Stop telling me that I don’t have Asperger’s

I am so sick of people telling me I don’t have Asperger’s syndrome. I am also so sick of people not listening to me when I tell them their daughter has Asperger’s.

Women who have Asperger’s do not look like men who have Asperger’s. Men who have Asperger’s look like socially incompetent men. Women who have Asperger’s look like neurotypical men. Of course, this is just a nice way of saying that women with Asperger’s are incompetent women. But the truth is that neurotypical men still look like social outcasts compared to neurotypical women.

I am giving you a link for this. It’s Scientific American. Everyone should read this article because it is my Bible. I will keep linking to it until you read it.

So when a woman thinks like a man, we do not think “she has Asperger’s syndrome” because we worry that would be gender stereotyping. But WTF, genders do have stereotypes. And most women who have brains like men have Asperger’s. This does not mean women who are strong and athletic have Asperger’s. That is you misunderstanding gender; women can be strong and athletic and think like a woman. But women whose brains work like men are not likely to be normal. Duh.

Don’t complain to me that there is not a man’s brain and a woman’s brain. Seriously. Of course there is. You know that if a guy loves to go shopping and get his hair done then he is gay. It doesn’t help anyone to say there are no gender differences. You know where that gets us? It gets Sheryl fucking Sandberg telling women to lean in as if women do not care more about staying home with kids than men do. Which they do.

Most women do not notice that they have Asperger’s until they are in their 40s. This is because women with Asperger’s syndrome are smart and good looking and are able to somehow pass as normal even though they care relatively little for social decorum.

Then they get to be middle aged, where men and women separate more than any other time in life. The women are largely at home, or struggling between kids and home, and the men are largely at work. And while everyone is raising kids, women feel that experience differently than men do.

This means that the women who have Asperger’s and have been passing as normal among men can no longer pass for normal because the men are pretty much gone. It becomes painfully clear to the women with Asperger’s that they’ve been different forever and they can’t handle it anymore.

I know so many women who “were fine until they had kids.” What does that mean? I think it means they were fine until they couldn’t hide. I don’t say this critically. I say this as one of those women. I could pass so much more easily before kids.

Because before there are children, it’s possible to spend way more time than everyone else navigating adult life, so no one notices how bad you are at it. But once there are kids, it’s much harder to hide because there is not extra time you can devote to doing things that neurotypicals find very simple to do.

A few months ago, I told people I’d discount my $350 coaching fee to $150 if people booked a coaching session at 7 a.m. or 10 p.m. I had never discounted the sessions before, so I didn’t know what would happen.

The first thing that happened is that I was able to keep a schedule for myself. I can’t get up without someone calling me. I used to think it’s because I sleep with the dog and he’s warm and cozy. But it turns out sleep problems are another sign of Asperger’s syndrome.

The other thing that happened is that 40% of the people who signed up for $150 sessions have Asperger’s. It’s incredible, really. Yet it’s so easy for me to see. It’s the person who is 35 and they are scared of getting fired again. The person who wants to get married but can’t figure out how. The person who is an INTJ but working as a receptionist. The person who is single and an accountant and doesn’t date. It’s so easy for me to see that these people have Asperger’s.

You are doubting me. I know. Take the last example. Accountants like to follow rules, they like to have clear paths, and they like doing tangible things rather than staring into space or reading a book. That’s just standard personality type stuff. I haven’t even gotten to my renegade diagnosis part.

The thing about an accountant who doesn’t date is that there is nothing else for that person to do. They can’t think of something else to do besides have a family. I mean, there is not actually a lot of other things to do in the world, which is why most people have families, but a lot of people (HELLO, ENFPs!!!) hold on to fantasies that they will be doing something phenomenal in life and bounce around from shiny idea to shiny idea instead of having a family. But accountants are not the phenomenal types.

It’s all about patterns. And I see the patterns because I have Asperger’s.

I’m hoping that people can start to see how insanely lonely it is to have Asperger’s as a woman and that the way to decrease that loneliness is to help girls see themselves more clearly so they can make their lives less lonely as adults.

Maybe this blog post is not politically correct or culturally sensitive or whatever, but we need to start talking frankly about women and Asperger’s. And I don’t know how to tell you in a way that is nice. Because I have Asperger’s. But I see the patterns and frankly I’m really frustrated by all the people who are oblivious to what’s totally obvious to me.

Even after all these years of ranting about it, I am still not sure why people are so resistant to admitting they have Asperger’s. I feel like, who cares? You are who you are—admitting who you are is never going to make things worse.

Since writing this post, I have received hundreds of emails from women who have Aspergers, and others who thought they might have Aspergers.  I am hosting a free live video event on April 15th where I will answer all of your questions live. Sign up here to reserve your spot. 

158 replies
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  1. Gwenn
    Gwenn says:

    I have a question about this. Is it possible to be an ENTJ and have autism? The E is throwing me off.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Aspergers has nothing to do with being inteoverted or not wanting friends. It has to do with being bad at interacting with people. I have never talked with someone who has Aspergers who doesn’t want a friend.

      Every human wants friends. People who find it easy to make friends have a lot. People who find it hard to make friends have a few. People who offend people every time they try to be friends become scared of making friends.

      People with Aspergers are very sensitive to being offensive. We hate offending people.We just have no idea why its happeneing, even when someone explains it to us, so we withdraw because it feels so hopeless to keep trying.


      • Kate
        Kate says:

        But you knew that ‘retard’ was going to be offensive to some/ many people yes?
        Also, can one predict which MB type will respond to mild provocation with overreaction and / or self righteousness?

      • Athena
        Athena says:

        Penelope, I had an aspergers boyfriend, age 57. He had no friends except me, and made horrible social gaffs all the time. He did not REACT the way you do – by withdrawing. He was a Narcissist and he thought whatever he did was RIGHT and PERFECT. He just watched in surprise when people reacted to him negatively.


  2. Marka
    Marka says:

    Autism “are likely to have a lower iQ” according to the publication you wanted us to read.

    I believe there are 2 distinct conditions. Aspberger and Autism and having one doesn’t mean you have the other.

    You can have cancer and the flu but they are separate and distict conditions.

    It is so obvious to me. This is why current diagnosis is then refuted at a 50% rate by another professional. What does this mean? That the first professional is incompetent? That testing is flawed? That politics and big pharma trumps diagnosis?

    With an Aspberger diagnosis my experiences and symptoms make sense (think like a man? I think that statement is oversimplified) .

    But I am not autistic. I do not have autistic tendencies.

    Can one have both? Yes, look at severe autistic savants.

    Can one have just autism. Yes. Look at severe autistics who are not savants.Those individuals do not have Aspberger.

    This, I believe is the basis for the confusion and misdiagnosis.

    • Derek Scruggs
      Derek Scruggs says:

      Last I heard, Asperger’s is no longer a separate diagnosis.

      It’s just on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Thank you, Derek. Also, I don’t understand: if black people can use the N word why can’t someone with Aspergers use the R word?

        Inwould never tell a black person how to use the N word. Why do people tell me how to use the R word?


        • Jennifer
          Jennifer says:

          Black people may use the N word, but probably not on their professional blogs. Also Autism or Asperger’s aren’t the same diagnosis as Cognitive Disability. Many/most with Asperger’s have average to above average IQ, so it doesn’t confer a pass to use the R word. You’re not using it in an offensive or insulting way, but it is a red flag for many, so you might use “impaired” or another term if you don’t want everyone missing your point and taking offense.

          • Bostonian
            Bostonian says:

            I would like to see the word ‘retarded’ get rehabilitated. The alternative terms are worse. “Disability” means you can’t do something – you lack an ability. “Retarded” just means delayed or late. If we believe people may develop skills through greater difficulty or later than the norm, “retarded” or “delayed” would be kinder than “impaired” or “disabled.”

