This list is meant as a springboard for discussion and more awareness into the female experience with autism.
By Samantha Craft
Females with Autism: An Unofficial List
Section A: Deep Thinkers
- A deep thinker
- A prolific writer drawn to poetry
- *Highly intelligent
- Sees things at multiple levels, including her own thinking processes
- Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything, continually
- Serious and matter-of-fact in nature
- Doesn’t take things for granted
- Doesn’t simplify
- Everything is complex
- Often gets lost in own thoughts and “checks out” (blank stare)
Section B: Innocent
- Experiences trouble with lying
- Finds it difficult to understand manipulation and disloyalty
- Finds it difficult to understand vindictive behavior and retaliation
- Easily fooled and conned
- Feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed
- Feelings of being misplaced and/or from another planet
- Feelings of isolation
- Abused or taken advantage of as a child but didn’t think to tell anyone
Section C: Escape and Friendship
- Survives overwhelming emotions and senses by escaping in thought or action
- Escapes regularly through fixations, obsessions, and over-interest in subjects
- Escapes routinely through imagination, fantasy, and daydreaming
- Escapes through mental processing
- Escapes through the rhythm of words
- Philosophizes, continually
- Had imaginary friends in youth
- Imitates people on television or in movies
- Treated friends as “pawns” in youth; e.g., friends were “students” “consumers” “members”
- Makes friends with older or younger females more so than friends her age (often in young adulthood)
- Imitates friends or peers in style, dress, attitude, interests, and manner (sometimes speech)
- Obsessively collects and organizes objects
- Mastered imitation
- Escapes by playing the same music over and over
- Escapes through a relationship (imagined or real)
- Numbers bring ease (could be numbers associated with patterns, calculations, lists, time and/or personification)
- Escapes through counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging
- Escapes into other rooms at parties
- Cannot relax or rest without many thoughts
- Everything has a purpose
Section D: Comorbid Attributes
- OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
- Sensory Issues (sight, sound, texture, smells, taste) (might have Synthesia)
- Generalized Anxiety
- Sense of pending danger or doom
- Feelings of polar extremes (depressed/over-joyed; inconsiderate/over-sensitive)
- Poor muscle tone, double-jointed, and/or lack in coordination (may have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and/or Hypotonia and/or POTS syndrome)
- Eating disorders, food obsessions, and/or worry about what is eaten
- Irritable bowel and/or intestinal issues
- Chronic fatigue and/or immune challenges
- Misdiagnosed or diagnosed with a mental illness
- Experiences multiple physical symptoms, perhaps labeled “hypochondriac”
- Questions place in the world
- Often drops small objects
- Wonders who she is and what is expected of her
- Searches for right and wrong
- Since puberty has had bouts of depression (may have PMDD)
- 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
- Friends have ended friendship suddenly (without female with AS understanding why) and/or difficult time making friends
- Tendency to overshare
- Spills intimate details to strangers
- Raised hand too much in class or didn’t participate in class
- Little impulse control with speaking when younger
- Monopolizes conversation at times
- Brings subject back to self
- Comes across at times as narcissistic and controlling (is not narcissistic)
- Shares in order to reach out
- Often sounds eager and over-zealous or apathetic and disinterested
- Holds a lot of thoughts, ideas, and feelings inside
- Feels as if she is attempting to communicate “correctly”
- Obsesses about the potentiality of a relationship with someone, particularly a love interest or feasible new friendship
- Confused by the rules of accurate eye contact, tone of voice, proximity of body, body stance, and posture in conversation
- Conversation are often exhausting
- Questions the actions and behaviors of self and others, continually
- Feels as if missing a conversation “gene” or thought-filter
- Trained self in social interactions through readings and studying of other people
- Visualizes and practices how she will act around others
- Practices/rehearses in mind what she will say to another before entering the room
- Difficulty filtering out background noise when talking to others
- Has a continuous dialogue in mind that tells her what to say and how to act when in a social situation
- Sense of humor sometimes seems quirky, odd, inappropriate, or different from others
- As a child it was hard to know when it was her turn to talk
- Finds norms of conversation confusing
- Finds unwritten and unspoken rules difficult to grasp, remember, and apply
Section F: Finds Refuge when Alone
- 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”
- One visitor at the home may be perceived as a threat (this can even be a familiar family member)
- Knowing logically a house visitor is not a threat, but that doesn’t relieve the anxiety
- Feelings of dread about upcoming events and appointments on the calendar
- Knowing she has to leave the house causes anxiety from the moment she wakes up
- All the steps involved in leaving the house are overwhelming and exhausting to think about
- She prepares herself mentally for outings, excursions, meetings, and appointments, often days before a scheduled event
- 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)
- Questions next steps and movements, continually
- 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
- Telling self the “right” words and/or positive self-talk (CBT) doesn’t typically alleviate anxiety. CBT may cause increased feelings of inadequacy.
- Knowing she is staying home all day brings great peace of mind
- Requires a large amount of down time or alone time
- Feels guilty after spending a lot of time on a special interest
- Uncomfortable in public locker rooms, bathrooms, and/or dressing rooms
- Dislikes being in a crowded mall, crowded gym, and/or crowded theater
Section G: Sensitive
- Sensitive to sounds, textures, temperature, and/or smells when trying to sleep
- Adjusts bedclothes, bedding, and/or environment in an attempt to find comfort
- Dreams are anxiety-ridden, vivid, complex, and/or precognitive in nature
- Highly intuitive to others’ feelings
- Highly empathetic, sometimes to the point of confusion
- Takes criticism to heart
- Longs to be seen, heard, and understood
- Questions if she is a “normal” person
- Highly susceptible to outsiders’ viewpoints and opinions
- At times adapts her view of life or actions based on others’ opinions or words
- Recognizes own limitations in many areas daily, if not hourly
- Becomes hurt when others question or doubt her work
- Views many things as an extension of self
- Fears others opinions, criticism, and judgment
- Dislikes words and events that hurt animals and people
- Collects or rescues animals (often in childhood)
- Huge compassion for suffering (sometimes for inanimate objects/personification)
- Sensitive to substances (environmental toxins, foods, alcohol, medication, hormones, etc.)
- Tries to help, offers unsolicited advice, or formalizes plans of action
- Questions life purpose and how to be a “better” person
- Seeks to understand abilities, skills, and/or gifts
Section H: Sense of Self
- Feels trapped between wanting to be herself and wanting to fit in
- Imitates others without realizing it
- Suppresses true wishes (often in young adulthood)
- Exhibits codependent behaviors (often in young adulthood)
- Adapts self in order to avoid ridicule
- Rejects social norms and/or questions social norms
- Feelings of extreme isolation
- Feeling good about self takes a lot of effort and work
- Switches preferences based on environment and other people
- Switches behavior based on environment and other people
- Didn’t care about her hygiene, clothes, and appearance before teenage years and/or before someone else pointed these out to her
- “Freaks out” but doesn’t know why until later
- Young sounding voice
- Trouble recognizing what she looks like and/or has occurrences of slight prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing or remembering faces)
- Feels significantly younger on the inside than on the outside (perpetually twelve)
Section I: Confusion
- Had a hard time learning that others are not always honest
- Feelings seem confusing, illogical, and unpredictable (self’s and others’)
- Confuses appointment times, numbers, and/or dates
- Expects that by acting a certain way certain results can be achieved, but realizes in dealing with emotions, those results don’t always manifest
- Spoke frankly and literally in youth
- Jokes go over the head
- Confused when others ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray
- Trouble identifying feelings unless they are extreme
- Trouble with emotions of hate and dislike
- Feels sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt her
- 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
- 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
- Situations and conversations sometimes perceived as black or white
- The middle spectrum of outcomes, events, and emotions is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood (all or nothing mentality)
- A small fight might signal the end of a relationship or collapse of world
- A small compliment might boost her into a state of bliss
Section J: Words, Numbers, and Patterns
- Likes to know word origins and/or origin of historical facts/root cause and foundation
- Confused when there is more than one meaning (or spelling) to a word
- High interest in songs and song lyrics
- Notices patterns frequently
- Remembers things in visual pictures
- Remembers exact details about someone’s life
- Has a remarkable memory for certain details
- Writes or creates to relieve anxiety
- Has certain “feelings” or emotions towards words and/or numbers
- 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
- Simple tasks can cause extreme hardship
- Learning to drive a car or rounding the corner in a hallway can be troublesome
- New places offer their own set of challenges
- Anything that requires a reasonable amount of steps, dexterity, or know-how can rouse a sense of panic
- The thought of repairing, fixing, or locating something can cause anxiety
- Mundane tasks are avoided
- Cleaning self and home may seem insurmountable
- Many questions come to mind when setting about to do a task
- Might leave the house with mismatched socks, shirt buttoned incorrectly, and/or have dyslexia and/or dysgraphia
- A trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming
- Trouble copying dance steps, aerobic moves, or direction in a sports gym class
- 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. Samantha Craft is author of the book Everyday Aspergers: A Journey on the Autism Spectrum. Take a look inside Everyday Aspergers.
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:
Header Art Work: Artist Lynda Lim
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!
This list is incredible and accurate!!!!
I have been looking for something to explain my experience in detail like this for a long long time!!! Thankyou so much!!
Thanks for this.
But I don’t know who I am; never did.
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.
You took the words right out of my mouth!! I just had a major epiphany, whilst reading these. It was like reading my resume.
Hi, I know I’m a bit late coming to this post, but I’m feeling very conflicted right now and seriously questioning whether I am autistic. If anyone could respond or give advice it would be much appreciated. I found myself identifying with a lot of these so I turned these questions into a quiz of sorts. I got 138 out of 172 of these questions (80.23%).
I have anxiety, I feel incredibly nervous (and after the fact, exhausted) during social situations, I can’t stand certain noises (like metal scraping together) or textures (I find dirty dishes more disgusting than dog poop), escape into a fantasy world most of the time, excessively imitate others, see making friends like a mission, take criticism and compliments too seriously, hyperfixate on certain interests and useless trivia, make up ‘social scripts’ for various situations, get strangely happy about certain things (like neatly packed suitcases), and need to follow a strict morning routine in order to remember basic personal hygiene.
Sorry for the long winded post I’m just really confused, and want to try getting diagnosed someday, but I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to score pity points or appropriate this. I’m sorry if I offended anyone, but I would just really like some guidance if it is feasible for anyone to respond.
You´re not offending anyone! I´m waiting to get diagnosed and have been studying tons of information and data, and what you describe seems like a textbook example. I think you should seek out a medical professional to get an assessment. I´ve got my fingers crossed that it will give you the help you need!
Hey! I am no specialist but my daughter has similar symptoms and she has aspergers.
I don’t know if you will see this response, as it has been so long.
I read your comment, and know how much it would have taken you to write it to begin with.
Making sure to apologise in advance for every scenario that you could think of where you might possibly be able to offend someone, or have them think negatively, or less about you, in any way.
It probably doesn’t mean anything coming from a random person, I just wanted you to know that I do exactly the same thing.
I know how much anxiety it can cause to put anything in writing, no matter who it is directed toward, or sent to; even more so in a public comment, for the fear of being judged, that most people seem not to feel so deeply.
I tried your quiz method and was around the 90% mark, so I daresay it works 🙂
As a comparison, on the complete current standard test I was somewhere in the 80’s, the median score for diagnosed people is around 60.
I really hope that you followed up after you read this article initially, even if it was only through personal research, and not with a professional, for whatever reason that may be.
It doesn’t change the actual mental health issues that you may have developed, as a result of trying to navigate life.
It can at least provide some clarification for treatment moving forward, especially if you may have been misdiagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, or Bi-Polar, as is unfortunately so often the case.
At least identifying what the underlying cause could be, can help you start to put some of the events from the past that still cause pain behind you; even if it’s only a little bit, and give yourself some mental breathing room for the present, and future.
I apologise for the probably completely unsolicited response, on the off chance that you would see it, or needed some reassurance, or encouragement, I thought that it was worth writing.
I hope you see my reply. There is absolutely no reason for you to apologise for anything at all.
Looking at your other replies, it seems to me that we are all in this together!
DO get yourself diagnosed, if you haven’t already done so! I was 66 in 2011 when I did it, and it seemed that my whole life fell into place.
I have a son who has Aspergers too, he was diagnosed when he was 30. There really is a big difference between males and females when it comes to a symptoms.
Right now I’m stressing about life supposedly going back to normal. I have SO loved cocooning at home. But that just me – how do you feel about it?
