On the bright end of the Spectrum and the female Autism crisis

On the Bright end of the Autism Spectrum and the female Autism Crisis: How and Why Do Bright Autistic Females fly under Professional Radar?

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Female Autism is a new and complex area of research with information in this area of Autism growing exponentially. Both empirical studies and qualitative differences are starting to show show that females ‘meet the diagnostic criteria’ in different ways from males. This then leads to females being misdiagnosed, mistreated and/or medicated. In 2015 alone, there have been over 15 gender studies published regarding the differences between males and females. While research is starting to catch up with clinical and anecdotal research, the time it will take for this to trickle down to professionals and those at the ground level may take many years, with females continuing to be under diagnosed and/or misdiagnosed. Many girls and women exist today without a diagnosis. She may have even been assessed by a professional working in the area, but was told she did not meet the “criteria”. If a female can get an accurate diagnosis, she is then often left without intervention and/or support. This is what I call the ‘Female Autism Crisis’.

The ‘Female Autism Crisis’

There is a lack of awareness, understanding and education regarding the female profile or ‘phenotype’, a range of often subtler characteristics, strengths and challenges that do not fit the male profile nor does a female with a diagnosis of Autism feel she fits that profile Common characteristics have been outlined in my initial blogs which were then turned into my book series (bestsellers I Am Aspiengirl and I am AspienWoman).

There is a need for research on:

the differences between neurotypical girls and Autistic girls

camouflaging of autistic symptoms and impairments, adaptation, learning, masking or compensation abilities

diagnostic and classification challenges

the factors that increase or decrease the risk of a female being misdiagnosed or completely missed; the consequences associated with this

information as to how culture, social factors, gender and/or familial upbringing play a part in female Autism

Why do Autistic females fly under the professional radar and why will this continue to occur for some time?

  1. Autism was and still is presumed by many people, professionals included, to be a “male” condition. Some professionals acknowledge that females have Autism and may be unaware that males and females often present very differently.

2. Adherence to a very strict DSM5 criteria which has a gender bias. Whilst DSM 5 has hinted at sex differences in Autism, it does not acknowledge brighter individuals. It also does not elaborate much on what these actual differences are or whether there is a female profile or phenotype.

DSM-5 may better serve girls with autism

Unfortunately, some girls are now being diagnosed with the DSM5 Social Communication Disorder (SCD)

3. A female phenotype is emerging that suggests an inherent gender bias. The Sfari webinar entitled The Female Autism Conundrum  is a great place to start to understand this bias

The female autism conundrum

4. Professional ‘bias’

The child’s behaviors are more a function of the families “alternative” lifestyle

The child does not present with significant enough behaviors, appearing to be “normal” externally

The child does not present with the “male” stereotype or “female” stereotype of what Autism should look like

The childs anxiety, eating issues or behaviors are the focus and the diagnosis is missed

Strict adherence to the diagnostic criteria

5.The emerging female phenotype or profile

A steady collation of anecdotal, clinical and autobiographical reports and current research discuss different presentations, phenotypes or a “female profile” and when assessed with “male-biased” or male-centric tools, many females slip through the cracks. Females on the Autism Spectrum can and do hold eye contact and make superficial conversation. If fact, they can hold superficial conversation for an entire session with a professional!

The girl does not have stereotypical repetitive behaviors

1. There is a lack of assessment tools created for females across the lifespan. The ADOS often shows elevated traits, but not enough to meet the criteria for a diagnosis. Females are often missed because they do not meet the cut-off score, although there are often clues in the ADOS results. Females can have the ability to discuss many social-emotional areas by responding cognitively well. However, many parents, school officials, and/or professionals have found that those social-emotional areas are not often displayed or used adequately, and often then, see the individual using other strategies to cope. It appears that the characteristics and traits as captured by “gold standard” assessment tools may be male-biased due to the gender-centric items that contribute to the scoring. A further comprehensive assessment and/or a second opinion then reveals the individual does meet criteria for Autism or Asperger Syndrome.

2. Females often can and do engage in superficial conversation, make good eye contact and conversation, for the first initial session or hour. This can confuse professionals who are used to seeing particular social clues more immediately and who may think that a female is just “too social”.

3. A lack of understanding regarding coping strategies, compensatory strategies, masking behaviors and the more subtle presentations. Female body language can be expressed quite differently as they learn to act, pretend, mask and compensate for their social difficulties.

4. A lack of trained professionals working in the area of female autism

5. Confusion as to the diagnostic overshadowing, for example, whereby a female may be diagnosed may be told she is “shy” rather than “social anxiety”, may be diagnosed with an “eating disorder” rather than Autism.

6. A lack of understanding how females with Autism present across the lifespan

7. A lack of both quantitative and qualitative data and research regarding females

8. Co-occurring conditions can make assessment a complex and challenging process for diagnosticians working with adults. Whilst many adults have been or are misdiagnosed with a personality disorder, there are adults with both Autism and a personality disorder or those who have been misdiagnosed with Autism and really have a personality disorder

9. A lack of knowledge about the heterogeneity within the female group and the variance in how it presents. There exist different subgroups in females with Autism and range from a more “male” autism profile-type presentation (maybe diagnosed earlier) to those with many “masking” characteristics, where professionals or family members may not believe the person who is telling them about their diagnosis. The female group as a whole consists of much heterogeneity and thus females can present in sub-types (for example, a tomboy, a fashion princess, a bookworm professor type, the athlete). This further causes confusion for diagnosticians who are not familiar with the range of presentations within female Autism (often diagnosed much later, if at all). There is a tendency for an “obsession” to become the person’s identity.

10. For some young females, the need does not appear to be “obvious”, or the “issues” are misinterpreted, UNTIL the teenage years. Presenting concerns may be interpreted as another disorder or generalized. For example, “she’s just got some social issues”, “she”ll grow out of it”, “she is just shy”. Some females present with an eating disorder and Autism is never considered.

11. Some common misconceptions or myths about female Autism can contribute to this issue: “She can make friends, make eye contact and socialize, so she can’t have Autism” “She is too sensitive, so she can’t have Autism” “She holds down a full-time job, so she can’t have Autism” “She has too much empathy so she can’t have Autism”.

12. Females tend to exhibit better expressive behaviors (reciprocal conversation, sharing interests, integrating verbal/nonverbal behavior, imagination, adjusting their behavior by situation) despite similar social understanding difficulties as males), present with different manifestations of friendship difficulties (better initiation but problematic maintenance, overlooked rather than rejected by peers, better self-perceived and parent-reported friendship), and different types of restricted interests and less repetitive use of objects.

13. Some common female differences include: less repetitive behaviors, a greater awareness of the pressure and desire for social interaction, a passive personality, often perceived as “shy”, a “loner”, a tendency to imitate others (copy, mimic, or mask) in social settings, a tendency for social exhaustion (or as I like to call it a “social hangover”), a tendency to “camouflage” their difficulties by masking and/or developing strategies to compensate for the challenges and difficulties they are facing, a tendency to have 1 or few close friendships, a tendency to be “mothered” in a peer group in primary school, BUT often bullied in secondary/high school.

14. There appear to be better linguistic abilities, more imagination (fantasizing and spending time involved in fiction and pretend play and when observed closely the play can be observed to have a lack of reciprocity, to be scripted and/or controlling.

15. Less restricted interests/activities tend to be common involving people and/or animals rather than objects/things (e.g., animals, stationary, soap operas, celebrities, pop music, fashion, horses, pets, and books/literature), which may be seen as less recognized as related to autism. She may be viewed pr perceived as just a “moody bookworm”.

16. A lack of understanding sensory sensitivities and how they impact the ability to function from day to day. An individual may not be able to explain what they are experiencing. In particular, professionals may be more likely to view an individuals’ comments about how they perceive the world as “psychotic”, rather than sensory processing disorder or sensory sensitivities.

