The Autistic Female and Camouflaging/Masking: Constructing MY Face, Part I

Tania was one of the first psychologists in the world to explicitly detail the Autistic female profile. Her blog made international headlines in 2013. Her two award winning and best selling books are regularly in the Top 100 in the Autism and Parenting Children with Disabilities categories on Amazon.com

Tania has assessed, diagnosed and worked with thousands of Autistic/neurodivergent individuals of all genders, from 18 months to 80 years of age, over her lengthy career. This group come from a wide variety of cultures, backgrounds and countries. She now trains professionals in her work, specifically in relation to assessment and diagnosis of NeuroDivergent individuals, sharing what she has learnt over her 30 year career. She works mainly with the twice-exceptional (2e) population, the ones that are most likely to be missed, including the ‘lost generations’ and individuals who are missed due to Camouflaging. These individuals usually typically have an IQ of 130 or above. Tania specialises in camouflaging and wrote about this in her 2013 blog here. Tania herself is neurodivergent, more specifically Twice-Exceptional.

Most professionals are not aware or trained in camouflaging. Training in camouflaging is helpful in understanding what to look for or observe in clinical practice. Many individuals attending therapy, assessment, other professional appointments or involved in the criminal justice system actively camouflage and often report not wanting their therapist/professional to see ‘underneath the mask’. Some are completely unaware that they are engaging in camouflaging while others believe they camouflage really well, however to the observer, they report that ‘something is not right’. Masking, assimilation and compensation are often used, regardless of whether or not the individual is aware of using them. Only a minority of trained observers are aware when individuals are using camouflaging, often misinterpreting or misunderstanding these strategies. To be clear, masking is one category of Camouflaging. social camouflaging is, in part, related to a late diagnosis. A late diagnosis is considered after the child starts school.

This is part 1 of an on-going series on camouflaging, in particular facial affect. We all camouflage with our faces, to some degree and for a variety of reasons. some masking is required to function in society and yes, all people mask.

However, it is to the extent and to the degree that one has to engage in this, that makes the difference. Some people have to learn to match their facial expression with the way they feel. It does not come naturally to them. Many people that I have worked with have reported repetitively studying and practicing facial expressions using the associated facial muscle(s), in order to fit in, to come across a certain way to others and/or blend in. Unfortunately, this can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Facial affect can be challenging for the observer to interpret, leading to confusion at best, and serious ramifications or consequences, at its’ worst. This series aims to demystify camouflaging with the intent that this may assist observers (who may be in the educational, forensic, family unit, workplace, relationship areas) to understand what camouflaging is, who engages in camouflaging, why individuals engage in it, how individuals learn to do it, the circumstances in which individuals are most likely to engage in camouflaging, and how camouflaging is related to late diagnosis.

First off, we will start with facial affect. One reason I routinely request that photographs are included in my assessments is due to the multiple non-verbal clues that can be seen in historical infant, toddler, childhood, teenage and adult photos. One of those clues has to do with the topic of facial affect. One facial affect clue is “putting on my smile”. A professional can only discern this if they have studied and are familiar with the core universal facial expressions that individuals express, regardless of age, gender, culture, language and/or country. For more information on universal facial expressions, go to Dr Paul Ekman’s research. Once you have learnt the universal facial expressions (taken the trainings and studied the FACS manual), it becomes easier to see unnatural or compound/blended facial expressions, including the red flag micro-expression signs for deception, in real time.

The most common facial expressions I have seen over my career are what are known as blended and/or compounded facial expressions including the signs for deception. Compounded facial expression are ones that are constructed by combining basic component categories to create new facial expressions. For example, happily surprised and angrily surprised are two distinct compound emotion categories. A fear smile is commonly seen in individuals with a history of trauma. The fear can be seen in the eyes with the smile showing happiness or what appears to be happiness. If a fearful and/or anxious smile is seen in a photo, it is important to ask a question about the context of the photo. This is a clue to question about social anxiety or trauma.

One common example I see in childhood photos is the ‘smile’. There are eighteen different kinds of smiles, none of which are deceptive or falsified. The others conceal less than happy facial affect. In a blend, two or more emotions are experienced at once and registered within the same facial expression. Any emotion can blend with any other emotion. It is these blended facial expressions that can lead to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Any misinterpretation may have real-world consequences.

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In the above photo, there are multiple early signs of Camouflaging visible. To the trained eye, these signs are obvious, however these signs are often missed by people and most professionals. These signs persist throughout a persons lifetime and can cause multiple painful social interactions and misinterpretations/misunderstandings, over the course of a persons lifetime. The slight ‘grimace’ causes confusion to the observer. What do you see? What does this face tell you? What does it not tell you? What do you think she is feeling? What do you think other observers might think she is feeling? How might this be interpreted or misinterpreted?