This is very useful information and gives me what I need to find out about my condition.
Don’t many of these traits apply to most people?
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
I was hope to see someone say this. I’ve researched a whole bunch of information about autism/asperger’s in women and how it is so different from men. I identify with so many of these points, almost all of them. Minus the fact that I am very outgoing and enjoy social interactions. One thing that is common with people with Autism is the fact that they have a lot of other disorders that go along with it. At a very young age I was diagnosed with ocular motor dysfunction and later diagnosed with dyslexia. Dyslexic people are very colorful, very artistic and outgoing. So I’m not sure if the things that relate to autism in my life are just further traits of dyslexia? I’m almost 100% though with testing I would fail. Does anyone else relate to this?
Hi Olivia ,
you sound v similar to me .
I have bipolar “ dyslexia n ADHD just diagnosed only a few weeks ago ,I am a youthful 51 “
My middle daughter is 22 she had severe autism n severe learning disabilities.
I’m just not sure if some of the ticks for autism r my bipolar n ADHD. As there r many cross overs
BPD is a known common misdiagnosis of autism in women.
The list seems rather outdated, and should perhaps read ‘neurodivergent traits’, rather than autistic, as a lot are not confined to autistic people, and some are more ADHD than ASD, for example ‘Often gets lost in own thoughts and “checks out” (blank stare)’, this is classic Inattentive ADHD (previously known as ADD).
Olivia, you sound like you’re referring to ADHD traits rather than ASD, especially with the sociability side of things. As mentioned, a lot of the original post includes traits that seem just as likely, or in some cases more indicative of ADHD than ASD, so I wonder if misdiagnosed ADHD, or comorbid ADHD has been taken into account during the compilation of these traits.
The line ‘This list was created in 2012’ indicates it’s somewhat outdated thinking, for example, sensory processing disorder (SPD) is experienced by people with ADHD, as well as those who are ASD. These are ND traits, not exclusively ASD.
Indigo Child, likewise, being ‘totally messy’ is very ADHD. Lack of empathy is an interesting one, as around 50% of ASD people have alexithymia, a difficulty identifying feelings and emotions, and yes, a lack of empathy. But issues with eye contact and obsessive collecting and lining up of toys are strongly autistic traits, and so tend to be the case with many, including women. So again, when you say ‘this is the opposite of what many women in the spectrum display’, you may be referring to people with ADHD, (or comorbid ADHD) not pure ASD.
The lack of empathy as a symptom of ASD has changed a lot in the last year, or so.
People on the spectrum can, and do suffer from it; however, it isn’t everyone.
As they are finally starting to actually study ASD in a different light, hyper-empathy has been recognised as a symptom that people of both genders with ASD can suffer from.
It’s also often mistaken as having a lack of empathy by both professionals, and people around them; as hyper-empathy can simply be so overwhelming that can be almost impossible to try and process, they appear to have none.
Unless you’re Autistic this is not your place to comment, how dare you trivializing what Autistic people have to go through on a daily basis!!
It’s this kind of uneducated comment that prevent Autistic people from getting the help they need in society!
I don’t believe Rachel intended her question to be trivializing. It’s a legitimate observation and question and imho is not offensive in the.slightest. Whether she’s on the spectrum or not, your response, not her question, is inappropriate. However, I understand where you’re coming from. It’s been very frustrating to have to “force” professional therapists to consider that there are differences in how females on the spectrum present their symptoms. After dealing with professional therapists who are “supposed” to be trained in seeing these differences and attribute them to the correct diagnosis (more than likely you’ve had the experience s that I have with being inappropriately diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Schizo-Affective Disorder, BPD, etc.) having family and friends say “I don’t see it” when they are told you are on the spectrum is beyond frustrating. So having a stranger question this list — the only one of it’s kind that focuses exclusively on females — can be triggering. I’ve found that giving the benefit of the doubt and when it’s simply a question for clarification rather than an attack it’s better to provide more information than to assume it’s an attempt to discredit.
Yes, I am formally diagnosed ASD.
Your well entitled to your option & personal insight on this, however, it won’t apply directly as a “finalization” for all Autistic individuals, especially telling me my above statement above as “inappropriate” is also wrong to say to someone personally, that’s how you read it, maybe you’re in a different place in life with growth and how you read this today, would you have read this the same with your own personal autistic diffculties a few years back, probably not!
And anyway, placing a quick blunt comment that Rachel placed above like this, on it’s own, without more explaination in this field, is not mostly going to be taken lightly.
So as Autistic people like us and others already having difficulty with being understood and heard with individual rights (socially) with nuro-typicals, I think we have this right (at least) to have a place like this website where we don’t have explain ourselves with an unhelpful question & comment like Rachel’s.
If some nuro-typicals don’t want share in regards to having an open mind with helping then neither I as a Autistic have to go out of my way to explain for them to understand because it’s ridiculously exhausting and life is way too short, we as autistic people need to be growing in what works for us personally not wasting personal time to make all nuro-typicals understand!
Emily, I understand your frustration as I have lived my life (many decades) in a world where my perceptions are trivialized. I now have the luxury of avoiding most people with whom I feel uncomfortable, and I have much more time to reflect and analyze situations, good and bad.
Oftentimes when I feel a strong emotional response to something someone has said, I tell myself that what they said must have “touched a nerve.” I then reflect on why this is.
Someone close to me in my family has a frequent tendency to trivialize my observations with comments similar to “Isn’t everyone like that?” Comments like this definitely touch a nerve with me. I have found it effective to think about why, and formulate possible constructive responses should this arise again (thinking many steps ahead, including many possible outcomes). This isn’t easy!
I’ve suspected I have Autism for a while now but have held back on getting an assessment for many reasons (most significantly that I have other mental illnesses and Neurodevelopmental disorders, namely ADHD and BPD). I have done tests which have all indicated that I may have it a should consult my doctor. And I’ve read up on symptoms and personal accounts which all indicate the same thing. But this list is completely undeniable. It’s so clear and specific and reading through I felt like someone had finally explained me, but I’m such a way that I no longer feel like acknowledging that I may have autism and starting to seem assessment is akin to encroaching on a space in which I do not belong. I think I need this question answered once and for all.
this is an old post, but I am sincerely curious. When I saw the original comment I interpreted it to be an intellectually honest question seeking to understand the contect of the article. If someone had that observation about the world, that is a valid question. I wonder, Emily, why you would interpret it differently, and experience it as an attack of sorts. At the very least, you can look at it again and see if you can understand what she may have meant.
It almost sounds like you feel your superpower as someone on the spectrum was put into question by Rachel’s question.
People on the spectrum have gifts and limitations just like people who are not on it, and peple on and off are deserving of the same respect and consideration.
“I feel some of these, too”
is a common ableist trope. So I see where the commenter is fed up with micro aggressions. But I also think you have a point as well. As AA people, it’s not our job to educate. That you do so is great, that she chooses not to is her right. =)
How did you come to be formally diagnosed ASD, if you don’t mind me asking?
I’m freaking out a little bit because I hit pretty much all of those check marks – and most of my life I’ve been described as a bit ‘out there’ etc. I’m thinking I may be on the spectrum, if only mildly.
Leslie here are a couple others I have found to be very helpful as well. All three of these lists (including the one we are commenting under) I identify with very nearly 100% and it’s opened my eyes to a whole new world! I haven’t been formally diagnosed yet, I was doing my own research to bring to an appt first, but what you say about being misdiagnosed as those other mood disorders is familiar to me as well. They never quite fit and the medicines for them never worked for me so it always left very confused and frustrated! Asperger’s is finally something I’m realizing fits every odd thing about myself from over the years since I was a kid and it’s nice to finally be *seen.*
Thank you for these links! I am currently diagnosed with BPD but ever since the pandemic I started to stim and what I feel like is un-masking. I am not sure though and I tried to discuss this with my therapist but she said it was not her spot to do so. I read this and relate to the list 1000% but they are so similar to BPD. I wish there was an easier way to go about this. Do you mind me asking what allowed you to decipher between the mood disorder and autism?
Hi Leslie, I just wanna thank your comment. You made me feel conforted. I was diganosed with Schizoid Disorder, Avoidand Disorter, Anxiety , but reading here i marked 90% of the checklist and it made me feel like i make sense at least, so is good to read about other people’s diagnosis.
The way I interpreted her comment “Don’t many of these traits apply to most people?” is that not realising that lots of people don’t worry about these things … that is the epiphany for many people I think – that NT people aren’t even bothered by many of the things that can obsess ND people.
I believe I’m the Rachel that made that comment, and you took it in a way I didn’t intend (which is ok because isn’t that normal for us, lol). I have very nearly every symptom on this list and I’m fairly certain now I am on the spectrum but a lot of people have said they don’t think I am or that everyone feels like they have these traits. I was asking because saying Im autistic feels like I’m faking it or something, because I can hide most of the symptoms from other people and I always kind of assumed everyone else did the same thing just better. I was uneducated on the matter at the time, but reacting to a simple question aggressively doesn’t help maybe next time just answer the question with facts. Thanks.
Actually, I think her question seems valid. She could very well be on the spectrum but hasn’t had the fortune of a diagnosis. It’s a very normal for people to try to rationalize their own traits as typical and to attempt to get others to agree with them. Honestly, I read this article and thought “Holy cow! According to this I am totally on the spectrum!” I do experience significant ADHD and have many similar characteristics as women on the spectrum. If I wasn’t already diagnosed with ADHD I probably would have asked the same question.
Emily, it’s okay for her to ask that question. It’s a valid question. I showed this list to my boss today in my attempt to help him understand the aspie experience (I must say, he is doing quite well) and he asked the same question. I think the answer would be, Yes, many people experience a degree of these tendencies, but I think it has more to do with how tortured we are by the profoundly overwhelming aspects of the combination of so many of the tendencies- as in, how able are you to function with the tendencies and do they regulate daily activities and social development?
It’s good to know we aren’t alone.
Where is the “like” button for this comment? Tell you what… LIKE! Thank you for saying this!
Intensity is what differs. NT people relate well to ‘some’ of our challenges, however they overcome with very little support usually required. With Autistic people, we are often dependant on others to help us overcome these barriers constantly and the intensity at which we are impacted is significant and often induces physical responses including sickness for many. I love the fact you relate, but imagine dealing with pretty much most of these, most of the time and being dependant on reassurance and intervention from others in order to get through basic life situations on a daily basis. So yes, some of these traits can affect many people at varying degrees of severity… but for autistic people, these hurdles are literally mountains to climb, huge often impossible mountains.
Yes, but not all the 90-100% of this list at once and continously. The Problem about all that is anyway that we are told to be better than we “are”, everyone. This has to stop! So an aware Autist of ist traits will even be more accepting about everything mentioned above in other people.
I am not sure though that maybe all “bad” thing in NTs are aimed to be normalized by labeling autistic folks as “different” and even sometimes “nonhuman”. Thats questionable!!!
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!)
Averil, thanks for your thoughtful post. Would you like to write a blog for the Art of Autism about this?
I would love to write a blog for Art of Autism, more information about this would be welcome!
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.
I would self identify as autistic. Read blogs of autistic women and see if you relate to most of it.
wow! me too! I identify with lot of the blog and with what you and Averil said. I m also avid feminist, feel like most of my goodness comes intellectually and not emotionally. I also have and crave for very few very close friends. Except for the organising/OCD parts in the post, I am very flexible and more comfortable in mess. Infact if someone gave me a ordered rigid list, I m sure to mess up.
Just came across your comment and found it very informative and useful. Having read the list of symptoms and characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome I can fully relate. I am reluctant about approaching my doctor about this though, as I worry they won’t take me seriously. How did the professional diagnosis happen for you? I’m 23 and not sure how to go about it.
I was diagnosed at age 20 yet answered no to almost all of these questions. Was I misdiagnosed?
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.
Yes it does. These lists are ridiculous!
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’m a female with Aspergers and I want to say this is so true in so many ways.
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!
This is crazy. Anyone fits when there are so many “symptoms”. Truly don’t understand this.
These aren’t symptoms, but rather a compilation of common experiences and characteristics of women on the spectrum.
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!!
I was 49 when I was finally diagnosed. I also have ADHD, PTSD and major depressive disorder. I had to actually argue then insist that my therapist read this list and do some research on the difference in presentation for women on the spectrum before she would look at it. She had participed in several research studies while an undergrad and as a master’s student dealing with ASD symptoms yet was unable to apply this knowledge to how differently women present. Its been extremely frustrating. You’ll find that many women aren’t officially diagnosed, they self-identity then search out an official diagnosis. In my case I did so for validation. Since the age of 19 I’ve been misdiagnosed so many times, with everything from Schizophrenia, Schizo-Affective Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc., that many in my family and even previous therapists don’t believe my current diagnosis. I spent so many years being told that what I remembered, experienced and believed was wrong that I had no self confidence in my perception of reality at all.
