Samantha Craft’s Autistic Traits Checklist

 

Hello! From Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle Ciampi)

Here is the original posting from 2012 on the original blog.

The Second Edition of Everyday Aspergers is now available in many countries. Over 100 Amazon reviews and strong ratings. Based on Sam’s 1000+ page blog that led 1000s of individuals around the globe to discover they are autistic. The title remains with the word Aspergers, as the book is about Sam discovering she had Aspergers in her early-40s. However, Sam now refers to herself as ‘on the autism spectrum’ and ‘autistic.’ She respects everyone’s right to self-identify. The new cover is by an autistic artist.

Connect with Sam on Twitter at aspergersgirls and on Linkedin. Sam is a servant leader with a heart for building bridges and connecting. Her poetry/art blog, Belly of a Star: My practice of Compassion is here. Her Facebook page is here Sam created one of the first Facebook support pages for autistic adults.

Disclaimer: This is one person’s opinion. It is not meant to replace the DSM-V Autism Spectrum condition definition, nor is this list meant to serve as an official diagnostic tool. 1000s and 1000s of individuals around the globe have used this list, in conjunction with the DSM-IV or DSM-V and a professional mental health professional’s guidance. It has been an important tool for females, particularly, but individuals across the gender spectrum identify with the list. The list has been translated into different languages and used around the globe. It is based on 8 years of communicating, almost daily, with those that are diagnosed or self-diagnosed autistic. It is not all inclusive. Some will fit into categories and not be autistic. This is meant as a springboard for discussion and more awareness.

* Highly intelligent does not relate to IQ levels. Autistic individuals are often dyslexic and have dysgraphia/other learning disabilities, but regardless can still be highly intelligent about particular subject matters, and have out-of-the-box thinking and verbal fluency capacities (fluid intelligence).

Samantha Craft’s Autistic Traits Checklist (See prior checklists here and here)

This is an unofficial checklist created by an adult female who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) in 2012. She now identifies with being on the autism spectrum or autistic. Her middle son is also autistic, as are 10000+ she knows and calls friends. Samantha Craft (aka Marcelle Ciampi) has a Master’s Degree in Education. Samantha Craft does not hold a doctorate in psychiatry or psychology. She has a life-credential, as a result of living on the spectrum and being a parent to a child diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She has created this list in an effort to assist health professionals in recognizing autism—for in-depth information, regarding her lived life as a female on the autism spectrum, see the book Everyday Aspergers. The author gave 1000s away for free to spread awareness. Ten Traits of Aspergers can be found here. Please note, Aspergers is part of the title of the book, because, when it was written, that was the individual’s diagnosis.

Suggested Use: Check all areas that strongly apply to the individual. If each area has 75%-80% of the statements checked, or more, then you may want to consider that the individual may be autistic. 

When determining an Autism Spectrum diagnosis, reviewing an individual’s childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and present day is advisable. This particularly applies to communication challenges; many autistic individuals 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/masking/trying to fit in.

More information about autism can be found at website here, blog #1, and blog #2.

Please consider donating here to the not-for-profit where I work and volunteer.

(Section A consideration/prolific artist in place of writer and/or both.)

Section A: Deep Thinkers

A deep thinker

A prolific writer drawn to poetry

*Highly intelligent (Highly intelligent does not relate to IQ levels. Autistic individuals are often 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/fluid intelligence capacities.)

Sees things at multiple levels, including her own thinking processes

Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything, continually

Serious and matter-of-fact in nature

Doesn’t take things for granted

Doesn’t simplify

Everything is complex

Often gets lost in own thoughts and “checks out” (blank stare)

Section B: Innocent

Naïve

Honest

Experiences trouble with lying

Finds it difficult to understand manipulation and disloyalty

Finds it difficult to understand vindictive behavior and retaliation

Easily fooled and conned

Feelings of confusion and being overwhelmed

Feelings of being misplaced and/or from another planet

Feelings of isolation

Abused or taken advantage of as a child but didn’t think to tell anyone

Section C: Escape and Friendship

Survives overwhelming emotions and senses by escaping in thought or action

Escapes regularly through fixations, obsessions, and over-interest in subjects

Escapes routinely through imagination, fantasy, and daydreaming

Escapes through mental processing

Escapes through the rhythm of words

Philosophizes, continually

Had imaginary friends in youth

Imitates people on television or in movies

Treated friends as “pawns” in youth, e.g., friends were “students” “consumers” “members”

