Asperger's Syndrome: The invisible female

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Chronos
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13 Mar 2011, 7:10 am

For those of you who think AS is mainly a male thing, consider this.

The current estimate on the sex ratios for AS is 1:10. One female to ten males.
The current estimate on the sex ratios for other ASDs is 1:4. One female to four males.

This is suspicious for a few reasons.

1. If AS is just a "milder" form of autism, why would there be such a discrepancy in this part of the spectrum?

2. People with AS generally have high verbal IQ's, however males in general speak less than females. They use fewer words in every day conversation and tend to develop language a little slower than females, so it would be strange to have this pocket of men with high verbal IQ's that is so devoid of females, especially in the context of point number 1.

There is a growing speculation within the scientific community that the 1:10 ratio is incorrect. Here are some studies and scholarly works on the matter.

http://www.yale.edu/yrurp/issues/yrurp_ ... df#page=78

http://gradworks.umi.com/3342492.pdf

http://www.avaruthbaker.com/uploads/5/0 ... ectrum.pdf

And this last one has to do with those with lower functioning autism but it's interesting because it notes that females often faired worse, and one cause they implied for this was slower time to treatment.

http://resources.metapress.com/pdf-prev ... ze=largest



Marrshu
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13 Mar 2011, 9:53 am

Chronos wrote:
http://www.avaruthbaker.com/uploads/5/0/0/9/5009416/invisible_at_the_end_of_the_spectrum.pdf


Quote:
I did what others asked of me much as a robot would ... and I hid what remained of “me” deep inside
a world of my own, where no one else was allowed … As the demands on me grew, I developed
different “characters” that had specialized knowledge and skills to “perform” as others expected me
to perform.


Oh wow. That pretty much sums up my entire childhood in a nutshell... 8O



antonblock
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13 Mar 2011, 10:27 am

thanks alot for these research posts, they helped me alot! :-)))
i now know much better how female asperger looks like.

best wishes for you,

anton



Poke
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13 Mar 2011, 10:27 am

You can't conflate Verbal IQ with how much someone talks, as often times these things vary inversely.



starygrrl
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13 Mar 2011, 10:39 am

I think Tony Attwood has said the likely gender ration is probably 1:1 or very close to that. Right now many women are being diagnosed with NVLD, that are very likely aspies, and there is even literature out there that is suggesting that is probably the case. Much of what is going on can be blamed on Cohen and the extreme male brain theory, but also the general gender stereotyping. One being is "girls don't have aspergers". In general the field is fairly uneducated on the spectrum. Attwood may be one of the few people who probably has a more comprehensive understanding of the spectrum and recognizing it is being under diagnosed in women, largely because of gender stereotypes and lack of recognition or scientific curiosity in how it affects women.



poppyfields
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13 Mar 2011, 11:03 am

I think if I was a boy I would have been diagnosed as a child. I am not your typical aspie but I AM your typical female aspie actually. Even as a very young child (under 4, as my mom said when I was being diagnosed) I never was a needy child. Always very passive. If I had been more aggressive, people would have noticed me.

I don't believe in NVLD. The correspondence with AS is just too high. I think it just represents the facts aspies aren't actually all math/science types, but some of us are quite gifted in other things. Us females have long been ignored. Every book seems to assume a male aspie unless the entire book is for women. If I try to look up relationship tips for aspies online they are always directed towards male aspies.

And not only is my gender underrepresented, but my race too (african-american). There must be other black women like me who seemingly fell through every crack in the system becausee we were perceived as quiet, smart types.



Poke
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13 Mar 2011, 11:11 am

poppyfields wrote:
I don't believe in NVLD. The correspondence with AS is just too high.


You need a better understanding of the nature of these conditions and the points of view from which they're diagnosed.



poppyfields
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13 Mar 2011, 11:19 am

Poke wrote:
poppyfields wrote:
I don't believe in NVLD. The correspondence with AS is just too high.


You need a better understanding of the nature of these conditions and the points of view from which they're diagnosed.


I understand why NVLD is diagnosed, it is an educational diagnosis but I think diagnosing AS is much more helpful when one needs school support as NVLD won't be understood well by a lot of school systems.



daydreamer84
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13 Mar 2011, 11:55 am

poppyfields wrote:
Poke wrote:
poppyfields wrote:
I don't believe in NVLD. The correspondence with AS is just too high.


You need a better understanding of the nature of these conditions and the points of view from which they're diagnosed.


I understand why NVLD is diagnosed, it is an educational diagnosis but I think diagnosing AS is much more helpful when one needs school support as NVLD won't be understood well by a lot of school systems.


I think that NVLD is very real...because I have it...I have a verbal IQ in the superior range and a performance (visual/perceptual) IQ in the borderline MR range. It occurs very often but not always in conjunction with AS. Interestingly in Hans Asperger's original sample 48% supposedly had VIQ>PIQ so the NVLD profile. Recent studies are very inconsistent in terms of the prevalence of NVLD in AS , some say close to 90% , some say no more than in the general population. I think that a lot of girls might get the NVLD diagnosis and their AS might be missed until later. This happened to me even though I was rated as "in the clinical range" on "social problems/withdrawn" and "odd/eccentric" behavior since kindergarten" by my mom and teachers and my repetitive behaviors were very salient and noted by every teacher I had. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 13.

