is heaps more. Is there any benefit in getting “diagnosed”?

  50. Oh my goodness! If only they “got it” in the 1960’s! What struggles might have been mitigated through understanding and support services. My mother brought me to the pediatrician, still not talking at 36 months, (all other symptoms – thumb sucking, rocking, sleep issues, nail biting, extreme anxiety/separation anxiety) with a diagnosis of “lazy/youngest child.” Flash forward – now three of us son, niece and self – all with diagnosed Aspergers. If you don’t mind, I shared your link in a private message to my sister whose daughter has an Aspergers diagnosis. I am a mental health social worker in MA – and often find myself at odds with “team” when I see a PT with an early childhood manifestation, later diagnosed with ASP and GAD. Thanks so much.

  51. PS – Is it okay to share on “Facebook” as I suspect that some of my cousins (on my maternal side) are seeing at least some of the manifestations in their female children?

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  53. My mother suggested to me that I may have aspergers. I’m 20 years old and a lot of these traits sound like me but I’m unsure. When out talking with people say for a few hours I come home and want to be alone for awhile or in a business environment I do get stressed easily and if a person (most of time) tell me something about myself that I strongly dislike I become inwardly upset I’ve learned to cope with that sort of thing by biting my Tongue or cheeks while there and then go home to cry.
    I’m currently waiting to see if I have aspergers but the woman isn’t around for a few weeks to give me one and it’s honestly making me worried about the result cuz it will determine my future whether I have it or not.

  54. Omg I can’t believe this!! I currently am in the process of getting my three yr old daughter tested for various things, after reading this I am 100% sure this is the answer!
    Only yesterday I posted on facebook about her removing labels from everything, and this morning I was amazed as ahe let me plait her hair, usually she can not stand it being touched let alone brushed and tied up!
    Almost the entire list describes her so perfectly

  55. This totally describes my daughter at that age. So glad I listened to my heart and pushed for diagnosis. She’s such a happy confident little girl now and proud of her autism.
    Great post. Looking forward to the book xx

  56. I’m so intreged. I had every last one of these symptoms as a child. More understanding of why I act the way I do now. Never diagnosed as a child. I’m am still fighting bipolar disorder. Depression also. I am 56 years old now and not mentally well

  57. this is scary reading as so many points bring back memories of my childhood/teenage years!!! 😦 have a son with diagnosed asd but decided i couldnt be asd as im overly empathic…?

  58. This is my 17.5 yr old daughter! She saw a plethora of specialists from the age of 4-10 yrs (each one refuting the previous diagnoses for a new one) and received diagnoses of ADHD, Anxiety, Possibly gifted (which subsequent IQ test disproved) and Emotional development delay. Although she fit each of these to some degree, I knew there was something more. At 16, she was given a Receptive Language Disorder, Aspergers, OCD, ADD diagnosis which fits better than anything before! The problem is that she continues to remain in denial and refuses treatment/assistance saying that the doctors are stupid and that I’m the one with the problem as there is ‘nothing wrong with her’. She would rather struggle on and disadvantage herself (eg. in schoolwork) and pretend everything is okay. Is this common with Aspie girls – complete denial about diagnosis?

  59. Actually this sounds surprisingly similar to me…my brother has Aspergers but it never occurred to me that I might have it too.

    Do you think it particularly matters though? Should I bother getting myself diagnosed or telling people. Its not particularly affecting my life; I mean I have dreadful social skills and I’m overly sensitive…but it’s not like a doctor could fix that right?

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  61. Oh my goodness this is so helpful. My daughter is 4 years old and this describes her so clearly. I have done so much reasearch in the past into Autism and Aspergers, but nothing seemed to fit my daughter, I didn’t realise there was such a different presentation in girls. I see everything so clearly now.

  62. You described a lot of my daughter, she was originally dual assessed through the public system over the ages 4-6 and was misdiagnosed with a mild language disorder and we were told she didn’t need their help. Interestingly, it all started because her kindy teachers thought she was deaf and wouldn’t believe me when I said she had good hearing and sings songs off the radio perfectly. I think part of the problem was that her language delay and the fact that she was extroverted kept the social problems in check until her language developed more allowing her to see/feel what was going on around her if that makes sense. She was also held back in kindy so she hadn’t even been in school for 6 months when they made their decision. I had to pull her out of school after 1.5 years as it sent her confidence, and self esteem into a tailspin and now after learning about PDA recently, things are making much more sense. Thanks 🙂

  63. I’m so grateful for this list. Just found it and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I can tick off almost every characteristic. Over many years I’ve discounted the idea of Aspergers in my daughter because of the male descriptions that never fitted. I’ve been trolling through the Internet for months trying to find specific examples and detailed characteristics as opposed to general statements like ‘problems socialising’ What does that mean? Be specific!! Finally you have done it. Despite years of problems in schools not one teacher recognised it. Now we need to get the help she needs. Only problem is she’s pretty far gone into depression and anxiety. The lack of recognition and diagnosis has caused a great deal of damage to self esteem and psychological wellbeing. Thank you for the work you do. This will go a long way in preventing the troubles and negativity and lack of provision for children with ASD. disseminate disseminate disseminate far and wide!!!

