Females and Aspergers: A checklist

Samantha Craft

This list is meant as a springboard for discussion and more awareness into the female experience with autism.

By Samantha Craft

Females with Asperger’s Syndrome: An Unofficial List

Section A: Deep Thinkers

  1. A deep thinker
  2. A prolific writer drawn to poetry
  3. *Highly intelligent
  4. Sees things at multiple levels, including her own thinking processes
  5. Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything, continually
  6. Serious and matter-of-fact in nature
  7. Doesn’t take things for granted
  8. Doesn’t simplify
  9. Everything is complex
  10. Often gets lost in own thoughts and “checks out” (blank stare)

Section B: Innocent

  1. Naïve
  2. Honest
  3. Experiences trouble with lying
  4. Finds it difficult to understand manipulation and disloyalty
  5. Finds it difficult to understand vindictive behavior and retaliation
  6. Easily fooled and conned
  7. Feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed
  8. Feelings of being misplaced and/or from another planet
  9. Feelings of isolation
  10. Abused or taken advantage of as a child but didn’t think to tell anyone

Section C: Escape and Friendship

  1. Survives overwhelming emotions and senses by escaping in thought or action
  2. Escapes regularly through fixations, obsessions, and over-interest in subjects
  3. Escapes routinely through imagination, fantasy, and daydreaming
  4. Escapes through mental processing
  5. Escapes through the rhythm of words
  6. Philosophizes, continually
  7. Had imaginary friends in youth
  8. Imitates people on television or in movies
  9. Treated friends as “pawns” in youth, e.g., friends were “students” “consumers” “members”
  10. Makes friends with older or younger females more so than friends her age (often in young adulthood)
  11. Imitates friends or peers in style, dress, attitude, interests, and manner (sometimes speech)
  12. Obsessively collects and organizes objects
  13. Mastered imitation
  14. Escapes by playing the same music over and over
  15. Escapes through a relationship (imagined or real)
  16. Numbers bring ease (could be numbers associated with patterns, calculations, lists, time and/or personification)
  17. Escapes through counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging
  18. Escapes into other rooms at parties
  19. Cannot relax or rest without many thoughts
  20. Everything has a purpose

Section D: Comorbid Attributes

  1. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  2. Sensory Issues (sight, sound, texture, smells, taste) (might have Synthesia)
  3. Generalized Anxiety
  4. Sense of pending danger or doom
  5. Feelings of polar extremes (depressed/over-joyed; inconsiderate/over-sensitive)
  6. Poor muscle tone, double-jointed, and/or lack in coordination (may have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and/or Hypotonia and/or POTS syndrome)
  7. Eating disorders, food obsessions, and/or worry about what is eaten
  8. Irritable bowel and/or intestinal issues
  9. Chronic fatigue and/or immune challenges
  10. Misdiagnosed or diagnosed with a mental illness
  11. Experiences multiple physical symptoms, perhaps labeled “hypochondriac”
  12. Questions place in the world
  13. Often drops small objects
  14. Wonders who she is and what is expected of her
  15. Searches for right and wrong
  16. Since puberty has had bouts of depression (may have PMDD)
  17. Flicks/rubs fingernails, picks scalp/skin, flaps hands, rubs hands together, tucks hands under or between legs, keeps closed fists, paces in circles, and/or clears throat often

Section E: Social Interaction

  1. Friends have ended friendship suddenly (without female with AS understanding why) and/or difficult time making friends
  2. Tendency to overshare
  3. Spills intimate details to strangers
  4. Raised hand too much in class or didn’t participate in class
  5. Little impulse control with speaking when younger
  6. Monopolizes conversation at times
  7. Brings subject back to self
  8. Comes across at times as narcissistic and controlling (is not narcissistic)
  9. Shares in order to reach out
  10. Often sounds eager and over-zealous or apathetic and disinterested
  11. Holds a lot of thoughts, ideas, and feelings inside
  12. Feels as if she is attempting to communicate “correctly”
  13. Obsesses about the potentiality of a relationship with someone, particularly a love interest or feasible new friendship
  14. Confused by the rules of accurate eye contact, tone of voice, proximity of body, body stance, and posture in conversation
  15. Conversation are often exhausting
  16. Questions the actions and behaviors of self and others, continually
  17. Feels as if missing a conversation “gene” or thought-filter
  18. Trained self in social interactions through readings and studying of other people
  19. Visualizes and practices how she will act around others
  20. Practices/rehearses in mind what she will say to another before entering the room
  21. Difficulty filtering out background noise when talking to others
  22. Has a continuous dialogue in mind that tells her what to say and how to act when in a social situation
  23. Sense of humor sometimes seems quirky, odd, inappropriate, or different from others
  24. As a child it was hard to know when it was her turn to talk
  25. Finds norms of conversation confusing
  26. Finds unwritten and unspoken rules difficult to grasp, remember, and apply