          • Rose Daya
            Rose Daya says:

            With all due respect, I disagree with your assertion. We need to LAUGH MORE and make LIGHT of things MORE!!! We don’t need the “Though Police” to come in and regulate the way we talk. We KNOW what is meant by tone and intent…and if someone is being cruel intentionally they will suffer the pushed back OR if someone is intentionally being cruel to *you* PUSH BACK!!! WE DON’T NEED THE STATE TO START REGULATING SPEECH!!! And that starts with you and me being able to “take a joke” or a word and deal with it within the isolated incidences that they occur in. What? Are we all made out of sugar all of a sudden!??
            Some people are rude, some people are nice, some people are NOT rude but we are wound so tight that we might “think” that they are being rude and then we call the Gestapo on them…
            We do not need a “Thought Police”!! Penelope can say what she wants and you can say what you want! Your response was perfect (even though I disagree). And let’s leave it at that:
            Agree to disagree. Penelope doesn’t need to “do” anything different. In fact being a slight retard myself: dyslexia, ADHA, diagnosed with a learning disability in college; I find her LIGHT approach to my struggles refreshing! I used to be so ashamed of my “weakness” but now I can laugh at them and also realize that they do make me “Special” …and thats a good thing! I LOVE being able to say I am a retard without shame! I am slower then most people and thats OKAY! I think I smell more flowers because of it!
            I love how Liberals are SOOO tolerant EXCEPT for with people that disagree with their platforms…

        • Mark W.
          Mark W. says:

          I don’t read this blog because it’s politically correct or culturally sensitive. I never did and never will. There are plenty of other places for that kind of writing. I very much agree with Bostonian that it would be nice if the word ‘retard’ could somehow be rehabilitated. It has a precise definition in the dictionary. I believe the use of it to be applicable here. I understand that people who read this post may find it offensive in the way Penelope uses it. That is, used repeatedly and directly. What it conveys to me, used that way, is a measure of Penelope’s conviction that she believes she is right and the right word for how she feels about her experiences with Aspergers and people on the spectrum and her understanding of it. Also, she links repeatedly to the SA article in the same paragraph in which she uses the word ‘retard’ and insists we read it. It’s a very good article and would recommend reading it. Two things I’ve learned over the years about online posts/articles with links – the linked articles are part of the piece even though the text from them aren’t included and the linked articles don’t contribute equally to the meaning of the post. It’s left up to the reader’s discretion to read those links they may find gives them a better understanding of the post.

        • Aspie-Autistic1957
          Aspie-Autistic1957 says:

          Bullies are always going to find a way to weaponize legitimate words. As they say you can run but you can not hide. “Autism” is now becoming a common insult. Might as well start critizing people who use the “A-Word” (SMH).

        • Rose Daya
          Rose Daya says:

          ” if black people can use the N word why can’t someone with Aspergers use the R word?”

          I really really really like your VOICE a lot! I think that you are refreshing and really FUNNY. Your style of humor is called “wry” for those Liberals whom have lost their HUMOR due to their TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome): Penelope’s humor is called WRY boys and girls….when did the 1st Amendment become the 2nd Amendment to you people????

          I am so delighted to have found your Website, PT. What I was looking for originally was the “tea” on Sheryl Sandberg. Many people on social media were quipping that Miss Sheryl/Marta Stewart 2.0 (SUPER SATANIC MOM OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM) killed her husband (??)…And I was like: Whhaaaat?
          I knew hubby had died but I never cared enough to research her. However, with this recent controversy of Face Book mining our data, I decided to do a little digging…What I found was this shady poo-poo platter of unexplained skull-bashing in Mexico, Wifey-Perfecto No-Prensente and a cause of death story that has shifted gears quicker then a Nautilus® Cardio T10 Bariatric Medical-grade Treadmill….(!!??)
          … And the cherry topper on the Enchilada was:
          yet ANOTHER virtue signaling book by Miss Sheryl written 5 minutes after Big Daddy’s death? (whhaaattt) ???
          The book “informs us” on how to be like ROBOTS (like her) and “Lean In” to squash our “meddling human emotions” during times of unthinkable grief. Sherry’s Cherry gives us easily calculated steps on how to cure” our grief with vapid affirmations and vulgar attitude adjustments like: just remarry right away, why not! You only live once! God does not exist so: Do What Thou Wilt! YAHOOOOO!!!
          Needless to say, I think you and I are on the same page re: Sherry.,..admittedly I am way more biting…
          Your comments are not cruel they are HONEST!!! YOU ARE GREAT! DON’T CHANGE A THING!
          I knew you were a Sagittarius as soon as I laughed at your first joke!
          I’m a Sag too (Dec. 18th). Don’t hate me if we don’t share the same politics. I WAS a life long Democrat that fled from the Party when Liberals wouldn’t admit that Hillary Clinton IS A CROOK and should be in jail!
          I am an INFJ and I have been diagnosed with ADHD but I’m curious about Asbergers now b/c of your Blog. Some of the symptoms that you point out do apply to me (???) uuummmm….Anywayzzzzz
          I plan on staying tuned-in to your Blog…You have a new fan! : )

        • Jordan
          Jordan says:

          I agree with you! The world would be a much simpler place if people just said it as it is. There is no need to be offended by facts, in fact, it’s ridiculous to be offended by facts. They are what they are and no matter how much offense is taken it won’t change the fact.

      • Grace
        Grace says:

        Yes, I was about to mention that. Aspergers is now considered a part of the Autism spectrum, and is a high functioning version. Although people on the spectrum likely have many commonalities, they don’t all have the same ones as others. I feel the blogger was being very expressive, which is Why is she might have use the word “retarded.” That word is not used anymore and diagnoses. That doesn’t take away from the riders ride to explain the experience to others, which is a needed thing. I admire her honesty.

      • Sidd Pagidipati
        Sidd Pagidipati says:

        Penelope, thanks for an amazing read. I believe admitting to your weaknesses is not always going to help, it does help sometimes though. I remember one of my good old friend who could be considered brilliant in every aspect but he was somehow not good at forgetting things that had to be and that made his life a complete mess at times. So I’ll give it a 50/50.

    • Eliscia
      Eliscia says:

      Asbergers is no longer relevant, although it’s a shame. If you have “Asbergers” which I still use this phrase, it means you have Autism Spectrum Disorder.

      • Autistic1957
        Autistic1957 says:

        Aspergers is no longer in the current diagnostic manuals. Some clinicions will diagnose you with Aspergers because they do not agree with the with the elimination of that diagnosis. They do not lose their license if they go against the current manual.

        No matter what your official diagnosis you can self identify as you please.

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          It’s useful to remind people that Aspergers is actually autism because so many parents think it’s ok to not get their kid help for Aspergers (of course that’s almost always because it’s genetic and the parent has Aspergers and therefore poor judgment about how much Aspergers is derailing their own life.)

          It’s also useful to say Aspergers because it describes the effects of Autism on that particular person. Just like you’d say apraxia instead of autism its an autistic person who has limited speech. It’s not exact but it’s useful.


    • Jesse
      Jesse says:

      Aspergers is the second cousin of autism. They are close, but not siblings. Not even for at cousins. Yet, people with aspergers are some of the greatest advocates and protectors of those with non verbal autism.

    • Derek Scruggs
      Derek Scruggs says:

      If you knew about Asperger’s you’d know she is NOT better than that. Using that word is a sign of not understanding what is socially acceptable. 10 years ago it was acceptable (see also, Dan Savage), but it’s not any more.

      • Eva
        Eva says:

        Lots of people with Asperger’s refrain from using the R word. She knows exactly what she is doing. She writes “maybe this blog post is not politically correct or culturally sensitive.”

        • Amias
          Amias says:

          Excuse denied, there is never a good reason to use that word. Being a Nazi and apologising still makes you a nazi , being a sexist and apologizing still makes you a sexist. If you write on this subject you must do it with compassion , these are peoples lives.

          • Celeste
            Celeste says:

            I also stopped reading at the “R” word. Someone who writes regularly should know this isn’t an acceptable way to describe someone. Especially someone who has children. What does a “retard” look like anyway? Not only did I stop reading, but I’m done subscribing (after 10 years). Best of luck to you Penelope, but as the mother of a daughter with Down syndrome, it’s my choice to not open my inbox and read an article purportedly about people with special needs that uses the word “retard”.

  3. David Perkins
    David Perkins says:

    I have Aspergers. I am a male. I have been tested many times for Aspergers, even before it was called Aspergers. Until 8 months ago, I had a normal as my touchstone for navigating all things normal.

