Your Frightful Spirit Stayed by Matthew Cash

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“What’s being said is not a lie,
I’m still afraid to hold up the mirror,
its reflection resonates a pain within,
after all these years, I cannot help but cry”

A new offering from Matthew Cash, this is a very nicely written piece with a similar dark and gritty feel to previous works but with a difference in style. The beginning of the book is a little difficult to follow and can be quite disorienting, but it becomes clear as to why that is, so it is worth sticking with it. It is a very different style, but it is worth reading to the end to properly experience what the Author has to tell you. This structure works well for this story as the events are revealed as you move backwards through the main character’s life and learn of the ordeals which he and his friends have been dealt.

One of Cash’s previous works which I very much enjoyed was Keida in the Flames which has a similarity to this book due to having a character with a learning disability, the Author writes these characters both sympathetically and realistically whilst still allowing them to play a proper part in the book. I find that unless you’re going to fully include these characters in a story there is very little point in including them and doing so isn’t inclusive so much as box ticking.

Cash has clearly got some knowledge and experience of people experiencing life in this way as he is able to build the character fully rather than having him be a side note.

In all I really enjoyed this story, I completed it within a day and the imagery throughout the book was very good. I was actually lucky enough to get to see this book prior to release for a beta read, so for the imagery and events to have stuck with me this long speaks volumes to it’s standard. Each time I pick up a Matthew Cash book it seems to get better, and I definitely think this one and the other book mentioned both show Cash’s strengths when it comes to writing. Very pleased to see this project come to fruition and be getting some great reactions!

I would recommend picking this one up but as with Cash’s other works, if you are of a sensitive disposition, it is worth noting that this book contains peril and abuse towards minors.

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Self Care Through Reading

I wanted to touch on the benefits of reading as Self Care today, because many more people do this than probably realise. Whether it’s reading a book specifically designated to Self Help or not, every time we pick up a book, we are actually benefitting our Self Care in some way.

It can be as simple as relaxing and indulging in a bit of escapism, something which many of us don’t dedicate enough time to due to busy lifestyles. Reading is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in a new world or go on an adventure while also keeping your brain active, reducing stress and it is even argued that it can reduce depression symptoms.

There are also some physical health benefits to reading, believe it or not! In keeping with stress reduction, Reading can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Following this logic and backed up by a study done with a cohort of 3,635 Adults, those who read books lived up to 2 years longer than those who didn’t.

So we can all agree that reading in general has its benefits, but does it matter what you’re reading. Well no, not really, any reading is going to help with cognitive networking and your vocabulary and comprehension so it doesn’t really matter whether it’s fact, fiction or self-help/improvement. Grab something that interests you and you’re sorted!

There are of course some books that can help with certain things, be it whether you want to learn something, or you need help in a specific area of your life and some of these can be more helpful than others. I find personally that the more helpful books are those written by people who have been there, lived experience is very powerful. So I thought I would touch on a couple that I’ve read and enjoyed;

Eat, Sleep, Control Repeat by Sophie Mei Lan, is a frank account of trauma which led Sophie to develop and almost die from a very serious eating disorder. Knowing the Author, from a personal point of view made this a very intense and valuable bit of reading for me, but there were also parts I could relate to having struggled with my own Disordered Eating and it was helpful in so much as knowing others have experienced similar thought processes. You don’t have to have experienced the same things to get some relatability and understanding from a book like this, and as always it certainly isn’t a competition. It’s a fantastic book for its assistance to Mental Health Awareness, and it’s not really a “walk a mile in my shoes” so much as a “if you’re in these shoes, it can get better”.

Autism in Heels by Jennifer Cooke O’Toole is another very interesting read about the Mental Health struggle of a Woman who didn’t know she was Autistic until her 30’s. She writes about going through her life encountering obstacles which she didn’t understand, being misunderstood and mistreated herself and how she finally came to terms with things once she knew herself better. Jennifer has also put in a huge amount of work bringing out books to help people with Autism including survival guides for children and teens living with Autism.

Both of these books are fantastic for Awareness on their subject matter, but also go from the approach of things being difficult now, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and your struggle does not have to define you as a person. Both books also encourage the reader to use their experiences to help others and use the empathy which comes from having been through it yourself and both are fantastic Women who strive to make the world a better place for everyone around them.

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Why I LOVED WandaVision

I’m back again with my personal insights into film & TV! These seem to go down fairly well, and they are a nice bit of something different between books, I think, just for a bit of a change. Be aware, there might be spoilers in this which is why I’ve left it until now to talk about it.

So recently I watched WandaVision and I actually really loved it. It hit all the right points for me, I loved the style of it and it just felt like they took a chance on an idea. Whilst this doesn’t seem to have met with everyone’s approval, I liked it.

Now, far be it from me to sit here and claim that anybody who didn’t like this series didn’t understand it. I’m not a fan of that claim myself because there are plenty of things I do understand but simply don’t like and everyone has different tastes. I did however notice that lots of people actually genuinely didn’t seem to understand it. I saw YouTube video after YouTube video trying to explain what just happened in the last episode and I think this is where a clash comes in about not understanding, and not liking things.

I feel, that the “what just happened”, “I don’t get it”, is in some way people not understanding the material they’re watching BUT I do also feel there is an attention span issue here as well. If you don’t immediately like what you’re seeing, the brain has a tendency to switch off a bit and that means you’re not really paying attention, or maybe you spend a bit of time looking at your phone during the episode and missed something.

I didn’t have a huge amount of backstory on Wanda, but I did know enough to be able to get the gist of what was happening, and for anybody who has read the comics this series absolutely does make sense. I personally have my own reasons why it grabbed me, I have not read the comics, but I do know the story of what is in them, so my attention was right there with them and I was able to immerse myself in it, one of the main things I enjoyed about it was actually the ever changing theme of each episode.

I saw a lot of people complain about the series having a black and white 50’s style episode as their opener, that is actually the main reason I wanted to see more, and having heard that the next episodes would not follow suit very nearly put me off. So, I do understand why those of you who didn’t like the theme, maybe got turned off or maybe didn’t pay much attention to it. If you read this and think “yeah ok that is why I didn’t like it”, I would encourage you to go back and watch it without the bias of what the episode looks like, because you’re missing out on a good series.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Grandmother as my parents had to be away with my sister a lot. This meant that all my favourite TV shows were not like other children. I used to get excited to watch Agatha Christie adaptations such as Death on the Nile, I jumped with joy when my Grandmother decided we’d watch a Carry On film, and one of my absolute all time favourites was Bewitched.

So of course, this series immediately grabbed me when it started in the style of a 50’s sit com, why wouldn’t it? Marvel meets Bewitched? (that’s not what it’s modelled on) Uh… YES PLEASE.

Another reason why I was able to connect with this is that although what Wanda is doing is pretty awful, people do a lot of bad things in their time of grief, and she didn’t actually fully realise what it was she was doing, you actually see her unravelling this during the show as well. It’s not a fully conscious thing but it is her and she eventually realises this. Before anybody says “yes but I would never do something like that no matter how much I was hurting”… oh really? You can bend reality with your mind, can you? You just don’t? Let’s remember that last time we saw Wanda she wasn’t in control of her powers and that went very badly, in this series you see her harness her powers once she understands what she has done and that could be setting up some really cool stuff, including the X-Men tie in.

There is a pain laced into this series, like no other, and I think they did a really great job of portraying that. It also goes way back through Wanda’s life and we later get the reveal that each episode is modelled on a show she’s watched with her family growing up. I liked that touch.

On a simpler note, I connected with this series because my mind works in a very similar way to how the show is done. As a child I really struggled with the concept that once people were no longer engaging me, their lives didn’t just stop. It took a long time for me to join the dots that actually all of these people still think, feel and move when I stop interacting with them and to a degree, I still struggle with that in terms of looking at someone I haven’t seen for a while and they’ve aged, or their kids have grown up. My brain finds that quite jarring to deal with. Of course, Social Media helps with that because I can see people even when I can’t see people so I can see that they’re not just on pause. Similarly, when I would try to get to sleep, I’d imagine I was flicking through tv channels to find something to dream about, as much as I couldn’t actually choose what my subconscious would choose when I did fall asleep this cushioned the anxiety that I’d have a nightmare (something I had a lot of).

So, the style and the theme of this series hit me on some very personal notes, and I suppose it helped me to fall in love with it. I don’t see the point of watching something from a moralistic stand point of it being an awful thing to do so therefore I didn’t like any of the series, I watch slasher flicks and I root for the Villain so.. no, sorry. I loved this and it’s ok if you didn’t, but as always, I’d be interested to know the reasons you did or didn’t like it! Like I said, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

I’d like to take a moment to appreciate Kathryn Hahn’s performance throughout this series. I found her range to be very impressive as she moved through the different themes because she was actually one of the only characters that had a consistent change in how she was expected to act. The others were very much of a muchness for me in that the style changed but because their characters were a bit more distanced from the action of it, their performance didn’t really need to change much. Since Kathryn’s character Agnes was close to Wanda and Vision, you see her become to neighbourly family friend in all the different styles and her behaviour mirrors that of the style of the episode. I’m not sure there’s a lot of actors who could master that quite as well as Kathryn did, and then on her big character reveal she was different again. Having seen her in other things like Bad Moms where I did like her performance but could take it or leave it, this series made me appreciate her as an Actress that bit more. This is a brilliant example of what she can do and I hope to see her used to her capacity more in the future because it shows just how much she can put into a character when she’s given that opportunity.

