HOW ARE WOMEN WITH ASPERGER’S DIFFERENT FROM MEN WITH ASPERGER’S?

he answer to this question is straightforward. Women who have Asperger’s are different, not in the core characteristics of the condition, but in how they react to it.

Women tend to mask their social and communication difficulties in specific ways that are different from men. As a result, women are often under-diagnosed and/or diagnosed with a different condition. In either case, many women struggle to cope with the challenges of Asperger’s without the benefit of needed, sometimes necessary, resources and support.

Let me explain.

Beginning with the original studies of Hans Asperger, for whom the syndrome was named, boys and men have made up a very large proportion of cases identified with Asperger’s syndrome, largely because communicating and interacting socially is typically more challenging for males than it is for females. In fact, Asperger’s is four times more common in males than in females.

Consequently, the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s and the instruments used to detect it are based almost entirely on data from studies of males. Women, then, either fall out of the parameters of Asperger’s and thus are not diagnosed or, as is typically the case, are diagnosed with something else, often with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anorexia.

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