    Isn’t it a generalization to say that men with Aspergers LOOK retarded? I am definitely asperger. I do not look retarded. In fact, I was a model for a few years. A well paid, well traveled model. But I am an Asperger.

    Your blog is refreshing because you throw it right out there. Now, what I think is retarded is the way other males (“normal” ones) treat other males who are Asperger. We have to keep it a secret if we are able. The Normals make sure the Asperger is treated as much like shit as possible. I have been treated that way many times when it got out I am an Asperger. I think normals are frightened because of the things we are aware of, because of the leaps of logic we make, and are always right. I think a few of the normal males I have had difficulty with were mad because I am smarter than they are AND I dated their girlfriend, and she liked me more than them. Who knows. I am glad youa re here. I am glad you are so bold and open with this topic. I am glad you inject so much wonderful humor into this subject. I aspire to be a successful blogger, and I hope my writing will eventually be as good as yours is.

    I have Aspergers, but I don’t look retarded.

    • J.E.
      J.E. says:

      I don’t think normals treat those with Asperger’s poorly on purpose. I think when they hear the words “autism” or “Asperger’s” they hear “more work” as in interactions and relationships with someone on the spectrum will take more adjusting and they don’t want to deal with that. They don’t want to have to explain missteps to the person on the spectrum all the time. They want to be around someone who “gets it” without having to be socially guided.

    • Jessica from Down Under
      Jessica from Down Under says:

      I don’t think she means LOOKS retarded (as in their face or appearance); I think she means LOOKS retarded (as in the clues they give out in their speech and actions). I wonder if you overlooked the nuance because of your Aspergers, or do some ‘normals’ also read it that way?

  4. Katt
    Katt says:

    I used to tell people that my Mom was a high functioning engineer. But really, compared to the male engineers, she was. My oldest daughter is a scientist and on the spectrum. Like my Mom. Like my sisters and brother. Since I grew up with that, I knew how to help her learn strategies to cope. Btw, the R-word is considered very offensive, like N-word bad. You might not have known that, so I wanted to give you a heads up. Hope the sleeping gets better, as always, love your work.

    • David Perkins
      David Perkins says:

      I studied Theatre and Music in College. I am an asperger, and a male.

      What do I do for a living? Correct the mistakes that engineers make, both male and female, one is an asperger, just like me.

  5. Pam
    Pam says:

    I never doubted you have Asperger’s. I have 2 nephews who are diagnosed, and my son was told he has some shadow traits.
    I just read the SA article from your post, and now I’m wondering if my oldest daughter, 24 yo, might have it, too, and if that would help her with adulting if she knew that, or if it would make her feel too awkward or sad about it. She’s an ENFP, she has ALL the feels.

    When I talked to you once, you thought we all had Asperger’s, and now I can see that my husband might be on the spectrum, but high functioning. I probably have ADD, and both of us lack executive function. My oldest daughter wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD till late HS, which is a shame, because she could have gotten more help, but she was smart and got A’s, but homework took a long time. My second daughter suffers from extreme anxiety and introversion, is an English/Psych major, but no sign of autism. My son has ADD and dysgraphia and maybe dyslexia, and couldn’t get through private college without their excellent accommodations, but he is extremely social and popular.

    It’s a wonder I get taxes done (who knows if they’re correct), and I just purchased tabs for my car (only a month late).

    • David Perkins
      David Perkins says:

      Taxes and time are things I have no concept for. To me, it can be 3 AM or 3 PM, I cannot tell the difference, other than how much light is outside. However, I can tell you within a half minute how long it will take to travel from point A to point B, regardless your mode of transportation, and I don’t need a calculator for that.

      I had a Normal as my touchstone for 24 years. She finally got tired of me and found a normal who will give her the life she dreams of.

      I am doing my best to learn how things like taxes, bills, time and sleep work. I wish I understood sleep, at least.

      Sleep is waiting for me in my bed. Better than any lover, she entices me with her sonnets of dreams and pleasure. She promises to take me places no othe rlover has taken me. Sleep is waiting in my bed.

  6. Carol
    Carol says:

    Great to read Tom Frazier’s name mentioned in the journal article as a researcher at a Cleveland Clinic, I had him as an undergrad almost 40 years ago. I find food for thought in the article and your discussion. I am identifying with factors such as previous treatment for depression, little ability in understanding others or in social norms. I have to force myself to stay in contact with others as it ultimately does make me feel more secure in the world. Nobody has ever complained that I was too clingy or sympathetic!

  7. Derek Scruggs
    Derek Scruggs says:

    Having met you in person, it was quickly obvious to me that there was something “off.” (Not bad, just different.) When you told me you had Asperger’s it was obvious in hindsight.

    Your strength in persevering through it is admirable. Keep on keeping on.

  8. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    My husband was one of the people whom you used as your alarm clock and he said it was money well spent. I feel that you are writing a post about me. It only became more obvious I was different in my 40s trying to juggle kids, work and husband. Most of my life I had good guy friends because they said I think like a guy and did not easily get offended. I do not find you using retarded offensive. Should call it for what it is. I think I would have done the same. Ha.
    I don’t like the label of Aspergers or anything cos it kinda made me feel well-… retarded and admitting that I found the simple things hard. But now I am accepting that this is how I was made and there are advantages such as hyper focus and the ability to see obivious patterns.

    • Julia
      Julia says:

      I’m also coming to recognize these traits in myself in my 40s, though I’ve always been aware that I can’t make female friends but do well socially with men. Though I’m coming more aware of it now, I really started to notice something was undeniably different when I got married, which is when it becomes more obvious if you’re hanging out with the guys at social events instead of women. As a married woman, your place at social gatherings is in the kitchen or living room with the other ladies, talking about breastfeeding, what a mess your house is, and kindergarten registration. The guys’ place is out on the patio, drinking beers and talking about politics, world affairs, and interesting things in media. I think women who don’t have these asperger tendencies can hang with the boring lady talk because they recognize the importance of it as social bonding, but I could never muster enough interest to care about the social bonding. Pre-marriage, I could talk with the guys and it wasn’t noticeable, but when social gatherings are all married couples it is almost taboo to be a woman out on the patio with the guys. This is a huge generalization, of course, but it’s common enough to be a pattern.

      • Happy engineer
        Happy engineer says:

        How interesting, Julia! I’m a woman engineer who only has male friends (when I finally noticed that I tried hard but all my female friendships end up very quickly — I’m hoping to hang on to the newest one, a smart doctor who seems to put up with me more easily than others, but then, like me she doesn’t have kids so it’s easier to stick to more interesting conversation topics).

        I was in a brunch another day when I realized I was the only woman in a group sitting at the kitchen table discussing tech while the women were in the living room talking about kids. My advice is to ignore other people’s opinion, join the guys for a good talk and have fun!

      • Joanne
        Joanne says:

        I can totally relate. For most of my life, I have always been more socially at ease with males than females. I think a lot of it has to do with how females relate to one another (tend to be catty, bitchy, or territorial) while men are more direct and easygoing. I am engaged now and find it more natural to hang out with my fiance and the guys hanging out on the porch than bonding with the ladies. It was really tough for me growing up.

        Although I was/am more comfortable with guys, I had to worry about whether or not they really wanted to be friends or try for something more. I just didn’t have the skills to deal with it. Maybe that’s why I’m most comfortable with gay men in social situations.

  9. Eddy Furlong
    Eddy Furlong says:

    Yes, you need a like button on here just I can just click it a few hundred times and be done with it.

  10. May
    May says:

    Yeah! Or female INTJ who stocks grocery store shelves. Definitely something “special”. I pulled a skid that was like 700lbs last night and feel so strong and should be asleep right now but I am being bad/stupid. :D

    My INFJ friend wishes I also took up offer to get yelled at by you because I think all INTJ enjoy being yelled at by you, but I hate the phone so, I will just enjoy by proxy!

    Thanks for always writing things even if sometimes they may be deranged, offensive, or exposing all your vulnerabilities.