I wish you luck on your journey. Trust yourself.
Leslie, maybe you’d like to write an article about your experience. The Art of Autism does pay autistic bloggers. If interested email firstname.lastname@example.org Debra
This is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen. Grab 100 women and more than half will relate to many of these traits. “Likes poetry/songs”?? As something you’re using to designate someone has freaking autism? Come on. We need to do better as a society- stop pathologizing nothing more than different types of human experiences and stop trying to “convert” people into thinking they have some type of disorder just because they don’t fit some imaginary prototype of what “normal” is. Being a sensitive and deep thinking introvert does not equal someone having an actual neurodevelopmental disorder. Not being the kind of person the “masses” seem to be does not denote a neurodevelopmental disorder.
I’m starting to see that a lot of diagnoses now are just attracting people who are lonely and lost in life and trying to find some reason so they feel better. The truth is our society and school sadly teaches and trains us to keep quiet about how we’re actually experiencing life. What results is many people thinking they’re “different” when really, lots of us are all going through this. This is not to dismiss any suffering anyone may be going through in life. I do care and empathize. But being a daydreamy creative person with social anxiety does not equal autism.
A lot of these symptoms can also appear after some kind of traumatic event. I couldn’t help notice the common theme of bullying. Are you sure it’s the autism that caused getting bullied, or the getting bullied that caused the brain to unfortunately develop a certain way?
I’m sure some people here genuinely do suffer from autism but these kinds of lists are just crazy and lead to overdiagnosis. It’s not the solution to get a diagnosis and see it as some kind of “answer”. Just work on getting to know who you really are and figuring out how to find your own unique happiness in life. If you need to receive a diagnosis to achieve some kind of illusory feeling of safety, you need to work on your self-empowerment. You feel different? Don’t beat yourself up. Just figure out what you want in life and find others like you too.
I really do think people underestimate how much many around them experience the same things they think are “weird”, and how many people are actually struggling. Case in point, as a college student I always think everyone seems to be doing fine and I’m the only one struggling emotionally and socially as I am. But when I went to my school’s mental health office which has 15 therapists on call, there was a 4-month waiting list…..LOTS of us are “putting on an act” in public. Lots of us feel lost, are daydreamy, feeling like we don’t fit in, are super deep thinkers. We’re entering a new age. Human beings are experiencing life like never before. You’re not alone, and chances are you don’t have autism. And, people seeing those words as “minimizing their struggle” seem to be very confused as to what a diagnosis even means. It doesn’t mean nearly as much as what fully knowing and honoring yourself label-free does.
My roommate showed me this list, and if this is true, it seems that all 4 of our housemates and us have autism. What a coincidence! I don’t think the author is stupid, but it seems like you don’t understand these traits are not as “unique” as you think they are. Maybe they’re becoming just more common in younger generations?
Tina, please do your research. Your comments here are demeaning and out of place.
“a lot of diagnoses now are just attracting people who are lonely and lost in life and trying to find some reason so they feel better”
“If you need to receive a diagnosis to achieve some kind of illusory feeling of safety, you need to work on your self-empowerment.”
“it seems like you don’t understand these traits are not as “unique” as you think they are”
These statements serve to build up your own ego and nothing more. Bear in mind you are not addressing naïve little girls. We are women with careers, with young families, with adult children – we have coped with our very real issues for years and, for most of us, this list has been a bridge to mend the cognitive disconnect we experience daily with neurotypical people most of whom share your “you aren’t really trying” attitude.
What vitriol! And to people you have never even met. It’s so easy for you to rip off scathing, ignorant remarks and then disappear. Adding this little addendum, “This is not to dismiss any suffering anyone may be going through in life. I do care and empathize”, does not negate your belittling remarks. Take responsibility for your words.
The author states that this list is not a diagnostic test but is intended as a springboard for discussion with mental health professionals. It sheds light. It implies options.
Learn, don’t rant.
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.
Thank you, this gave me a lot to think about.
Now that Aspergers is an out-dated name, have you thought about changing the title?
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.”
It’s a complete myth that we don’t experience empathy. We just tend to express it differently. This is such a harmful stereotype and I encourage you to do more reading about it.
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.
I know exactly what you mean. I’m 57 and reading this shook me to my core. I can tick 90% of those traits. Many people have 10-20% of those traits but 90%? No.
So yeah I have very mixed feelings a combination of relief and deep mourning.
Hypatia and VioletEglantine, this is exactly how I feel. 90% here too. At the age of 65. Okay but now we have the relief (and deep mourning) what do we do next?
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!
To the senior ladies, I’m 62, I check off most of these traits, and i always felt like I never understood the rules, that I wasn’t given the instruction manual that everyone else got. I was in the weird kids club all through school, was bullied from grammar school forward so ended up shy, couldn’t understand all social cues yet somehow bordered on psychic (maybe I was “reading” people on a much deeper level), and always had trouble looking people in the eye when in conversation, and still do. It seems intrusive and too ‘loud”, like a huge water main versus a garden hose of information, so I watch mouths but now aim my gaze between other’s eyes. It seems to help me understand conversations.
I spaced out in class from 4th grade forward but was put in the accelerated groups. I was highly sensitive and prone to meltdowns at home when too frustrated by injustices or misunderstood and thus treated unfairly as to my intentions. I was also naive and too honest.
I was abandoned by my mother, abused by my stepmother, ignored or punished by my father, and handed off at 12 to my grandmother who basically “saved” me. I developed GAD and panic disorder in my teens, was pretty crippled by it in my 20s but struggled through, found I had a ton of food and chemical sensitivities, and often had a lot of gastric upset. I also developed cPTSD from the abuse. I actually was very empathic and hypersensitive, crazy about horses, drawn to the arts and science fiction, lived in my head, and always struggled to figure out what was wrong with me. Life was a tremendous struggle!!
I learned to make some peace with my “quirks” and “eccentricities” over the years and worked on releasing all the shame that was piled on me for being problematic or not good enough, even though I was the one that always tried to “be there” for everyone else as I was able. It was in looking into my husband’s more extreme differences and rigidity that I figured out that he was likely on the spectrum, then realized I probably was too as I tick off a lot of the same boxes,and Aspies especially seem to be comfortable with each other, and we are; we “get” a lot of things about each other, though some we find much harder to fathom.
He finally agreed that of course the identifiers fit him extremely well, and he was just going to embrace it and I should too, as what difference did it make to either of us? If anything it’s more that it’s a relief to say “OH! THAT’S why!” and just go on with our lives, glad that there is an explanation we can study further if we wish, now that we have found our “tribe’. We’re seniors, we’re basically happy with ourselves, though the state of the world causes us immense grief. We’ll do the best we can and that will be enough, because nobody is perfect, whether neurotypical or otherwise.
Maybe you’d like to write a blog post for us about this! Email email@example.com.
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 am highly intelligent also, and that is actually considered typical of “high functioning” autistics, formerly called Asperger’s. You can see that she has included this in the list.
Thank you so much for sharing this with the world <3
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?
How might this differ from a list of things a boy on the spectrum might experience? A very large number of them fit me to a “T”.
Finding this post was an absolute godsend. And boy, do I relate to the traits as well as the anecdotes in comments. I had no clue how to relate to others when I was a kid. So much cringeworthy material: in fifth grade, I had no friends in a new middle school, and had ‘heard’ kids my age liked bands including Green Day. So, sitting alone, I took a breathe and did my best to imitate the chirpy girls in my class, randomly sitting down next to one and abruptly asking: DO YOU LIKE GREEN DAY? I remember her blank stare and long pause before ‘’….yeah..?’ Satisfied and mortified all at once I went back to my empty seat on the bus. This is but a single tale…sigh.
I continued to be painfully awkward and shy. Got pimples really young, picked my skin, didn’t comb my hair or wash properly and wore my moms hand me down 90s clothes. Kids— even my few friends— mercilessly mocked me for years before I had the revelation that I should imitate their style more. So I bought the American eagle and polo shirts emblazoned with logos (this was the late 90s) and hated every minute. Kids sensed the awkward and lack of self esteem, and picked on me in front of teachers: at first it was because I was ‘ugly’, then ‘weird’, and worthy of public humiliation until one day in AP history I screamed at a frequent taunting dude behind me: F**k you!! Everyone was stunned and suffice it to say he finally shut up. But I still felt like an outsider. I imitated the musical taste, the conversational tone and interests (even though they didn’t resonate with me), in a desperate attempt not to feel alone.
Now, I’m finishing my doctorate, teaching at a research 1 university, and on the job market. My time in school (and before) was not pleasant: i overshare, I dressed inappropriately until recently, I had trouble concentrating and following through with assignments, and interacting with superiors in a less emotionally reactive way, and due to these difficulties many folks began began to treat me like I was dumb (I also have comirbid illnesses like bipolar, body dysmorphia and panic, and paranoia which make functioning on a daily basis difficult). I was doing better but being out of DBT for a couple months (the only thing that helped me learn how people typically interact effectively) has had profoundly bad effects on my psyche— I’m an empath and give a lot in the effort to make up for what I see as my little to no intrinsic value. I also dominate conversions relating to topics like psychology, politics, anti racism, and philosophy and in doing so have alienated people— unfortunate because my (too many) ideas have been appealing to colleagues. I often can’t remember what I have been saying in the middle of a sentence because my brain works too fast— I have creative bursts which is followed by plummets where I shut down and hole up for weeks. I feel misunderstood and sad. I lose my friends and even the ones who remain— I am feeling so detached, and can’t feel or accept their love. This disorder has severely impacted my life . However, after reading stories much like mine, I feel less alone. If I can hone my eccentricity to make it an additive (which it is until I go peak nuts) and learn to love me, maybe I will be ok!
Thank you very much for writing this, and allowing us to share our stories here too!
Deborah, if you would like to write a blog for the Art of Autism email firstname.lastname@example.org – you have an interesting story. Debra
So many of these things don’t make a lot of sense on this list… why is being empathetic and very emotional for other people an autistic trait? I thought autism was antithetical to empathy and “Highly intuitive to others’ feelings”.
And then others like mimicking other people when you’re a child, doesn’t everyone learn that way? Asking others to tell them how they’re feeling, don’t all people who communicate well learn that? And needing a lot of alone time to recover from social interaction, isn’t that just being introverted?? Isn’t “thinking about your place in the universe” and wondering why others do certain things and feeling “out of place”, aren’t those “The Human Condition”?
Are you saying all female introverts are Aspbergers or Autism Spectrum now? Being interested in scifi, science and art, obsessing on TV shows, isn’t that just being a proud nerd or geek? I have great communication skills, look people in the eye, and love to be the life of the party but it means I have this emotional hangover for days that I need to recover alone. I thought that was just being an introvert.
I have problems with sensory overload, loud noises and smells, but that’s because I have migraines. I have Depression and Anxiety and OCD, but those are their own things. I learned to be cool and popular because I was bullied SO MUCH as a child. But I still don’t think it makes me ASD. Right?
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder are different things.
Autism Spectrum, like what used to be Aspergers in the DSM, are less on the spectrum and thus have less difficulty with empathy.
Being introverted is not the same as having an ASD. ASD is a different level of reclusion, overwhelm, etc. Huge difference. I suggest getting a copy of the DSM and reading through what autism is, what autism spectrum disorders are, etc.
Ah. Thanks for the response! I just wonder how many of the points on the list = ASD and how many = just introverted. If you have a certain amount you’re ASD, but less than a certain amount or certain cluster of symptoms is just average introversion or average high anxiety individual. I’ll have to look into it. Everything seems to overlap. And some symptoms could mimic others. All very interesting!
Mariah Osmundson, I think you describe what to me seems to fit the classical aspereger woman. I rember the first time I came across an article on the condition and the same day I had come across a guy who had obviously some issues but at the same time had a huge interest in rugby and appeared to be able to read the paper so I thought perhaps that might be his condition. Many years later I began to notice some of the symptoms in myself it came about because I developed ME/CFS/FMS after a bout of Mononucleosis I came upon articles where the condition was compared with ASD where it was suggested similar triggers could cause autism in young children & cause ME in older individuals. As time went on & I became more aware of the symptoms I began to recognize some of these traits in myself some I believe were either triggered or accentuated by my ME coping strategies. It was later suggested by a psychologist that I was likely to have asperegers & that I had performed poorly in some tests for asperegers traits. She explained how people with asperegers often are bullied as children as I was as they are perceived as different. I had put my poor social skills down to my rural isolation as a child & school bullying but she reckoned it was due to asperegers.
