Females with Aspergers Syndrome Checklist by Samantha Craft

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.

* Highly intelligent does not relate to IQ levels. Often Aspies are dyslexic and have dysgraphia and other learning disabilities but can be highly intelligent about particular subject matters, out-of-the-box thinking, and verbal fluency capacities.

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Females with Asperger’s Syndrome Unofficial Checklist 

Sam’s book Everyday Asperges is now available here and in multiple countries on Amazon. Strong reviews!

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 upcoming book Everyday AspergersTen Traits of Aspergers can be found here.

Suggested Use: Check off all areas that strongly apply to the person. If each area has 75%-80% of the statements checked, or more, then you may want to consider that the female may have Asperger’s Syndrome.

When determining an AS diagnosis (or Autism Spectrum diagnosis) reviewing an individual’s childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and present day is advisable. This particularly applies to communication challenges; many  females with AS teach themselves the communication rules to the point of extreme. A primary identifier might be they are still teaching themselves social and communication rules; in other words they are still rehearsing. (Section A consideration/prolific artist in place of writer and/or both.)

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Section A: Deep Thinkers

  1. A deep thinker
  2. A prolific writer drawn to poetry
  3. *Highly intelligent
  4. Sees things at multiple levels, including her own thinking processes
  5. Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything, continually
  6. Serious and matter-of-fact in nature
  7. Doesn’t take things for granted
  8. Doesn’t simplify
  9. Everything is complex
  10. Often gets lost in own thoughts and “checks out” (blank stare)

Section B: Innocent

  1. Naïve
  2. Honest
  3. Experiences trouble with lying
  4. Finds it difficult to understand manipulation and disloyalty
  5. Finds it difficult to understand vindictive behavior and retaliation
  6. Easily fooled and conned
  7. Feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed
  8. Feelings of being misplaced and/or from another planet
  9. Feelings of isolation
  10. Abused or taken advantage of as a child but didn’t think to tell anyone

Section C: Escape and Friendship

  1. Survives overwhelming emotions and senses by escaping in thought or action
  2. Escapes regularly through fixations, obsessions, and over-interest in subjects
  3. Escapes routinely through imagination, fantasy, and daydreaming
  4. Escapes through mental processing
  5. Escapes through the rhythm of words
  6. Philosophizes, continually
  7. Had imaginary friends in youth
  8. Imitates people on television or in movies
  9. Treated friends as “pawns” in youth, e.g., friends were “students” “consumers” “members”
  10. Makes friends with older or younger females more so than friends her age (often in young adulthood)
  11. Imitates friends or peers in style, dress, attitude, interests, and manner (sometimes speech)
  12. Obsessively collects and organizes objects
  13. Mastered imitation
  14. Escapes by playing the same music over and over
  15. Escapes through a relationship (imagined or real)
  16. Numbers bring ease (could be numbers associated with patterns, calculations, lists, time and/or personification)
  17. Escapes through counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging
  18. Escapes into other rooms at parties
  19. Cannot relax or rest without many thoughts
  20. Everything has a purpose

Section D: Comorbid Attributes

  1. OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  2. Sensory Issues (sight, sound, texture, smells, taste) (might have synesthesia)
  3. Generalized Anxiety
  4. Sense of pending danger or doom
  5. Feelings of polar extremes (depressed/over-joyed; inconsiderate/over-sensitive)
  6. Poor muscle tone, double-jointed, and/or lack in coordination (may have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and/or Hypotonia and/or POTS syndrome)
  7. Eating disorders, food obsessions, and/or worry about what is eaten
  8. Irritable bowel and/or intestinal issues
  9. Chronic fatigue and/or immune challenges
  10. Misdiagnosed or diagnosed with a mental illness
  11. Experiences multiple physical symptoms, perhaps labeled “hypochondriac”
  12. Questions place in the world
  13. Often drops small objects
  14. Wonders who she is and what is expected of her
  15. Searches for right and wrong
  16. Since puberty has had bouts of depression (may have PMDD)
  17. 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

