Top 11 Diagnostic myths for Adult Females with Asperger Syndrome: A Brief Look
Over the years, I have listened to the stories and narratives females across the lifespan. In working with and supporting females on the Autism Spectrum, I have personally learned alot. With their permission, I am and will be sharing their stories, thoughts and quotes, at times in blogs and mostly in my book series. Amongst the stories and narratives of adult women, research and personal clinical anecdotal experience, I have come across some common diagnostic myths. What follows is a brief summary of my Top 11 Diagnostic myths I have most commonly heard. This is being updated on an ongoing basis.
MYTH: You can’t have Asperger Syndrome because you are female.
FACT: Females of all ages can and do have Asperger Syndrome (AS). Females with AS are in every country and they usually have a distinctive profile. The gender statistics are approximately 2:1 for male:female, and well may be 1:1 in the future, as we find out more through research, anecdotal and clinical evidence. One of the most common diagnostic pathways I see is a mother whose has children and/or grand-children on the Autism Spectrum.
MYTH: You can’t have Asperger Syndrome because your symptoms don’t fit the diagnostic criteria.
FACT: The criteria is male-based and the classification diagnostic system’s examples of symptoms and behaviours (for e.g., DSM5) are “male-oriented”. There is a distinct female profile of which currently there is no formal adult female assessment tool or criteria for adult females.
MYTH: You can’t have Asperger Syndrome because you can make eye contact.
FACT: Adult females can and do make eye contact. Many females have had years of developing a wide variety of coping mechanisms and strategies, even enabling some women to “pass as normal” most of the time. Their use of Social Echolalia (copying, mimicking and acting) can make it a challenge for professionals not familiar with the unique female characteristics and traits.
MYTH: You can’t have Asperger Syndrome because you are able to have a conversation.
FACT: Females on the Spectrum can and do make conversation. As children, generally speaking, they have better linguistic and verbal skills than boys do.
MYTH: You can’t have Aspergers because you can socialize with other people
FACT: Many females can socialize quite well for short periods of time. However, they are emotionally drained and then need solitude to restore and recharge. The period of time for solitude varies, depending on the female’s social needs or social cup and where they are on the “social spectrum”.
MYTH: You can’t have Aspergers because you have friends and.or a best friend
FACT: Many females I have spoken to have a best friend or one or two close friends. Interestingly, some females have reported that they are very popular and struggle with the amount of social invitations they receive, often saying “yes” and then later making up a reason for why they then cannot attend .
MYTH: You cant have Aspergers because you don’t have traditional special interests FACT: As children, girls with Aspergers generally have similar special interests as their female peers. However, it is the quality and intensity of the interest that is different. Just some of the child and/or adult female special interests include: psychology, philosophy, self-help, animals, fantasy and sci-fi, reading, books and text-books, life-long learning, computers, writing, art, acting and music.
MYTH: You cant have Aspergers because you have empathy and compassion
FACT: There are different types of empathy. Many (not all) of the adult females I have worked with can be found in the caring or teaching professions. I have worked with women on the Spectrum who are nurses, special education teachers, professors, psychologists, social workers, doctors and child care workers, amongst others.
MYTH: You cant have Aspergers because you are a cheerleader, supermodel, famous professional singer, famous actress.
FACT: Many females in the listed the above careers have Aspergers. They may have lots of friends (acquaintances), run in the same circle (i.e. of supermodels, actresses)
MYTH: You can’t have Aspergers if you’re not a “Tomboy”. Many females on the Spectrum love make-up hair, clothes, dressing up, modelling, and fashion.
FACT: Many females on the Spectrum love make-up hair, clothes, dressing up, modelling, and fashion. Autism in women is heterogeneous and their are many sub-types and/or presentations
MYTH: You can’have Autism because you are an academic superstar, are an award winning professional actress/athlete/author/model/dancer
FACT: Many females won the Spectrum are experts in their field of interested and often have multiple talents and abilities.
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Tania Marshall, 2014 – 2016. All rights reserved.