Section F: Finds Refuge when Alone

  1. Feels extreme relief when she doesn’t have to go anywhere, talk to anyone, answer calls, or leave the house but at the same time will often harbor guilt for “hibernating” and not doing “what everyone else is doing”
  2. One visitor at the home may be perceived as a threat (this can even be a familiar family member)
  3. Knowing logically a house visitor is not a threat, doesn’t relieve the anxiety
  4. Feelings of dread about upcoming events and appointments on the calendar
  5. Knowing she has to leave the house causes anxiety from the moment she wakes up
  6. All the steps involved in leaving the house are overwhelming and exhausting to think about
  7. She prepares herself mentally for outings, excursions, meetings, and appointments, often days before a scheduled event
  8. OCD tendencies when it comes to concepts of time, being on time, tracking time, recording time, and managing time (could be carried over to money, as well)
  9. Questions next steps and movements, continually
  10. Sometimes feels as if she is on stage being watched and/or a sense of always having to act out the “right” steps, even when she is home alone
  11. Telling self the “right” words and/or positive self-talk (CBT) doesn’t typically alleviate anxiety. CBT may cause increased feelings of inadequacy.
  12. Knowing she is staying home all day brings great peace of mind
  13. Requires a large amount of down time or alone time
  14. Feels guilty after spending a lot of time on a special interest
  15. Uncomfortable in public locker rooms, bathrooms, and/or dressing rooms
  16. Dislikes being in a crowded mall, crowded gym, and/or crowded theater

Section G: Sensitive

  1. Sensitive to sounds, textures, temperature, and/or smells when trying to sleep
  2. Adjusts bedclothes, bedding, and/or environment in an attempt to find comfort
  3. Dreams are anxiety-ridden, vivid, complex, and/or precognitive in nature
  4. Highly intuitive to others’ feelings
  5. Highly empathetic, sometimes to the point of confusion
  6. Takes criticism to heart
  7. Longs to be seen, heard, and understood
  8. Questions if she is a “normal” person
  9. Highly susceptible to outsiders’ viewpoints and opinions
  10. At times adapts her view of life or actions based on others’ opinions or words
  11. Recognizes own limitations in many areas daily, if not hourly
  12. Becomes hurt when others question or doubt her work
  13. Views many things as an extension of self
  14. Fears others opinions, criticism, and judgment
  15. Dislikes words and events that hurt animals and people
  16. Collects or rescues animals (often in childhood)
  17. Huge compassion for suffering (sometimes for inanimate objects/personification)
  18. Sensitive to substances (environmental toxins, foods, alcohol, medication, hormones, etc.)
  19. Tries to help, offers unsolicited advice, or formalizes plans of action
  20. Questions life purpose and how to be a “better” person
  21. Seeks to understand abilities, skills, and/or gifts

Section H: Sense of Self

  1. Feels trapped between wanting to be herself and wanting to fit in
  2. Imitates others without realizing it
  3. Suppresses true wishes (often in young adulthood)
  4. Exhibits codependent behaviors (often in young adulthood)
  5. Adapts self in order to avoid ridicule
  6. Rejects social norms and/or questions social norms
  7. Feelings of extreme isolation
  8. Feeling good about self takes a lot of effort and work
  9. Switches preferences based on environment and other people
  10. Switches behavior based on environment and other people
  11. Didn’t care about her hygiene, clothes, and appearance before teenage years and/or before someone else pointed these out to her
  12. “Freaks out” but doesn’t know why until later
  13. Young sounding voice
  14. Trouble recognizing what she looks like and/or has occurrences of slight prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing or remembering faces)
  15. Feels significantly younger on the inside than on the outside (perpetually twelve)

Section I: Confusion

  1. Had a hard time learning that others are not always honest
  2. Feelings seem confusing, illogical, and unpredictable (self’s and others’)
  3. Confuses appointment times, numbers, and/or dates
  4. Expects that by acting a certain way certain results can be achieved, but realizes in dealing with emotions, those results don’t always manifest
  5. Spoke frankly and literally in youth
  6. Jokes go over the head
  7. Confused when others ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray
  8. Trouble identifying feelings unless they are extreme
  9. Trouble with emotions of hate and dislike
  10. Feels sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt her
  11. Personal feelings of anger, outrage, deep love, fear, giddiness, and anticipation seem to be easier to identify than emotions of joy, satisfaction, calmness, and serenity
  12. Difficulty recognizing how extreme emotions (outrage, deep love) will affect her and challenges transferring what has been learned about emotions from one situation to the next
  13. Situations and conversations sometimes perceived as black or white
  14. The middle spectrum of outcomes, events, and emotions is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood (all or nothing mentality)
  15. A small fight might signal the end of a relationship or collapse of world
  16. A small compliment might boost her into a state of bliss