  64. Oh my this is my daughter aged 11, I have had her assessed through school psychologist who believes there is no sign of Autism and her teacher basically has no desire to believe any concerns I have about her. As a baby she was like she had been here before, on a mission to be ahead in anything she could including walking, Crawling was never on her radar just straight from sitting within a couple of months at 10 months to walking. We thought it was unusual. She has never played with toys nor desired to but did ride a bike with trainers from about 14 mths around and around the house for hours on end. In hers pips testing both times she was well above standards, danced her little heart out for hours on end took up with a dance studio at 4, but had pestered us since 2 she wanted to dance on the big stage. Just recently which shocked us all she told us she didn’t want to dance any more, as she was finding it difficult to keep up she has a learning difficulty (low working memory) and socially finds it very hard to fit in, she sits right next to me and I am unable to leave her, the kids just got sick of trying to include her. She has school refusal and she is mother, boss,policeman, and any other job description that involves being the boss. We constantly tell her We are the parent you are the Child. She takes anxiety medication but our Paed does not think she has autism although he did think our 9 year old son did immediately, he has been diagnosed level 2 autistic, my gut says she is but feel at a loss seens the paed was not much interested in delving any further, she is fixated on colour pink since day dot and wears pink lenses pink frames for Irlens Dyslexia, everything is pink including the dance uniform. She is so black and white I am not sure how pink fits in :). early on and still she thinks she is hot when cold and cold when hot she will argue black and blue she is cold in summer and wear winter clothes or in winter she will wear sleeveless shirts and say she is hot I feel unsure where to go from here. She herself feels different to everyone else and doesn’t understand why………….this is just the tip of things she does that make me wonder and the constant yelling and tantrums that are associated with all this.

    • Kim, she sounds a lot like my daughter except for the dancing, my daughter always struggled with that. She was walking around 10.5 months and never really crawled properly, her legs would go one way and her arms another so she just went stuff it and started walking hehe

      I don’t know where you are but I would look at places that do private autism assessments, I researched ones until I found one that knew what PDA is. My daughters dual assessment is due at the start of January and in the meantime has a provisional diagnosis of ASD by one of the psychologists there, she is also starting treatment with a psychologist and also OT for her sensory issues. When we went to see him, at the end of the appointment he went to get me the link for this article so I told him I had already seen it 🙂

      Anyway, if you’re in Australia once you find a suitable place and make an appointment you could ask your paediatrician for a mental health care plan to help you with the costs or see a gp and get one from them, it won’t help much with the costs but every little bit counts. Go get her assessed, good luck 🙂

  65. I happened upon your article and cannot believe how accurately the characteristics describe my 7yr old daughter. All along I have known something is different about my daughter and have been told by the doctor that it is a discipline problem and been referred to parenting workshops and counselling. Do you have any tips on how to approach our physician again and request assessment/diagnosis for my dear girl?

    • Amy, I had the same problem. My daughter was originally diagnosed with a language disorder during kindy through the public system then left to fend for herself at school which then bought out all of the anxiety and behavioural issues. I took her to a very expensive Dr to assess if there was anything behind her anxiety and when none of her vitamin treatments worked and just made her worse I was told she needs more vitamins and discipline and then she preceded to lecture me on ways to discipline a child (as if I didn’t already know!). Fancy treating anxiety with discipline, makes no sense!
      Anyway, after having a hiatus form Doctors for a while after that experience I decided to save up to get her assessed for Autism and arrange treatment to help her deal with her struggles. I researched various Autism services in my state then booked her in. I then took her to a gp we had never seen before and asked him for a mental health care plan so I can get her treated and he did it no problem. You don’t get much discount for example her dual assessment is going to cost $1150 and the rebate I think is somewhere around $150. Apparently if you get the plan from a paediatrician the rebate is higher but I figured the cost of the consult would probably negate that anyway.
      My daughter is 10 now but if I could go back in time I would’ve done this back when I first realised and pulled her out of school, I wasted a lot of time on that Dr which just caused more anxiety.

      • Hi Sherrie, thanks for your reply! It’s a comfort to know we’re not alone. My daughter has more of the sensory symptoms, very sensitive to stimuli in her environment and has difficulty with attention as well as social difficulties. As a result of poor coping with this she becomes very anxious, depressed, and at times her behaviour becomes uncontrollable. I’m pretty sure I am quite similar to my daughter which makes it hard for me to cope as well! I’ve enlisted the support of her teacher today- they have a form at the school they can fill out and we can take that to the physician in support of my concerns. Fortunately we live in Ontario, Canada and much of our health care is publicly funded. I cannot imagine what you’ve been through with having to pay for assessments and medical care in addition to trying to cope and help your daughter at the same time (hugs to you). It’s amazing the hoops we sometimes have to jump through to get the right support for our kids! I’m starting to feel a little more optimistic today:-). Best regards.