Curious to know how this is different from being an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)?
There’s no such thing, scientifically, as a Highly Sensitive Person.
Autism is a medically recognized developmental disorder. “Highly Sensitive” is not.
The earth was thought ‘scientifically’ to be flat for a long time.
There is no such thing scientifically as a Highly Sensitive Person – yet.
Just because something is not medically recognized does not mean it doesn’t exist.
I scored my self in each category, and discovered I can relate to at least 70 per cent of the listed characteristics. (There were some traits that were a little ambiguous to me, so I just left those out.) I’m not sure whether this is indicative of having Aspergers? I’ve struggled all my life with understanding people and dealing with my emotions, yet I also feel ‘normal’ living mostly in my head and spending majority of my time immersed in trying to work myself out, in part so that I can complete my PhD in pure maths. I’ve been seriously practicing Vipassana meditation over the past 2-3 years (and also during my early to mid-20s), and it’s helped with stabilising my moods, reducing anxiety to the point where I’m almost symptom free, and I can sleep a lot better; all of the above improvements mean I can also deal with stress and people more effectively. I just wanted to add a comment here in case other people who can see parts – or all – of themselves in the above list were interested in another tool that can help with overcoming mental health problems. I have also found many books by the Vietnamese meditation (Zen) master, Thich Nhat Hanh, to be very helpful.
I think to a certain degree, some of these do fit with a female diagnosis of Autism. However, some of it so general that anyone can relate to it – especially a list this long. For example, I shared this list with 10 females close to me. They all felt that they related to most of the things on this list – so does this mean that all 10 of these females are on the spectrum? I highly doubt it.
My 14 year old daughter shows many of these signs. We have not had a diagnosis yet. I am hoping for one soon so I am able to support her better and also so she may get more appropriate and targeted support in school. At the moment it feels like she is in a constant state of either anxiety, anger or frustration and it is so difficult to manage and support.
At the moment it’s the most detailed list which again fingers me as an aspie.
I’m a male with Asperger’s, more commonly referred to now as ASD. I’d like to query the checklist as it is so broad I can verify that almost every female I’ve encountered in my 36 years of existence fits in to one or several of the 10+ categories described upon it and none of them have, or been diagnosed with, any form of the Autism Spectrum. Experiencing Asperger’s I understand how trying to communicate or describe something to others can become extraneous in detail as more often than not my own replies can be novellas when a simple yes or no was all that was expected. Take this comment for example of my attempt at trying to communicate my thoughts. This comment comes after reading all of the replies to this page, not just after reading the content provided, when trying to understand how ASD affects the opposite sex. I’m a Data Analyst by trade so daily I interpret large sets of information and find correlations and construct interpretations as my daily purpose. I found no answers with the content provided on this page, only more questions and confusion. I don’t have any qualifications in Sociology and I’m definitely no expert on people yet I’d like to see more profound information on your website as I have determined the content provided on this website to be misleading in it’s current state. Please be more concise with your content (maybe break it down into sub-pages instead of being so broad like “Do you ever wake up tired in the mornings? Oh my god I have this, write this down” and refrain from misleading people into believing they are suffering from something that does not exist in their lives. I’m trying to say that the website’s input is helpful to those who are afflicted with ASD yet is misleading to those who do not experience it because they will believe they do when they do not; the website’s description of females with ASD is so broad it encompasses almost all general western female behaviour. I have read several websites and articles regarding ASD in males and females and also for a generalisation of behaviour in both sexes; I have found this website to be the most informative on female ASD behaviour yet also the most misleading due to it’s overwhelming categorisation. Maybe you could present the data in a different way as to not be so bluntly far-flung yet remain comprehensive? I endorse and support your message; just want to help and not have hundreds or thousands of (mostly) women claiming their behaviour to be caused by ASD and/or going to their GP for autism testing on something that exists because of what they read just because it ‘ticks all the right boxes’ for them. Reminds me of the Horoscopes in the local paper, describing life events that almost anybody can relate to and thus judge as portentous and significant.
Dude, I’m gonna say this as politely and kindly as possible – stay in your lane.
Every one of your arguments can be torn apart to show you have a bias. Whether that bias is conscious or not doesn’t detract from the fact it exists.
The existance of ASD in women doesn’t make you any less special – I mean that sincerely.
That many women fit into the spectrum and yet it is not noticed and they are not given help or leeway that men are, under the same circumstances, is kind of the point.
The fact is me and my sons are quite a bit alike, but one has more trouble learning than I do, because he thinks slower, and the other one does as he gets upset more easily. One is considered to have autism and the other is diagnosed with Asperger’s. Neither of their sisters were even considered as needing to be tested, even though everyone in our family- male and female- act much like these two boys.
I used to do the autism rocking thing, I had all the classic “male” signs of Asperger’s. No one ever considered there was anything different about me except that I was “trying to be weird and get attention” or “trying to show off by getting better grades”. Seriously!
I fit so much of the list, above, in every category. And, as a person who does, I have a great deal of trouble understanding why other people who make the objections you make cannot understand that someone fitting some of a few categories or even a lot of a few is not at all the same thing as them fitting a lot, almost all or completely all of all categories.
I can understand that they do. But, how they could fail to be that undetail-oriented in their thinking baffles me. You, included!
As a femaIe who was just sent to this Iist by someone who is convinced I’m on the spectrum, I compIeteIy agree with you. It reminds me of the endIess Iists to see if you have moId sensitivity, gIuten intoIerance, yeast overgrowth, hypermobiIity syndrome, etc, and I say this as someone who undoubtedIy has gIuten intoIerance and hypermobiIity syndrome.
As far as “staying in your Iate,” that’s irrationaI post-modern sexist bigotry.
Dude, you rock. I very much needed to read this. Much love and respect.
What an utter load of nonsense.
Here is a real diagnostic listing.
Stop spreading this bull.
The diagnostic criteria for ASD changed in 2012. This is from 2006 and I see several errors based on old research.
Regardless of whether it is a bit out dated it is still a far better list of what autism is when compared to the nonsense above.
Are you attempting to defend the list above by denigrating the list I provided or are you simply pointing out that some change have been made to the diagnostic criteria.
Because if it is the latter, then that’s to be expected as that is how science works. Yay Science!
But if it is the former… lol
Please educate yourself. You are using a pop psych journal as your “proof”. You may not understand that research is fluid and that something from 2006 is too old to use in a scholarly paper. The researcher Meng-Chuan Lai is one to look at if you are actually interested in science/education and if you use “google scholar” it will take you to the actual journals. Further, the “real diagnostic listing” (it’s not really called a listing) is in the DSM-V and we ALL know how fluid that criteria is…
Would the men commentating please take a step back and breathe. The checklist is for Females, and it is different because by virtue of the intense genderfied social conditioning, we don’t register the same traits. We learn FAST to wear a mask, become a chameleon, and adapt to survive because our aggression is social aggression and our way to insure survival is to stay as close in to the pack as possible. Our checklist is going to have to focus on getting us to be honest about our internal life behind the masks.
I am 52. Honestly, I have known since I was young I wasn’t normal. I have always felt that life was being played by a rulebook and no one gave me a copy and I was just having to figure it out as I went along. They knew I had speech, coordination, dyslexia issues but no one dreamed then that girls really had autism, and not when you can talk and because I couldn’t master grammar or spell, I taught myself to be a verbal master. I could pass through too because I could take a mental photo of a page in my head to help me pass, even though I couldn’t understand what it said for shit. Graduated with a 3.25 but my English language skills lol – grade 6.
I’ve been diagnosed with so many MI tags it seems like Spin the Wheel, Make the diagnosis. My brother has ASD. I started looking for ways to help him as its just the two of us and the more I studied the more the light bulbs went on that I don’t have BPD, I have ASD it fits. I don’t have romantic relationships or many friends because frankly I find humans (at least NTs) confusing, baffling, and ok a little frightening and well I can be quite happy with Me, Myself, and I – and my Cats. Its nice to not feel like an alien. I don’t think I will go get tested – where I have to go to get tested, you question the DR you are BPD and ‘difficult patient’ in need of more case management.
> The checklist is for Females
This was something that puzzled me for quite a while, when I found profiles of people’s lives that I have identified with, they were female, which led me to this “female autism”. Everywhere reference to “female” autistic traits, but I’m male. Then I found Sarah Hendrickx’s work and she’s actually clearer about it, that “female” autistic traits are better described as a profile, and can certainly apply to a patient of either gender.
I’ve read every comment published so far and I’d like to make a suggestion that may help those who feel that this list is “bullshit” and/or can apply to every introverted woman.
In addition to checking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each point assign a percentage of how much it applies to you if you’ve checked ‘yes’. If you’ve responded to 70+% of the points as ‘yes’ and assigned 60+% or higher to the majority of them then you should consider that you probably are on the ASD. These percentages that I’m recommending are not scientifically based, they are simply a logical means of distinguishing between something that may apply to most people occasionally or subjectively and something that is a major component of your life. Feel free to adjust and/or ignore my suggestion.
Thank you – so much. My daughter received a ‘lose’ diagnoses of what is now defunct Aspergers by a psychiatrist. She has not been thoroughly evaluated by a group that specializes in autism yet, so I went looking for information, and found your site. I’m fifty years old and I feel after reading all of this, that I also have autism. I’ve always wondered why I felt so different, like I was such a deep thinker and everyone else was so shallow. Why my thought process is so much more complicated than everyone else. I’m not ashamed of it, but I can’t always function the way people expect me to. I feel like I see and know so much that the general population misses, but I can’t explain this to them, or conform to their standards.
I’m so excited to learn more about this from your site and others.
I can see myself in this list, but never been diagnosed. I also think that any list of any “disorder” fits almost to everyone, varying the intensity. And some of the things of the list are responses to inconscius feellings that are common to every person. The particular thing I see about myself is the trouble with the whole idea that involves social masks, but this could be not a “born this way” thing but a particular way of reacting to a traumatic experience.- that could be both ocurred to the person or somebody else that we care, or even an imaginary experience.
I have a son with aspbergers and I work with kids with autism. I never could put my finger one why I was like I am until I read this. Most of what is listed is me. Maybe that’s why I understand him so much and understand my students. Great read. I am who I am and I will not change. Thanks
I know this is a very old post but I’m really hoping you’ll respond- about how many of these would you say the average person relates to? I’m doing some research to see if it’s worth bringing up to my doctor, and I experience almost exactly 75% (132) of the 173 symptoms.
I’ve only just started exploring this as a diagnosis because of my sensory overload issues, but if this list is an accurate representation, then I may have my answer.
There are some aspects that do not fit, but I find that it usually coincides with something that I studied heavily as a child. So I’ve no idea if I’m being a hypochondriac and misdiagnosing myself, or if I was clever enough as a child to learn to mask certain difficulties through unconscious study and practice. I am exceptionally good at fooling myself, which can work in either direction for a diagnosis here, so I’ve honestly no idea which it is.
But it’s something to investigate, and at an 80 – 90% ‘check’ rate for the list, it’s definitely worth a look. Thanks for the information! If this turns our to be a fit, it would certainly explain a lot!
Did not read all comments….busy day…excellent article with lists…which applies to me roughly 85%….just struck me how incredibly grateful I am for the invention of the printing press, for scribes throughout the centuries who passed on the written word for an isolationist such as myself….
For editors and writers….for The People of the Book….
This comment thread still going on for 3 years! I just had my son diagnosed with HFA and I’m here because I also just heard that female traits are different, just to check if I’ve always had it. A lot of the list resounds in me, some if I really force it, yes but quite a number don’t. I’ve also read the other comments and its making me dizzy trying to differentiate if I’m just introverted, or the list is just common people’s qualities or am I really Aspie? I can be really into some subjects like the existence of life. I believe in God. I also have many hobbies and I could be really into them at a substantial period at a time. I also feel I have ‘self therapied’ through the years to be normal – so its like faking? I grew up shy, I don’t like meeting new people and I had grew up showing discomfort and not caring how people feel but I changed in my 30s with that ‘self therapy’ so much that I’m a corporate trainer now. I also tend to copy handwriting of my peers (I do this knowingly) when I was in school, even to university and I never had a proper explanation to that. I don’t see it with other people, so that was really strange to me. When I was small, I had deep thoughts of the world seen through my eyes, then this world only exist to me because I’m seeing it and that I’m special because the world is seen through me, through my eyes. That is veeeery strange that nobody had the same thought as me!
