What researches and medical specialists do know, is that Asperger’s syndrome is less common in girls. In fact, according to the accg.net website, a total population study of children between ages 7-16 was conducted in Goteborg, Sweden. It showed that, on average, the estimated cases of Asperger’s syndrome accounted for 0.55 % of all boys, and only 0.15 % of all girls. These results may hinge on the fact that Asperger’s syndrome in girls is often less pronounced than it is in boys. The unfortunate result, however, is that Asperger’s girls may not be diagnosed as early-on as their male counterparts, and may not have access to early intervention programs.
In spite of this, many girls with Asperger’s develop coping strategies and learn to blend in at school. In general they are good students and learn to slip under the teacher’s radar by being obedient, quiet and well behaved. Some have average academic skills, but many are often gifted in certain areas, and show an avid interest in that particular class. This special interest commonly involves animals or classical literature, like Shakespeare. While neurotypical girls have hobbies and interests, the intensity of interest for a girl with Asperger’s sets her apart as being different. She accumulates a detailed knowledge about her interest and often talks incessantly about it. Joining a club with like-minded people can be a good way to increase social contact for these girls.
Social interaction is an important part of school life, and while many Asperger’s boys fail miserably in this area, girls often learn to blend in by observing outgoing classmates and watching how they interact with their peers. In neurotypical children, social skills are intuitive, and things like facial expression and body language are easily understood. A girl with Asperger’s watches how other girls laugh or chat, and may memorize the way they open a conversation. By doing this, she learns to interact on an academic basis. Of course, it is only natural to assume there will be times when her skills will fail her. For this reason, a girl with Asperger’s may choose to sit out a game until she figures out what is going on and how she needs to behave to fit in.
Girls with Asperger’s are generally more stable and loyal in friendship than the average female. They are not into cliques and don’t flit from friend to friend. While their threshold for social activity is generally lower than neurotypical girls, they still enjoy chatting and interacting.
Fashion and clothing sense is one area where girls with Asperger’s often struggle. They tend to like clothing that is soft and comfortable, without scratchy labels or restrictive seams. In a social setting, it is important to help a young girl fit in as naturally as possible. Parents should take note of what children of a similar age are wearing, and take their daughter shopping to find something appropriate. Fashion trends come and go, but there is normally enough variety on the market that comfortable, up-to-date garments are available.
Parents need to look out for their Asperger’s daughters by ensuring they maintain personal hygiene routines. They are less likely than neurotypical girls to care for their hair, skin and teeth, and may need prompting and coaching in these areas. Mothers and sisters can remind an Asperger’s girl to bathe regularly, wash her hair, brush her teeth, and as she goes through adolescence, to use deodorant and change her clothes and underwear daily.
Girls with Asperger’s are generally deep thinkers who get along well with adults. This means they may engage in fairly in-depth conversations with their parents and older siblings. This is good, but if the girl carries this behavior over to chats with her peers, they may find her odd or boring.
Asperger’s Girls and Sex Education
Girls with Asperger’s tend to be more immature than their peers, and as they approach their teen years, they may start to feel left out. Their friends develop an interest in boys and dating, while the Asperger’s girl is content to keep playing with her dolls or other toys. In some cases, this childish behavior continues well into the teenage years.
Asperger’s syndrome in girls can lead to problems with boys unless they are given a sound sex education. They are vulnerable to predators and will need extra coaching in order to know how to fend off unwanted sexual approaches. It is important for parents to pay attention to these areas, in order to protect their daughters from some potentially dangerous situations.
One piece of positive news is that, with the recent interest in Asperger’s syndrome, the condition is appearing more often in books and movies. For example, Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo Trilogy contains a female character, Lisbeth Salander, who has Asperger’s. This means that girls with Asperger’s are beginning to have a wider selection of role models to emulate.
With back up from parents and teachers, and some therapy in their formative years, many girl’s with Asperger’s manage to fit into daily life, and will go on to work, marry or raise children in their adult years.
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007
Pretending to be Normal by Liane Holliday Willey, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1999
Famous People with Asperger’s Syndrome. https://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_2086.shtml
Asperger’s Syndrome. https://www.accg.net/asperger.htm
Dragon Tattoo Trilogy. https://dragontattoofilm.com/2010/09/does-lisbeth-salander-really-have-aspergers/