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Autism is not a “disorder” of boys. Autism is a human personality characterized by innate
care, its good and its bad, is transmitted from one generation to the next. It seems to me that
girls are socially expected to be a little sensitive and little shy. Low self-esteem coupled with
the sensitive persona is good old common sense that has been taught for literally thousands of
generations by women to their daughters. In fact, these properties being attractive to the
generic insensitive male have contributed to preservation of the species through thin and thick.
Even today, a shy girl who likes to spend a lot of time in her room, does not bring boys home
at age 15, and remains a virgin until college is considered an ideal daughter. The parents would
be talking up her wonderful self-discipline and raising her will be a breeze. No one will take
this girl to a pediatrician for an autistic “diagnosis”. On the other hand, a sensitive boy who
needs plenty of hugs growing up, and who cannot excel in any sport and who seems
withdrawn and never beats any other children up is a leper who certainly needs “treatment”
because “there is something wrong with this boy”.

Some scientists believe that girls, on average, grow up to develop an advantage in verbal skills
and mental and physical dexterity over boys. While it is not known if this is universal and
whether this is innate or acquired it seems to be common in our society today. This advantage
in language and dexterity may help in part mask the discovery of the autistic personality in
more girls than boys. And therefore, we are missing this personality in many girls who have it
and who need the same delicate attention that autistic boys need. However, they may not get
this attention because their brand of autism stays under covers until the girl is on her own for
the first time. By then it might be too late to offer much of the help available to children.

It has been my experience that girls navigate socially being highly sensitive a little better than
boys. With girls, many of the signature personality traits are kept well below the surface in
public and are only evident in extreme situations or in intimate relationships. Besides some girls
seem to show the classic signs of sensitivity only at a later age than boys. My theory is that
the consistent teaching throughout the generations of girls to behave in certain ways, has made
girls more comfortable with being sensitive that they are able to hide [or subconsciously
ignore] a lot of it. This is only at the surface and in fact, it is hurting many girls growing up. If
no one knows these girls are sensitive then they will be treated and raised without regard to
their core personality. Attention is typically denied these girls and they grow up with emotional
deficiencies and more importantly often unaware of the most defining factor of their life, their
essential personality.

During adulthood:

Although having a sensitive daughter can be very convenient and easy for parents, once the
girl grows up and has to live on her own, she is hit several folds higher than a boy since she
had not had time to come to terms with her sensitivity and she has to learn about it from other
adults who may not be at all nice about it. In fact, the confusion about her identity can linger
on for years into adulthood and can be emotionally crippling. According to Eric Erikson,
children who are protected growing up and do not face their essential personality through
interaction with other children, might not develop the proper identity at puberty and that may
lead to difficulty forming lasting relationships, let alone getting married, finding a life partner or
forming a family. Worth mentioning is the multiplied pain one has to go through as an adult to
re-learn skills they missed learning as children, as for a sensitive girl, who takes pride in her
mystery, that could be heart breaking. Besides, many will shy away completely from
socializing or seeking partners and end up sinking into irreversible oblivion especially once their
mothers leave this realm. Always a dangerous time for these girls is at life junctures, leaving
home to college, graduating from college, and more importantly once everyone they know is
already married or engaged to be married. It is at these junctions that decompensation
becomes apparent and misery surfaces.

Try for goodness sake to distinguish between the insensitive girl who in learning to take on a
sensitive persona because she is picking it up from older women in her life and between the
sensitive girl who seems to have these properties no matter what. You can save your daughter’
s life.

A living tribute to Mia Hamm:

Mia Hamm may be one of the rare exceptions in recent memory. Signs of her sensitivity were
apparent early on but her family did not seem to make the connection. When her parents
adopted a boy several years older than her, the little girl found an instant ally. She could go out
and play with her older brother and his friends. These children were considerably older than
her so she was given a break and treated sympathetically. Besides, her brother was always
there to protect her. She chose that as opposed to playing with children her age who would be
a lot more judgmental and would take her to task on every move or indiscretion. As we
discuss earlier in the book, a child’s affinity to older children or to adults is a sign of escaping
the daunting task of holding their own among their peers. This should have been an immediate
sign of a need for delicate treatment by the parents in order to help her adapt to dealing with
children her age. This would have been very important to help her develop her self-confidence
and independence. Problems she admittedly still is working on today as an adult. Instead, the
parents were happy that she has found a calling, something that occupies her and helps her get
over her shyness. As well intentioned as that was, knowing what we know today it was not
correct, but parents can only know what society offers them at the time. They had no way of
knowing any better like most other parents.

Mia did get away with it in the sense that she grew up to be a successful person whose name
is household name all over the world. Given her achievements, she had the best social support
network anyone can ever dream of. She still suffered so much at a very young age as an adult.
She by her admission suffered constantly and grappled constantly with changes happening in
her life. In addition, to self confidence and independence issues, she was constantly conflicted
about fame, and struggled in developing mechanisms to deal with loss, on and off the field. On
the field, she was a slave driver, asking excellence from all her colleagues even during an off-
season practice session. This usually results from having an infinite passion toward one area in
life, as many sensitive people have.

Having said all this, I am as countless people in society grateful to have a Mia Hamm in our
generation as an inspiration for children growing up and especially for girls getting their long
denied opportunity in sports. If Mia Hamm cannot take care of herself, she has generated so
much goodwill, that the rest of the world will take care of her. However, what about all the
other anonymous sensitive girls who did not have the outlet of befriending older children or
who kept it all inside and just lived their childhood in a room? What about the ones who
thought they found this outlet only to find themselves getting abused and assaulted by vicious
older people? What about many anonymous proud girls who cannot express their true
emotions at an early age and end up treated like a less sensitive child, while they need a whole
different paradigm of treatment applicable only to sensitive children?

This is an excerpt of the book Psyche-Smart Autism TM available on amazon and other book
Copyright 2011 Rami J Serhan, MD
Author: Rami Serhan, MD
Medical consultant
Sovereign Research
(206) 659-1ASD (273)