Tania A. Marshall, M.Sc. is a published author and psychologist who spends her professional time divided between private practice, research and writing. She works in the area of child psychology and Autism Spectrum Conditions for 20 years.
In particular, she works with Asperger and high functioning autistic girls and women. The area of female autism and Asperger Syndrome is quite a specialized and complex field, and one she finds very interesting. She is undertaking Doctoral studies, in the area of female Asperger Syndrome and publishing a series of books on the subject. Her first, I Am AspienGirl® is an in depth look at this special population and she’s here tell you more about it…
Your new book I Am AspienGirl® helps people understand female autism…
why were you inspired to write it?
As psychologists we question human behaviour. We want to make sense of why people do the things they do. I have always been interested in people outside the norm. They are the quirky, the gifted, the unusual, often very talented but different and it is often their ‘differentness’ that other people fear. Fear and love really. I mean look at Hollywood; it is full of Aspies. People love and fear their differentness, their quirks, their exquisite talents. Females on the Autism Spectrum have long been misunderstood and neglected. Neglected from the research, the assessment tools, the diagnostic criteria and the literature. As a result, they have been misdiagnosed, mismedicated, mistreated and as I mentioned before, misunderstood. There is very little information out there about the female profile and what makes females different to males on the autism spectrum. I was often being asked for such a book in my private practice, so I decided to write one.
Can you give us an overview?
Females often present differently than males. Their characteristics are more subtle and they are usually quite well-behaved at school. Some of them can and do have social skills and can make superficial social and emotional reciprocity. Many can and do make appropriate eye contact. Many females lack the stereotyped and repetitive behaviors.
I Am AspienGirl® uses a combination of visually stunning images and direct quotes to introduce this unique female profile. The Appendix includes a lengthy and detailed checklist, ideas for using the book, a showcase of three AspienGirl mentors, a ‘What I like about me’ exercise and a research-based gender differences table.
The Foreword is written by Dr. Judith Gould, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director of the NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism, UK , in addition to a few testimonials, one by the amazing Dr. Temple Grandin, and others including Dr. Shana Nichols and Dr. Francesca Happe, so really it’s quite amazing to have all of their support. They are trailblazers in their own right and I consider them world experts.
In addition to the female profile I have also included some other important sections, such as ‘Five important needs of AspienGirls’, a commonly observed traits and characteristics of girls table, a ‘how to utilize the book’ section, ‘Aspiengirl Mentor,’ ‘What I like about me’ activity sheets, and some common gender differences from both research-based information and clinical observation, and lastly, my future projects.
Who is the ideal reader?
This book was written for three kinds of readers. First, I wrote this book for females, who themselves may identify with some or all of the characteristics; who may be self-diagnosed or formally diagnosed. Second, the book is for those that support females on the Spectrum; their family members, their careers, teachers or friends; and thirdly, for professionals (teachers, preschool staff, school counsellors, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, pediatricians), to become more familiar with the common, and at times subtle, presentations and to possibly aid in screening and better diagnostic processes.
Please share one of your favorite passages in the book.
One of my favourite passages in the book is a quote by one of my long-term clients who said,
With the diagnosis and the right support we AspienGirls have been known to soar…
I have certainly seen many females soaring with the right diagnosis, early intervention, support and the appropriate environmental accommodations made. This is what I mean by our tagline “Be Your Own Superhero”, meaning being the best version of yourself.
If there is one message you would like to leave with the reader, what would it be?
I would like my message to be this; by the very nature of being an AspienGirl, along with challenges come inherent strengths, talents and/or gifts. Many AspienGirls find meaning in their interests. One of my favourite activities to do is a strengths-based exercise called the AspienGirl Strengths Activity Exercise and assist an AspienGirl with discovering her interests and/or gifts. We then work together on a plan of how we can turn those strengths into a career or business. What is better than being paid for something you are great at and you love doing?
Tell us about your upcoming books.
I Am AspienWoman is the sequel to I Am AspienGirl, and it takes off where AspienGirl left off, by describing the unique adult female profile of characteristics, traits and gifts, from the late teenage years to the elderly adult. This book may be useful for those who are self-diagnosing, who have been formally diagnosed, may help those who live with them, who love them or those professionals who work with autistic females. It also uses a strengths-based approach.
My third book is entitled AspienPowers. I am writing this book because of the lack of literature that showcases females on the spectrum and their positive qualities, strengths, talents and/or gifts. I couldn’t find very much information about the talents I was seeing in the clinic.
So, using positive strengths-based language, the book showcases the gifts and talents of the many females that I have personally worked with. It is a book that describes what AspienGirls CAN do, can accomplish, and can BE.
This book provides hope for any AspienGirl’s future, by discussing and focusing on the unique combination of talents, strengths and gifts commonly seen in individuals with Asperger Syndrome or autism. This book is focused on what this remarkable group of females can do and the positive future they can have, once they focus on their strengths.
Where can we purchase AspienGirl?
AspienGirl® can be purchased on aspiengirl.com or your Amazon bookstore. It is available in both eBook and paperback. I am also hoping to release a special edition hardcover in the future. I’d also like to mention that I am working with some amazing translators and the book series is being translated into the following languages: Spanish, Italian, French, German, Hungarian, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese.
Find out more about Tania and her work on:
AspienGirl can be found on: