Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Aspie girls

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We know that children with Asperger’s Syndrome elicit from others, either strong maternal or ‘predatory’ behaviour. If the person’s natural peer group is girls, they are more likely to be supported and included by a greater majority of their peers. Thus girls with Asperger’s Syndrome are often ‘mothered’ by other girls. They may prompt the child when they are unsure what to do or say in social situations and comfort them when they are distressed. In contrast, boys are notorious for their intolerance of children who are different and are more prone to be ‘predatory’.

I was never really mothered by my peers, but I was accepted by the other girls at junior school and never really got into fights with them. I just tagged along quietly. The boys were predatory towards me. They did bully me. At secondary school things changed – girls start getting bitchy as they become teenagers, and that’s how I ended up a loner.

The fun came from setting up and arranging things. Maybe this desire to organise things rather than play with things, is the reason I never had a great interest in my peers. They always wanted to use the things I had so carefully arranged. They would want to rearrange and redo. They did not let me control the environment.

When involved with solitary play with dolls, the girl with Asperger’s Syndrome has total control and can script and direct the play without interference and having to accept outcomes suggested by others. The script and actions can be an almost perfect reproduction of a real event or scene from a book or film. While the special interest in collecting and playing with dolls can be assumed to be an age appropriate activity and not indicative of psychopathology, the dominance and intensity of the interest is unusual. 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. This quality can be misinterpreted as evidence of hallucinations and delusions and a diagnostic assessment for schizophrenia rather than Asperger’s Syndrome.

I didn’t play with dolls, I played with My Little Ponies. My sister and I had huge collections. We did do a lot of organising when we played. Our favourite games included ‘finding the right mummy for our new baby pony’ and ‘reorganising ponyland’. It wasn’t really about control, it was about categorising and systemising.

[T]he author has noted that some ladies with Asperger’s Syndrome can be unusual in their tone of voice. Their tone resembles a much younger person, having an almost child like quality. Many are concerned about the physiological changes during puberty and prefer to maintain the characteristics of childhood.

I used to speak in a childish voice all the time to my long-suffering partner. With me at least, it has nothing to do with puberty – though I didn’t particularly want to go through puberty. It’s a way of bypassing shyness or showing deference. I only know of two other girls who do this. One is my sister. The other is a female programmer I used to work with who I’m pretty sure was somewhere on the spectrum. She rarely talked in anything BUT a childish voice.

As with boys with Asperger’s Syndrome, they may see no value in being fashionable, preferring practical clothing and not using cosmetics or deodorants. This latter characteristic can be quite conspicuous.

That was me. I had no fashion sense whatsoever and I always wore awful clothes. I thought fashion, celebrities, pop music, gossip, makeup, were all shallow. Since then I’ve learned what a good way fashion is of ‘passing’ as normal and fitting in. I’ve even come to enjoy reading gossip magazines as a way to relax, and the aesthetics of nice clothes.

Some individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome can be quite ingenious in using imitation and modelling to camouflage their difficulties in social situations. 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. This is illustrated in Liane Holliday-Willeys intriguing new autobiography, titled, “Pretending to be Normal”.

I was oblivious to the possibilities until I was in my late teens. Then I went through a phase where I came out of my shell at University. This involved me developing a close relationship with a girl on a fashion course. I emulated her style and she dropped hints that I was copying her, but she didn’t seem to mind. Under her influence I started using makeup and dyed my hair red (and pink for a while!). She did bitch and laugh about me behind my back though.

I still don’t wear makeup today – even before I developed eczema, I still hated the disgusting ‘dirty’ sensation of it on my skin.

The most popular special interests of boys with Asperger’s Syndrome are types of transport, specialist areas of science and electronics, particularly computers. It has now become a more common reaction of clinicians to consider whether a boy with an encyclopaedic knowledge in these areas has Asperger’s Syndrome. Girls with Asperger’s Syndrome can be interested in the same topics but clinical experience suggests their special interest can be animals and classic literature. These interests are not typically associated with boys with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Loves animals – check. Loves literature – check. I prefer science fiction and fantasy though!

The interest in animals can be focussed on horses or native animals and this characteristic dismissed as simply typical of young girls. However, the intensity and qualitative aspects of the interest are unusual.

