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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. It is in part because girls with autism can be skilled at observation, mimicry, and avoidance, allowing them to blend in, for a time, with their neurotypical peers.

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.