Autistic Girls


These often heard statements made about autistic girls are not true. They represent commonly held misconceptions about autistic girls:

She can’t be autistic – she is too social.

Not trueAutistic girls are good at masking their social difficulties as they are more able to follow social actions by imitation, observation and copying other children.

I got so used to holding it together at school or copying others just to blend in. The trouble is, I would then have shutdowns or fall apart at home – exhausted from keeping up my charade. I may have seemed ‘fine’ but in reality, I really needed more support

- Sarah, 30 years old

She doesn’t have repetitive behaviour or obscure interests.

Not true It is not the special interests that differentiate autistic girls from their peers, but the quality and intensity of the interests and the length of time that she might spent on them. 7

It is not the special interests that differentiate girls from their peers, but the quality and intensity of these interests and the length of time spent on these. Through my observation, I have found girls do have fewer repetitive behaviours than boys, however they do exist and are more subtle in their presentation. For example, girls tend to twirl their hair, or use other stimming behaviour such as twirling, humming or picking their nails. Girls do also enjoy special interests to the same intensity as boys, but often have more common topics such as animals, music, people or fashion.

- Danuta Bullhak-Paterson, Clinical Psychologist
Lived Experience

I think back to when I was at school and remember being the girl that just wanted to blend in and I did what I could to achieve this. Desperate to be liked and to have friends I didn't want anyone; not my teachers or peers to realise that I was different so I taught myself to put on a mask that hid my true identity. It was all a big lie. I was the perfect student at school that purposely flew under the radar but I found that I would completely shut down when I got home from school due to exhaustion. I was keeping up a facade that I still maintain today as an adult because in my world blending in is what is considered socially acceptable. No one would ever pick that I have autism but the reality is that what people see on the surface hides what is really going on. My husband and a select group of caring friends are the only ones who can identify my autistic traits because I have perfected my mask so well.

Talia, 42 years old. Mother of 2 with an autism diagnosis.

7. Gould and Ashton-Smith 2012