But a lot of the listed traits seem to be ‘normal’ introversion. So, its still confusing.
The only way to be sure is to get testing.
I think a lot of women have quirks that they might see on the listing. Like shyness, social anxiety, etc. I have some specific ones such as repeating numbers, liking patterns in numbers, loving words and their roots, etc. I do not believe I have ASD though. I think this list is a good sounding board to see if you feel you should get tested. It’s not meant to diagnose.
My 15yr old daughter was just diagnosed a week ago – I figured out she was on the spectrum last October. No one would believe me 😀 – now we got it on paper and hell yes thank you for this post!!! I will be using it for a meeting with the school this week.
I guess also that all this also fits me, i guess i am the classic case of mom finds out she is autistic when her kid got diagnosed 😀
Until I found out about female Asperger’s I thought everyone would run thru all possibilities of outcomes and interactions in social situations 😀
So 10000000 thanks for this post, it is soooo appreciated!
I think it’s interesting that people are saying all/most women identify with this list. As an introverted woman with depression and anxiety, there are certainly many of these characteristics that I identify with. But I don’t have ASD. And this list doesn’t make me think I do.
However my daughter matches with nearly everything on this list. And I think a big thing that people are missing when they say “this applies to all women” is the list of the comorbid attributes. My daughter doesn’t just identify with them, she been diagnosed with, medicated for, and hospitalized for them. There are actual physical and mental issues involved.
We’re contacting a doctor to discuss testing for ASD. Thank you for this list!
I am a paediatrician who sees a lot of autistic girls and I think the list is pretty accurate. As a male I am not privy to the functioning of neurotypical women but I would be surprised if the list was representative and wonder if those who think it is are not likely aspie but denying it. Also a strength of DSM5 is you do not make the diagnosis if the features are not a problem. Since the major ongoing problems are social and communication issues and anxiety this is both for the person and their social circle, parents for my patients. In every clinic I see the devastation caused to mothers who have not been diagnosed or receive toxic diagnoses such as BPD when understanding it is actually ASD can be life changing. I am sure you are on the right track.
Now, this list is in my bookmarks and every now and then I look again and wonder if I could have ASD. Maybe when I read it over and over again it shows me that I am perfectly normal. However, when I look at the list there is only one trait that I do not have and that is the imaginary friend. The rest is me. I have three children and only the youngest I think is ‘normal’, but I only thought this once she grew up. I always wondered why she was so different. I would always say: ‘She is the normal one of all three”. So, what to do with that thought of the possibility with me having ASD? I don’t know, I really don’t. I have already accepted that I cannot be like the rest, well, maybe not completely…. I wonder whether I once should change my job, where I need to see many people, well, children, because that is where I feel comfortable. I have never felt comfortable with adults, never. There is this thought of me being a writer where I can hide in a room and the only thing that I need to do is treat myself with words and play with them and to write down contact between people, because I have been observing people so often that I can see them in my mind. Well, food for thought…..I wonder when the next time will be when I read this list….
How ignorant can so many of you be? As someone who really struggles, it is SO insulting, to try and say that “doesn’t everyone feel this way?” I really think a lot of you people either skimmed or missed the point, and you lack some basic understands of neurodiversity and psychology. Yes, many people to varying degrees experience Anxiety, and these symptoms. To me, the difference was that I SO clearly, had trouble communicating as a kid, than my peers,. My family always said “there was something wrong with me.” and my peers felt the same. I was bullied, and outcasted. Everyday people (neurotypicals) DO NOT experience all these symptoms. Not just the social interaction but motor skills, and other things, that so clearly are a part of someone on the spectrum vs. someone who isn’t. Either, some of you are in denial that you might be neurodiverse but people in society have such a huge stigma on it-so you would rather feel you have other things wrong with you, than say you are neurodiverse, or you are missing the point. Like someone in the above comments said, similarly to mental disorders, what makes a diagnose , a diagnose IS THE SEVERITY. Yes, many people experience different feelings and things as part of being a human but what sets someone with a diagnosis, VS. someone without is the SEVERITY AND HOW IT EFFECTS THEIR EVERYDAY LIFE, THIS IS SIMPLE PSYCHOLOGY. To varying degrees, humans experience bouts of depression BUT DO THEY ALL KILL THEMSELVES? NO!! WHY?? Because, people feel things to varying degrees and that is what sets a diagnose. And if you research more, instead of looking at one article and jumping to conclusions-you would see that the diagnoses for Aspergers are poorly researched, and biased, and mainly comes from male diagnoses because females do something called “masking” or intimidating. Yes, as humans we learn from intimation BUT overtime, a neurotypical will be able to just be and interact INTUITIVELY. The ASD- NEVER GOT THERE. They have to map out everything, to the point where is just too overwhelming and most social situations are avoided because it is too much. It is not about being an introvert, and needing time to “recharge”, it’s having a hard time all together with social interactions. THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE. Along, with some of the other points made in the list, outside of different types of anxiety and things like that, that so clearly is not seen in neurotypicals. It’s pretty simple understanding people!!
*Lauren, sorry. Short term memory isn’t so good, but at least I was in the neighborhood lol
As a self-diagnosed 55 year old woman, I can tell you that I have asked myself the question, “isn’t every woman like that, because most all of these listed items are my normal and I see the world through my lense. Why would I not ask the question? Especially if I have trouble seeing things from another’s perspective? Only recently have I been able to unmask myself and my vulnerablilities as they feel to me and ask my friends if they experience the same thing. Of course, they do not, or at least not to the degree that I do and not the frequency that I experience in adulthood or while growing up. This freedom of knowing has allowed me to acknowledge with others just how real the struggles are, and have been over the years, because they are indeed real and they are overwhelming and exhausting.
diagnosis* sorry, misspelled it!
And as stated above, having the right diagnosis, can be life changing!- I wish I knew sooner.
I do not have a formal diagnosis, but I have two cousins and their two children who do have diagnoses. There so many things on this list, actually over 100 of them that I display. I Would actually welcome an Asperger’s diagnosis at this point to Negate my self believe that I am just weird.
Thank you for all you do.
I wonder about women (such as myself) who have a long history of receiving diagnoses and treatment, including medication, for conditions like anxiety disorder, depression, borderline personality disorder, etc., who may in fact actually have undiagnosed ASD––might that help to explain why such treatments have been largely ineffective?
I am 48, I have a half-brother diagnosed in childhood (now 30), mostly non-verbal, unable to live independently; yet because our experiences are so dissimilar I never even considered (nor did our parents) the possibility that I, too, might be on the spectrum until quite recently. At this point in my life I’m not sure it really matters whether I am “only” an introverted, creative, geeky, obsessive, confused, anxious, depressive weirdo who never fit in or understood the rules of the game, or a person with autism. By now I have more or less learned how to cope with and/or compensate for most of my challenges and I wonder if a formal diagnosis would really change anything. Still, the idea of being given a new framework for understanding my lifelong struggles (“neurodivergent” vs. “mentally ill”) feels almost too good to be true. I just worry that if I try to pursue a diagnosis no one will take me seriously.
Thank you so much for sharing this list. I am a 41 year old mother of 2 boys who were diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. I only started to suspect this could be an issue for me after my 10 year old was recently diagnosed because we share so much of the same personality and traits. Going through this list, I relate strongly to 96% of the characteristics mentioned. I have a high IQ and I’m capable of processing some things that are quite complex to most people, but at the same time I struggle significantly with seemingly simple things because of social and executive functioning issues. I have a laundry list of mental health diagnoses that don’t quite explain all of my difficulties, but ASD seems to cover it all. After sharing your list with my psychologist she agrees that it’s likely this is what I have, but is not experienced enough to issue a formal diagnosis. I am pursuing that diagnosis now, and while daunting, it’s also as though a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders to know there is a reason why much of my life has been so difficult. Thank you for what you do.
Hi. I love your list. I have worked for over thirty years as a counsellor, and probably the last twenty, dealing with all aspects of Aspergers (women/men/children/relationships/work and so forth). My clients have long asked me for a book with all that’s in [my] head. I have a chapter for contributions by others. I wonder if you would allow me to print this in my book with acknowledgement and respect to you of course? I think you have made an amazingly accurate list!!! I think many women will see this version and understand themselves at last! Should you be willing to discuss this further, I am so willing! Look forward to hearing from you. Warmly, Dee
I had a friend tell me about this site and tell me there was a article more in detail on the part of people with Aspies feeling much younger mentally I was wondering if anyone couple provide the link I can’t seem to find it thanks
I would love to know when your book is published. I have been teaching for over 20 years and specialise in SEBD (social emotional behavioural difficulties). Ironically, I never saw myself as being autistic until I read this article and I was diagnosed this month. I believe some of the pupils I support have undiagnosed autism so your book would be invaluable.
Thanks so much for sharing your list. You’ve really nailed it! However, as a 58-year-old woman with high functioning autism, I was a little offended by “Forever 12”. I’ve been hated, mocked and ridiculed my entire life for my disability and in my opinion, it is the neurotypicals who are forever 12! Thank you, again for all of your work on this.
Diagnosed at 50. All of those things I was like SO MUCH YES. Getting an answer was great and awful. Great in that I understood why…. just why. Awful in that I realize my life could have been so much different, and unexpected hostility when trying to explain. I’ve gotten the whole, you don’t look autistic, I know autistic people they are not like you, you must have shopped around and lied to get some label to manipulate people, and best of all, no, you don’t have communication issues, you are just using autism as a cover for being a jerk. No, that is not the best one. The best one is that autistic people ONLY have communications issues in person or perhaps over the phone or similar but that does not apply at all to email, and…. fine, fine, but that is not our business, keep your autism to yourself, it has nothing to do with this place.
Helpful info. Lucky me I found your web site unintentionally, and I am shocked why this accident did not took
place earlier! I bookmarked it.
This checklist has really confused me. My son was diagnosed with HFA and so my husband and I both took the classic Baron-Cohen test at home. He scored very high (mid 30s out of 40. I scored incredibly low (under 10) so assumed I was not on the spectrum. But this list is full of weird specific details that fit with me. It’s a very comprehensive list though. Won’t every woman find a number of these issues fit with her?
Wow! Terrific! I’m right in there. I’ll use this checklist with my students at the UCSC Disability Center.
An excellent list. Well conceived, detailed and thoughtfully written. I’ve often wondered if there is a connection between AS and Synesthesia. Thank you so much.
Nine months ago, I found a link to this list while scrolling through Tumblr. I have struggled with mental illness most of my life and had often wondered if undiagnosed Autism was part of my issue. I printed this list off and went through it with a highlighter and ended up highlighting almost all of the list. I realised that it wasn’t all in my head, and, long story short, I’ve now been diagnosed, at the age of 24, with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD (formerly or sometimes called Asperger’s). I feel so validated and relieved to know and understand more of my own identity. This list was a big part of that, and I’ll always be grateful.
Hahaha… It’s a long list!
I am not diagnosed, just start exploring this topic… I love to make long lists also! But nobody wants to read them… :..(
Nice job. Thank you!
I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE
Hi, thanks for your great informations.
It’s been about three mouth I’ve found to identify most to pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA for short) profile of autism. I am a man, 24 years old, but this checklist is actually really like me! I can say that at least about 97 percent of the list is correct about me. And the interesting fact is that my score on MF scale of MMPI 2 (the scale that measures the extent of manly or womanly traits) was 70! Almost too high for the average of men which means I don’t resemble most of other men in areas of interest and manner, and I am more like a woman than a man in such things:)) which is true because I always knew I am a sensetive person and because of that was hurt so many times in my life and as a result had a condition like body dismorphic disorder(not exactly though) which is a branch of OCD for three years, and it was a horrible experienc, but it got me into studying psychology major in University which I am so much grateful for:)
Another interesting thing is that my sister who I think is autistic too, shows the behaviors and characters of this list even more than me, actually in intensity! I read as much as I could of the comments, looking for another man saying the same, that I am a man but have these characteristics, but I was so enthusiastic and in a hurry to declare it so could’nt read all the comments, so if anybody else reading this, has the same experiences or even knows someone alike, pleas reply. Thanks beforehand
Thank you so much for this post. I am now diagnosed with HFA (previously called Apsergers Syndrome) as a direct result of reading this post and realising I might be Autistic. Getting the diagnosis has changed my life for the better. I no longer feel there is something wrong with me, just that I am different in the way I experience the world. Of course, I have lots of mental health issues and I find life difficult but now I understand why.
