Tania Marshall, Australia – is the author of the #1 Best Selling book “I am Aspiengirl: Aspergers, Autism and the young Female Profile” on the Amazon store. Tania has over 20 years’ experience in the field of Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and she has worked on a regular basis with women and girls who have Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism. This is her first book in the Aspiengirl Book Series and more information can be found on her website at www.aspiengirl.com
We were therefore extremely excited, here at Autism Daily Newscast, to hear about Tania’s newly released book and were eager to interview her. The book is both extremely positive and uplifting. It states the facts but also allows the reader to know that anything is possible. Having read the book, I now understand much more about how autism presents in females.
Below is part 1 of our interview with Tania.
Could you tell me a little about your work with girls and women who are on the spectrum?
“I am a psychologist in private practice with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism and Asperger’s. I have worked in a variety of contexts and environments within the field of psychology for 20 years. In my private practice, I was being referred more and more females, who were presenting as quite complex and other professionals were unsure of the presenting diagnosis or diagnoses. There is scant literature and research on females with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. There is next to no clinical or research literature on the characteristics from a female’s point of view or those that love them. I am writing my book series to help spread awareness of the unique female set of personality traits, preferences, characteristics, strengths, and challenges.”
Tania continues to add:
“The other kind of work I am involved in is a book for professionals and some Pilot research. I am co-authoring a book tentatively entitled “Assessment of Autism Spectrum and Asperger’s in Females: Comprehensive diagnostics and treatment planning for girls and women with autism spectrum conditions across the lifespan. I have also been working on a Doctoral student Pilot study investigating factors that lead to or detract from success in adult females with Asperger Syndrome.”
“Yes, more and more girls are now being referred for diagnosis. Many of them have prior diagnoses of, for example, social anxiety, ADHD, OCD, bi-polar disorder, an eating disorder or reactive attachment disorder. Many have been misdiagnosed and therefore received inappropriate interventions and support.”
What changes need to be made with regards to the diagnosis process for girls?
“There are quite a few changes I’d like to see, but I’ll just talk about some critical ones. First of all, I think we may need new diagnostic criteria. Many girls who are clearly on the Spectrum do not meet the “male based” criteria and subsequently do not receive an appropriate diagnosis. Many, not all, but many females appear to have a different presentation in comparison to males. The second issue that concerns me is the lack of assessment tools that have been designed for females. The third issue I see is the complete lack of interventions, therapy and resource materials available for females, of all ages. Fourthly, there is a huge need for appropriately trained professionals to work in the area of female autism.”
Tania then further adds:
“I am also concerned about the female adult population, whom are referred to as the “lost generation”, often seeking a formal diagnosis after a child has received a diagnosis. The lost generations are those adult women (and men) who were “missed” because initially Autism was thought to be a childhood disorder. We now know Autism to be a lifelong neurological condition, most likely from in utero/infant.”
“I have always been interested in human behavior, but moreso those individuals who are “outside the box”, so to speak. The ones who are different, eccentric, intellectually gifted, genius; the inventors, the creators, the artists, the highly sensitive individuals, the twice-exceptional children. I received training in specific in-patient and out-patient clinics, a private special needs school for “at-risk” children and private practice. My favourite internships were at an ADHD clinic in a Children’s hospital and an 18 month post-masters externship at a private special needs school for children and teens ages 5- 19. It was a last resort school and many out-of the box thinkers and individuals attended there. My role there was as a school psychologist under direct supervision of a Clinical Psychologist. My role involved assessment, diagnosis, and weekly intervention. I also ran social skills training groups and relaxation training groups. Many of the children there had a range of conditions: Autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, Social Anxiety, Attachment Disorder, OCD, Bi-polar Disorder, learning disabilities, Intellectual Impairment, to name a few. I’ve been in private practice ever since.
How long did it take to write your book?
“That’s not easy to answer. I think it was around 8 months. I worked on it part-time as I work in full-time private practice, so I worked on it whenever I could. It actually was a perfect mesh. I would see clients, who naturally shared informations with me, and then at night I would write my book. The book did take longer than planned, which is not unusual for a first-time Indie Author and also for the type of format the book is written in.”
“Many of the families I work with were aware that I was writing a book series. The families and professionals were all very helpful. The vast majority were only too happy to contribute to awareness and advocacy from the “insiders” point of view. All of the quotes are by girls on the Spectrum, right from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. This is very important to the Autistic Community, that information about Autistic people includes Autistic people.”
Can you tell me a little about the process of creating the book.
“I felt it was important to share my client’s insights, thoughts, feelings, experiences, in a confidential way. That part is easy as I have a very good memory. I could have done this in a book full of words, and it probably would have been easier and a quicker process. However, I felt that a book of hand-picked visuals with verbatim quotes was a more powerful way of showcasing characteristics. The book was in my head, so that was easy for me to create. The format was a challenge because it was the first one I had done. Generally speaking, for this book, I knew I was going to be covering certain areas. For example, obviously I was going to have a section on the social world of autistic girls. I have many autobiographical accounts from late teen/adult females and if a client said something to me that struck me, I would ask them if I could use it, confidentially of course. I source visuals that are really appealing to me visually and that highlight the girl’s words. Other times I come across a stunning picture in my search and then I build the quotes around it.”
Part 2 of our interview with Tania can be read here
The AspienGIRL website can be found here www.aspiengirl.com
Tania’s Amazon Author page can be found here www.amazon.com/author/taniamarshall