17. Diagnostic confusion and not asking the right questions or clarifying what the client has said, can lead to misdiagnosis. Many adult women have multiple labels or diagnoses before they receive the correct diagnosis. As mentioned previously, a lack of understanding as to how sensory sensitivities affect an individual can lead to misdiagnosis. Having a fantasy world and imaginary friends or animals can lead professionals to suspect prodromal schizophrenia in a girl or adolescent. A girl who has developed routines and rituals around food and calories, nutrition and/or exercise may be diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and the Asperger Syndrome is missed. Borderline Personality Disorder is a common misdiagnosis with females usually not fitting neatly in the diagnostic criteria. Furthur complications include individuals who meet criteria for both Autism and a personality disorder.

Professionals may not understand that many females have the ability to “feel” other people’s feelings and this can be quite overwhelming for them. They may not trust talking about their hyperempathy, hence they will  be misunderstood. Females may not trust other people due to the ‘cognitive dissonance’ between non-verbal body language and what she “feels” off the person. In combination with social and relationship challenges, her behaviors look like Borderline traits or Borderline Personality Disorder.

Until professionals catch up with current research on females, they will continue to be diagnosed and/or misdiagnosed with:

Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety

Eating Disorders

The new DSM5 diagnosis of Social Communication Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Schizophrenia or Schizotypal personality disorder

18. Cultural bias can leads to under-identification. For e.g., some immigrant women have been unable to gain an assessment as their differences in communication and behavior are not seen or viewed as unusual, but more of a ‘cultural’ difference

Even if a girl has subtler difficulties than other children with the disorder, those problems may nevertheless have a tremendous impact on her life.

Girls appear to use their intelligence and their abilities to to learn quickly how to combine non-verbal and verbal behaviors in addition to maintaining a reciprocal conversation and be able to initiate, but not maintain friendships. In combination with less to no and different restricted interests and an inability to communicate their needs, girls appear “less” impaired than they really are, especially in the school environment. Females on the Spectrum present with a “look” to them that suggest they are merely more sensitive, emotional and/or anxious than others.

Autism is particularly challenging to detect in girls, especially bright young girls, because generally there are little to no concerns at school. Typically, the Autistic female is doing everything to hide it, from using her cloaking device (hiding in a group) to blending in with the wall (hiding in the classroom) to chameleonism (adopting the social behaviors of another student or adult), allowing them to be much better socially over Autistic males but not neurotypical females. Their ability to hide their Autism is a superpower, but there is a high cost to pay.

Seen in private practice, the subtleties in bright females are abundant, from subtle clues externally (from a slight grimace in their smile to over-exaggerated body language) to social scripts (only observed if you see the girl a few times) to older children or teens who are questioning their gender (because they have always been unable to relate to their peers). Some females want to become boys, some are happy with their androgyny, some are happy to remain female and some change their gender entirely.

Observing, describing and understanding the unique presentation of autism in girls is the beginning to improve identification rates and create unique resources just for females. Understanding the heterogeneity of this group of females is also very important. In my 2nd book I Am AspienWoman, I discuss the differences and subtypes. Developing diagnostic tools is imperative as are intervention resources specifically for femaleCoverJune2015

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Tania can be reached for fee-for-service impressions assessments (in person or Skype), consultations, problem solving consultations and/or support, interviews and/or presentations/workshops, and/or book translations at tania@aspiengirl.com

Tania divides her time between full-time private practice, research and writing her books series.

To subscribe to the AspienGirl newsletter or to become and affiliate and earn 10% on all books referred, go to http://www.aspiengirl.com

To purchase I Am AspienGirl or I Am AspienWoman or pre-order AspienPowers or I Am AspienBoy, go to http://www.aspiengirl.com

For more information about female Autism or female Asperger Syndrome, go to http://www.taniamarshall.com

Future Books and Webinar Series

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20 Reasons for obtaining an Adult Autism Diagnosis

20 Reasons for obtaining an Adult Autism diagnosis

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is about the relevance of obtaining a formal diagnosis or formalizing a self-diagnosis. My 2nd book, I Am AspienWoman alludes to this very topic through powerful images, experiences, thoughts and feelings of many adult autistic women. There are many valid reasons for obtaining a diagnosis and the majority of women who receive one explain the benefits in the book. I  have included a couple of pages from the book and you can now pre-order I Am AspienWoman, available in eBook, paperback and hardcover, at http://www.aspiengirl.com You will receive $10 off if you order an I Am AspienGirl© and I am AspienWoman Combo. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did writing it!

AspienWomanApril25th2016

20 reasons for a diagnosis

20 reasons for a diagnosis1

back cover

Tania is available for in-person or Skype consultations, assessments or problem-solving sessions. To book appointments or discuss and/or book availability for presentations, conferences, publishing, translation and media interviews or inquiries, please email Tania@aspiengirl.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tania Marshall is a best selling author, a 2015 ASPECT Autism Australia National Recognition Award Nominee (Advancement Category) and a 2015 eLIT Gold Medal Award winner for her first self-published book entitled “I Am AspienGirl© : The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Strengths of Young Females on the Autism Spectrum”, foreword by Dr. Judith Gould.  The sequel to this book entitled “I Am AspienWoman: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Strengths of Adult Females on the Autism Spectrum”, Foreword by Dr. Shana Nichols is available September, 2015. Tania is currently writing the third book in her book series entitled “AspienPowers: The Unique Constellation of Strengths, Talents and Gifts of Females with Autism Spectrum Conditions”. The Spanish version of I am Aspiengirl© , entitled Soy AspienGirl is now available. Tania’s work has been translated and/or cited in numerous publications including Sarah Hendrickxs’ recent release entitled “Women and Girls with an Autism Spectrum Disorder” (2015), foreword by Dr. Judith Gould.

Tania currently works in busy full-time private practice, providing diagnostic assessments, intervention and support to males and females ages 2-76 years of age. Tania is an Australian Psychological Society (APS) Identified Autism Practitioner, a Helping Children with Autism Early Intervention Service Provider (HWCA), a Better Start for Children with a Disability Provider, an approved Medicare provider of psychological services and a trained Secret Agent Society (SAS) Practitioner.

© 2015-2017 All rights reserved Tania Marshall

Announcing I Am AspienWoman: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Gifts of Adults Females on the Autism Spectrum

I Am AspienWoman: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Gifts of Adults Females on the Autism Spectrum

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After “I Am AspienGirl” was released in June 2014, it went to #1 in 3 categories on Amazon. The AspienGirl team was inundated with emails, stories, messages and letters. Many of them were from females themselves or from their family members, their loved ones and professionals. We received pictures, poetry, art, short and long stories. We had people, of all ages, wanting to be a part of the Be Your Own Superhero Project. We received messages from a number of countries wanting to know more about female Autism, offering their translation skills to assist in getting the information made available in other languages and/or wanting to know where to go to start the process of an assessment. Messages came in from parents and professionals saying they were using the book to explain the diagnosis or as a reference/starting point for explaining or discussing certain characteristics. Many of the messages or testimonials coming in positively referred to the format of the book, in particular the use of images and verbatim quotes which combined together showcased particular traits, characteristics or talents.

What we learned was that there is a desperate need all over the world for more trained professionals, more adult female research based on females and comparing females with Autism to their neurotypical peers, more information regarding the internal experiences of a large group of females on the Spectrum, more information about the female sub-types, and a huge need for assessment tools, resources, intervention and support designed specifically for females. Current assessment tools appear not to be suitable or designed to identify particular features of Autism spectrum disorder/condition in females.

