Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World by Laura James #bookreview




About Odd Girl Out

What do you do when you wake up in your mid-forties and realize you've been living a lie your whole life? Do you tell? Or do you keep it to yourself?
 
Laura James found out that she was autistic as an adult, after she had forged a career for herself, married twice and raised four children. Odd Girl Out tracks the year of Laura's life after she receives a definitive diagnosis from her doctor, as she learns that 'different' doesn't need to mean 'less' and how there is a place for all of us, and it's never too late to find it.
 
Laura draws on her professional and personal experiences and reflects on her life in the light of her diagnosis, which for her explains some of her differences; why, as a child, she felt happier spinning in circles than standing still and why she has always found it difficult to work in places with a lot of ambient noise.
 
Although this is a personal story, the book has a wider focus too, exploring reasons for the lower rate of diagnosed autism in women and a wide range of topics including eating disorders and autism, marriage and motherhood.
 
This memoir gives a timely account from a woman negotiating the autistic spectrum, from a poignant and personal perspective
 
 
 
 
My review of Odd Girl Out
 
Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World is a raw and startlingly honest account of what it is like to be on the autistic spectrum. Laura James always felt that she was different, bit it wasn't until her mid forties that she finally got her  diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, (ASD). Odd Girl Out chronicles Laura's memoirs from when she was first diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in August 2015, through to December 2016. This book was incredibly insightful and informative, and once I started to read I couldn't stop.  It made me nod in agreement, it made me cry. This is also an uncomfortable read at times, but an important one. I feel that everyone who is affected by autism, individuals themselves, parents and professionals, should all read this book.
 
I wanted to read this book as my youngest son has ASD, he was diagnosed at the age of three in 2011. I like to read books on the subject of autism so that I can better help and enable him to live as independent life as possible. Knowledge as they say is power. I have read many parenting books and autism books by professionals, such as Tony Attwood, Simon Baron-Cohen, Steve Silberman (NeuroTribes was such an interesting read) and Temple Grandin. I do find that books written by individuals on the autistic spectrum,  are by far the most helpful to me. They explain candidly about what it is like to be autistic. Odd Girl Out is one of those books. But never before have I read a book that is so raw, that has been stripped to the absolute bones so that all emotions are exposed, and all with the intention of helping indivials who are on the spectrum, and in particular, women. I felt that I was hugely privileged to be allowed into Laura's world, to read her innermost thoughts and to share her experience in the world as an autistic woman. In doing so I felt like I learned so much more about my son's condition and that now, some of his behaviours make more sense to me. I feel that it is very hard for a neurotypical person to fully understand what autism is, in fact scrub that, I will never understand what it is like to be autistic, but by reading such book's as this, I now have more underrating.
 
This book is also such a breath of fresh air. I am sick to the back teeth of reading about 'cures' and how we need to find a 'cure' for autism. I agree wholeheartedly with Laura when she says that we need to put more resources in place, to have early intervention and help available to parents, rather than ploughing money into researching a cure. Autism is simply different, not less, once again I agree with Laura when she says that autistic brains are wired differently. Just as I find it difficult sometimes to understand my son, he too in turn, most probably finds it difficult to understand me.
 
Books such as Odd Girl Out are vital. We need voices from the autistic community. This is a fascinating read that features Laura's opinions as well as voices from leading autism professionals such as Tony Attwood, Sara Wild (head teacher at Limpsfield Grange, a school for girls on the autistic spectrum) and Dr Judith Gould, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist. and the Lead Consultant at the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism. All of these factors make for an incredibly informative book, but one that I also read as a story. By the time I had finished the book, I felt terribly sad. I  wanted to carry on reading, to learn more about Laura's life. It felt like she had become a close friend, I knew her that well.
 
I would like to thank Laura for writing such a powerful and emotive book. It brought a lump to my throat while reading it because of her sheer honesty. She definitely pulls no punches and I liked this. Laura James will help so many autistic individuals and their families by sharing her personal story, and in particular she will help so many women, who for too long have been misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

This book really is a must read... for everyone.  

 
Odd Girl Out is published by Bluebird Books for Life on 6 April. You can find a copy on Amazon here.

With thanks to Bluebird Books for Life who sent me a hardback copy for review purposes.

To find out more information about autism, please visit the National Autistic Society (NAS) website at http://www.autism.org.uk/

About the author

Laura James is an author and journalist and the owner of a communications agency. Her writing has appeared in many national and international newspapers and magazines.when not frantically fighting deadlines, she can generally be found hiding under a duvet with a stack of good books and lots of chocolate. She is the mother of four adult children and lives with her husband their dogs and cat in North Norfolk. Since her diagnosis she has campaigned for autism awareness and acceptance.






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