Section J: Words, Numbers, and Patterns

  1. Likes to know word origins and/or origin of historical facts/root cause and foundation
  2. Confused when there is more than one meaning (or spelling) to a word
  3. High interest in songs and song lyrics
  4. Notices patterns frequently
  5. Remembers things in visual pictures
  6. Remembers exact details about someone’s life
  7. Has a remarkable memory for certain details
  8. Writes or creates to relieve anxiety
  9. Has certain “feelings” or emotions towards words and/or numbers
  10. Words and/or numbers bring a sense of comfort and peace, akin to a friendship

(Optional) Executive Functioning & Motor Skills  This area isn’t always as evident as other areas

  1. Simple tasks can cause extreme hardship
  2. Learning to drive a car or rounding the corner in a hallway can be troublesome
  3. New places offer their own set of challenges
  4. Anything that requires a reasonable amount of steps, dexterity, or know-how can rouse a sense of panic
  5. The thought of repairing, fixing, or locating something can cause anxiety
  6. Mundane tasks are avoided
  7. Cleaning self and home may seem insurmountable
  8. Many questions come to mind when setting about to do a task
  9. Might leave the house with mismatched socks, shirt buttoned incorrectly, and/or have dyslexia and/or dysgraphia
  10. A trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming
  11. Trouble copying dance steps, aerobic moves, or direction in a sports gym class
  12. Has a hard time finding certain objects in the house but remembers with exact clarity where other objects are; not being able to locate something or thinking about locating something can cause feelings of intense anxiety (object permanence challenges) (even with something as simple as opening an envelope)

This unofficial checklist can be copied for therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, professors, teachers, and relatives, if Samantha Craft’s name and contact information remain on the print out. This list was created in 2012 and updated in May 2016.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and based on my experience after 12 years of researching about autism and being officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It is not meant to replace the DSM-V Autism Spectrum Disorder definition nor is this list meant to serve as an official diagnostic tool. Hundreds of women have used this list in conjunction with the DSM-IV or DSM-V and a professional mental health professional’s guidance. It is also based on 4.5 years of communicating almost daily with those that are diagnosed with autism and some that believe themselves to be on the spectrum. It is not all inclusive. Some will fit into categories and not be autistic/Asperian. This is meant as a springboard for discussion and more awareness into the female experience with autism.

This is an unofficial checklist created by an adult female with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) who has a son with Asperger’s Syndrome. Samantha Craft has a Masters Degree in Education. Samantha Craft does not hold a doctorate in Psychiatry or Psychology. She has a life-credential as a result of being a female with Asperger’s Syndrome and being a parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. She has created this list in an effort to assist health professionals in recognizing Asperger’s Syndrome in females—for in-depth information regarding females with AS refer to Craft’s book Everyday Aspergers.

This post is courtesy of Samantha Craft. Her original post can be viewed here.

Related Blog:  Ten Ways to Help Your Autistic Loved One

Top Ten Signs You Have Aspergers

The Art of Autism realizes many people come to this page with the questions Do I have Autism or Do I have Aspergers. We recommend diagnosis by a professional. There are a couple of popular online quizzes which will give you an indication if you are on the spectrum including the Aspie Quiz. And the Autism Spectrum Quotient online test


  • thanks to Sam! Brilliant tools to work with – away from medical model; analysing challenges in an outward-looking way.
    Btw, as I am asked to give my blog address below: My writing is my way of dealing with the challenges and gifts of ND traits!

  • Thank you for this information! I have always felt this way and have always thought something was wrong with me. This brings a light to everything I have been dealing with my entire life. It was like a light bulb went off in my head when I read this. I have been trying to figure out and understand what it is but could never quite get to the basis of truth. I am going to take this to my counselor to address these things…finally! Thank you for stepping out to educate people!

    • Thank you for putting into words what I cannot. I’m 54 yrs old and am only now discovering that I’m not stupid, clumsy, eccentric etc.

    • That’s an interesting question. I think not most people but many women. I identify with every one of these points in varying degrees except the organisation thing. I’m totally messy. Would I qualify for a diagnosis? I doubt it. From what I’ve seen of the professional diagnostic criteria, it doesn’t take many of the points above into account. It’s heavily swayed towards lack of empathy, lack of eye contact and obsessive collecting and lining up of toys. In some ways, the opposite of what many women in the spectrum display.