This book is written for four types of readers. First, this book was written for the general population (neurotypical people), to explain the internal experiences and the unique characteristics of adult females with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). Second, this book is written for the female who may just be starting her journey to understand that she may too, be on the Spectrum herself. Many adults are unaware that they are on the Autism Spectrum. Third, this book is for individuals who are self-diagnosing or with a formal diagnosis who may feel this book may help explain their uniqueness and characteristics to themselves and/or to their loved ones through sharing it with family members, partners, friends and/or colleagues. Lastly, the book is written for professionals, to assist them in understanding the newly emerging Autistic female profile and in their work with their clients.

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Cover of I Am AspienWoman

I Am AspienWoman: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Gifts of Adults Females on the Autism Spectrum is written by Tania Marshall, MSc., and the second in the AspienGirl book series. This book continues where I Am AspienGirl left off, detailing the newly emerging female phenotype as it often presents in adult females. This highly visual book presents stunning images combined with verbatim quotes by females on the Spectrum, that combined characterize and illuminate the unique strengths and challenges of the this “lost generation” of females. The images and quotes highlight a range of areas including: early memories, cognitive/personality type, sub-types, social, education, sensory sensitivities, emotional, communication/language, work, common interests, gender, family, and relationships, strengths, challenges, stages leading up to and after diagnosis, important AspienWoman needs and an inspiring section of 25 real life AspienWoman Superhero Mentors headed up by Dr. Temple Grandin. Also included is a strengths based exercise and some important references/resources.

Growing Up

Sample Page of I Am AspienWoman

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Sample Page of I Am AspienWoman

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Sample Page of I Am AspienWoman

In celebration of the upcoming release of I Am Aspienwoman, we are offering $5.00 off, from now until release day. Pre-order you copy now at http://www.aspiengirl.com/english/i-am-aspienwoman-paperback

Available in eBook, paperback and a stunning Hard Cover edition. Dont forget to use your $5.00 off Code: #aspienwoman

You can also sign up for the AspienGirl newsletter and/or become an affiliate of the book series and earn 10% for every book your refer

For all inquiries regarding in-person or Skype diagnostic assessments or consultations, interviews, presentation and/or translations, please contact Tania at tania@aspiengirl.com

For furthur information:

http://www.aspiengirl.com

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Aspienwomen: Moving towards an adult female profile of Autism/Asperger Syndrome

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Updated JULY 2021, originally written in 2011 and published 2013

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

Aspienwomen : Adult Women with Asperger Syndrome. Moving towards a female profile of Asperger Syndrome. This blog has been viewed well over 1,000,000 times, been reblogged and translated into multiple languages. It gained international recognition in 2013 and was the inspiration for Tania’s second book, released August 29th, 2015, Foreword by Dr. Shana Nichols, and now an international bestseller. I am AspienWoman received a 2016 IPPY eLit Gold Medal award in the ‘Women’s Issues’ category. This book and Tania’s first book, I Am AspienGirl, the autistic female profile of children and teenagers, is available at Amazon and other fine bookstores. Due to Tania’s education, training, experience, blog and award winning books, international consultant work and lengthy career, she is considered to be a world expert on the Autistic or Neurodivergent profile, across the lifespan. Tania is Neurodivergent herself, specifically Twice-Exceptional. Twice-exceptionality is discussed below in the ‘cognitive’ section. She was one of the first psychologists to detail the profile of Autistic or Neurodivergent females, across the lifespan. This blog was written to address the autistic female crisis and does not mean that other genders do not or will not identify with this work.

Neurodivergency is a complex area encompassing a large group of individuals with a wide variety of neurotypes including, but not limited to: ADHD, Autism, highly sensitive individuals (HSP), Queer, LGBTIAQ+, sensory processing sensitivities (SPS), different learning styles, and more. Each individual has their own unique profile. There are many subtypes and expressions. She has 30 years of experience neurotyping and profiling individuals of all ages, from a wide variety of cultures and countries and is a trauma-informed therapist. She is a strengths-based therapist who works in a person centred way and closely aligns with Dr. Ross Greene’s work in CPS. She attended his two-day training and met him. She believes strongly in the human right for young children to access and be provided with therapy and counselling, free of any bias. She believes in a holistic approach, a bio-psycho-social spiritual model and believes that many, but not all, “mental health disorders” are a normal reaction to what has happened to a person. She is trauma-informed and was trained in EMDR during her Masters degree. She believes that unbiased therapy is ethical therapy. She believes that all humans have the right to ethical evidence based unbiased health-care.

Tania is available for fee-based Skype/Zoom remote assessments, consultations, problem-solving sessions, intervention, and support. She also works regularly with a variety of professionals in many countries, in the areas of referrals and assisting individuals to obtain and/or receive an assessment, diagnosis and/or support in their own country. She can be contacted at aspiengirl@gmail.com regarding fee-based assessments, intervention, support, problem-solving, referrals, her diagnostic impressions assessments, booking inquiries and translations, publishing inquiries, media enquiries, workshops and/or conferences. Tania is available for consultation online ONLY, with the exception of working in her capacity as a consultant to Law enforcement, intelligence and forensic settings. Tania welcomes all clients, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, religion, or political stance.

She consults with workplace organisations and employees who work at Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Tesla including intelligence agencies in relation to providing workplace accomodations for their employees. She has assisted individuals working in these environments with environmental changes best suited for them.

Tania consults regularly with Police, cyber-intelligence and the defence force, in relation to crime, the rapid increase in radicalisation, body language, micro-expressions, facial affect, camouflaging, psycho-linguistic analysis and statement analysis. For consultations, click below and schedule your own fee-based appointment:

SCHEDULE YOUR OWN ONE-ON-ONE CONSULTATION WITH TANIA VIA CALENDLY!

Tania offer a wide range of services in a number of different roles. To book in with Tania, please go to CALENDLY

We are receiving emails from individuals all over the world wondering if they have adult ADHD in a female and/or are burning out, have burnt out, are on leave from work and/or feel they are at breaking point. Whilst we are not a crisis service, a legitimate assessment can help you understand how your life got to this point, place a ‘hold’ on what is happening to you and assist you with a valuable life-changing individualized ‘What Next’ plan for getting you not only back on track but on a better track towards thriving in a system/world that was not designed for you. Click on the link above to schedule a fee-based session.

The following list is an official detailed working screener document consisting of the unique characteristics and traits of adult women with Asperger Syndrome, or the Autistic female profile. It is not a research-based formal assessment tool. It is an anecdotal clinical screening tool based on the thousands of females I have worked with over 30 years. I have assessed, observed, diagnosed and worked with Neurodivergent individuals across the lifespan. Over my career, I have assessed individuals from 18 months to 80 years of age, from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. 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. Autism is a heterogeneous condition and as such, whilst people may share similar abilities and challenges, no two people with Autism are alike. This is a descriptive anecdotal profile, much like the early day descriptions that Asperger, Kanner (3 girls), and Frankl described of the boys they observed.

***Please be mindful that research often lags many years behind anecdotal, observational and clinical work.

***This list does not characterise all people and Autism is a heterogeneous condition. It presents itself differently in each person

***Research shows that everybody has Autistic traits. Out of a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle, everybody on the planet has a couple or a few pieces. Those that have 60 pieces would be said to have Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP) and those with 80 or more pieces are diagnosable or diagnosed with the condition.

***Self-diagnosis does not equal a formal diagnosis. Some people who self-diagnosis do not have Autism or Asperger Syndrome and some do. There can be false positive self-diagnoses.