My sister is obsessed with horses. I’m more of a dog person. But put me in front of any animal and I’ll usually squawk and squeal in delight. I feel a great deal of empathy for animals. A lot more than for humans – I always found most humans rather horrible, alien, and hurtful, so I’ve never had a huge amount of empathy for them.

Teenage girls with Asperger’s Syndrome can also develop a fascination with classic literature such as the plays of Shakespeare and poetry. Both have an intrinsic rhythm that they find entrancing and some develop their writing skills and fascination with words to become a successful author, poet or academic in English literature. Some adults with Asperger’s Syndrome are now examining the works of famous authors for indications of the unusual perception and reasoning associated with Asperger’s Syndrome. One example is the short story, “Cold” in “Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice” by A.S. Byatt.

I’m ashamed to say I really was fascinated with Shakespearean sonnets when I was a teenager. I used to memorise literary quotes to pass time on the bus. And I am most definitely a writer. The fact that writing talent is noted in Asperger’s girls is a big confirmation for me.

The Pattern of Abilities and Development of Girls with Asperger’s Syndrome

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Written by alienrobotgirl

8 February, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Asperger's Syndrome

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  1. I’m another girl who speaks in a childish voice sometimes. Its actually nice to hear that i’m not the only one. Its a good way of telling how aspie or reactive i’m feeling. My aspie partner can exhibit this behaviour very occassionally.And yes I was a My Little Pony organizer too. 🙂 However it was the Sylvanian Families that really showed up aspergers – I was obsessed with producing exact replicars of the pictures on the box, never imaginative play. To this day I still love following instructions/replicating in a perfectionist manner.I wanted to be a vet when I was younger.

    elena

    10 February, 2008 at 1:01 pm

  2. Thank you so much for directing me to this posting. It is bringing back my childhood and it is helping to see that a lot of my “strange fixating” behaviors are nothing more than indicative of a tendency to systemize.

    I *love* animals, my thing was (and is) cats. I remember being like 7, and feeling just pure euphoria when I checked out all these books about different types of cats, as well as the growth and development of cats. Although I did get quite into dogs as a child too when we adopted a homeless one… I have this photographic memory of a poster I bought which listed all the breeds of dogs with their names below the picture. Swoon. It’s this wonderful calm-euphoric feeling that comes from it. Some of my best memories involve learning more about hobbies of mine. If I find nursing too socially distressing/disorganizing I might consider going to be a vet tech actually, lol.

    I was never really big on literature though. I’ve always been visual-artistic. From the earliest age my favorite toys were building blocks, models and puzzles; anything that can be assembled, especially things involving pictures. I’ve always tended to form collections of things. To this day I do, my ipod is ridiculously organized with a system that is very meaningful to me. It’s a very distressing feeling when something is out of order (like a stray song, or the title not capitalized correctly, or no artwork etc).

    Out of curiosity, by childish voice, do you mean pitch or more language? Me and my sister actually speak in babyish voices all the time. I never considered my sister to be autistic though at all, but she does have major issues with the concept of adulthood probably for unrelated reasons.

    itsthewooo

    29 September, 2008 at 4:35 am

  3. > Out of curiosity, by childish voice, do you mean pitch or more language?

    A bit of both – mainly mimicking the tone of a small child and acting “cute”.

    alienrobotgirl

    10 November, 2008 at 6:45 pm

  4. I’ve always talked in a higher pitch than is natural for my voice. I don’t understand the “afraid to grow up” explanation of that. For me it is very much a strategy for seeming non-threatening. There are a lot of things about my public appearance I can’t really control, like my posture and gait, and inevitable social faux pas. But I have a theory that people are more tolerant of weird+harmless than they are of just weird. So I try to appear as harmless as possible. It seems to work. I was never bullied in school or anywhere else. And I certainly attract friendly/motherly/protective people, wherever I happen to live.

    I only had one My Little Pony. Not enough to organize. But I had a lot of Barbies. I didn’t organize them exactly. But “playing” with them was heavily skewed toward making new clothing for them and building them furniture… and I did this even into my teenage years. I think it looked more creative than weird to my family. When I got “too old” to play with my own Barbies, I switched to using them as dressmakers’ dummies and making dresses for my younger acquaintances’ dolls instead.

    Makeup=eww! I don’t own any.

    methylethyl

    29 May, 2009 at 2:43 pm


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