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Females and Aspergers(25 Posts)
I have seen a few threads recently about adult females wondering if they have aspergers. I recently came across a thread on a different website which pulled together information from different websites about aspergers in females and how it can differ to Aspergers in males. Although very long I have reproduced it below, with links to the original sources, in the hope it can help others as it has helped me.
All I would say is remember Aspergers (and autism) is aspectrum, thus nobody (or very few people) will tick every point made, and some people will tick more than others. Also every NT people could/will tick some.
Apologies for the poor copying/pasting, I am not sure what is causing the problems
ASPIE AND FEMALE.
Asperger Syndrome typically presents somewhat differently in female-assigned members of the population than it does in male-assigned persons. It wasn't until I found material about being 'female' & aspie that I felt firmly confident that this indeed is what's going on with me . ...
Aspergirl stuff I found online. Reference material for the interested.
"...Of course, it's not just different symptoms that stymie diagnosiscultural conditioning may also play a role. What looks like pathological social awkwardness in a little boy can seem like mere bashfulness or just good old-fashioned manners in a little girl. "We tend to notice shyness in boys as 'off,'" says Loveland. "In girls, we can almost see it as a good trait." And while boys are often diagnosed when they begin expressing their frustration as aggression and find themselves in trouble at school, girls even Aspie girlslearn to internalize their feelings, not to act out, which can make them more anxious and less noticeable at the same time."
"But even as they effectively mask Asperger's in girls, social mores might also make the disorder more harrowing for them. As they approach adolescence, girls face greater pressure to be sympathetic and empathetic than boys do. "By the time girls reach junior high, their social networks have become extraordinarily complex, and Aspie girls can't keep up with all the nuances," says Janet Lainhart, a doctor at the University of Utah's Brain Institute. "Boys struggle socially as well, but their peers mature much slower so their inability to empathize is seen as more forgivable."..."
"...Despite the urgent need for more research, Klin says that scientists who study ASDs have effectively orphaned this population. Because there are so few of them, girls are often yanked from studies altogether so that they don't muddy up the data. As a result, only a very small body of work addresses the Asperger's gender gap, even though such studies could lead to better diagnosis of both autism and Asperger's...."
from:  by parents for parents
Asperger Syndrome and Girls
When Austrian doctor Hans Asperger first identified Asperger Syndrome in 1944, he believed that only boys could have it. In fact, for a long time, scientists believed that autism in all its forms was an extreme form of "maleness." For example, a high-functioning autistic boy often has intellectual abilities in "male" fields like engineering and mathematics, and yet no social understanding of emotions and body language - traditional "female" strengths.
Beginning in the 1960s, scientists tried to understand how Asperger Syndrome was inherited. Their theory was that boys inherit only one male X chromosome from their mothers, but girls inherit two (one from each parent). Therefore, girls do not develop Asperger Syndrome because the extra X chromosome from their fathers somehow "protects" them from it. However, this research has been inconclusive.
The new theory is that just as many girls have Asperger Syndrome, but they are not diagnosed because they "present" the syndrome differently than boys do. All Aspie children have problems reading social cues and body language, knowing the right thing to do in public, waiting their turns, and developing empathy for others. However, when boys get frustrated, they tend to act out in aggressive ways that get adult attention. Aspie girls tend to suffer in silence and appear shy and passive. Adults overlook their problems, and that is why five boys to every girl are diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.
Aspie girls typically use their average to above-average intelligence to hide their social difficulties. Pretending To Be Normal is the title of an autobiography by Liane Holliday-Willey, a famous Aspie. It could be the title of most Aspie girls' life stories. Since they do not understand how to process and express emotions in a normal way, their faces often develop a "mask-like" quality. Typically, they put a permanent smile on their faces and constantly try to please others. Some social scientists believe that girls are better at developing such ways of camouflaging their disorder because they are socialized to be passive.
Girls with Asperger's learn to mimic what other children do. However, without role models, they cannot figure out what to do on their own. They often memorize scripts when they have to interact with others. For example, one girl keeps chanting, "No thank you, I'm just looking," every time she has to enter a store.
Most little girls play with dolls, but they use them to act out little psychodramas and fairy tales with one another. Aspie girls are more likely to enjoy arranging them. They may alphabetize their Barbies by outfit, for example. They enjoy playing dolls by themselves and find the other girls' creative play boring or disruptive.
