This is a recent FAQ on self-deprecation in neurodiverse females. As always, If you like it please share and leave your positive comments or other questions below. This video was made by the Neurodiversity Academy, founded by and funded by AspienGirl girl.com
Female Autism Infographics to share for awareness and education. More Coming
The following article is copyrighted and may not be posted anywhere without permission from the author.
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To contact Tania regarding consultations, assessment, problem-solving strategies, Skype consultations, book distribution, interviews, book translations, publishing queries, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I Am AspienWoman: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Gifts of Adults Females on the Autism Spectrum
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.
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.
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
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This is the second interviw in my “professional” series, where I was recently honoured to interview best-selling author Kathy Hoopman.
What is your background? You are originally from Toowoomba, right? How did you get from there to Dubai?
I was born in Toowoomba, where I lived for twenty years and studied primary teaching at the Darling Downs Institute of Advance Education (now University of Southern Queensland). I married right out of uni and went to work in Brisbane as a teacher in Prince of Peace Lutheran Primary School which was so new, it was still a cabbage patch when I got the jobJ. I taught full time until I had children then I moved into relief teaching whilst I started my writing career. We moved to Dubai in 2003 with my husband’s work, and stayed until mid 2011. Then we took a gap year and spent a year back in Australia doing renovations and catching up on family and friends. We returned to Dubai in Sept 2012 and plan another three year stay.
How did you become an author?
When I was a school teacher, I read many books to my classes and love the worlds that were created. Finally I decided to create my own worlds. At first I wrote novels; some were published and some weren’t. But strangely enough my first book published was a book of plays based on Bible stories. It was a ‘right time, right place’ book. But then I became interested in Asperger’s and wanted to capture the positives of the syndrome in an Aspie character. I will never forget the day I was at an Autism conference where Tony Attwood was speaking. At lunch time I waited until the long line of people, wanting to catch his attention, dwindled, and I nervously told him about the novel I had just completed. He was gracious enough to look at it and gave his endorsement and Blue Bottle Mystery was picked up by Jessica Kingsley who has published all my Asperger books since then.
You have written a total of 7 books, is that right?
I have fifteen books published in Australia, the UK, US and the UAE, with translations into ten languages. Six deal with Asperger’s and one is on ADHD.
All Cats have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs have ADHD have been very successful. What do you think the main reason for this is?
Many books on special needs are quite long to read and can be full of medical jargon. Although these books are essential, many people simply want a quick overview. I think what makes All Cats have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs have ADHD so successful is that in ten minutes a reader can understand the essence of these syndromes, both the negatives and the positives, and come away with a smile on their faces and hope in their hearts.
I have just read your latest book Inside Aspergers Looking Out and it is just as fabulous. This book is different in that it is for Neurotypicals, in terms of them learning about what it’s like to be Aspie. What made you to decide to write this book?
In Sept 2011, in my ‘gap’ year, I heard John Elder Robison (Look Me in the Eye) speak at the Brisbane Writer’s Conference. I was moved by the entirely different way he saw Asperger’s and how he could explain it so that it was no longer facts, but life. I was privileged to have lunch with him and I mooted the concept of writing a book along these lines – that is from the eyes of an Aspie. Not having Asperger’s, this book took a lot of research and I listened to hours and hours of Youtube videos by Aspies, and joined online Asperger sites to get their insights. By Feb 2012, it was finished and in the hands of my publisher.
What is it like in Dubai, in terms of Autism and services?
I have to admit that I am out of the link here and have little contact with Asperger/Autism providers. However, I understand that slowly schools and clinics are striving to incorporate special needs programmes and are beginning to employ specialists in these areas. Unfortunately, many children do not receive the assistance required and many schools still refuse to take any children with special needs of any kind.
Are we going to get a chance to read anymore Kathy Hoopman books?
I have dabbled with writing a teacher’s handbook on how to deal with Asperger’s in the classroom, but it is on the back burner at present. Currently I am branching into a new area of writing and I am working on a children’s Christian book which is trying to capture the essence of the Bible in eighty picture book pages. It is a fascinating and hugely challenging project.
Where can we buy your books?
Many of the larger book lines either stock my books or can order them in. My distributor in Australia is Footprints Books http://www.footprint.com.au/ and all of my Asperger titles can be ordered through them. Online stores like Amazon, Book Depository and Fishpond all have my works too.
Thank-you so much for this interview Kathy.
Tania Marshall©. 2013. Interview Professional Series. All rights reserved. Duplication in whole or part is explicitly forbidden. Thank you.