For obvious reasons, I am unable to supply photographs from my 30 year career, however there are a plethora of photographs on-line that give clues of camouflaging when it comes to compound or unnatural/blended facial affect or expressions. This is a future blog.

The eyes and the mouth reveal many clues as to what a person is really feeling. First of all, the eyes and the mouth MUST match for each type of emotion shown on the face. When they do match, the observer ‘feels’ a genuineness. Second, the smile engages certain muscles and in natural or genuine smiles, goes in an upward direction. A natural smile shows the upper teeth only, in most cases. The eyes are literally the window to the soul and tell explicitly how someone is feeling. You cannot lie about your emotions with your eyes. In a natural smile, the eyes ‘twinkle’ in a way that can be difficult for someone to explain, but you see and feel it when you see it. The eyes display the ‘Duchenne’ marker (DM). This is when the contraction of the orbicularis ocul (DM) lifts the cheeks, pushing the skin that surrounds the eye towards the eye socket which narrows the eye opening and wrinkles the skin around the eyes, causing ‘crows’ feet’. The left and right side of the smile should be symmetrical. For those confused by the many different types of blended smiles and micro-expressions, this is one of many examples that may help.

One example of a a natural genuine smile vs. a blended facial expression below (unrelated to the above image).

A commonly confusing facial expression is distinctly seen in individuals who enjoy being angry and/or are addicted to being angry. The enjoyable-anger blend will show a narrowing of the lips and at times also a raising of the upper lip as well as the felt smile (aka a sadistic smile, a cruel smile or an ‘evil’ smile.) It is known as ‘duping delight’ (check out OJ Simpson). In the enjoyable-contempt expression, the felt smile merges with the tightening of one or both lip corners. With contempt you will see the raising of the upper lip on one side. This will tell you how they truly feel about the person they are talking about. If you want to know how people are really feeling about you or other people, study micro-expressions. Studying both FACS and micro expressions is a social defence strategy for those where this area of social-communication is not be natural to them. Study in this area is useful for all humans and After study and practice you will begin to “see” what people are really thinking, feeling and trying to say. This strategy will help you to be less likely to be taken advantage of.

I have added another example below. What is going on here? How is this child feeling? What feeling is she showing on her face? Waht do you think her internal dialogue in? Do they match?Anything else going on?

For an in-depth understanding of how each emotion is expressed anatomically, Dr. Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System (FACS) manual is an invaluable training resource for the professionals and the gold standard for learning how to interpret individual actions of the face. Tania completed both the advanced micro-expression trainings and FACS training and this is a core part of her assessment and profiling work.

FURTHER READING

THE ADULT AUTISTIC FEMALE PROFILE

THE CHILD/TEEN AUTISTIC PROFILE

CAMOUFLAGING

RED FLAGS AND FIRST SIGNS OF AUTISM IN YOUNG GIRLS

I AM ASPIENGIRL BOOK AVAILABLE HERE

I AM ASPIENWOMAN BOOK AVAILABLE HERE

2013-2021 copyright. All enquiries to aspiengirl@gmail.com Only serious/genuine enquiries will be answered

Where are all the females with Autism or Aspergers hiding? Life As a Chameleon Part I

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In my two Gold medal award-winning books, I Am AspienGirl and I am AspienWoman, I discuss the female phenotype and how it presents differently from males. One of the areas I have been able to research and ask of my clients is, “how have you managed to hide your Autism all this time?” Other questions I ask them include:

I have worked with clients for over 20 years who have told me how they hide or not hide their Autism. Some autistic individuals can and some cannot or do not choose too. These behaviors are referred to as masking, camouflaging, assimilation, compensation, coping strategies, passing for normal, pretending to be normal or being a chameleon. In order to assist with females and males obtaining an assessment or diagnosis, I am pre-releasing a part of my book to assist professionals in recognizing Autistic females and males by asking the right questions.

The Compensatory mechanisms used by some Autistic people I have met and listened to are complex, even going so far as to use one behavior to cover up another. These questions and behaviors come directly from my professional experience as a psychologist working with individuals with Autism, Giftedness and Social Anxiety. Thank you to all my clients for sharing your stories with me.

The Compensatory Measures Checklist©, Marshall 2017, excerpt from my from my upcoming book. 

Do you feel different than your peers? When was the first time you ever felt different?

What exactly makes you feel different from your peers?