According to Dr. Tony Attwood, a leading expert on Asperger Syndrome, Aspie boys often appear like "little professors" who are expert in one subject. However, Aspie girls are more like "little philosophers." They may wonder if all people see the same color as blue, for instance, or analyze the meaning of the word "mind." They often appear odd or cold, or seem to live in fantasy worlds. They may love animals, but in an obsessive way. For example, if an Aspie girl loves horses, she may want to spend every waking hour riding, grooming her horse, or even sleeping in the stable.
In elementary school, these girls often cope by finding one good friend. This friend is often kind and motherly, and her friendship is a lifeline to the girls with Asperger's Syndrome. In fact, if she moves away, it has devastating consequences. Another way that young girls cope with their disorder is by playing with boys. Male games are rule-oriented and do not require as much social and emotional understanding as female interactions do.
Girls with Asperger Syndrome often develop deeper problems as teenagers. During a time in life when everyone else is obsessed with fashion and fads, Asperger teens often dress in a haphazard way, not following fashion but preferring to wear the same comfortable outfit day after day. They may not wash or use deodorant unless prompted by their families. They may still enjoy toys and games that were popular in grammar school. They may not have the organizational skills needed for high school level work. When their parents try to bring them up to speed and to help them conform to their world, many girls with Asperger's rebel from what they perceive as constant parental criticism.
Teen girls with Asperger Syndrome often find female friendships to be very demanding and even overwhelming. They don't understand their adolescent friends' extreme emotional ups and downs - why they cry when they get a failing grade or if a boy does not call. Author Diane Kennedy quotes a "Dear John" letter written by an Aspie girl to her best friend, "Your expectations exhaust me. The phone calls, the girl talk, the whole feelings thing. It's too much for me anymore."
One constant worry for parents is that their teenage daughter will be the victim of a sexual predator. This is a valid worry, for Asperger girls are often naïve about sex. They misinterpret boys' signals and allow them to use them.
The modern way of thinking is that the sooner a girl is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and receives professional help, the better. Using modern learning tools, she can learn to read facial expressions and body language. She can develop the skills she will need for independent living as an adult. The earlier she gets help, the less she suffers in silence.
Girls with AS are adept at disappearing within a large group, staying safely at the periphery without really interacting socially. When they do participate, they may be at risk for bullying by other girls.
While male bullies are more likely to engage in physical aggression, female bullies tend to use relational aggression strategies, such as making comments designed to tarnish the reputations of others. Because they are less inclined to be bitchy or fickle in their interactions and so have no defense against relational aggression, girls with AS are often befriended by at least one kind, socially skilled girl who feels compassion for her naive companion. The establishment of one or more such friendships can make it appear as though the girl with AS has a normal social life. However, it is the other girl or girls who generally make the friendship overtures, and some girls with AS prefer to spend time with boys, as they are often more straightforward and thus send fewer confusing social signals.
Girls with AS may appear to use ordinary gestures and facial expressions during a conversation and to reciprocate appropriately. However, in many cases they are basing these gestures, facial expressions and responses on someone they have observed who is socially adept. Additionally, they use their intellect rather than natural social intuition to choose the correct responses.
Due to the need to copy a more socially skilled individual in given situations, girls with AS will often wait quietly on the sidelines in new social situations until they learn the rules of the game, after which they are able to imitate the correct responses that other children have made. However, if the nature of the game changes the strategy fails, and the social deficits become apparent.
Seemingly Normal Interests
Autistic spectrum disorders are characterized by narrow, obsessive interests. Although boys who are obsessed with trains or bus schedules tend to stand out, there are few who question a young girls obsession with dolls, horses, or even building toys such as LEGO. However, a girl with AS who likes dolls will usually prefer to play with them alone rather than with other children. She will probably have a much larger collection than other girls, and she will spend time arranging them in various configurations (such as alphabetical order). She will have more interest in organizing and categorizing than creating social storylines for them.
Avoiding Physical Activities
Because girls are less inclined to engage in rough-and-tumble play, their difficulties with motor coordination may be less apparent. Girls with AS may avoid physical activities in which their motor skill deficits would be noticeable.