Say What?! Building a Strengths-Based Descriptive Model for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome
So, what’s in a word? The language and the words we use have power. Power to think about something in a certain way. It is time for a global revolution in the way we think about Asperger Syndrome. I believe it is time to move from a “deficit-based” model to a strengths-based one, which in addition to weaknesses, includes and assesses and describes people based on their strengths, skills, abilities, gifts and/or talents. Individuals with Autism have what we refer to as “spikey profiles” and a different developmental profile, meaning that often they may be behind in one developmental area, but ahead in another. In my clinical work, I have met people of all ages with weaknesses, yes, but also a stunning array of diverse abilities, talents and gifts, which has been overlooked. The deficit-approach has ignored strengths and contributed to the rampant identity and self-esteem issues that are seen in individuals with Asperger Syndrome. I’ve also met many people, including professionals who believe or have been led to believe, that individuals with Asperger Syndrome cannot contribute to society and/or work. This could not be further from the truth. I believe deficit-based diagnostic criteria and deficit-based approaches are partly responsible for this. It’s time for a strengths-based language, approach and positive strengths-based outlook for individuals with Asperger Syndrome, of all ages, sub-types and levels. The following is a work-in-progress, based on the descriptions relayed to me in clinical practice. I offer an alternative description after the bolded word “OR” . This list will be updated as time permits.
Too sensitive or too caring OR Emotionally Empathic, Sensitive
Selfish OR Independent
In his/her own world OR Becoming an expert in his/her special interest
Odd, weird, freaky OR Unique
Bi-polar OR Feels emotions intensely/deeply, An “empath”
Disorder OR A neurological condition he/she is born with
Co-morbid OR Co-existing (a part of a condition)
Anti-social, hermit-like OR Gifted in working with animals and/or children and/or nature
Unable to work in groups OR Excellent one-on-one or presenting to a group
Bossy OR Director/Leadership Skills/Spirited (Early intervention helps here!)
Clingy OR Affectionate
Compulsive OR Efficient and Attention to Detail
Conceited or arrogant OR Confident and Values Self
Crabby or irritable OR Communicate Needs
Dawdles OR Easygoing and Mindful
Defiant OR Strong Beliefs and Courageous
Demanding OR Assertive, Determination, Independent
Doodles OR Creative
Hyper, boisterous OR Active, enthusiastic, lvoes to move
Dramatic OR Emotionally Aware and Emotionally Expressive
Fearful or anxious OR Thoughtful, Cautious, Careful, Highly Sensitive
Freaks our, hides under tables OR Hypersensitive to sounds, lighting, smell, and sight
Talks too much OR has an extensive vocabulary, communicative
Finicky Eater OR Gourmet and Discriminating Tastes
Foolish OR Funloving
Obsessions OR Expert in an area
A brooder OR Serious
Disruptive OR Eager
Dreamy OR Imaginative
Explosive OR Dramatic
Forceful OR Determined
Giddy, Silly OR Good-humoured, joyful
Highly strung OR Enthusiastic
Impatient OR Passionate
Intense OR Focused
Loud OR Expressive
Moody OR Highly Sensitive
Not participating OR Observer
Picky OR Selective
Stubborn OR Peristent
Unfocused OR Curious
Foolish OR Funloving
Withdrawn OR Introspective
Fusses about food/clothes OR Specific Tastes and keen sense of self
Goofy OR Joyful and Entertaining, Great sense of humour
Impulsive OR Spontaneous
Loud OR Exuberant, confident and expressive
Hyperactive OR Energetic, full-of-life, creative
Naughty OR Independent and Exploring Boundaries
Nosey OR Curious Inquisitive Mind
Not Focusing OR Processing a variety of information
Quiet, Shy OR Thoughtful and Reflective Thinker
Rigid OR High Sense of order
Shy OR Selective about who they Value and trust, Reflective
Silly OR A Good Sense of Humour
Sneaky OR Inventive and Creative
Stubborn OR Determined and Persistent
Tattletale or Dobber OR High Seeker of Truth and Justice
Lacks empathy OR Possesses great emotional empathy, feels too intensely and experiences physical or emotional manifestations of other people’s energy, leading to meltdown or shutdown
I believe that individuals with Asperger Syndrome have many Superpowers. The difference between bossiness and leadership skills is in early intervention (EI). EI makes a world of difference in supporting children/teens into being successful adults. Caveat: I am not saying that individuals challenges are ignored. I am saying that their strengths and talents need to be included in their profile.
Tania Marshall©. All rights reserved. Duplication in whole or part is explicitly forbidden. Thank you.
