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Women with Asperger’s often function better in society than their male counterparts but are still faced with a number of daily challenges. These may vary in intensity according to whether they were diagnosed as a girl, their current age and their marital status. Here is an overview of potential problem areas:
- Social interaction is not intuitive and the woman often feels lost when a group of people are conversing. She struggles to follow the threads of conversation and does not understand the facial expressions and body language.
- Female Asperger’s individuals may lack fashion sense and prefer to wear comfortable clothing, even if this is outdated and worn.
- Crowds may be overwhelming for a woman with Asperger’s, and sensory overload from loud noises or too many people in a small place can be painful.
- Dating can be awkward, and she may make bad choices about a life partner. Asperger’s females are often more immature than their peers and this can lead to men taking advantage of them sexually.
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How Women with Asperger’s Cope in Daily Life
Women with Asperger’s find it easier to adapt to their condition than men with Asperger’s. This is because women in general are more emotional and intuitive and have a natural desire to be included and accepted. There are a number of ways they can help themselves in an effort to fit into society:
- Many women with Asperger’s can learn how to talk and interact by watching other women. Conversation, facial expression, and body language are intuitive to a neurotypical female. Asperger’s women can copy their actions as an academic exercise. It is possible for them to reach the place where they can join in a conversation and appear relaxed and connected.
- It is a fact of life that a person who looks or acts differently is often left on the fringe of society. An Asperger’s woman who wants to fit in, needs to adapt her clothing and appearance to conform to the norm. Fortunately, fashion trends are broad enough that she should be able to find clothing that is both comfortable and fashionable. Makeup and hair style are also important and conforming to external standards of society can make it much easier for a woman to be accepted.
- Dealing with crowds can be problematic for some females with Asperger’s. They may suffer from sensory overload and find conversation between a number of people confusing. If it is a work event or something that they are required to attend, it may be helpful to arrive early before things become loud and then excuse themselves when they feel they have reached their limit.
- Dating and marriage between an Asperger’s woman and a neurotypical male can lead to a number of problems. If a woman explains to her partner what Asperger’s syndrome is, and what symptoms she may exhibit, the relationship will benefit.
- Many women with Asperger’s marry and go on to bear children. Early childhood years may add stresses such as noisy wailing and crying. Changing diapers can cause sensory overload. If family can’t afford to pay for help, the woman may learn to cope by wearing a face mask when changing a child’s soiled clothing.
- Many women with Asperger’s will have a special interest, but this may be less intense than an Asperger’s man’s. Reading, classical literature, animals and horses are common interests. It is important that she keep her interest under control and understand that people will not want to talk about it incessantly.
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Help for Women with Asperger’s Syndrome
Asperger’s women are often keen to find help and many teach themselves how to cope in social situations and with life in general. There are also professionals who can help in various areas of life:
- A therapist can help a woman with Asperger’s practice social situations. This can include learning suitable conversation starters, appropriate body language and making eye contact.
- Good department stores offer trained staff who advise on clothing styles, color combinations and what suits body shape. If an Asperger’s woman has funds available, a staff member could help her put together a fashionable but comfortable and functional wardrobe.
- Most cosmetic companies offer free makeovers and can show a woman how to apply makeup and what colors and shades suit her. An Asperger’s woman could approach a consultant at a local store or call one of the ladies who sell cosmetics by party plan.
- A good hair stylist can work with the woman to create an up-to-date, low maintenance hairstyle. Friends or family members are generally able to suggest a good salon to visit.
- Female Asperger’s sufferers may find it helpful to carry ear plugs around with them to cut down on noise levels.
- Marriage counselors especially trained in Asperger’s can help a couple resolve differences and suggest ways to make a marriage between an Asperger’s woman and a neurotypical man work.
While an Asperger’s woman will always have issues to deal with, with some effort, she can learn to function reasonably well in society. Honesty and perseverance are part of the process and with help, she will be able to make friends, have a career, marry and raise children.
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The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, Tony Attwood, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007
Pretending to be Normal, Liane Holliday Willey, Jessica Kinglsey Publishers, 1999