Is she fine, or is she masking?

I keep meeting folks who have one kid diagnosed but other kids that aren’t. There is relatively strong evidence that it’s genetic/hereditary (Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders – PMC ( – enough that I’m not sure why folks aren’t told to automatically have all siblings evaluated.

I’m 42 and just now starting to figure out who I am and who I want to be, I spent so long masking so deeply that it’s taken over two and a half years to start to realize that I don’t need to do things I “should” to be “normal” or “fit in” – a recent example was telling my best friend that I don’t like eating at restaurants, most of them are sensory nightmares and that I would stay home and happily wait while the others went out. It’s so nice to be able to say no to things without feeling guilty or like I need to explain or give reasons.

Diagnosing Females

I just heard about Kadiant today because they did an online assessment that did not accurately diagnose someone’s daughter.

Unfortunately, it is absolutely harder to get girls diagnosed because they present differently and they mask habitually. I was diagnosed officially at 42 after self-diagnosing at 39.

One of the first special interests of many autistic girls is social rules – so they learn to mask very early and very well. Then they get seen as “just” shy and anxious. I can’t find the meme about boys vs girls at the moment.

If the person diagnosing doesn’t know how to check for the existence of a mask, they certainly aren’t going to be able to see around/behind it. And most autistic females don’t even know they are masking, so they can’t “just” drop it for the assessment.

If this happens to you, ask which diagnostics were used. Ask them to try another one or for a second opinion.

Also, a key thing that many questionnaires don’t tell parents that when a question asks what their child can do, they don’t mean what CAN they do – with support/under the right conditions/sometimes, the question is actually asking what they can do completely independently and without supports (like visual schedules, etc.) at least 80% of the time.

The other thing to do is look at the CDC milestone lists and see which things are/were missing/delayed.

I made this health history form to help me figure out some of those things by looking at journal entries, texts, emails, photos, etc. to find the kind of information often asked for.

ADHD, anxiety and hyperlexia are all common signs of autism in females. Collecting and socially acceptable special interests also can be indicators. An obsession with horses and/or ponies that lasts longer or goes deeper than their peers. As kids it can be collecting dolls or certain toys, especially if they arrange or organize them instead of doing pretend play. As adults, shoe/purse/jewelry/makeup collections are common.

Your daughter probably isn’t “just being dramatic” – she’s anxious and doing whatever is needed to get your attention, or she’s overwhelmed by emotions she doesn’t know how to handle.

Anyone and everyone can slip into fight or flight mode – and the prefrontal cortex doesn’t mature until 20-25 and for neurodivergent individuals it’s often even later.