What is your experience of social interactions with your peers like?

Do you copy or mimic your peers (copy their voice or accent, words, and language or slang, hand and/or body gestures). Do you laugh when they laugh even when you don’t understand why you are laughing?

Do you take on a persona of always smiling and pleasing everybody?

Do you make better versions of yourself that based on peers in school, over time? How do you do that?

Have you ever read books on etiquette, social skills, facial expressions, microexpressions? Have you practiced them in front of a mirror? Have you practiced making more or less of a facial expression? In particular, have you purposefully changed you smile or facial expression to look “more normal”? Have you studied anatomy books, in particular, the facial muscle that matches with each facial expression (for example, knowing that a certain muscle is used in smiling and practicing using that muscle?

Have you ever used Botox or a similar cosmetic ingredient to make your face appear more natural, less angry or furrowed/worried?

Do you watch YouTube videos on social skills, self-improvement, and human etiquette in order to fit in?

Has a peer ever make a comment about your gait or other forms of behavior? If so, did you actively practice a behavior until you were able to make it look like your peers do when they behave that way? (for example, being told he/she had a ‘funny’ run and then purposefully practicing the running over and over again until it was perfect).

Have you watched movies to learn how to act with your peers? (for e.g, learn that you need to have a big smile and say hello to everyone because that is how people will like you).

Do you force yourself to make eye contact, look somewhere else on a persons face, look at their mouth or look at them for too long? Do you find yourself staring at people?

Do you hide some body language or facial expressions to fit in? (for e.g., sitting on your hands, twirling your hair instead of stimming or cracking your knuckles)

Do you spend the majority of your time thinking about what to say, how to act or behave, and/or analyzing social situations? Do you analyze what you could or should have said in a prior or past social situation?

Do you pretend to be shy and quiet and therefore avoid the “social drama” of having to navigate the social world of your peers?

Do you have a permanent smile on your face even though you are miserable inside?

Do others say you look angry when you feel happy or another emotion inside?

Have you or do you taken.take on the persona of a book, television, movie character or a celebrity?

Do you attend social situations, but don’t really want to (saying you will go to a party to get in with the “cool kids”). Do you do their homework for them to fit in? Do you do the groups work for the group to gaon social equity?

Do you write in your journal what you think you should say or do or not say or not do and practice them over and over, so you can use them in school? Do you have a list of sayings, slang, words from songs, movies or social media that you use to be “cool” or try to fit in?

Have you developed a special interest that is not yours but simply to “fit in” but you actually found that interest boring (for e.g, pretending to be in love with a certain pop star but you couldn’t care less about them)?

Do you participate in social events, parties, clubs that you do not want to in order to gain social currency? Do you use the skills you have learned from YouTube, social media, books, movies when you are at these social events? Do you find that you have to begrudgingly attend these events?

Do you use alcohol or drugs as a social lubricant? Does the use of drugs or alcohol allow you to be more social and/or have less anxiety?

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Do you utilize social media (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Reddit) to learn social nuances, how to interact socially, or how to hide your social awkwardness?

Do you act in varying ways depending on the social situation that you are in? Do others comment on or notice that you act differently depending on who you are with, the social context or environment?

Do you pretend to like the interests of whomever you are with at the time, however you know inwardly that you don’t like them? Do you make yourself look like you are interested in what your peers are saying, doing, how they are behaving, interested in their interests?

Have you ever had a girlfriend/boyfriend that you inwardly said to yourself, “Why am I with this person? I don’t even like them”.

Do you find yourself involved in friendships and/or relationships and wonder in your head why you are with them because you don’t really like them?

Do you feel there are times when you can be yourself? Do you feel you always have to be “someone else” to be in this world?

Is your headspace mostly filled with continual thoughts about what you should do next, do better, who to pretend to be like?

Do you have a habit of giving gifts to make and keep friends?

Has your family or another person supported you with social skills (enrolled you in drama, etiquette or social skills classes or a modeling school to learn deportment)?

How long can you socialize for before feeling tired?

Are there times where you actively find excuses not to attend events, parties, assembly at school, group activities? Do you often say “yes” to a social event and then make up a last-minute excuse as to why you cannot attend?

Do you purposefully go to the library, become a prefect, girl scout leader, homecoming queen, cheerleader, debate team leader (so you can give the directions or debate rather than socialize)?. Do you try to become the teacher’s helper at lunchtimes, hide in the bathroom, walk the hallways alone, join lunchtime clubs, wag school, so that you do not have to socialize with your peers?

Do you or are you reading or studying psychology, sociology, taking microexpressions and facial recognition training to learn to better yourself in terms of understanding people and socializing. Do you read social skills books, watch social skills training on YouTube or another social media platform?

Have you learned from your studies and them practiced how to ask people questions, listening skills and/or other social skills?

Are you overly aware of other people looking at you or pacing attention on you? Do you dislike attention? Do you feel like you spend the majority of your mental and physical energy on how you interact with others?

Do you feel like an ‘imposter’ in social situations?

To be continued in Part 2 and many more examples coming 

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I Am AspienGirl

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I Am AspienWoman

AspienWoman April Elit Award1Behind the Mask 3DCoverJune2015

The Compensatory Measures Checklist©, Marshall 2017, excerpt from my from my upcoming book. Thank you.

Copyright© Tania A. Marshall, www,aspiengirl.com, http://www.taniamarshall.com

 

Autism Ambassador for Education Placement Group and Supply Desk UK and a variety of countries

All over the world teachers face a challenging career teaching students in their classroom. Their class may consist of a variety of students with unique and individual needs. Some of their class will include likely 3-5 students with Autism.

At a minimum, a stunning 60% of teachers in England do not feel they have adequate training to teach children with autism, and this is concerning. Teachers should be provided with adequate training in many specific areas and this is barely addressed in their training to become a teacher.

Some of the common questions I receive from organizations, schools, parents, teachers, principals, support teachers, and teacher aides include but are in no way limited to the following:

What about unstructured time? What unique challenges do students with autism face here and how can school staff help during break and lunchtimes?

Are pupils with autism more likely to be victims of bullying? What can teachers do to counteract this? What signs can teachers look out for that may indicate a child with autism has been bullied?

Students with autism are three times as likely to be excluded from school as pupils with no special educational needs. Why are exclusion and seclusion particularly harmful to those students?  What can school staff do to avoid excluding pupils with autism?

70% of children with autism are educated in mainstream schools in the UK. What other components of mainstream education are harmful to those with autism?

How would you describe the current state of autism awareness among teachers?

How can teachers be better equipped to teach those with autism? What should training include?

What’s the biggest misconception the general public, including teachers, might have about a child with autism?

Why are teachers roles in caring for children with autism so important? What are some of the benefits that well-trained and autism aware teachers can bring to the classroom?

There are so many more questions and education for teachers, principals, support staff, teacher aides that are needed.

I stand proudly with a progressive organization devoted to training their teachers how to teach students on the Autism Spectrum, helping them to reach their full potential and be their best selves. I am proud to be assisting and training UK teachers and EPG teachers in many countries to teach and support students with Autism.

In particular, I am very excited to be training teaching professionals about females (and males) in school and how best to educate and support them, with their learning and mental health. This is a wonderful forward and progressive move on the part of Education Placement Group and Supply Desk.  I applaud them for addressing this important issue and am honored to accept their invitation.

 

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For more inquiries about consulting with Tania about educating teachers, support teachers, teacher aides, principals, and other staff, please email tania@aspiengirl.com

Tania is also available for diagnoses and assessment, impressions assessments, problem-solving sessions, training educators, law enforcement in person or via Skype or Zoom.

 

Copyright 2013-2018 http://www.aspiengirl.com, http://www.taniamarshall.com, taniannmarshall.wordpress.com

Do Autistic or Neurodiverse people attract abusive and toxic people? Yes

A recent FAQ and theme in the thousands of Neurodivergent people I have worked with is, “Do I have an S (sociopath), a P (psychopath), an N (narcissist) or an L (loser) on my forehead???”. Yes, I have seen this time and time again. Toxic people are everywhere. 1 in 100 people are Psychopaths. They are at your work, they may be your boss, a colleague, a friend, a family member, a partner, or your own child.

 

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Neurodivergent people are more susceptible to these types of toxic people than Neurotypical people. Having said that, neurotypical people find it challenging to associate and untangle themselves from these kinds of people. Neurodiverse people (whether male or female) have a unique combination of traits that can set them up for being open to being taken advantage of. Susceptible people can also include: highly sensitive people (HSP), Empaths, intuitive individuals and co-dependent individuals.

Just some of the characteristics and traits include: social naivety, taking what people say literally/believing in what people say to them, misreading other people intentions, a dislike of conflict and/or confrontation, a lack of boundaries, being passive, not understanding the unwritten social skills (let alone the Dark triad’s language and behaviors), having Alexithymia, and a lack of assertiveness. There are many more traits.

It is critical that socially naive people learn the Dark Triad Personality’s language, words, actions and behaviors and understand that it is not their fault and that being with a toxic person can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is also critical that Neurodiverse people learn boundaries, how to assert themselves, including how and when to get out of a toxic relationship.