Overall, girls are raised to be sociable, and as such, girls with AS tend to devote more effort to learning the required social cues and scripts. Girls will turn their considerable intellectual skills to the task of analysing social interactions and conventions. Additionally, they are less inclined to develop the conduct disorders that attract notice among boys with autism spectrum disorders.
Girls with Aspergers Syndrome will in many cases come across as little professors in the same way that boys do, speaking in a pedantic manner, displaying an impressive vocabulary and talking obsessively on subjects of interest. However, due to their stronger social abilities, such behaviors in girls are more likely to be taken for general intelligence than as evidence of an autism spectrum disorder.
Both of the following came from: help4aspergers Written by Rudy Simone, copyright 2009.
from: help for aspergers
List of Female Asperger Syndrome (AS) Traits:
Appearance / Personal Habits:
Dresses comfortably due to sensory issues & practicality.
Will not spend much time on grooming and hair. Hairstyles usually have to be 'wash and wear'. Can be quite happy not grooming at all at times.
Eccentric personality; may be reflected in appearance.
Is youthful for her age, in looks, dress, behavior and tastes.
Usually a little more expressive in face and gesture than male counterparts.
May have many androgynous traits despite an outwardly feminine appearance. Thinks of herself as half-male / half-female.
May not have a strong sense of identity and can be very chameleon-like, especially before diagnosis.
Enjoys reading and films as a retreat, often scifi, fantasy, children's, can have favorites which are a refuge.
Uses control as a stress management technique: rules, discipline, rigid in certain habits, which will contradict her seeming unconventionality.
Usually happiest at home or in other controlled environments.
Intellectual / Giftedness / Education / Vocation:
May have been diagnosed as autistic or Asperger's when young, or may have been thought of as gifted, shy, sensitive, etc. May also have had obvious or severe learning deficits.
Often musical, artistic.
May have a savant skill or strong talent.
May have a strong interest in computers, games, science, graphic design, inventing, things of a technological and visual nature. More verbal thinkers may gravitate to writing, languages, cultural studies, psychology.
May be a self-taught reader, been hyperlexic as a child, and will possess a wide variety of other self-taught skills as well.
May be highly educated but will have had to struggle with social aspects of college. May have one or many partial degrees.
Can be very passionate about a course of study or job, and then change direction or go completely cold on it very quickly.
Will often have trouble holding onto a job and may find employment daunting.
Highly intelligent, yet sometimes can be slow to comprehend due to sensory and cognitive processing issues.
Will not do well with verbal instruction -- needs to write down or draw diagram.
Will have obsessions but they are not as unusual as her male counterpart's (less likely to be a 'train-spotter').
Emotional / Physical:
Emotionally immature and emotionally sensitive.
Anxiety and fear are predominant emotions.
More open to talking about feelings and emotional issues than males with AS.
Strong sensory issues -- sounds, sights, smells, touch, and prone to overload. (Less likely to have taste / food texture issues as males.)
Moody and prone to bouts of depression. May have been diagnosed as bi-polar or manic depressive (common comorbids of autism / AS) while the AS diagnosis was missed.
Probably given several different prescriptions to treat symptoms. Will be very sensitive to medications and anything else she puts in her body so may have had adverse reactions.
9 out of 10 have mild to severe gastro-intestinal difficulties -- eg, ulcers, acid reflux, IBS, etc.
Stims to soothe when sad or agitated: rocking, face-rubbing, humming, finger flicking, leg bouncing, finger or foot-tapping, etc.
Similarly physical when happy: hand flapping, clapping, singing, jumping, running around, dancing, bouncing.
Prone to temper or crying meltdowns, even in public, sometimes over seemingly small things due to sensory or emotional overload.
Hates injustice and hates to be misunderstood; this can incite anger and rage.
Prone to mutism when stressed or upset, esp. after a meltdown. Less likely to stutter than male counterparts but may have a raspy voice, monotone at times, when stressed or sad.
Social / Relationships:
Words and actions are often misunderstood by others.
Perceived to be cold-natured and self-centered; unfriendly.
Is very outspoken at times, may get very fired up when talking about passions / obsessive interests.
Can be very shy or mute.
Like her male counterpart, will shut down in social situations once overloaded, but is generally better at socializing in small doses. May even give the appearance of skilled, but it is a 'performance'.
