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Total posts: [74]
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Differences between male and female autism:

This tiny forest is where all the action is!
I am getting more and more convinced that the "boys have autism more than girls, and when girls have it, their form is more severe" thing is not true. There's starting to be more studies on females with high-functioning autism/Aspergers. I've even realized, looking back, that some of my ex-high school classmates have it - one of them is very likely undiagnosed, and she shows so many signs of it that she's gotta have it, while at the same time, I can also see why she'd be undiagnosed.

The idea is that females are far better at faking fitting in, and mimicking other people's behaviors and speech patterns, while at the same time their condition makes it hard for them to actually connect on a personal level and truly understand why other people do what they do exactly. They are more likely to have friends in high school but lose them afterwards.

Aspergers is finally being diagnosed more in females, and they're finding that many of them have done things like assume different "roles" to try to fit in - one example given was a woman who joined a biker gang, a conservative church, and a traveling circus, all while looking for a place where she "belonged".

Now when I look up "female Aspergers" or "female autism", I'm finding both articles (even recent ones) that parrot the whole "boys have it more than girls, with girls who have it more likely to be low-functioning", and (a smaller number of) articles that present the more recent discovery that high-functioning girls usually go undiagnosed - thus presenting the illusion that girls are more likely to be low-functioning, when it may be more like low-functioning girls are easier to spot. Adding to this new hypothesis is that low-functioning boys and low-functioning girls that have been diagnosed are about equal in number, whereas high-functioning boys overwhelmingly outnumber high-functioning girls that have been diagnosed. Better diagnosis is starting to come.

What do you think?
 2 Yam, Sat, 1st Mar '14 5:04:44 PM Relationship Status: Less than three
I wonder if to some degree people think that autistic women are just waiting for a movie plot to make them fit in; like they are " a strong woman that doesn't understand emotions until she is in a relationship" kind of deal or possibly the "socially clueless nerd who just needs a makeover" archetype.

Men have their own plots of them fixing their social issues without seeking professional help as well, but the number of storylines men get compared to women probably depletes the stereotype some.

I've only met one autistic girl, wasn't sure how to get over my shyness to talk to her since she was loud and irritated a lot of the time, which is something I grown used to as I matured, so maybe the adult world is less lonely for her. At least I hope so.

 3 De Marquis, Sat, 1st Mar '14 5:56:55 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
I found this study. It is quite difficult to read, but it seems to cover all the issues. From the abstract:

"...The severity of childhood core autism symptoms did not differ between the sexes. Males and females also did not differ in self-reported empathy, systemizing, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive traits/symptoms or mentalizing performance. However, adult females with ASC showed more lifetime sensory symptoms (p = 0.036), fewer current socio-communication difficulties (p = 0.001), and more self-reported autistic traits (p = 0.012) than males..."

What they seem to be saying is that gender differences which typically appear in cognitively mainstream populations disappear between males and females who have high functioning autism, the implication of which is that females with HFA are more like males behaviorally than females without the condition. And yet they report more symptoms and nevertheless have fewer communication problems.

My take on that is that the kind of socialization that girls tend to get in Western society simulataneously makes them more aware of their symptoms and helps support them in spite of it.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 4 Antiteilchen, Sat, 1st Mar '14 7:28:29 PM from inside a tank
HFA girls might just go undetected because girls are "supposed" to be passive and more peaceful. A boy who is like that sticks out for not adhering to gender norms but a girl doesn't.

What they seem to be saying is that gender differences which typically appear in cognitively mainstream populations disappear between males and females who have high functioning autism, the implication of which is that females with HFA are more like males behaviorally than females without the condition.
HFA's of both genders don't adhere as strictly to societal gender norms and are more androgynous as a result, I think. Since girls have a wider range of acceptable behaviour (tomboys are more accepted than sissy-boys) the boys stick out more.

 5 De Marquis, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 5:37:04 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
I take it that you are not a proponent of the "the extreme male brain theory" of HFA?
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Euo will do!
[up]If that were the case, lesbianism and trans issues would be the norm in autistic females. It isn't. <shrugs>

Heck, it's close to saying "trans and homosexual issues are people with varying degrees of autism". <_< Which is many stripes of so unproven.

edited 2nd Mar '14 7:15:34 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
 7 shimaspawn, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 7:55:19 AM from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
[up] Wrong. There is a wide gulf between 'does not conform to regional gender stereotypes' and is 'lgbt'. One does not always go hand in hand with the other. In fact, it frequently doesn't.
Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

-Philip K. Dick
 8 Antiteilchen, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 7:56:09 AM from inside a tank
I have problems with assigning specific tasks as "male" or "female" to beginn with. I'm not sure all the statistical brain differences between males and females that are measured are of biological origin.

