Educational magazine article about autistic and Aspie girls

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Woodpeace
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24 Apr 2009, 1:08 pm

This article: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6012347 .

It states that a recent study of 600 British children found that "girls with higher functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome tend to behave very differently than boys with the same condition, trying to mask their difficulties by copying the behaviour and speech of others. Girls also appear to focus their obsessions on individuals or animals, while boys are more likely to fixate on objects such as traffic lights, timetables and characters, such as Thomas the Tank Engine. "

"Experts also suggest that girls with autistic spectrum disorders may experience more difficulties than boys in socialising and adjusting to puberty." Girls are less likely than boys to express their difficulties through aggressive behaviour. "Instead girls with Asperger's syndrome may seem extremely shy or withdrawn, sometimes becoming depressed or anorexic. "

Nicky Clarke has two daughters on the autistic spectrum. "Her 12-year-old daughter Emily, who has classic autism, was diagnosed at the age of three over a period of six weeks, but it took 18 months to reach a decision about her elder daughter, by which time she was almost 11. Lizzy, now 15, has Asperger's syndrome. "

"'While Emily has no spoken language and was fixated on particular objects, Lizzy was very verbal, forward and confident', Mrs Clarke recalls."

"American research indicates that teenage girls tend to develop intricate social networks in which feelings play a crucial part. As a result, girls with autistic spectrum disorders in mainstream schools find it harder to join in, while boys are often able to forge links with their peer group simply through playing computer games or football."

Autistic and Aspie girls don't have the social skills to make friends, though they want to. As a result they become victims of subtle forms of bullying from other girls, such as gossiping, spreading rumours or exclusion from the group. "Ultimately, social rejection may spiral into depression."

"One survival mechanism used by girls may be to keep quiet so as not to draw attention to themselves. The problem is that girls also become reluctant to ask for help."

Because Lizzy was badly bullied at secondary school her parents decided to send her to a small independent school.

Mrs Clarke said that at that secondary school '"the pressure to conform socially was [...] stressful. The other girls were more interested in boys, fashion and music than Lizzy. They would mimic her, call her names or run away from her in the playground, and she would leave school in tears every day.'"

"Very bright teenagers with Asperger's syndrome sometimes seem arrogant or domineering as they have no idea of social hierachy. "

"After taking part in Dustbin Baby, a recent adaptation of Jacqueline Wilson's teen novel [...] Lizzy now thinks she would like to become an actress."



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24 Apr 2009, 1:12 pm

The whole thing about girl Aspies focusing their special interests on individuals doesn't apply to me if characters aren't included. Other than a few key special interests, almost all of mine have focused on a specific character in a movie or TV show. The special interest really can be defined in terms of the character, rather than the show as a whole, I'd say, because I get captivated by the character and that makes me obsessed with the TV show/movie. The only TV show/movie special interest that is an exception to this is I Love Lucy, which is one of my biggest special interests. I like all of the four main characters on there and focus on the show as a whole.
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24 Apr 2009, 1:38 pm

I am glad they did this study, the truth is its a long time in coming. It seems like there is a big decrepancy in the actual manifestation of ASDs in girls.



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24 Apr 2009, 1:45 pm

Thanks Woodpeace, excellent article. Worth the read of the original, too.

The analysis is of interest; in particular the potential long term outcomes.

I have had the good fortune to know two women with AS on a professional basis.

Both had an awkward social development.
Both became quite excellent physicians.
Both have selected specialties out of the typical and ordinary.
Both are "superathletes" and uncompromisingly "superfit."
Both intimidate the average chap. :D
Both have in their professional years elected to maintain somewhat restricted and exclusive social interactions.

.


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24 Apr 2009, 2:13 pm

I can relate to nearly all of that article, especially the part where it says that boys' social problems appear when they are very young girls' social problems appear more in early adolescence, which has been the case for me. I used to be really outgoing before the age of 12ish but then I suddenlly went really withdrawn and intorverted, and it's getting worse by the second.


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24 Apr 2009, 3:26 pm

That completely describes me. I don't remember being shy at all as a very young child, but at secondary school I was so painfully shy that I would barely speak. But because I did well academically, noone ever realised there was a problem (even I just thought the problem was being shy and unconfident) And the depression and the anorexia came later. I'm still not diagnosed - 2 major depressive episodes and each time no diagnosis of anything.