  1. Friends have ended friendship suddenly (without female with AS understanding why) and/or difficult time making friends
  2. Tendency to overshare
  3. Spills intimate details to strangers
  4. Raised hand too much in class or didn’t participate in class
  5. Little impulse control with speaking when younger
  6. Monopolizes conversation at times
  7. Brings subject back to self
  8. Comes across at times as narcissistic and controlling (is not narcissistic)
  9. Shares in order to reach out
  10. Often sounds eager and over-zealous or apathetic and disinterested
  11. Holds a lot of thoughts, ideas, and feelings inside
  12. Feels as if she is attempting to communicate “correctly”
  13. Obsesses about the potentiality of a relationship with someone, particularly a love interest or feasible new friendship
  14. Confused by the rules of accurate eye contact, tone of voice, proximity of body, body stance, and posture in conversation
  15. Conversation are often exhausting
  16. Questions the actions and behaviors of self and others, continually
  17. Feels as if missing a conversation “gene” or thought-filter
  18. Trained self in social interactions through readings and studying of other people
  19. Visualizes and practices how she will act around others
  20. Practices/rehearses in mind what she will say to another before entering the room
  21. Difficulty filtering out background noise when talking to others
  22. Has a continuous dialogue in mind that tells her what to say and how to act when in a social situation
  23. Sense of humor sometimes seems quirky, odd, inappropriate, or different from others
  24. As a child it was hard to know when it was her turn to talk
  25. Finds norms of conversation confusing
  26. Finds unwritten and unspoken rules difficult to grasp, remember, and apply

Section F: Finds Refuge when Alone

  1. 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”
  2. One visitor at the home may be perceived as a threat (this can even be a familiar family member)
  3. Knowing logically a house visitor is not a threat, doesn’t relieve the anxiety
  4. Feelings of dread about upcoming events and appointments on the calendar
  5. Knowing she has to leave the house causes anxiety from the moment she wakes up
  6. All the steps involved in leaving the house are overwhelming and exhausting to think about
  7. She prepares herself mentally for outings, excursions, meetings, and appointments, often days before a scheduled event
  8. 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)
  9. Questions next steps and movements, continually
  10. 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
  11. Telling self the “right” words and/or positive self-talk (CBT) doesn’t typically alleviate anxiety. CBT may cause increased feelings of inadequacy.
  12. Knowing she is staying home all day brings great peace of mind
  13. Requires a large amount of down time or alone time
  14. Feels guilty after spending a lot of time on a special interest
  15. Uncomfortable in public locker rooms, bathrooms, and/or dressing rooms
  16. Dislikes being in a crowded mall, crowded gym, and/or crowded theater

Section G: Sensitive

  1. Sensitive to sounds, textures, temperature, and/or smells when trying to sleep
  2. Adjusts bedclothes, bedding, and/or environment in an attempt to find comfort
  3. Dreams are anxiety-ridden, vivid, complex, and/or precognitive in nature
  4. Highly intuitive to others’ feelings
  5. Highly empathetic, sometimes to the point of confusion
  6. Takes criticism to heart
  7. Longs to be seen, heard, and understood
  8. Questions if she is a “normal” person
  9. Highly susceptible to outsiders’ viewpoints and opinions
  10. At times adapts her view of life or actions based on others’ opinions or words
  11. Recognizes own limitations in many areas daily, if not hourly
  12. Becomes hurt when others question or doubt her work
  13. Views many things as an extension of self
  14. Fears others opinions, criticism, and judgment
  15. Dislikes words and events that hurt animals and people
  16. Collects or rescues animals (often in childhood)
  17. Huge compassion for suffering (sometimes for inanimate objects/personification)
  18. Sensitive to substances (environmental toxins, foods, alcohol, medication, hormones, etc.)
  19. Tries to help, offers unsolicited advice, or formalizes plans of action
  20. Questions life purpose and how to be a “better” person
  21. Seeks to understand abilities, skills, and/or gifts

Section H: Sense of Self

  1. Feels trapped between wanting to be herself and wanting to fit in
  2. Imitates others without realizing it
  3. Suppresses true wishes (often in young adulthood)
  4. Exhibits codependent behaviors (often in young adulthood)
  5. Adapts self in order to avoid ridicule
  6. Rejects social norms and/or questions social norms
  7. Feelings of extreme isolation
  8. Feeling good about self takes a lot of effort and work
  9. Switches preferences based on environment and other people
  10. Switches behavior based on environment and other people
  11. Didn’t care about her hygiene, clothes, and appearance before teenage years and/or before someone else pointed these out to her
  12. “Freaks out” but doesn’t know why until later
  13. Young sounding voice
  14. Trouble recognizing what she looks like and/or has occurrences of slight prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing or remembering faces)
  15. Feels significantly younger on the inside than on the outside (perpetually twelve)

Section I: Confusion

  1. Had a hard time learning that others are not always honest
  2. Feelings seem confusing, illogical, and unpredictable (self’s and others’)
  3. Confuses appointment times, numbers, and/or dates
  4. Expects that by acting a certain way certain results can be achieved, but realizes in dealing with emotions, those results don’t always manifest
  5. Spoke frankly and literally in youth
  6. Jokes go over the head
  7. Confused when others ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray
  8. Trouble identifying feelings unless they are extreme
  9. Trouble with emotions of hate and dislike
  10. Feels sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt her
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. Situations and conversations sometimes perceived as black or white
  14. The middle spectrum of outcomes, events, and emotions is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood (all or nothing mentality)
  15. A small fight might signal the end of a relationship or collapse of world
  16. A small compliment might boost her into a state of bliss

Section J: Words, Numbers, and Patterns

  1. Likes to know word origins and/or origin of historical facts/root cause and foundation
  2. Confused when there is more than one meaning (or spelling) to a word
  3. High interest in songs and song lyrics
  4. Notices patterns frequently
  5. Remembers things in visual pictures
  6. Remembers exact details about someone’s life
  7. Has a remarkable memory for certain details
  8. Writes or creates to relieve anxiety
  9. Has certain “feelings” or emotions towards words and/or numbers
  10. 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

  1. Simple tasks can cause extreme hardship
  2. Learning to drive a car or rounding the corner in a hallway can be troublesome
  3. New places offer their own set of challenges
  4. Anything that requires a reasonable amount of steps, dexterity, or know-how can rouse a sense of panic
  5. The thought of repairing, fixing, or locating something can cause anxiety
  6. Mundane tasks are avoided
  7. Cleaning self and home may seem insurmountable
  8. Many questions come to mind when setting about to do a task
  9. Might leave the house with mismatched socks, shirt buttoned incorrectly, and/or have dyslexia and/or dysgraphia
  10. A trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming
  11. Trouble copying dance steps, aerobic moves, or direction in a sports gym class
  12. 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. 

Sam’s best selling book

Author’s Note: This post was originally composed when Asperger’s Syndrome was a stand-alone diagnosis. At that time, not much was written or discussed about females on the autism spectrum, particularly not the rules of semantics to utilize when referring to other autistic women. In the four years since my online writings began, much to do about semantics in relationship to Autism Spectrum Disorders has emerged. Even the word “disorder” is a trigger word for some, myself included. Today, I prefer to write “I am autistic” or “I am Aspie,” when referring to myself, instead of “a person with autism/Aspergers.” (People-first versus condition/diagnosis-first) Primarily, because I don’t have Aspergers—rather I am Aspie. Aspergers is innately who I am as an individual and not some tagline—like a disease.With that said, while I am sensitive to the ongoing terminology debate and the growing trend (and need) to move beyond identifying one’s self with a “disorder,” in order to keep the authenticity and voice of the original works, including accurately reflecting how I experienced life and trends in the societal and psychological fields at the time, I chose to not make any specific broad-based terminology alterations in this post.

Samantha Craft (@aspergersgirls) compiled this page. She has corresponded with thousands of individuals touched by autism in their lives. Sam is the author of Everyday Aspergers, a revealing memoir, ten years in the making, about the everyday life of an autistic woman. More information can be found atSpectrum Suite LLC, myspectrumsuite.com

 

 

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223 thoughts on “Females with Aspergers Syndrome Checklist by Samantha Craft

  1. Read your checklist with an open mouth: a mix of shock and huge relief. How could anyone know me so well? It felt like coming home. Okay, now to herd all these thoughts into some sort of order and make a plan. Thank you so much *still shaking head in disbelief*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can only say the exact same thing for myself 8 months ago – and still struggling. Living remote and no chance for a professional around or any type of support group.

      Like

  2. I’m currently navigating through a potential diagnosis after doing research for a an autistic character I planned to write, but all the info I kept finding were on boys, kids and more extreme autism. This was frustrating, as I had met people here and there with autism that didn’t show these signs and I couldn’t figure out where the “lines” were (and eventually came to learn it was a spectrum, so such lines weren’t necessarily there to begin with).

