"Please can you tell me about girls with Aspergers and their friends and relationships?"
People who study and treat Aspergers state that the number of girls with Aspergers is equal to that of boys; however, the girls are not diagnosed as often because the syndrome presents itself differently in girls. The common behaviors seen in both girls and boys with Aspergers are as follows:
- Difficulty reading social cues and body language
- Problems with social skills
- Demonstrating impatience
- Difficulty developing empathy for others
A notable difference between girls and boys with Aspergers is that boys will act out aggressively when they are frustrated. As a result, they get attention from adults while the girls remain silent about their frustrations. The girls appear to be shy or passive and adults overlook their problems; they have average or above-average intelligence that helps to hide their social awkwardness.
There is a book entitled Pretending To Be Normal; it is an autobiography written by Liane Holliday-Willey, who has Aspergers. It discusses the difficulties that girls have with Aspergers. The thesis of the book is that girls do not understand how to process their feelings and express their emotions in socially acceptable ways. As a result, they become people-pleasers. They are seen with smiles on their faces that mask the problems they are having. There are many social scientists who believe that girls are better at camouflaging their disorder because they are socialized to be passive and submissive.
Passivity isn’t the only detectable symptom of Aspergers in females. Young females with Aspergers learn to mimic the behaviors of other children, and this happens when there are role models present. If no role models are available, girls with Aspergers do not learn proper behavior; they will learn behavioral “scripts” that facilitate their interactions with other people. Also, they might use dolls as substitute friends and create their own insulated lives with their dolls.
During the elementary school years, girls with Aspergers will find one good friend who is matronly. This friend becomes the link between the girl and the outside world. This friend can provide support and encouragement to the girl, but if the friend moves away, the girl with Aspergers can experience extremely negative consequences.
The sooner that a young girl is properly diagnosed with Aspergers, the sooner she can obtain professional help. With the support of a doctor and friends, she can learn appropriate, socially acceptable behaviors. Also, she can develop independent living skills.
To begin helping a girl with Aspergers, read the book Girls Under The Umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Practical Solutions for Addressing Everyday Challenges by Lori Ernsperger, Ph.D., and Danielle Wendel. This book was authored by an experienced professional and a mother of a young girl on the autism spectrum. The authors provide insightful, first-hand accounts of girls’ lives along with research-based strategies and practical techniques for addressing the unique needs of girls on the spectrum while nurturing their gifts and talents.