2 thoughts on “Girls with Asperger’s Syndrome: Early Diagnosis Is Critical

  1. Dr. Atwood,

    You have – very accurately – described my experience as a child and young adult. The words “social charade” are spot on, this is how I felt throughout my formative years and well into my 20’s. I’d say and do things that were humiliating and distasteful to me just to appease other people, to appear normal. Because of the high level of deceit I had to maintain (complete alternate persona), I always believed that my true nature is flawed or weird and that I am inherently worthless since I can’t fit in. Self-hate has always been my closest friend.

    As a young adult, I became very self-destructive, doing dangerous things and seeking abusive relationships in the hopes that I would die (or be murdered) so I could just rid the world of my “awful” self. But, I didn’t die. Instead, I found a way out by marrying a friend of mine just because he asked. I figured that I’d “learn to love him”, but would have a safe place to exist in the meantime. I’ve always been interested in psychology, so ended up working in the mental health profession. I finally realized, after working extensively with autistic children, that I identified a lot with them – I realized that there was hope for me, because there was a reason I have a “strange” nature.

    Even so, it wasn’t until age 25 that I finally got up the courage to stop lying to everyone. As a result, my life is very tumultuous and awkward. I fluctuate from feeling confident in myself to hating myself because I can’t be “normal”. I feel like a disappointment to the people who care about me because I am not really that person they believed I was for so long. It’s very difficult. I do not have an official diagnosis, but I learn more about Asperger’s every day and I now understand how and why my brain works as it does.

    I’m still only 28, and I am still learning, but I FINALLY like who I am. I finally understand that there’s nothing wrong with me – I am just wired differently. It’s a relief, although it is still frightening. It would have been nice if there had been some assistance for me as a child. It would have been comforting to know that there was a reason for my differences, and the depression could have been nipped in the bud so that I could have blossomed into a happy young woman.

    I wanted to thank you for writing this article. Reading this has made me feel less alone in the world, to know that these struggles are not only my own. I hope others will read your words and realize the inherent truth of them. It is my hope that Asperger’s in young girls will be more commonly screened for, and people like you are helping to bring this to fruition.

    – Jane

  2. Thank you Dr. Atwood. Our daughter was 9 when she was diagnosed with AS. Even though I suspected the problem for years, her pediatrician told me that she was just smart and different. It wasn’t until she started melting down in school from the pressures of classroom work that someone listened to me. Today she is 11 and will be entering middle school. She is undergoing intense social-skills and individual therapy to deal with the challenges of AS and her emotions. She understands that she has to work hard to achieve what comes naturally to other children. At the same things, some things that are difficult for average children are easy to her.

    Thank you for writing this insightful article. I only wish there was more information about girls with AS out there. THank you!

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