      • My daughter has sensory issues aswell, if there’s any rain or wind she locks the house up and I’m not allowed outside, can be very frustrating especially when I have to lock the chickens up or let them get eaten by a fox

        We do have a public system aswell, she first went through that system when she was 4-5 but they missed it and subsequently she couldn’t cope in school. I could try public again but the waiting list is long and there’s no guarantee she will be assessed by people that understand her. So I could wait a year or two for nothing.

        That’s great news you have that support with her school, best of luck!

  66. I really appreciate this resource. As a 25 year old who has spent 8 years in the system being evaluated for numerous conditions from chronic fatigue to depression and eating disorders and finally bpd, being passed around like a very undesirable parcel,I’ve recently come back to re explore my suspicions of aspergers. Ive always accepted (well, not accepted but been unable to change) my dysfunction and known I was different to others but didn’t have a name until recently. The fact that I sometimes alienated people through appearing detached, bored or like I didn’t want to be there, cold, aloof, meant I got better at acting or imitating. But I can’t bear to spend more than an hour at most at parties because the effort to maintain pretence at normality is exhausting. I had a total meltdown at university living in a “dorm” with 10 girls 24/7.
    The signs are all over my clinical reports “flat affect” “little eye contact” “monotonous slow tone”, descriptions of my inability to identify or express emotions, and my school reports “knows the answer but never volunteers it or speaks in class”. I feel that if I were male it would have been suspected because the majority of people have heard of it but assume it’s a boy thing.
    I think bpd is often misdiagnosed in girls. I can see similarity since they both involve emotional and social problems and eventually, a meltdown. In my case I couldn’t complete the lengthy p.d assessment process successfully and was rendered “invalid” due to inability to adequately respond, and a tendency to be pedantic and point out flaws in the assessment. Rather than link this to other notable characteristics I have and wonder if maybe I intellectualise on a pathological level, it was assumed by my cmht that I deliberately sabotaged the entire process. I wish I had the social competence to do that. But given the stigma attached to bpd, if that’s suspected I might never be taken seriously enough to get the right help. My eating disorder service are already giving up. I can’t help but wish I’d been assessed by the educational psychologist (I kept missing school and but my mum didn’t want their involvement). I could have been identified as different sooner. It was all there.

    • Hey Robyn—

      We’re about the same age (I’m turning 28 soon), and I have the same story as you. I wish they’d been able to diagnose AS in girls back when we were kids, that would have explained so much.

      It’s pretty mind blowing.

  67. Hi, my name is Andrea Yates, I have a 11 year old daughter who is half way through being assessed for ASD,my daughter may have SPD as well. This has taken nearly 8 years for the doctors to notice that there was a problem. My daughter is becoming worse, I have been told that by the school’s SEN. I have been on most of the courses to see if I could her my daughter. , I have noticed that compared to other children, my daughter stands out. She cry’s a lot, wants to run out of school has run out of school and class. Refuses to leave the house to go to school. Wets herself, bites her nails, loves to read, listens to music extremely high, when being outside my daughter covers her ears. My daughter learns better at home than school.

  68. Hi, my daughter Eleanor is currently being assessed for an ASD, but we are not hopeful she will get a diagnosis. Her behaviour has always been at odds with her friends. She is very quiet and at times withdrawn, she has facial ticks and other mild but noticeable soothing habits. At home she can be quite violent towards her younger brother and has regular meltdowns if frustrated. They never see this at school. Eleanor is of above average intelligence and loves to read, she also enjoys participating in individual sports such as running and gym, team sports she can find a little confusing. She is desperate for friendship and to be part of the group and attending a state boarding school has enabled her to do this, she is very compliant and follows the crowd so most people are happy to have her around. When at home at the weekends or during the holidays she never speaks or meets up with any of her friends. We were asked to fill out the CAST Autism Test which we felt did not reflect the symptoms or difficulties my daughter has. She has sensitivity issues, personal grooming problems, (why would I bother with that) and has always had toileting issues. She is also unsure of how to give or to receive comfort. I too had problems when growing up and when things came to a head at the age of sixteen I was referred to children services in the early 1990’s. It was a farce I was diagnosed with a schizophrenia and put on strong drugs. this was due to the fact I used to play different parts and adopt accents because I loathed the person I was. I have never been formally diagnosed with an ASD, and my GP finds it difficult to believe that I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when a teenager although it still appears on correspondence I receive from the hospital for unrelated medical appointments. I am really worried that Eleanor will suffer, as I did if her condition isn’t taken seriously or is simply swept under the carpet because she seems to be doing ok. We are not sure where we go from here. Anything would help.

  69. My 8 year old granddaughter is all the above , my daughter has terrible problems getting her into her school.
    She complains her clothes hurt. Cannot cope with more than one friend. Going to party’s is a real stressfull time she wants to go then can’t manage . She has no social Embarrasment hates any change of routine will run out of situations . I could go on and on. We are in the progress of waiting for an occupational therapist to see if there is a diagnosis, therefore maybe the school will be more understanding.

