How Does Asperger’s Syndrome Affect Girls
In his book, The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, Tony Attwood states that after analyzing over 1000 diagnostic assessments over 12 years, he has established a ratio of Asperger’s boys to Asperger's girls of four to one. Just as neurotypical males and females are different, boys and girls with Asperger’s syndrome behave in different ways to each other.
Signs of Asperger’s Syndrome Seen Predominantly in Girls
When it comes to Asperger’s, girls think differently to boys, and often have an easier time fitting into their environment. This influences the signs and symptoms of Asperger’s in their lives and they may not be diagnosed as quickly as boys. Here are some of the signs of Asperger’s that are typically seen in girls rather than boys:
- Girls are better at camouflaging their social problems than boys. Although they do not intuitively know how to respond in conversation and what facial expressions to use, they watch others and learn by copying them. A conversation becomes an intellectual exercise rather than an intuitive interaction.
- Asperger’s girls may engage in playing with dolls but in a different manner to neurotypical girls. Their play is more controlling and they may reproduce scenes they have seen in movies or real life. Some talk to their dolls and include imaginary friends in the conversation.
- Girls with Asperger’s have different interests to boys and many enjoy animals and classic literature. The interest may border on obsessional and take up large chunks of their time if parents allow it to.
- Teenage girls with Asperger’s may find they are targeted for being different in their high school years. Some of their peers will form cliques that exclude them and bullying may become a problem.
- Neurotypical girls like to talk about clothes, fashion, boyfriends, movies and music from a fairly young age. Asperger’s girls may prefer to talk about something completely uninteresting to her peers and be left out of conversations as a result.
- Girls with Asperger’s are often less disruptive in a classroom setting than their male counterparts.
- In younger years, girls may be classed as passive at school rather than socially impaired.
- Asperger’s symptoms are generally more subtle in girls. This is partly because girls are more likely to express their feelings than boys, and don’t bottle up frustrations and then explode.
- SInce Asperger’s can be diagnosed at a later stage in girls than in boy, girls may lose out on a few years of focused therapy that could help her deal with social problems and communication weaknesses.
Asperger’s girls are different to Asperger’s boys and also different to neurotypical girls. They have their own unique set of behaviors and understanding these can be helpful to family, friends, teachers and others who interact with them.
Asperger’s and Girls, Tony Attwood, Temple Grandin and others, Future Horizons, 2006
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, Tony Attwood, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007