Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Mysterious Female Aspie

There's a lot of evidence to suggest that aspergers is much more common in males than in females.

This is, at least in part, due to the nature of human genetic makeup. Men have an XY chromosome structure while women have XX.

If one or more partners is genetically damaged or "different", there exists, in females, the ability to "repair" the genetic differences using DNA from the other X chromosome. Such a facility isn't available to men.

This means that men are much more likely to show genetic damage or differences and that women can often be "silent carriers".

That said, there's still considerably fewer female aspies than you'd expect.

Personally, I think this comes down to differences in behavior and detection. Women tend to have less social difficulties than men, particularly with the opposite gender because they're usually approached, rather than having to do the approaching themselves.

There's also a suggestion that "Girls are generally recognized as superior mimics. Those with AS hold back and observe until they learn the 'rules', then imitate their way through social situations." - Tony Attwood.

Regardless of the reason, there aren't too many articles on how aspergers manifests in women.

This one however, is a good one and well worth a read;

Psychology Today: An Aspie in the City By: Carlin Flora
(November/December 2006)

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Asperger’s syndrome is a form of mild autism that often goes undetected. New years 2008: my little brother Chris dropped dead - a moving testimony to a brother with asperger's syndrome, by zen peace. This is an enlightening new book that details a doctor's decline into depression, and highlights the signs of Asperger's Syndrome in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. A good primer.

Anonymous said...

I saw the very same comment about this 'New years 2008..' book on various blogs, but I couldn't find any reviews for it. Am I the only one who gets the impression that these comments are actually adverts? Did anyone actually read the book? Does it even exist in reality?
F*cking spammers.

Kirska said...

That article was fascinating. It was interesting to read how some things she says fits me perfectly, yet others are the complete opposite.

For example, "I was often accused of not paying attention or of being on a different planet, but I was actually paying close attention to something else."

I got this a lot too. My calculus teacher in high school thought I was a complete space cadet and expected me to fail our first test because I never paid attention, but then I did very well. The first time I answered a question, she picked up a stuffed animal on her desk, looked at it and said, "OH MY GOODNESS she's paying attention!!!" It was very funny.

I also have a huge fascination with animals. If I had to pick a new career, I'd go into veterinary medicine.

One of the main differences though is how they say she missed musical queues. I'm not a good dancer at all, but I'm a drummer and was the drumline captain in school.

Anyway, thanks for sharing! We're not mysterious, we're just awesome :D

aspieprincess said...

I, too, found this a very good article. I though Carlin Flora did an excellent job in profiling a woman with Asperger's (I should know, I am one).

I wrote about this article in my blog The Aspie Life about a year ago. Back then the article was titled The Girl with a Boy's Brain. (See Adults/Women With Asperger's - The Good and Bad.)

It's not often that mainstream publications provide a balanced view of Asperger's and autism, opting instead for the sensationalistic approach. I found Psychology Today's angle refreshing.

Imagine my surprise when, a few months later, a Psychology Today editor contacted me to invite me to be a contributor on Psychology Today's blogs site. Obviously, they are committed to following the precedent set by Ms. Flora's article, to continue to portray the realities of life as a female aspie.

If you're interested, visit Asperger's Diary at http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/aspergers-diary.

BCC said...

For example, "I was often accused of not paying attention or of being on a different planet, but I was actually paying close attention to something else."

Great quote. It describes my 4y 9m old daughter very well. (Who was just diagnosed with Asperger's.)

I'm just trying to learn what I can to understand her, help her, and support her. Thanks for your blog.

Shelly said...

My doctor refuses to acknowledge my Asperger's because I don't behave like the ONE, MALE AS patient he ever had.

It's so frustrating. This article describes me exactly, including the active fantasy life.

Miss Patrice said...

I can socialize to some extent. I mean I have studied how people interact all my life! This hides my Asperger's from most people I meet. However, I only have acquaintances and I have no friends. I don't want friends because the friendship has to be on my terms. I don't like my life being invaded by people. To me people just popping incites severe anxiety.

OK I'm rambling. Interesting article, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I related to the thing about refusing to call classmates by their nicknames. I have always had a problem with that. I feel like I shouldn't be allowed to use a nickname, like I'm not so much like the other people that it would be an acceptable thing for me to do.

When I was at school I distinctly remember standing next to the teacher and putting my hand up because I wanted to swap the book I had. She must have been having a bad day, because she snapped at me and told me it was rude to stand there like that and I should sit down and think about what I wanted to say. So I went back to my desk and I couldn't think what on earth I was supposed to say. I had to ask the girl sitting next to me, who said, just say you would like a new book please.

I still don't like new situations. I like to watch other people and work out what the appropriate thing to say is. I try and explain this to people, but no one understands what I mean. My head is empty when it comes to small talk. I'm 28 and still learning. Gennie

Anonymous said...

Opulently I assent to but I think the post should secure more info then it has.

Anonymous said...

