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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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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Myths, barriers and reasons females may be unable to obtain an Autism diagnosis

 

Currently, I am writing two books, “AspienPowers” and “Behind the Mask”. Quite often, as I am writing, certain memories or themes from my years of work come to the forefront of my mind. In my clinic work with individuals who are discussing their history’s or reasons they are seeking a diagnosis, I have come across a variety of barriers (other than cost) to a diagnosis. I also discuss briefly in my second best selling book I am Aspienwoman that other people may not believe the person once they receive a diagnosis.

Briefly, these include:

“My doctor told me I am a professional working woman so I couldn’t possibly have Autism/Aspergers”.

“I was told I have children, am a good mother and am functioning quite well, so why would I want a diagnosis? He refused to refer me”.

“I went in for an assessment and they gave me child assessment forms to fill out. I couldn’t answer most of the questions”.

“The majority of professionals I called said they only work with children”.

“My psychiatrist said I make great eye contact and talk well with him, so I couldn’t have Autism/Aspergers”.

“The local Autism Society had no-one they could recommend who was trained and experienced in working with Autistic females”.

“The professional I went to see said I couldn’t have Aspergers because it is no longer in the DSM5”.

“The professional I see said I only have anxiety, depression and social anxiety which I have had all my life (from birth). I tried to explain the sensory issues, my Irlen Syndrome and my gender fluidity, to no avail”.

“Ï was told I am a professional actress, making money and working and that I did not fit the profile (the male profile) of Autism/Aspergers”.

“I was told I present too well to have Autism/Aspergers. I am a professional model and I love make-up, clothes, fashion design and shoes, but I have always had social problems. I was told because I am well  liked by others that I could not possibly have Autism/Aspergers”.

“I was told by a professional that Autism/Aspergers is a ‘male’ thing”.

“I was told I have Social Communication Disorder and that’s all. I know that’s not all I have, so I am going for a second opinion”.

“I was told I am too social and therefore it’s impossible for me to have Autism”.

“I didn’t/don’t know how to drop my mask (with my psychologist) and only managed to get an anxiety diagnosis”.

“I have spent so much time teaching myself social skills, reading books on social skills, going to drama classes, that no-one believed me until I saved my money up and saw someone who is both a psychologist (and has worked with many females) and an author (writes about females)  for many years”.

“My daughter met two of the 3 criteria on the ADOS but has no RRP’s, so she did not receive a diagnosis”

“They said my daughter has some traits but not enough, so she now has a label of ‘Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder'”

“My daughter is a Jekyll and Hyde and did not receive a diagnosis because she is so well-behaved at school”

To Be Continued…more coming soon

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For more information of female Autism, please go to:

http://www.aspiengirl.com

http://www.taniamarshall.com

Free webinar The female Autism Conundrum

http://www.autisminpink.net

To contact Tania for fee-based impressions assessment/diagnosis, consultations, media interviews/inquiries, workshops and.or conferences, book reviews, translations, please email Tania at tania@aspiengirl.com

 

Copyright Tania Marshall, 2014-2016

Asperger’s, Girls and the Social World: A Brief Look

Featured in the June 2014 Autism Companion Magazine, FREE at http://www.autismcompanion.com

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Aspienwoman Mentor Interview Series: Brandy Nightingale

Welcome to another Aspienwoman Mentor Interview Series, where I interview female role models and mentors diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and/or involved in the world of Autism or Asperger Syndrome.

In this interview I interviewing Brandy Nightingale from the United States about her life, Asperger Syndrome, her gifts and talents and more! Brandy Nightingale is a jack of all trades and received a late diagnosis in 2010.

 

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Tania:  Welcome to the Aspienwoman Mentor Interview Series Brandy! It’s fantastic to have you here where we interview females on the Spectrum about their lives, their diagnosis and their unique talents.

Brandy:  Thank-you so much. It’s an honor to be here and to be a part of this important interview series!

Tania:  When did you receive your formal diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome?

Brandy:  I was formally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in November of 2010, at the age of 35.

Tania:  Please tell tell me about your work/career life.

