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.