  11. Aspie-Autistic1957
    Aspie-Autistic1957 says:

    You can tell if somebody’s daughter has a lot of Asperger’s traits. You can not tell if somebody’s daughter is an Aspie. There are just too many common traits between Autism and other conditions.

    As far as not being able to use “retard”, screw political correctness.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      sensory integration dysfunction, anxiety disorder, executive function dosorder, anorexia. I have never met a woman with one of these who did not have Aspergers (and also all the other things on this list.)

      Aspergers is genetic. So a good way to solve the puzzle is to start with anwoman with one if these and look for Aspergers in the mom or dad.


      • Aspie-Autustic1957
        Aspie-Autustic1957 says:

        I have no problem saying that I strongly suspect some people I know, historical figures, celebrities etc are on the spectrum. I will never claim they are Aspies. I did not know intimately as a toddler, I do not know thier inner thoughts, what they are like in private, what they are masking etc.

        Saying somebody like Bill Gates has a lot autistic traits and this shows Aspies can succeed is great. Trying to be helpful by telling another person you think they are on the spectrum can be helpful.

        Saying definitely somebody is on the spectrum because I think they are is something I do not do. How autistic of me.

  12. Barney Vincelette
    Barney Vincelette says:

    If someone wants to challenge a professional diagnosis show them a copy of the report of the evaluation that diagnosed you and demand that they explain how they earned the qualifications to say whether or not you met the criteria for your diagnosis.
    Too many uneducated people expect their opinions to be given the same authority as those who went through years of professional training at accredited university graduate schooling and apprenticeship.

  13. me
    me says:

    “You know that if a guy loves to go shopping and get his hair done then he’s gay.”

    This is true in middle America, but it isn’t really true in, say, NYC. (I mean, they’re still more likely to gay, but there are straight men around like that too.)

  14. William E. Donges III
    William E. Donges III says:

    Peoples need to tell others that they do or do not have a condition is part of their own rampant egoism. People should leave diagnosis to those qualified to make the assessment.

    People with ASD/Asperger syndrome are individuals. It is considered a spectrum disorder for a reason. And it is probably better understood not as a single spectrum but several interlocking ones.

    No two us are alike, men or women.

    But people want their labels and preconceptions to fit the neat easy prejudices.

    Such persons are best ignored. But it can sure be hard sometimes.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Its true that no two people with Aspergers are alike. But all people with Aspergers are easy to identify.

      This is true because social skills are patterns – patterns that society agrees on.

      So if someone violates the pattern for no good reason, its clear that they have Aspergers. For example, if all the girls at prom wear dresses and one wears pants, but the girl who wears pants always dresses like a boy anyway, then the lack of prom dress makes sense. And she is not *oblivious* to this obvious social rule, she is consciously violating it.

      The opposite is true when someone uses a formal suffix on their name, like III, in a blog comment. The suffix is a violation of a social rule – the suffix is too formal in comments. The is no logical reason to violate the rule, which means this person does not know they are violating a social rule.

      Which is all to say that I’d know you have Aspergers just from how you wrote your name. And that’s how I can tell who has Aspergers even though each person with Aspergers is different.


      • Kitty Kilian
        Kitty Kilian says:

        Haha! Yet I agree with III that autism is a spectrum disorder. Just as gender is a spectrum thing. So what exactly is Baron-Cohen saying? (I am referring to the New Scientist article)

        • Jay
          Jay says:

          Gender is spectrum????? I’m one of this traditionalists that says gender is XX or XY.

          Behavior on the other hand is always a spectrum, caused in part by both nature or nurture, and is the beauty of human individualism.

          • Danielle Wright
            Danielle Wright says:

            Yeah but scientifically it’s not always xx and it’s not always Xy and then there’s these things called hormones. Gender as a spectrum is scientific fact not an opinion.

  15. Nancy Riesco
    Nancy Riesco says:

    I agree with you on every point.
    And the sooner you get a kid with Asperger’s into every relevant therapy, the better. Otherwise life will be hell for them.

    • Eva
      Eva says:

      Not every relevant therapy, no. Definitely not ABA, for example. Lots of so-called therapies for autistics are actually harmful. Studies have shown that a more effective therapy is actually to educate the parents on autism. Also, in case someone argues about my use of the word “autistic”, Asperger’s is a word for a type of autism. People with Asperger’s are autistic.

  16. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    There are so many who insist you’re not or roll their eyes when you speak about something that you “have”. I have bipolar illness (I’ve experienced extreme highs where I don’t need to eat or sleep for days and have plenty of energy) and extreme lows. People will believe what they’re comfortable believing. Some things are more difficult for certain types of people (closed minded/upright/ignorant) to “get”.

  17. Shelley Kapach
    Shelley Kapach says:

    You are saying what I have been preaching but nobody wants to listen to me. I am certain that I am “high functioning autistic”(formerly known as Aspie) as I have raised one diagnosed son and have three other kids who I am sure are on the spectrum. Since I have adapted well enough to be a single parent, none of my doctors think I could be autistic. I have struggled all my life with OCD, depression, self harm, anorexia, bulimia,and was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos syndrome a few years ago which is now being linked to autism. What’s a person gotta do, get a PhD to prove it?

    • jessica
      jessica says:


      Good for you with all you’re able to achieve considering your hardships. Keep going, you don’t need to prove anything. You are handling your life because it is necessary. Keep seeking a doctor that will take you seriously.

  18. Jo
    Jo says:

    Autism and IQ are two separate measures. You do or don’t have autism = measure 1. Your IQ = measure 2. IQ is not part of autism criteria or vice versa. Aspie is a subset that requires both autism and high IQ, but it’s not that IQ that creates a certain type of autism. Autism is autism. IQ impacts how you deal with it.

    That autism manifests differently in women and isn’r recognised is hardly a surprise — medical research is always firstly male focused. Women are socialised from a very early age, whereas “boys can be boys”.

  19. Mia
    Mia says:

    It is sad for me that you are so aware of “Aspie girl’s” problems in society, and yet you spread stereotypes in case of gender issues. I wonder if you’re aware, that these stereotypes are harmful. There are plenty of women, that don’t want to stay at home with kids. There are so many men, that would rather stay with kids than “make money”. There are many ambitious girls aut there, who wish to be treated EQUALLY in terms of earnings. Do you think you help them? Do you really think every “neorotypical” woman love to do shopping?? Only about 30% of women have stereotypical, female brain. Other are more androgenic. And it is not being “culturally sensitive”, these are scientific facts you can easilly find online, which I think you should have done, before you wrote about this issues.

  20. Danica
    Danica says:

    You’re an excellent writer Penelope but so much of the content of what you write is bullshit. Myers Briggs is completely discredited in academic training for psychology because it has never been validated . But you make a lot of money putting people in one of 16 boxes and the gullible ones agree “yes this is me and explains everything about how I behave”. And of course everything is obvious to you because in this little world of boxes your comments rule. Unfalsifiable isn’t that right? Cause if they don’t agree they are just not as good at seeing patterns as you are. What people love is listening to someone who tells them they have all the answers and your brand of bullshit is very seductive to many. But all you are doing is putting people into little boxes. People are far more complex than your sweeping generalisations will allow.

    • Kitty Kilian
      Kitty Kilian says:

      I agree that Meyers Briggs is not very useful. I also agree that Penelope is not always right about everything. But I disagree that she willingly misleads her readers just to make money. Either way, this blog was about how she can often guess people she speaks to in a coaching call might have austistic streaks – and that I am very willing to believe. Even if you did not get a phd in psychology, you are able to recognise autism or depression or mania and lots of other things in others. It happens to me all the time, too ;-)

      I don’t often comment here but really, anyone who reads a few blogs every now and then can see that Penelope’s writing is about way more than making money by putting people in MB boxes. P. has set a standard for intelligent and inventive blogging that I have not yet seen surpassed. Let’s say she is a pioneer.

  21. Omaha1
    Omaha1 says:

    I am 56 and female and pretty sure I have Asperger’s, I was actually a programmer at one time.

    My biggest problem now is that my husband died three years ago, & I am lonely, but I am terrified to let someone new into my life. If only I could have a relationship where there is conversation from time to time (but only when I feel like it!) and maybe occasional physical intimacy, but other than that they would leave me alone. Because that is when I am happiest (being alone).

