Women with Asperger’s Syndrome

by Amber Hensley

Women and girls have been underrepresented in autism. Under the umbrella of autistic spectrum disorder, there lies a category of autisim known as Asperger’s syndrome.

Surely, this is predominately a male’s syndrome? After all, that is what we have been led to believe by clinical psychologists and researchers in the field.

This, however, is becoming a myth. It seems that women and girls have been left unidentified and lost in the world of the Aspie.

Why Is It Difficult To Diagnose Asperger’s Females?

Why is it that women and girls with Asperger’s syndrome have been overlooked? Why have they had difficulties getting a formal diagnosis of this form of autism? Firstly, Asperger’s syndrome is still rather new in awareness and formalised research. Secondly, it is harder to diagnose women and girls because the format presents itself in a much more subtle way than their male counterparts.

In order to understand why diagnosing females is more difficult; let us look at the differences between the genders. Here I shall briefly summarise some major differences between genders.

Females Communicate More Effectively Than Males Because They Use Both Parts of the Brain

Females communicate more effectively than their male counterparts. It is of no surprise that the stereotypical idea of women as talkers does not go without real justification. They use all the brain, whereas males use half of it.

The right and the left side of women’s brains process equally and in unison. For this reason, women are prone to being more creative. However, in men, the left side of the brain is larger and more dominant than the right side. Men tend to think more logically.

Women are More Creative, Men are More Logical

It is of no surprise, therefore, that men appear to have a greater capacity to problem solve in a mathematical sense. Women and girls have a larger right hemisphere of brain and this helps them to focus on specific stimuli. An example of this would be tuning in to the sounds of their children’s distress. It is like a homing signal for danger.

In reactions to stressful situations, that induces a ‘flight or fright’ response, women are much calmer whereas men tend to react instantly. This is because hormonal reactions to oxytocyn differ when acting with female estrogens (this enhances oxytocyn) and high levels of testosterone in men (oxytocyn levels are reduced).

Females are More in Tune With Emotions

When talking about emotional issues, women have the benefit of being able to express themselves and be more in tune with their feelings. However, they are more prone to depression and appear more erratic than men. Men do appear to be more stable, until the reactive testosterone kicks in when dealing with issues of an emotional nature.

When it comes to spatial awareness, men tend to fair better than women. It appears that their mental perception is better and, typical of the logical nature of men; they are possibly more adept with gadgets and construction.

Asperger’s Syndrome is not Exclusively a Male Condition

In the past, it was thought that Asperger’s syndrome was more of a male condition. It seems now, however, that just because it is more observable in males than females, doesn’t mean that it is an autistic spectrum disorder that is exclusive to males. Females appear to manage better with this form of autism superficially. However, it seems that because girls and women can hide the symptoms, doesn’t mean that they are suffering with similar complexities associated with Asperger’s syndrome.

Remember that women and girls use both sides of their brains when it comes to communication and this tends to compensate for difficulties; making it hard for medical professionals to recognise this form of autism.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorders are Individual, They Display Different Aspects Of Behaviours

Considerations also have to be taken into account as regards to individuality and the mix of the various themes associated with autism spectrum disorder. For example, one person may show more problems associated with dysphasia or dyslexia than other themes. Each Aspie differs from another. This makes diagnosis more complex for males, yet alone the female counterparts.

Asperger’s Syndrome and Gender Identity

People with Asperger’s syndrome don’t have a clear sense of gender identity – that is the nature of the condition. Society can view Asperger males differently from Asperger females because men present themselves more obviously.

Women may be thought of as immature, depressive and/or lack concern for themselves. This is not to say that Asperger’s women present themselves differently, but are perceived differently by the outside world. Men, however, are easier to identify with when considering Asperger’s syndrome.

Social Situations

In social situations, after spending time with women with Asperger’s syndrome, for example, it might be apparent to others that she is different – perhaps neurotic, nervous or tetchy. It might not cross their minds that she is Aspergers. Rudy Simone, writer of the book Aspergirls, highlights that women are better than men at ‘faking’ Aspergers behaviour but sooner or later they get found out.

Diagnosis Could Make The Difference To Living A Fuller Life Instead Of A Struggle

So it looks like that women with Asperger’s syndrome have a lot of abilities within their sub-culture. They are multi-faceted and have much to offer society. However, the problems that are associated with Aspergers, and many under the autism spectrum disorder umbrella, have much to do with the support around women and girls. As Rudy Simone says, this could make the difference between living a fuller life as opposed to one that is a struggle.

Copyright Amber Hensley

Other Resources

Book: Asperger’s and Girls

Book: Pretending to Be Normal: Living With Asperger’s Syndrome and Kindle Edition

Book: Aspergirls: Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome

Book: Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum: What Parents and Professionals Should Know About the Pre-teen and Teenage Years and Kindle Edition

Book: Unwrapping The Mysteries Of Asperger’s: The Search for Truth and Discovery of Solutions – Guide For Girls and Women with Asperger’s Syndrome and Kindle Edition

Book: Asperger Syndrome in the Family: Redefining Normal and Kindle Edition

Book: Middle School – The Stuff Nobody Tells You About: A Teenage Girl with ASD Shares Her Experiences

Related Articles:

Complete List of All Articles on Autism Spectrum Directory

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