Recently there has been some discussion of how Aspergers, a form of autism, is not being picked up and diagnosed in girls and women and how often it can be misdiagnosed frequently as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
The reason women are often not diagnosed is that historically the criteria used is based on how it manifests in boys and men and women will present differently. New research is showing that it is often picked up later in girls who are better at masking it and is not diagnosed until they are teenagers or adults often following a breakdown.
A lot of the signs or symptoms of Aspergers are similar to BPD leading to misdiagnosis. Symptoms can include an eating disorder such as Anorexia, difficulty maintaining relationships, a sense of not belonging, feeling different from others and not fitting in, difficulty reading situations and understanding social norms.
Coping mechanisms can include copying other’s behaviour, modelling themselves on others. As children they may have imaginary friends and live in an imaginary world, they can be obsessive about certain things. They may not be diagnosed as they are often highly intelligent and good at masking their problems until they become overwhelming.
More information can be accessed at www.autism.org.uk where expert Dr Judith Gould Director of the Lorna Wing centre for Autism can be seen on a video talking about misdiagnosis in women.
Another useful site is that of Tony Attwood, an Australian psychologist who is an expert in the field and who believes there is a large number of women who have been misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. His site is at www.tonyattwood.com.au
If a diagnosis is in doubt a second opinion can be asked for. The Lorna Wing centre will accept referrals but only through services not on a private basis.