    I am trying to get to know a person better online (we have only met once in person). He seems very nice, not wealthy (I don’t need financial support), but kind and considerate and polite & well-spoken, but already I find myself dreading messages from him because I am annoyed with the interruption. Maybe I am just too messed up to have a real relationship with anyone…

    I tried to be honest from the beginning & I told him I was pretty crazy. I don’t think he knew what I meant & he said he is crazy too. Maybe I need to explain my mental illness in more detail so he will have a better idea whether he wants to become involved with someone like me.

    Also, regarding the word “retarded” – this is a medical term. Just because stupid people have used it as an insult does not mean we need to get rid of the word. I despise the idea that language must change because some people misuse a particular word, such as “Negro”, “Black”, or now “African-American”. All of which were perfectly good words until political correctness deemed them unacceptable. I think now you are just supposed to say “People of Color”. At least for the next few years.

    • Ellie
      Ellie says:

      No, “retarded” is not a medical term. It probably was in the past but it is not now. I am in Britain and am aware that American English and British English have differences but given what quite a few people on this thread have said about the word “retarded”, I get the strong impression that “retarded” is no longer acceptable in discourse on EITHER side of the pond.

      As for wanting to use the word “Negro” because you don’t think there’s anything wrong with it and you don’t think you should have to change your ways, I can only say this: use the word “Negro” and the majority of people now will perceive you as a racist. You might not have racist attitudes but that is how you will be perceived. You might think that is nonsense, you might feel very angry because people are objecting to your use of the word, but that is how it is: the word has become discredited. (Just as “mongol” is no longer acceptable for someone with Down’s Syndrome.) So, in short, if you are perfectly okay with not having any friends and possibly losing your job then, go ahead, say “Negro.”

      • Autistic1957
        Autistic1957 says:

        They are called thought police and social justice warroirs but what it comes down to is that they are bullies. Negro and retarded have become words synonymous with bigots because society let the bullies have thier way. Bullies are never satisfied, once they see you caved in, they will demand more knowing they will get more. Autistic is now use as a replacement insult for retard which became politically incorrect. In another 10 years the word autistic will be considered hate speech undoubtably replaced with something like “Theory of mind, sensory, repetitively challenged“

        • Ellie
          Ellie says:

          No. “Negro” and “retarded” have become unacceptable because lots of black people and people who have learning disabilities (and families of those with learning disabilities) have made it clear that they find those terms demeaning. It has not absolutely zilch to do with being a bully or a bigot, quite the opposite in fact. In what way are you being bullied if someone says to you “Please don’t use the word “Negro” or “retarded”, use another word”? You could but you choose not to. Okay, your choice, but there are consequences of that choice whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Insisting on using these words just makes the person using them look intolerant and unpleasant.

          • Autistic1957
            Autistic1957 says:

            If only they said please. This is not 1958 this is 2018. Usually what follows for using the words negro or colored people or retarded is bieng called a hater or a racist. If you are a public figure of any note and use those words there goes your career and you may look forward to having your computer account hacked. If somebody uses “Negro” it probably means they are really out of touch, not that they are going to dress up in a robe and get a torch, By the way there are people that get upset with with the word “black”. I guess they did not get the memo “black is beautiful”. It is “African-American” or “person of color” that is more up to date. It never ends it seems.

            Saying please is not bullying. Insisiting on it and calling you vile names is bullying.

            It is beyound me why people think “Negro” is racist but I do understand why “retarded” or more accuratly ‘retard” which has always been an insult is offensive to people. I have a different view about how to deal with the problem of legitimate words being turned into insults. It is called reappropriation. I am old enough to remember when “freak” was a pejorative used to describe hippies. The hippies turned the insult around and started calling themselves freaks with a sense of pride. Now “Let your freak flag fly” has a positive connotation. Same concept with “Autistic” which had and still has some was a stigmas attached to it.

  22. sarah
    sarah says:

    I wondered if you would tell me I have aspergers. I know I don’t, but I’m so socially inept at understanding cues.

    I don’t see the big deal about having aspergers. I think it’s because my step mom, and sister have it, and growing up with a bpd parent I’m pretty use to oddities.

    It was very obvious my sister has it, and it was very offensive to say there was something wrong. Now, as an adult she really struggles.

    There is a DJ on the radio who has aspergers. He is always trying to explain emotions.

    I feel like there is a huge difference between aspergers and autism. Having a child who is diagnosed with autism, I can see it.

  23. Chris Yeh
    Chris Yeh says:

    I still remember the conversation we had when I suggested, “Perhaps you should consider if the similarities you see in your own experiences to those of the men around you might indicate that you are on the spectrum.” People are so used to looking for ASD in men, that they fail miserably to find it in women.

    Of course, it’s actually very easy to find examples of women on the spectrum; just go visit Caltech!

    A school that focuses solely on math and science and admits people purely based on their abilities in those fields without regard for gender or ethnicity is a near-perfect filtering mechanism for finding high-functioning folks on the spectrum, of both genders.

  24. The (Dagnosed) Aspwhole
    The (Dagnosed) Aspwhole says:

    If you have not been Diagnosed, you cannot claim to “be”.


    No matter what you feel, or what interwebs “tests” you take, You do not “have” Asperger’s without FORMAL DIAGNOSIS.

    So, either get the diagnosis or STFU.

    • Aspie-Autistic1957
      Aspie-Autistic1957 says:

      One is an Aspie one or one is not. A diagnosis either self or by a licenced proffessional has nothing to do with it. I was diagnosed at age 55. I did not suddenly become autistic the day I was diagnosed. On the other hand if the clinicion with over 30 years experience with autism misdiagnosed me I am not an Aspie despite the official diagnostic report saying so.

  25. Sofia
    Sofia says:

    I don’t even have Aspergers, but my social skills are definitely worse than the average male’s.

  26. Jana
    Jana says:

    This is brilliant! And my own opinion of using the r word that we are all afraid to say- I’m guessing you did that to get peoples’s attention. I like that.

  27. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    About a month ago, I wrote to my brother to ask him and his wife (who is a nurse practitioner) their opinion about me getting tested for high functioning autism. I sent them a list of relevant characteristics, and they told me that even though on paper I may seem to have Aspergers, the way I behave face to face would indicate otherwise.

    I also wrote to my doctor to ask about testing, and he pretty much blew me off.

    Is there a national association that provides reliable testing?

    • Kelly
      Kelly says:

      Asperger Syndrome is not an actual diagnosis anymore. Rather, it all falls under the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Anyway, when I sought a diagnosis, I started with CEFAR. You can visit their website which is Locally, you can keep asking your physicians if they know where you can get evaluated. Keep asking no matter what you are told. You will not know if you have autism until you are formally tested. It doesn’t matter how you look.

      As an adult, I had trouble finding a team to test me. I got lucky when a friend of a friend heard my story. She had connections with the Medical University of South Carolina.

      I’m glad I was tested because despite my normal appearance, I still scored much higher for autism than even the psychologists predicted, so what you were told about how you come across face to face is wrong. Included in the evaluation are sensory issues, childhood behaviors, and a great deal of information not observed just by looking at a person. Just the summary of my evaluation was 26 pages long so that gives you an idea of just how much a psychologist needs to consider when making a diagnosis.

      A diagnosis helped me to understand the hidden problems I had, especially health problems which have all cleared up now. There is also a high incidence of thyroid problems in autistic females, and that in and of itself can really mess you up.

  28. Laura
    Laura says:

    So if you are potentially a woman in her 40s with Aspergers, what are you supposed to do?

    By that time what choices are left to make that will optomize your potential or minimize your pain?

  29. Tony
    Tony says:

    “admitting who you are is never going to make things worse.” is the money quote for me. I did things earlier in life (like go to college for a carrier that is extremely people and charisma oriented) that if I would have admitted to myself that I was not a good fit for and looked at other options I would have been much better off long term. Self discovery is a pain in the rear when it means shattering certain illusions about one’s self.

  30. Kelly Noll
    Kelly Noll says:

    After reading through the comments, I later realized that pretty much no one addressed anything you said about yourself and your experiences, so I am going to do it.