Flying under the radar: Girls and Women with Aspergers Syndrome
In Australia, approximately 1 in 100 children are born with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). ASC is a recently defined lifelong developmental condition and affects people regardless, of age, colour, race or socio-economic status. It is now referred to as a spectrum condition, meaning that the condition affects the person in different ways, even though there are common areas of challenges across all people with Autism.
Aspergers Syndrome (AS) or High Functioning Autism (HFA) is a form of Autism, characterised by challenges in social communication and interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities, including sensory issues (DSM5, 2013).
Hans Aspergers, an Austrian paediatrician, originally described Aspergers Syndrome in 1944. He originally believed that girls were not affected. However, further clinical evidence led him to revise his statement. In terms of statistics, Kanner (1943) studied a small group of children with autism and found that there were four times as many boys as girls. Ehlers and Gillburg (1993) found the similar ratio of four boys to every girl, in their study of children in mainstream schools in Sweden.
Aspergers Syndrome appears to be more common among boys than girls, when the research is reviewed. However, recent awareness of genetic differences between males and females, and the diagnostic criteria largely based on the characteristics of males, are currently thought to be responsible for females being less likely to be identified. Attwood (2000), Ehlers and Gillberg (1993) and Wing (1981) all acknowledge that many girls and women with Aspergers Syndrome are never referred for assessment and diagnosis for AS, or are misdiagnosed, and are therefore missed from statistics and research. Many girls and women do not meet diagnostic criteria, as the criteria are based on the behavioural phenotype of boys. There exists a critical need for diagnostic criteria to reflect the female phenotype.
Questions have been raised about the ratio of males to females diagnosed as having an autism spectrum condition (ASC), with a variety of studies and anecdotal evidence citing a range from 2:1 to 16:1. Here in Australia, I have seen a rapid increase in the number of girls and adult women referred for a diagnosis and/or support.
The following are some of the identified different ways in which girls and women tend to present from boys (Gould and Ashton Smith, 2011; Attwood, 2007; and Yaull-Smith, Dale (2008):
• Girls use social imitation and mimicking by observing other children and copying them, leading to masking the symptoms of Asperger syndrome (Attwood, 2007). Girls learn to be actresses in social situations. This camouflaging of social confusion can delay a diagnosis by up to 30 years.
• Dale Yaull-Smith (2008) discusses the ‘social exhaustion’ that many females experience, from the enormous energy it takes pretending to fit in.
• Girls, in general, appear to have a more even and subtler profile of social skills. They often adopt a social role based on intellect instead of social intuition.
• Girls often feel a need and are aware of the cultural expectations of interacting socially. They tend to be often more involved in social play, and can be observed being led by their peers rather than initiating social contact. They often only have one or two close friends and/or may find boys easier to get along with.
• Cultural expectations for girls involve participating in social communication, often made up of social chit-chat or surface-type conversation. Girls with Asperger Syndrome find this type of communication exhausting, tending to desire having conversations that have a function to them. Girls on the spectrum are also are socially confused by teasing, bullying, and bitchiness, and the teasing that often occurs at school.
• Girls often misunderstand social hierarchies and how to communicate with others based on the level of the hierarchy that the person is on. This can tend to get girls in trouble with adults.
• Girls have better imagination and more pretend play (Knickmeyer et al, 2008), with many involved in fiction, and the worlds of fairies, witches and other forms of fantasy, including imaginary friends
• Whilst the interests of girls on the spectrum are very often similar to those of other girls, it is the ‘intensity’ and ‘quality’ of the interest which can be unusual. For example, many are very focused on their animals, celebrities or soap operas.
• Girls and women on the spectrum are generally skilled in one on one social relationships, but are uncomfortable and anxious in large groups of people.
• Girls may have great difficulty in attempting to explain their difficulties in social situations and/or groups. Instead, they may skip school, complain of headaches or stomach aches or refuse to go to school.
• Girls facial expressions tend to not match their moods. They may say that are fine, but on the inside they are unhappy, anxious or both.
• Girls tend to be more passive-aggressive (avoid social activities, refuse requests from others or refuse to complete tasks,), tend to blame themselves and/or internalise their feelings and anger and have less ADHD.
Girls on the autism spectrum are more likely to come to the attention of health professionals due to difficulties with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, behavioural problems and/or social skills challenges. The presenting problem then becomes the ‘diagnosis’, with the larger picture and explanation for feeling “different” is missed.
Women with Autism are most likely to have had a long history of misdiagnoses, often with borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, depression, selective mutism, OCD, but somehow those labels just didn’t seem to fit adequately. Up to 42% have been misdiagnosed (Gould, 2011).
