What are the signs and traits of autism in women?

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While not as many females as males are diagnosed with autism, girls who are diagnosed with it grow into women who have it.

According to a 2013 study that was carried out by Doctors Thomas W. Frazier, Stelios Georgiaides, Somer El Bishop (all PHD) and Doctor Antonio Y. Hardan (MD), autism “often goes undiagnosed in girls.”

Social Communication and Interaction Issues

  • Inability to look at (i.e. avoiding eye contact) or listen to other people
  • Not responding to their name, especially if they’re very young
  • Resistance to touch
  • A preference to being alone
  • Inappropriate or no facial expressions
  • Inability to start a conversation or keep it going
  • Excessive discussion of a favourite topic that others show no interest in
  • Speech problems or unusual speech patterns
  • Inability to express emotions or recognise them in others
  • Trouble with recognising simple social cues
  • Difficulty with following simple directions
  • Finding other people’s responses or reactions unpredictable
  • Inappropriate social interactions
  • Inability to recognise non-verbal of communication

Behavioural Pattern Symptoms

  • Performing repetitive movements, such as rocking back and forth
  • Developing routines or rituals that cannot be disrupted
  • Self-harm or self-injurious behaviour such as biting and head-banging
  • Repeating words and phrases (i.e. echolalia)
  • Becoming extremely fascinated with a particular subject matter, fact or detail
  • Being either oversensitive or under-sensitive to light or sound
  • Fixating on particular objects, such as hairbrushes, or subjects
  • Having particular food preferences or aversions to food textures


Rudy Simone describes the following traits in females with Asperger syndrome in her book ‘Aspergirls (pp 230 – 231).’


Appearance and personal habits

  • Dressing comfortably due to sensory issues and practicality
  • Not spending much time on grooming or hair
  • Having an eccentric personality that may be reflected in their appearance
  • Being youthful for their age in looks, dress, behaviour and tastes
  • Being a little more expressive in facial expressions and gesture than their male counterparts
  • Having androgynous traits
  • Not having a strong sense of identity, particularly before diagnosis of Asperger syndrome
  • Enjoying reading and films as a retreat
  • Using control as a form of stress management
  • Usually happiest at home or in another controlled environment

Intellectual, giftedness, education and vocation

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  • The possibility of being diagnosed as autistic when they were younger or thought of as gifted
  • They are often musical or artistic
  • They may have a savant skill or strong talent(s)
  • They may have a strong interest in computers and other forms of technology, games, graphic design, science and inventing things
  • They may be a self-taught reader or hyperlexic as a child
  • They may be highly educated but struggle in a further or higher education establishment such as college or university
  • Showing passion about a course of study or a job, and then change direction or go completely cold on it very quickly
  • They are highly intelligent, yet they can sometimes be slow to comprehend due to sensory and cognitive processing issues
  • Trouble with holding onto a job




  • Emotionally immature and sensitive
  • Predominant emotions of anxiety and fear
  • More open to discussing feelings and emotional issues than males with AS
  • Having strong sensory issues and being prone to sensory overload
  • Being moody and prone to bouts of depression
  • They are probably given several different prescriptions to treat symptoms
  • Some might have mild to severe gastrointestinal difficulties such as stomach ulcers, acid reflux and IBS
  • Stimming to sooth when upset or agitated
  • They also stim when they’re happy, such as by flapping their hands
  • They hate injustice and misunderstandings, which could incite anger or rage
  • Being prone to mutism when feeling stressed or upset, especially after a meltdown
  • Being prone to temper-induced or crying meltdowns whether at home or in public



  • Other people often misunderstand their words or actions
  • Being perceived as cold-natured, self-centred or unfriendly
  • Being very outspoken at times
  • Being very shy or mute
  • Will shut down in social situations once overloaded like their male counterparts
  • They do not go out very much. If they have a partner or children, they would only want to go out with them
  • They will not have many female friends or do “girly” things such as shopping
  • They will have a close friend or friends at school, but not in adulthood
  • They may or may not want to be in a relationship
  • If a female with Asperger’s likes a male person, she can find it awkward to let him know she likes him due to fixation on him
  • They often prefer the company of animals to people




Healthline’s Understanding Autism in Women: https://www.healthline.com/health/autism-in-women


NCBI and PMC’S Behavioural and Cognitive Characteristics of Females and Males With Autism in the Simons Simplex Collection: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3935179/


Rudy Simone’s Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome on Amazon U.K.: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Aspergirls-Empowering-Females-Asperger-Syndrome/dp/1849058261


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