    But then I started to find articles like this and others that focused not only on females but on adults as well, and it hit me really hard. Suddenly I was finding long lists and descriptions that I didn’t know were associated with autism…because I exhibited every habit (including in this list, more or less) and the possibility I could be autistic flat out never crossed my mind due to misinformation/lack of information (I have been diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar, but something more always felt “different” and I couldn’t quite explain why, because I didn’t see how things were connected).

    But I digress–I mentioned all this because, whether or not I’m able to go through with a professional diagnosis yet, lists like these have cleared up a lot that I was so very insecure and self-loathing about. Things that, to me, were “normal”, seemed to not be the case for everyone around me–and so everyone became a threat, because my behaviors lead to misunderstandings and my inability to recognize social cues or norms added to the problem (and I’m not sure I’ll ever learn all those cues–it takes me a while, and even then I can only keep them up for so long before I get excitable about a special interest and end up forgetting how I’m “supposed” to act).

    So thank you for the list. Thank you for updating it pretty recently. I’ve already printed out a copy of it to show to my therapist tomorrow, because you clarified more than I ever could in a coherent way.

    Like

    1. Woah. Your story actually matches mine somewhat, except that I had been recently diagnosed with ADD (inattentive type) and I had mysterious pedi-mal seizures when I was younger (they’re gone now), as well as language developmental issues. Because I didn’t talk, Mom said that people thought I was autistic, but I wasn’t expressing any of the male symptoms, so I didn’t have it, apparently. Anyways, I’m trying to write a character for a comic book who is Aspie, and since they’re a girl, I had to search my butt off trying to find some information that wasn’t about young males. I found this page, and as I read it, I started realizing that I probably had both ADHD and Asperger’s- I started crying in the Friendship area because what few memories I have of when I was younger matched exactly what had happened to me when I tried making friends. It also explains why, despite taking medication, why I’m not completely ‘normal’. I’ve realized only recently that other people don’t question what happens around them, the entire structure of society, nor the effect it has on us as people interacting with each other. I’m 16- I’m not ‘supposed’ to think about this, and yet I can’t stop. The list of similarities goes on and on, but the thing I’m most worried about right now is: Is she going to believe me? She gets really attached to her theories about me and my other siblings, and if I disrupt that, she’s going to disbelieve me and I have no idea what I’m going to do.

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  3. I live in the US and have had trouble finding someone with female autism experience to evaluate me. Do you have any recommendations for that?

    Your checklist is so affirming and wonderful. Thank you for that.

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    1. I know I am an aspie, but undiagnosed as I do not need to be told, I know from my self checking constantly when I am with others , that I do not start to get too comfortable around them, as I may say something that I find really amusing but it would be childish. I end up minding or being around children as they do not judge. I am in my late 60’s now

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  4. It’s funny, I made my own list with things very similar to a lot of these points to describe Dyspraxia in depth. The two overlap so much, I’m not sure where one ends and one begins. Maybe I’m not the best person to figure it out seeing as I seem to have both, ha!

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  5. HOLY WOW… I ticked pretty much 100% of all those points… I have always known I was wired differently and have often described myself as “Schizophrenic” as i have always been different people in different situations… so interesting…

    Like

  6. Thank you. Half a year ago I came across this list, read through it and recognized myself to an eerie degree.

    I received my official diagnosis yesterday and while I’m still struggling to come fully in terms with it, it helps a lot to finally understand why I’ve always felt so different and incapable of living like “normal” people.

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  7. I read this whilst trying to work out whether a girl in my class (I’m a Teaching Assistant) may be on the spectrum. My son is 11 and awaiting assessment for ASD and is diagnosed with dyspraxia – the initial noises I’m hearing from the ASD team are that he may not get a diagnosis because there is a significant crossover between the two and he may not ‘need’ the ASD diagnosis to get support in school/life. I have identified with many of his dyspraxic traits and have considered going to the GP for a referral for a dyspraxia assessment… but whilst reading about dyspraxia has ticked a lot of boxes for me in thinking about how I am and how I was as a child, nothing made me go “YES!! THIS!!” anywhere near as much as your checklist just did. I’m currently lying in bed, freaked out a bit because I hadn’t ever entertained the idea that I may be on the spectrum. It’s made me cry, because it’s the first time I’ve ever read so much that reflected my world. When I was little there was a poster on my dentist’s wall of a group of children, all identical silhouettes except one, whose head was bowed a little and she looked different. No idea what the poster was for, but every time we went in I’d say to my mum “Is that one me?” I’ve long thought my son is on the spectrum but my reason for getting an actual assessment for my son was because he said, “Mum, I think I’m different to everyone else. I don’t mean, I have blond hair and they have brown hair, I mean like inside me. I don’t understand them and they don’t understand me, I think I might be an alien.” It’s only now, reading your article and checklist that I’m putting these things together. You know what, though? I’m also thinking, ‘Maybe I’m just over-identifying with my son. Or maybe I have Munchausen’s or hyperchondria or something.’ Overthinking much, me? Nah…! Thank you for your checklist, it’s given me a lot to think about… xx

