Asperger Syndrome in Females: An Underdiagnosed Population


Asperger syndrome (AS) is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) characterized by significant impairments in social interaction, and rigid, stereotypical, or repetitive behaviours that exist alongside normal language and cognitive skills (Fitzgerald & Corvin, 2001). Researchers often use the terms Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism interchangeably (Attwood, 2006), and so for the purposes of this paper, Asperger syndrome will encompass both diagnoses, and assume an IQ in the normal range, i.e., > 70. The ratio of males to females with AS is currently about 10:1, and on average, boys are referred ten times more often for diagnostic assessment (Wagner, 2006). Overall, the lack of knowledge about girls and women with AS is mirrored by a relatively small amount of empirical research dedicated to this population (Thompson, Caruso, & Ellerbeck, 2003). Much of the available literature includes clinical observations, case studies, and anecdotal evidence.

Some feel that the uneven gender ratio is a natural reflection of biological sex differences. Jones, Skinner, Friez, Schwartz, and Stevenson (2008) propose a sex-linked genetic cause, and argue that the single X chromosome in males is inherently vulnerable, creating a lower threshold of susceptibility to AS. Alternatively, Baron-Cohen and Wheelwright (2004) hypothesize that gender differences in brain specialization may explain the male-dominated ratio, and contend that while females are naturally better at empathizing, males tend to think in a systemizing way. They conceptualize Asperger syndrome as an extreme systemizing form of the normal male brain that may develop due to high levels of testosterone exposure in utero. The question arises, however, as to what extent sex differences are biological, or influenced by sociocultural factors.

In contrast to the researchers that find support for the current gender ratio, many believe it is inaccurate (e.g., Attwood, 2006; Rastam, 2008). Thompson et al. (2003) claim that a long-standing sex bias in AS research has resulted in diagnostic criteria too dependent on a male prototype, and point out that 80% of all ASD study samples have been male, on average. They suggest further that our present knowledge about ASD is actually knowledge about males with ASD. Nyden, Hjelmquist, and Gillberg (2000) highlight comparable issues in the diagnostic criteria for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), while Rastam (2008) parallels the development of criteria for clinical eating disorders, based largely on the signs and symptoms prevalent in females. Hully and Lamar (2006) suggest that overdependence on a male prototype means that traits in females must appear exaggerated for diagnosis. Ironically, researchers are finding it difficult to obtain samples on females that are large enough to allow for comparison by sex (Hartley & Sikora, 2009). This paper will explore how psychiatric disorders may mask AS in females, gender differences in phenotypic expression that can cause diagnostic confusion, and the attitudes and behaviour of others toward females with AS that can contribute to a missed diagnosis.

Several disorders have the potential to overshadow Asperger syndrome in females including depression, ADHD and Anorexia Nervosa (AN) (Hartley & Sikora, 2009; Rastam, 2008; Ryden & Bejolet, 2008). Researchers feel that the risk of misinterpreting signs and symptoms is strong, and could lead to misdiagnosis, or failure to recognize AS as the primary disorder (Cooper & Hanstock, 2009; Ryden & Bejolet, 2008). Hully and Lamar (2006) observed that as girls grow older, the presenting problem is less often associated with a developmental disorder, and stress that clinicians must take a detailed patient history to rule out AS in females. Accordingly, Ryden and Bejolet (2008) found that adult women with AS comprised a large portion of the psychiatric outpatients that they studied (39 females and 44 males), and speculate that many females do not receive an accurate diagnosis until they seek treatment for a comorbid disorder.

