At first, I hesitated as to whether I should review this book while I was still reading it, but as I reached its end, I realized I did have something that I wanted to say about it.
This is not the first book I have read by an author on the spectrum, the first was Temple Grandin and my dad suggested this book when we would always have lengthy conversations about social skills and what I could do to improve them at work and home.
This novel is written by Sarah and her husband Larry, the former is on the spectrum just like me. I wanted to read a book about autism not by someone who studies it, nor lives with someone on the spectrum. The only person who can understand me is another person just like me.
Straight to the point and in a language I can understand, Sarah offers advice and strategies for those with an ASD brain like mine. I found in the first few sections to be very informative and relatable like how to respond to a joke for example.
Jokes have never been my forte and I will often take them literally or occasionally pretend to understand them by laughing. What Sarah describes as a better strategy is to take a moment to switch gears mentally from a serious conversation to a humourous one, and if all else fails just simply ask if it was a joke, and don’t feel ashamed to do it.
At the end of each chapter, Larry also adds in his own piece as well on how he manages with Sarah in their everyday life.
The section on work life that I found the most relatable is how Sarah will frequently replay in her mind something a colleague said to her, and I often do the same thing at my own job when an interaction doesn’t go as I thought. I will sometimes write it down later or talk to a friend or family member about it.
I always find asking questions to be the key, especially since an ASD brain can make something simple seem more complex than it is to someone with a NT brain. There is also coverage on communication in intimate relationships and parenthood. The latter I skipped because I felt it didn’t apply to me but the former I was able to read because I personally thought it could be applied to any type of personal relationship.
Like the time Sarah said she had a plan with Larry to give their son (who is also on the spectrum) a half banana but when he wanted a whole banana instead, Larry agreed and Sarah was still stuck on the original plan. I do this all the time where I fixate on what say, my parents said beforehand before shifting suddenly and my brain is still processing that change, thus I might stick to what plan A was even though the other person has moved to plan B. Sometimes she needs a moment to adjust and that’s okay. We cannot always just flick a switch with our brains like most people can.
The last section about self-care was the most relatable because self-care is the most important thing to me. I sometimes experience sensory overload to certain loud noises or emotional breakdowns from social situations that don’t go as I hoped (sometimes hormone fluctuations make this worse for me) so just like Sarah, I sometimes just need to retreat to be alone for a few minutes to an hour to compose myself and then return and talk to people when I’m ready.
Overall, a very good read from the perspective of someone like me even if she was not diagnosed until adulthood. I feel lucky that I received my diagnosis when I was still a toddler but anyway one final praise I can give is that Sarah gives her unique way of describing autism as someone with an ASD brain rather than an “autistic person” or “person with autism”. There’s been a debate where the former is preferred by a lot of advocates with ASD or those with children on it.
I have always used the latter, not because I am ashamed of my diagnosis or wish to separate myself from it: it does define a significant portion of who I am and I have embraced it as a part of me. but it is not the only thing that makes me, me and I will cover that in more detail in another post.
Good read and worth my time.