    Like

    1. You aren’t alone. Many, many parents feel this same aha! moment. Please see myspectrumsuite.com for more information. I wish you the very best. Also, schools and psychologists sometimes downplay to save $. I was a teacher, know this first hand. You may need to insist and seek out an official diagnosis, if that’s what your gut says.

      Like

  8. You describe a true match for unsuspecting me, and a true shock. You have answered so many questions, or should I say puzzles in my personality. But one question remains, and that is Now What??? Thank you .

    Like

  9. I must have missed something somewhere. How does one print out your “unofficial” list?

    And thank you for all you do to share info here. I learned in recent months I’ve Aspergers, quite by accident, or maybe God planned it, but it’s shocked & relieved me in equal measure. I’m 55 and just now learned why I’ve always felt “odd” & can only get along consistently w/animals, folks much older than me or children, why I only have precious few friends & must limit my contact w/them, why I couldn’t attract a decent man, why my children won’t spend much time with me, need lots of “down” time, been misdiagnosed, etc., etc. I find this new understanding relieving yet a cruel allowance of God. I’ve kept my faith through childhood abuse, devastating illnesses, my oldest son’s death and other losses. But this takes the cake. My faith is being tested now. How do any of you carry on with a smile or confidence you can know who you really are & not feel you’re just a sum total of behaviors driven by a brain disorder?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This list is awesome – and caused me to buy your book. I’m in my forties and so relieved there is more and more info out there about aspergers in females to help explain why my life has been what it is (so far). I only started looking into it because I think my daughter has it. Then I realised I’d had a mid life aspie burnout. It all makes sense reading stuff like this. Thank you for producing and updating such a comprehensive list

    Like

  11. Wow…this is amazing…i really need to read the book.I am a mum of a girl with autisum spectrum disorder and i am pretty sure i am on the spectrum my self

    Like

  12. Hello! Well I binge read your book *gah! It felt like a homecoming. Loved the poetry, the rhythm of your worlds poured into my head, so perfect. So, a question that’s been niggling me: why Mr Brain? I ask because I have gender issues and GID and ASD are two many plates to juggle at once. I think you touched on it once but didn’t expand so I wondered about that. One last thing – you used the expression ‘speaking aloud’ and I’ve been correcting myself on that for ever, but how can one think aloud? It’s not possible so I am going to speak aloud from now on!

    Like

  13. Wow – This totally nailed it! As a 55-year-old adult I’ve gone from being a “shy” or “quiet” kid to being an adult that “gets really quiet sometimes.” I’ve heard many adults say there’s no such thing as being shy – surely you can think of SOMETHING to say – you just aren’t even trying! They have no idea how HARD I’m trying, how exhausting it is, and how I just want to be alone or with my dog or with someone I don’t have to compare myself with. They’re lucky they’ve never had to spend a day in my head. I’d love to see things their way, really! Yeah, we’re all different and I should get over it. But I’m really not looking for a label or attention. I just want to understand why interacting is so blasted hard for me and figure out how to retrain my brain to function instead of just plug up!

    I also have epilepsy. I was diagnosed as an adult 9 years ago after having a complex partial seizure and a grand mal, but I remember having the same “aura” (pre-seizure sensation) several times as a kid. I’ve sometimes wondered if this has affected my brain development. Maybe it did? At this point I’m not expecting miracles and I know my doctor won’t help. Several years ago I talked to him about social anxiety and he was very quick to prescribe Zoloft, which made me jittery and otherwise helped nothing. But I’m glad I found this site and am looking forward to reading more about this and hopefully being able to find a peace that I can settle down with.

    Like

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