Autism and Shyness

By: Gavin Hoole

22nd February 2024

Shyness is a common trait among autistic girls and women, but it is not necessarily a sign of autism by itself. Shyness can be influenced by many factors, such as personality, culture, upbringing, and life experiences. However, for some autistic girls and women, shyness may be related to their difficulties with social communication, understanding nonverbal cues, and coping with sensory overload. These challenges can make them feel anxious, insecure, or overwhelmed in social situations, and lead them to avoid or withdraw from interactions with others.

 

Shyness can have a significant impact on the relationships of autistic girls and women, especially if they are not diagnosed or supported. According to a survey conducted by Tree of Life Behavioral Health³, many females with autism have difficulty obtaining and maintaining friendships and acquaintances. They lose friends and they don’t usually understand why. They feel rejected and isolated because the nuanced interactions that lead to deep bonding are a constant mystery³.

 

Shyness can also affect their romantic and sexual relationships, as they may struggle to recognize or express their attraction, preferences, and boundaries. They may also face stigma, discrimination, or abuse from potential or actual partners who do not understand or respect their needs and differences⁴.

 

However, shyness does not have to prevent autistic girls and women from having fulfilling and meaningful relationships. With the right support, guidance, and education, they can learn to overcome their fears, build their confidence, and develop their social skills. They can also find compatible and accepting friends and partners who share their interests, values, and goals.

 

Research has shown that autistic girls and women tend to have close and satisfying friendships with other autistic people, as well as with neurotypical people who are empathetic, flexible, and respectful².

 

Shyness is not a flaw or a weakness, but a natural and valid way of being in the world. Autistic girls and women who are shy should not feel ashamed or pressured to change themselves, but rather embrace their uniqueness and potential. They should also seek out and access the resources and support that can help them thrive in their relationships and in life.

 

(1) Recognizing Autism in Females | Psychology Today.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-forgotten-women/202203/recognizing-autism-in-females.

 

(2) Sex, Love, and Dating for Women With Autism

Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-autism-spectrum-disorder/202003/sex-love-and-dating-women-autism.

 

(3) Autistic female friendships – National Autistic Society.
https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/professional-practice/female-friendships.

 

(4) Women with Autism: “Too Much and Not Enough” – Psychology Today.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-autism-spectrum-disorder/202104/women-autism-too-much-and-not-enough.

 

(5) Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Girls – Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/signs-of-autism-in-girls-260304.