The Molotov Cocktail is a video series that covers all this and more, from what makes a person more susceptible, to learning the Dark Triad language and their tactics, to what to do about it, how to respond or NOT respond and many tips. The series can be found here.

Starting at Episode III of her video series, Tania discusses in a 6 part series, why Neurodiverse people are vulnerable to abuse and/or attracting the dark triad (often Narcissists, sociopaths or psychopaths) into their lives, why and how they often are taken advantage of, the red flags to look out for and what to do if they have toxic people in their lives. She helps Neurodiverse individuals to understand those with this personality type to and how to avoid them in the future.

Part 1 is an introduction and answer to the question, “Do I have an S, N, P or L on my forehead?” Why is the dark triad attracted to me? Tania discussed the uniques qualities that make you a target for being set up to be involved with a toxic person.

Part 2 reviews the unique qualities of Neurodiverse individuals, how the ‘dark triad’ find or seemingly find or are attracted to you, the red flags to look for in a toxic person, learning the ‘dark triad’ language (yes, they have their own language), helpful tips and actual case clinic illustrations.

Part 3 delves deeper into the ‘dark triad language’, delves deeper into the characteristics and traits that you may have that attract them into your life, learning assertiveness, boundaries, how to speak to a toxic person, and including more case illustrations.

Part 4 discusses what to do if you are married or have been married and/or have children with this personality type, the court system and how the dark triad uses it against you (communication is just one weapon they use). She discusses what a Neurodiverse person can do when you find yourself in this type of situation, strategies to keep calm and how to or how not to communicate with your dark triad ex or current toxic partner. Tania uses a case illustrations to illustrate her points.

In part 5, Tania teaches Neurodiverse individuals the tools for understanding how to untangle yourself from a dark triad individual, how to identify and avoid this personality type in the future and obtain the appropriate professional treatment, if necessary. She also shares case illustrations to educate and help those individuals who are or have been conned by a toxic person. She also discusses what she has seen occur in therapy, from either side.

In part 6, Tania concludes with successful and positive examples of neurodiverse people becoming detangled from the toxic individual in their life, answers some FAQ’s, discusses more helpful tools and tips and more. Please keep in mind this series is an introduction the ‘Dark Triad’. 

Tania uses case studies from her work to illustrate each topic in her video series because she understands how powerful these can be to the listener and many people have told her they feel “less alone”.

If you would like her to discuss a topic in a future video, please email her. She can be reached for both male and female adult impressions assessments via Skype or other platform or in-person for training, presentations, collaborations, problem-solving sessions, educational and professionals consultations or training at tania@aspiengirl.com
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“Thank you, Tania, for sharing your work from your lengthy career. It is life-changing”.

“Tania has a unique and positive refreshing view on those who are often entrepreneurial, out-of-the-box thinkers, utilizing their strengths to make meaningful contributions to the world”.

“Thank you for your work and dedication to supporting females on the Spectrum. In particular, your work regarding the ‘dark triad’. I am Neurodiverse and can not tell you how many times I have ended up in what you describe as a “living hell” and the hell continues.”

If you have found yourself in a toxic relationship, tell us when and how you found out, what you did about it, and what worked or didn’t work. Leave a comment below and take care out there. Safety first!

 

Copyright 2018  http://www.aspiengirl.com   www.taniamarshall.com vimeo.com/ondemand/femaleautism   Tania Marshall

Videos, videos, videos…oh my…

Videos, videos, videos…oh my…new ones just uploaded.

After receiving numerous requests, Tania is sharing her work with Neurodiverse individuals over her lengthy career. Primarily, she feels that video is the fastest way to get the information out there to those that are wanting it or needing it. She is sharing her work via Video FAQ’s or videos. These videos can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk_kFdaPkv4w0ieOgfR3IvA or Vimeo

Tania also has her videos on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/neurodiversityacademy

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Click on a picture below and you will be taken to her YouTube page, where you can learn more from her FAQ’s, conferences, interviews and more.

Why a strengths-based approach?

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YOU CAN’T HAVE ASPERGERS/AUTISM IF…

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The Neurodiversity Within the Spectrum, Strengths and Myths

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If you like a video or feel it would help someone, please share the video, like the video, subscribe to Tania’s channel and hit the bell to be notified when the next video is coming out. You can leave your FAQ in the comments section below the video or below her blog and Tania will read and select a question to answer in the future. Tania will answer the video and it will be uploaded to YouTube.