Doesn't go out much. Will prefer to go out with partner only or children if she has them.
Will not have many girlfriends and will not do 'girly' things like shopping with them or have get-togethers to 'hang out'.
Will have a close friend or friends in school, but not once adulthood is reached.
May or may not want to have a relationship. If she is in a relationship, she probably takes it very seriously, but she may choose to remain celibate or alone.
Due to sensory issues, will either really enjoy sex or strongly dislike it.
If she likes a male, she can be extremely, noticeably awkward in her attempts to let him know, eg she may stare when she sees him or call him repeatedly. This is because she fixates and doesn't understand societal gender roles. This will change with maturity.
Often prefers the company of animals but not always due to sensory issues.
Summary of Some Main Female / Male AS Differences:
Usually a little more expressive in face and gesture than male counterparts.
Better at mirroring than males and so may mirror many different types of personalities. Hence females may not have a strong sense of identity, and can be very chameleon-like, especially before diagnosis.
Will have obsessions but they are not as abstruse or unusual as her male counterpart's and tend to be more practical (eg, less likely to be a 'trainspotter').
More open to talking about feelings and emotional issues than males with AS.
Less likely to receive early, correct diagnosis because the criteria is based on male behaviors / traits. (Hans Asperger studied males only.) More likely to be diagnosed as bi-polar or manic-depressive (common co-morbids of autism / AS).
Physical gestures / behaviors when happy more expressive than males: hand flapping, clapping, singing, jumping up and down, running around, dancing, bouncing -- this pertains to adult women as well as girls.
Adult females are prone to both temper and crying meltdowns, even in public, sometimes over seemingly small things due to sensory or emotional overload. Hunger / food issues seem to be a common trigger. Adult males [with AS] not prone to crying.
Tends to receive less tolerance and more expectation from others, because she appears more adept.
Hate injustice and hates to be misunderstood; this can incite anger and rage meltdowns.
Less likely to stutter than male counterparts when stressed or upset; both may have raspy, choked or monotone voice or suffer mutism.
Females are generally better at socializing in small doses. May even give the appearance of skilled, but it is a 'performance'. Like her male counterpart, will shut down in social situations once overloaded.
More likely to keep pets for emotional support but not always due to sensory issues
Thank you AGlassHalfEmptyNoLonger. I have found that very helpful. My DS is currently being assessed for suspected Aspergers, and through researching it and doing online tests I have realised I may have a form of it too, or at least some strong traits.
It's mind blowing... I had always thought of Aspergers as a 'male' thing and never suspected I might have it. I thought I was just shy and highly sensitive. I was a high achiever at school and have learned to hide my anxieties well, I think... but a lot of things are starting to make sense now. It helps to know there is a reason for 'how I am'!
I'm not sure what to do about it though... I wonder if it's worth mentioning to my doctor? I am currently on Citalopram for anxiety and depression.
Has anyone here been diagnosed as an adult?
Also on Citalopram for depression, and as mentioned above, anxiety and depression are often problems for people with ASD.
There are two other threads currently running for people wondering if they have ASD/are undergoing assessment for a diagnosis. They are Could I be ASD?? and Support Thread for Adults on the Autistic Spectrum
I am presently undergoing assessment myself (after my ds was referred for assessment and I realised I shared many of the same traits), and have been told I am very likely to get a diagnosis, based on the appointment so far. If you are looking at getting a referral for assessment, I would suggest you do the Autistic Quotient Test, and also go through the post above, and annotate it with all the ways it fits with you. Take both your score and the annotated notes with you. This way you don't turn up to be told that you cant be on the spectrum because of x, y or z, you have evidence as to why you feel you are, and hopefully you would be more likely to get a referral. I will say though, I have been warned there is very little support for adults post diagnosis. I am going for assessment to hopefully get a little support at work and also because it will give me the knowledge that 'yes I am aspie' and not just weird/different.
You may find, if you google 'adult aspergers (your area)' that you will be able to find a support group you can go to, I go to one which has monthly meet-ups in the pub, and organises days out, which is great, because for one night a month, I can fully relax and not worry about my aspie traits appearing (as they do) because we are all in the same situation. And yet many people find it hard to believe that I have any chance of a diagnosis and that I am NT, because day to day I hide everything so well.
hi, rudy simone is currently doing a tour of uk, with talks on aspergers. she is a leading author, who has been instrunental in professionals and aspergirls understanding the condition.
