Asperger's syndrome is classified as an autistic spectrum disorder. Asperger's is similar to autism because it affects a child's interactions with others. Boys and girls diagnosed with Asperger's tend to be socially awkward, as well as very intelligent. Children with Asperger's syndrome have vivid imaginations and are quite creative. Fewer girls than boys are diagnosed with Asperger's, making it difficult for girls to establish friendships with peers.
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According to an AutismToday.com article by Catherine Flaherty, a specialist at the Asheville TEAACH Center, girls with Asperger's are intrigued with fantasies that include magical kingdoms, princesses and other fairy tale elements. Flaherty suggests that it is possible that the princess fantasies are given little notice because girls are more prone to this type of imaginary fantasy and play; therefore, these fantasies are not used as criteria in diagnosing girls with Asperger’s.
Female children with Asperger's may be less talkative than other girls their age. Asperger children are highly intelligent, but like their autistic counterparts, possess poor language skills. Communication and interaction with other children may be difficult. According to AspergerSyndrome.org, Asperger girls may strive to learn as much as they can, even though social interaction is limited. Most girls who are socially active have no problem learning in a group setting, whereas Asperger girls may want to study and learn on their own. The desire to learn continues through adolescence and into womanhood.
Inability to communicate and physical clumsiness will put Asperger girls at a disadvantage from the very beginning. They may seem disinterested and aloof. Asperger children have difficulty understanding slang and humor. They may seem out of place and will not make friends easily. As Asperger children grow into adolescents, many find ways to adapt and their differences don't seem as pronounced.
In her AutismToday.com article, Catherine Flaherty notes that it may be easier to identify boys as having Asperger’s because they express their feelings and frustrations through emotional outbursts, which are more obvious to the observer, whereas Asperger girls may be more likely to internalize their emotions and feelings, and experience inward or passive signs of aggression. Flaherty questions if these certain gender-related behaviors might be part of the reason that fewer girls are diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
Asperger's Syndrome affects behavior, personality and the way a person interacts with others. As Asperger girls become women, they may often feel isolated because they react differently to situations with which they are presented. Their comments may seem mean and uncaring, when in reality, they don't understand the concept of empathy. Women with Asperger's look for companionship with other women who have the same behavior patterns and outlook. According to Flaherty, women with Asperger's are doubly affected by the stigma of autism because, being women, they have emotions with which they don't know how to cope.