Although the gender ratio for childhood depression is 1:1 in the general population, by adolescence, females are three times more likely to receive a diagnosis of depression (Cooper & Hanstock, 2009). In fact, Ryden and Bejolet (2008) found a history of depression most often in patients that had not received a diagnosis of AS until adulthood. This could underscore a lack of awareness of how Asperger syndrome looks at different ages, and in females. Symptoms that often cause diagnostic confusion include a flat affect, minimal facial expressions, flat intonation in speech, irritability, and social isolation (Cooper & Hanstock, 2009). Hartley and Sikora (2009) found that girls with ASD, as young as 1.5 years of age, displayed an anxious or depressed affect more often, which lends support to this idea. In addition, Cooper and Hanstock (2009) discovered that Jane, initially referred for confirmation of a mood disorder, had a stable baseline mood over a long period. They concluded that failure to recognize significant social impairments, along with a flat affect and monotone voice, a number of school changes, and normal IQ and language skills, resulted in a misdiagnosis of depression.

Holtmann et al. (2007) found that females, across the entire sample that they studied, had significantly more attention difficulties than males, and similarly, Nyden et al. (2000) established that girls, aged 8 to 12 years, had greater impairment on the Freedom from Distractibility subscale than boys in the same age range. Greater attention difficulties in girls and women suggest that a misdiagnosis of ADHD may occur more often in this population. In accordance with this, Ryden and Bejolet (2008) assert that the lack of common sense and social disinhibition inherent in AS could be mistaken for impulsiveness, further increasing the likelihood of an incorrect ADHD diagnosis.

Ryden and Bejolet (2008) also discovered that adult female patients with Asperger syndrome scored higher on scales measuring borderline and passive aggressive traits, and mood instability, despite presenting with the same core AS features as males. Holtmann et al. (2007) uncovered a similar trend in their analysis of a matched subgroup of males and females.

Although core impairments were also equal in both genders, girls scored higher on scales measuring peer relationship impairments, social immaturity and dependency, as well as compulsive and bizarre behaviour, with older females scoring the highest. Similarly, Cooper and Hanstock (2009) found that Jane’s social impairments and deviance from her peers were more obvious as she grew older.

These findings suggest that if a clinician fails to notice a girl’s severe social difficulties in childhood, the result could be an incorrect diagnosis of BPD later on. Likewise, Ryden and Bejolet (2008) state that undetected AS might exist in a subgroup of older females diagnosed with BPD, which further emphasizes the importance of taking a detailed patient history when considering diagnosis. In addition, they stress that concepts of personality disorder and abnormal personality traits are difficult to separate in Asperger syndrome, and propose that a different model is needed to explain “odd personality” in this population.
Written by A. MacMillan

Asperger Syndrome – Grappling and Grasping

Artwork by Linzi Lynn

Something I’ve often noticed about the way Asperger’s Syndrome impacts on my life is the disparity that it creates between my inability to speak or talk smoothly and freely to people in real life, compared with my ability to express myself clearly in writing.

Believe it or not I regularly forget the words I want to use when I’m talking to people face to face.

They simply seem to just escape me.

Like birds that have flown their coop and no amount of trying can retrieve them.

In moments like these I find myself gasping for breath and completely lost, as my inner panic at not being able to find the right words, envelopes me.

More often than not I end up stuttering or just stopping, awkwardly, half way through a sentence.

Trapped in a suspended silence, gazing solemnly at the floor, while my mind continues grasping for that which can no longer be found.

I’m sure at such times I must come across as being an absolutely dim-witted ‘weirdo’.

I guess this is also the reason why most people are surprised to discover that I have two degree’s.

I bet they wonder exactly which cereal box I found my degree’s in.

It’s also why my family insist that I “could be doing so much more with my life….if only I wanted to”.

Hmmm…. Yes…. Right…. Because of course I want to be completely tongue-tied and empty-headed whenever I’m speaking to another person.

I can never seem to make my family understand that I don’t want my words to escape me when I need them most.

Or that the loss of verbal ability I experience when trying to talk to someone, isn’t ‘just a matter of choice’ or ‘obstinacy’.

It’s a genuinely, real, experience.

Yet give me a keyboard and I’m perfectly fine.

I can write for hours and when I do, words just seem to flow out of me.

There’s no grasping or grappling furiously for a language that is no longer there.

There’s no effort, no strain, no awkward silences.

There is only the freedom of expression.