Many women with an autism spectrum condition are not being diagnosed and are therefore not receiving the help and support needed throughout their lives. Having a diagnosis is the starting point in providing appropriate support for girls and women in the spectrum. A timely diagnosis can avoid many of the difficulties women and girls with an autism spectrum disorder experience throughout their lives. Who should I take my child or myself to see? Ask your doctor, psychologist or paediatrician how many girls with Autism they have seen. They must have seen as least 50 girls with AS, due to the ‘social echolalia’ or the camouflaging of social confusion that females on the Spectrum engage in.
Three Common Female Autism Myths and Advice
1. Girls and women cannot socialise. Actually, many girls and can socialise quite well, just not for as long. They tend to suffer from social exhaustion or a ‘social hangover’ from longer periods of socialising. All persons on the spectrum need solitude to recharge their batteries.
Advice: Let your family or friends know that you need a solitude break, to allow you to recharge your batteries. Let them know that this is how your regain your energy.
2. Girls and women lack empathy. Actually, there are different types of empathy. Girls and women have high emotional empathy, being highly sensitive to the emotions of others, also known as referred emotion, the actual feeling of others feelings. This can be quite overwhelming for the person experiencing it. Being overwhelmed by feeling others emotions makes it challenging for them to process or ‘read ‘the subtle social signals (tone of voice, subtle expression on face)
Advice: Learn to accept and trust your intuition. Learning a variety of interventions to help manage or cope with high empathy is important.
3. Girls and women with autism cannot lie. Girls and women with autism can lie, but they usually do it badly. They tend to lie to the detriment of all concerned or lie as a quick fix because they do not know what to do, so they will deny, even when it’s plainly obvious that they are. In addition, females tend to tell the truth when it is not socially acceptable to do so or be truthful with their emotions, when it may not be the best time or place to show those emotions.
Advice: Social stories for “white lies” and the appropriateness of “emotional truth” are useful intervention tools.
About Tania Marshall
Tania holds a Masters of Science in Applied Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She regularly provides diagnostic assessments, support and intervention.
Tania is currently working on her fourth book. She is co-authoring a book for professionals tentatively entitled “Assessment of Autism Spectrum and Asperger’s in Females: Comprehensive diagnostics and treatment planning for girls and women with autism spectrum conditions across the lifespan”.
To enquire or book assessments, problem solving sessions and/or support, please e-mail Tania at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tania is also completing the first three in a series of books on female Autism. Her book series is available for purchase at http://www.aspiengirl.com
To enquire about interviews, articles, workshops, or translations/translating of her books, please email Tania at email@example.com
Updated SEPTEMBER 8th, 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), LGB, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
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:
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.
A special interest in sexuality, personal appearance and.or gender identity
A special interest in the meaning of life, of on’s sense of purpose and/or of making sense of one’s sense of meaning-making and purpose in life
May attend ComicCon, SuperNova, love dressing up as a character. May love Anime, Manga, and other suck art.
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
An obsession on oneself, how one looks, one acts, one talks, one appears to others. This obsession can lead to an obsession on transgendering as an answer to one’s problems
11. Emotional/Mental Health Issues
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
Most do not have a “core self” or a stable identity or sense of who they are. This can lead to a personality disorder. Psychotherapy is highly recommend for identity and core self issues, to develop a unique core self and prevent personality disorders and other mental health conditions.
May develop mental health issues due to being Gender Non Conforming (GNC). Think of hte many creative ‘gender-bending’ artist of the 1980’s. Not all Autistic individuals are GNC.
Struggles with degrees of delight and distress of emotions (Alexythymia)
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
Transgendering into the opposite sex
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
- Trans-Identifying and/or Transgender/Transsexual
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
Tania Marshall© 2013-2021
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The following list is an official screening document consisting of the unique characteristics and traits of young girls and teenagers with Asperger Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism. This list comes from the many young females I have worked with over the years and currently work with. I have assessed, observed, diagnosed and worked with thousands of girls and women of all ages. 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. ***This list is not a research-based female profile. It is an official descriptive clinical profile, much like the early day descriptions that Asperger, Kanner and Frankl described of the boys they observed. Please be mindful that research often lags behind anecdotal, observational and clinical work. Updated September 8th, 2021
The following profile was created for children, teens and family members or health professionals and researchers who are considering a formal diagnosis and to assist mental health professionals in recognising Asperger Syndrome or Autism in young females. Please be mindful that he current statistics are 3:1 to 2:1 for males to females. I personally believe it is more likely to be 1:1 and that the research will find this in the future.
Females with Asperger Syndrome/Autism/ESSENCE experience their symptoms in varying levels, so while some Aspiengirls are highly introverted, others are not. Females with Asperger Syndrome or Autism tend to be discriminated due to the wide spectrum of abilities or levels of functioning that exists. The majority of females do not receive a formal diagnosis until teenagers or well into their adult years. This list typifies many of the girls and teens I have worked with. This document is based on my clinical anecdotal evidence and research by other well-known professionals. My clinical work is discussed in my award winning books I am AspienGirl here and I am AspienWoman here
I will be modifying and/or updating this list from time to time. This is current as of September 8th, 2021. This list describes females who may be described as twice, have Aspergers. Not all Autistic people are gifted. A significant proportion of Autistic people are Intellectually Impaired (II). Giftedness refers to scoring in the 98% on an IQ test and also having significant Talents. Twice Exceptionally refers to those who are GT and Aspergers/Autistic/ADHD/ESSENCE
- Natural born leaders, seen by girls who are strong willed, often very serious, intense, independent, “My Way” and/or stubborn and bossy
- Intelligence. Bright with an Intense and insatiable curiosity about the world, people, how things work, what people are doing. May be seen in the persistent asking of questions. Usually high average to genius level, uneven profile of abilities. This is knows as “twice-exceptionality”
- Intense emotions and mood swings
- Highly Sensitive and sensory issues (visual, hearing, smell, touch, balance and movement, intuition). A feeling of being different to their peers.
- Social skills differences, which may be displayed in a variety of ways that vary from their same-age peers. For e.g., may be shy in social situations, have one best friend or be a floater (floats from one group to another and having superficial connections with others). A less developed or little understanding of facial expressions, social context, non-verbal body language, theory of mind.
- Self-taught. The ability to teach themselves or learn about anything they are interested in. A preference to direct their learning, rather than teacher-directed learning.
- A high sense of justice and fairness (empathy for the “underdog”) and adherence to rules about how the world and people should operate and/or behave
- Perfectionistic and high standards towards self and others
- Anxiety and/or fears, including negative all-or-nothing thinking and/or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or obsessive tendencies.
- Gifts or Talents, which may include but are not limited to singing (perfect pitch) and/or music, writing, reading, artistic creations, languages, self-taught, fast learner or other talent(s)
- Fine and/or gross motor difficulties, clumsiness, a lack of co-ordination
- Difficulties understanding the human social hierarchy, age groups and roles within a group, family
- Sleep issues (difficulty getting to sleep due to thinking too much and/or worrying about events that happened that day or what may or may not happen the next day), often not a morning person, tend to prefer staying up later at night
- Stomach issues (cramping, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, gas) are quite common, due to gluten, wheat and/or casein allergies/intolerances
- Hyperfocus. May not respond to their name being called due to being fully engaged in thought or an activity
- Hyperempathy, emotionally empathic and very caring (for e.g., may lead to bringing home stray or injured animals) but difficulty with cognitive empathy
- Intense love and/or interest in animals, nature, celebrities, fiction, art, mathematics, languages and/or other cultures. May be obsessed with a person, real or fiction, in an unhealthy manner. Other common special or obsessive interests may include but are not limited to: philosophy, psychology, history (for example, Ancient Egypt or Rome, hieroglyphics), languages, Wicca, Vampires, Occultism, psychological profiling and/or criminology/serial killers/detective/FBI/forensic psychologist, science/space/NASA/Stephen Hawking, technology and programming, physical appearance (for example, Gothic, ultra-feminine, tomboy), fantasy, English literature, Law, make-up artistry, art, acting).
- Usually stand out as different from her peers, in terms of her dress (some girls are ultra princess-like in their clothing choices while others prefer to wear more comfortable and functional clothing, yet other stand out as anti-conformist
- Facial expressions may not match the situation or her mood (for example, smiling or laughing in a serious situation)
- May have interests that are mature/advanced AND/OR immature for her age (for example, a young child’s interest in english literature, opera or creative writing
- May be advanced in reading ability OR have trouble with reading comprehension
- May be advanced with mathematics/numbers OR have difficulties (dyscalculia)
- May have Irlen Syndrome
- May have Dyslexia
- May have Auditory Processing Disorder
- May have attention/focusing/impulsivity/hyperactivity issues (see Dr. Daniel Amen’s 7 types of ADD/ADHD at http://www.amenclinics.com/conditions/adhd-add). Usually have the anxious ADD type
- In social situations, she may be shy, quiet, even mute at times OR loud, very verbal and/or aggressive, imposing on other’s boundaries
- Has difficulty with asking for help when needed, saying “no” or asserting her own personal boundaries
- As mentioned previously, she may have trouble with her own boundaries, in addition to the boundaries of others
- May be naive, vulnerable and have a tendency to be taken advantage of. Often confused socially, saying she knows what to do in a social situation when she really does not. Girls appear to be better than boys at masking the traits of autism in social situations. However, girls are less able to do so in unfamiliar settings.
