A few months back, I joined my first Discord group. It was a nice pleasure because I am meeting autistics from all over the world. Another advantage of joining this specific group under a chanel for “Yo Samdy Sam” has a couple book groups-one group for comment on amazing books and one book club. It was in this book club that we as a group decided as our first book we were going to read Odd Girl Out by Laura James.
The book is the story of a late diagnosis autistic women, her attempt to catalog her life experiences and how they fit into this new world that has opened up to her. I was glad we had decided to read this book as it was shorter than the other book we were considering and it also had audible options along with digital and paperback versions–something someone with ADHD/autistic struggles in executive functioning truly appreciate.
*********WARNING: SPOILER ALERTS************
This feels like a “duh” in my mind when you’re reading a book review, but not always. So what comes hereafter may be a spoiler alert. There are also some mild trigger warnings from the events in Mrs James’ life including divorce, discussions of addiction and a lot of emotional topics personally set me off some nights.
So let’s dive into the book. It is divided into 16 chapters, mostly in chronological order from August 2015 when the author first reads her evaluation about her autism diagnosis while on a getaway vacation she is taking before her children go to university. The book follows the events that transpire in her life interjecting a couple sections throughout random chapters where “flashbacks’ appear mid-thought. She is a writer for the Telegraph and even writes about her “coming out” as autistic in one of her articles. At first, this thru me off. But listening to the book on tape a little helped me out a lot listening to it while taking a long walk or when driving in the car. But then I realized I wanted to highlight almost every line on every page. So I did have to spend a lot of time sitting with the audio. But it was worth every minute. And yes, my poo paperback is covered his markings. Several markings.
Besides the book being completely relatable to my autistic life experience — the author is excellent at writing out her thought process. This is extremely helpful because I feel as an autistic person– sometimes people don’t hear how we are thinking. And (surprise!) we do NOT think like everyone else. I know personally I have a great problem with people putting words and thoughts in my head and this is typical of most autistics. So to hear words from another autistic in the words (like word for word phrases) was hugely supportive. Page 99–i highlighted half the page. Same true with pg 164-65. Here’s one form page 154 “If my interests were people-focused, they would be too painful to deal with. People are unpredictable. They say one thing and mean another. Autistic honest has a purity. Ask us a question and we will tell you the truth. One hundred per cent. Undiluted by squeamishness. Unadulterated.” I tell people this all the time–that my questions are true inquiries and I am several times too honest for life.
Another discussion I enjoyed was at the end of Chapter 6–about finding information and being happy with this as an autistic. Laura James talks about Sarah Wild (a director of a school made for autistic brains) and how she believes that Autistic happiness is different and that neurotypical people need to stop judging autistics by their neurotypical standards. “Meeting experts is pure heaven for someone autistic. The access I am given to someone’s knowledge never fails to make me happy. Even more so if they happen to know something about one of my current intense interests.” (pg 111-12)
So I would arguably say if you have an autistic family, friend or you yourself are autistic–please PLEASE read this book. It’s worth it. To hear a voice is huge.