Aspergers, Girls and the Social World: A Brief Look

I have mentioned previously in my work about what I refer to as a “Social Spectrum”, meaning that all people have varying levels of preference or ability to socialize. In terms of Aspiens, I have found that, as a group, they also have a social range. I have met Aspiens who at one end, the quite shy, introverted Aspiens who at times can be mute in social situations and need much encouragement to participate socially, in classes or groups. At the other end of the social Spectrum, some Aspiengirls present as quite extraverted, often ‘too’ social, in that they overstepping others boundaries and socially innappropriate. (Just to clear up any confusion, AspienGIRL™, Planet Aspien™, Aspien, Aspienpowers are from my new book series. The word Aspien means a female with Asperger Syndrome. Book Series and website coming shortly.)

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Aspiengirls may have a preference to spend their time in solitude and/or with animals, their dolls, teddy bears or imaginary friends or imaginary animals. Their animals or toys may be their best friends.

Aspiengirls who want and have friendships, are more likely to interact intensely with one other girl or boy. Remember, one of Aspiengirls superpowers is her ability to work exceptionally well one-one-one or presenting to others or a group. Her friend often provides support, guidance and social information to her to help her navigate the unwritten social rules and the playground. Aspiengirls are most often very loyal friends. They find gossip, bitchiness and back-stabbing a complete mystery and are uninterested in these types of behaviors.

Aspiengirls are known to be naive, socially and emotionally immature (often years behind their peers) and particularly vulnerable to being taken advantage of, especially if they are lonely and desperate for a friend. Aspiengirls are often more successful socially with boys, as they find boys, generally speaking, less complicated, their ‘play’ is fun, more functional and interesting. Aspiengirls find their female peers engagement in conversational and emotional play boring and confusing. Many Aspiengirls fidn they have more in common with their males peers and get along with them better as conversation is less confusing and mutual interests more appealing.

There is a sub-type of Aspiengirls that “flitter” from group to group not forming any close friendships with their peers, not knowing or understanding how to navigate the various cliques or groups. Aspiengirls have trouble understanding the levels of friendships, the social hierarchy and the social roles that various members of a group or groups play. In school, girls with Aspergers can feel quite lonely, they may make friends with peers from a variety of other cultures, .

Most often, Aspiengirls have flown under the radar and may not be identified as all as being Aspien until the tricky teenage years. I have seen various sub-types in my clinical practice. One group of teenage Aspiens I have worked with is a group characterized by very good grades, an embracement of good moral behavior, and a late development of interest in romance. This group often finds it challenging to be assertive and stand up for themselves. Some of them may be described as ‘puritan-like’, rule-bound or late-bloomers. Girls appear to be better than boys at masking the traits of autism in social situations,. However, girls are less able to do so in unfamiliar settings.

The other sub-type of Aspienteens I have seen is the opposite of the group I mentioned previously. Rather than embracing the moral code, they reject social, moral and authority codes, which combined with naivity, social and emotional immaturity, a belief in the ‘good’ in others, leads them a number of difficulties, ranging from experimention with drugs, to a history ofabusive relationships, continually being taken advantage of, in addition to dropping out of school. This type of Aspienteen has been described to me by many a parent as having “gone off the rails”. One particular example was of a parent who brought in pictures of what her Aspien looked like the year before and then showed me pictures of what she looks like now. There had been a dramatic change in appearance and attitude, along with her choice of social contacts, her sexual behaviors and dress. Some seek out a “counter-culture to fit into.

Social differences and difficulties are common among Aspiens and social skills training, drama lessons or coaching can be quite helpful. The type of social skills training is important and the above two groups need different intervention in terms of social skills training.

Tania Marshall©. 2013. All rights reserved. These writings are a part of the AspienGIRL™ Book Series. AspienGIRL™ and Planet Aspien™ are registered Trademarks. Duplication in whole or part is explicitly forbidden. Thank you.

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7 thoughts on “Aspergers, Girls and the Social World: A Brief Look

  1. This is a really interesting post thankyou Tania. My son was recently diagnosed with Aspergers and through this I have realized that I likely am also aspien, as is my mother. However we are quite opposite in our social presentation. I am quiet and conservative although enjoy socializing in the safety of a chosen one to one scenario. My mum is loud, often inappropriate and overstepping boundaries. We both hate groups.

    • Hello befuddled and bemused, there are subtypes of Asperger Syndrome. I think that this may be one reason that confuses professionals so much. I regularly see quiet, shy, aloof types, loud, aggressive types and others. I will be writing a future post about females, sub-types and Asperger Syndrome. Thank-you for your message.

  2. Hi Tania, I enjoyed reading this post. My 5 year old Aspiengirl wants to be everybody’s friend, is extremely affectionate with her peers and makes a lot of social errors/misinterprets many social cues. Although she presents herself as very sociable at school, socialising is an area of high anxiety for her and she will often unload all of her worries about her friends and what occurred during social interactions before bed. We often practise different social interactions to see how things might “play out”, which sometimes helps. She struggles a lot with the concept of personal space and has to be regularly reminded by her teacher about getting too close to others. I love that she has swung so far from the back-arching baby who couldn’t stand being held to a sociable, loving little girl, but I would love some ideas as to how parents can assist Aspiengirls with their social anxieties and develop their understanding of personal space, etc.