  70. Sounds like my 17 year old daughter when she was young. She knew how to read before she even started pre k and learned the ABC song from what toys would play in the store. Musical talent and can even dance, but her obsession is literature and all areas of science. She began reading Shakespeare at a very young age and excessively paces while listening to orchestral music to create storylines in her head. I used to buy her puzzles and she would spend the entire day figuring them out. Her favorite was of the solar system which sparked astronomical fascination to this very day, and she’d piece that puzzle then name all the planets in order to teach herself.
    Now she is a whiz and earned a scholarship from her teachers for her advanced literature. She can spell any word you can think of from the top of her head without knowing what it means. She just somehow knows how to spell it properly, it is amazing.
    She was never diagnosed with Asperger’s, but this described her to the T. My 5 year old son just got diagnosed with mild Autism so I was opened to a disorder I never knew before. It was because of him that I noticed why my daughter was also so eccentric in behavior.
    She’s at that time in her life when she is trying to discover herself and has been consistently saying there is something wrong with her because she still has an inability to fit in with her peers. Skipping senior year of high school and started college, she is afraid of how she will appear and already has pretty severe social anxiety.
    Now she sees a psychologist, who after 4 months cant come up with a diagnosis for her because she is so complicated. I am completely convinced my daughter is a high functioning autistic and I have told her. She gets upset when she hears it.
    This post had me convinced, I think I will go get her tested for it.

  71. My daughter feels she is on the spectrum and reading this it rings quite true, as i already have an autistic son which is her twin. But i dont want to go too specialists and start saying this as i might be classed as one of those parents!

  72. The above describes my childhood in a nutshell! Always the odd one out. I haven’t had a formal diagnosis only self diagnosis however it feels good to finally understand myself and why I do the things I do.

  73. Hi Tania,
    I came across this article is a desperate search to try to get some help for my daughter. I have long since she may have Aspergers (she at least has a lot of traits), but she is extremely good at masking her difficulties at school & other formal environments, such as with her Peadiatrician & psychologist. I feel she has at least 30 of the 40 traits you have mentioned here. Would you consider this to be something to as her medical team to look into further?? One of Tony Attwoods articles on girls with Aspergers also describes her perfectly as well.

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  76. Interesting. I am in my 50s, and I have suffered a lot over the years. I have 35 out of 40 of the traits that you listed. I also have OCD, anxiety and depression which has bothered me most of my life. I control it by doing fewer stressful things, which is okay since my husband makes enough money that my part time work habits do not hurt us financially. I hide most of my emotions and I don’t think anyone (even close family members) would realize how anxious and introverted I am, or how I feel internally. My mom is schizophrenic, nephew is autism spectrum, cousin is bipolar, and most of us have IQs that are extremely high, so we do pretty well on the outside. I pick the tags out of my clothing with a needle so that I can pull every thread out. I have been rejected because I have a hard time “hugging” friends. I have always identified as a male brain, though I am hetero and a mom. I feel exhausted all the time, mostly because I am always compensating for my social difficulties–I have to interact with people. I have recently begun to wonder if I was on the spectrum, so I searched for information to see if females experienced this differently. I was particularly struck by the “intuition” bit. I do know things and I cannot explain it. It is always right, though. My personality test was INTJ with 100% expressed intuition.
    Anyway, I am interested in ways that adults with spectrum issues might improve their social abilities and reduce their anxiety and sensitivity. That would really help me a lot. Do you have any advice columns to for adults?

  77. Hi , our 16 year old daughter has been off school for 4 years. Highly avoidant, perfectionist/ocd from early age, very private, complains of sensory overload. Difficulties with own emotions, will cry if thwarted as likes control but cannot understand own emotions and often detached or appears closed down. Difficulty sleep, very sensitive to temperature, noise, very daddy about food, will binge and crash with dieting. Frighteningly honest and good logic but offends others , mood swings, hyper mobility, literal, strong sense of justice, extreme views on social issues, can be bossy, difficulty with changes to routines, insistence of having shower when house is quietest, lots of tummy and headaches obsession with reading, loves singing, tends to focus intensely on one interest and does not like being interrupted, chooses to be by self. This is sounding like some of your descriptions. We are looking for a specialist in south east uk, any advice or suggestions gratefully received. We’ve been so let down by other services because of dufficulties with engaging. Thanks for reading

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  80. I was doing research for my debut novel and I’m sitting here starring at the screen because every single one of those traits was me as a child/me as an adult.
    My son has Aspergers and I realize now that he gets it from me.
    I wish I had known this as a child growing up, it would’ve made things so much easier for me, and helped me understand why I felt different to everyone around me

  81. You have absolutely hit the nail on the head with my 5 year old daughter. It’s like this has been written about her. Looking at finding some strategies to help her and us deal with some of her traits that she struggles with.

  82. Hi, my name is Emma . A mother of 3, eldest girl aged 6, has spina bifida , vp shunt, hydrocephalus . And I’ve believed for years now, possibly autism. I’ve been reading about Aspergers and now with what I’ve learnt from you I’m confident she has Aspergers .
    Thank you.

    P.s . What a resume !

  83. So many of the traits you list are indicative of intellectual giftedness in a young child. How do you determine whether a child is Aspergers, Gifted, or both?