 

 

Copyrught 2018 ASpiengirl.com and Tania Marshall

Just in! Videos: FAQ style, Educational, Instructional, Interviews and more.

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Just in! Videos, FAQ’s style and more

Tania has been requested multiple times to share her work over her lengthy career, give her opinion or support a person or organization. She is now sharing her work via Video FAQ’s or videos, from various individuals or organizations and conferences including the Secret Agent Society, Different Brains, Asperger Argentina’s first and second Symposium and conference on females on the Autism Spectrum, and Asperger Sevilla’s (Spain) recent Innagural Women on the Spectrum Conference and others. These videos can be found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk_kFdaPkv4w0ieOgfR3IvA

If you like a video or feel it would help someone, please share the video, like the video, subscribe to Tania’s channel and hit the bell to be notified when the next video is coming out. You can leave your FAQ in the comments section below and Tania will read and select a question to answer in the future. Tania will answer the video and it will be uploaded to YouTube. Click on a picture below and you will be taken to her YouTube page, where you can learn more from FAQ’s, conference, interviews and more.

Tania also has her videos on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/neurodiversityacademy

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More Videos coming here soon. Don’t forget if you have an FAQ, leave it in the comments section here or better yet on YouTube and you may see your question being answered by Tania in the future. And always remember to ‘Be Your Own Superhero’.

To contact Tania for in-person or Skype/Zoom fee-based impressions assessments, consultations, interviews, translations, problem-solving sessions and more, please email tania@aspiengirl.com

AspienGirl©

The Neurodiversity of Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Females

The following article is copyrighted and may not be posted anywhere without permission from the author.

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In working with females (and males) on the Spectrum for approximately 20 years, I have learned a lot from my clients. When I first started out as a psychologist, I was seeing female on the Spectrum; they just were not called or labeled that back then. In working with hundreds of females, it is safe to say that there is much neurodiversity within this group. This is extremely important to talk about because these are their narratives.

By this, I mean that there exist varying presentations of girls and women on the Spectrum. Some are easier to diagnose than others. This is due to temperament, personality type, the severity or mildness of the person's specific Autistic traits, how many traits they have, gender differences, how much the traits impact on their ability to function, other conditions or disorders and much more.

Due to a variety of lagging skills and/or differences, many females with Autism do not get along with each other, yet many do, just like neurotypical people. Many females with mild symptoms are unable to get a diagnosis, even though their traits and exhaustion impact them on a cyclical basis. Those with the subtle traits usually never receive a diagnosis.

Now that I have worked with thousands of women, they have taught and shown me through their narratives, just how different they are from each other. It is important to discuss this issue so that no more females are left behind.

Stereotypes exist due to the history of Autism and describing boys rather than girls certainly comes into play. Other stereotypes include cultural perceptions and the social focus of culturally "female" interests. So, assessments based on males and cultural perceptions and biases are certainly factors. In my work, I have seen the stereotype of the "Tomboy" play a part in other females with a different presentation not receive a referral for an assessment or a diagnosis.

The use of a social mask, compensatory mechanisms, level of intelligence (for example, being 2e), being able to get by in life day to day and then have cyclical breakdowns, and the subtle differences all contribute to a delay in diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. These differences mixed in with genetics, temperament, personality, co-existing conditions, family environment and upbringing all impact and affect how Autism presents in a female (and male).

Subtypes or presentations are extremely important to understand if one is to be trained appropriately. It is imperative to understand how many different ways a female on the Spectrum can present to a clinician. A diagnosis is critical, not only for self-understanding; but for support, services, and academic accommodations. I am talking about how girls and women have presented themselves in my clinic over 20 years, from a variety of countries and cultures. This blog is but a small part of my book entitled, "Behind The Mask" due 2017.

There are a few ways that females on the Spectrum adopt a role. In particular, if they really want to fit in and conform with society. There exist some common types or sub-types of women on the Autism Spectrum. The reason this is important is so that, as I said before, no females are left behind, and that professionals are trained in the various presentations so that they do not miss a female and also to educate the wider population about the neurodiversity of neurodiversity itself! So, let's discuss just a few presentations:

TheTomboy is usually indifferent to gender, preferring to have boys for friends and dress in an androgynous way or dress in boys clothes. She finds it much easier to talk to boys (or men). However, some individuals have gender dysphoria and this is not to be taken lightly.

The Academic superstar uses her intelligence to achieve degrees, awards, honors and more. She has an intelligence above 130, qualifying for MENSA, and has used her intelligence to get through social situations. The higher the giftedness, the more different the presentation may appear.

