Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Review: Asperger’s and Girls (It’s For Women with Asperger’s Too!)

Although the book Asperger’s and Girls (2006, Future Horizons) sounds like it’s aimed at children on the autistic spectrum, adult women with autism and Asperger’s will also find this book useful. The book is compiled of chapters on different topics, each written by different authors, such as Tony Attwood and Temple Grandin, as well as lesser known individuals.
As always, Tony Attwood presents interesting information, such as the fact that, although girls are less likely than boys to actually have Asperger’s (male to female about 4:1) they are even less likely be assessed for it (10:1). Couple that fact with the general under-diagnosis of adults on the spectrum, and it’s clear that there are many women with Asperger’s who may or may not have a diagnosis, and many who don’t get the support they need.
The more adults themed chapters of this book present some interesting viewpoints on relationships, marriage, motherhood, and the different challenges women on the autistic spectrum face. These chapters question the conventional ideas that everyone "should" get married or have a relationship, and the idea that all people are happier in relationships. Temple Grandin makes a brief but eloquent argument that, for many individuals on the autism spectrum, the goal of life is not emotional relatedness. She explains that for her meaningful work is what gives her life meaning and that she’s happiest when doing projects. She nicely differentiates social skills from emotional relatedness.
In my other blog, for parents of kids with special needs, Social Skills for Kids, I've reviewed the chapter on social issues and bullying. Although it's aimed at a high school crowd, the material is so clearly and logically presented, that it may be of value to adults with Asperger's and autism as well. We've all seen the bullies and cliques don't disappear after high school!
This book is a good introduction to a topic that is just starting to be explored.