From early childhood, Laura James knew she was different, but it wasn’t until her mid-forties that she found out why. A successful journalist and mother to four children, she had spent her whole life feeling as if she were running a different operating system to those around her. This book charts a year in her life and offers a unique insight into the autistic mind and the journey from diagnosis to acceptance. Drawing on personal experience, research and conversations with experts, she learns how ‘different’ doesn’t need to mean ‘less’ and how it’s never too late for any of us to find our place in the world. Laura explores how and why female autism is so under-diagnosed and very different to that seen in men and boys and explores difficulties and benefits neurodiversity can bring
I was kindly gifted this book a few months ago now, and it’s just been sitting on my shelf. Recently, though, I felt a desire to pick it up and have a go at reading it again as the first time I read it, it triggered medical anxiety and I also didn’t like how she felt like a teacher and I the student. This time around, though, it did not feel like that.
Laura goes into little details about her life. This includes having four children, going through a divorce, drug addiction and rehab, having EDS and POTS, going through surgeries, going on holiday, her eating problems and much more.
It’s rare that I can read a book and think “Yeah, I relate to this!”. It just doesn’t happen very often. I’m autistic, queer and fat and to have all my identities covered in one book is unlikely but I’m glad for this one I got good autism representation which I have so far only read in one other book.
There were some problematic aspects, though. “Female autism”, for example, is not a thing. There is no such thing as female autism and male autism. Saying so can be quite transphobic and excluding. It’s true that in feminine-presenting people autism often goes misdiagnosed. Many do not get diagnosed until their adulthood, and spend a life pretending that they are NT. However, this is not “female autism”. It’s just autism. It presents itself in the exact same way as autism does in most people (but it’s different in everyone because it’s a spectrum), it just goes medically unnoticed. There is NO gendered difference.
Otherwise, it was very honest. It was difficult to get into to start with but, once the flow started, it was really hard to put down. I usually read more than one book at a time, but I couldn’t really get invested in other things. This was the one that really captivated me. I hope Laura James goes on to write more, because I will absolutely be reading it.
I gave this a four out of five stars on Goodreads.
Until next time,