- May bring home stray animals, homeless friends or homeless strangers, much to their parents chagrin
32. May avoid demands that cause her anxiety (Pathological Demand Avoidance, see http://www.thepdaresource.com/)
33. Usually has a low frustration tolerance
34. May have a different voice, for example, younger than her age, talks “babyish” for her age at times, speaks in an accent or in a monotone voice.
35. Avoids complying with requests from adults and may have difficulty with authority figures
36. May be clingy with one or two friends and has trouble sharing her friends with other children
37. “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE”. Gender Non Conformity (GNC) and Identity. GNC is not a new thing. In the 80’s there were ‘gender bending’ artists. In every generation, there have been ‘gender-benders’ who were anti-patriarchy and anti-matriarchy ‘out of the box thinkers’. They may be tomboys one day and a fashion diva or a princess the next day. They may be both on the same day. They may spend months vacillating between the two or variations of these presentations. Some may or may not be interested in looking feminine. For those pre-pubertal and going through puberty, this is the highest vulnerability time for mental health issues, being taken advantage of and safety issues. In my clinic, I have worked with thousands of teenagers who, before the transgender trend, the explanation that they must be ‘gender dysphoric’, ‘trans’ or non-binary, I (and other professionals) spend a great deal of time energy and work assisting Autistic teenagers with identity, core self issues, self-esteem, self-talk, social skills, boundaries, asserting themselves, GNC issues, eating disorders, depressions attacks, trauma, sexual abuse, child abuse, bullying, ADHD, depression, anxiety, immaturity, social and communication skills restricted and obsessive unhealthy interests, language skills and sensory processing/fine and gross motor issues. Autistic girls/teens/adults who remain undiagnosed have little idea of who they are and exist in others people world and dont know they are doing that. This is for a variety of reasons and I am currently writing a book about my experiences with my clients as a psychologist operating an Autism Clinic. Many have no awareness and their issues are never resolved until they receive their diagnosis and treatment.
There remain serious ethical and moral safeguarding issues in relation to transgendering Autistic and Aspergic girls and teens. Some of them I briefly outline below:
The Autistic Brain and the core features of Autism (social-communication, sensory processing, fine and gross motor skills issues, restricted interests and speech and language issues/comprehension) and common co-existing conditions (ADHD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, trauma, etc.). One area of the Autistic brain consists of enlarged Amygdala’s (emotion centers of the brain) and enlarged hippocampus. Puberty is described as “hell” by my teenagers. In 2018, Sir Simon Baron Cohen conducted some fantastic research on the effects of puberty, menstruation and medical conditions including PCOS that affect Autistic women. You may find that here:
The Immature Prefrontal Cortex. It is known that children and teens do not become mature until at least age 25. What this mean is they do not have mature skills in planning ahead, time management, Organization, making decisions, remembering things, considering the consequences of their actions, time management, staying on-task, completing tasks, being responsible, and more.
The inconsistent and uneven cognitive profile of Autistic females. A higher IQ but a lower social and emotional IQ
The lack of accurate assessment, diagnosis and identification of the ‘systemizing’ drive in Autistic children and teens
Cognitive thinking style consistent of rigid black and white thinking or concrete thinking (all-or-nothing, context blindness, poor mentalizing skills, a lack of ‘safety’ skills, a lack of understand other people intentions, being taken advantage of, are often ‘time-blind’.
The sense of being ‘right’, despite reality suggesting otherwise and/or others pointing this out to them
Obsessive and restricted interests on unhealthy topics including people, themselves and that transgendering is the answer to their unhappiness and will resolve their issues. Sadly, for most of them it does not. Autism or ESSENCE and the challenges (and strengths) must be supported appropriately.
Strong dislike of change
Gender NON Conformity and ‘out of the box’ thinking (TBC)
38. May not be interested in fashion at all or be obsessed with it. May be obsession with creating and recreating a ‘personality’ that meets society’s expectations, as presented to them by their peers, in magazine, on social media, television. Often change their appearance significantly
39. Experiences social exhaustion or “social hangover”, from an inability to socialize as much as her peers are able to.
40. Many females can look people in the eye and have superficial conversations with them
41. Often well-behaved at school and has “melt-downs” at home (usually due to social exhaustion)
42. May play with younger or older children
43. May have language issues, particularly in semantic-pragmatics and expressive and/or receptive language
44. May prefer to talk and/or play with boys and do not relate to their same-age peers (females)
45. May not apologize when she has made a social error OR may appease and apologize too much, even when she does not have too46.
