Aspergers (high functioning autism) affects behavior, personality, and the way a person interacts with others. As females with Aspergers become adults, they may feel isolated because they react differently to certain "stressful" situations. Their comments can seem insensitive and uncaring, when in reality, they simply may not fully understand the concept of empathy. These ladies often look for companionship with other adult females who have similar behavior patterns and outlook.
The symptoms of Aspergers in adult females are usually displayed in a more subtle manner, which often results in missed or incorrect professional diagnoses, a lack of access to special education services and provisions in school, and a greater chance of social and emotional problems in adulthood. Several distinct differences exist in regard to the ways that females and males with Aspergers behave.
Females with Aspergers are not often aggressive when they get frustrated. Instead, they tend to be withdrawn and can easily "fly under the radar" in classrooms and other social environments. These girls are also able to express their emotions in a calmer way than their male counterparts. Young females with Aspergers are often protected and nurtured by their “non-Aspergers” friends, who help them cope with difficult social situations. Acceptance from peers can sometimes mask the issues that these kids have so that they are not recognized by educators and parents, and as a result, they are less likely to suggest psychological and social evaluations for young female "Aspies."
There are certain personality traits and symptoms that moms and dads, educators, and professionals can look for if they suspect that a young girl or woman has Aspergers. Females with the disorder often display obsessive tendencies in regard to animals, dolls, and other female-oriented interests. While “non-Aspergers” females will play with dolls by pretending that they are interacting socially, female Aspies may collect dolls and not use them to engage socially with other kids. Their fascination with certain subjects can lead to them lagging behind their peers in terms of maturity and age-appropriate behavior (e.g., a pre-teen with Aspergers may be fascinated with stuffed animals or cartoons long after other peers her age have outgrown these things).
Female Aspies may be mistakenly assumed to have a personality disorder because they mimic typical kids, but use phrases inappropriately. They tend to be bored with others their age and have difficulty empathizing with their peers' worries or problems. While their behaviors are more passive than those typical of males with Aspergers, people who pay close attention to female kids with social and emotional delays can ensure that proper diagnosis and treatment will take place. The younger a child is when she begins to receive the appropriate speech, occupational, and psychological services for the disorder, the greater likelihood she will have of living an independent and functional adult life.
Other Aspergers symptoms if females include:
• Communication Difficulties— A girl with Aspergers finds that social communication does not come easily. She may struggle to find topics to talk about that will interest her peers. She often attempts to mimic the interests, behavior, and body language of others in an attempt to "fit in." Many female Aspies become quite adept at this mimicking, causing them to elude diagnosis and treatment throughout life. A girl with Aspergers who does not mimic others appears shy and socially awkward. Her body language is different from her peers, and she seems oblivious to the body language of others. Her voice may lack inflection, and she may show no happiness at the good fortune of others.
• Emotional Outbursts— It may be easier to identify males as having Aspergers, because they express their feelings and frustrations through emotional outbursts, which are more obvious to the observer. On the other hand, females with Aspergers may be more likely to internalize their emotions and feelings, and experience inward or passive signs of aggression. These certain gender-related behaviors might be part of the reason that fewer females are diagnosed with Aspergers.
• Fantasy— Female Aspies are intrigued with fantasies that include magical kingdoms, princesses, and other fairy tale elements. It is possible that the princess fantasies are given little notice, because females in general are more prone to this type of imaginary fantasy and play; therefore, these fantasies are not used as criteria in diagnosing the disorder.
• Highly Intelligent— Girls with Aspergers may be less talkative than other females their age. They are highly intelligent, but like their autistic counterparts, possess poor language skills. Communication and interaction with other kids may be difficult. Female Aspies may strive to learn as much as they can, even though social interaction is limited. Most "typical" kids who are socially active have no problem learning in a group setting, whereas Aspie girls may want to study and learn on their own.
• Inflexibility— An girl with Aspergers may be inflexible about her daily routine. She may want to eat the same meal each day and avoid food that has touched other food on her plate. She may arrange her toys a certain way on the shelf, perform the same grooming ritual each day and become upset by any change in her schedule.
• Obsessional Interests— Obsessional interests are another indicator of Aspergers. The child may talk incessantly about her topic of interest or spend the majority of her free time studying it or playing with it. A girl with Aspergers is more likely to have interests that are common to healthy females, whereas an Aspie male is more likely to have an unusual interest (e.g., a girl may be obsessed with horses, while a boy may be obsessed with AAA batteries). This highly focused interest can prove helpful or harmful (e.g., a strong interest in math can help a girl function well in school, while an interest in dolls may cause her to not focus on schoolwork and to eventually bore her friends).
• Repetitive Behaviors— The girl with Aspergers may exhibit repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand-flapping, pacing, stomping, blinking, finger-tapping, etc.). These may become more obvious when she is stressed. Even when she is made aware of these behaviors, she may be unable to control them.
• Socially Awkward— Inability to communicate and physical clumsiness will put young Aspies at a disadvantage from the very beginning. They may seem disinterested and aloof. Asperger kids have difficulty understanding slang and humor. They may seem out of place and will not make friends easily. As Asperger kids grow into teens, many find ways to adapt, and their differences may not seem as pronounced.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook