AspienGirl: Embracing the Strengths of Women with Autism, with Tania Marshall | EDB 51

Welcome to another episode of exploring different
brains. Today we go all the way to Australia to talk
to the best selling author, Tania Marshall, her latest book: Aspien Girl, Not Your Average
Super Hero. Among other great books is our guest Tania
great to have you, how are you? Hi and thank you for having me on the show. We’re great. Tania why don’t you introduce yourself to
our audience. Sure, my name is Tania Marshal and I’m a psychologist
over here in Australia, and I work primarily with high functioning neurodiverse people,
in particular females. Females are widley under recognized in the
world. An area that we’re quite concerned about. Tell our audience here, what you feel the
big differences are between Aspie in women and guys with Asperger’s. Well were starting to understand only just
recently, as recent as just last year and this year, some of the gender differences. And some of the differences are that girls
tend to internalize where as boys externalize behavioral wise. Girls also seem to be more social, whether
that’s a cultural thing or they’re just more social in general than boys. But not as social as your typical girls. So they’re still struggling. It also seems to be that the higher the IQ
or the higher the intelligence the more able the girl is able to mask, we use the words
masking or compensatory strategies which is actually an area that I’m interested in writing
about right now is how do these girls manage to pass as normal or manage to get through
so many years using certain skills with out being picked up. So that’s a couple of differences there. I’m aware that recently Yale has just released
about, or about to release a study on the brain scans and the brain differences between
girls and boys. So that is going to be very good for helping
us to understand those differences and then start making interventions for girls. Even before we start doing that we need assessment
tools for girl. Because there are very few assessment tools
for girls out there and non-for female adults. Do you feel also that there is a component
of, for lack of a better term I’ll call it the cultural demands on a female versus a
male that allow them to mask it better? Yeah I do for sure. I think that culturally that females are expected,
they have certain expectations on then more so than males do. And I think that makes it much more challenging
for them to try and fit in. And if they don’t feel like they don’t want
to look like how society wants them a woman to look that there might be something wrong
with them, as they’ve told me. Tell us the names, you’ve written so many
books and everything and these bestsellers and everything, tell us some of the names
of some of your books for our viewers. Ok, well I wrote, if we go back a little bit
there wasn’t a lot information and when I was working with these girls their parents
were looking for information or parents were coming to me with their girls because they
just weren’t satisfied with answers they were getting. It just didn’t seem to fit when they’d go
on to see other professionals. So I thought, I’d been working as a psychologist
for many many years and I want to start writing about my work. So my first book I am Aspien Girl, was really
just about describing what I was seeing in the girls that came into my clinic. So I was seeing this profile of real abilities
and real gifts and then significant challenges, as well. Those were traits that varied from mild to
severe. The core theme that came out narrative wise
was the sense of feeling different from their peers. That of course goes from feeling different
from their peers all the way to I’m just not from this planet at all. I’ve got one person that as she made it to,
she’s in my second book I am Aspien Women and she’s a mentor and she made it through
the second round of the Mars project. She wanted to go to Mars because she doesn’t
like it here on Earth. I think another theme is many of the females
are not being supported. Please define what you mean not being supported? They’re not being understood first of all. They’re being misdiagnosed. And they’re also being put on medications
that aren’t based on those diagnoses that aren’t helpful. A lot of times are not supported in all. So there isn’t the awareness from professionals,
psychologists or psychiatrists, haven’t understood that Asperger’s is how it presents in males. So when a female presents then she can’t have
Asperger’s if she’s making eye contact or if she’s having a superficial conversation
or if she’s showing some appropriate body language because she has taught her self to
do that and she’s copied or mimicked her peers. So she knows how to do that. But if you dig a little deeper then you can
find out that she’s got some social skills problems and she’s got some anxiety and she’s
really trying hard on a day-to-day basis just to get through the day. Because of all of your best sellers and everything
you’ve written about females, are viewers and listeners are going to want to know, what
do you think about in your experience anyhow the unique gifts that might be more associated
with the women than a male or are the unique gifts the same and I know I agree with my
daughter Rebecca too that every brain is different, they’re like snowflakes, no two are alike
so we’re generalizing here, but do you feel there are unique gifts that have occurred
with more frequency in one gender than the other in your experience because you’ve had
a tremendous amount of experience. Thank you, I mean I’ve seen females with all
kinds of gifts. But I do see one difference in the caring
profession that I see more females who go into or becoming teachers or nurses, special
needs teachers in particular or social workers. So I tend to see that as a difference but
across genders I see a lot performing artists which is a very big area from singing to poetry
to writing books to acting and so on and so forth. So I would say in my experience I tend to
see more females in the caring professions. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of females
and there is not a stereotype, there is not a tomboy stereotype. There are different kinds of, I guess if you
wanted to sub tight them into groups, in my first book I am Aspien Girl; I had twins a
set of twins. One is a tomboy and one is a princess, she’s
very very girly. She’d be the least to be picked up or diagnosed
so I think that it’s important to understand that there are different types of girls. And the least ones to be picked up are the
princessy, super model type of girls, because they’re very superficially social and they
have a high IQ and they’ve told me that they’ve taught themselves by mimicking and copying
and knowing what to do and what to say and they’re quite high achievers. I’m trying to think, there was one more thing
I wanted to point out about girls, I guess I mentioned it before, the professional knowledge
is lacking but also the assessment tools. So something like the gold standard ADOS has
now been shown by research to not be very good at picking up girls. The subtle characteristics. For example they might meet two of the modules
but not the third one. Or they might just be underneath the cut off. So it’s important for professionals to have
training in this area and to understand how to look for the girls and what kinds of questions
you ask that would be differently than for males. Tania as you know, women as opposed to men
are put in a much more difficult position when it comes to dating. What are some of the rules or advice you can
give our Aspien females who are taking all of this in and also to the people who care
for them, caring other parties whether they’re parents or friends or whoever, what kind of
advice can you give them on dating? Wow that’s a big area because what we do know
from even just recent research study, but I’ve known this for quite some time but there
is time in between clinical evidence and research based evidence that females are at a very
vulnerable, due to their social naivety, do get taken advantage of a lot. When it comes to dating, I think it’s really
important that they learn about safety skills and what to do if they don’t feel comfortable
and when not to put themselves in a place where they maybe unsafe because of their literalness
or they misinterpret other people’s intentions which get them into quite some danger. So I think having a mentor about dating and
reading about dating and how to be safe is extremely important. So when I work with teenagers and girls depending
on where they are developmentally we’re often talking about safety in dating and what’s
appropriate and what’s not appropriate. And how to protect yourself and things like
that. I just want to close on a positive note from
Tania Marshall to all of our Aspien Women out there. That would be: be yourself, find out what
your strengths are, find a mentor, and go for it. I love that. That’s great. Be your own super hero. That’s the Aspiens model right? Be your own super hero not someone else. Be your own super hero not someone else. Yeah because a lot in the autobiography by
graphical accounts of women, and this is my fourth book, is about the narratives and themes
of what come out of all of those autobiographies. I’ve got hundred of them but I know the themes
in my head because I’ve read them all and one of the themes is they’re not being themselves. So when they go identify they start copying
and mimicking and pretending to be other people and then they don’t develop their own identity. So some of them go on to develop personality
disorders. So they have both. But my motto is be yourself, right, you can
be yourself by finding out what your strengths are, not trying to be like other neurotypicals,
and having mentors or family members and caretakers support and nurture your strengths and gifts. So if you don’t know what they are, in my
third book will be talking about how to find out what your strengths are, how to nurture
them, how can parents help the child or the adolescent or the adult to do that and go
in that direction. Tell our audience about how they can find
you and your books and learn more about all of this great work you’re doing. Sure, the book has a website which is
so you can learn more about the books there. I also have my own personal website which
is mostly about neurodiversity in females and some on males which is at I also blog about female autism and female
Asperger’s at And you can also email me at [email protected] Thank you so much Tania, keep up the great
work you do for so many, you’re an inspiration and we look forward to working with you. Me too. Thank you.

