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Thins she enjoys
Being with people
How she communicates
Thing that make

Neurodivergent traits - at home

It helps neurodivergent young people if you try to understand their world better. Then you can explore their needs together. 

Below is a list of some common ND traits. Everyone's different so they won’t all apply, but you might find that quite a few are familiar. 

These traits may fit with all sorts of neurodivergence, including autism, ADHD, language disorder, social communication disorder etc, or a combination of these. Some traits may be caused by other things too.

Things she enjoys

  • Has strong passions and deep knowledge about particular topics 

  • Becomes so absorbed in her interests that can be difficult to shift her attention  

  • Is creative, with a vivid imagination 

  • Loves role-playing and pretending, and especially enjoys managing the roles of others in the game 

  • Uses repeated activities, movements or speech to relax or soothe herself  

  • Enjoys particular activities that activate her senses in a particular way, eg weighted blankets; blocking noise with ear defenders or listening to music; fidget toys; repeated body movements; listening to, watching, touching, eating or smelling certain things; tipping upside down; spinning; jumping or rolling around; being squeezed or pushed. 

  • Was a very young self-taught reader 

  • If she reads fiction, prefers stories with clear moral messages and obvious ‘goodie’ and ‘baddie’ roles

Being with people

  • Prefers small groups of friends and one-to-one situations rather than being in a larger group 

  • Finds it hard when she sees other people breaking rules or hurting others 

  • Finds it hard to know when people are being dishonest with her 

  • Often thinks the best of people and takes them on ‘face value’ 

  • Has experienced bullying or manipulative behaviour by others. Can find it difficult to know what things are appropriate to share with others. Sometimes overly open about personal things with people they don't know and can then get into risky situations as a result.

  • Finds it tricky to start conversations, and this can cause anxiety

  • Has a different awareness of personal space from others her age 

  • Tries to 'fit in' but always feels that she's different from others 

  • Follows her own style 

How she communicates

  • Finds it easier to talk to adults than to others her age 

  • Likes to talk a lot about her interests, rather than making small talk 

  • Talks about her own experiences as a way to connect with others 

  • Finds non-specific phrases confusing or irritating

  • Consciously mimics social behaviour of others to try and ‘blend in’

  • Can find it difficult to identify her feelings and describe them to others 

  • Interrupts or asks questions that seem unrelated to the current topic of conversation 

  • Enjoys word-play or puns

  • Can find slang and 'banter' difficult - it can cause misunderstandings and upset

  • Very sensitive to the emotions or needs of other people or animals, even if she is unable to put these feelings into words 

  • Communication differences can sometimes be perceived by others as just shy

Things that make her feel uncomfortable

  • Struggles with particular senses or sensations (eg bright lights, loud sounds, feeling of itchy clothing labels on skin, strong smells, internal sensations in her body etc) 

  • Really struggles when she experiences a number of these particular sensations at the same time  

  • Finds it difficult or distressing looking after her personal hygiene (eg having her hair or teeth brushed, washing or showering, wearing deodorant or make up). 

  • Has differences in how she experiences pain and/or temperature 

  • Finds it difficult to respond to several instructions or questions in one go, or to make a lot of decisions at once 

  • Seems unusually tired compared to others her age – particularly after a lot of sensory input 

  • Finds it difficult to socialise with new people, eg can seem ‘shy’, not say anything, or be highly extrovert

  • Finds changes of plan or situation difficult 

  • Struggles to throw things away, but can’t necessarily explain why 

  • Finds mealtimes difficult, eg wants to move around a lot, struggles with cutlery, doesn’t enjoy the sensory overload of taste, texture, noise and smell.   ​

When she’s not ok 

  • Has a meltdown when she's overwhelmed (eg crying, shouting, lashing out, being unable to calm down) 

  • Has a shutdown when she's overwhelmed (eg unable to communicate, needs to be alone, may need to sleep or lie down somewhere quiet) 

  • Sometimes finds it hard to even do the things that she enjoys, or which seem like very basic tasks  

  • Finds it harder to communicate when she is anxious  

  • Appears more tired or clumsy than usual 

  • Complains of physical discomfort because of anxiety, eg tummy or head aches, feeling sick, joint ache and other pain 

Self-identity and expressing her own needs


  • Finds it difficult to ask for help or clarification 

  • Has low self-esteem 

  • Puts other people’s needs ahead of her own  

  • Finds it difficult to describe herself to others, beyond physical appearance 

  • Can find it important to spend the time making her appearance just right for her, eg eyebrows etc, because it might be one of her intense interests or her desire to fit in. This can interfere with getting to places at times

  • May identify as gender diverse 

Family life

  • Has a very strong focus on her relationship with her primary care-giver and can find it hard to separate from her/him

  • Has difficulties with sleep 

Health history


  • Has a history of mental health difficulties (eg anxiety, depression, restricted eating, OCD, self-harm, suicidal thoughts) 

  • Has had a combination of these physical health issues: digestive, joint pain, hypermobility, walking on toes, frequent ear infections, abdominal pain, reflux, bowel inflammation, constipation, bladder issues, toileting difficulties. 

  • Has any other neurodivergence alongside autism (eg ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, epilepsy, Tourette’s). 

  • Has blood relatives who are neurodivergent 

What next?

​-> Read, print and share with other professionals:

-> More background reading:

-> Share the NeonDaisy families site here with parents and carers

Please note, this list is not for making a diagnosis. It is not intended to represent the experiences of all neurodivergent girls and young people. 

When she’s not ok
Self-identity and expressing her own needs
Family life
Health history
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