Does the different presentation of Asperger syndrome in girls affect their problem areas and chances of diagnosis and support?

Elizabeth Hughes


I do not suggest that it is only girls with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) who go undiagnosed and unsupported. But it was becoming involved with a family friend, and others driven to distraction trying to get their daughters' needs recognised, that motivated me to reconsider the purported ratio of between eight and ten boys with AS to every girl and to examine whether the professionals' perceptions of what AS “looks like” are too narrow, and the diagnostic tools too male-centric. To achieve this I have reviewed autism theory, considered how and why girls present differently, discussed the specific problem areas faced by girls with AS, and issues around diagnosis of girls. In addition, I undertook a survey of women with autism to ascertain their experiences of seeking diagnosis and support. I conclude with a list of 30 alternative diagnoses given to females subsequently diagnosed with autism, and various quotations that highlight the difficulties these women faced.


Asperger syndrome; autism; diagnosis; support


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