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The Misdiagnosis and Non-Diagnosis of Females with Asperger’s

Many, if not most, females with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism “slip through the net” (i.e., go undiagnosed) because they camouflage their symptoms quite well. Often times, their difficulties are ignored and misunderstood. 

In addition, many of these women report having experienced one or more mental health issues (e.g., anxiety, depression, eating disorder) and have stated that mental health professionals treating them had not noticed that their symptoms could be related to Asperger’s or HFA.

Here are direct quotes from a few women on the autism spectrum:

• 5 years of depression and anxiety treatment, years of talk therapy, and not once did any therapist suggest I had anything other than depression.

• I went to my doctor for depression and got diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, which is completely opposite to what I am. 

• The reward for trying hard to be ‘normal’ was to be ignored. I read stories of children who are going off the rails, and I think: ‘I should have been more of a trouble-maker’. 

• Had I known about Asperger’s, I think I would have known that I’m more gullible - and I might not have ended up in the circumstances that I did. 

• A lot of my problems came about with my friends having other friends that I didn’t like or I didn’t get on with. I didn’t really want to share my friends.

• I don’t sense danger. Me not reading people to be able to tell if they’re being creepy, I was so desperate for friends and relationships that if someone showed an interest in me, I kind of went with it and tended not to learn from others’ safety skills.

• I feel pressured by society to have sex with my boyfriend because you get told this is what is expected of you to make to be a good girlfriend - and you think, ‘if I don’t do it, then I am not fulfilling my duties’.

• I robotically mimic what other people are doing, what they are saying, how they say things. Once I went to Girl Scout camp, and I would come back with strong accents. But I can’t consciously adopt an accent. My way of coping is that I mimic.

• I practiced something of a persona which was kind of cheerful and vivacious, because I had nothing to say other than adult novels. So, I cultivated a fake image.

• I honestly didn’t know I was doing ‘social mimicry’ until I was diagnosed. But when I read about it, it made perfect sense. I copy certain body language and speech patterns.

• I just feel so much more comfortable with men because they’re more, you can take them

• When you’re a child with AS, you don’t realize that you’re anxious and depressed. It feels familiar. If my parents had helped me from earlier on, then life would’ve been a whole lot easier - but they had no idea what was going on because I hid my feelings.

• I was often accused of being rude when I had absolutely no intention of being so. My 5th grade teacher told me I wasn’t trying and that I was a waste of her time.

•  I was very defiant with my mom, but had perfect conduct at school.

• I’ll always remember my teacher saying, “You’re too good at Math to be autistic.”

• I’ll mask if I act weird, which is typical of AS. I’ll make a joke about it.

• It’s very exhausting trying to figure out everything all the time. Everything is more like on a manual – you’ve got to use one of those computers where you have to type every command in.

•  Not knowing what was expected of me, not being able to pick up on when to provide support or how often to get in touch, this was my greatest source of stress.

• When I was being bullied, I was told not to antagonize these girls - and actually I was only antagonizing them by being myself.

==> Living with an Aspergers Partner: Help for Struggling Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA
 

8 comments:

  1. Getting eval in November. My 9yr is HFA and it's made me wonder if I am. So much of this is me. I mask everything in sarcasm, social cues and how to stay connected with people are over my head most days, and I turn into a hermit when I get too much going crazy around here.

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  2. My son was diagnosed at 10 and through his diagnosis I've realized that his now 28 yr old sister has the same. Wish I'd have known then 😞

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  3. I swear I am. I have a son who is nine and he is an aspie and my whole life I wondered what it would be like to have a group of friends. I was always bullied and resorted to sarcasm which makes me more of a friend canidate for men. Which is alot to handle growing up. Now I talk to girls weather they like me or not. I feel comfortable in my skin and understand the way I think better. Still miss the feeling that I see with a group of close friends. But I am a good momma and they are my life now��

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  4. I was diagnosed again today, I guess 3 times is a charm. I am 60, I did my Military (15yrs) Service quiet and unnoticed. I watched people take credit for my work and never spoke up for myself. My 29yr old Daughter was diagnosed also on the same day as my Grandson. When I struggle, people imply that I am rude and/or stupid, I am neither. I am more like an empath and as such I am a dumping ground. I am lonely in a crowd, people seem to be so trivial, their subjects are void of substance. I have started a micro garden, plants don't require what humans do and they listen and never interupt. In discussing this with one of my Sisters I learned that she has two Grandsons with Aspberger's and so does another Sister. This can't be a coincidence, but none of the girls have been diagnosed ...... I feel that this may be a problem as well. I have struggled to be "normal", I guess that is the mimicry, the truth is that I rarely "get" what is going on around me. Overall, people just annoy me, I am lonely, I am eccentric (so I am told) and just need to find a way of sorting this out, maybe it is too late, maybe this is not so bad ....... There is nothing wrong with us, my guess is that as with every thing in life so goes Asperger's, there is no one fit.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, feel the loneliness too. I find that people don't want me around, don't like me and only want what they can get from me. 52yrs and the pain of it all is getting worse.

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  5. From age 15 to 55 saw a total of 17 mental health professionals, some only once and some for years and always received the same diagnosis--depressed. Hey, don't put any effort into it, folks: white, middle-class and female = depressed. Of course I was depressed--no one heard what I was trying to tell them! I finally diagnosed myself at 59 and found someone who was an expert on autism to confirm it. Oh, and he had never met a female autistic, mere less an adult. I still haven't met anyone like me in person. Thank you to all the authors for the books! At least I now know I'm not alone.

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  6. Though I'm 61, I was "diagnosed" on the autism spectrum when a third-grader by a nun whose brother was autistic. She took special interest in me though she was certainly not an expert. She'd remind me to look in her eyes when speaking which I found horrifically difficult to do. Loud noises startled me - and still do. I was both shy and hostile in school. Many others bullied me, but I'd inevitably fight back.

    I've suffered horrible depression and anxiety my entire life. I'm weird and standoffish though I work in marketing. I have a rich imagination and indulge in magical thinking. I've learned to keep my thoughts on the subject to myself. Antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs did little or nothing to help.

    When I was raped at 22, a therapist said he thought I was bipolar. That was a crock. I'd taken enough psychology classes to know I didn't have cycles of mania and depression, merely depression. Everyone wants to put you in a box and define you. I have a great mistrust of people and I don't see that changing.

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  7. I can relate to this post because I feel like I mimic people a lot and can't think of what to say in a conversation. I feel anxious around others and I try to avoid it altogether. I struggle with anxiety and depression because it terrifies me to speak to people and carry on a conversation. I can figure out Math pretty well, but as far as reading and memory, I struggle. It is draining to keep this act going. I envy others that have a connection with others. The people I met and had a good connection in life with, usually took adavantage of my desperate need to find someone I could relate to. This comes natural to neurotypical people and I mask my personality all of the time. My daughter shows some of the same characteristics, which made me look closer at myself.

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