The freedom of being me.

Does anyone else experience this level of disparity between the things you can do in one medium, yet not in another?

Myths, Lies and Suspicious Minds – Debunking the popular misconceptions that surround the lives of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome


Since first being recognized in 1944 by an Austrian paediatrician, Hans Asperger, the neurologically diverse disorder known as Asperger’s Syndrome, has  arguably become one of the most widely misdiagnosed, socially misunderstood and contentious disorders on the Autism Spectrum.

For this reason, those living with Asperger’s Syndrome often find themselves having to battle against a sea of erroneous professional and social misconceptions (myths) which leave them wide open to a consistent stream of criticism and suspicion as to who they truly are, their levels of ability, and the validity of their ‘unusual’ ways of being the world.

The aim of this article is to redress some of the myths that have sprung up regarding Asperger’s Syndrome  over time.

Myth 1: Asperger’s Syndrome is both an over and under Diagnosed condition that only affects males .

Since its addition to the DSM in the late 80’s researchers have contended that Asperger’s Syndrome is a condition that has been both significantly over and under diagnosed.

Given such paradoxical assertions, one could argue that contentions surrounding either the over or under diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, appears to be very much dependent on which ever ways the  political winds of the time are blowing.

For example, there are some who contend that a 1992 U.S. Department of Education directive to enhance services for children diagnosed with “pervasive development disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS),” led to a flood of diagnosing  “socially awkward children” with Asperger’s Syndrome as a knee jerk reaction to achieving higher levels of funding and support for those children.

Since then the question has often been asked:

“ At what point should a child’s  eccentric, aloof or ‘oddball,’ behaviours be considered a developmental condition instead of a potentially passing phase?”

Questions like these have led to a high degree of social scepticism over the validity of an Asperger’s diagnosis, with many choosing to believe instead that Asperger’s is merely a diagnosis of convenience, used by parents to try and excuse their children’s bad behaviours.

Beliefs such as these have fed into a tendency to either under diagnose  or delay the diagnosis of children with Asperger’s Syndrome.

They have also further  added to the high degrees of intolerance and  lack of understanding that  parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome, particularly girls, routinely describe experiencing in the  difficult and  stressful process of trying to seek help, support and acceptance for children on the Autism Spectrum.

There is no doubting that rates of under diagnosis have had a particularly strong impact on the lives of women and girls, whom it was once believed could not experience Asperger’s Syndrome..

More recently researchers have begun to contend that boys are no more dramatically susceptible to the syndrome than girls; rather it’s the fact that girls present or manifest the disorder in ways that are different to boys that have led to their high levels of under or misdiagnosis.

Though many females have remained undiagnosed for a variety of reasons, including the fact that girls are better at blending in, or that some AS traits are seen as being more socially acceptable in girls, there are females with Asperger’s Syndrome within our communities and more and more females are being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome every day..

This improvement in the rates of girls now being diagnosed can be directly attributed to the many adults, particularly women, who are now speaking out about the debilitating impacts that growing up as a child with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome has had on their lives.

If we listen to the experiences of those adults who are now speaking out, we should all be able to become more aware that the level of damage caused by refusing to legitimately recognize the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome in a child, regardless of their gender, can be catastrophic.

The stories of those who have lived through the pain of being undiagnosed should serve as a reminder to us of the importance and the need to engage in an accurate and unbiased  diagnostic process, untethered to either political or financial interests.

2 Myth: Asperger’s Syndrome only affects children: Therefore adults can and should grow out of it with time.

Many people have a tendency to think that Asperger’s Syndrome only affects children and that adults can and should be capable of growing out of it.

Such thinking has evolved in parallel with the idea that all children with ADHD can be medicated and will  eventually grow out of the condition.

Similarly, people also presume that adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, should somehow have been cured of it via early intervention therapies and other treatments by the time they reach adulthood.

Such ideas are both erroneous and extremely harmful to adults with Asperger’s Syndrome who struggle daily to attain some small degree of acceptance and understanding for their symptoms.