I think that there is as much female aspie as male but NT doc can't see them because they look somewhere else. They think that Aspie grils have 'male brain' they are stupid. Aspie girls have 'female aspie brain' and until they search for that they will fail to see.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the help in this question. I did not know it.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm a female with Asperger's! I don't try to fit in-- it's just more fun being myself! I have a pretty mild case, though. It went undetected for 12 years! :D Ah, well. I don't really mind! I was diagnosed with it after sensory problems arose in class (mostly a teacher yelling at me because the band was too loud, I was sitting in the front row of the auditorium, and I was feeling really sick because of it and was asking to be excused, but she just yelled at me, which made me even more upset). Actually, I like the part of the condition which says AS people are really smart! Yes, I certainly am! Reading the comments from fellow "aspies", I noted that the spelling was mostly correct. Nice.

Anonymous said...

i am an aspie that has been found out resently they labeled me as trets syndrome i seem to have trouble with emotions that sometimes i show little to none

outoutout said...

I just wanted to comment regarding this:

"Men have an XY chromosome structure while women have XX.

If one or more partners is genetically damaged or 'different', there exists, in females, the ability to 'repair' the genetic differences using DNA from the other X chromosome. Such a facility isn't available to men.

This means that men are much more likely to show genetic damage or differences and that women can often be 'silent carriers'."

If we're talking about conditions related specificially to the X chromosome (like colour blindness, hemophilia, SCID, Fragile X), then yes, you'd expect to see less female expression due to the higher likelihood of inheriting an unaffected copy of the X. But most genetic conditions occur elsewhere in DNA, and autism is thought to involve several chromosomes. Fragile X was once thought to be autism-related, but that has never been proved.

Anonymous said...

Common misconceptions about female aspies: bitch, lesbian, dyke, whore, etc. They face more abuse from society and their partners than male aspies.

Anonymous said...

Someone said that female aspies face more abuse from society like being called "bitch, dyke, lesbian, whore". I think that's really true. Throw in "stupid, weird, retarded", when in fact I think we often see and understand more than so- called normal people. We seem transgressive so society labels us. Women are supposed to be good at relating to people so socially--which means fitting in and basically supporting the social status quo; I think we're a lot worse off than males with aspergers' It's so clear to me that Tony Atwood and othert "experts" really don't and probably can't understand how a woman with asperger's sees the world and Atwood certainly hasn't impressed me with any capacity to understand us. He thinks we just are better mimics and find maternal type other girls who shield us. THAT is so not true. I wonder how much talent and beauty (internal and external)is lost because we aren't accepted or understood.

Oh well, just a few thoughts. The PT article was a great too brief profile of a woman with asperger's.

Anonymous said...

But the average men love mysterious, yet unobtainable-looking, unavailable women who have no expressions or smiles on their faces because they appear feminine, classy, and elegant to them versus the expressive women who have smiles on their faces, especially among old-fashioned men.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to have Asperger's and be really GOOD at relating to people? I have never been officially diagnosed but fit the description to a T. Except I am really good socially. Not small talk, but once I get to know a person I am very intuitive. I basically forced myself to start looking people in the eye at the age of 15. I read books on how to interpret body language and behavior. I guess you could say that human behavior became my area of fascination. Prior to this I was really awkward and got hurt a lot. I don't remember people reacting to me. Just leaving me. I feel like at some point a light switch turned on because now I am really good at reading people and it comes naturally. Maybe some Asperger's traits are reversible when a person turns outward more. I still get exhausted at parties and slip into the bathroom to disengage for a little while, and my friends confide to me that they love me even though I am openly and comfortably eccentric in typical Aspie-type ways.

Anonymous said...

"But the average men love mysterious, yet unobtainable-looking, unavailable women who have no expressions or smiles on their faces because they appear feminine, classy, and elegant to them versus the expressive women who have smiles on their faces, especially among old-fashioned men."

Please, please, please reassure me that this is true! Now, where do I go to find these men? Is there like a store...you know, where I could just buy one? It would be so much easier than standing on a street corner trying to look mysterious instead of grumpy. Are there match makers for aspies?

Gavin Bollard said...

There is a site called Aspie Affection (See: http://www.aspieaffection.com/.

Anonymous said...

I read the article in the link above and I found some startling similarities; I'm a teen girl who has gone to a psychiatrist for social anxiety and other issues. My psychiatrist was stuck between whether I have an attachment issue or aspergers. The only differences I see between Kiriana and myself is that I do have empathy for human pain and suffering, movies and stories about misfortune make me cry. I also have friends. A few close friends, who share my interest and make me laugh and bring out my weird side. With that, I must say I have excruciating difficulty making new friends. I hate talking to people I don't know, for fear that they won't like me or I'll say something dumb. Also, when I obsess about things I do not dwell on them. If I'm obsessed about a book, I normally won't reread it. But other then those few things, most everything else is similar. Could I still be have AS? How important are those things to diagnosis?

Anonymous said...

no, it's not that. check out dr. boyd haley's (phd chemistry, university of kentucky) interviews on vaccines and autism. estrogen is neuroprotective whereas testosterone potentiates mercury making it even more neurotoxic. this is why the ratio of asperger's is higher in boys than in girls. also, mothers of female asperger's children generally had high testosterone in the womb.

it is mercury poisoning...let's not fool ourselves.

Stella said...

Anonymous above, I am a female Aspie and I have empathy. I bond very well with babies and small children, and cry all the time during sad movies.