***The reported prevalence of autism has increased substantially. This increase in the rate of autism spectrum condition (ASC) may be driven by “Autism Plus”. Autism Plus refers to autism with co-existing conditions/disorders (including but not limited to intellectual developmental disorder, language disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and this may be what is being diagnosed by clinicians as ASC. In clinical practice, a diagnosis of ASC is done so that a child will receive support at school and in the community, which may not be the case for other diagnoses. In the past the co-existing conditions were given diagnostic priority and the “autistic features” might, or might not have been mentioned as the “plus bit” in the diagnostic summary. The co-existing conditions (sometimes even more important than the autism), must came back on the diagnostic agenda and be addressed. Autism is but one of the Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examination (ESSENCE), along with many others (See Gillberg).

The following profile was created for females who are self-diagnosing or considering formal diagnosis and to assist mental health professionals, legal and forensic professionals, and body language professionals in recognising Autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD and other co-exiting conditions in adult females.

Females with Asperger Syndrome experience their symptoms at varying levels, so while some
Autistic females are highly introverted, others are not. Many women would not meet formal criteria for a diagnosis due to their coping mechanisms. They would be defined as “sub-clinical”, “residual Aspergers”, or “shadow traits”, otherwise known as Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP). Females with Asperger Syndrome or Autism tend to be discriminated against due to the wide spectrum of abilities or levels of functioning that exist. The majority of females do not receive a formal diagnosis until well into their adult years. They are know as the ‘lost generations’.

This list typifies many of the adult Autistic females I have worked with. These traits also depend to some extent on the severity, whether you’ve been assessed and diagnosed and/or received support and intervention, and also whether there is a co-existing condition(s) (for e.g., a personality disorder) present. There is research that points towards late-diagnosed adults as having both Autism and a personality disorder.  This is common.

CRUCIAL ADVICE WHEN OBTAINING AN ASSESSMENT

This profile is used by researchers, mental health professionals, doctors, school personnel, forensic personnel, educational organisations, teachers, allied health professionals and those self-diagnosing. It has been cited in multiple papers, dissertations and books, courses and training’s worldwide. It formed the basis of my two award winning and best selling books. For more information:

THE CHILD/TEEN AUTISTIC PROFILE

CAMOUFLAGING

RED FLAGS AND FIRST SIGNS OF AUTISM IN YOUNG GIRLS

I AM ASPIENGIRL BOOK AVAILABLE HERE

I AM ASPIENWOMAN BOOK AVAILABLE HERE

In obtaining an assessment from a practitioner, it is critical that you see someone who is both trained and experienced in working with Autistic females, across the lifespan. They must have worked with (ideally under supervision) with a minimum 100 Autistic females, across the lifespan, to be able to observe the many varying expressions and syb-types. They must also be able to do a thorough family history, differential diagnosis, assess trauma and provide you with a comprehensive “What Next” Section. They should be trained and experienced in differentiating between twice-exceptionality and Autism, HSP and Autism, ADHD and Autism, trauma and Autism, Camouflaging (Masking, Assimilation, Compensation), Personality Disorders and Autism (including the common presentation of both). They should also be trained and experienced in investigating Synaesthesia, Propagnosia, Irlen syndrome, 7 types of ADD, trauma and adult PDA. They should be aware of the unique spikey cognitive profile in addition to differentiating between Giftedness and Autism and Twice-Exceptionality. Make sure you’re assessed by professionals who are aware of the unique presentation and needs of both diagnoses.They should be able to tell you what kind of thinker you are and your neurotype profile, and address learning disabilities. An IQ test can be important in adulthood and can provide additional meaningful information. A thorough comprehensive assessment includes both quantitative and qualitative information gathering. the most important part is family history and obtaining as much information about you as an infant, toddler, child, teenager up to the present day. This should include reviewing childhood and adult photos and information from family members. The primary diagnosis should be listed followed by all secondary diagnoses by clinicians.

1.  Cognitive/Intellectual Abilities

Diagnosis is complicated. A large group people with autism score at 70 or below on intelligence tests. The smaller group have anywhere from average to profound intelligence. Giftedness can mask the symptoms of autism, and autism can mask giftedness. Gifted children at times exhibit behaviors (for e.g., obsession with facts, intense interest with an area of interest, a lack of interest in peers) that are characteristic of autism. Children with autism can develop such expertise in their particular intense interest that professionals initially miss the fact that they are not as ‘smart’ about navigating the social world. This is why an accurate evaluation is very important. This allows the fleshing out whether a child is gifted and talented, autistic, or both. This is crucial in order to provide the child/adult with the correct supports and services. 

Twice – Exceptionality. Giftedness is not measured just by an IQ score alone. There must also be talents present. Giftedness is rare and these individuals tend to have superior to very superior to genius intelligence (as measured by a formal IQ test), often (but not always) with significant splits between verbal and perceptual reasoning abilities, lower working memory and/or processing speeds and learning disabilities (for e.g., dyscalculia, dyslexia, reading comprehension). Generally, a FSIQ is NOT the best indicator of intelligence. Individual sub-test scores and inter-domain test scores are usually spikey. There is a difference in the sub-type of expression between those who are Gifted (IQ = 130+) and those of average to high average intelligence. There are also levels of Giftedness within the Gifted group that make it challenging for professionals to understand. For example, an individual with an IQ of 150 presents quite differently to an individual with an IQ of 130. What is also rare are Savant Syndrome and splinter skills.

Superior long-term memory

Weaker short-term memory, slower processing speed

May need academic accommodations in University

A distinct cognitive learning profile consisting of a spiky profile of strengths and weaknesses, peaks and troughs, learning disabilities/differences

Often have a rigid negative cognitive thinking style, inflexible black or white thinking style or rigidity of thinking

Context Blindness

Despite IQ, a lower social IQ and emotional IQ. May look like the a lack critical thinking skills and/or common sense.

A history of deep thinking, leading to painful existential crises or Existential OCD, as shown by a history of going from one religion to another, one spiritual movement to another, one group to another, or moving between seemingly opposing groups, over time in the search for meaning. At the extreme end of this, this can lead an individual into joining dangerous “cults”. There is often present an early deep and meaningful questioning and thinking process observed in the child, leading to patterns of involvement in groups over the course of their lifetime. Taken to the extreme, this appears as existential OCD, the obsessive drive to over-analyse every event, person, situation, group and the circumstances and the meanings behind them.

A group within the larger group are natural born systemizers and tend to work in, but nor limited to: Science, Technology, Engineering and or Mathematics.

May be a pattern, visual and/or Word/Fact thinker

2.  Education/University Life

May have dropped out of high school and gone back later or may have repeated a grade. May have unfinished or partial degrees, may have many finished degrees, many have Doctorate of Ph.D. level qualifications. Many have taken longer to achieve their education, as compared to their peers.

May have a history of enrolling and attending university classes, followed by dropping out of classes or semesters. Sometime later, she then re-enrolls/attends later. This is usually due to being overloaded and overwhelmed. A history of deferring exams, not attending classes, dropping out of classes or programs, is common.

May have repeated high school or courses OR dropped out completely.

A history of many doctors and counsellors visits throughout university life, without any significant improvement

Difficulty taking the same amount of courses or classes as her peers

May get lost on campus easily, lose possessions, be late for classes or exams

3.  Career/Work

Often drawn to the helping, artistic or animal professions, and often an “expert” in her chosen field. I know of many Aspienwomen who are successful in the following careers: Artists, singers, actors, poets, writers, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, special needs teachers/consultants, horse trainers/whisperers, doctors, scientists, accountants, authors, childcare workers, models, comedians, artists, computer-related specialists, animal handlers or zookeepers, university professors, nurses, psychics/mediums, detectives, entrepreneurs and photographers.

