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www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Could you be half-way through your Masters without knowing it?
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The fact you ar e concerned
about your daughter is a
strong sign that it would
be wor thwhile to seek
professional advice from
a paediatrician or child
Disorder (or high functioning autism) may
present quite differently in girls and can
often go unnoticed for many years , if at all.
According to Professor Tony Attwood, girls
and boys do share many of the common
char acteristics of Asperger's. However
girls , usually unwittingly, come up with
coping strategies that mask their difficulties
in social situations.
Some signs of Asperger's in girls include :
• Experiencing sensory sensitivity,
par ticularly auditor y and tactile. For
example, she may be frightened of loud
or sudden noises ; become anxious or
distr essed at too many competing sounds
at the same time; the TV volume may be
considered "too loud"; yelling and r aised
voices may be quite anxiety-provoking.
She may also dislike cer tain materials in
clothing or complain about the "itchiness"
of clothing tags. She may seek solace in a
quiet place as a result of sensory issues.
• More intense and focused interests
than other girls. She may "collect" and
"organise" toys rather than "play" with
toys. She may also prefer to be alone so
she can play the way she wants to play.
Or she may not want to play what her
friends are playing so she may leave the
room, or the situation, in order to do
what she finds more interesting.
• A wonderful vocabular y, even at a young
age. Where boys may be more interested
in facts , girls can have an intense interest
in reading and escaping into the world
of fiction and fantasy. Girls may also love
escaping in nature and through animals.
• Difficulty in coping with change, even
small changes such as the tr ansition from
one activity to another. This may look like
tears and tantrums and she could seem
defiant. Also, despite her high intelligence,
she may appear to str uggle with following
instr uctions. This could be due to being
given multiple instr uctions within the
one instr uction, or because she needs
more detailed information to complete
the task. Children with Asperger's take
situations and speech literally and find
it difficult to "read between the lines",
so you may see confusion around an
instr uction that someone else seems to
understand so easily.
• Taking instr uctions liter ally which can
cause confusion. Sometimes this is not
obvious with girls because they are more
likely to imitate other girls around them
or apologise for their "mistakes". Girls
with Asperger 's can lear n to appear
"successful" in social interactions but if
we get to know their inner world, we will
often find a confused and emotionally
exhausted child inside. Being "successful"
requires a lot of energy and "acting" in
ways that do not come natur ally.
This list is by no means exhaustive. It is
impor tant to know that many children who
do not have Asperger's may have some of
the above features.
For further reading, visit
Team Leader, registered
psychologist Tanya Russell,
will address an issue each
The advice provided is
general in nature and does
not replace ongoing support
and advice from your health
professional. To talk to
someone about counselling
support, P 4979 1172. Email
your question to aurora@
mn.catholic.org.au or write
to Aurora-CareTalk PO Box
756 Newcastle 2300.
QOur nine year-old son was diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder two years ago. I am now concerned
about our eleven year-old daughter who is in many ways, similar to her brother in terms of his social
skills difficulties. She does not seem to have any outward behaviour cues or problems like her brother,
but she is very different from other girls her age. I now wonder whether Asperger's might appear
differently in girls?
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