    • Great question and thank, you for asking. I have worked and currently work with this sub-population. There are many things to look at in distinguishing these children, but a gifted child with Aspergers would be considered a “Twice-exceptional” (2e) child.

      As for the Giftedness, an individual needs an IQ of over 130 (Mensa) AND 1 or more areas of talent or ability or gift.

      Not all individuals with Aspergers are “Gifted” in this “definition, and I know of some with lower IQ and what are known as “savant” skills.

      Now we know that certain types of IQ tests are not the best at identifying IQ in individuals with HFA or Aspergers, but there is a spikey profile and often a significant split(s) and spikey subtests are associated with individuals on the Spectrum.

      Giftedness or Aspergers differ in many domain too numerous for this reply, however this table may help:

      Best Wishes, Tania

  84. Pingback: About that ‘security blanket’ ~ a shout-out to the #ActuallyAutistic bloggers… (100th post) – the silent wave

  85. Pingback: Looking in the mirror ~ Part A1: How I measure up against Tania Marshall’s “Asperger’s in young girls / preschool” list, post #1 – the silent wave

  86. Pingback: Looking in the mirror ~ Part A2: How I measure up against Tania Marshall’s “Asperger’s in young girls / preschool” list, post #2 – the silent wave

  87. Pingback: Looking in the mirror ~ Part A3: How I measure up against Tania Marshall’s “Asperger’s in young girls / preschool” list, post #3 – the silent wave

  88. When reading your list the regressed babyish language appearing when stressed, is absolutely presenting in my daughter and we’ve been working on that for a year including OT for her SPD issues. She also has started picking her lips. I’ve suspected autism since she was a baby when her gross and fine motor skills were delayed. To this day she still has balance issues. It’s been difficult to get a diagnosis because her language is so well developed and she plays pretend all the time. Doctors never worry and just say that its anxiety or normal kid stuff. Thank you for doing the research and writing your books!! Because I found your site/research, I now have solid proof to show drs, family etc that we need to take my daughter for an evaluation for Aspergers asap.

  89. Is speaking extremely early something that could be connected? I started talking around nine months. Not just words, but small, broken sentences. I got taken to the doctor for it. I believe it is actually still in a record somewhere.

  90. I will be seeing a Paediatrcian for my 5 year old daughter and your article is exactly what I will be using. After reading it several times my daughter is all of these. I have Aspergers as well which is a great asset as I can teach her all the coping mechanisisms. It was a great relief reading your article to know that I am not a bad parent as in my child acts in these ways because she has aspergers not because of my failure to parent correctly which is often what other adults have commented to me. Am very sure I have enough evidence to get her a diagnoses in Feb 2017 because of your article and get her the early intervention she needs. I was diagnosed in 1999 when I was 20. So getting diagnosed at 5 hopefully means she wont suffer the anxiety and depression I had. No guarantee I know but intervention has been shown to be very successful.

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  92. Since my mother is so socially awkward and unadapted to her gender role, I ended up thinking she might have some form of autism. Instead, I read this list and realise this is the exact description of me as a kid!!! I could never sleep until 2/3 am even if I went to bed at 10, I always worried about pets a lot, I had trouble relating with girls, I only spoke at age 2 but my mom says my speech was incredibly pedantic when I finally started, I read, wrote and drew THOUSANDS of comics of my cat’s life stories, I was always the teacher’s pet, I learned English on my own at age 4 and my mom couldn’t believe me until I translated her the whole lyrics of Mambo n.5 withouth any foreign language education, etc etc etc
    And I do struggle with alone time nowadays, but I didn’t feel that way as a kid.

  93. Hi Tania,
    I’m hoping this is still an active blog that you check and reply to? I am a desperate mother in need of some guidance and answers and would love to look in to possible skyping with you to evaluate my daughter’s needs. She is 7 now and my husband and myself are at a complete loss. We first noticed strange behaviors when she was 2. She likes to hoard objects (i.e. trash, toys, whatever appeals to her) and tantrums began. We assumed she would outgrow these behaviors and weren’t too concerned. She has always been very awkward in social settings/shy and not quite sure how to interact with peers. When she was barely 3 we had her little brother and that’s when things evolved much quicker. The aggression became much worse. The bossiness, social hierarchy, bossing mom and brother around. Always being the teachers pet. She is perfect at school and makes straight A’s but at home her behavior is out of control. She is aggressive and violent. Never wants to go to school or get dressed (brush teeth or hair), very picky eater and hates the way a lot of fabrics and tags in her clothes feel. She is very artistic (always drawing & very good at it) She doesn’t really know how to play with toys appropriately but just lines them up or categorizes them. She really has no friends and does not know how to react to peer or adults correctly. Her facial expressions seem to not connect. She usually laughs when she is in trouble or done wrong or smiles. Her emotions are a roller coaster. We have sought help locally numerous amounts of time including a sleep study and every physician comes back saying something different. Either she is depressed or she needs her tonsils out (due to not sleeping), or she needs behavioral therapy. My husband and I feel like we are banging our heads against brick walls. We just want to find some type of an answer so we can start to look toward our daughter’s future to help her feel happy. Any insight or an evaluation would be appreciated. Please let me know what I need to do or if that might be possible. Thanks so much

  94. Thank you! I’ve been at a loss with my now 10 year old daughter since she was little. I’ve always thought she has autism, as I see her in my nephew who has been diagnosed, but nobody else seems to think so. I feel like girls are just more social and better at mirroring and so it’s just not seen! Teachers always say she’s just a little different, or that they don’t understand her. Doctors just say she’s the third of four kids and she’s seeking her place, or she doesn’t know how to do things because she had two older sisters. But that’s NOT IT. I have 3 other kids. She is different!

    We’ve purchased her 4 bikes. She’s never been able to pedal one of them. My husband describes her as a wet noodle when trying to teach her. She can’t catch a ball. She has no friends. She has stolen and lied and she’s super strange about personal hygene. She smiles when she’s fighting with her parents or her siblings acting like she’s very angry but it all seems fake. In school she will just pick up a book and read in the middle of a math lesson. She reads ALL THE TIME but they say her comprehension is that of a 2nd grader and she’s a 4th grader. But she reads 4th grade level books and words fluently without a problem.

    Her smiles seem fake. She’s been taught by me to look people in the eye and smile when people smile at her, but it seems so forced to me despite it being habit now. When I see her around other kids I see that she copies them. She wants to fit in but she doesn’t because nothing she says or does seems genuine it’s just a regurgitation of things she’s heard or seen other kids do or her two older sisters or she says the write thing but at inappropriate times or just randomly.

    She used to grunt. Didn’t talk until later, age 3. Her grandparents were concerned but the doctor said it was because her sisters just talked for her and she probably wasn’t talked to very much at daycare.

    So weirdly observant. She notices EVERYTHING. She figured out two baggers at the grocery store were brothers and one of them confirmed it. I was amazed! She goes with me to the store maybe once a month. She said they talk the same and have the same noses.

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her really “play”. She likes to make things and play board games and put puzzles together and color. She likes her barbies and dolls but she doesn’t really DO anything with them. She gets them dressed, she arranges the furniture in the doll house.

    She’s never really considered my husband or I her boss. She often does what we tell her to, but not because she thinks we have the right to tell her to. This comes up so often when it comes to bathing, brushing teeth, combing hair. “I can do what I want MOM” “Showering is stupid MOM.” She likes to say it in a biting way, finishing every sentence with MOM. But then she’ll smile. She’s ENJOYING the argument that goes on for HOURS. She’ll just happily sing and hum when put in a time out or while being punished in some way. AS HORRIBLE as it is, she’s either autistic or…. like my husband says sometimes… that’s Michael Meyers stuff right there.

    I can’t get any help. When I say autism to anyone they respond like I’m nuts. It actually was better from about ages 6-9 but with the onset of pre-puberty it’s like we are back to where she was when I pulled her out of kindergarten because she was being constantly isolated by the teacher and in trouble all the time. (She wasn’t allowed to play at recess, had to stand by the wall and watch the other kids, had to sit at her own table at lunch. Her desk was placed a long ways away from other children) None of this helped her social standing! When I took it up with the teacher and principal the teacher said she wouldn’t work either. She has to carefully line up her crayons and pencils and markers before she would even begin to work. “In her own world.”

    I finally have DEMANDED an IEP screening but while they are in the middle of the screening I’m hearing, “Such a lovely friendly girl.” And she comes home and says, “She said I got more of them right than anyone she’d ever tested before.” Meanwhile she fails most of her papers. But I’m afraid that they are going to come back and say she’s fine!

    She’s not fine! I don’t know what to do with her!

    THIS….. WITH THIS maybe people will listen to me. She has at least half of these!!


  95. I’ve just read this and 90 percent is so my 12 Year old daughter and she has 2 younger brothers with autism. However we are in the UK and they just do not recognise the differences in how girls and boys present. I am basically being told it’s just behavioural go away. She really struggles in a lot of areas but she is very good at blending in socially so it doesn’t get noticed.

  96. Hi-

    My daughter is 9 years old, going through this list she has so many of these traits. I have known since she was very little that she was very OCD we just got told she has OCD and Anxiety. She also is ADD and we just went yesterday to put the 504 plan into place and found out she is a grade level behind in Math and English. Does anyone know how to go about getting her diagnosed? It is an every day battle with her and all I want to do is make life so much easier and happier for her.

  97. My daughter age 8 was finally officially diagnosed today, thanks to articles like this which made me think, thanks for all you do.

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  99. This describes my 17.5 yr old daughter when she was a preschooler!!! Currently, she is in total denial; said the online quiz I sent her was borderline insulting. I’m wondering why bother to pursue a diagnosis…that she (and my husband) will resist.
    For me, all the pieces are falling into place; I’m thrilled! Parenting her has been so hard! But now what to do. I need to figure out how to get her to eat; sensory sensitivity issue? Then figure out how to communicate coping skills to her, and help her recognize feelings (both hers and others’). Because she won’t do it on her own and she’s poised to move out the day she turns 18. We don’t want her moving back in; we want our little bird to fly and succeed!