  3. Hi Tania, a good read, I can relate to the differences, myself, I was told I was a model child, while my teenage years were a toll on everyone in arms reach, I had a strong sense of justice for myself, but no social conscience or remorse, ( strong-willed I think is a nice way of putting it),I am very black or white in my reasoning, and have been told I can cut my emotions off like a switch, while other times I am 0 to nuclear in seconds. Everyday I put on my happy polite face,as soon as i walk out the door, which is exhausting, as I need bucket-loads of patience with the outside world. I prefer animals and children to adults as there is no bullcrap with the first two.
    I would definitely agree about the difference between boys and girls. A lot of the time I think it’s the gender battle and things are put down to female emotions or hormones, which can be destroying to any young girl stuck in an Aspie mind and body. The fact is its not,it’s neurological and not in the mental state of the mind but in the transmission and the working of the brain. If a woman goes to the doctor feeling overwhelmed, she must be having a breakdown, give her pills, if a man goes to the doctor he is under stress and gets a few days off work to rest. So along with the medical professions sexism, the fact of the matter is our women’s hormones and emotions, help us mask or cope with Autism, so it goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
    Our a house is a house of Aspies, and yes, it is so much more apparent in boys, while girls mask or have varying coping abilities.
    My eldest girl is happy to sit in her room daily in solitude with her books or music and if needs to interact puts on a really good front of her being nice and tolerant to others, so much so that others think she’s a outgoing person. She has an extremely strong sense of injustice and it can be very intense, but is a logical nearly emotionless person at other times.
    My other daughter is quite happy in her own company tottering away ever so quiet spoken and gentle. She hates to be hugged or touched. She has no filter from brain to mouth and needs constant guiding in social setting as to body space and things that we say even though we think them can hurt others, she spends her time walking around the school yard alone, as although she can make friends she cannot keep them. She has gotten into trouble a lot for tickling or poking other as while she see’s it as fun/interaction others are not happy with the attention. She daydreams a lot in class, she loves reading and arty stuff. She is usually very calm or serene but gets hyper around other children trying to fit in almost manically.
    The next madam will not interact with adults outside her family, and has one best friend since the first day of school, she will only play with one child at any time, while quiet in school she is a lunatic at home, she has a wild imagination,she always sings away to herself especially when she is happy, she has massive extremities in her emotions, and she shows no remorse, only upset if she gets caught. She is constantly on the go and requires little sleep. She has sensory issues galore.She goes into a trance if you play with her hair or back( it’s the only time she relaxes). If she doesn’t like you on first impression she will never acknowledge you or converse with you, a wall goes up and she goes into shut down, mode if that person is nearby. My dad calls her the serial killer ( not to her face and not for her love of Kellogg’s cornflakes).
    While two of the girls have a very strong view of rules and regulations one girl has very little and is constantly redrawing the line in the sand. One girl is happier by herself, one girl craves having friends makes them and then reject, one girl has 1 good friend and deliberately pushes others away without a social conscience. 2 can put on an act of social interaction 1 emotionally shuts down and will hurt others physically or emotionally to get away if cornered. All 3 though varying in personalities are perfectionists. They are individual and unique like every other child with a twist.
    My eldest lad on the other hand was textbook, tick the checklist, he has little to no imagination for playing ( it was almost funny to hear him try to play with his sister when they were younger, as it was all instructional). He has massive social difficulty, even today after many years of learning off social situations, if it varies slightly he is a duck out of water. He is very book smart but not very street smart. Daily activities that should be a natural occurrence never seem to click for him.
    While my eldest boy has been officially diagnosed and my youngest girl ( mainly due to extreme behavioural issues and speech) my other two girls are right up there but manage their emotions a little better in public arenas.
    My youngest boy has traits, along with speech, but he has developed a sense of humour almost adult like from a young age, while my eldest lad was always blank faced.
    They all have an above average IQ, in fact the girl with the most emotional extremities her IQ is 144. My eldest lad is 132, while his report put him in the classical autism range ( over 11= autism, he scored 18) his awareness that he is different puts him in the Aspie range.
    All our family on one side have bits and pieces from the spectrum umbrella. Kanners autism,Aspergers, dyspraxia, dyslexia …….. So for us I definitely think its a lot to do with genetics. Also we all seem to be attracted to similar minds, so the genetics carry on.
    Thanks for enlightening and informing us all, love reading your posts.

  4. This is so interesting. I am learning so much about myself. I tend to be the one-on- one friend with females who love my company and enjoy my favourite interest…human behaviour. Unfortunately I can be easily controlled by these one-on- one friends as I give everything of myself to them. It took me three years to find that special friend in high school. I recognise myself also as the girl that would flitter around different groups but after not following or understanding group conversation I would search for a girl sitting on their own desperate for meaningful conversation.
    As a grown women I have given up on the group idea but I still seek out the meaningful conversation that I enjoy so much. My experience has proven it to be harder than it sounds, Ive realised there is only so much that people will listen and respond to. This is hard for me to accept as I crave it so much.

  5. This is interesting! I altered my appearance a lot in my teens and developed a “goth” style. But I never drank, did drugs, or misbehaved. I was a very late bloomer and an honors student. I was first chair violin in the school orchestra and graduated 13th in my class of 286 students (prior to being hospitalized for depression at 16, I was 4th in my class). My friends were all the “misfits” and unpopular kids. I had plenty of friends who stood off school grounds and smoked cigarettes in the mornings- they were called “the hoods”. I never did that though. I embraced many different types of teens, I tried really hard to fit in- but I was true to my values and was extremely well behaved, only went “off the rails” in terms of my parents being very upset by my appearance.

  6. This is so fascinating. Thank you for such great information about girls on the spectrum. I have been struggling to find information that describes myself and my two young daughters. You show here very well that there are many various behaviours but all have the common trait of just not fitting in. I can relate to the exhaustion that I feel daily trying to be normal. I find it especially difficult because I am trying to teach my daughters social skills…talk about the blind leading the blind! We are all cooky/interesting/intense individuals.

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