Loads has been written about Asperger’s Syndrome [named by Hans Asperger in 1944] in children, but there is a paltry amount of studies and literature about Apsperger’s in adults in general, female adults in particular. What is life like for females with this condition? Read on for some surprising information!
The disorder seems to affect women much less than men; according to one study , a ratio of 15 men to one women for cases diagnosed, [though another figure has it at four to one] but this figure is thought to be underestimated [indeed, that there are even more women who have it but who are undiagnosed]. It may come as a shock to you, as it did to me, that people with Asperger’s Syndrome, one of the autistic spectrum disorders, call themselves Aspies. It sounds derogatory, but hey it’s their disorder and they have every right to give it a nickname themselves.
What is asperger syndrome?
This is an autistic spectrum disorder characterised by struggling with non verbal communication skills, peer interaction, limited but very focused interests and higher than average IQs. One hypothesis as to why it is so under-diagnosed in women is that there is so much cross over with other disorders.
Another factor is that women are simply better at “hiding it” and are far less likely to be diagnosed as children [as most boys in the UK are] and are less likely to have the typical “male” AS symptoms such as speech delay, and they tend to be more social when they are younger,” says Dr. Richard Mills, research director of Research Autism.
Women vs. men
According to Rudy Simone, an “Aspergirl” and author of Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger’s Syndrome [Jessica Kingsley Publishers] , “Women on the spectrum are a subculture within a subculture.” She says that there are subtle differences between the genders that have AS. According to her, women like to dress like teens [not modern teens] sporting little make up and with boyish haircuts. Closed off from the non AS world, she says Aspergirls tend to “create our own world in which we do our own thing, and so live isolated lives. The trade off is many hours focused on work and hobbies.”
What Simone aims to do in her book is promote a sort of cultural exchange between AS and non AS people, to tolerate their quirks and appreciate their talents instead of writing them off as “difficult with people.”
Life as a female aspie
1. What can the Aspergirls do to make life more “interactive” and enjoyable?
- Don’t let peer pressure dissuade you from what you love.
- Don’t worry if you don’t have a savant skill [special skills associated with people who don’t have social skills] but do try to turn a passive passion into an active one. [don’t just read about it, do it]
- Try things that integrate the mind, body and spirit. Of course, this is good advice for everyone, but it’s particularly important for those who feel like outsiders.
2. What’s dating and relationships like if you are a woman with AS?
Simone says, rather frankly, that some AS women love sex and find it an extremely pleasurable experience. But most that she interviewed did NOT like sex, finding it “painful and annoying.” The other difficulty in maintaining or getting relationships is that women are meant to play hard to get, and AS girls don’t do subtlety. “We are logical, direct creatures.”
3. Is it wise to have kids?
Simone says, “If you do have children, remember that if they are non autisitic they might have expectations that you do not naturally understand. Seek help and advice from non autisitic women. If you don’t like to hug, find words that work for you.”
Get more Asperberger’s info
For more information, read: Aspergirls by Rudy Simone from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.