As it stands, there is no cure for Asperger’s Syndrome because it is neither a disease nor a disorder that people can turn on or off at will or that can be treated and made disappear by the use of medication.

One of the main reasons why the myth that Asperger’s Syndrome isn’t as common among adults as it is among children has persisted, may well be the fact that adults often have had a lifetime of  trial and error experiences to draw upon, which subsequently helps them to mask their symptoms for brief periods of time.

This skill unfortunately also enables people to believe that a person’s Asperger’s Syndrome is capable of going away. Which of course it isn’t.

Rather than allowing people to presume such nonsense I like to think of it this way:

Adults do not grow out of having Asperger’s Syndrome,  but rather, after living a life time of observing others and figuring out for themselves which environments and people are best suited to them, many adults with Asperger’s Syndrome grow into a deeper acceptance of themselves and therefore seek out life styles, where possible, that better suit their needs.

In this way I believe that adults grow into their Asperger’s Syndrome, not out of it.

So now that we’ve established that adults can and do legitimately have Asperger’s Syndrome it’s time to move on to some of the most common misconceptions about adult’s with AS.


3 Myth: Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome are attention seeking, cold, aloof, loners, who don’t care about the needs of others.

This is perhaps the most harmful myth of all. It has been said (and sometimes by fairly prominent people within the media) that Asperger’s Syndrome is just an excuse for some people to behave like sociopathic jerks.

This is not true. As with the formerly more well-known form of classic Autism, those with Asperger’s Syndrome do not choose to have this challenging condition.

They are not trying to be deliberately rude by avoiding eye contact, social interactions or loud, unfamiliar environments such as parties or large family gatherings simply as a way of gaining attention.

Part of the problem for those with Asperger syndrome is that personal relationships, including familial relationships, often require them to try and take part in hyper social activities that contain all of the many unwritten rules and social cues, those with Asperger’s Syndrome find so confusing.

As a result they will often avoid taking part in such activities.

Yet get a person with Asperger’s Syndrome in a one on one situation, without all of the distractions of a loud or unfamiliar environment, and you will often find that they are very warm, witty and generally caring people.

It really is as simple as that.

Yet despite this simple truth, those with Asperger’s Syndrome, whose outward appearances mark them out as being more focused on their own needs rather than on the social niceties of life, still often find themselves being ostracized and misunderstood by others.

Another very simple truth is that the vast majority of those with Asperger’s Syndrome desperately want to be liked and accepted by others. They just don’t know how to achieve this because unlike neruo-typicals, those with Asperger’s Syndrome were not born with the same intrinsic toolbox of social understandings and awareness’, that those born without Asperger’s Syndrome take for granted.

So although people with Asperger’s have routinely been viewed as being quiet, introspective people who are cold and aloof, the truth is that more often than not, they are simply people who are either too shy or too scared of being misunderstood, to say a word.

Another area of life that may make those with Asperger’s Syndrome appear aloof, or unable to put the needs of others first, involves the impacts that sensory issues may have on them.

For this reason, the need to maintain an environment that lessens the impacts of their sensory issues often creates within those with Asperger’s, an over-riding drive for safety that can become far more important to them than taking part in the social niceties of life.

But this does not mean that all Aspies are introverts, indeed some are also extroverts.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that if it looks like an Aspie is ignoring you, chances are they’re not, they’re merely observing your interactions and being cautious

And speaking of being cautious, here’s another myth that desperately needs busting.

4. Myth: Asperger’s is a dangerous mental illness that makes People more prone to Violence 

Due to modern media discourse and  the recent spate of sad and unfortunate instances of loner male teens committing acts of unthinkable violence, several erroneous links between such teens and those with Asperger’s Syndrome has once again raised speculations that Asperger’s may be a form of mental illnesses.

Such speculations however  represent both an immense lack of understanding in regards to mental illness in general and of Asperger’s syndrome itself.

