Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Dr Tony Attwood on Girls with Asperger's

About ten minutes ago while procrastinating (my exams start in 9 days!), I ended up on the BBC News page for Asperger's. Nothing new or helpful there, but there was a link to the Asperger Foundation website. I hadn't seen that site before, so I had a look: there was a link to an article by Dr Tony Attwood about girls and women with Asperger's, and how it can be different to Asperger's in males. So I had a look at the article.

Even halfway through, it really did feel like it was talking about me. It came almost as a relief: sometimes I worry that my traits aren't enough for me to be an Aspie, but this put my mind at rest, for now. I'll go through the bits that stuck out to me:

"...some (individuals) are reluctant to socialise with others and their personality can be described as passive. They can become quite adept at camouflaging their difficulties..."

I do enjoy being with others, but given the choice when my traits are strong that day, I'd prefer to stay away from social situations. Sometimes in a group I feel like this, and I try to hide my discomfort. I like to think that it works. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends dearly - but sometimes I can't easily handle being in a social situation.

"One strategy that has been used by many girls and some boys is to observe people who are socially skilled and to copy their mannerisms, voice and persona. This is a form of social echolalia or mirroring where the person acquires a superficial social competence by acting the part of another person."

I consciously did this for practically all of childhood, and most of adolescence: nowadays I catch myself doing this occassionally, but it doesn't seem as much effort now. One problem with this was that the other children/teens were forever accusing me of 'copying' them: I couldn't understand for a long time why this bothered them. I still can't think of a reason, but I accept that most people don't want to be copied.

"Playing with and talking to imaginary friends and dolls can also continue into the teenage years when the person would have been expected to mature beyond such play."

I had imaginary friends and acted out scenarios until I was about 12: after that, I still played with my dolls' house until I was 14, when my Mum insisted that it go in the loft space. Thankfully playing 'The Sims' on the computer was socially acceptable: it wasn't quite the same, but it was as close as I could get to imaginary play.

"(Some ladies') tone resembles a much younger person, having an almost child like quality... (many girls) may see no value in being fashionable, preferring practical clothing and not using cosmetics."

I often sound quite childish, and sometimes act childish: sometimes I alternate between over-playful and over-serious. I can't always find a balance: being serious hasn't gained me friendships and being playful has, so guess which one I tend to go for? As for clothes and make-up, they really don't interest me. I think Mum despairs at having a daughter who doesn't do her hair, put on make-up and dress in lovely clothes: in my defence, I hate the feel of make-up on my skin, and some pretty clothes just aren't practical. Sorry society, but you can't win on this one.


  1. I'm 14, finally "old enough" to wear makeup and all that other stuff. I hate it all. I wear old t shirts and jeans, and I don't like doing anything to my hair. Sorry Mom, you'll just have to wait for the next girl to grow up.

  2. That's fair enough that you feel that way, I've been there many times! While I agree with my mum's point of wanting what's best for me, wearing make-up and 'pretty' clothes just doesn't feel right for me. For me, the best thing that makes me genuinely happy is often to wear comfy jeans and t-shirts (I have days where I'll wear skirts and nicer stuff, but that's my own choice). When I wear what I want (provided that I don't look unkempt), I feel more myself and function better. Keep being yourself Abby, even when it can be tough when there're expectations to be more 'girly' than we'd perhaps like.