46. May watch and/or observe others playing before joining in
47. May copy, mimic or clone herself on other girls, also known as “Social Echolalia”, a mirroring of other children, giving her a superficial social confidence and skill-set by acting the part of another person. However, the complexities of the next step of unwritten social skills soon becomes apparent when she has to navigate the expectations and demands that come with reciprocal relationships and maintaining them. This is both confusing and exhausting for her. Please see my 2013 blog on Camouflaging here
48. May have imaginary friends and/or imaginary animals
49. May spend more time setting up a play scene, rather than playing with the characters in the scene
50. May be obsessed with fantasy worlds of fairies, witches, imaginary friends, imaginary animals, dragons, anime, fantasies of self-image, the way one looks, appears to others
51. May be highly visual, creative, more imaginative then her peers
52. She may dominate when playing or talking with other girls OR be passive, quiet and “invisible” within the group. If she is dominating, her play tends to appear to be shared with others but she dominates and insists that others follows her rules and themes. If and/or when others refuse to be engaged she continues on with her own ideas or play. Her play tends to be mostly repetitive. If she is passive, she’s more likely to be compliant and may not come across as having social impairments. She may also be shy, embarrassed, coy, naive, innocent, unassuming, and hide or “camouflage” her difficulties, even lying about whether she needs or understands something or needs assistance or help. She is most likely to be described as “flying under the radar” or “blending in with the walls”.
53. A tendency to collect information on people rather than things. May be interested in psychology, social work, nursing, teaching or helping others. May grow up and become a clinician.
54. A tendency to ask a lot of questions, often challenging her parents or other adults, who are unable to provide her with the appropriate or the right answers; may correct the adult or teacher and point out their mistake
55. A tendency to imitate other girls in order to initiate social contact but then have great difficulty maintaining and keeping the reciprocal friendship going. It is this part that often girls find stressful and they will often ruminate about the social situation, what they could have said or done differently, often late at night
56. She may appear to have a rich imaginative world but the quality is atypical, tending to be a blend of fantasy and reality. This is currently see in the transgender trend. Before that it was usually seen with the anime, manga trends, pretending to be animals, pretending to have imaginary relationships with others.
57. She may have an intense interest in the family pets, who may be her best friends, rather than other children or her peers
58. May have motor tics, Tourette’s Syndrome
59. May have a different quality of eye gaze/eye contact. May stare at others
60. May not have a best friend, but be a “flitterer”, having many acquaintances, some to whom she may refer to as a best friend
61. May have difficulty completing tasks
62. May be highly organized, ordered and/or clean OR unorganized and have hygiene issues
63. May follow other children closely, studying their mannerisms, actions, words, and so on. others children/teens pick up on this and this can cause social problems.
64. Intense and serious. There is no other word for it. AspienGirls have an intensity in everything they do. If they cannot do it right, do it properly, do it right the first time, they tend to refuse, avoid, and or express frustration/distress. When taught to persevere, to develop frustration tolerance, to manage their emotions, they are most often successful in whatever they pursue, to the point of becoming an “expert”.
65. Superior photographic memory and weaker short-term memory
66. Can be obsessive about people, especially if they feel or perceive that they have been “wronged”. This can get them into trouble at times for hurting others or taking revenge. May obsess over or stalk people. May have a misguided sense of justice that leads them to getting in trouble with other people, lawyers or the legal system/law. An obsession with a human/humans never leads anywhere good (except if a detective after a terrorist).
67. May question why they are “different” or what is “wrong” with them or why they can’t seem to “fit in” of feel that the “mothership dropped me off on the wrong planet and I’m just waiting for it to pick me up”
68. Lack a clear sense of identity, “core self”, who they are and their place in society and seek to find meaning in their existence, life and how they fit in with larger society.
69. May be described as “serious”, “shy”, “odd”, “eccentric”, “adult-like”, “weird” in some ways, yet “babyish” in other ways. AS children they are viewed as “mature” and adults they are viewed as “childish:
70. A tendency to not be accepted by her same-age peers, across the lifespan.
71. High likelihood of being bullied and/or teased, overlooked or ignored
72. Intense dislike of disagreement, conflict, arguments, people yelling or shouting at them or around them. This them tends to an avoidance of conflict causing more serious communication difficulties. For example, this may be observed in a person who is unable to deal directly with a person they may have an issue with, but rather engages in talking or gossiping about their issue with that person with everyone else. Some do like debate, starting arguments, creating disagreements and this si a source of stress for families.
73. An inability to handle and/or cope with stress, conflict and/or change
74. An inner resilience, strength and ability (strong will and determination) to bounce back from stress and setbacks time and time again. This does depend on particular internal and external factors at play.