In ‘Section A: Deep Thinkers’
#5 “Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything, continually.”
I do it *continuously*. All of the time. “Continually” is on a frequent basis.
“Likes to know word origins and/or origin of historical facts/root cause and foundation”
That’s why I had to let you know that “continually” is probably not what you mean. Sorry?
I constantly edit. I study words. I need to research the history of any word.
I am dismayed that I cannot find enough about the origins of cursive writing.
Does anyone have a lead? The current characters we use are not terribly efficient.
Fonts have interesting histories. For fun, I like to follow the latest debates on the Dewey Decimal System. (It changes!)
Section J: Words, Numbers, and Patterns
I’m wondering if science and technology fields would be of special interest to people with Asperger’s?
Is there any comorbidity with synesthesia? I don’t have it, but I have been compiling a list of what colors people see numbers as. Qualia is fascinating.
Do people have any unusual sense of spatial relationships? (Abilities beyond the norm.)
Does one’s proprioception ever cause problematic issues? (Senses below the norm.)
Thank you for this amazing list! I found myself laughing out loud.
I will print it out for further examination, but my therapist actually laughed at the very idea of me being on the spectrum. So, I’m in the clear, right?
I feel an unusual, strong resistance to the idea that I fit in here. And I don’t even understand why.
Is that, in and of itself, a common problem in getting diagnosed? Catch-22. (Funny story about the origin of that term.) Where do humor and irony fit in? If I am funny, I can’t be on the spectrum…
I’m sorry, but it just seems like this list is too extensive. Everyone probably has more than one of these traits. I know that a lot of work went into creating this list, but I wish it were more simplified. It makes it difficult to pinpoint how an Autistic female really is. I know there are a lot of people on here who will fuss at me, but that’s just how I see it. Sorry.
Yes, neurotypical people may have one or two items in this list, other autistic people with have some of these attributes, but someone with HFA (high functioning autism, a specific type of autism) will have all but one or two. If you are looking for general information on the autism spectrum, I recommend going to a charity website. I went to my local ones in Scotland. If you read the comments, you’ll see just how many of us have gotten a diagnosis of HFA after reading this page. It changed my life. That’s why all the fuss x
Hi, I am in the UK, I am now convinced that many of the stories of adult women receiving a diagnosis are reflecting my life and my journey and all my experiences. Every quiz or test I take comes back that I may be an aspie or on the spectrum. I am encountering roadblocks everywhere and just can’t seem to get anyone or any organisation to help me get diagnosed…please help 🙁
Hi Cheryl. I was told by a private specialist that to get an NHS diagnosis for autism (as an adult), I’d have to be an in-patient. So I went to Grampian Autistic Society and paid them a donation to do the test. I a 5pagr analysis of my results which also concluded they were in no doubt that I have HFA (high functioning autism, previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome).
It’s not a medically recognised diagnosis but it’s changed my life for the better because I understand myself more now.
I recommend you look for a similar charity in your area of the UK and see if they can help. Good luck!
*That should read ‘a 5 page analysis’
I scored high on this checklist and WAS diagnosed ASD level 1. This was in mid-life a few years ago, and let me emphasize that no one had the slightest clue. Including a few years of therapy for anxiety with a female doctor of psychology, who has (male) autistic family members!
Still, those I told, who know me well, almost invariably followed up their puzzled look with “You know what? That makes sense.” 🙂
What led me here? Nearly dying from an autoimmune disorder. My beloved GP, a true healer, said, “There’s a serious source of stress in your life and you have to track this down.” Since I cannot wear uncomfortable clothes, I was searching for some unknown allergy that might help me make better wardrobe choices, stumbled across sensory issues, and one thing led to another 🙂
Don’t fear self-knowledge, ladies. Embrace it. In my case, it literally saved my life, though I might not look that way from the outside.
I had to borrow against my “retirement” to revamp my living quarters, subtly create a series of job moves without revealing my newly discovered condition to anyone but my favorite boss, and start my own business because I might not make it to retirement in regular employment. At which point I can come out of the closet and be even more of an activist, which is currently restricted to being rowdy on Twitter 🙂
It was ignorance which nearly murdered me, not autism. I’m in remission, without drugs, as long as I behave myself.
Don’t be afraid. There are life-threatening risks.
Many traits on this list also apply to Nonverbal Learning Disorder (NVLD or NLD).
This is very well made, and pretty thorough. I remember experiencing a LOT of these, more extremely as a kid before I understood human psychology as well, and before I learned people wanted me to mask my traits.
I will say however, while these traits are mostly seen in (cis) women and girls, it’s far more accurate to say they’re traits seen in non-cis men. It can be very triggering and invalidating for a trans/non-binary person to be erased and misgendered at the same time. Not to mention, autistic cis guys can also have these traits. (I’d recommend the use of they/them instead of she, personally.) I don’t want to come across as demanding, but this is important for many people. Thanks!
I was just reading earlier today that transgender kids are often autistic I wish I remembered where…. Your comment reminded me of it and I believe it was on the topic of the extreme male brain autism theory and that female to male was more common as well as the autistic diagnosis in those trans kids.
I’ve read this list many times over the years, and I’m always left feeling so torn. I am a 35-year-old woman and mother and have been to over a dozen therapist, all of whom have said there is no way I’m autistic, usually frantically and so quickly after I mention it that it leaves me in a place feeling very defeated and I never return to them.
I make eye contact, I didn’t line up toys as a kid (but you should see all my spice jar labels :p) and I speak very well with professionals and have a ton of empathy and ability to read body language. I feel as though it’s all from obsessive studying though. I am investigative in nature, never quite able to read fiction as an adult (due to getting too sucked in and upset) but instead pouring over nonfiction in the areas of psychology, self-help, and the like in order to “learn” how to act.
I am highly antisocial in that the times I’ve tried to reach out and socialize, I’ve overwhelmed myself to the point where I have panic attacks, or I hold it together with a mask on the entire time, constantly hyper-vigilant and scanning others for cues that I’m doing it “all right” and then collapsing at home, exhausted for days after the ordeal, feeling like I was so fake and that I have no idea who I really am.
I have found this quarantine to be a blessing for me as I’m home all the time with nowhere to be, no need to get the kids through their 86 steps of getting ready to leave the house, while rehearsing every interaction, planning for every stop, anxiety ridden internally while faking having a blast for the kids sake.
I wish it were easier to get a proper diagnosis and get help, as finding a way to hold down a career “like this” has proven so stressful and unbearable so far, and resources to help me cope and overcome or adapt would be so wonderful! Thank you for this list, it’s reaffirming and makes me feel less Borderline and more autistic, which feels more “right” even if no therapist will accept it.
Hi Kai, I’m sorry to hear about your experiences with therapists. In the US at least, many mental health practitioners will immediately write us off unless they have experience diagnosing women on the spectrum. I live in your area and I thought I might recommend some local resources.
For a low cost diagnosis (but perhaps with a long waitlist) I have heard of the Alta California Regional Center. However I am planning on visiting psychologist Kathie Ekemo out of Auburn. She comes highly recommended from another Sacramento aspie lady I befriended on reddit. Once I gather enough evidence to make my case I’m going to pay her a visit. I want to make sure I get everything right as I don’t believe I have the stamina to see more than one psychologist.
I hope this info can be useful to you in your search for a sympathetic and open-minded professional. I know how isolating it can feel to not be believed. Please trust your gut and don’t let them discourage you! We forge the way through these difficulties so the next generation of girls won’t have to.
It really seemed to be talking about my life. They read other people’s signals and learn social skills (even though I thought I was doing well, but as I thought about it, I made too many mistakes and I am still in a mess now), wearing a mask and playing. Someone might think that I have a lot of friends, but everyone is unfamiliar and scary to me, I don’t know who they are, and even after a week, I feel like someone else, and the world is more and more scary except for my mother. I thought everyone feels the same way as I do. I am a primary school teacher because I am not confident in dealing with ordinary people. Children are innocent, don’t know my awkwardness, and they don’t try to notice me more than adults, so I feel at ease but also take tremendous stress from controlling them. It must have been really hard every time you went to psychologists. How are you living now and what efforts have been effective? Please share.
The first time i heard this (in the Divergent mind audiobook) I had to sit down at the table and cry for a moment, i was so overwhelmed.
So much of this is me and so much of it explains why i struggle so much with other people misunderstanding me. I’ve felt so wrong my whole life. Im not diagnosed but i have family members who are (male ones).
People often think that im younger then i am, and ive had people comment that i should understand things about socialising because im an adult when i just dont, i feel so confused by other people all the time, and ive been this way since i was a kid. i feel things so strongly, overwhelmingly so and sometimes disproportionately in response to things that seem pretty minor to most people too. I wish there was a ‘how to socialise’ manual for human interaction. Ive spent most of my life living in a dream world because real life interaction is too confusing and painful. Dream worlds make sense, real life doesnt. Even when i was working i just felt not quite ‘right’ and that everyone else could tell somehow but i didnt know why.
Ive always been an artist with a fair amount of talent from a young age but i constantly feel that the only reason people like me is for my talent and ability, not for who i actually am.
I tried to discus the possibility that im autistic with a therapist who dismissed it, i think i need to find a different one.
replying to Sam’s reply to Carter…you might try some of the DES boards, Diethylstilbestrol….precious group of folks. Significant # of LGBTQIA who were exposed to this high dose controversial synthetic estrogen from the womb. Not everyone who was exposed is LGBTQIA, and not every LGBTQIA was exposed….that we know of….poor record keeping, mom’s ashamed if they were even told by paternalistic doctors what they were being given….hope not to spark a fire here….I was diagnosed ASD1 age 60….bookish, but so was my mother. She did not remember what doctors gave her when carrying me, but high risk pregnancy with previous losses. I never had maternal instincts….did not really want a family, until I started losing pregnancies. Was called a “man” in my twenties, “unfeminine” in a disgusting tone of voice by the man who kept using physical force on me to have sex with him (absolutely no one in my camp to offer support, so he took that and ran with it …so sickening)….didn’t develop a lot of secondary sex characteristics and got really bullied by a lot of coworkers/supervisors at the local telephone company)….I could go on and on …thank you….every time a memory is jogged a little more stuffed hurt finds its way to the surface to get processed….
I have about 40 % of these, but they’re very relatable – might I be on the spectrum?
Thankyou for this info. I have always felt different from everybody and struggled to find my place in this world and began looking into Aspergers for myself after stumbling upon an article about undiagnosed women. Taking the quiz has confirmed to myself that this may be the reason i have had so many difficulties. I just wish that those around me would take it seriously. I would love a diagnosis so that I could get support from people who can help me. I am struggling quite a bit especially social and in my work place with colleagues and psrticularly my superiors. I have been seeing a psychologist for about 7 years and diagnosed with depression PTSD and Generalized anxiety disorder but these visits ceased this year. If anyone has advice it would be great.
Is it okay if I ask you to clear up some misconceptions? Maybe provide an additional example? many thanks!
Thank u from the bottom of my heart! I have struggled my entire life and diagnosed add, ocd, anxiety, depression… etc. as a 33 year old female just now taking therapy seriously and reflecting I had suspicion that aspergers would have been truly fitting before my masking took over. I cried reading this, the first time in 33 years I felt understood and I could understand why I do or feel the way I do and it isn’t a control or anxiety or bad personality trait… I am autistic and I can be ok in my skin
My dad is a suspected Asperger patient and I look very much like it. I wonder why he never feel anxious about himself nor unaware of the pain he brings to his family. He has no problems or worries about his life…. But why only me? I read a lot of articles that the symptom appears differently to male and female as there are different desires meaning female wants to be socialized and able to mimicry peers (but arose gap which makes myself frustrated) while male just don’t give attention to ‘ego’..
Asperger is agony to every sex but especially to female, it gives pain to herself too much.
I tried to take SSRI pills but doesn’t do any good only harm (because I know perfectly what’s wrong with me cognitively and just can’t change my neuro system.) Is there any way that I can release my pain…?
Anxiety all the time, awkwardness bt even family (sth to my self), doesn’t wanna go out and hang out but at the same time feel extremely isolation when being alone (almost about to go crazy.. worring i might go Schizophrenia..) First, I resented my father, second, now I’d rather live like him not noticing myself. Male can act the way he wants to in my country compared to women, and women must be charming, feminine, lovable, and empathetic.