Makes friends with older or younger females more so than friends her age (often in young adulthood)

Imitates friends or peers in style, dress, attitude, interests, and manner (sometimes speech)

Obsessively collects and organizes objects

Mastered imitation

Escapes by playing the same music over and over

Escapes through a relationship (imagined or real)

Numbers bring ease (could be numbers associated with patterns, calculations, lists, time and/or personification)

Escapes through counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging

Escapes into other rooms at parties

Cannot relax or rest without many thoughts

Everything has a purpose

Section D: Comorbid Attributes

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Sensory Issues (sight, sound, texture, smells, taste) (might have synesthesia)

Generalized Anxiety

Sense of pending danger or doom

Feelings of polar extremes (depressed/over-joyed; inconsiderate/over-sensitive)

Poor muscle tone, double-jointed, and/or lack in coordination (may have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and/or Hypotonia and/or POTS syndrome)

Eating disorders, food obsessions, and/or worry about what is eaten

Irritable bowel and/or intestinal issues

Chronic fatigue and/or immune challenges

Misdiagnosed or diagnosed with a mental illness

Experiences multiple physical symptoms, perhaps labeled “hypochondriac”

Questions place in the world

Often drops small objects

Wonders who she is and what is expected of her

Searches for right and wrong

Since puberty has had bouts of depression (may have PMDD)

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

Friends have ended friendship suddenly (without female with AS understanding why) and/or difficult time making friends

Tendency to overshare

Spills intimate details to strangers

Raised hand too much in class or didn’t participate in class

Little impulse control with speaking when younger

Monopolizes conversation at times

Brings subject back to self

Comes across at times as narcissistic and controlling (is not narcissistic)

Shares in order to reach out

Often sounds eager and over-zealous or apathetic and disinterested

Holds a lot of thoughts, ideas, and feelings inside

Feels as if she is attempting to communicate “correctly”

Obsesses about the potentiality of a relationship with someone, particularly a love interest or feasible new friendship

Confused by the rules of accurate eye contact, tone of voice, proximity of body, body stance, and posture in conversation

Conversation are often exhausting

Questions the actions and behaviors of self and others, continually

Feels as if missing a conversation “gene” or thought-filter

Trained self in social interactions through readings and studying of other people

Visualizes and practices how she will act around others

Practices/rehearses in mind what she will say to another before entering the room

Difficulty filtering out background noise when talking to others

Has a continuous dialogue in mind that tells her what to say and how to act when in a social situation

Sense of humor sometimes seems quirky, odd, inappropriate, or different from others

As a child it was hard to know when it was her turn to talk

Finds norms of conversation confusing

Finds unwritten and unspoken rules difficult to grasp, remember, and apply

Section F: Finds Refuge when Alone

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”

One visitor at the home may be perceived as a threat (this can even be a familiar family member)

Knowing logically a house visitor is not a threat, doesn’t relieve the anxiety

Feelings of dread about upcoming events and appointments on the calendar

Knowing she has to leave the house causes anxiety from the moment she wakes up

All the steps involved in leaving the house are overwhelming and exhausting to think about

She prepares herself mentally for outings, excursions, meetings, and appointments, often days before a scheduled event

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)

Questions next steps and movements, continually

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

Telling self the “right” words and/or positive self-talk (CBT) doesn’t typically alleviate anxiety. CBT may cause increased feelings of inadequacy.

Knowing she is staying home all day brings great peace of mind

Requires a large amount of down time or alone time

Feels guilty after spending a lot of time on a special interest

Uncomfortable in public locker rooms, bathrooms, and/or dressing rooms

Dislikes being in a crowded mall, crowded gym, and/or crowded theater

Section G: Sensitive

Sensitive to sounds, textures, temperature, and/or smells when trying to sleep

Adjusts bedclothes, bedding, and/or environment in an attempt to find comfort

Dreams are anxiety-ridden, vivid, complex, and/or precognitive in nature

Highly intuitive to others’ feelings

Highly empathetic, sometimes to the point of confusion

Takes criticism to heart

Longs to be seen, heard, and understood

Questions if she is a “normal” person

Highly susceptible to outsiders’ viewpoints and opinions

At times adapts her view of life or actions based on others’ opinions or words

Recognizes own limitations in many areas daily, if not hourly

Becomes hurt when others question or doubt her work

Views many things as an extension of self

Fears others opinions, criticism, and judgment

Dislikes words and events that hurt animals and people

Collects or rescues animals (often in childhood)

Huge compassion for suffering (sometimes for inanimate objects/personification)

Sensitive to substances (environmental toxins, foods, alcohol, medication, hormones, etc.)

