Thursday, May 19, 2016


by Rudy Simone

Why You Will Like This Book:
  • A very useful and informative book about Asperger's, with a female focus.
  • It's easy to read and well laid-out, with separate sections for different perspectives (e.g. an Aspergirl, the parent of an Aspergirl, etc.).

And Why You Might Not:
  • If you didn't have Asperger's or didn't know anyone with Asperger's, it would probably be more fruitful to get a different book, since this is a pretty personal type of book, specifically geared towards people who have dealt with this before.

Thoughts: Ok, so first off, I don't have Asperger's. Though I think that if autism is a spectrum, neuro-typical people probably have a spectrum going towards and away from autism too--in which case, I'm definitely closer to the Asperger's end than most people. It was cool to find so many similarities that I hadn't heard discussed anywhere else.
For a short, non-inclusive list:

--A like for tight hugs only (pg. 39). For ages, I didn't like hugs at all, and would squirm and make a face when my friends tried to hug me. Later I realized very tight, vigorous hugs were quite fun, but I did them too strongly and hurt people accidentally. Only in the last couple years have I finally got used to the standard hug, and even now I don't exactly enjoy them.
--Shame over periods, peeing, and other bodily functions (pg. 68). I thought this was relatively normal, though. I know emphatically neuro-typical girls who can't pee when other people can hear them.
--Another attribute I thought was pretty normal was a struggle with a sense of identity. As with the woman on pg. 63, it can be difficult for me to "have a clear or typical sense of self". But again, doesn't everybody struggle with that?
--A lack of "theory of mind" (pg. 80), to a certain extent. I tend to forget people can see me, so I'm surprised every time someone comments on a facial expression I've made.
--Short term memory issues and forgetting why one is mad at someone (pg. 101). This one doesn't always apply, but I've many times had people quite surprised I'd forgotten something that happened. This is especially applicable to emotions, where I'll forget I was miserable doing a particular thing, and so seriously consider going back to it.
--"[M]any of us will be happier in our forties and fifties than we ever were before." On page 205, she talks about the self-knowledge and awareness that comes with age, and how many girls with Asperger's actually enjoy getting older, even though it gets a bad rap in our culture. I totally sympathize with this point of view, and have been thinking about that a lot myself recently. If I've learnt this much about life by the time I was in my mid twenties, think how much more I'll have learnt in my 50s! or 60s! or older! The knowledge and wisdom gained would so definitely be worth it all on its own, but then you also get great advantages like being able to be the amazing old lady in "When I Am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple" (one of my favourite poems).
--Also stimming (talks about it in a lot of places, so I'm not going to mention a page number). I definitely do this sometimes, when bored or anxious or excited or thinking hard. I know I do it because it drives certain people crazy, so they'll always comment on it.

Anyway, that list seems quite self centered, so here are a couple things I noted that aren't related to similarities I found in myself:

--There is a fascinating comparison on pg. 21 of fluid intelligence, "the ability to see order in confusion, to draw inferences and understand the relationships of seemingly unrelated things", versus crystallized intelligence, "the ability to use acquired knowledge and skills". I'd never heard of these terms before, but now I must research them! Such a cool distinction!
--The problems with health care in the States can be horrific. This is just magnified when it's a mental health care problem. I keep forgetting, until I read something like this by an American (pg. 173), and then I remember. Canada's health care has its issues, but it's nothing to the States'.

All in all, an interesting and sometimes surprisingly relatable read. Good for helping to understand something that isn't well understood in our society, especially when it relates to females.

Grade: 3 stars

If You Like This, You Might Also Like:
  • Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey: It is a similar kind of book, except about ADD instead of Aspergers, and not focused on girls. I liked it less than this book--it was harder to read, less nicely laid out, and didn't have enough sections for different perspectives. Still, it had quite a bit of information, and I've heard it highly recommended by people who actually have to deal with ADD.
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by BrenĂ© Brown: A book about acceptance and resilience against shame. It didn't really speak to my personality and issues, so I didn't find it particularly helpful. But again, I know people who very much did. I think it's worth checking out for people who struggle with insecurity and a lack of self-love.

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