Brandy:  Well, I was a teen model. I now work in the feature film industry as a Visual Effects Coordinator. I was a personal assistant to three celebrities before getting into VFX. I own my own local pet care business, The Peaceful Pup (thepeacefulpup.com). I am a retired stand-up comic (performed for 8 years). I’m married to an eccentric NT (2 years). I’m a survivor of childhood physical, mental, emotional & sexual abuse. I’m a survivor of school bullying. I have an active blog (http://brandynightingale.blogspot.com).

Tania:  Wow Brandy, that;s incredible. I’m always amazed at what females on the Spectrum can do. Tell me more about your writing please?

Brandy:  I just completed a personal memoir, Everything’s Hunky Dory: A Memoir. It’s a shocking yet humorous memoir titled, Everything’s Hunky Dory: A Memoir, which, from the perspective of an autistic child, explores personal stories of living with and attempting to rescue her alcoholic, drug addicted mother from self-destruction.

Tania:  Wow, that’s fantastic! You certainly have been and/or are involved in a number of careers and interests. You mentioned to me about also doing some advocacy work?

Brandy:  My newest goal is to work with girls/women on the spectrum, helping them to embrace ‘what is’, which is their autism, find their individual strengths and passions, and put those to use in order to become happy and successful.

Tania:   Awesome! What are your Superpowers?

Brandy:  Since I was a very little girl, I was able to recognize I had what I believed were superpowers. The first one I noticed was that I could hear what others couldn’t. The slightest sound of a leaf falling to the ground, a dog barking neighborhoods away, or even my mother whispering in the next room, I could hear it all. (I admit this superpower didn’t make surprises easy for others, which is fine, as I’ve never been one to like surprises.) This superpower has come in quite handy in life. In my adult years, I can hear instantly if my car isn’t functioning properly, if the toilet is broken, if there is a leak in a pipe, if a creature is lurking in the garden. My hearing superpower has turned into an incredible asset, enabling me to diagnose and repair pretty much anything. It’s also helped me to isolate particular sounds such as determining a territorial dog’s bark from a fearful dog’s bark, an honest voice from a dishonest voice. I’m able to use this ability when I work with animals and meet new people.

Tania:  What amazing Aspienpowers you have and I love the way you utilize them, in addition to the way you view them. What advice would you give to other Aspiens?

Brandy:  My take away from life and the wisdom I’d like to pass along to fellow female Aspiens is this: listen to yourself without the voices and opinions of others. Really sit with yourself and listen to what your body tells you about your needs, wants, and most of all, your passions and talents. What makes you feel giddy inside? What can you spend hours working on? What is it you do that seems to make time disappear? If your body wants to read, by all means let it read. If your body wants to write, by all means write! If your body wants to build, by all means let it build! Although we all have responsibilities such as school, work, or even families to care for, we MUST make time for our passions and develop our talents. We Aspiens are more specialists than generalists, meaning we can be really good or even genius at a topic or two, beyond what most can comprehend. Isn’t that incredible? That’s a superpower most of us share. It is people like us who create new gadgets, who have a special ability to connect with animals, who have a special ability to focus on small details of tasks for much longer than others. We are the ones who have the innate ability to solve problems for the world. More than ever, the world needs our superpowers, so let’s fine tune them and let them shine!

Tania: Fantastic Brandy and I just love you positive strengths-based positive attitude, something this Interview Series and the Aspiengirl Project is all about! People have been emailing us and telling us how they love this approach. How can people follow or reach you?

Brandy:  I can be found at:

Tania:  Brandy, thank-you so much for being a part of this fabulous movement. That of providing awareness, hope, inspiration to other females on the Autism Spectrum.

Brandy:  Proud to be a part of it Tania and thank-you for asking me to be a part of this Project, along with some other pretty cool Aspiens!

Brandy Nightingale was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2010 at the age of thirty-five. An entrepreneur, visual effects coordinator on feature films, retired stand-up comedian, and writer, she resides in beautiful Ojai, California with her husband, three rescued dogs, and two happy hens.

 

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To learn more about female Autism/Asperger Syndrome, check out the Aspiengirl book series at http://www.aspiengirl.com where some of these mentors are included in the Mentor section!

 

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ImageTania Marshall©. 2013-2014. AspienWoman Interview Mentor Series. All rights reserved. Thank you.