I believe this list has a lot of behaviors I have been exhibiting. Do you know if the educational psychologist that tested me for the learning disabilities can also test me for ASD? This explains why CBT hasn’t been working! But, that’s the main therapy for anxiety.
Thank you! While I have already been formally diagnosed, my late diagnosis has left me a bit overwhelmed and confused. Your list is extremely helpful to me in understanding myself a little bit better. I also think this is a great resource for explaining things to (a few chosen) loved ones. 🙂
I believe this is me. Phew. I thought BPD, OCD, HSP, ADHD, Hypochondriac and more.
I am so sensitive to environments and so based on the people and environment various forms of what I mentions would come about. I have always been deep and philosophical, since as early as age 4, and I am so bad at relationships and the anxiety I get.
Thank you for the list <3
I am so touchy to conditions thus dependent on individuals and climate different types of what I notices would come to fruition. I have consistently been profound and philosophical, since as ahead of schedule as age 4, and I am so awful at connections and the tension I get.
Much obliged to you for the rundown
Thankyou for this data. I have consistently felt not the same as everyone and battled to discover my place in this world and started investigating Aspergers for myself in the wake of unearthing an article about undiscovered ladies. Taking the test has affirmed to myself that this might be the explanation I have had countless challenges. I simply wish that people around me would pay attention to it. I would cherish a finding with the goal that I could get uphold from individuals who can help me. I am battling a lot particularly social and in my work place with associates and psrticularly my bosses. I have been seeing a therapist for around 7 years and determined to have despondency PTSD and Generalized nervousness issue however these visits stopped for the current year. On the off chance that anybody has guidance it would be incredible.
Much obliged to you! While I have just been officially analyzed, my late finding has left me a piece overpowered and confounded. Your rundown is incredibly useful to me in understanding myself somewhat better. I likewise think this is an extraordinary asset for disclosing things to (a couple of picked) friends and family.
I don’t know if anyone reads these comments or replies to them, both because this is an old post and also a re-post from a now retired blog. But I do have to wonder what makes this list distinct from a list describing intelligent introverts with anxiety. Or female INTJs. I feel like this same list could work under many different headings, aside from Aspergers, especially if you exclude the executive functioning problems, which are already noted here as optional.
I’m also having a hard time seeing how this very specific version of autism relates to ASD overall. It doesn’t seem to capture or relate to the key features of getting an ASD diagnosis. I have seen the theory that the female phenotype of autism (or Aspergers) looks completely different from the male phenotype, but I have to wonder why it is presumed that females who “are this way” have autism underlying it all. I kind of worry that it is a sort of unintentional sexism, that women who are deep thinkers, intelligent, and socially challenged (contrary to usual societal expectations) are not “normal” women. And even if there are aspects of this list that could be considered troublesome, or impairing, I still don’t see what defines it as autism specifically, as opposed to something else. Either folded under an existing umbrella or its own beast altogether.
Hi, I was thinking this exact thing and was about to comment it! I think we need to do away with labels altogether, as they just lead to confusion and thinking about life in a very boxed-in way that has no basis in the complexity of the human experience. I relate to so many of these traits but I have never been diagnosed with autism (actually was told I wasn’t because as a kid I had panic attacks and my parents had me tested for everything), but I have taken that personality test and gotten INFP, another label, and have been told I’m a “Highly Sensitive Person”…another label. Then people of these different labels will argue about which label is ‘right’, when when you think about it that doesn’t even make sense or really mean anything…This list to me has a lot of what would describe an intense, very sensitive and deepthinking creative person who is more vulnerable than most to the harms of the world. As you can see from all the comments, there are so many people like this. I wish instead this was a list just called “the type of person I am, please comment if you relate so we can connect!” I don’t feel there is anything ‘wrong’ with me for being how I am and I don’t think you should either. I really do think all of us experience life in such a different and distinct way, that’s the beauty of it, no label will ever account for all of our experiences of life. I also agree it is quite controversial and upsetting to see that women who think so deeply/sensitively/are highly intelligent have Autism, because it “looks different in women”. None of those traits should in and of themselves interfere with life in a way that would make getting a diagnosis helpful. I’ve always felt different from most people around me, but I’ve still found other ‘lone wolves’ who are like me and now we’re not so lone anymore. I don’t see any value in diagnoses, and I’ve always been confused why getting a manmade label would make someone feel more comforted in themselves…we should all learn to know, accept and love ourselves period, without the need of a meaningless label
I have long thought similarly until this year, when I finally hit a wall at every turn; all the coping skills exhausted. Never was diagnosed. In a search to help my son, I discovered AANE and wept. Not only did I see my son, I saw myself. All the funny stories about me and my childhood suddenly made sense. Decided to start unmasking a bit and letting people in, but they just saw the wonderful me (my mother is still my biggest fan) and what makes me different and wonderful. She didn’t get the struggle part. It didn’t really help with not hitting the wall. I decided to team up with some other work mentors for a fee and get some extra guidance and support so I could do the things that I just couldn’t seem to do on my own. It takes forever for me to make the changes that need to be made. I have learned to ask for help, but honestly life seems to be espcially hard right now. Not to mention, everyone else is now in my space that I had once reserved for myself as a coping skill to regroup. I don’t think there is any easy answer to this question. I think it depends on the person. I’m kind of glad I never new, because, “I am the type of person” that already has inhibitions and being consious of a “formal” diagnoses just may have exasperated my struggles and given me an excuse to give up or quit or stop trying. So for now, I will look for support systems that best help me.
Fun fact, having an IQ above 150 (a type of neuro diversity) is often missed in women & misdiagnosed as ASD (although the two can exist at the same time!). As someone who has been falling down this rabbit hole for 5+ years now it’s worth noting that about 75% of this list is intensity/over excitability 101 for highly gifted females. I will say that the two neuro diversities are quite similar (many studies/articles about it), however I just wanted to hop on here & suggest the author of this article read the book living with intensity as it sounds like there may potentially be some pieces missing from your puzzle (not said in a belittling way) of self as we are typically so hyper focused on our “diagnosis” that we can’t see other aspects of self.
I came across this list while researching ASD in women. I am a 34-year-old woman and have not been diagnosed, but was in starting the process when the pandemic began and I can no longer find a doctor within 2 hours of me who will diagnose adults and/or accepts my insurance.
I decided, being who I am, to copy and paste the list into a spreadsheet and highlight the traits that I identified with. It ended up being about 92%. I also took the AQ test and scored a 39 (which is a high score for those not familiar). These are just more tools to take to a future doctor (whenever I find one) that will hopefully help figure out a proper diagnosis. I was seeing a therapist for over a year, during which time I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and depression. My therapist brushed me off when I brought up the possibility of ASD and told me that I was “looking for a more interesting diagnosis.” I felt like she was gaslighting me and, after the fact, realized I should have been more insistent.
Long story short, if anyone has tips for finding a doctor for diagnosis and therapy purposes (I am in central Ohio), PLEASE share! I’m hoping this is just the first step in feeling like there is a purpose for why I am the way I am, which I think will help me deal with the world around me better.
So I started researching some aspects of undiagnosed autism in females because I was ralready somewhat interested in it, and I started noticing a pattern between my own behavior and that of someone with autism (lack of understanding with sarcasm and idioms, social difficulties, seeming ‘different’ than other kids my age…etc). The more I researched the more things I found familiar to myself and this list was all too aligned with my own behavior. I don’t think my life as ever been more accurately described. I’m speechless. I’m 15 with parents who view autism as a tragedy, so how do I go about asking for a screening? I want to understand myself better, and I think figuring out if a professional thinks would be a good first step?
Thank you for this wonderful list. I was surprised that only 6 of the above listed do not apply to me. Ive always thought I was weird and from another planet and thought but for me the way I am is normal. Its hard realizing all this at age 60. Thanks to my wonderful friend who brought it to my attention that I might be Autistic. I love you so much:)
Thank you for this article.
I have always felt like I was from another planet and struggled to maintain friendships. Relationships have been extremely difficult.
It has explained a lot of the upsets that I have had – when I have unknowingly offended others or been taken advantage of. I just assumed that there was something terribly wrong with me.
Hopefully now I can start putting together some strategies to help me.
I feel the same way
II never saw myself as an Asperger because, I am very friendly but I meet most of the conditions of the check list.
As a child I used to body rocking specially when I was sad.
I meet the following:
Finds it difficult to understand vindictive behavior and retaliation
Easily fooled and conned
Feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed
Feelings of being misplaced and/or from another planet
Feelings of isolation
Abused or taken advantage of as a child but didn’t think to tell anyone
Section C: Escape and Friendship
Survives overwhelming emotions and senses by escaping in thought or action
Escapes regularly through fixations, obsessions, and over-interest in subjects
Escapes routinely through imagination, fantasy, and daydreaming
Had imaginary friends in youth
Makes friends with older or younger females more so than friends her age (often in young adulthood)
Imitates friends or peers in style, dress, attitude, interests, and manner (sometimes speech)
Obsessively collects objects (books)
Escapes through a relationship (imagined or real)
Numbers bring ease (could be numbers associated with patterns, calculations, lists, time and/or personification)
Escapes through counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging
Escapes into other rooms at parties
Cannot relax or rest without many thoughts
Everything has a purpose
Section D: Comorbid Attributes
Sense of pending danger or doom
Feelings of polar extremes (depressed/over-joyed; inconsiderate/over-sensitive)
Poor muscle tone, double-jointed, and/or lack in coordination
Irritable bowel and/or intestinal issues
Chronic fatigue and/or immune challenges
Questions place in the world
Often drops small objects
Wonders who she is and what is expected of her
Searches for right and wrong
picks scalp/skin, tucks hands under or between legs,
Section E: Social Interaction
Tendency to overshare
Spills intimate details to strangers
Raised hand too much in class or didn’t participate in class
Little impulse control with speaking when younger
Monopolizes conversation at times
Shares in order to reach out
Often sounds eager and over-zealous or apathetic and disinterested
Holds a lot of thoughts, ideas, and feelings inside
Feels as if she is attempting to communicate “correctly”
Obsesses about the potentiality of a relationship with someone, particularly a love interest or feasible new friendship
Conversation are often exhausting
Questions the actions and behaviors of self and others, continually
Feels as if missing a conversation “gene” or thought-filter
Trained self in social interactions through readings and studying of other people
Visualizes and practices how she will act around others
Practices/rehearses in mind what she will say to another before entering the room
Difficulty filtering out background noise when talking to others
Has a continuous dialogue in mind that tells her what to say and how to act when in a social situation
Sense of humor sometimes seems quirky, odd, inappropriate, or different from others
As a child it was hard to know when it was her turn to talk
Finds norms of conversation confusing
Finds unwritten and unspoken rules difficult to grasp, remember, and apply
Section F: Finds Refuge when Alone
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”
One visitor at the home may be perceived as a threat (this can even be a familiar family member)
Knowing logically a house visitor is not a threat, but that doesn’t relieve the anxiety
Feelings of dread about upcoming events and appointments on the calendar
She prepares herself mentally for outings, excursions, meetings, and appointments, often days before a scheduled event
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)
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
Telling self the “right” words and/or positive self-talk (CBT) doesn’t typically alleviate anxiety. CBT may cause increased feelings of inadequacy.