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24 Apr 2009, 4:06 pm

Funny, I had the hardest time in Elementary School, especially socially. I remember the enormous confusion of my childhood was one of the worst things to deal with.

As a teenager, it was off and on for me. I had more friends than in Elementary School, but the people I hung out with weren´t at all like the girls the article described. To be honest, I lived in a small town with a college and a university- i.e., lots of professors and their children- and I think some of my friends in adolescence were quite AS-like. I also remember specifically that a basic intellectual knowledge of social situations- which I did not have at all in early childhood- helped a bit here too. I do remember having trouble, however, (like the article stated), with the physical changes of adolescence, as well as the depression and strong emotions....(and yes, everybody chalked it up to "hormones").

I wonder if girls also tend to study- as special interests- those subjects that will help them socially, like psychology, communication or books that break down social relationships. I know I did this quite a lot, and I think it was a reaction to the pressure put on me (and all girls) to "be good socially"; (whereas boys don´t have this pressure so much). I´m sure all that social studying helped me to mask some problems too.


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24 Apr 2009, 6:54 pm

Frankly, I think this is short sighted, biased, and shows little thought!


article wrote:
This article: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6012347 .

It states that a recent study of 600 British children found that "girls with higher functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome tend to behave very differently than boys with the same condition


DUH! Maybe THAT is why they are called boys and girls! They are DIFFERENT!

article wrote:
, trying to mask their difficulties by copying the behaviour and speech of others.


Boys do also!

article wrote:
Girls also appear to focus their obsessions on individuals or animals, while boys are more likely to fixate on objects such as traffic lights, timetables and characters, such as Thomas the Tank Engine. "


And what about BEFORE such things? Frankly, some boys HAVE been obsessed with animals! And many now(like I am) are obsessed with tecnology!

article wrote:
Experts also suggest that girls with autistic spectrum disorders may experience more difficulties than boys in socialising and adjusting to puberty.


WOW, and so many others say the opposite. Boys don't have an easy time. If they had an easy time socializing, could they REALLY be autistic?

article wrote:
Girls are less likely than boys to express their difficulties through aggressive behaviour.


DUH! Boys as a group are more aggressive. I'm not, but many ARE!

article wrote:
Instead girls with Asperger's syndrome may seem extremely shy or withdrawn, sometimes becoming depressed or anorexic.


AGAIN, I, like many autistic males, have been shy and depressed.


article wrote:
American research indicates that teenage girls tend to develop intricate social networks in which feelings play a crucial part. As a result, girls with autistic spectrum disorders in mainstream schools find it harder to join in, while boys are often able to forge links with their peer group simply through playing computer games or football.


Actually, it seems a number of autistic males have similar problems to me! Football and some other things are OUT! And we didn't have any appreciable "computer games" when I was a kid! Realize that I started school before Pong was even invented! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pong I was in school BEFORE Atari, Apple, or Microsoft were even started! A little company started a while after I was born, and didn't create their most famous product, or even it's INDUSTRY until I was a bit into school. Their name? INTEL! That product? The Micro processor unit. FORGET IBM! They didn't come out with, or even CONSIDER the microcomputer until I was almost DONE with school! To put this into perspective, They used the GREAT grand son of that first product that INTEL made after I was in gradeschool. That processor wasn't even released until I was almost out of school.

So I guess all THAT was out ALSO!

article wrote:
Autistic and Aspie girls don't have the social skills to make friends, though they want to. As a result they become victims of subtle forms of bullying from other girls, such as gossiping, spreading rumours or exclusion from the group. "Ultimately, social rejection may spiral into depression."


AGAIN, boys have the SAME problems!

article wrote:
One survival mechanism used by girls may be to keep quiet so as not to draw attention to themselves. The problem is that girls also become reluctant to ask for help."


SAME with boys!

article wrote:
Very bright teenagers with Asperger's syndrome sometimes seem arrogant or domineering as they have no idea of social hierachy.


Kind of an ARROGANT way of interpreting that!

If people want to talk about sexual differences, they can at least do it in a reasonable and truthful manner. It is SICK that such a person would be called an expert!