Asperger’s syndrome is not a mental illness.

It is a neurological/developmental disorder.

Unlike classic or severe Autism, those with Asperger’s syndrome are often not diagnosed until school age when they’re lack of interaction with peers and the inability to automatically understand social cues begins to mark them out as being in some way different from their peers.

Although those with Asperger’s syndrome may also experience high levels of anxiety and a predisposition towards depression, it as yet unclear whether or not these conditions occur in tandem with Asperger’s Syndrome as a result of either sensory overload of the constant desire of society to force those with Asperger’s Syndrome to assimilate into social and environmental situations which they may find either uncomfortable or excruciating.

For instance, if you have an extreme sensitivity to sounds, being forced to sit amidst a classroom full of noisy peers would be enough to trigger  both extreme anxiety and discomfort.

If you don’t believe the debilitating effects this can have on an individual with Asperger’s Syndrome, then try going to a heavy metal rock concert with an ear infection and see whether or not you enjoy standing in front of the speakers.

Chances are, you will not.

However, unlike those with Asperger’s Syndrome, nobody is likely to accuse you of having a mental illness simply because you found being in a loud environment with painful ears unbearable.

The sheer logic alone of trying to associate the reactions of those with Asperger’s syndrome experiencing sensory overloads with the actions of those experiencing psychotic mental illnesses is once again extremely flawed.

So flawed in fact that it is now widely accepted by psychiatrists and psychologists alike that there are few, if any, alleged links between Asperger’s Syndrome and extreme acts of wilful violence to be found.

Hence those with Asperger’s Syndrome are no more prone to violence than the general population.

The only crime it appears those diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome are guilty of is that of being somewhat eccentric by exhibiting behaviours that do not fall within the realms of what society considers ‘normal’.

Once again these are issues of socialization, not violence.

In conclusion, Asperger’s Syndrome, is considered a “developmental disorder” that a person is born with.

While no one knows exactly what causes Asperger’s Syndrome, what is becoming clear is the fact that the levels of misconception and suspicion that often surrounds adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, make it a tough and lonely disorder to live and deal with on a daily basis for many.

One key way in which we can begin to redress many of the myths and misconceptions that surround the experiences of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome would be to encourage those with the condition to discuss their struggles openly and honestly without all of the leering suspicions that have become so much a part of their daily lives.

Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum

“In recent years, questions have been raised about the ratio of males to females diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Overall the most recent studies suggest that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is about one in 100, but what of the male/female ratio?

There is no hard evidence of numbers. Various studies, together with anecdotal evidence, have come up with male/female ratios ranging from 2:1 to 16:1.

Whatever the true ratio, clinical referrals to a specialist diagnostic centre such as The National Autistic Society’s Lorna Wing Centre have seen a steady increase in the number of girls and women referred.

Because of the male gender bias, girls are less likely to be identified with ASD, even when their symptoms are equally severe.

Many girls are never referred for diagnosis and are missed from the statistics. At The Lorna Wing Centre, emphasis is placed on the different manifestations of behaviour in autism spectrum conditions as seen in girls and women compared with boys and men.

In our paper (2011) we have identified the different way in which girls and women present under the following headings; social understanding, social communication, social imagination which is highly associated with routines, rituals and special interests. Some examples cited in the paper are:

• Girls are more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation because they observe other children and copy them, perhaps masking the symptoms of Asperger syndrome (Attwood, 2007).

• Girls are often more aware of and feel a need to interact socially. They are involved in social play, but are often led by their peers rather than initiating social contact. Girls are more socially inclined and many have one special friend.

• In our society, girls are expected to be social in their communication. Girls on the spectrum do not ‘do social chit chat’ or make ‘meaningless’ comments in order to facilitate social communication. The idea of a social hierarchy and how one communicates with people of different status can be problematic and get girls into trouble with teachers.

• Evidence suggests that girls have better imagination and more pretend play (Knickmeyer et al, 2008). Many have a very rich and elaborate fantasy world with imaginary friends. Girls escape into fiction, and some live in another world with, for example, fairies and witches.