May miss days of work due to social exhaustion. This may lead to autistic burn-out

May find great difficulty attending/participating in staff meetings, lunch breaks, work social events

May make up excuses for not attending work/staff functions

May have a history of being unable to cope with work/employment environments, often moving from job to job, especially in younger adult years

Hard-working conscientious worker

May get stressed if have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time

May become frustrated/stressed if asked to do too many things at once

Tries very hard to avoid making mistakes, forgetting things

Tries hard to please others

May burn bridges or ‘ghost’ others (for e.g., walk out or quit jobs or relationships without notice or without discussing with boss)

4.  Social and friendships/relationships

Extreme social naivity, and therefore may be at greater risk of being recruited into a cult or extreme group OR supporting or engaging in extremism. Some individuals can be “manipulated” into supporting/engaging in extremism.

May appear narcissistic, self-centred, egocentric or caring only about her/himself due to not understanding the unwritten social rules

Preference for one-on-one social interactions, single close friendships

May obsess over one friend to the extreme

Preference for friendships with men as they are easier to understand than women. They also find the interests of their peers boring and uninteresting

Need more time away from people than their peers (solitude)

May experience stress, anxiety, and confusion in social group or group work situations

Social Anxiety leading to Social Phobia: analysing social interactions where they overthink (on a ‘loop’), about what they said, did, did not say, should have said or not said and what they wished they should have said. On the other side of this is continual stressing about what the other person is thinking of them. This is usually done to the extreme that it can be incapacitating for the person.

Strong preference to engage in conversation related to their special interest

Strong dislike for social chit-chat, gossip, nonsense, lies or conversation that lacks a ‘function’ to it, but some are known to engage in it themselves

A history of being bullied, teased, left out and/or not fitting in with same-age peers unless she had/has similar “Aspie” friends

An intense dislike of lies, but may lie to others herself. Many have admitted this to me.

Has an ability to socialize, however, is unable to do so for long periods of time. Suffers from “social exhaustion/burn-out” or a “social hangover” when socializing too much. The hangover can last hours to days, which can be debilitating

Experience great difficulty with conflict, arguments, being yelled at, fighting, war, stress

Has great difficulty asserting herself, asking for help, setting boundaries or inappropriately assertive

May need to drink or do drugs to be able to socialize, perform (sing), be with and/or around people

May currently have or have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress, often due to being misunderstood, misdiagnosed, mistreated, and/or mis-medicated.

Social Skills differences – is exceptionally good one-on-one and presenting to groups, however, has difficulty working within group situations

May find herself in social situations or relationships that she is unhappy with, but not know how to remove herself from them. Is highly at-risk for being with a toxic abusive person die to her nature. See ‘The Molotov Cocktail’ Series at http://www.vimeo.com/ondemand/femaleautism

History of being taken advantage of by others, even though she has taken the appropriate business, legal or social advice from others

Often bored in social situations or parties and/or does not know how to act in social situations

May say “yes” to social events, then later make up an excuse as to why she cannot attend, often staying home in solitude (reading a book or engages in her special interest)

Often prefers to be engaged in her special interest, rather than socializing

May be considered the “black sheep” of the family

Others consider her different, odd, eccentric or “weird” by others

May feel like she has to act normal” to please others OR does not care at all about fitting in

Copies, mimics, act in order to fit in and make others like her

A people pleaser, but then may burn bridges suddenly (for e.g., quit relationships), as they have difficulty managing conflict, confrontation, and stress

Females appear to be better than males at masking the traits of autism in social situations. However, girls are less able to do so in unfamiliar settings.

May be considered a “loner” OR may have many acquaintances, but no real friends

A lack of insight

A lack of social awareness

Social Naivety: may believe anything told to them by others (gossip, stories, jokes, and teasing), difficulty interpreting the intentions of others, misinterprets other peoples intentions, often jumping to conclusions about others, may be described as “gullible”

Information in Camouflaging can be found here

5.  Communication

Difficulties communicating her thoughts and feelings, in words, to others, especially if anxious, stressed or upset. Often can type or write her thoughts much better

May dislike asking others for help, be unable to ask or not know how to ask for help

Maybe passive, not know how to assert her boundaries in a healthy manner

May offend others by saying what she is thinking, even if she does not mean to; may appear aggressive or too intense

May point out other people’s mistakes

May give too much detail and end up boring others unintentionally

May ask embarrassing questions (usually when younger)

Unusual voice (flat, monotone, high-pitched, child-like)

The tendency to take things literally, missing what people are trying to say

May talk too loudly or too softly, often unaware that she is doing so

May talk too much or not enough

Often surprised when people tell her she has been rude or inappropriate

Poor pragmatic language skills

Struggle with eye contact and listening to someone at the same time

May have auditory processing issues

Struggles to understand non-verbal communication cues

Often overshares in inappropriate ways, not understanding the steps to a friendship or relationship

Is not about to manage the complex interaction of a group and communicated better one-on-one

May speak in a manner that is copied from cartoon characters and repeat phrases. May speak formally as characters on television do.

Culture Differences

In many countries where the language is informal, this can be noticed (for example, in the middle east informal Arabic is spoken), however in Autistic individuals, they may speak formally as characters on television, social media, and so on.

6.   Physiology/Neurology

A. Highly Sensitive

Highly sensitivity, may not be able to listen to or watch the news, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, watch violent shows/movies or horror movies, see hurt or injured animals, abuse, war, trauma, are sensitive to the emotions and “emotional atmosphere” of the environment, experience referred emotion and psychic “6th sense” abilities, may have strong intuitive and/or psychic abilities. This does not mean a HSP person is Autistic, but Autistic individuals are highly sensitive.

B. Sensory Processing Disorder/Condition

May have sensory sensitivities in the following areas: hearing, vision, taste, touch, smell, balance, movement, intuition

May be very sensitive to pain or have a high pain threshold

May notice how food tastes or feels and one may be more important than the other

May be clumsy or uncoordinated

May dislike loud noises and/or be overwhelmed or stressed by bright lights, strong smells, coarse textures/clothing, sirens close by or people too close behind her.

May find children hard to cope with due to crying, screaming or other loud noises

Sensitive to the way clothes feel and how they may be more important than how they look

May have to withdraw, isolate herself when overwhelmed by her senses

May not be able to tolerate sounds, sights, smells, textures, a movement that she dislikes

May not like to be hugged, cuddled or held. “I only like to hug if it’s my decision”

Can get upset or distressed if unable to follow a familiar route when going somewhere

Things that should feel painful may not be (bruises but not know how they got there, due to clumsiness)

In social situations, the nervous system tends to be overwhelmed easily, leading to withdrawal (for e.g., wander off to a quiet spot at a party, play with children or animals)

Strong hunger may be disrupting her mood and/or the ability to focus

She may notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art, and pieces of music.

C. Anxiety, stress and/or anger. Recent brain scanning research points towards the enlarged Amygdala’s role in intense emotions, anxiety, and anger

D. May have auditory processing issues

E. May have Irlen Syndrome

F. May grind teeth or have lockjaw (anxiety)

G. More often than nor, they have strong Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or traits

H.  May have one or more of the 7 types of ADHD (see http://www.amenclinics.com)

I.  Usually has ADHD or more appropriately ‘executive function difficulties’ (i.e., time management, planning ahead, organization)

J. May rock, leg-bounce, fidget or other movements with hands, twirl hair, stroke soft fabric to self-soothe (aka stimming or self-soothing), doodle, draw

K. May be very sensitive to medications, caffeine and/or alcohol

L. May have gluten, wheat, casein or other food allergies/intolerances, gut issues

M. May have sleep difficulties, a preference for staying up late at night, usually not a morning person, may be very creative at night

N. May have Dyspraxia

O. May have tics (for example, throat-clearing, coughing)

P. May have Synaesthesia

7. Physical Appearance

Usually dresses differently from her peers, often eccentric, may dress more for comfort than appearance.