 9 De Marquis, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 8:03:54 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
No one thinks all of them are, but some of them are nearly universal, so far as anyone can tell, and seem to have origins in the neural functioning of the brain.

Also, no one claimed that sexual orientation is affected by HRA. That's a completely different set of traits.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Is there any research on how autism affects transsexuals? Saying autism is an extreme form of the male brain isn't the same as saying all transsexuals are either lacking or having it, as they don't have to be extreme. Though I don't know how much backing the theory has, apart from the higher measured instances of autism in males which is the claim that is being explained differently here. The point about lesbiasm is completely off here, as sexual orientation is completely different from gender identity.
 
 11 Antiteilchen, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 8:16:49 AM from inside a tank
There's also the point that HF As are not really that "masculine" as understood in most societies. As I said, that's why HFA males are spotted more easily.

Even if HF As were closer to the average male brain doesn't mean they have extreme male brains. Women are statistically smaller than men. That doesn't mean that men and women who have dwarfism have extreme female bodies.

edited 2nd Mar '14 8:17:58 AM by Antiteilchen

 12 De Marquis, Sun, 2nd Mar '14 8:30:38 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Right, "masculinity" isnt the issue, certain brain-based gender differences are. According to the article "...The absence of typical sex differences in empathizing-systemizing profiles within the autism spectrum confirms a prediction from the extreme male brain theory."

According to the other wiki:

"The empathizing–systemizing (E-S) theory suggests that people may be classified on the basis of their scores along two dimensions: empathizing (E) and systemizing (S). It measures a person's strength of interest in empathy (the ability to identify and understand the thoughts and feelings of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions); and a person's strength of interest in systems (in terms of the drive to analyse or construct them). A system is anything that follows rules. Key classes of systems including mechanical systems, natural systems, abstract systems, and collectible systems. Rules in turn are defined as repeating, lawful patterns. to the other Wiki."

In other words, they are suggesting that females with HRA are more interested in rule-based physical systems than they are in inter-personal relationships or emotional states.

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
This tiny forest is where all the action is!
I'd read that females on the spectrum are often mistaken for being snobbish and stuck up due to not participating in office small talk. Societal expectations lead them to misinterpreting normal Aspie behavior as something else.

And when you have someone who can't make eye contact or facial expressions just right, people get creeped out by that individual or think that they're being rude on purpose or whatever.
 14 De Marquis, Mon, 3rd Mar '14 1:22:04 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
That happens to boys, too.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
This tiny forest is where all the action is!
Yes, but females are better at learning how to look "normal". It's a difference that shows up even in infancy - they look at the human face more than boys do.

Thus a woman on the high-functioning end of the spectrum will be less likely to be ostracized for "looking funny", but will instead be likely to get it from not fitting into the conversation well.
This tiny forest is where all the action is!
I'd like to see input from Aspies of both sexes. We've got a lot of them on this forum, although they may not have looked up the differences between the sexes themselves. But personal experiences can still be illuminating.
Welcome, traveller, welcome to Omsk
I'm a woman with Asperger's. I only got diagnosed very late in life (at age seventeen, I believe). And I certainly never learnt to pretend to fit in.

I'm not a medical expert, but my guess is that autistic and AS girls are a lot closer in number to boys with the same problems, they're just underrepresented in diagnosis.
It does not matter who I am. What matters is, who will you become? - motto of Omsk Bird
 18 Rainbow, Tue, 4th Mar '14 6:04:13 AM Relationship Status: Puppy love
Sailor Moon Fan
I am also a woman with Aspergers, who wasn't diagnosed until age 18 (during my first year of college). I definitely NEVER "learned to pretend to fit in, " in fact, as a teenager I would have looked down on the idea of trying to fake being "like everyone else' because before I knew I had Aspergers, I was "weird and proud of it." I have noticed that I was confused and annoyed when I read things that described how men and women typically talk and the ways that it described men as acting (like talking "at" people rather than "with" them and being the first to jump in with questions) were traits that I saw in myself.