    You are a woman with Asperger’s, and as a woman with Asperger’s and with children, you are experiencing a deep pain of loneliness because you don’t have that extra time to come up with and utilize coping mechanisms that help you pass for normal in the world. Additionally, you have sleep problems (as do I) which make it harder to be in sync with the rest of the world, thereby perpetuating the social isolation.

    You are smart and witty so while a lot of people see the quirks, there is still a lot of insistence you are normal, and that’s a pain because when people think that, it feels like you’ve been tied up to some horses that drag you through the streets of town as they run full speed. The truth is, the world moves a little bit too fast, and it would be helpful for others to sometimes slow down instead of insisting that nothing’s wrong so you should be able to keep up. You can’t.

    You can also tell when you have encountered other women with Asperger’s or ASD, but no one is really listening to you about that, either. What do you know? You have Asperger’s! The same people who say you are normal, now say your opinion isn’t worth crap because you are too stupid to know anything at all. But you can tell because it is easy for you to detect patterns, which is a strength of a person with Asperger’s and patterns of behavior exist among people with autism, so that’s how you can tell.

    So, hi. I am Kelly. I am 46. I was diagnosed with HFA in 2005. I have an above average I.Q. I have a quick and great sense of humor and have always passed for normal…

    All that about myself was to say to others that Penelope’s post nailed it. She described a day in the life of a woman with Asperger’s perfectly. I, too, can tell within a few minutes if a person (male or female) is autistic, no matter how high functioning they are. And yes, females have their own tell-tale signs. ASD presents very differently in girls and women.

    It is easy for me to talk to men and even to be respected by them, who are, in turn, widely known (I am friends with a man who was once a roommate of Desmond Tutu, for example), but the loneliness from not having close female friendships is a butt kicker. I’m an introvert (INFP), but yes, I very much want to have close friendships. Except I don’t see that happening. It hurts.

    Everything she described–everything–is spot on accurate, and I don’t know if it matters to you, Penelope, but all I wanted to do is to write a post where someone wasn’t arguing with you, contradicting you, correcting you, or nit-picking about word usage. Rather I just wanted to say, thank you for writing, and I understand it all 100%.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thank you, Kelly. Its surprising to me how much better it makes me feel to have a person write a comment like this. I hope if I write thank you more times then more people will read your comment. Maybe more people will understand.

      Thank you.

    • Susan Johnson
      Susan Johnson says:

      Yes yes yes, thank you. This is the core of the post, and this is why I read Penelope. I’m not sure why the arguers are even here.

  31. Max
    Max says:

    OMG, everyone has autism now. You, Seinfeld, Gates, Einstein. Just because someone has tendencies doesn’t mean you have that condition. Every condition is an excess of something to the point that you are debilitated in some way. Not just because you share a similarity. If you like a tidy house, do you have OCD? If you cuss like a sailor, do you have Tourettes? If you are vain, are you now a pathological narcissist?

    I have two sons on the spectrum. One is very low functioning and one is very high, or Aspergers. For anyone confused, you would never doubt these young men have autism. If people know you and doubt you have autism, then, trust me, you don’t have autism. It is very challenging. VERY. And, it is much rarer for girls/women to be autistic than males.

    But you make it sound like so many of us have autism. It’s rampant enough and difficult enough without it being watered down, like ADHD became watered down. Everyone has that now too.

    Stop it already with the labeling of everything. People love to use labels as excuses. Oh, I can’t help it, I have a condition. Visit a classroom of children with autism or go to an Adult Training Center with people with autism; or visit my son, who while in college cuz, yes, he’s brilliant, will show you what real Aspergers looks like. He has no friends, he talks to imaginary people, he has no interests other than YouTube, reading and studying, he has difficulty telling time, doesn’t fully understand why things cost what they cost, struggles with slang (these are all astract concepts people with autism struggle with), yet he’s in advanced calculus cuz that makes sense to him.

    I can certainly see if you have some real personality issues, but autism? Come on.

    • Kelly Noll
      Kelly Noll says:

      This is the kind of idiocy and ignorance I meant in my own comment. I was first diagnosed with autism in 1973, but because I did not turn out to be “retarded” as expected, my parents chose not to tell me of the diagnosis. I was supposed to enter into remedial classes in the first grade because I didn’t speak often, but standardized revealed I was already reading on a 6th grade level, and I scored in the 99th percentile across the board. I ended up in advanced classes instead. I rarely studied and never missed the honor roll in 13 years of elementary and high school. In college my lowest grade was a B+.

      Life was pretty much okay until my 30’s, but then I sought a diagnosis myself after living with nothing but crippling health problems that on the surface seemed unrelated. I also then realized I had a serious inability to get along with other people–I figured there had to be a root cause. I was evaluated by a team of psychologists associated with the Medical University of South Carolina. Prior to face to face meetings with that team, they interviewed family members and sent me one questionnaire after another. The process took an entire 9 months. Why? Because one has to meet stringent criteria to receive an autism diagnosis. We aren’t talking about “tendencies” here. I am autistic. Period. No matter how well I appear to function in the opinion of others.

      Basically, I’m saying you know absolutely nothing in terms of who and who doesn’t have autism, and there’s nothing that infuriates me more than the kind of insensitivity you so crassly displayed here.

      • Kate
        Kate says:

        I really appreciate both your comments- I have little and peripheral only experience with autistic people (children) as a teacher for a few years. And I find Max’s (the commentator above) comments to be utterly wrongheaded and indefensible. A real “wtf?!” Moment for me.

    • Kate
      Kate says:

      Is that why they call it a spectrum perhaps? Not everyone with autism ‘looks’ the same (meaning that behaviour does not look the same) why is this hard to understand?

      • Kelly Noll
        Kelly Noll says:

        Hi, Kate. Thank you for your comments as well as for your kindness. Anyway, I’m only hypothesizing here, but to answer your question, yes. I believe calling autism a spectrum disorder has to do with how severely and varied people are affected.

        An analogy is the spectrum of a rainbow. One light shines through a prism yet produces seven different colors. Somehow, just a few factors (albeit they seem to be unclear factors–at least to me) create autism but how it is expressed in a person varies so much.

        What’s more is that a single person can move through the spectrum themselves. I’ve personally seen that happen (going from severely autistic in childhood to later being diagnosed with just ADD). It’s rare to see that kind of improvement, but it happens.

        To anyone else reading this comment, if you respond, please understand that while Penelope hasn’t seemed to mind being talked to like she’s garbage, the truth is, it’s totally unacceptable. I finally was able to wrap my head around the concept of boundaries (an abstract concept which is hard or sometimes impossible for autistic people to understand), and now there is no way in this world I will listen to you talk to me the way you speak to her. Seriously, not even Facebook or Twitter comes close to abusing people the way most of you feel free to do here.

        Penelope, FYI, you mostly get abused here. Maybe you need me to coach you on boundaries. I won’t even charge you anything. This is ridiculous.

    • May
      May says:

      I like how Penelope talks about how women with autism present differently than their male counterparts and tend to be underdiagnosed and Max comes in to talk about how his two SONS prove that undiagnosed women are not autistic. lol

      I think if you have read enough of Penelope’s blog and her antics and life struggles, you will definitely agree that something is really “off” about her. And if you are going to cluster her with anorexia, ocd, anxiety, executive dysfunction disorder, mood disorders etc., it may as well be autism as the overarching problem. Just because Penelope can talk/write well and understands money doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a bunch of problems that autism would bestow upon her and that she is doing her best to cope with.

      As for MBTI, Penelope, you spend a lot of time with your Ne 5th function, which probably drives you into bad places and decisions more than you’d like that to happen! Kelly is right that this often involves boundary issues and pressing everyone’s buttons (along with Te–entp have the same problem with Ne dom and Te 5th function!). I hope you’re learning to balance out your tendencies better with all the life changes you have going on.

    • Aspie-Autistic1957
      Aspie-Autistic1957 says:

      I agree with you that there is too much lazy diagnosing based on outward appearences. But “undiagnosing” people based on outward appearences or their blog is just as wrong. By the time autistics are well into adulthood many have learned what behavoirs will get them negative consequences and how to hide their autistic traits. They have learned to some degree non verbal communication and interpreting others non verbal communication by study and trial and error, skills that come naturally to most people.