May dress “over the top” or unusually for occasions

May try very hard to fit in appearance wise or may not care at all

May have a special interest in fashion and femininity

May not shower or upkeep hygiene at times, due to different priorities (usually being involved in special interests)

Looks younger than her years

Has an unusual voice; maybe “child-like”, monotone, loud or soft, quality to her voice

Often does certain things with hands (twirling hair or items, different movements) or legs (leg “bouncing” or rocking while standing)

Physical appearance may change to extremes over the course of her lifetime

8. Lifestyle

Books, computers, the Internet, animals, children, nature may be her best friends

She may love quiet, solitude, peaceful surroundings

She may be ultra-religious or not at all. Buddhism appears to be common as does extreme religious association

May prefer to spend as much time as possible by herself, with animals or in nature

May have a strong preference for routine and things being the same day after day

Gets pleasure from being engaged in her chosen work and/or special interests

She may make it a high priority to arrange her life, events, work, and environment to avoid overwhelming, stressful or upsetting situations

A history of moving house, cities, states/provinces and/or countries several times.

9. Relationship Choices/Sexuality/Gender

May date or marry much older or much younger partners, same-gender partner, tending not to see the “age”, “gender”, but rather the personality of the person first

May be asexual, having preferences that are deemed as more important than sex or a relationship

May be ‘hypersexual”, fascinated by physical sexual contact

May differ from peers in terms of flexibility regarding sexual orientation or may think about or want to change gender. Some individuals may change gender or experiment with sexuality as a means to find social success or to “fit in” or feel less different

May not have wanted or needed intimate relationships (asexual)

There is a greater flexibility in sexuality and/or gender. Maybe heterosexual or may be asexual, gay, bisexual or transgender

May be androgynous and prefer to wear men’s clothing

May be or have a history of being promiscuous OR asexual or inappropriate (i.e., following someone they like although they don’t know how to engage in the art of dating or flirting. This can lead to stalking someone and eventually the Police becoming involved)

Prone to safety issues due to not being aware of surroundings

10. Special Interests

Current research shows that individuals on the Spectrum do not have “restricted interests”, but rather a lifetime of intense interests that can vary from one deep interest to another. A special interest may involve the person’s career, Anime, fantasy (think Dr. Who, superheroes, and Harry Potter), just to name a few, writing, animals, reading, celebrities, food, fashion, jewelry, makeup, tattoos, symbols and TV Series (think Game of Thrones). This is not inclusive. This trait is an obsessive form when focused on other people and/or unhealthy interests can lead to an individual having contact with the law or law enforcement.

May attend ComicCon, SuperNova, love dressing up as a character.

Ability to “hyperfocus” for long periods of time involved in the special interest, without eating, drinking or going to the toilet, is able to hyperfocus on her special interest for hours, often losing track of time

Loves and revels in solitude, peace, and quiet. Solitude is often described as “needing it like the air I breathe”

An intense love for nature and animals

Often not interested in what other people find interesting

May collect or hoard items of interest

Introspection and self-awareness. Many women spend years trying to understand themselves, reading self-help and psychology books and wonder why they feel so different, from another planet or that the “Mothership has dropped me off on the wrong planet”.

Justice Issues, sometimes leading to activism and/or extremism

Special Interest in religions, spiritual movements, and/or cults, often moving from one to the other.

Astrology, new thought leaders, numerology and related areas

May know every lyric to a song or every line to a movie from repetitively watching them or listening to them

May be driven to careers when she is able to utilize her natural debating skills

11. Emotional

Feels things deeply (Category 5 emotions) and may be inconsolable (cannot be calmed down). Often has “over the top” reactions to events

May have severe “depression attacks” that last for a few days; may feel the world is about to end

Does not DO calm, stress, conflict, conflict resolution, mediation, confrontation or fighting

Struggles with degrees of emotions

Think that people are laughing at her or making fun of her when they are not

Facial expressions do not match the situation. May have an inappropriate emotional expression to the situation

Other people’s moods affect her, especially if they are negative

Tends to be very sensitive to emotional pain

Emotions may be delayed so that for e.g., she can be a great ER doctor, but may fall apart a few days later about a traumatic work situation

Anxiety is a constant from the very early years and is often overwhelmed by the amounts of tasks that need to be completed. Triggers for anxiety are varied from too much thinking to catastrophizing to change in routine, change in general, people, perfectionism, fear of failure, sensory issues, the feeling of not fitting in, the stress of feeling that he/she has to do things right, any environment that is noisy, has a lot of people in it, perceived or actual criticism

Deeply moved by arts, music, certain movies

May be unable to watch horror, violence, disturbing movies, and news programs

Lives with continual generalized anxiety, bouts of depression that creep up on her

Difficulty regulating emotions and managing stress

Is socially and emotionally younger/immature than her chronological age, much younger if in her twenties

Emotionally too honest (inability or difficulty hiding true feelings when it would be more socially acceptable to do so) and naive

Experiences intense emotions of all kinds (for e.g. when she falls in love, she ‘falls’ in love deeply)

May think she is being compassionate, but her actions may not come across that way

Often too sensitive and possesses too much emotional empathy

Usually, connect and/or are very sensitive to certain characters in movies

Highly sensitive to issues affecting the earth, animals, people, advocacy, justice, human rights and the “underdog”

Some women are quite “child-like”, not reaching a maturity until roughly 40 years of age

Many create their own fantasy worlds

12. Personality characteristics and/or traits and abilities

A natural born leader, independent, strong-willed, determined and can be highly competitive (even with herself)

High levels of introversion OR can be extroverted

Generally lack a strong sense of self, self-esteem and/or identity. May use chameleon-like skills to assimilate and be involved with to a variety of groups or different people over time, in a search for true identity.

Has a high sense of justice and fairness, is a truth-seeker, sometimes to his/her own detriment

Highly creative and may have ‘rushes’ of original ideas

Dislikes change and may find it disorienting and stressful

Highly sensitive to criticism or perceived criticism

Dislikes being observed when having to perform (performance anxiety)

May have been told she cares too much, does too much for others and/or is too sensitive

Is perfectionistic (may have attended a perfectionism group program)

Attention to detail

Obsessions/special interests can be short-term (switching from one to another quickly) or long-term (can make a great career)

Naivety, innocence, trusting too much and taking others literally are a powerful concoction for being misused and abused

shutterstock_99170477

Camouflaging

Masking: as above in this picture, giving off the illusion that everything is great or fine, when is it not. The mask often comes off at home with crying, meltdowns, or shutdowns. To the trained eye these unnatural facial expressions are obvious. To the untrained eye, they may appear ‘odd’ or even natural.

A strong sense of feeling different from her peers often described as being from a different planet

May not have a sense of self and/or identity, self-esteem

Tend to be very serious, often too serious at times

Is intense in everything she does

In childhood, may have been described as highly sensitive and/or shy

Highly imaginative

May have trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality

Does not like it when people move or touch her belongings; people interpret her as rude and aggressive

13. Past and/or current mental health history

A history of self-harm

May have a history of crying a lot, without knowing why

May have a lengthy history of going to therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists

May have tried a variety of medications

Experiences social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder or selective mutism

Often has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or traits

May have one or more of the 7 types of ADHD

Has experienced ongoing depression and/or tiredness/exhaustion, without knowing why

A history of trying to understand oneself, of finding answers to explain oneself and why she feels she is different or doesn’t fit in, as a woman

A history of many doctors and counselors visits throughout university life

May have a family history of Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, OCD, anxiety disorders

May have been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia

May have been previously diagnosed with anxiety disorder depression, an eating disorder, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and/or ADHD

A history of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, huge mood swings

May have ROGD or be transgender

Had imaginary friends as a child/youth and often as an adult. This can be misinterpreted as schizophrenia

Eating Disorder

14. Coping Mechanisms

Compensatory Mechanisms are unfortunately what lead many an individual to receive a diagnosis much later in life when they cannot keep the mask on anymore.

