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Young Woman Shares The 10 Signs Of Autism That Were Missed When She Was A Child

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A 23-year-old woman named Zoe is using her TikTok platform to raise awareness about how autism presents in women, like herself. She's noted that autism screenings often overlook girls and women with autistic traits due to a variety of reasons, including gender bias within literature and differences in signs and symptoms between boys and girls.

The ‘autistic creator’ shared 10 signs of autism that were missed when she was a child.

1. Masking.

In the first TikTok post in a series explaining the ways her autism was missed as a child, Zoe mentioned that one of her mechanisms to fit in socially was to copy characters from movies or imitate other girls in order to try and fit in. She also noted that she’d display different personality traits depending on who she was with. 

2. Having sensory issues around food.

Another indicator of autism that was missed in her childhood was “being ‘fussy’ with food because of sensory issues and textures.” 

Zoe offered examples of how those sensory issues played out for her, like not allowing certain foods to touch each other and hating the textures of certain foods, especially sauces and condiments.

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3. Having hyperlexia.

Zoe explained that she had advanced reading skills and academic talents beyond her developmental age. She was advanced in walking and talking, which led her to be labeled as gifted in school and by her family. 



4. Feeling extra sensitive to criticism.

Even if she didn’t show it externally, Zoe felt hypersensitive to critique, even if it was well-meaning. 

Criticism or Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, as it's formally diagnosed, can make moving on from criticisms next to impossible for some autistic individuals. 

5. Hyperfocusing on hobbies.

Zoe also entertained fixations on hobbies and obsessions she’d quickly lose interest in, another sign of autism that was overlooked in her childhood.

RELATED: 17 Signs You May Be On The Autism Spectrum

6. Feeling uncomfortable being the center of attention.

In the second part of her TikTok series on her autistic traits, Zoe explained how she’d go along with birthday parties to please her family and try to be like other kids when she was actually in extreme discomfort from all the attention.

woman shares signs of autism that were missed when she was a childPhoto: This Is Zun / Pexels 

7. Difficulty regulating her body temperature.

Zoe reported that autistic people have trouble regulating their internal temperatures due to neural processing differences. Some people run hot, while others, like Zoe, run cold. 



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8. Laughing at inappropriate times.

She explained that she often laughed at the wrong times, due to “anxiety or tension, as a defensive strategy.”

Being autistic can mean someone has difficulty with sensory processing, which affects their sense of humor.

9. Being hypersensitive to other people’s emotions.

“Feeling emotional, mental, or even physical pain on behalf of someone else and an inability to control it” was another way Zoe’s autism manifested while going undetected. 



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10. Having an obsession with music.

Zoe explained that she listened to music constantly, memorizing songs and lyrics immediately. She noted that “it’s easier to sense emotions and relatability through songs rather than other forms of communication.” 

woman shares signs of autism that were missed when she was a childPhoto: Julia M. Cameron / Pexels 

Zoe shared that she’s hidden her autism from those around her.

In another particularly resonant TikTok post, she revealed that she's done so “due to shame or knowing I am going to be misunderstood because of the stereotypes of autism and how it can present itself so differently in women.”

Zoe was diagnosed with autism in 2017, which led her on a journey to act as an advocate for other autistic women. She works to raise autism awareness, in part because of the fact that the signifiers of her autism went undiagnosed for so long.

“The only way I have come to accept my autism is by watching other autistic women have the confidence to share their experiences,” she said. Zoe actively shares her own experience, as a way to connect to people and offer other autistic women someone to relate to, so they feel less alone than she did before her diagnosis. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers mental health, pop culture analysis, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.