Bluebird publishers is releasing a memoir called Odd Girl Out: Happily Autistic Girl in a Neurotypical World, which is the first memoir written by a British woman with autism. The book is coming out in concordance with Autism Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Week, which are in April 2017.
Image courtesy of Telegraph
The book details the journey of journalist Laura James, who received a late-in-life diagnosis after experiencing a ‘classic autistic meltdown’ in a hospital. In an inspiring article for The Telegraph, James gives a shorter account of how difficult it was to suffer in the dark, with no knowledge of her condition. James is high functioning, so her autism was not overtly interfering with her career aspirations, her marriage, or responsibilities as a mother. However, she reveals that in the background of this success, were severe bouts of anorexia and anxiety. As she explains:
“Beneath the surface, however, I was exhausted by my inability to feel and behave like others. No one saw the me that would spend 14 hours straight, focused on a project, forgetting to dress. The me that felt an overwhelming terror at the idea of travelling on the tube or getting into a lift. The me that didn’t claim child benefit for any one of my four children simply because the idea of filling in a form was too much. The real me.”
It’s no surprise, then, that James saw her eventual diagnosis as a tremendous relief. Having an understanding of the precedent for her struggle diminished feelings of isolation from family and friends.
For James, shining a light on the female autistic experience is an essential task. She thinks that society has a very gendered view of autism:
“[Society sees] a stereotype (that those with autism tend to be geeky men doing something unfathomable) and crops out of the picture millions of people like me – women with autism who struggle to balance their current account, are baffled by spreadsheets and who are more interested in fashion than physics.”
Odd Girl Out will be a book for women whose autism flies under the radar. Young girls and women with autism are often overlooked in statistics because the current understanding of female autism is insufficient. Hopefully, this book will help rectify that problem.
Featured image courtesy of Nytimes.