May have turned to alcohol, drugs, smoking in order to cope with intense emotions, self-medicate and/or socialize/fit in and/or be accepted with a group.

May use a different persona when out in the public, in order to cope

May have developed a variety of dysfunctional coping mechanisms (for example, arrogance and/or narcissism)

May change gender or sexuality in an attempt to “fit in” and/or find the right group

Has used imitation, social echolalia to pretend to be normal, fake it or pass for normal

May rock standing up, lying down, in a rocking chair to calm down or self-soothe

May need to withdraw into bed or a dark area or a place of solitude to gain privacy, quiet and manage sensory and/or social overload

Withdrawal and/or Avoidance

May have developed a personality disorder as a means of coping with Asperger Syndrome

15. Sixth Sense, Intuition, Psychic Abilities

Has the ability to feel other people emotions, take on the emotions of others

May “know” or have knowledge of certain things, but no idea how she knows, aka “vibing”

May be a professional psychic or medium

Possesses one or more psychic abilities

Is an “empath”

Sensitive to other people’s negativity

Often confused by the feelings she/he is having

May take on the pain of other, aka Mirror-Touch Synaesthesia

16. Unique abilities and Strengths

May have perfect or relative perfect pitch

Autodidactic – teaches herself

Intelligence craves knowledge and loves learning

Can teach herself just about anything she puts her mind too

Has a strong will, is determined and independent

Perfectionistic

Have a remarkable long-term memory, photographic memory

A great sense of humor

Can work very well in a “crisis” situation

Deeply reflective thinker

Resilience, an ability to go from one crisis to another, to bounce back, to start again time and time again

Attention to detail

Great in one-on-one situations or presenting to a group

More like “philosophers” than “professors, but can be both.

Seeing in the “mind’s eye” exact details, gifted visual learner

May be gifted with art, music, writing, languages, programming, acting, writing, editing, singing, an athlete

May be highly intuitive

Capable of deep philosophical thinking, females with Aspergers often become writers, vets, engineers, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, poets, artists, singers, performers, actresses, doctors, entrepreneurs or professors.

Driven to rule bound careers, professions, organizations involved in teaching others or enforcing the rules (for example, law, religion, the military, the police)

17. Challenges

May be difficult to understand subtle emotions, for e.g., when someone is jealous or embarrassed, uninterested or bored

Keeping up appearances, passing for normal

Managing emotions and getting easily hurt by others; even if the other person was innocent

Learning difficulties

May get very upset with an unexpected change

May not be able to tell when someone is flirting with her/him

Challenging to work and function within a group

Have a need for a highly controlled environment to sleep in

Great difficulty and very sensitive to conflict, stress, arguments, fighting, wars, gossip and negativity, however ironically may engage in it

Can be very negative and have catastrophic feelings; can be very self-deprecatory toward self

Social-chit chat, small talk, conversation without a “function”, maintaining friendships and relationships, social anxiety or social phobia

May like or prefer to be by herself as much as possible

May find it challenging to understand what others expect of her

Being taken advantage of due to naivety, innocence and trusting others too much; this often leads to being in toxic relationships or friendships

Boundaries issues

A sense of justice taken to the extreme

Executive function challenges: May have difficulty filling out forms, doing paperwork (completing taxes), budgeting money, finishing a task or job, planning (meals, the day, the week, answering the phone or talking to people on the phone, how to start a particular task and get it completed, knowing where their possessions are, going to appointments, waiting in line or at an appointment

May have difficulty recognizing or remembering faces (prosopagnosia)

May have Alexythymia: cannot verbalize their feelings as they are often unsure of what they are feeling

May have Synaesthesia

May experience existential dread

Has difficulties with unexpected visitors just “dropping over”

Extreme gullibility or social naivety can get them into enormous trouble. Will often take at face value what a person says about another person

18. Empathy

May have a lack of cognitive empathy and hyper-empathy (for e.g., too much affective or sympathetic empathy)

Cognitive Empathy: The ability to predict other’s thoughts and intentions, knowing how the other person feels and what they might be thinking. Also known as perspective-taking.

Affective/Emotional Empathy: The ability or capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another person, when you feel the feelings of another person along with the other person, as though their emotions are your own. Social neuroscience has found that this kind of empathy has to do with the mirror neuron system. Emotional empathy contributes to an individual being well-attuned to another person’s inner emotional world, an advantage for individuals in a wide range of careers from nursing to teaching to social work, psychology and other caring professions.

Compassionate Empathy, or “empathic concern”. This kind of empathy helps us to understand a person’s predicament and feel with them, and also be spontaneously moved to help them, if and when others need help. Under stress, Theory of mind skills may appear to be completely absent.

Sympathy: often has too much sympathy, placing her in danger, for example, I once had a young client who brought a homeless man home because, as she said, ” he had no home”

19. May have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, poor muscle tone, connective tissue disorder, double-jointed, fine and/or gross motor skill issues

20. May have an intense desire to please others and/ be liked by others and be a “people pleaser”. May become highly distressed if she has the perception that someone does not like her or actually does not like her.

21. Executive functioning difficulties may include: trouble making decisions, time management, planning ahead, organization, completing tasks.

22. May have spent a lifetime of using enormous effort to socially “pretend”, “fake it”, “fit in”, “pass for normal”. May have utilized body language books, mirrors, acting/drama classes to improve social skills.

23. May have tocophobia, the fear of childbirth or other fears (death, dying, a changing body, for example)

24. May have gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder (GID) dysphoria, and is a formal diagnosis for individuals who feel and experience significant stress and unhappiness with their birth gender and/or gender roles. These individuals are known as transsexual or transgender.

25. Photographic visual memory

26. An intense and continual need to figure oneself out.

27. Hypermobility Syndrome

28. Typical sex difference has been reported (i.e., female advantage), in relation to the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” test (Eyes test), an advanced test of theory of mind.

29. May be a high systemizer leading her to go into engineering or programming. High systemizing women seem to feel the “weirdest” of the collective.

30. May struggle with who she is gender-wise.

31. Subtypes. The varying expressions and subtypes confuse many professionals. One person on the Spectrum is one person on the Spectrum with their own individual Autistic profile.

32. Camouflaging. Most professionals do not understand camouflaging not how to observe this in clinical practice. Most individuals attending therapy, assessment or other appointment are actively camouflaging and often report not wanting their therapist to see underneath the mask. Masking, assimilation and compensation of often used, regardless of whether or not the individual is aware of using them. It is a myth that camouflaging can be achieved to the level that others cannot see it. It is not possible to the “trained eye”. Observers are aware that copying, mimicking and other strategies are being used, because they are out of context with the situation. This leads to others often misinterpreting the camouflaging. To the trained observer, camouflaging is relatively easy to see. For information about Camouflaging read my 2013 blog here and my recent blog on facial affect and camouflaging here

33. Forensic History. May include contact with law enforcement. The pathways include: stalking and harassment, domestic violence, mental health issues, a history of false complaints about others (to the government, law enforcement, infiltrating Autism groups under pseudonyms with the intention of calling CPS on vulnerable and unknowing parents (calling child protection services on the parents of parents of Autistic children), the misuse of social media, hacking, involvement with child protections services themselves, contact with the Police leading to being sectioned or jail, involvement in radical extreme cults, being arrested for disorderly conduct, possession of child pornography, being arrested for participating in extreme radical activism and rarely, for their involvement in terrorism and murder (usually family members).

Within a very large group of females, we begin to see variations, preferences, expressions and heterogeneity. Whilst all females struggle to some degree with social communication, intense interests, sensory issues and many traits as mentioned above, there is not one “type” of presentation. The most commonly known presentation of females in the Spectrum is the “Tomboy”, how there exist other presentations and it is important to talk about these, as it is these females who may never receive a diagnosis.