The Passive female is a people pleaser. She is shy, quiet, cooperative, rarely asks for help and compliant, too compliant, and blends into the wall (in the classroom or at school). She rarely stands up to bullies and is often taken advantage of.

The Aggressivefemale has often had a history of misunderstanding and misinterpretations, both ways; on her part and on others parts. She often misinterprets others, burns bridges, is impulsive and is the type most often associated with or been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD traits.

The Scientific female may have a special interest in physics and/or Quantum Physics, mathematics, chemistry, animal sciences, biology or space, programming, just to name a few. Often, this type of woman is quite focused on their topic of interest and reaching high levels of distinction (a Masters or PhD).

TheStyleIcon is aware, even overly aware of style and fashion. She may work in fashion design, be an actor or a supermodel. She has got the outfits, makeup, hairstyles and appearance perfect. Her appearance tends to intimidate males and females, who are threatened by her appearance, presence or knowledge of the fashion and stylist world. She grasps small talk, making her appear to be neurotypical and allowing her to cope in social situations and fit in with her peers. Even if her appearance is eccentric, she gets away with it due to her other talents; whether they be a singer, a costume designer, an actor or DJ.

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The Housewife or Cook loves to entertain and is very good at it. She is whom people want to hire for their home. She loves to have people over, but remains the ultimate host, so as not to have to socialise with others. 

TheArtist gets away with being different or eccentric because society expects them to be that way, so in this way, they often remain undiagnosed until they fall off the rails. they may be the more eccentric painters, writers, actors, supermodels, singers, and band members.

TheJusticeWarrior is obsessed with justice, fairness, and right and wrong. These are admirable traits, but not when it turns into obsession, misguidedness or inappropriate recruiting of members. Some women (and men) are 'one woman' groups because others do not want to join their cause due to the social way they attempt to get others to join their cause. These people end up starting their cause over and over again. It is true (although some may not like to admit it) that some women (or men or neurotypicals) have a “misguided sense of social justice”, going too far or the wrong way of going about their crusade. There is a socially appropriate way to get people to join your cause. I have met clients (both neurodiverse and neurotypical) who have gotten into trouble with the law or are in jail because of their enlarged justice gland, lack of social context and impulsivity.

In summary, this is just a brief look at how girls and women experience Autism and the variety that exists in presentation. There are other presentations that will be discussed in my book. Girls and women vary differently from each other and also differ in their ability of lack of ability to use compensatory mechanism and/or coping mechanisms. They also vary in intelligence levels. Those who are both Autistic and Gifted have a different presentation. However; they all share the same core challenges (from mild to severe) and some remarkable strengths or gifts.

This blog is written to address the neurodiversity with a large group of females and has nothing to do with sexism or ableism, nor that neurotypicals cannot have the same careers. Most importantly, it is imperative that we understand the differences in neurodiverse females, the different ways they cope or not cope, and the different ways they present.

Within the Neurodiverse population, there is no particular way to be a girl or a woman. Many of my clients have all kinds of preferences and interests, including my Lego pens sets. Many of my clients have a wide and varied style of clothing, from fashion to boys clothes to Victorian clothing to gender-neutral clothing to completely loving being in a princess Tulle dress or an Elf costume. Some of my clients wear "boy" clothing and "girl clothing". Some like cargo pants, some like dresses and/or corsets, some like dressing up in their favorite character, some love femininity and some do not and many like books, stationery, dolls, and theater.

Finally, the purpose of writing about presentations is to leave no female out; to never exclude not even one female. We understand the neurotypical world (to the degree that we do), but we are only on the cusp of learning about the neurodiverse female world and what this group are truly capable of, when given the right support. This is about understanding females on the Spectrum and then designing appropriate interventions according to their presentation. For example, the passive presentation will need assertiveness training whereas a different social type will need a different intervention. It would be unfruitful to put all females in the same social skills or intervention group.

Whilst these girls and women are different, they all share the same common core characteristics, that of social, emotional, cognitive, sensory, intelligence differences, in addition to other co-existing disorders or conditions. This makes for complex presentations. By no means can one type be put in a box. A female can be 2 or 3 types or morph into all types throughout their life-time.

These are just some of the various ways that Autism presents, how some females may present and how they may cope with having a different brain. Autism influences many factors and all types and interests are just as important as each other. We need as many different brains and as many different neurodiverse females as possible. We also need to know the differences in presentation, so that we can now design and implement the right support and intervention for the right girl or woman.

Neurodiverse girls and women have much to offer, regardless of neurotype, interests, dress, differences and/or similarities. There are no stereotypes, just a variety of presentations and profiles, all valid and all very special.