    • Joanne
      Joanne says:

      Recent research has shown that aspergers/autism manifests differently in females than it does males. Females are more adept at masking or faking it to get by or fit in. It’s called a spectrum for a reason meaning their are varying degrees of severity and it manifests differently in different people. I was diagnosed last year and if you met me, you’d never know. Why? Because I have spent most of my life working on acquiring enough social and executive functioning skills to get by in this world. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with certain things that others take for granted. There’s no need to show such hostility towards others whose struggle is different than yours (or your sons).

    • Lo
      Lo says:

      It’s hilarious that you used OCD as an example, because the vast majority of people with OCD are undiagnosed!

      Maybe do some reading about rates of incidence vs rates of diagnosis, and you’ll understand better. Good luck!

  32. Cheryl Child
    Cheryl Child says:

    Spot on and honest as usual. I’m 70 now and really enjoying being out of the multi-task lie of existence. I worked as a receptionist most of the time and considered it my problem if I had to work out my own way of navigating oh, say, printing labels with a dot matrix printer. I just stayed after hours until I got it to work (unpaid). Of course it had to be perfectly aligned, centered, etc, so that the next day I could do it and answer the phone at the same time.

    Now I’m in heaven in my Quicken accounting world, creating budgets that work and reports that astound CPA’s whenever I have a moment of self doubt about filing my own taxes.

    I also recognize what seem to me to be obvious patterns and I’m seldom surprised by “world shattering” events like mortgage meltdowns and Donald Trump as president. It’s the Cassandra curse however. Predictions are a useless talent in this world. Like flexible hips…great for yoga and sex, but that’s about it.

  33. Ana
    Ana says:

    Thank you Penelope, you cannot imagine how your blog helped me to understand myself. There is nothing like your words that define me so well. I will be forever grateful. I had a coaching session with you last November, I am a financial accountant and I am terrible with figures. But nobody sees that because ironically, I have always managed to avoid figures in all the jobs that I had so far… I always get projects in which I can use my pattern recognition skills and a lot of alone time to hide and read. So people always believe that I am someone that I am not. All my life is like that, there is the mask and there is me. Even my own parents still don’t believe that I have AS !

  34. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    P, how much to you think obstacles you’ve personally faced had to do with Asperger’s and how much had to do with the abuse you suffered? Did the abuse exasperate certain things that come with Asperger’s? Could abuse make someone on the spectrum be dismissed as in “Oh, they are that way because of abuse, not Asperger’s.”

  35. Kate Gibson
    Kate Gibson says:

    Whether or not you have Asperger’s is irrelevant. My daughter has it, and she is NOTHING like you. But that is also irrelevant. This post is just so incorrect on so many levels. You seriously think that gender roles are biological and not social constructs? Wow. For someone who counts herself as smart and educated, you come off as neither in this post.

    • Julia
      Julia says:

      I have always wanted someone who holds this opinion to explain hormones to me. I recognize this description of female aspergers in myself (though I’m not diagnosing myself, just relating to some of the characteristics), but I’m undeniably at the mercy of the sex hormones that are higher in women than men, and very low in testosterone. I *know* that gender is a social construct, but I think it’s BS to deny a very strong biological basis for gender and gender roles based on sex hormones. I’ve never seen anyone address this, so Kate Gibson if you’re still here, maybe you can respond?

    • XNDR
      XNDR says:

      Here here!

      Clearly I can’t exist… Pardon me for being autistic and non-binary!

      I remember someone from a dating website sending me one of Penelope’s posts about sex years ago and asking me if I was like her in bed…Like my neurotype was some exotic bizarre kink to be bragged about.

      Thanks to him, I would always remember that name and in a bad way.

      Having read this…. WOW. I freely admit to being proudly unPC but at least I move with the times and understand that gender, people and life are fluid in nature.

      Thank you for making me resent your name even more Penelope Hun. Thank you. You should meet my colleague, The Misfit Analyst. Both of you are equally unreconstructed and conservative, and you’re both cis straight people! 👍👍👍

  36. Anna
    Anna says:

    My daughter has Asperger Syndrome but was initially diagnosed as autistic when she was five due to her severe delay and lack of speech, repetitive behaviors, food issues, etc. ABA therapy helped but so did time. She is nearly 20 and functions at a level more typical of a young teen. She can cook simple meals, take the bus, volunteer at an animal shelter and is pretty good about taking care of her personal hygiene but she can’t navigate the world independently and lives with me full-time.
    Penelope says that she has yet to meet a woman with Asperger’s who doesn’t want friends but my daughter doesn’t have friends, and could not care less. I’m wondering if this is because I’m such an introvert that I also avoid having close friends. I don’t mind getting together for coffee once in a while but I’m fiercely protective of my time outside of work (a very social career) and prefer long email chats over in-person visits. People, for the most part, exhaust me. I’m pretty sure I don’t have Aspergers since I score pretty low on the online tests but I know I’m socially awkward (can’t stand small talk) and perhaps a little different. I blame this on family violence and emotionally abusive parents, a bullying sibling and my own introversion. In any case, this sense that I was different as a child and different as an adult has only become stronger since entering my forties. I don’t date—haven’t dated in 9 years–and don’t miss male companionship. An abusive relationship with a sociopath soon after my divorce a decade ago cured me of ever wanting to date again. I don’t understand the somewhat frantic efforts of the middle-aged single women in my office who act as if being alone at mid-life is the worst thing possible. (The divorced women in my office seem pretty happy about being single though.) In any case, this is a long-winded response to Penelope’s assertion that women with Aspergers need/want to have friends and suffer from loneliness. I think there must be exceptions to this because neither my daughter nor I are lonely although we are alone and quite contentedly so.

    • Kelly Noll
      Kelly Noll says:

      I’m taking liberties here, but I think P may have been addressing the tendencies of others to assume she has certain traits based on an extremely limited understanding of how autism affects people–and by people I mean, males.

      And I think in return, most people here seem to feeling that some of her comments are overgeneralized. Yet, my personal experience with what people have said to me regarding autism, confirms that Penelope is more right than wrong, so I’m not bothered by what she said, or how she said it.

      But yes, being alone and feeling lonely are different. And I have been very much like your daughter–or I was when I was in my 20’s. I lived alone and went for weeks without conversing with anyone. A short exchange with a grocery store cashier would seem to do the trick for human contact, and that would be that.

      After my autism diagnosis, I was prescribed a very low dose of Adderall (sometimes as little as 5 mgs per day). As a result I became more social and more desirous of getting to know people well. Interestingly, I am also known for being an affectionate person which is not what one thinks of when they think “autism.”

      As for what you said, about not liking small talk–that is a standard trait of introversion and has nothing to do with autism. It tends to be draining to an introvert.

      I scored 100% in introversion on a professionally given MBTI test so I’m with you in that when I’ve been in a socially demanding situation, as soon as it’s over I don’t want to see or talk to a soul. The only time I make allowances is if someone needs me and my lack of response will wound that person. That’s rare but it happens.

      Thanks for writing about the changes in your daughter. That’s exactly what I was trying to describe when I told another commenter that it is possible for even a single individual to move through the spectrum and see improvement over time. And it doesn’t have to happen when a person is young. The most progress I’ve seen in my own life began when I was 36 and is still happening even 10 years later.

      And thanks for not being rude.

  37. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I’m curious, why do you say that someone with Asperger’s is ‘the 35 year old who is afraid of getting fired again?’ Asking because that describes me almost perfectly (and I just recently realized that I’m autistic), but I don’t understand why that would be an indicator? Still reading up on Austism and Asperger’s as quickly as I can.

    • Kelly Noll
      Kelly Noll says:

      In the grand scheme of an evaluation by a psychologist trying to determine if you had autism, if you were 35 and had been fired from a job once every year to two years or so, and you didn’t understand why you had been fired over and over again, this would be a sign that your social skills aren’t well developed, which is an indication of autism, but it is just one. There are many others.

      Feel free to wait for Penelope’s answer. I compulsively answer questions, which may get on her nerves, or your nerves. If so, I’m sorry. And she may have a better response too.