No one woman will have all of these traits. Some of the traits in this list may not apply to you. A level of insight and awareness is required in terms of recognising the traits, characteristics, and behavior in oneself. Autism or Asperger Syndrome often co-occurs with  Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, Irlen Syndrome, Dyspraxia/Disability of Written Expression, Auditory Processing Disorder and/or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Individual traits and characteristics can vary from mild to severe.

Common pathways to a late/very late diagnosis:

A late diagnosis is any diagnosis after starting school. However, for the purposes of adults, I am referring to late diagnosis and very late diagnosis, from 18 years of age and older.

  1. Suspect they may have adult female ADHD and/or Autism. Not all people with Autism have ADHD
  2. Referral from another mental health professionals (therapists), psychiatrist, GP’s, agencies, organisations
  3. Contact or involvement with the Police, law enforcement or time spent in jail, youth justice
  4. Contact with Child Protection Services
  5. Referral from workplace or self-referral due to work conflict or recent loss of job
  6. A family history of Autism, i.e., having a child on the Spectrum
  7. Works in the field of Autism and sees the traits in herself
  8. Many previous ‘labels’ and seeking diagnostic clarification
  9. Autistic burnout/crisis
  10. Works in the ‘caring’ professions
  11. Psychologists and other mental health professionals/professionals seeing the traits in themselves
  12. Working with NeuroDivergent children and identifying with their traits
  13. Eating Disorder
  14. Gender Dysphoria
  15. Works in STEM
  16. A history of belong to a variety of “cults” that meet the criteria for the definition of a cult, may have exited a cult and wanting to renter and/or reintegrate to society.
  17. Relationship OCD (ROCD)
  18. Thriving in lockdown during the Pandemic, which is seen as ‘odd’ by professionals
  19. A breakdown in mental health
  20. Motherhood, having children and ADHD/ASD

Common fields of work:

Rule bound careers, the arts, STEM

PROTECTIVE FACTORS

Temperament, personality style and mental health of parents

A higher social IQ and emotional IQ

Parenting style

Strengths-based view whilst supporting challenges

Strong boundaries

Personality traits such as resilience, determination

A strong faith

Higher SES

Education

Early diagnosis and appropriate support/intervention

Access to ethical and unbiased Mental health Supports

An environmental fit that promotes thriving

Appropriate Intervention and support throughout adolescence

The combination of resilience and attitude (self love and self worth is protective factor (Ignorant obvious to passive aggressive bulling and other comments)

High achieving personality

To be cont…

UNIQUE VULNERABILITIES, RISK FACTORS AND RED FLAGS FOR DANGER IN A SMALLER GROUP of the LARGER GROUP

Most of us are brainwashed on a daily basis by media and propaganda, however, Autistic individuals are uniquely vulnerable to social influence. This is why assessment and diagnosis is critical. Social naivity, combined with concrete thinking can lead an Autistic person (diagnosed or undiagnosed) to blindly follow groups or persons of influence and power. Many have histories of belonging to fringe groups, cults, being recruited into cults and/or have a lengthy history of going from one cult to another and are extremely vulnerable to suggestion, influence and/or being taken advantage of. There is a tendency to take what others say literally and at ‘face value’. This vulnerability, in combination with a number of other factors can lead to self-destruction and/or vulnerability to being radicalised and a number of irreversible consequences.

A lack of social skills training. For example, not knowing that looking at child pornography is wrong

Unwell parents, parenting style, a lack of boundaries, sexual abuse

Drugs and addiction

Mental health

Severity of traits

Unmonitored use of social media

Extreme black or white and concrete thinking, literal thinking combined with a lack of understanding others intentions, social naivity, negative thinking, trauma and intense obsessive interests on a person, school shooters, serial killers, horror movies and so on, is a molotov cocktail for destruction and must be red flagged with anti radicalisation organisations, national security, mental health

Adverse Childhood Events (ACE), the more ACE the more higher the chance of leading to psychopathy

Some ACE include: sexual, emotional, psychological, physical abuse. These experiences cause trauma leading to damage to the brain

No diagnosis or a late diagnosis and/or no support, treatment, assistance. A lack of diagnostic clarification

A lack of services, unable to afford services, few choices in services

A denial of appropriate therapeutic services

Radicalisation leading to a late diagnosis. More on radicalisation, coming soon

Predators often directly recruit Autistic individuals, of all ages, online, because they know they are socially naive. They are targeted and infiltrate Autistic groups online. They may say they are Autistic as a means to recruit Autistic individuals. This recruitment can be directly related to child trafficking, human trafficking, cults, sex trafficking and/or radical groups and/or terrorism. The use of language and wording within these groups are red flags.

About Tania Marshall

Tania Marshall is an award-winning author, presenter, trainer and Clinical Psychotherapist and educator/trainer. She holds a Masters of Science in Applied Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She completed an 18-month full-time post-masters externship at a private special needs school, working with many neurodiverse people, K-12 and their families. During that time, she also worked in private practice under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. She was nominated for 2019, 2016 and 2015 ASPECT Autism Australia National Recognition Awards, all in the Advanced category for her work advancing the field of female Autism. Her first book entitled I Am AspienGirl: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Gifts of Young Females on the Spectrum, Foreward by Dr. Judith Gould, is an international bestseller and an IPPY 2015 ELit Gold medal award winner. Her second book entitled I Am AspienWoman: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Gifts of Adult Females on the Spectrum, Foreward by Dr. Shana Nichols was released late 2015, is an international bestseller won a 2016 IPPY eLIT Gold medal in the Women’s Studies category.

Tania is a self managed and plan managed NDIS Provider. She regularly provides diagnostic assessments, impressions assessments, support, problem-solving sessions, coaching and intervention for neurodiverse individuals of all ages across the lifespan. She sees people of all ages who are are artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, gifted and talented, supermodels, singers, authors, performers, dancers, celebrities and/or Twice-exceptional (2e), just to name a few.

Tania has contractual obligations as a consultant to forensics, however her books are open to genuine inquiries. She does see individuals on a case by case basis. Please email her at aspiengirl@gmail.com if you would like to work with her.  She has a large referral base of professionals, agencies and organisations that she refers individuals too. If you are a provider and would like to add your name to the list, please email Tania at aspiengirl@gmail.com with ‘PROVIDER’ in the subject heading.

If you are seeking an impressions assessment, please email with ‘ASSESSMENT in the subject heading

If you would like to hire Tania for Police training, please email with ‘POLICE’ in the subject heading

If you would like to hire Tania to present on the Autistic female profile, assessment and diagnosis and therapy, please email with ‘TRAINING’ in the subject heading

If you would like to get on the mailing list for Tania’s training courses, webinars, please email with ‘COURSES’ in the subject heading

If you are interested in Tania’s research, please email her with ‘RESEARCH’ in the subject heading

If you are a publisher interested in Tania’s work or want Tania to write a book or article(s), please email with ‘PUBLISHER’ in the subject heading

If you are an organisation or agency, researcher, psychiatrist, law enforcement, public or private and you are interested in the specific sub-type and profile most likely to be successful in intelligence, counter-terrorism and solving of crimes, OR If you are law enforcement and wish to consult with Tania about the unique subtype most vulnerable to recruitment OR you are interested in learning more about the Autistic female profile in relation to forensics and the research OR you want to learn how to better interpret Autistic body language, including facial affect, body language, social-communication, sensory sensitivities in relation to DECEPTION, please email with ‘INTELLIGENCE’ in the subject heading

To enquire or book Skype/Zoom assessments, problem-solving sessions and/or support, interviews, articles, publishing inquiries, translations/translating of her books, presentations, workshops, conferences, Police, cybersecurity, intelligence enquiries and trainings, please e-mail Tania at aspiengirl@gmail.com

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