75. Some strengths, abilities, talents and interests may include: enjoying fantasy worlds, fiction, acting, modelling, art, mathematics and numbers, music, song-writing, perfect pitch, writing fiction, languages and/or translating, caring for nature and/or animals, research, learning and studying, intelligence, teaching, helping others, science and medicine.
76. May invade other’s personal space or stand too close to them or be unaware of boundaries
77. May dislike people looking or staring at her. This is often a huge barrier for talented and gifted performers (for example, singers performing in front of others or crowds, actors being on the red carpet).
78. May be perceived as being “just shy and quiet”
79. Most often confused by the conversations of their teenage peers
80. May walk on her tip-toes or have an “odd gait”, motor difficulties
81. May be very social, very loud, extroverted and make continual attempts to be part of a group. Her attempts are clumsy and her peers may see her as not quite fitting in. She lacks social skills and a social understanding to help the interactions go gracefully. Her peers don’t quite understand her social awkwardness and may be be mean to her, ostracize her and/or make fun of her, taking advantage of her naivety. She may appear to “flitter” from one person to the other or one group to the other, unable to have a typical friendship, due to smothering people or groups. Her peers take advantage of her, make fun of her and/or will be mean to her, saying they are her friend one day, but their actions prove otherwise. The issues revolve around girls being mean to her and cutting her from the group. She often smothers others and doesn’t understand the levels of friendship or social boundaries.
82. Thumb-sucking may last well-past pre-school age, until 9 or even 10 years of age.
83. Often as a teen, spending breaks/lunches alone in the hallways, toilets, library, or with a teacher, due to not being part of a group and/or having no friends.
84. May have Alexithymia, an inability to identify and describe emotions in the self
85. May have Synaesthesia, in particular mirror-touch synaesthesia. Research studies hypothesize that empathy is experienced by a process of simulation. So for example, when we see someone feeling happy or sad, the same neural circuits used to make them feel happy are activated in our brain. Since mirror touch synesthetes have heightened activation of mirror systems, it can be hypothesized that that these individuals may also experience higher empathy, and this has been confirmed by research in this area. Mirror touch synesthetes experience more empathy than non-synesthetes. A research study by Michael Banissy et. al determined this by using the empathy quotient (EQ), consisting of three main scales: cognitive empathy, emotional reactivity, and social skills. Mirror touch synesthetes showed significantly higher EQ scores in emotional reactivity than in controls. However, synesthetes did not show higher scores in cognitive empathy and social skills. Thus empathy is multifaceted, and the tactile mirror system may not be fully responsible for the ability to empathize (For more information, check out Banissy, Michael; Jamie Ward (July 2007). “Mirror Touch Synaesthesia is Linked with Empathy”. Nature Neuroscience 10 (7): 815–816. doi:10.1038/nn1926).
Kopp S, Gillberg C. Res Dev Disabil. 2011 Nov-Dec;32(6):2875-88. Epub 2011 Jun 12.
Gould, Judith and Ashton Smith, Jacqui. (2011). Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis? Women and Girls with Autism and PDA
FAQ: Why do your pictures include visuals of girls or women in superhero outfits? In my clinical experience and work, I never cease to be amazed by an Aspiengirls’ ability to bounce back from stress and setbacks time and time again. I refer to Aspiengirls’ abilities as “aspienpowers” because there is no other group of girls or woman I know of with the unique profile of abilities, traits and characteristics (aspienpowers) that enable them to be highly successful in their chosen careers and/or life, given the right environmental fit and support.
About Tania Marshall
Tania holds a Masters of Science in Applied Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is a best selling author, Clinical Consultant Psychotherapist, Forensic Consultant, child and family psychotherapist and Autism Expert. She is an NDIS provider. She was formerly an APS Autism Identified Medicare Provider, a Helping Children With Autism Early Intervention Service Provider, a Better Start Early Intervention Provider, a Medicare Approved Mental Health Provider and a Secret Agent Society (SAS) Trained Group Facilitator.
Her areas of interest include: Gifted and Talented, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Twice-Exceptionality, Highly Sensitive Individuals, Learning Disabilities, Performance Anxiety and Psychological Profiling
She regularly provides diagnostic assessments, support and intervention and divides her time between private practice, writing and research.
To enquire or book consultations, assessments, problem solving sessions and/or support, please e-mail Tania at email@example.com
Tania has now completed the first two in a series of books on female Autism. She is now writing a book series.
Her book series is available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com
To inquire about interviews, articles, workshops, presentations, or translations/translating of her books, please email Tania at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tania Marshall© 2013-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.