  100. This describes my grand daughter. She is living with us and we wish to give her the best grand parenting we can. Not to indulge her and not punish her when it’s her condition but to know the difference. She is 13 which is an awkward age anyway, but to have aspergers as well is pretty tough. Please could you give me advice when there is a meltdown, and just general advice please. Many thanks.

  101. Thank you so much for writing this! It took me over 2 years to convince our doctors and psychologists that my daughter has autism. The diagnostic tools were clearly created around boys I had seen, and I kept running into parents of girls that had been quickly dismissed from their screenings because the greeted someone appropriately or made great eye contact. It was beyond frustrating! I made a list (5 typed pages front and back) of all of her behaviors that concerned me. I also took pictures and videos of her behaviors, because she would always perform perfectly during evaluations (except for how nervous she was in the beginning). We finally got a diagnosis at age 5. This article will help so many parents of AsperGirls explain to evaluators what they experience! Thank you again!

  102. Thank you so very much for posting this. This is my daughter. I’m a former therapist but I needed a pediatrician’s referral for treatment in our area. I told her pediatrician I suspected autism spectrum disorder and he asked her to look him in the eyes, she did (I’ve trained her to do so when asked) and he asked her for a hug (she was terrified so she did as was told them collapsed in fear into her father’s arms to cry for the next hour) but he decided she could have ASD because she was affectionate and gave eye contact. We will be switching pediatrician’s and bringing this list with us with the next one.

  103. I did order your book online over 2 years ago as an electronic copy however something went wrong with the download and I never received it. I would really like the book that I paid for Please help Desperate Mother

  104. I did order your book online over 2 years ago as an electronic copy however something went wrong with the download and I never received it. I would really like the book that I paid for Please help Desperate Mother

  105. I am 47 and after reading this realise that in the past I had displayed a majority of these issues. I always wondered what was wrong with me and why I was differently to everyone else. This made me a target of bullying for my entire school life and this has effected me in long into adulthood

  106. This sounds like my 4 year old. She’s diagnosed with spd and odd. Is there specific help for kiddos this age?

  107. My granddaughter has MANY of the observable traits mentioned for birth to preschool. She is 3. We cannot get anyone to evaluate her outside the box. Her 5 yr old brother was diagnosed ADD and her 13yr old brother would be as well as the mother if they went through the testing. Our granddaughter was 2 points from meeting the DSM criteria in the United States and I am frustrated! This article helped me to know I need to keep pushing so she doesn’t get left behind

  108. This blows my mind. I feel like I am reading a list describing my 8 year old daughter. I always knew something was different from around age 2. I hoped she would outgrow it but it only became more intense. She was originially diagnosed with dmdd and GAD but after a recent hospitalization both the therapist at the hospital and her new psych doc both feel she is on the spectrum. I am still trying to get her evaluated. I feel like I am finally getting answers. This list is wonderful though- I am definitely saving! Thank you 🙂

  109. My youngest seems to meet most of the criteria. She had already been evaluated using ADOS and ADI when she was 5 and we were given a negative result for autism, yet she is ten now and having so many social issues as well as learning issues. She sits and draws in class, doesn’t do her homework, hardly has any friends and the ones she is with complain that she is suffocating them and never lets them play what they want. She isn’t good with sports, is hyper-sensitive, anxious, childish, yet different and unique as her teacher described her… It all sounds like Asperger’s… but she was given a negative result… I feel as if the criteria she was tested by doesn’t fit females. I was also told by friends that I seem to want her to be autistic… which is the last thing I want, but she needs help and nobody knows what the cause of her problems are. Sigh. Thanks for writing this.

  110. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or punch an out of date psychiatrist when I read through this list. That was an attempt at humor. Like many other parents here I find this work vital. We’ve waded through so many diagnoses from psychiatrists and others following classic American industrial medication models and after all of this I read the piece above and find one of my children perfectly described as if this was written specifically about her. Another daughter has struggled with sensory issues, a bipolar diagnosis, etc. We finally heard about your site from Maureen Bennie yesterday after discovering the concept of Autism Shutdown and Autism Burnout. I’ve been trying for a year to get someone to understand that bipolar type 2 was not quite the right fit, as what she has is a cycling level of anxiety with a shutdown every 48 to 60 days that takes about three weeks to come back out of. I’m trying to read about Autistic Catatonia right now and can’t tell if it overlaps with shutdowns precisely. Any comments or links to resources would be very welcome. The shutdowns are very debilitating.

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  116. Obviously it’s a spectrum so can a boy exhibit a lot of the girl traits? Because my son doesn’t have ADHD or just ADHD, It’s more than that. They say no but they are wrong! Life is hell!

    I think I’m Aspergers and maybe his dad too! But can a boy be a bit more like a girl if he has say for example inherited excelling language skills and has a sometimes extroverted Aspergers parent like myself and enjoys drama and music and acting?