      • There are diagnostic specialists of Women on the spectrum who agree with the above blog post. It’s just nearly impossible on the NHS

  • Hi i have diagnosed Aspergers, I was only diagnosed this year (I am 23, soon 24), I think this list is spot on, the whole thing about feeling and acting younger is very real for me. I used to think that maybe a part of my brain stopped developing when I was a child, but luckily I have found that it is just another trait of Aspergers. My boyfriend often complains that I act and talk too young, it does annoy me too but seems to be my default, and in general easier to articulate. I am very intelligent so it is frustrating to not come across as more knowing. My interests and general thought are more sophisticated, however I take solace in doing things in a child-like manner, it allows me to relax my brain.

    It’s also interesting how despite my intelligence I am unable to express it vocally, only through writing (typing specifically). I think this is linked to issues about sense of self, for instance my preferences change depending on who I am with, others will see this as ‘sucking up’ but I believe it is because I am able to see the good and bad qualities in all things, and why someone would like or dislike a certain thing, which in some ways makes me a lot less rigid than others. It is kind of like being a vessel for information, I perceive and take things in then breathe them out like I would air, between that I look purely at the rational qualities without fully forming an opinion on them. When things are looked at during a conversation I hurriedly pick up the information that I found and allow myself to be emotionally swayed by others opinions. My brain works far too fast for me to form a coherent and to the point sentence, I do not have time to make an opinion during social interacting, let alone most things, this leads to excessive stress and I wonder (emotionally) if I am being lazy. This whole problem leaves me feeling very lost, except for my opinions on things like politics, psychology and art, all very idea based subjects that need to be thought about for longer anyway (even for normal people). If someone asked me my opinion on phones or tea right at this second then I would find great difficulty in making a conclusion with all the information (or not enough!) that I have about it in my head. I wonder if this is because we Aspergers people concentrate more energy in certain parts of our brains than others, therefore leaving some aspects ‘undernourished’ for lack of a better word? It would be interesting to see a brain scan comparing the female brain with Aspergers to a female brain that is not.

    There’s so much frustration involved in trying to have a normal conversation with a person, I find myself drifting from topic to topic not understanding why others do not see the links, the conversation must be mine or I loose all articulation and understanding, knowing that I will not be able to process my information fast enough. I often drift away and zone out. Now I find that I have so much information that I just don’t retain it anymore, kind of like a full up memory card!

    (This list is very interesting too seeing as I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when I was 18, yet this list displays my main symptoms associated with the disorder. I have heard many times that female’s with Aspergers are often misdiagnosed with BPD. Perhaps I do not have it after all and my relationship problems are down to my misunderstandings about social interaction, a little bit of a relief!)

    • that’s such a weird thing to read….virtually ALL of the things on the list as well as your shared experiences here apply to me exactly! yet, I would have never thought that I in any way, shape or form have any connection to autism or asperger’s. i always thought i’m just really intelligent and therefore am often lonely, as many intelligent people are (which sounds horribly self-obsessed, I realize).

      I so so SO relate to your experience of seeing links to subject matters in conversations and other people being absolutely overwhelmed, bored, tuned out (which I actually always notice). And also with the feeling of having gathered too much information at this point in my life, forgetting many other things I once knew lots about and through that actually weirdly loosing my orientation of self-identity throughout my life. It’s like I am an entirely different person now than I was 10 years ago, when I was 19, and like that experience was a dream or a film I’ve seen. I cannot re-live these experiences in any comprehensible way, but I know that they have happened to me.

      At the same time I have very few but very intimate friends of whom I am very protective and all of these people seem to value my friendship and tell me often that I am quite sensitive, helpful, can relate well to what people are feeling and going through and give good advice. The thing is though that I never can relate to what people are going through on an EMOTIONAL level, but only on an intellectual. I see what people are doing and which situations they are in and I realize what consequences their behavior will have and what they should’ve done/ should do instead. I feel surprise and sometimes a bit of condescending (which I feel very ashamed of) when I lay out for them why they have troubles with some social situation and why they cannot see it. I have often heard that I should’ve studied Psychology.

      Long story short: I am an avid feminist and always thought that this is just how the female experience in GENERAL was. The entire list provided above seemed to me to be a blue-print for (especially highly intelligent) female social troubles and struggles to find their place in society. I stumbled across this website absolutely accidentally and I am in shock of this list and how exact it applies to my own experiences. I am very very confused and just wanted to share this. I don’t know why.