      • Lisa
        Lisa says:

        I appreciate every response. I’m 37 and just realized I’m autistic this year. I’ve been fired several times for reasons that are still not clear to me, so that part of the article really resonated with me, since I’m currently in a position that I really quite like, that suits me somewhat well, and that I’m TERRIFIED of getting fired from.

      • Lilian
        Lilian says:

        Great Job, Kelly! I’m sure Penelope won’t be annoyed at you for responding compulsively. You’re doing a great job. Carry on!

  38. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    Great post! A good girlfriend of mine definitely seems to be on the spectrum. She did alright in school (pre college) but has had an impossible time trying to organize her adult life. Completely perplexed by normal social behaviors and dynamics.

    As far as using the word “retarded”…LOL. Use it! I’m with Bostonian- retard /“late” has such an important and useful meaning.

    I read Penelope’s blog because she has her own POV, not a sheep. ✊

  39. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Thanks for the post! I’m one of the women that Penelope coached for a discount who may have Aspergers, and I’m learning more about myself. Thanks.

  40. Claire
    Claire says:

    Why do ENFP’s “hold on to fantasies that they will be doing something phenomenal in life and bounce around from shiny idea to shiny idea instead of having a family?”

    I agree. This is me to a T. How can ENFP’s remedy this?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I read the books for kids that teach social skills. I find my understanding never exceeds those of teens, so all those books are appropriate.

      The best teaching tool is to have to deal with someone else who has Aspergers and see how incredilbly annoying they are — and oblivious — because I see that’s me, too. But without having to be the oerson int he receiving end, I can’t se it.


      • Lo
        Lo says:

        Thanks for the awesome tip. I just this year realized I’m one of us, and am still coming to terms with all the implications and figuring out where to go from here. I’ve looked into books for kids/teens like you mentioned (actually got the idea from learning Spanish, and finding kids’ books are on my level). But it hadn’t occurred to me to try talking to (and being annoyed by) other AS folks.

        It makes perfect sense! I’ve had an odd habit of occasionally engaging with awful trolls/arguing people on the internet for decades. For the first several years, I wondered why I put myself through something so unpleasant, but eventually realized I was learning so much about people and how to talk to them when they’re upset… what works and what definitely doesn’t! It makes perfect sense that talking with people who are also on the spectrum, but less focused on integrating with society, would be informative. I’m going to subscribe to some autism subreddits right now, and look for infuriating conversations to join!

        Thank you so much; I just found your web site but I can already tell I’m going to be a huge fan.

      • Susan Smith
        Susan Smith says:

        yes, I think marrying my husband has taught me a lot about how annoying autistic people can be. I’m sure it has improved my social skills immeasurably. I consider myself autistic for the sake of learning about my social communication deficits, and I doubt I could get anyone to diagnose me, though I think of trying.

  41. Meghan DiCocco
    Meghan DiCocco says:

    My favorite part of this was the ending sentence, “You are who you are — admitting who you are is never going to make things worse.” I think that applies to everyone, no matter you personality style or whether or not you have Aspergers.
    I also liked the shout out to the ENFPs! (I am am one and I used to wish I was a different type, perhaps one that is better at follow-through, but now I am happy with who I am and all of my quirky ways)

  42. C.R Jones
    C.R Jones says:

    Wow! Alot of responses – entertaining AND engaged. I am not an Aspie but just want to add my thanks for the post. Since I became more aware of ASD I have discovered I know alot of people who meet many of these behaviour traits. It has really helped me in my interactions with them. For many of these people I genuinely do enjoy their company – although the lack of “*normal” reciprocity is challenging. [*And I use that term advisedly.]

    Many are work related but some are social. And in that regard it has really helped as a member of my church has a 23yr old daughter who has been diagnosed since early teens as Aspie and has always been a challenge – bur this blog helps me understand her much better.

    And I would also say that many Aspie Men do not appear to present as what some call “retarded”. However as high functioning individuals they have learnt and adopted many skills that allow them to appear “normal” except as one gets to know them – aspie traits become more obvious – and you have done a good job describing some here as well as the ways you believe aspies can meet/overcome/deal with any challenges they present.


    • Aspie-Autistic1957
      Aspie-Autistic1957 says:

      The fact that Autistic people mature, learn coping skills, find out what is considered socially appropriate by experience is lost on all these people that say you are not autistic or do not have “real autism” if you are high fuctioning/mild/Aspie.

      It is one thing if some internet troll states this, it is another when clinicions do not diagnose you, undiagnose you, or misdiagnose you because you do not meet the 1968 definition of autism.

  43. Anna
    Anna says:

    This is all very interesting. What is the difference between a female INTP and a female with Asperger’s? I’m only half way through the post and it is making me think about my own situation. I’ve always hit it off with either brainy females or engineer-type men. Even the former runs out of gas often. I always thought that the reason I got along so well with the mathematically-inclined men was that I’m a T-type and like math and I like men romantically. But an INTP female is not so common and my interactions with females usually have a gap in them. Either I’m bored or they are bored. We’re after different things. I like ideas and analysis and they want to talk about all of their feelings. I don’t think I have Asperger’s as a lot of the INTP traits might have something in common, like not really caring much for social convention. I care about the overall feeling of an interaction, but not the protocols of talking in ways that are like chit chat for fun or keeping things from offending someone’s ego, like the protocols of “respect”.

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      Just got to the end of the post. Now I’m really wondering. I have a lot of brain power but haven’t been employed at any level comparable. One time after one our frequent conversations, an engineer at an office I worked at, just flopped his head to the front desk where I was covering a lunch break, and said with shocked exasperation, “You are so underemployed!” And I hadn’t even known that before he said that. I felt an itch in that area, but had no idea. Also wondered why I wasn’t married at 30, got married at 35 to probably a spectrum guy. I’m starting to wonder…

      • Anna
        Anna says:

        I mean I kind of knew I was underemployed but didn’t know what to do about it and it made me think I wasn’t underemployed because the skill to be properly employed must be part of being properly employed. But I always excel at jobs. Not someone who gets fired. That has never happened.

      • Anna
        Anna says:

        I know I’m over-commenting. I’m just curious about this puzzle. I don’t have a lot of the issues people are describing in the comments. I’m groggy until 11am but don’t have sleep issues, I love filing taxes, I love to work, and I like to organize bills. Never have had anything like anorexia (PT mentioned that as a trait). So maybe I’m not Aspie. Just some of those other things I mentioned seemed to fit. Also, I’m very right brained and have no problem reading non-verbal cues and facial expressions. :)

        • Kelly Noll
          Kelly Noll says:

          I think that the differences in an INTP female and one with ASD may be subtle but they exist.

          To be underemployed means a person is not working at the level their education suggests they can. If a person has master’s but is working at McDonald’s, that’s a sign.

          My great-aunt was most likely an INTP but was not autistic. She worked for the US Department of Labor her entire working life. Aunt Valda co-authored a study on the working conditions of women in Philadelphia’s factories. She often commuted to Washington D.C. from Pennsylvania for her job.

          She was also married. She ran an efficient home and had a full sewing room in her basement. Additionally, she volunteered in the community and was into aerobics long before Jane Fonda came around.

          An INTP female with autism could never handle that kind of activity in her life. The organizational skills just aren’t there. Neither are the interpersonal skills.

          As far as what Penelope said, in terms of anorexia. “Anorexia” literally means “without appetite.” It does not mean “emaciated from not eating.” Many autistic children do not like to eat and are fearful of trying new foods. I was one of those kids. I no longer have a limited palate, and Lord knows I now love to eat, but many adults with Asperger’s may not have much of appetite. I’m not sure. But overall, it’s not one of the big traits that a psychologist looks for when determining ASD. They are first and foremost concerned with social skills and communication.

        • Susan Smith
          Susan Smith says:

          Hi Anna, I like your sequence of posts. They resonate with me, and I too wonder. I think it’s worth a deep look, because even if it’s INTP-ness and not Asperger’s (I’m INFP), the life experiences can overlap so much that the coping strategies are useful, and the shock of recognition is very satisfying when it comes to stories of underemployment and relationship fizzles.

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