 

The Aspiengirl Book Series

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AspiengirlcoverFBTeam Aspiengirl are gearing up for the release of the first, in a series, of books for females on the Autism Spectrum. We are very excited to have just received the following endorsements from trailblazers in their own rights: Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Judith Gould, Dr. Francesca Happe and Dr. Shana Nicols! Have a read at what they have to say about the I Am Aspiengirl book.


 

“An imaginative book with a positive message for girls with Autism or Asperger Syndrome”

Dr. Temple Grandin

Author, The Autistic Brain, USA


 

“Thank you so much for sending me your wonderful book. I think it is great, and fulfils a real need to raise awareness about females on the spectrum. There is an urgent need for more research with women and girls on the autism spectrum. We don’t yet know how much current diagnostic criteria and processes disadvantage females and whether those undiagnosed suffer in silence or manage to compensate effectively. Raising awareness of autism spectrum conditions in females is an important first step, which this book achieves while reflecting the great diversity of experiences and opinions in this complex area”.

Dr. Francesca Happe, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Director & Head of Department, President, International Society for Autism Research (INSAR), MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre, UK


 

FOREWARD

The term Aspien Girl, as the title of Tania Marshall’s book is very appropriate and reflects what girls on the autism spectrum often say; that they feel they are from a different planet.

The rationale for this book is to address awareness of females with Autism or Asperger Syndrome who are often misdiagnosed and receive inappropriate interventions or who are simply not diagnosed. The book also emphasises advocacy for this group with their unique needs and challenges, education about the female profile and the differences between males and females.

For professionals working in this fascinating field the comments and statements of the girls and their parents are illuminating, clever and often funny. They highlight the obvious and not so obvious subtle differences in the way autism is manifested in females. This has special significance when considering a diagnosis. The core difficulties in Autism are the same for all individuals within the spectrum but there are gender differences and it is the way these behaviours are manifested and interpreted that is important. Many clinicians/diagnosticians still have a male stereotype of what behaviours constitute autism and dismiss girls and women because they do not fit this rigid, narrow view. It is now time for change and the examples given in this book constitutes a major step forward in re-thinking the diagnosis of females in the spectrum.

The emphasis throughout the book highlights the strengths and positive attributes of the females but their ‘differentness’ has to be acknowledged by everyone living and working with them. A sympathetic ‘mentor’ in the education system can make or break a young girl’s future. As professionals we need to be informed about the way young women think and perceive the world. This book gives us this insight. Tania Marshall’s way of describing the strengths and pitfalls for females on the spectrum using pictures and photographs is much more meaningful than words alone. These visual presentations will give guidance to professionals when explaining the diagnosis as this type of presentation makes more sense to a girl in the spectrum.

The book is divided into sections with delightful visual presentations covering all aspects of daily life, play, social interaction, language and communication, sensory and emotional needs, together with strengths and challenges in all these areas.

Five important needs of Aspien girls are highlighted which remind us of the uniqueness of each individual and how we as professionals and parents should accommodate them. The appendices give further useful information on commonly observed traits and characteristics of girls, the unique strengths of the girl profile when explaining the diagnosis and gender differences from both research based information and clinical observation.

A final quote from a girl in the spectrum. “With the diagnosis and the right support we Aspien girls have been known to soar…..”.

This book is a must for everyone living and working with girls on the autism spectrum.

Dr Judith Gould

Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Director of the NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism, UK

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“One of the brightest building blocks contributing to the emergence of a sisterhood of females on the autism spectrum and those who support and love them. I Am Aspiengirl is a true gift to the community.”

Shana Nichols, PhD, Leading Author of Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum, USA


Sneak-A-Peek of Page 1 of 9 pages devoted to outlining the unique characteristics and traits of females (young girls through teenage years) on the Autism Spectrum

 

Female ProfileProfessional Translators Wanted

The Aspiengirl Project is devoted to the awareness, advocacy, education and sharing of information regarding the female profile to as many other countries/languages as possible. So far the book series will be translated into Norwegian, Italian, French, Spanish, Chinese, Brazilian and Portugese this year. If you would like to translate one or more of my book series, please contact me at tania@aspiengirl.com

We are thrilled to be working with translators, who understand the importance of their own work, in addressing the critical need for information on female Autism in a variety of countries.