Knowing she is staying home all day brings great peace of mind
Requires a large amount of down time or alone time
Feels guilty after spending a lot of time on a special interest
Uncomfortable in public locker rooms, bathrooms, and/or dressing rooms
Dislikes being in a crowded mall, crowded gym, and/or crowded theater
Section G: Sensitive
Sensitive to sounds, textures, temperature, and/or smells when trying to sleep
Adjusts bedclothes, bedding, and/or environment in an attempt to find comfort
Dreams are anxiety-ridden, vivid, complex, and/or precognitive in nature
Highly intuitive to others’ feelings
Highly empathetic, sometimes to the point of confusion
Takes criticism to heart
Longs to be seen, heard, and understood
Questions if she is a “normal” person
Highly susceptible to outsiders’ viewpoints and opinions
At times adapts her view of life or actions based on others’ opinions or words
Becomes hurt when others question or doubt her work
Views many things as an extension of self
Fears others opinions, criticism, and judgment
Dislikes words and events that hurt animals and people
Tries to help, offers unsolicited advice, or formalizes plans of action
Questions life purpose and how to be a “better” person
Seeks to understand abilities, skills, and/or gifts
Section H: Sense of Self
Feels trapped between wanting to be herself and wanting to fit in
Imitates others without realizing it
Suppresses true wishes (often in young adulthood)
Exhibits codependent behaviors (often in young adulthood)
Adapts self in order to avoid ridicule
Rejects social norms and/or questions social norms
Feelings of extreme isolation
Feeling good about self takes a lot of effort and work
Switches preferences based on environment and other people
Switches behavior based on environment and other people
Didn’t care about her hygiene, clothes, and appearance before teenage years and/or before someone else pointed these out to her
Young sounding voice
Trouble recognizing what she looks like and/or has occurrences of slight prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing or remembering faces)
Feels significantly younger on the inside than on the outside (perpetually twelve)
Section I: Confusion
Had a hard time learning that others are not always honest
Feelings seem confusing, illogical, and unpredictable (self’s and others’)
Confuses appointment times, numbers, and/or dates
Expects that by acting a certain way certain results can be achieved, but realizes in dealing with emotions, those results don’t always manifest
Jokes go over the head
Confused when others ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray
Trouble identifying feelings unless they are extreme
Feels sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt her
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
The middle spectrum of outcomes, events, and emotions is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood (all or nothing mentality)
A small fight might signal the end of a relationship or collapse of world
A small compliment might boost her into a state of bliss
Section J: Words, Numbers, and Patterns
Likes to know word origins and/or origin of historical facts/root cause and foundation
Notices patterns frequently
Remembers things in visual pictures
Remembers exact details about someone’s life
Has a remarkable memory for certain details
Writes or creates to relieve anxiety
Has certain “feelings” or emotions towards words and/or numbers
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
Simple tasks can cause extreme hardship
New places offer their own set of challenges
Anything that requires a reasonable amount of steps, dexterity, or know-how can rouse a sense of panic
The thought of repairing, fixing, or locating something can cause anxiety
Mundane tasks are avoided
Cleaning home may seem insurmountable
Many questions come to mind when setting about to do a task
Might leave the house with mismatched socks, shirt buttoned incorrectly, and/or have dyslexia and/or dysgraphia
Trouble copying dance steps, aerobic moves, or direction in a sports gym class
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
Let’s not forget also that autism symptoms, https://fdna.health/autism/ , in adults can look diferent between men and women. Women are better able to mask their symptoms and fit in, as it were. They are also less likely to be diagnosed, as autism clinical symptoms criteria are still based on autistic males.
First of all, don’t take me bad. I appreciate the creation of this checklist, I am grateful for the autistic woman researcher who came up with it and all the other autistic women who identified and commented here. This is clearly more accurate for a lot of women than the usual questionnaires. That said, I am an adult man, still not officially diagnosed but pretty sure I am autistic, based on tons of readings, other tests, reflections and conversations with lots of people who were diagnosed only as adults. And I also strongly checked 75% of this list, only not answering yes to most questions on 2 topics, and even then nearly so on both. I am cisgender, heteressexual and was never called effeminate, except for my long hair, in case anybody wonders. So maybe there is more to it than gender differences, even though they probably are often relevant, but what about generation, kind of upbringing, local cultural values and, well… personality? Not to mention the random genetic variatons of autism itself, since it never manifests quite the same way in two people, just as no two neurotypical people are the same, actually. Again, I’m not suggesting this checklist isn’t valid for its targetted audience, just that maybe it helps unveil even more about variations in autism than originally meant.
I find this highly overly pathologising.
For example many of the things I do in Section C are not in order to escape anything, but just because it feels normal and good. It is a positive experience, and I am happy to operate in those ways. Calling something an “over-interest” is a statement of judgement. If there is no harm being done, then there is no limit to how much someone can be interested in something. They may base their career in it or become a source of expertise. It is quite possible to not feel guilt when not doing what everyone else is doing.
I really believe being on the spectrum is diversity, not disorder. Many of the negative impacts of being on he spectrum are not innate to being neurodiverse but because society judges the diversity and then those who are neurodiverse internalise the stigmas. Obviously that means that many of us do experience some of our diversity in negative ways, but as much as possible I think we should all be working to neutralise the stigma and see the strengths of being on the spectrum.
So, I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and most of the things I relate to on your list are things that are also associated with women who have ADHD. It just feels like the spectrum overlaps a lot with ADHD and it’s confusing to know if I just have ADHD or if I have autism as well. I have a great understanding of social norms, but as I think back, I think it’s because of having had anxiety around them and sort of figuring out what was acceptable along the way.
I’m 70 and all my life felt weird and wondered why I couldn’t be like other people. Pretty much every thing on the list fits–except neatness. I’m more than a little stunned. I thought I knew what autism was and it couldn’t be me because I’m hyper aware of other people’s emotions but now…. Not even sure what to do with this at this point in my life.
April, you may want to write a blog for us about your discovery! Email email@example.com
April, me, too! I am almost 67 and never understood why I didn’t fit in anywhere in any group (and honestly gave up trying to). I thought I was just terminally awkward. All but 20 of these statements describe me and a couple of those are the ones referring to early childhood behaviors which, of course, was too long ago.
I am stunned, too. One son was diagnosed years ago with Asperger’s but recently my two daughters just got diagnosed with ASD. They insist that both my husband and I are autistic. Classic descriptions of ASD do fit him and he has accepted that but neither of us thought anything but that I am just quirky and very introverted.
So, after reading this list and while the initial shock was still hot I copied the list into a word document and under each statement wrote out how that statement was true for me (or not true) including any recollections from my life that support it. It has taken me days but now I am convinced.
I don’t see a need for an official diagnosis. It cost our daughters about $1500 each! It makes sense for them to have something official to give their employers and especially because they have small children (two of whom have also been diagnosed) but my husband is retired and I have a home business, no employer. All we can do at this point is to be glad that now we know – it all makes sense. Instead of defaulting to depression about past failures we have a new perspective to consider. I am oddly relieved.
I made this into a checklist and I got 145. 5 out of 178 questions. Do you think that this would be enough to pursue a diagnosis?
Thank you very much.
I recognise all of the above as high functioning autism (Aspergers) which is a lot more common and under diagnosed than people realise. My daughter was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD in 2019 and there are no doubt several undiagnosed adults in our family with autistic traits. Unfortunately Aspergers is no longer a diagnosed, due to changes in the way autism is assessed and the umbrella term ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) was introduced to cover low functioning all the way up to high functioning autism. When my daughter was diagnosed with ASD, the assessment report did make specific reference to my daughter having Aspergers traits, even though it can no longer be diagnosed. This is because there is a world of difference between low functioning autism (which is what most neurotypical people assume is autism) and high functioning autism i.e.: Aspergers. What is described above, in great detail, is much more akin to high functioning autism and this type of autism is invariably missed in both male and female children, especially if there is no apparent educational deficit in school. I have come across many children and people that I believe show classic signs of both high functioning autism and ADHD (these tend to go together) that have gone undiagnosed because they are femmes too bright and ‘normal’ to be autistic. So none of this is news to me, but what does need to change is the way children are assessed and girls in particular should not be assessed using the same criteria that is used for boys. I am currently fighting my local authority in the courts to get my high functioning autistic daughter properly recognised and supported in school. The medical and educational professionals that see these undiagnosed and unsupported children on a regular basis and also need to get their acts together, because they are missing so many opportunities to help these children (and adults) with autism, that would fair so much better with the right support and proper recognition of what is a neurological difference, not a disease that needs to be cured or a stigma.
WOW this is like looking in a mirror and being SEEN for the first time.. I get tested in a few days and this is really helpful, thank you .
Why is intelligence asterisked? I looked everywhere for the key or explanation. I feel it implies not really intelligent… because so many autistic diagnosis criteria claim our intellect is based on mimicry not it’s actuality. It’s incredibly ableist to accept it. Our brains are valid. The thoughts they make sometimes genius. That’s why there are so many poly math autis….
Everything else here hits home more than not. It’s beautifully worded to boot. But to imply our intelligence has another truth is cruel and perpetuating abuse we face daily even from our families. We deserve better.
Thanks Dona, you said everything I was thinking and articulated it far better than I could. Tina, your comment actually made me feel guilty and left me second guessing myself because it’s exactly that attitude that I have had to deal with through my life with Autism.
When we start thinking we should be trying harder then it’s a slippery slope to feeling bad about ourselves for not being able to cope with our condition.
Reading this brought up such deep sadness. I’m 43 years old and have spent my life feeling as though (and being told by everyone around me) something is inherently wrong with me. I have family members on the spectrum – brother, parent, son…most of my friends are on the spectrum (which you think would have tipped me off) and as I started recently researching ASD to learn how to be a better friend/parent/etc to them I saw myself in almost all of it. How would my life have been different if I had been properly diagnosed earlier in life? School was hell for me. I carry a lot of shame for the way I’ve “behaved” in life. I’ve started isolating pretty severely in recent years because I feel like I’m just a failure at relationships and social situations. I can’t thank you enough for writing this and for being an advocate for so many who are largely left feeling alone. I don’t know where to go from here as far as diagnosis and support, but at least I have a starting point now. My sincere gratitude to you.
I am 37-year-old female who has been misdiagnosed with many diagnoses and still undergo psychotherapy to only get told, “Being tested wouldn’t do anything for you” and “I wouldn’t jump too fast at a diagnosis.” We need more practitioners that are WILLING to listen to the client who has spent their life in THEIR body and brain! I thank you for compiling this list as it is vastly different than the “typical” DSM-5 criteria that tends to be a “one size fits all” type deal.
I got 79% on this (acting like it was a quiz), and the more I read about the autism spectrum in females the more I wonder if it can explain so many of the things I grew up being confused about. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to ask for a formal diagnosis, or if it would be necessary honestly, but just the fact that others have had trouble with some of these things brings me a lot of comfort. The communication in particular was always a struggle (I’m 26 but until 2 years ago I used to think there was something seriously wrong with me because of how difficult conversations, social interaction and eye contact was. I used to feel so unhuman, like my brain has been dropped by aliens into my body, and used to fill notebooks on ways and prompts to become better at conversations). I’m definitely in a better place now and even enjoy conversations rather than being completely drained, and understand what’s going on more, but it has felt like it’s taken 26 years of study to find the right strategies for each situation! So many of these other points- sensitivity to light/smell/sound, obsession with certain topics (and a horrendous tendancy to suddenly lose interest), the empathy (I used to have to rescue snails that had crawled onto paths on my way home from school so no one would step on them/ embarrassingly cry if someone else cries) and many others you’ve listed, just make so much more sense in this context too. I have no idea if I have autism or just interpreted everything too much but regardless thank you for this list, if nothing else so I don’t feel so crazy and alone!
Newly diagnosed with ASD-1 and I’m over 50, female. I disagree with the portions pertaining to being vulnerable or suggestible to the opinions of others. My understanding is that autism is just the opposite: HIGH RESISTANCE to peer pressure, herd or mob mentality. Autistics like to do their own thing. We’re not people-needy, so why would others’ opinions matter to us? It’s the NTs who follow the crowd and are easily swayed by the opinions of others! It’s the NTs who get caught up in the latest trends and do things because “it’s what’s in style.”
Oh my god, how am i just now finding this out?
I cannot thank you enough.
this list is fabulous – thanks! really helpful – one of the best out there!
tremendous difficulty asking for help (can’t identify when help is needed)
hate being touched especially by strangers (doctors, dentists, accidentally in a crowd)
can’t tell when in pain
hate unexpected change
autistic behaviours increase when emotionally stressed
highly distressed in the face of confrontation or conflict
enormous sense of relief when able to accept diagnosis (either by self or by alleged ‘authorities’)
Wow…this is so eye-opening. One thing that I do not see or maybe I do but it’s not in the exact words is that I am extremely tele-phobic. A chill runs through me when my phone rings and I cannot bring myself to dial a number sometimes…even to family. However, if I’m calling to ask a specific question at a store or doctor’s office, I’m fine. It’s the unknown conversation thing that is an issue for me. It’s my most worrisome “symptom” or issue and I don’t see it written a lot. The other issues don’t really worry me…they are just me. Thank you for this checklist!
I am almost the same. I don’t mind if the phone rings – unless I am very deeply into something and am VERY irritable at being interrupted then. But don’t – JUST DON’T ask me to phone anyone for any reason at all… NEVER!! Not EVER, OK??
I am almost 40 and am finding this a bit overwhelming. I only starting looking into autism as it’s possible my daughter has it, and then as I read more and more something clicked and it has explained so much. I tick an awful lot on your list – thank you for making it, it’s incredibly helpful. I had a terrible time growing up, and I’m determined things will be different for her!
I agree. I am highly independent in my thoughts and opinions.
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