A new book, Life on the Autism Spectrum: A guide for girls and women by Karen McKibbin, appears to nail the female ASD experience. This book is filled with clinical insights accompanied by quotes from women living on the spectrum. For example, McKibbin describes the sensory overload in social situations, coupled with the need to track facial expressions, tone, and somehow keep up in the conversation. The accompanying quotes further illuminate the fatigue that comes from surviving conversation, and yet also convey the desire to have genuine relationships with others.
McKibbin gently raises the question: who needs to change? She wonders if Aspies need to learn skills to blend in, fit in, succeed, or if NTs could perhaps modify their approach and actually understand Aspies and provide the gift of friendship. She gently and persistently asks this “need to change” question across chapters.
In true understanding of what people with ASD need, McKibbin offers straightforward advice at the end of the chapters: how to engage in sensory challenge where food is concerned, how to combat bullying, etc. She encourages parents to be supportive, and yet also to determine how best to be supportive (sometimes a hug is a punishment, not supportive). She encourages parents to take bullying seriously, and also encourages adults to understand that bullying happens in the adult workplace, too.
Chapters explore bullying, food and sensory issues, special interests, gender, puberty/menopause, and generally, the beauty and burden of living on the spectrum. McKibbin clearly knows her research, and also knows the human aspect of ASD. Her bio indicates that she has a specialty practice of females with HFA and ASD. What a niche practice! And her book clearly reflects that she has been listening to her clients very closely!
Thank you, Dr. McKibbin, for sharing your wisdom with us!