However, I also come from a rather non-conformist, very liberal family who taught me my very strong feminist beliefs (which means to me being against stereotyping people into gender roles and striving for equal rights and treatment for both sexes) so that probably had an influence on the way I would have behaved as a teenager even if I didn't have Aspergers. It does mean that I was not pressured by my parents to be stereotypically feminine in the way that other girls would have been pressured by their parents, at least.

edited 4th Mar '14 6:06:37 AM by Rainbow

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 19 Aw Sam Weston, Tue, 4th Mar '14 7:45:59 AM from Minnesota Nice Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
I don't really have anything to add at the moment, but I'm an Aspie guy (diagnosed at age 11). If you have questions for me, ask. I've been watching the thread.

This tiny forest is where all the action is!
Have you ever thought of yourself as more a "human" than a male or female? When I was in elementary school, I remember wondering what it would be like if I was a girl.

I never felt particularly "masculine", but if female, I'd be considered a tomboy. I've seen Aspie women say similar things - they're considered tomboyish but if male, they'd be considered feminine.

Androgyny is said to be rather common.

However, I'm not a believer in the "gender as a social construct" idea, as biological differences in how the sexes act, even as babies, have been observed. Plus, the brain structure of autistics is said to have wiring that's similar to both sexes' wiring combined (male brains tend to have a lot of connections within the same hemisphere but not between; female brains tend to have a lot of connections between hemispheres; autistic brains are connected all over the place).
 21 Aw Sam Weston, Tue, 4th Mar '14 10:50:53 AM from Minnesota Nice Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
@Bonsai: Yeah, I've noticed I'm not nearly as masculine as other guys. I don't see the point in sports, for one. Just seems like ritualized combat. And we all know war is bad.

But to be fair, there are some female tendencies I still don't understand. "Putting on make-up" is a big one I question. Also "going to the bathroom in packs."

And yeah, I've pondered that same question ("what would I be like as a girl?") back in junior high and high school.

This tiny forest is where all the action is!
I too thought sports were stupid. Now, I can see that there's some good in it (there are people who have been inspired to improve their lives by way of sports stars they look up to, and there are people who have been helped by sports), but these things could have been done in other industries as well.

I think a lot of "manly" things are stupid. I don't relate to them, nor to "feminine" things like, as you said, putting on makeup. I always thought makeup, high heels, and stockings were stupid and/or ugly when I was a kid, and still do.
 23 Rainbow, Tue, 4th Mar '14 6:30:24 PM Relationship Status: Puppy love
Sailor Moon Fan
@Bonsai: I have a question. When you say that you don't believe in the "gender as a social construct" idea, do you mean that you believe that it's not the ONLY thing that causes behavioral differences between men and women, or do you mean that you believe that all gender differences are caused by biology and that social expectations have nothing to do with it at all? Because if it's the latter, then I would have to strongly disagree with you, as a feminist and as a former sociology major in college. You mention babies showing behavioral differences based on gender, but people tend to treat male and female babies differently, which could easily lead to teaching them to act in different ways very early on.

There may be some androgyny in the brains of people on the autism spectrum, but I think there's yet another reason autistic people might be less likely to conform to gender stereotypes than neurotypicals. This would be because people on the autism spectrum tend to be oblivious to social norms in general, and that would include gender role norms as well. However, the autistic tendency to be very literal and see rules as black and white could also lead to autistic people following gender roles MORE strictly, depending on the families they were raised in, so I could see it going both ways.

edited 4th Mar '14 6:32:26 PM by Rainbow

Pink Sugar Heart Attack!
This tiny forest is where all the action is!
I meant that I believe gender roles are a mixture of nature and nurture. Obliviousness, or even resistance later on, to gender "rules", can result in not following them. As a kid, I hated rules like "girls can hit boys but boys can't hit girls" (my mom opposed that rule). I just thought many of these ideas were just stupid when I learned of them. So I wasn't totally oblivious. I just didn't follow the rules, at least the ones that I didn't agree with and could get away with not following.
This tiny forest is where all the action is!
Check out the "autism" section on Google News. Right now, many articles are saying that girls are more resilient to autism, less likely to get it, due to differences in the brain.

I still wonder if this is true, or if it's still a matter of them being more likely to be high-functioning and not diagnosed. In other words, I think there's a very large undiagnosed chunk of females out there. I've met a number who show obvious Aspergers traits but are unaware that they have it.

edited 5th Mar '14 8:28:56 AM by BonsaiForest

Total posts: 74
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