“You like to read. Have you seen that new book, Autism in Heels? Find it. Read it. Get back to me.”
While many important things are said to me in a week, that conversation was a game changer. I did find the book; I read the book; this is me, getting back to you.
Jennifer Cook O’Toole, bestselling author of the Asperkid Series, just published a book for grown ups, therapists, parents raising girls, and anyone who knows they need to be a little bit uncomfortable to grow. Jennifer (Jenny? Jen?) creates moments to soothe your brain, and then upends your world all over again. She is both polished and raw, always honest, funny and serious, all rolled in to one. The book cover (which is graphically perfect, with the heels and all) has a review that states, “I literally could not put this book down.” My experience was actually the exact opposite: I had to put this book down many, many times because what I was reading was blowing.my.mind and I needed some time to think.
If you know anything about women on the spectrum, you know about the camouflage issues, the anxiety, the stress, the parents feeling uncertain what to do with their unusual girls (future scientists?) – but those parents aren’t thinking spectrum…nor are their docs…. Meanwhile the girls struggle to understand friendships, socializing, sensory differences, and those girls reach their own conclusions (wrong, broken, not understood, maybe don’t trust your own experiences). This author (clearly, I’m not sure what to call her – Jennifer, Jenny, Jen – and when you read the book, you will understand the naming issue) steps right into this mess. She describes her struggles as a very, very smart girl, a challenging child to raise, and now as a mother, a lifesaving mother who was doubted by doctors. She moves from topic to topic with grace and speed, and also acknowledges her own faults as a person (electric bill, anyone?). She is sensitive, bold, and brave. This is the book I needed to read when I was in grad school (which was before we thought there were females on the spectrum).
If you are touched by the world of autism, Autism in Heels is a must read. You might be an adult on the spectrum, a parent raising a girl, a therapist, a psychiatrist, or someone who loves someone on the spectrum. No matter. Find the book. Read it. Get back to me.