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 email@example.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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
- Suspect they may have adult female ADHD and/or Autism. Not all people with Autism have ADHD
- Referral from another mental health professionals (therapists), psychiatrist, GP’s, agencies, organisations
- Contact or involvement with the Police, law enforcement or time spent in jail, youth justice
- Contact with Child Protection Services
- Referral from workplace or self-referral due to work conflict or recent loss of job
- A family history of Autism, i.e., having a child on the Spectrum
- Works in the field of Autism and sees the traits in herself
- Many previous ‘labels’ and seeking diagnostic clarification
- Autistic burnout/crisis
- Works in the ‘caring’ professions
- Psychologists and other mental health professionals/professionals seeing the traits in themselves
- Working with NeuroDivergent children and identifying with their traits
- Eating Disorder
- Gender Dysphoria
- Works in STEM
- 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.
- Relationship OCD (ROCD)
- Thriving in lockdown during the Pandemic, which is seen as ‘odd’ by professionals
- A breakdown in mental health
- Motherhood, having children and ADHD/ASD
Common fields of work:
Rule bound careers, the arts, STEM
Temperament, personality style and mental health of parents
A higher social IQ and emotional IQ
Strengths-based view whilst supporting challenges
Personality traits such as resilience, determination
A strong faith
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com with ‘PROVIDER’ in the subject heading.
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