Thanks for that, I am trying to get a diagnosis at the moment, but GP seems hellbent on attributing all my problems to depression, even my social phobia which I've had since I was at primary school
Thank you OP.
I think, at 37 years old, I am tonight beginning to make sense of myself. Wow.
Some of those traits... sound like my exDP.
Which is kind of ironic given I got my diagnosis of Asperger's last year.
Speaking personally I found my GP to be a useless patronising cow, and went through half my local practice's doctors before I got a someone prepared to give me a referral. Keep pushing.
I have a number of the traits listed above. Not diagnosed, wouldn't consider myself to be "full" Aspie, just have distinct traits. I also don't really think I would seek diagnosis, because I kind of feel I have found my niche I life, and understand myself fairly well (now). Have an Aspie partner too, so maybe that's what helps me!
God reading those bullet points is like reading a pen portrait of myself!!!
No diagnosis, but have begun to wonder recently...
Often musical, artistic. *play several instruments and only ever feel truly 'me' when playing.
May have a savant skill or strong talent. Well musical but in no way a savant
May have a strong interest in computers, games, science, graphic design, inventing, things of a technological and visual nature. More verbal thinkers may gravitate to writing, languages, cultural studies, psychology. First class psychology degree
May be a self-taught reader, been hyperlexic as a child, and will possess a wide variety of other self-taught skills as well. Yes, have always taught myself. Constantly learning. Need to be learning all the time.
May be highly educated but will have had to struggle with social aspects of college. May have one or many partial degrees. Yes on all counts
Can be very passionate about a course of study or job, and then change direction or go completely cold on it very quickly. YES!!! and then equally passionate about the next thing
Will often have trouble holding onto a job and may find employment daunting. Yes, absolutely.
Highly intelligent, yet sometimes can be slow to comprehend due to sensory and cognitive processing issues. Had IQ tested through MENSA. It's 161 - top 1%. DH describes me as the stupidest intelligent person he's ever met because I never get anything!
Will not do well with verbal instruction -- needs to write down or draw diagram. Write everything down - cannot give or follow instructions verbally. Lists are my friend, if it's not on a list it's not real
Will have obsessions but they are not as unusual as her male counterpart's (less likely to be a 'train-spotter'). Yes, although too embarrassed to divulge - but along the lines that I collect information on people I get fixated on. Always RL people, never celebs.
Have similar levels of "Yes!" to many of the other points too.
E.g. have all of the physical/emotional traits except for the gastro-intestinal stuff.
Yep to social/relationships stuff.
please help me??????wont pretend i read through all of that above...most of the initial post and quoty bits below it-to the point of tears...how do i get a investigation?assessment?diagnosis?
im forty(aaaaaaaaaaargh)run-n-hide in January-i have struggled with "me"-failing that other peoples attitudes\reactions to me all my life.i fall into so much of the asp thing its...well...its doing my head in-i bin depressed(despite my fight to the death bout it stance that id av a bloody cheek)i am anxiety disorder-the excessive jumpin,panic attacks and constant tremble sorta indicate no denial-even tho most of it happens without an actual "thought"..oh i dunno---advise?point me in right route?perleeeeeeeeeeeze?
I have a gp appointment tomorrow morning to see how I go about being diagnosed. It is all so "me"!
Loving the idea of a meet up in the pub. It would look more like I have a normal social life. But AGlass No-one believes me either. I appear to be too good at faking it. If gp is useful I'll post again so other people know how to get a diagnosis!
Since my son's diagnosis of ASD I have wondered about why I have struggled over the years, Reading this list makes this it so clear. I am an Aspie. So it would seem that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
I don't see the point of getting a diagnosis at 34! What would that do for me??
I'm a 37 year old female diagnosed with Aspergers 7 years ago. We do exist but may be more likely than males to go undetected.
i have aspergers, diagnosed early 2012 x
i scored 44 on the aq test... ask ur gp to refer you to urmental health team, a psychologist can do diagnostics. i was diagnosed by a psychologist psychoanalyst with a phD. he was the nuts x
My DS is going through assessment at the moment, which (yep, you guessed it) led me to research autism and aspergers and reading the descriptions of how females with aspergers are... Well. It was the first time in my life I've ever experienced that 'lightbulb' moment. It just explains my LIFE.