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As a result of this great feedback we have put together some very special offers for both the eBook and printed book as well as for people who can’t decide which format they would prefer at a discounted price to receive both including complimentary postage.

All 3 books in both Paperback and eBook plus FREE shipping for $89.99, available at http://www.aspiengirl.com! You can also sign up for our newsletter and become an affiliate.

We have been receiving a wide variety of inquiries related to diagnostic assessments, problem-solving and support sessions and book-related interviews, articles, webinars and workshops. Please email me at tania@aspiengirl.com if you would like to book a session.

Take care and remember, Aspiengirls are not your average Superheros

Tania

http://www.aspiengirl.com

Post-Diagnostic Themes from the Autobiographical Narratives of AspienWomen

Some Post-DiagnosticThemes from the Autobiographical Narratives of AspienWomen

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Many female adults question and reflect upon the whether or not they should seek out a diagnostic assessment. A common pathway to a diagnosis is via their own child’s diagnosis. Another common pathway is through Google, also known as self-assessment. Many female adults either seek post-diagnostic support and/or write to me post-diagnosis, discussing some of their most common thoughts and feelings.

1. A sense of relief is the most common reaction, post-diagnosis. Finally, there is an explanation for the difficulties and challenges experienced, to date. Finally, they are getting somewhere in terms of getting the questions they have had throughout their life answered. Finally, they switch the labels, keeping the appropriate ones and  inappropriate “label”‘s

“I think I had an idea in my head that once an official diagnosis was obtained my world would open up and all of a sudden my difficulties would melt away. (I didn’t think that one through very well!). But of course you wake up just the same …. I’m finally getting to a place where waking up as me is ok! I am 41 and spent years thinking I was defective so it’s going to take a few more to disregard that belief”

2. Later on, other emotions may appear, such as anger and grief and lots more questions. Usually, the anger stems from the often obsessive “what-if’s”. What if I had been diagnosed when I was in school? What if my teachers, family members knew I had Aspergers, rather than being “naughty”?  What if the teachers knew I had Aspergers instead of being labelled dumb, lazy, angry, too shy, socially anxious, bi-polar, borderline? What if I had had learning support? What if? What if? What if? I could have…got through school, university, my courses, med school…..? Maybe my marriage would have…. Maybe I could of had a career in…? Maybe, maybe, maybe.

“Before, I was a little scared that you would say I don’t have it, and I will fall apart again wondering why I am the way I am. And feel a bit silly telling the few people I have mentioned my Self Diagnosis too. Even though I have answered alot of questions, I find I have a lot of “what if’s?”

3. A reframing takes place, one in which the individual goes from present day backwards in time reframing her life experiences, events, relationships, in light of her new diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome or Autism. This reframing provides a catharsis, much understanding and mourning. It is then that the individual sees herself through the lens of Autism, presently and in the future.

To Be Continued…

Tania can be contacted for assessment, diagnosis, intervention and support, in addition to interviews and articles regarding her books. Contact her at tania@aspiengirl.com

Tania currently spends her professional time divided between private practice, research, and writing and looks forward to releasing the next installment in her AspienGirl™ book series, available at http://www.aspiengirl.com

Aspiengirl™ and Planet Aspien™ are registered and trademarked. Copyright 2013-14

Emerging Themes of Autobiographical Narratives by Females on the Spectrum

Autobiographical Narratives of Adult Females on the Spectrum

This blog is a sample of  soon to be released book entitled “Behind the Mask: The autobiographical narratives of undiagnosed females on the Autism Spectrum”

Updated 23/09/2016

Over the years I have listened to the narratives of many individuals on the Spectrum. I have interviewed and listened to females, read their autobiographical narratives (a 3-4 page written narrative from their earliest memories until early adult years) and provided support and intervention to them and their families. I have also interviewed and listened to their partners, mothers, fathers, siblings, children, carers and/or their doctors, psychologists and other professionals. Within this unique group of females, interesting themes emerge from their narratives. Briefly, what follows is just some of the many common themes that I have identified within the narratives of the females that I have worked with. Thank-you to the fabulous women who gave permission to use their own words. If you are looking for a fee-for-service assessment or support, please contact tania@aspiengirl.com  Thank-you.

