Asperger’s and Girls

Asperger's and Girls coverAsperger’s and girls : world-renowned experts join those with Asperger’s Syndrome to resolve issues that girls and women face every day!
Attwood, Grandin, et. al.

Submitter: I’m autistic, and this book (which I found in the public library where I work), contains some of the most sexist and shallow advice for teenage girls, autistic or not, I have ever encountered. The essay by Lisa Iland is particularly horrid. Her rigid hierarchy of popularity puts “unique and unusual groups” squarely at the bottom. She tells girls that unless they “mainstream their image” they will have few friends. In addition, she tells girls to avoid talking about science or science fiction because to her, those things aren’t acceptable topics “for girls”. Instead, she says to gossip about boys, fashion, and celebrity, even if you have no interest in these things. This book will only encourage autistic girls to hide who they are, which will lead to fleeting, shallow popularity rather than true friendship. Eventually, faking “normal” can cause anxiety and depression. Time to weed this one.

Holly: Foreward Magazine’s Book of the Year Award Winner? Temple Grandin is a featured expert? Both of those facts give this book credibility. However…the images Submitter has provided tell another story. I’m a bit shocked by this for all the reasons Submitter states.

Mainstream your image

What girls talk about

Popularity hierarchy


    1. I’m pretty sure it’s not true. And at the time this book was published, TRL had been off the air for eight years. There’s evidently a rebooted version on MTV now, but it doesn’t sound very popular.

      1. In Canada we had Much Music. And in the 90’s I mostly only watched it because it had The Ren and Stimpy Show and Pop-Up video. As a teen I watched hours and hours of cartoons. I also liked video games. I never understood why I couldn’t talk about my special interests but it was perfectly okay for everyone else to go on and on about whatever they liked that I found incredibly boring.

    2. Nope. They’d just go to YouTube if they wanted to watch a particular music video. MTV has been failing for a while now.

  1. We have this but I never read it, mostly because although I’m considered on the spectrum, my diagnosis is different from Asperger’s and not everything related to it really fits me.

    I’m surprised they didn’t see Disney’s marketing push to girls for Star Wars. Really it’s more complicated though because there are many fans like me devoted to the Legends timeline and getting it continued. So bringing SW up can be awkward if the other person starts talking about Disney canon.

  2. JUST NO. I am the mother of a son with autism. This is HORRIBLE advice! I also work in a public library and see teens with autism. I would never tell them to do these things.

  3. Gah! I’m not on the spectrum, and I would much rather talk about Star Wars and Sci Fi than “boys, fashion, and celebrity”, even back when I was a teen! Attitudes like this is what led to “Gamergate”, and the volume of threats against women who liked gaming and sci fi.

  4. The brother wanting to date ‘above his station’ is what a lot of boys do. They think they ‘deserve’ it because of institutional sexism.

  5. I totally understand why all those commenting hate this book. As a young woman, I did not present as “normal” to those who worried about such things — too much science, science fiction, general knowledge, academic interests, etc., etc., combined with not much interest in dress, make-up, consumerism in general, and so on. And yet, the ostracism hurt, until I found my fellow nerds of all stripes and types, and then I didn’t care. (I had unusual parents, and apples don’t fall far from trees.)

    On the other hand…

    I can see that if I found people and relationships baffling, and if I was better at sorting and categorizing things than at dealing with the slippery indefiniteness of people, I might turn to a book like this for help. It’s so tempting to think that these problems can be solved if you just can crack the secret code! So I don’t think the intent is faulty; it’s the sexist message in which that intent is wrapped.

  6. Here’s a better piece of advise: be your best self, whoever that is, and if there are people who don’t accept that, then that’s their loss. Enjoy the ones who do. My kids’ best friend is autistic, they accept him for who he is quirks and all. And he doesn’t have to even try to “fit in” with them. This type of book will just make the girls feel even more hopeless.

  7. I’ve mentioned before on this site that I was diagnosed with Asperger’s in my late 20’s in 2001, but I was sure I’d never get actually get to see one of the many books about autism in general that deserve to be on ALB, let alone one targeted towards girls. I’m quite delighted. I wasn’t even diagnosed as a teen but this book is basically telling girls what adults were trying to force me to do. And what they tried to force me to do when I was a young adult which eventually led to the darkest and most horrific times in my whole life. Horrible, horrible book. 🙂

  8. In other words, don’t be yourself, suppress anything that’s not like everyone else. What a great message for girls, on the spectrum or not.

  9. This is the same advice that my daughter was given. And she doesn’t have autism. A school counselor even told that she needed to “Tie her Shoes” like everyone else. Her problem: she’s a lefty.

  10. Who is the intended audience? Parents? The tone of the advice isn’t friendly or helpful for a young teen who wants to explore these issues on her own. There MUST be something more up-to-date than this! I wonder if it’s a reprint?

  11. Ingram lists this as published in 2006, and Worldcat lists editions going back that far as well. I believe the date listed here is an error or a reference to a newer edition (which evidently still includes the old essays with references to MTV).

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