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In other words, women are just far better at pretending to be normal.
While a boy with Asperger’s will present as ‘agitated, clumsy and immature’, says Attwood, an AS girl will be far better at covering her condition through imitation.
‘An avid observer of human behaviour’, she will learn what to do or say, how to copy others and so go unnoticed; unlike the AS boy, she will ‘apologise and appease’. Her social awkwardness has been evident since she shot to fame in Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, but she has tried to fit into the ‘normal’ world – smiling for photo shoots, making TV appearances.
She recently described her AS diagnosis as ‘a relief’. Attwood says that working so hard to ‘avoid social error’, and so slip through the diagnostic net, is emotionally exhausting for AS women, and can lead to extreme stress and anxiety.
She also urges him to say when he needs something he is not getting from her. On the bright side, AS women adjust quite easily to motherhood – as babies and small children thrive on a strict routine, and so do Aspies!
It is no coincidence that Asperger’s in relationships has become a hot topic since the boom in online dating websites, which has seen a parallel rise in the number of ‘mixed marriages’, or those between one Asperger’s partner (almost always the man) and one ‘neuro-typical’ partner (the woman).
But if you focus on the positive aspects, it could make him the ideal husband Is your other half more likely to remember the score of the FA Cup final 12 years ago than he is to buy a present for your child’s birthday?
This may explain why Boyle entered the Priory clinic after her BGT breakthrough, unable to cope with her fame and, presumably, the accompanying pressure to appear ‘normal’.
According to a spokesperson for the NAS, a woman with AS may struggle to make female friends, because of the ‘complex way that women build friendships – the subtlety and nuance’ (as compared with more straightforward men).
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Britain’s leading authority on autism, argues that all autism is, in fact, just varying degrees of ‘having an extreme male brain’, which emphasises systemising over empathising (an extreme female brain would do the opposite, and a ‘balanced brain’ would do both equally).
So much credence has been given to his point of view that it now has its own official name: the Extreme Male Brain (EMB) theory of autism.