Ausperger’s: Girls Express Differently

Posted by – April 20, 2009

I admit that this article really weirded me out, not becuase it’s a surprise that the medical commuity has failed to understand or diagnose Ausperger’s in girls particularly because their symptoms present differently (as the same for true for many years for women & heart disease, for example) but because her description of the way Ausperger’s presents in females is a little too close to the bone for me. I’ve already come out as an introvert, after all.

Girls slip through the diagnostic net, said Attwood, because they are so good at camouflaging or masking their symptoms. “Boys tend to externalise their problems, while girls learn that, if they’re good, their differences will not be noticed,” he said. “Boys go into attack mode when frustrated, while girls suffer in silence and become passive-aggressive. Girls learn to appease and apologise. They learn to observe people from a distance and imitate them. It is only if you look closely and ask the right questions, you see the terror in their eyes and see that their reactions are a learnt script.”

Girls also escape diagnosis, said Attwood, because they are more social than boys with the condition. Their symptoms can also be missed because it is the intensity of their interests that is unusual, and not the oddity of what they do.

“The impairments to their social life or interests tend not to stand out in the same way as boys’ do,” he said. “They might have one friend, while boys with the condition won’t have any. Also, boys hyperfocus on facts and certain interests, such as trains or weather. Girls escape into fiction. They have imaginary friends, live in another world with fairies and witches, obsessively watch soap operas or become intensely interested in celebrities.”

Hrm. The boldfaced bits pretty much describe my childhood & teenaged years in a nutshell. Frightening.

5 Comments on Ausperger’s: Girls Express Differently

  1. misty says:

    I’m an adult with Asperger’s (it’s suprisingly common amongst trans people), and I have two children have both been diagnosed. My son was very obvious and clear, while my daughter is much much more subtle. She’s really focused on learning her social skills and mimicry, and you have to really know her to see the cracks.

    I actually go to Tony Attwood’s clinic, Minds and Hearts, and it is always a good experience. I’ve never had trouble being accepted as trans, and most of their staff have either experience with gender issues, or have directly interacted with trans people before. They are also amazing with our kids, and never blink that we are a three-adult family.

    (Also, it’s Asperger’s and not Ausperger’s. ;) )

  2. A Dream says:

    The bold parts also describe my childhood and teenaged years. I only had one friend in my child then he killed himself. What a jerk face. Now, I have no friends besides my fish.

  3. VivaZoya says:

    wow, Helen, why does this scare you so much? What does it mean for you if you might have Asperger’s?

  4. Carol says:

    sounds like me too. Don’t get me started on the Mitford Family. Or Abraham Lincoln.

    I was the kid in the 6th grade sitting in the back of the room, by herself, facing a bookshelf.

  5. Khyri says:

    They pretty much describe my childhood & teenaged years in a nutshell too. But then again, I accepted several years ago that I may have Aspergers. It didn’t scare me so much as give me a feeling of “Huh. Maybe that explains all that stuff.” Being somewhere on the autistic spectrum doesn’t mean being disabled – you’re obviously not, with a partner who loves you, a successful career and a not-so-small measure of fame in your life.

    I’ve never been officially diagnosed, or even sought a diagnosis. My “stuff” may be explained by other things. But I have felt a kindred spirit in belonging to online Asperger communities. I’m with VZ – you should figure out what this would mean to you, if it’s the case.

    (I also feel a kindred spirit with you in many ways, but I figured that was for quite different reasons! Not necessarily an indicator.)

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