Xanthippa on Aspergers

Tools to help Aspies conquer the World!

Aspergers: not just ‘extreme male-brain’ syndrome

REPOSTED FROM Xanthippa’s Chamberpot:

If you have done some reading up on Aspergers, you have likely come across the description of it as ‘an extreme male brain’ syndrome.  It is a ‘quick and easy’, one-phrase explanation that ‘makes sense’ to some people.  I’ve often wondered if this theory is based more on the ‘men are bad at social skills, women are bad at math’ stereotype than on anything actually particular to Aspergers itself.

It seems I am not alone in being a little uncomfortable describing aspergers as ‘extreme male brain’…to the contrary, many suggest that this description of Aspergers arose because it was only studied in males.  And only in a particular type of males, to boot!

Here is an extremely good rebuttal of that idea, written by Felinophile, a young woman who also happens to be an Aspie:

This theory that people with Aspergers have an extreme male brain is sexually-discriminatory, as it is based on studies of Aspergers males and people who fit the Asperger-male sterotype. It completely ignores the way Aspergers manifests in women, which is part of the reason it is seen as controversial.

Like a lot of Aspergers girls, though, I don’t fit the Asperger-male stereotype; while I have difficulty interpreting and expressing body language and facial expressions I have learnt over time to mimic others behaviour and responses, and to form a rough checklist for interpreting other people’s behaviour. While I have good spatial abilities, and do better than non-Aspergers girls in some areas of maths, I never had a gift for mathematics; instead, it was for language, as it is for some other Asperger girls

Read the rest here.

UPDATE:  There were two comments this post had received on the ‘Xanthippa’s Chamberpot’ blog, before I migrated the post here, which are – I think – very important.  I would like to address the substance of what they said – in an abridged form…  This bit of the post is a ‘new rant’!


This post is not suggesting that ‘male’ and ‘female’ brains ought to be treated as ‘equal’:  clearly, there are some demonstrated structural differences between ‘male’ brains and ‘female’ brains.  It is precisely because of this difference in the ‘hardware’ – the physical structure of the brain – that male and female Aspies tend to display different ‘outward’ symptoms.

Of course, just like in EVERY segment of population, these are ‘statistical’ differences and individual brains must not be limited by them.

BUT, this does not negate the criticism that the ‘mostly female Aspie symptoms’ are currently ABSENT from most diagnostic criteria for Asperger Syndrome…  Still, Aspies – both male and female – need different ‘tool-set’ of strategies and learning techniques than ‘neurotypical people’ need,  in order to succeed in life.  This ‘tool-set’ is actively being denied to female Aspies, because many ‘experts on Aspergers’ have failed to even acknowledge the very different way Aspergers manifests in females.

Therefore, they only diagnose males with Aspergers – and only male Aspies receive help (from this very influential sub-set of ‘Asperger Syndrome experts’).  It is a circular argument…THESE (extreme minority) are the ‘symptoms’ to be used in diagnosis – only males with these symptoms are diagnosed – it’s a ‘male-brain’ thing  because, look, ‘no girls have it’…

THAT is the criticism here…


This is NOT a statement of ‘political correctness’!

If the language is confusing, please, accept my apologies.

What this post is attempting to address is the real-life, self-reinforcing fallacy which defines ‘Asperger Syndrome’ based on external manifestations of a small sub-group of Aspies, all of them male…. when we KNOW that many males and the vast majority of females who ARE Aspies have a very different external manifestations of the same underlying condition!

Recognizing and acknowledging this limitation in clinical-diagnostic guidelines put out by this influential sub-group of ‘experts’ is the first step in fixing the problem, so that all Aspies receive the TYPE of education (and it is a different set of learning tools that Aspies need than is being taught in ‘regular’ classrooms) which will allow them to reach their potential and become successful adults!

I am allergic to ‘political correctness’ – it puts image and appearances above substance and observed reality:  in other words, it ‘breaks the rules’ to make things look ‘just so’.  This post is NOT about political correctness – it is about a systemic mis-understanding of Asperger Syndrome, based on limited observations by limited – but influential – ‘experts’ in this field….and one which overlooks the demonstrable differences in the structure of the male and female brains!

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17/06/2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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