22 Replies to “AspienGirl: Embracing the Strengths of Women with Autism, with Tania Marshall | EDB 51”

  1. I'm so glad you're in the world Tania. I am a good "masker" and some of my family still don't even believe that I have ASD even though I was diagnosed by a professional.

  2. Thank you very much by shared Tania's words. I'm in process of diagnosys and her voice is very important to woman's. There isn't material of she in spanish. Could you put translate in spanish for share with my family and friends on this video? Or maybe can i put the spanish translate on video and share with my "social circle" jiji ? Many thanks and excuse my english if in some sense i writed wrong something. Thank you! From Argentina.

  3. girl kids who hates some noises, problems with food and love being playing alone since "born" can be a sing that they are aspengirls?

  4. Good questions posed to this lady and I agree with her answers. I was studying to be a special needs teacher

  5. Also the fact that we tend to go into the caring professions, as she said, disproves the popular notion that the autistic and Aspergian brain type 'lack empathy'

  6. I'm only just realizing that I may be HF ASD (I'm almost 40). I've always "masked" but recall not fitting in from even Jr. Kindergarten, where my precocious self actually asked my female peers why they were playing house etc. I've never been able to truly connect with neurotypical girls (I also realized that I have synaesthesia/ASMR, and I've seen information that this overlaps with ASD and makes us non-neurotypical). I always thought I had social anxiety and was introverted, and possibly BPD or histrionic but ASD makes far more sense as a root cause of those other symptoms. For Tania, how I masked socially has always been to connect with guys. I have always been more comfortable with boys since I can remember, and the girlfriends I do have in adulthood are more tomboyish in their mentality, if that makes sense (not as socially dramatic or manipulative than many other girls/women I couldn't decipher and had to cut out of my life). I'm actually a teacher and artist (I had weird savant artistic abilities since 2 yrs old), and work in conjunction with mental health and ASD. I have a 3 yr old child who is super "princessy" but may be just like me due to many similar traits, including sensory issues and synaesthesia. She is very sociable and is hyperlexic (spoke at 10 mos old). But now that I have more info on ASD, I will keep an eye open for potential HF ASD in her. As for dating, what a disaster. This is where all the relational, misinterpretation, confusion, and inflexibility issues truly come out. This is what has prompted me to look up ASD. Thank you for this updated information.

  7. I'm a psych nurse practitioner with undiagnosed high functioning autism (Asperger's). Would love to participate in research related to female Asperger's! I have struggled my entire life and still do because of my Aspie traits, but have come so far!

  8. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!! <3 Thank you for your work! Thank you for getting the word out there. I've been trying to act normal all my life. I've been on anxiety meds for years, but I finally understand. Thank you. I'm so glad you are doing this.

  9. Please read this. I have a 10 year old Aspergers girl. There is no help for us here in the US. The only help is how I need discipline more or less. Doctors want her on medications, which do not help. I applaud your work!

  10. Very good advice, as a person who got to know I am on the spectrum later in life, I say to Aspie's know this: You can LEARN to be yourselves. I have learnt over time to adjust socially with others and be me, it can take a long time (According to the mildness or severity of challenges the person is facing) thats the only thing from my experience. You need a lot of work, have an I CAN DO attitude and you wont go wrong.

  11. Tania Your amazing Thank you 🙂 You are Inspiration to Future Generations xxx Our Family Love your Books 🙂

  12. Your information on dating for females with this illness is something I wish someone told me 20+ years ago. Because of my lack of knowing how to protect myself or picking up on those who are deceitful led me into situations that were very dangerous, to the point where I have even been raped. I agree completely that the best thing is to learn how to protect yourself and to be a little less trusting to those who are new in your life.

  13. When it comes to dating listen to your family. If they don't like them and they have a good reason you should maybe not date that person.
    I was dating a pathological liar and I almost married him. My mom warned me about him and my sister clued me in on the pattern type of what they do.
    So I have learned the signs and learned what a healthy boundary is.

  14. I went to get diagnosed for Asperger's that I know is now autism spectrum disorder but was told that I am avoidant personality disorder and it just doesn't resonate with me. It took me awhile to get to go for this diagnosis and to wait for all the paperwork to be analyzed only to get this diagnosis that doesn't entirely fit. I was told I presented with anxiety because I was twirling my fingers and that I have depression which I do know I struggle with that. I'm put off.

  15. I'm a mid-twenties female with diagnosed ASD (formerly Asperger's, until the DSM V was published). I have a high IQ and, due to high attention to detail, have become a master mimicker (or chameleon, as I like to call it). I love neurology and have my RN and plan to go to med school to get my MD in neurology. I don't appear weird in the academic community, just gifted, different story in the store but oh well, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, haha.

  16. I'm pretty sure my whole life has just been explained, but everytime I try to seek help everyone shuts me down, and my mom tells me to continue to put on the fake face everyday or "masking". It just makes me feel so helpless, but I don't want to be fake anymore. This is helpful.

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