I mentioned it to my GP who was very dismissive and then went on to talk about other health issues I have. I raised it again at the end of the appointment and he said he'd refer me and that was it - I don't know anything about timescales or who I'm being referred to. He asked me why I thought I had Aspergers and I garbled off a few reasons because I was nervous, then he said there wasn't much point being diagnosed as an adult because there isn't any treatment for it. Nice. I like who I am, thank you very much, I just want to know if I have aspergers simply because it would explain so much about me and what I struggle with. I come out as 33 on the AQ test.
i am 16 diagnosed when i was 11 or 12, and have grown up "faking it" and now come out as 16 on the AQ test but my Asperges is worse than it ever has been. I personally do not think the AQ test is a very good measure.
I was diagnosed with autism when I was three, I scored 41 on the AQ test...love the op, you could have been describing me! I'm constantly feeling like I am juggling many balls in the air in a social situation and it exhausts me trying to remember what certain cues are and when to talk etc. it's been a problem my whole life. I didn't tell work for over three years. I then decided to tell them and was informed they had already guessed when I started. Go figure. All that effort and they had guessed and discussed it between them. Nope, not angry me...
i tell you what it really causes problems for me sometimes... ive been a single mum for 4 years til i met my oh... now i cant let him in..., im not coping with the change at all and weve been rowing big time..
i just dont want to let anyone else in my little bubble. its destroyed nearly every relationship ive had and itll prob destroy this one too x
Hi all, I posted on this thread last year - since then my DS has had a diagnosis of Aspergers with PDA.
I am still recognising more and more traits in myself... I feel like I've always pushed myself to do things that are outside my comfort zone, trying to fit in and appear 'normal' - but I get very anxious as a result. I don't know how much is due to upbringing - all of my close family have these traits too....
I was wondering - is it worth seeking a diagnosis? I'm not sure if I'd get one, or what difference it might make? I'd like to achieve a level of self-understanding and acceptance (with or without a diagnosis)... hopefully this is possible at the age of 36?!
I've already made the decision today to stop helping out at PTA social events (as I find it SO stressful, but feel guilt-tripped into helping out!). I can help the PTA in other ways, like doing the paperwork. I've been agonising over this for months, so it feels like a big step forward!
A dx might help you at work, because they will need to make reasonable adjustments.
Not sure whether it would help otherwise, Although if you ever.go for counselling, it is sort finding a counsellor who knows about AS as otherwise it can be counterproductive.
Thanks thewhistler. I mentioned it to my GP last year but she was dismissive and said there is no point seeking a diagnosis as there is no support available... However my DS's support worker yesterday said that was rubbish! She mentioned about finding a counsellor who understands AS, as well. I had CBT last year but it was hard work and not terribly helpful.
I have been a SAHM for the past six years so work isn't an issue right now... I kind of feel like this is my personality, and I'm not sure I need a 'diagnosis' for that, but would like to understand my strengths and weaknesses better to avoid getting so stressed.
Hi .. I'm late coming to this thread. I have been married for 9 years to a man who was diagnosed with AS early this year.
Because, over the previous five years, I'd suffered from depression and hadn't realised what the problem was, I tried hard to find advice, resources and support. Over those years it became apparent that there is quite a lot of support etc for children/parents who have AS but little to nothing available for the adult partners of those with AS.
I successfully applied for a grant to set up a website that will be address this and am in the process of designing the site.
I would be so grateful to hear from anyone who is in the position of being in a relationship with an Aspie and could tell me what they think is needed from the website.
My own experience is that the diagnosis was hugely helpful. But it would have been so great to have been able to talk to others in the same position. I needed access to what the indicators are of AS, recommended resources, the names of counsellors, local support groups, the route to diagnosis, the difference between being just 'male' and AS! Etc, etc
I have already talked to the lady who diagnosed my husband. She is a published author and also holds workshops for professionals specialising in AS. She is happy to be associated with the site once it is up and running.
If you have any ideas, I would love to hear from you.
Best wishes, Joanna112