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.
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.