Observe, Mimic, and Blend

What does a girl with autism look like? Often, especially at the higher-functioning end of the spectrum, not at all like her male counterparts.

Male gender bias plays a role in these girls going undetected and undiagnosed -- as do the girls themselves. That is because girls with autism can be skilled at observation, mimicry, and avoidance, allowing them to blend in, for a time, with their neurotypical peers.

When communicating, girls with autism may:

  • Have an exceptional vocabulary
  • Mimic instead of responding naturally
  • Converse in predictable “scripted” ways
  • Struggle with non-verbal communication, such as body language and tone of voice
  • Use odd inflection
  • Have difficulty dealing with unexpected or “off-script” verbal responses

When socializing, girls with autism may:

  • Appear very shy, or avoid interacting with others
  • Seem uncomfortable during conversations
  • Struggle with eye contact
  • Have only one or two close friends at school
  • Flutter between groups of people
  • Play with boys
  • Spend playtime walking or playing alone in library
  • Look for opportunities to help rather than play
  • Show empathy and compassion, but may be confused by non-verbal social cues
  • Have difficulty fitting in with peers, ex, clothing and hairstyles

With regards to behavior, girls with autism may:

  • Less likely to act out physically or aggressively, less disruptive
  • Cry excessively when separated from parents
  • Appear anxious when there are changes in routine
  • Practice rituals with no apparent function
  • Focus intensely on a particular subject, such as animals or classical literature
  • Play with dolls or toys beyond the typical age for these items
  • Appear to have attractions or aversions to sensory stimuli such as textures, foods, sounds or visual patterns.
  • May engage in repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping, rocking, or spinning.

Do you live in Hong Kong, and does your daughter seem to display many of these characteristics? If you are concerned, please contact us.