  • Thank you for the list. I highly identify. I printed it out for my 15-year-old daughter to read. She was diagnosed several years ago, but has never embraced her diagnosis. She is now having severe problems, and I think this will help her. Thank you very much.

  • We totally need our own clothing store. Call it “Forever 12.” And have a section with classic looks, one with silky and tight, one with bright colors, one with baggy cotton, one whole section where Nothing Matches, and of course the All Black section… Or, you can go to Goodwill, close your eyes and imagine you’re there!

  • Doesn’t this apply to many/all people though? Or at least all people with anxiety? Cause I do nearly all of of these things but I think I’m just super anxious.

  • I was have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and was diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder last year. But I relate to a lot of these traits. Many of these traits listed were not clear to me, required clarification, and I would require further investigation to know if I can relate to them.

  • I am very grateful for these points – I was signposted to them as a starting point for diagnosis, so I am about to write everything down and take it from there. Why do I need a diagnosis at age 52, when I have actually learned ways to deal with many of these issues? I think it’s because I’m getting tired and I want to stop fighting,. Wish me luck!

  • I wasn’t sure if i had ASD. I just so happened to come across this checklist. I went through the entire list checking off all the symptoms that I could identify with. I checked off about 90% of them. It was so helpful. Thank you so much for sharing it. I haven’t been diagnosed yet. I need to find a dr that specializes in ASD. I wondered if there is medicine that ppl take. I also have ADHD, PTSD and depression. Which makes it even more difficult for me to function every day! Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind. Ugh!!

  • My daughter who is 11 has just been diagnosed.. And since doing all the research and reading blogs like this one.. I am positive that I have it as well.
    I have always been different to everyone around me.. And I will go through the process to officially get diagnosed myself

  • Spot on. Thank you. My therapist suggested I’m on the spectrum a week ago, and I’m still struggling to accept it. This post definitely helped me feel like I’m not alone.

  • Samantha, thank you for this list. Fascinating. I’ve had trouble finding anyone qualified to diagnose me, and someone who if familiar with ASD in women, girls. So far self testing has shown both yes and no for me. Here’s some feedback about the physical traits. I find it uncanny that I’m both double jointed (backbones – my wings as I call them since they stick out and fingers). and have a hematological condition which is caused by a damaged immune system affecting the bone marrow.

    Of possible interest it is thought this bone marrow damage may be caused by pesticide exposure (among other possibilities). I’ve found several studies showing a link of pesticide exposure (DDT) and autism.

    I’m interested in learning more about aspies and empathy. I was told I have more characterisitcs than most. But that people with ASD don’t have empathy. I did see one psychologist USA) but told I was too old to get the 11 tests needed covered. That I’ve been to college and worked so don’t need a dx, “doing well.”

  • Um, but doesn’t everyone feel like this? I do tick most examples, but I thought it was normal to. I know I’ve always felt like an alien trying to fit in, & others have spotted that, but that was just me – To think all the problems & wrongs are down to one thing which I could’ve had a label for all these years? – if the label had actually existed when I grew up; we only had ‘strange’, ‘introvert’ & ‘awkward’. I’m not sure how to feel about this; sad mostly.

  • This was a really good read and very interesting, I am going to show it to the people in my life to help them understand my perspective as that can be hard to get across with communication issues and just due to the nature of autism. It is often hard to find people or anyone to relate to or who understands you. There is a lot of oh your fine or you do not seem that autistic that happens in my life but if everyone just looked a little closer it would be clear as day what I go through on a daily basis and they would see that I do what I do because I am autistic and just embrace that instead of forgetting that I have it and then not understanding who I am or what I encounter on a daily basis. So reading this was refreshing I found that all but two of the questions matched up for me and I could relate to all of it. I love to see work like this on this site, its inspiring and this is such a great place to gather and gain from, I am thankful that it is here and to be a part of it. Great job, really I can be critical of writers as I am a writer and I have an eye for detail and I could not find anything wrong with this piece. Hats Off!

  • I think this is brilliant! I have just had a diagnosis of ASD and at least 95% of this describes me to an almost creepy degree! Thank you so much for your time, expertise and effort in compiling this. So important to have something like this generated and amassed from lived experience.

  • Holy cow! I have suspected for a while that I may have aspergers, and if this test is accurate, I most definitely do. I can relate to so much! The only problem is that I do not know what my parents would say if I showed them this. I at least answered yes to 75-95% of the questions. I did not know how different autism is between the genders. The only thing is that I am highly intelligent, so that may have changed some answers, but still, intelligence can be a “symptom” of aspergers, right? Thank you for this checklist. Also, not my real name.

  • I literally resonate with 90+% of these. I have asked my doctors and they said no to autism. I am left constantly confused in life. Any advice?

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