Schools and pysch's should be more aware of AS and its expression in girls. However NVLD can cause a lot of problems with understanding things like geometry and place value in school...and cause children to lose motivation for learning...... so it needs to be acknowledged and diagnosed too. NVLD is not currently listed in the DSM but it should be!



bethmc
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13 Mar 2011, 12:08 pm

I was a completely passive child. A follower, never a leader or one who initiated activity. Perfectly happy and content to play by myself, preferring it most of the time to having to play with other kids because I simply did not understand their social dynamic and downright meanness.

I am just now in the process of being diagnosed as an Aspie (at age 42) and it's one of the few things that has made complete and perfect sense about my life.

My "gifts" are definitely not in the area of mathematics - I've had to have extra help, tutoring, and remedial classes in math from elementary school all the way into university -seriously. When the subject of math comes up, my line is "Math makes me cry."

However, languages and linguistics are wonderfully interesting - I do seem to have a talent in that area.

As far as the male:female ratio is concerned, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" comes to mind:

If I'm a well-behaved child (partly because I was and partly because I was scared to death of my mom's backhand) AND I do well in school because I am very good at memorizing and regurgitating their useless factoids (even though I do not understand them) AND I am deathly afraid of authority figures so I keep my head down, then there's no reason to notice me, is there?

However, if I had been more aggressive AND had more troubles in school AND defied authority at every step, well, it would have at least gotten someone's attention at some level.

(Of course, let's be realistic and accept that when I was in school in the 1970s and 1980s, the chances of me being diagnosed with AS were slim to none.)

It's up to us, Ladies, to get the word out: There's more of us than you think! And we're AWESOME!! !! !


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i can (obviously) come off as really abrupt and my tone can sound sharpish, so feel free to ask me to clarify


seaside
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13 Mar 2011, 12:17 pm

Aspergirls is an important read.
Rudy Simone says, perhaps it's not that AS presents differently in females, but is interpreted differently!



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13 Mar 2011, 12:40 pm

Great links. I just blew the whole morning reading on this topic. :)

Thanks for the pointers. Very interesting. I am also surprised that the dissertation was accepted with such "weak" criteria but that is a topic for another thread.



ediself
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13 Mar 2011, 12:47 pm

Wow, are they still on this?? How slow can their research be, I thought the myth had been forgotten long ago...



chinatown
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13 Mar 2011, 2:28 pm

On the low-functioning side, the ratio may be close to 2:1. The higher you go (in other words, the less obvious the autism is) the less females there are. This smells of faulty diagnostic practice to me.

In the PDF I mentioned earlier it also said that the presence of dysmorphic features lowered the gender ratio. Again, can't explain away the bleeding obvious.

seaside wrote:
Rudy Simone says, perhaps it's not that AS presents differently in females, but is interpreted differently!


That is most likely the biggest reason for the skewed ratio.

But girls and boys are treated differently. In advanced societies it may be subtle, but there is a difference. When teachers think an essay was written by a boy, they correct grammar, when they think it was written by a girl, they look at the big picture.

I'd guess that IQ is directly proportional to plasticity in autistics. So HFA's are able to learn on their own some things that are taught to LFA's in therapy, and "free-range" females may therefore be more likely to adopt behavior that is not typical of autism. This is by no means a good thing for males, because they may have more difficulties adapting as a result.


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Chronos
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13 Mar 2011, 3:00 pm

daydreamer84 wrote:
poppyfields wrote:
Poke wrote:
poppyfields wrote:
I don't believe in NVLD. The correspondence with AS is just too high.


You need a better understanding of the nature of these conditions and the points of view from which they're diagnosed.


I understand why NVLD is diagnosed, it is an educational diagnosis but I think diagnosing AS is much more helpful when one needs school support as NVLD won't be understood well by a lot of school systems.


I think that NVLD is very real...because I have it...I have a verbal IQ in the superior range and a performance (visual/perceptual) IQ in the borderline MR range. It occurs very often but not always in conjunction with AS. Interestingly in Hans Asperger's original sample 48% supposedly had VIQ>PIQ so the NVLD profile. Recent studies are very inconsistent in terms of the prevalence of NVLD in AS , some say close to 90% , some say no more than in the general population. I think that a lot of girls might get the NVLD diagnosis and their AS might be missed until later. This happened to me even though I was rated as "in the clinical range" on "social problems/withdrawn" and "odd/eccentric" behavior since kindergarten" by my mom and teachers and my repetitive behaviors were very salient and noted by every teacher I had. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 13.

Schools and pysch's should be more aware of AS and its expression in girls. However NVLD can cause a lot of problems with understanding things like geometry and place value in school...and cause children to lose motivation for learning...... so it needs to be acknowledged and diagnosed too. NVLD is not currently listed in the DSM but it should be!


NVLD and AS deviate from eachother because of the way AS has criteria has been defined in modern diagnostic literature, which does not involve all of the characteristics Hans Asperger observed. If Hans Asperger wrote the diagnostic criteria himself, it would likely include poor motor skills and a high verbal IQ

By following modern diagnostic criteria, one is likely diagnosing people with AS who do not meet the profile Hans Asperger initially observed. That is not to say that they do not have issues. though.



Verdandi
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13 Mar 2011, 3:12 pm

I read an article that suggested that AS is diagnosed by psychologists and NVLD by neurologists. Which is to say, it proposed that both are the same thing diagnosed in different ways.

I can't find it again, and I wouldn't swear to how convincing it was.