Spectrum Women: Walking To The Beat Of Autism is a wonderful collection of life experiences of 14 autistic women. In the Autism world, there are few books written by adult women on the spectrum but this book offers a breath of fresh air and sheds immense light on the hidden world of the spectrum women and once for all answers questions of why often women don’t get an early diagnosis and how they cope, both before and after diagnosis. The authors are writers of the magazine – Spectrum Women. Dr. Michelle Garnett, a renowned psychologist and co-author of books with Dr Tony Atwood, offers great insight after every chapter. She brings her years of experience of working with spectrum women and enriches each chapter.
The chapters included range from the struggles the authors faced before diagnosis, to coming to terms with a diagnosis to various day to day challenges faced by them to topics like communication, personal relationships, socializing, safety, independence, emotional regulation, executive functioning, employment, general health, co-occurring conditions, mental wellness, intense interests and many more.
My favourite chapter is Communication, written by Becca Lory. In this chapter, she delves in depth in to the forms of communication, be it verbal or non-verbal and the various challenges faced by autistics and how to manage them. She talks about mutism, wherein, a verbal person at times becomes mute, during periods of sensory overload and stress. She also highlights the importance of understanding internal communication, i.e., Interoception and offers many suggestions in how to be more in sync with your body. She points that communicating with other autistics is so easy as there is no hidden meaning and figurative language involved and also how the world moving a more text based communication like messages and emails is a boon for the autistics.
The two chapters – Socializing, anxiety & addictions ( written by Barb Cook) and Personal Safety ( written by Liane Holliday Willey) were difficult to read for me as they brought forth the honest life experiences of women on the spectrum who are often abused ( physically and emotionally) and suffer from addictions and extreme anxiety and the trauma they faced and more importantly, how they overcame them. All along they offer incredible advice on how to avoid the situations and the write up of Dr Michelle is very helpful in guiding a spectrum women. If you’re someone on the spectrum or have a family member on the spectrum, please don’t skip these chapters. As anyone associated with Autism world will agree – well prepared is winning half the battle. So learn from the life experiences and prepare yourself/family member to be there for the autistic women in your life as she overcomes all the hurdles on her way and know how to support her if/when she needs it.
A wonderful book and the need of the hour! You can purchase the book on Amazon India
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