Sensory Checklist for Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Ways in which sensory processing is implicated in ASD.

Posted Jun 20, 2020

Many women with autism experience issues with “filtering” sensory input, which can lead to an overload of information and the need to focus intently on one thing in order to avoid being overloaded.

People with ASD may be highly sensitive and over-responsive to sounds, sights, smells, touch, and tastes. Many women are particularly sensitive to the feeling of clothes and makeup, pulling off clothing tags and opting for comfortable clothes over fashionable clothes and shoes every time. Many of my clients report being unable to stand high-pitched noises or the loud noises and lights of a concert. People used to laugh at my obsession with colour coordination, but I feel positively ill if someone introduces blue into a pink-themed room! As a child, I had so many sensory issues—including being unable to touch various fruits because of their feel and having to leave the room if someone scratched their plate—that it made everyday living a challenge. These days, the things that bother me most are the tops of socks (always cut into), being hugged by anyone except a very small circle of people, and tiny sounds at night time (in addition to the plate scraping).

Some people with autism experience a reduced response to sensory stimuli, which may make them seek out sensory experiences to satisfy their need to experience things on a sensory level.

The following is not designed to be a diagnostic test, but it may help shed some light on whether or not you may have ASD. It should be borne in mind that issues with sensory input could be indicative of other conditions.

Some signs of sensory issues which may be related to ASD include:

  • Disliking tags in clothes
  • Being sensitive to high-pitched noises
  • Finding some sensations (such as wool or nylon) difficult to cope with
  • Disliking tight or uncomfortable clothes or shoes
  • Choosing practical clothes over “attractive” clothes
  • Disliking feeling of foundation or lipstick
  • Disliking feeling of substances on fingertips (e.g. fruit, dirt, roughness)
  • Being affected by bright lights
  • Feeling overwhelmed in supermarkets/shopping stores
  • Feeling overwhelmed or disliking being hugged/kissed by acquaintances
  • Desire for spatial organisation, such as colour coordination
  • Disliking loud environments (such as concerts)
  • Having a strong reaction to certain scents (such as perfume)
  • Strong aversions to types of foods

If you feel you need further information in seeking out a diagnosis, please contact a suitably qualified practitioner.