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24 Apr 2009, 7:17 pm

Hmm I think the generalization that all aspie girls are "shy" is an interesting one, because according to my experiences it's false. I have happened to meet quite a few aspie girls in my life, and they seem to come mostly under two general categories;

The generalized "shy" type

The loud-mouth self assertive type. This type never seems to be mentioned, and yet (alongside myself) I have met not one, but possibly two, other aspie girls I would categorize under this type. I would like to see more research done into aspie girls like this - because we come with our own set of problems and differences, and frankly, I can't relate at all to the current aspie girl construct of a shy girl who imitates the expressions of other groups of girls to fit in. I have never fit in or managed to blend in with a group of girls, and tend to stand out like a sore thumb. I certainly rarely if ever manage to blend in with the crowd.


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24 Apr 2009, 7:30 pm

2ukenkerl wrote:

article wrote:
Experts also suggest that girls with autistic spectrum disorders may experience more difficulties than boys in socialising and adjusting to puberty.


WOW, and so many others say the opposite. Boys don't have an easy time. If they had an easy time socializing, could they REALLY be autistic?



Everything is different for each individual. Being socially awkward is just one of the criterias - and it is relative:

Maby you noticed one of the questions on the Aspie quiss that said: "Do you find it easier to understand and communicate with odd & unusual people than with ordinary people? ".

Example: if i hang around with musicians, coders, Startrek fans or Fallout 3 players - i would have it VERY easy to socialise. But i cannot socialise as easy with golf players, hockey/soccer fans, country/western listeners or people who like dancing.


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24 Apr 2009, 7:32 pm

I got fixated on characters when I was growing up but not obsessed with objects but my mother told my I was obsessed with my Barbies when I was little.



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24 Apr 2009, 8:42 pm

Ichinin wrote:
2ukenkerl wrote:

article wrote:
Experts also suggest that girls with autistic spectrum disorders may experience more difficulties than boys in socialising and adjusting to puberty.


WOW, and so many others say the opposite. Boys don't have an easy time. If they had an easy time socializing, could they REALLY be autistic?



Everything is different for each individual. Being socially awkward is just one of the criterias - and it is relative:

Maby you noticed one of the questions on the Aspie quiss that said: "Do you find it easier to understand and communicate with odd & unusual people than with ordinary people? ".

Example: if i hang around with musicians, coders, Startrek fans or Fallout 3 players - i would have it VERY easy to socialise. But i cannot socialise as easy with golf players, hockey/soccer fans, country/western listeners or people who like dancing.


But that IS different. Many cults deal with loaner types, but people in the cult communicate, etc....



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24 Apr 2009, 8:52 pm

I guess my older sister is more like boys. She had a hard time in elementary but things got bet better when she got into adolescence, even when she got placed into a nastier crowd - where it got simply worse for me.


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24 Apr 2009, 9:52 pm

Quote:
"Instead girls with Asperger's syndrome may seem extremely shy or withdrawn, sometimes becoming depressed or anorexic. "

"... while boys are often able to forge links with their peer group simply through playing computer games or football."

"Very bright teenagers with Asperger's syndrome sometimes seem arrogant or domineering as they have no idea of social hierachy."


All of which describe me, so the gender stereotypes don't always apply, or if they do, it doesn't have to be clear-cut. I was of the Classic Autism make too.

I was never aggressive.



bicentennialman
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24 Apr 2009, 10:11 pm

Yeah; there was a thread about this in one of the other forums. I posted that the description of how girls tend to deal with Asperger's-- by withdrawing and being quiet-- describes me very well. (I think that's one of the reasons why my AS went unknown for so long; I was able to hide by being shy and quiet. When I had difficulty doing things, I just assumed it had to be because I was lazy and got down on myself.)

And I'm a boy. You really can't lump people together and say that all boys act the same, or all girls act the same. In the other thread, there were girls saying that the "boys with AS" description fit them, and there were other boys posting that the "girls with AS" fit them. (Which made me feel not as unusual.)

So I'm very glad they are finally realizing that different people can deal with having Asperger's in very different ways, but they're still being way too simplistic if they are just saying "boys act this way, and girls act this way."



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24 Apr 2009, 10:49 pm

This article is hogwash.