Tries to help, offers unsolicited advice, or formalizes plans of action

Questions life purpose and how to be a “better” person

Seeks to understand abilities, skills, and/or gifts

Section H: Sense of Self

Feels trapped between wanting to be herself and wanting to fit in

Imitates others without realizing it

Suppresses true wishes (often in young adulthood)

Exhibits codependent behaviors (often in young adulthood)

Adapts self in order to avoid ridicule

Rejects social norms and/or questions social norms

Feelings of extreme isolation

Feeling good about self takes a lot of effort and work

Switches preferences based on environment and other people

Switches behavior based on environment and other people

Didn’t care about her hygiene, clothes, and appearance before teenage years and/or before someone else pointed these out to her

“Freaks out” but doesn’t know why until later

Young sounding voice

Trouble recognizing what she looks like and/or has occurrences of slight prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing or remembering faces)

Feels significantly younger on the inside than on the outside (perpetually twelve)

Section I: Confusion

Had a hard time learning that others are not always honest

Feelings seem confusing, illogical, and unpredictable (self’s and others’)

Confuses appointment times, numbers, and/or dates

Expects that by acting a certain way certain results can be achieved, but realizes in dealing with emotions, those results don’t always manifest

Spoke frankly and literally in youth

Jokes go over the head

Confused when others ostracize, shun, belittle, trick, and betray

Trouble identifying feelings unless they are extreme

Trouble with emotions of hate and dislike

Feels sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt her

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

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

Situations and conversations sometimes perceived as black or white

The middle spectrum of outcomes, events, and emotions is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood (all or nothing mentality)

A small fight might signal the end of a relationship or collapse of world

A small compliment might boost her into a state of bliss

Section J: Words, Numbers, and Patterns

Likes to know word origins and/or origin of historical facts/root cause and foundation

Confused when there is more than one meaning (or spelling) to a word

High interest in songs and song lyrics

Notices patterns frequently

Remembers things in visual pictures

Remembers exact details about someone’s life

Has a remarkable memory for certain details

Writes or creates to relieve anxiety

Has certain “feelings” or emotions towards words and/or numbers

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

Simple tasks can cause extreme hardship

Learning to drive a car or rounding the corner in a hallway can be troublesome

New places offer their own set of challenges

Anything that requires a reasonable amount of steps, dexterity, or know-how can rouse a sense of panic

The thought of repairing, fixing, or locating something can cause anxiety

Mundane tasks are avoided

Cleaning self and home may seem insurmountable

Many questions come to mind when setting about to do a task

Might leave the house with mismatched socks, shirt buttoned incorrectly, and/or have dyslexia and/or dysgraphia

A trip to the grocery store can be overwhelming

Trouble copying dance steps, aerobic moves, or direction in a sports gym class

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)

End

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.

Author’s Note: I am diagnosed autistic/gifted-intellect, and have dyslexia, dyspraxia, GAD, PTSD, hEDS, POTS, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions. I am not unusual in my presentation; many autistic adults have many coexisting conditions. 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. Samantha Craft (@aspergersgirls) compiled this page.

Please don’t get hung up on the word Aspergers (as used on this page). It was my diagnosis in 2012 and that’s how I chose my Twitter name and connected 1000s around the globe. Many outside USA still have that diagnosis label. The title ‘Aspergers’ is used with the book title, as that is what the book was about: An adult struggling to understand a late-age diagnosis of Aspergers. It is not possible to change it to Everyday Autism, etc. as that changes the whole point of the book. Nor can I feasibly go back and change labels throughout 1000 pages of writing on my past blogs. The name/label on this page, my blog, and my book does not indicate any type of ableism. Those who know me, know me. I hope one word won’t discourage you from connecting.

 

Formerly: Samantha Craft’s Checklist for females with Asperger’s Syndrome (2012)