• The interests of girls in the spectrum are very often similar to those of other girls – animals, horses, classical literature – and therefore are not seen as unusual. It is not the special interests that differentiate them from their peers but it is the quality and intensity of these interests. Many obsessively watch soap operas and have an intense interest in celebrities.

The presence of repetitive behaviour and special interests is part of the diagnostic criteria for an autism spectrum disorder. This is a crucial area in which the male stereotype of autism has clouded the issue in diagnosing girls and women.

As highlighted above, the current international diagnostic criteria do not give examples of the types of difficulties experienced by girls and women. In order to recognise the different behavioural manifestations, it is important to take a much wider perspective regarding the social, communication and imagination dimensions in addition to the special interests and rigidity of behaviour.

The girls and women learn to act in social settings. Unenlightened diagnosticians perceive someone who appears able and who has reciprocal conversation and who uses appropriate affect and gestures as not fulfilling the criteria set out in the international classification systems.

Therefore a diagnosis is missed.

It is only by asking the right questions, taking a developmental history, and observing the person in different settings, that it becomes clear that the individual has adopted a social role which is based on intellect rather than social intuition. To quote:

“The fact that girls with undiagnosed autism are painstakingly copying some behaviour is not picked up and therefore any social and communication problems they may be having are also overlooked. This sort of mimicking and repressing their autistic behaviour is exhausting, perhaps resulting in the high statistics of women with mental health problems.” (Dale Yaull-Smith, 2008).

It is important to prepare girls for a life of quality as adult women.

Schools need better trained staff to recognise and address the needs of students on the autism spectrum and especially the more ‘subtle’ presentation in girls.

Schools need to be more ‘girl-friendly’ with girl orientated personal, social skills classes.

There needs to be a focus on the ‘hidden curriculum’ which directly teaches the skills that typically-developing girls learn indirectly and intuitively, such as the unwritten rules of girls’ social interactions. Girl orientated personal, social and health education should be part of the curriculum.

Schools educating girls on the autism spectrum should focus on teaching independence and strategies to reduce vulnerability.

They also need to address self-image, self-esteem and confidence building. Gender identity is a big issue for girls, as is emotional wellbeing and fostering mental health. Society has expectations of both men and women, but many women on the autism spectrum believe that these expectations are greater for women.

In the book ‘Asperger’s Syndrome for Dummies’ (Gomez de la Cuesta & Mason 2010), the authors touch on this issue and describe different ‘types’ of women on the autism spectrum. At work, women experience ‘a glass ceiling that is double glazed’ according to the authors. Women experience the same difficulties as other women, plus the difficulties experienced by women on the autism spectrum. These women often go into professions that are traditionally male-orientated. Harder (2010) has produced a booklet called ‘Illustrated glimpses of Aspergers for Friends and Colleagues’. This gives a valuable insight into the difficulties women on the autism spectrum experience at work and provides explanations to colleagues of the different ways in which such women perceive the world.

The difficulties in the diagnosis of girls and women arise if clinicians continue to use the narrow definitions set out in the International Classification Systems.

It cannot be stressed enough that diagnosis and full assessment of needs cannot be carried out by following a checklist. Proper assessment takes time and detailed evaluation is necessary to enable a clinician to systematically collect information which not only provides a diagnostic label, but more importantly, a detailed profile of the person.

We wish to draw attention to the fact that many women with an autism spectrum condition are not being diagnosed and are therefore not receiving the help and support needed throughout their lives. Having a diagnosis is the starting point in providing appropriate support for girls and women in the spectrum. A timely diagnosis can avoid many of the difficulties women and girls with an autism spectrum disorder experience throughout their lives.”

Dr Judith Gould and Dr Jacqui Ashton Smith
Good Autism Practice, May 2011
This post originated from


Asperger’s Syndrome / Autism and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)….Is it a comfortable fit?


