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Christmas can be an especially difficult for Aspie girls and women because of the gift giving and receiving, both of which are problematic for them. Receiving is easier than giving—no endless racking of the brain is required to find the perfect gift—but Aspies so often hurt feelings by not reacting appropriately when given something the giver spent a lot of time and thought selecting. This applies even when the Aspie likes the gift. Perhaps it’s because she’s so overwhelmed at even thinking about what someone else would like, she shuts down and can’t emote anything remotely positive when someone gives her what she would even consider the perfect gift.

A particularly painful example was the time I gave a 60+year-old Aspie woman what would be considered a toy, but a toy she didn’t know existed. She immediately took it out of the box, set it up, and enjoyed playing with it. In spite of the enjoyment it gave her, she could only raise herself to acknowledging having received the gift. After much prodding, she told me how she set it up, arranged the pieces, and really liked playing with it. But never could she thank me like a neurotypical person would. To say my feelings were hurt would be an understatement. Now that I know she’s an Aspie woman, I know not to expect thanks from her.

Buying gifts is so stressing for her that she doesn’t buy presents for her children; she gives them her credit card and tells them to buy themselves whatever they’d like. I attribute these gifting problems to the lack of empathy. She doesn’t have any sense of how others feel and is unable to get ideas what others, even those very close to her, might like by listening to them in other contexts. She minimizes her gifting problems by telling her boyfriends and children not to buy her anything. They do as she says, probably due to past negative experiences. I find her situation sad but have no idea how to help her.