#nomoreemalesleftbehind #beyourownsuperhero #aspiengirl #aspienwoman #aspienpowers #behindthemask

Behind the Mask 3D

Copyright 2017 Tania A. Marshall http://www.aspiengirl.com http://www.taniamarshall.com

No part of this may be used, reproduced, borrowed or copied. This is an excerpt from Behind The Mask

AspienGirl.com is pleased to be nominated for a 2017 ASPECT Autism Australia Award

AspienGirl.com is pleased to be nominated for a 2017 ASPECT Autism Australia Award in the Advancement Category, for advancing the area of female Autism. AspienGirl.com advocates for neurodivergent females, educating and bringing a strengths-based awareness about the autistic female presentation/profile, and contributes to its’ goal of “no more AspienGirls left behind” and “Be your own superhero”, being the best version of yourself. Females will continue to be misdiagnosed, mis-medicated and/or receive the wrong interventions, until research is conducted on females, female-based screening and diagnostic tools are created, gender differences are clearly understood, and female-specific interventions and professionals are trained to assess, diagnose and work with females. In order to assist in getting closer to these goals, the AspienGirl Project was created and has already donated 450 books and will continue to donate a certain percentage of its profits to sending out free books and resources to professionals, schools, teachers, special needs coordinators, libraries, and Autism organizations.

 

 

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Tania Marshall, M.Sc., AMAPS, is an international best selling author, psychologist, publisher, educator, 3X and most recently 2017 ASPECT Autism Australia National Recognition Award Nominee (Advancement Category), recognized for her work in advancing the field of female Autism. Her first book, entitled “I Am AspienGirl©: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Strengths of Young Females on the Autism Spectrum”, foreword by Dr. Judith Gould, won an IPPY eLIT Gold Medal Award in 2015 and is an Amazon best seller. I am AspienGirl has been translated into Spanish and is entitled Soy AspienGirl. She currently works with the gifted and talented, celebrities, performing artists, and twice-exceptional and/or neurodiverse individuals, across the lifespan. Tania was recently interviewed by Dr. Harold Reitman in a 2 part series by Different Brains, where Part I can be found here: http://differentbrains.com/aspiengirl-embracing-strengths-women-aspergers-syndrome-tania-marshall-edb-51/ and Part II here http://differentbrains.com/gender-differences-neurodiversity-recognizing-diversity-within-autism-spectrum-tania-marshall-edb-54/

Tania can be reached at admin@centreforautism.com for assessments, telepsychology (Skype) or clinic consultations, interviews, presentations, workshops, and/or conferences, translation inquiries, collaborations, publishing/book and/or media inquiries. She is an Australian Psychological Association (APS) Autism Identified Medicare Provider, a Helping Children With Autism Early Intervention Service Provider (HWCA), a Better Start Early Intervention Provider, a Medicare Approved Mental Health Provider and a Secret Agent Society (SAS) Trained Group Facilitator.

Copyright 2016-2017 Tania Marshall

Exploring Different Brains with Dr. Harold Reitman Part I

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Exploring Different Brains with Dr. Harold Reitman

Introduction – please click on the image to be taken to the Different Brains interviews available in visual interview format, podcast and transcript versions.

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Part Idifferentbrains2

I would like to thank Dr. Harold Reitman for contacting me and interviewing me, to Joseph and his team for putting together a wonderful series of important interviews. I would also like to thank Mike. More Coming Soon.

For impressions diagnostic assessments, Skype consultations, interviews, translations, book, workshop or conference  enquiries, please contact tania and admin@centreforautism.com.au

Copyright 2016 Different Brains and Tania Marshall

I Am AspienWoman wins a 2016 IPPY eLit Gold Medal Award!

The AspienGirl Project is pleased to announce that the sequel to ‘I am Aspiengirl’ entitled ‘I Am AspienWoman’ recently won a 2016 IPPY eLit Gold Medal Award in the “Women’s  Category” in April. I am AspienWoman is the culmination of a blog Tania wrote a couple of years ago entitled ‘Moving Towards a female profile of Asperger Syndrome’, with close to 300,000 views, to date. That blog is regularly updated. You may purchase copies at http://www.aspiengirl.com, Amazon or other fine books stores.

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AspienWoman April Elit Award1

 

2016 Award Announcements

Tania spends her professional time in private practice. She provides diagnostic assessment impressions reports regularly (across the lifespan), and provides interventions and support. For more information regarding diagnosis and assessment, bookstore wholesale discounts, book contracts, interviews, translations, workshops and conferences, please email admin@centreforautism.com.au

 

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