Seeking the opinions and advice of others regarding Pathological Demand Avoidance as it relates to Asperger’s Syndrome has shown me that there is a world of debate out there regarding the  relevance of seeking to apply yet another label to the behaviors of those already defined as being on the Autism Spectrum.

Yet despite this, many now believe that Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is a valid diagnosis that is consistent with an Autism diagnosis.

As the mother of a child who has undergone many of the behaviors described within PDA I’m going to admit that my key point of focus here lays in finding any tools that better enable me to best understand the differences that arise between my own experience of Asperger’s Syndrome and my child’s experiences of it.

But…..having said this, I will only accept those explanations that best explain our differences, if they can accurately explain why my daughter’s behavioral needs are so different to my own.

After all we have both been diagnosed with the Asperger’s Syndrome, yet despite this, our behaviors are as different as chalk and cheese.

For example, I’m an extremely peace-loving person.

I am both opinionated and yet at the same time, a quiet person.

I like rules.

I like knowing where the boundaries of any given subject are.

I’m not an aggressive, nor an explosive person.

When I feel overwhelmed, I tend to withdraw into myself.

My child on the other hand can become both explosive and aggressive when she feels overwhelmed.

And the things that make her feel overwhelmed are more often than not, simply being asked to do something.

Now we both feel the need to question everything, but only one of us feels the need to rage aggressively against being asked to do things.

So why is this so?

In my experience, the use of PDA to better define the way in which some of us experience Asperger’s syndrome, and yet others do not,  is both a worthwhile and a valid one.

I acknowledge that I am viewing the whole idea of PDA form many levels.

Not only am I a person with Asperger’s Syndrome myself, but I’m also the mother of a child who also has Asperger’s yet who’s behaviors are at times so completely different from my own that they make me wonder whether or not one of us has been incorrectly diagnosed.

So for me, the idea that PDA may be an additional experience that some with Asperger’s Syndrome experience, makes sense to me because it helps me to understand and acknowledge how two females, both diagnosed with the same form of Autism, can respond to the demands of life so differently.

In our situation, my daughter’s diagnosis of AS alone, still does not provide me with enough of an explanation as to why my child behaves so aggressively at times.

Yes children with AS get overloaded with social stimuli, yes they have meltdowns,  yes they can  be aggressive, yes they like to be in environments that they are both familiar and comfortable with, but on the whole, do they willfully  seek to confront or act physically abusively  toward people, when asked to do something?

At the moment having a diagnosis of AS alongside a diagnosis of PDA provides me with a far clearer picture of what it is that  my child may be experiencing.

As a mother my goal is to try my best to understand and help my daughter.

I’m not trying to right the wrongs of the world in one foul swoop.

Nor argue semantics over whether or not PDA, as  a conceptual diagnosis on the whole, is either correct or valid for every individual with AS, as I suspect indeed, it is not.

And I have found that there are many parents out there who find the explanations that PDA offers a valuable way of helping and understanding their children.

So is PDA, as an explanation for aggressive behavior in children with AS a worthwhile path to go down?

Yes, I think it is, because what I do know is this;

It is better, although be it harder, to be a mother who is trying to help and understand her child, than to be a mother who is not.

It is better to be a mother who seeks information and accurate explanations that better fit her child’s experiences,  rather than being a mother who blindly follows whatever the current bells and whistles and ideas of the day, may be.

Especially when, as an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome, I know that there are too many stark differences to be found between my own and my daughter’s reactions to the world around us, to ever be adequately explained away via the use of just one diagnosis or one singular way of understanding Autism.

So I don’t think I’m wrong to question the value of finding additional diagnostic tools or ways of understanding Asperger’s Syndrome that may help to explain these differences.

Nor do I think that it’s wrong to logically seek to weigh up the pro’s and con’s behind an explanation that seems to fit, yet others find irksome.

I don’t think it’s wrong to ask those who have the privilege of knowing the PDA debate from the inside out, how they feel and what they think about it.

I think it would be wrong of me to do anything  otherwise.