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1. A strong feeling of being “different”, “odd”, “weird” or feeling as though they are from another era or planet, and/or feeling like the “black sheep” in my family.

 “I have always been trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why I am so different”

  1. A strong will and sheer determination

“If I want to achieve something I will do it and I’m prepared to put the work and effort into getting it. Nothing will stop me”

3. A lengthy history of therapy, counselling and/or medication.

“I have a history of “labels”, therapy, counselling, group work, you name it. I just had another five labels attached to me…borderline personality disorder, anxiety, some mood disorder, depression, OCD and some more crap therapy, and medication, which has only partly resolved my issues”.

4. Being invalidated, and unheard.

“I have been told I cannot possibly have AS because of my successes, the way I dress, my eye contact, the way I communicate with others, my ability to socialize, my verbal abilities and my intelligence. She said I don’t need any help and was unwilling to diagnose

  1. Low self esteem

“I have had very low self esteem from very young, but bizarrely I have a confidence to do my own thing”

  1. A history of being bullied, teased, manipulated and lied about

“I experience ridicule, criticism, humiliation, psychological bullying, and teasing, even towards me by those on the Spectrum. I thought people on the spectrum didn’t do those things. I joined a group of female Aspies. I thought it would be supportive and helpful. I was wrong”

  1. The experience of education/school

“From the second I was picked up from school (after my first day) right up to the second I finished my final paper, fourteen years later, school was a psychic nightmare beyond any measure, for me”

8.  An uneven skillset

“The teacher told my mother that I was emotionally immature. I was exceptionally bright, determined, strong-willed, naive, and intelligent with hyperlexia and dyscalculia”

  1. I feel very intense emotions in relation to animals, and inanimate objects. By the age of seven or eight I had become so deeply sensitive to any sort of criticism.

“I cannot watch television, listen to the radio or watch violent/horror movies. Being on a anti-depressant has helped me be less sensitive. I need that to cope in the world”

10.Social echolalia, masking and fitting in

“I altered my entire phenotype; my true self was hidden and made invisible, even to my parents. I changed the way I walked, my tone of voice and I practiced smiling at myself in the mirror. I suppressed every urge to express my feelings and beliefs. I still don’t know how I managed it because I am a naturally very emotionally intense human being. I hated people asking me what was wrong, or why I was staring at their lips. I hated myself for feeling so different. I didn’t know why I couldn’t look people in the eyes; all that mattered was that I learn to look normal”.

  1. A deep love of fantasy and other-worldly themes

“Fantasy was my primary source of satisfaction. It was in the moments that I was alone that I dissociated, escaped into my very own safe little world. My Imagination was my salvation. I had friends, and I lived in nature. Often I was Pocahontas, or a fairy that could fly away. I wrote long, complex narrations about fantastical animals and magical people.

  1. Finding refuge in animals and objects

“Every afternoon after school I would, to some extent, feel very tired, moody, irritable and/or angry. Human affection could not console me. I rather found refuge in my pets; they were my real friends. I felt that I could trust them to love me unconditionally. There was always only one of them that I could give all of my undivided attention to at any given time. I considered myself the world’s best animal trainer, and handler- except not including human beings. Fortunately, I naturally found behavior a vast topic of interest. I managed to pull off normal, just in time for the school bell to ring signifying ‘home time’!”

  1. A history of eating issues and/or an eating disorder

“My eating disorder is a way of controlling my life. I have always been picky with food and have huge sensory sensitivities”

  1. Life is more challenging for me compared to my peers

“I have been married, had children, jobs, a life…but life just seems to be so hard. I often say, “Geez, just living day to day is hard for me.”

15.  Years of Searching.

“I spent years searching, looking answers. I joined clubs, groups, religions, group therapy, AA, even a cult. I realized I was really just hoping to find the answer to why I felt so different.

 

Behind the Mask 3D

 

I am Aspiengirl,  I am Aspienwoman books and Aspienpowers can be purchased from http://www.aspiengirl.com

Tania is a best-selling author, writer and psychologist. She is available for assessments, consultations (in-person or Skype), interviews and/or presentations at tania@aspiengirl.com

For more information on female Autism/Asperger Sydnrome go to : http://www.taniamarshall.com

Tania Marshall. 2016.  All rights reserved. Thank you.