    Then say he isn’t Aspergers or ASD but that he needs emotional regulation training and has had significant intervention in prep and grade one at school for socialising going to a special group at lunch to learn how to interact!
    But nah no ASD! So frustrated…

    He only eats like 5 foods, unless you count junk food. He won’t wear certain clothes and his socks have to be perfectly fitted (like his father) or he won’t put his shoes on. He can remember the past but nothing in the short term. Omg the list goes on…. but he’s like me and is a chameleon. They’ve only ever interviewed him one on one and he loves talking to adults…. he’ll fool you. It’s his peers he has had significant issues with and suffered for being bullied. I need help…. all three triggering each other constantly is what it feels like.

  117. ” they tend to overreact, misinterpret others intentions and/or dramatically burn bridges and blame others for their own circumstances adn choices.”

    you just described me – diagnosed 3 years ago at age 35. I have done some CBT, and further counselling but I think I need more. I dont have a personality disorder but I was also diagnosed with adhd at the same time by two seperate specialists. This is a very difficult behaviour to aknowledge about yourself. I’m painfully aware of this behaviour, and also grew up in abusive home, had an abusive best friend for a further 15 years, had no idea of boundaries. I have an OT now, that helps a lot with sensory stuff. What kind of therapy/intervention is suitable for an adult. Could you possibly send me in the right direction with a link or book. Thank you, that list was shockingly precise, stuff I never thought about!

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  119. I would like further advice about the diagnosis process. I have 12 year old twin girls and I have always felt that they are both on the spectrum. I have read your article and I would say that they both score high for the symptoms.

  120. As a mother of a daughter with AS and clinician in the field of autism, I appreciate this piece and find it to be accurate in my daughter’s life and in many of the female clients I see who would be deemed “Asperger’s” over the new diagnosis ASD. This describes her almost to a T in pre-school the perfect pitch and perfect ability to hear and stay on beat when drumming things or tapping things to music.

  121. I’ve been trying to figure out what is going on with my daughter and I have suspected for at least the last seven or eight years that she was aspergers or on the spectrum. The struggles escalated when entering middle school and by high school we had her tested and of course they said nothing about her being on the spectrum. Years of therapy and seeing psychiatrists and still nobody ever suggested that she might have aspergers. When I read your article I know for sure now that this is what is going on for my daughter and wish so much that I knew earlier, as I would have gotten her the help that she needed. She has struggled so much and is now 23 years old.
    She was tested about four months ago and had a Neuro psych done again At my prompting, but once again the doctors in a very prominent Boston hospital said she does not test for being on the spectrum. So frustrating. Would love to get some advice on how to help her now that she is a 23 old young adult. Thank you

  122. I started speaking very early, taught myself to read, have a flair for language and devoured books, still get car sick easily and eat a GF diet…all the points on the list resonate and, at the age of 51, I still feel like an ‘outsider’. The thing that challenges me most about the article and some of your responses to commenters, Tania, is all the spelling mistakes!!! Guess I’m an Aspien woman….

  123. Pingback: My Diagnosis Story – Autistic Empath

  124. Are 15 or 16 of these enough to be concerned about? My five-year-old daughter overlaps with this, but not in an extreme way. I have wondered if there’s something undiagnosed, but she’s also very much like myself and my sister when we were young, and I’m quite confident that neither of us is on the spectrum. She’s quite shy, struggles with transitions, clings to me, and is sensitive to noise and can get overwhelmed. She can have intense meltdowns as a result of those things. She didn’t speak early though and hasn’t read early. She understands emotions well makes normal and frequent eye contact, doesn’t have any intense interests, is interested in normal toys for her age, typical girly things without any extremes, plays pretend well, her speech sounds appropriate for a child her age…

    It’s also difficult because Covid has exacerbated the situation, so I feel her clinginess and anxiety and shyness have gotten worse as we’ve been isolated in the last six months or so. She struggled a bit starting kindergarten last year, but settled in and made two or three friends by the time Covid hit, and was separating from me well.

    As a kid I cried when my mom dropped me off at school until the end of first grade. My sister barely spoke to my grandparents when she was little, even though we saw them on a regular basis. We were both painfully shy. We both also struggled with anxiety to some degree as kids. But I do have some training and autism and Asperger’s and I definitely don’t think that either of us would be considered Aspie.


  125. This a such a comprehensive piece and pretty much sums up my childhood, my separation anxiety was so extreme my family used to record it and play it back to me, that in itself was traumatic, I was still scared of the dark at 25 years old. I became a therapist and worked with a lot of people with Aspergers, I didn’t see what their issues were because to me they were the most normal, I felt the norms were the ones with issues beyond my comprehension at times. We all have our place and it’s great to see more being written, especially for girls, I am sure this will help many. It’s okay to be different and it’s lovely to see these traits are actually common and nothing to be afraid of. I like my naivety it’s good to trust that things are good, I always managed to steer away from trouble, even if it was by the skin of my teeth at times, I’m sure most thought it was lies and someone couldn’t be quite so naive and speak so well. It’s a great trait to have if you have careful and mindful guardians.

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