I really don’t think there was a thing I didn’t like about this series, unless you count the getting powers from the yellow mind gem and then dolling out red magic… but that is actually explained because she doesn’t actually get them from the mind gem in this particular story but rather it just enhances her and makes her more powerful, I enjoyed watching it and I was excited for the next episode to come out, so I really got to experience that buzz from a TV Show that I’ve never really experienced before since I normally watch things through when it’s all already out (see me watching Dexter 6 years after the finale).

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My Dead Body by M E Purfield

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This is the second book in the Radicci Sisters Book Series, the story as you may remember from my last review centres around a pair of sisters with Psychic Abilities and it also has an Autistic main character as one of the sisters, Prudence, is Autistic.

It’s nicely portrayed in this book that although there are certain limitations which she experiences due to her Autism, such as being unable to talk and having sensory issues, she is so much more than just how she appears. Prudence is in posession of a high IQ and also uses her psychic abilities to communicate as she is able to access the internet with her mind.

I’ll touch on what I said before about the style of this book immediately, because there is a reason other than April being Autism Acceptance Month that I thought people might be interested in hearing about this series again. In my original review of the first book; Psychic Sisters, I noted that the chapters which come from Prudence’s point of view had spelling and grammar issues and that I found the writing style in these chapters to be quite jarring. I actually had a rethink on this when I read Becoming by Dani Brown. The reason I mention this is that as was explained to me by Purfield regarding his chapters for Prudence, this is the thought processes, it is showing the racing thoughts that an Autistic person experiences and the contrast with her Neurotypical Sister. Becoming was the same idea in that Brown wrote the whole book like this to show the anxiety of the main character and her losing her grip on reality.

Both books have illustrated a mental process but we as the reader would usually absorb a story as being told about it. This way, I found works well with my own thought processes, although it isn’t usually the style I’d want to read it does actually lend itself to the Character building process because the fact it matches thoughts as opposed to speech kind of subconsciously implants a knowledge of the person in your head. So when you think of the person it’s almost like you have memories of them rather than just reading about a character.

So for that reason I thought I should go back to the Radicci Sisters, and I’m glad I did. Knowing the backstory from Book 1 made this one flow really well and Miki and Prudence are both consistent both in the way their chapters are written and also in their character. There is some personal growth aswell as a bond being build between the girls aswell, but Purfield has done very well at keeping up the differences between them and continuing with the spunky attitudes of both girls.

In this story, we learn more about the Radicci Family and, without wanting to spoil the story, we even get to encounter some potential demons in this book. I very much enjoyed it and can’t wait to start the next one to see what the Radicci Sisters will come up against. I’m glad I revisited this series because it really is a good story if you can stick with the writing style.

What also lends itself to the Character set up in this book is the fact that Purfield himself is Autistic and has Autistic family members, so he is able to implement a bit of himself and his family while building Prudence’s character and autistic traits. It’s respectfully done and very interesting to learn more about her. I haven’t read many books at all with Autistic Characters in, and whilst I don’t want that to be every book I pick up (there is such as thing as doing something for the sake of it) I think it’s good to see autism portrayed well in literature. People are always saying that you should be able to relate to characters and therefore we need more LGBT and more diversity when it comes to colour and whilst I certainly don’t disagree that everybody should have some representation when it comes to literature, I find people are much quieter when it comes to Autism.

I don’t know if this is due to the people I talk to, I’m sure the Autistic Community has expressed this already, so I know there are people out there that would appreciate this book and any other with representation, I just don’t think it is as loud. I think this is because there is less awareness of what Autism actually is and how it affects people. We all know about it, but how much do we care to know?

Check out this series and get to know Prudence. She has many qualities that deserve representation and she’s a surprisingly strong female lead too.

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Interview with my Friend, Christine.

Christine’s Special Interest is about the Labyrinth Movie. Here she is recreating a famous scene.

Please note, due to the language barrier and Christine’s confidence with interviews I have helped her. I have not embellished her answers but I have written them out for her. She has agreed to share a little about her experience of life with Autism for Autism Awareness & Acceptance Month.

Would you like to tell my readers a little about yourself?

My name is Christine and I’m 21, from Denmark. I’m very interested in the movie Labyrinth, that’s my special interest.

Do you know what age you were diagnosed with Autism?

I can’t really remember but I think I was about 9 or 10 years old.

How do you feel that people with Autism are treated in Denmark?

It isn’t known about enough, so I think we get treated unfairly because of that.

Do you want to tell us a little about where you live?

I live at an Institution called Bosager, in an Apartment. The Apartment has different rooms like any apartment, but I can’t make Tea or Food there. We do that in the Living Room which the Institution have so that someone is there to help us and supervise. At the moment with Corona we can learn things here too, but normally we go to an education place for that.

What kind of classes do you attend?

All kinds of things to be a grown up, things you need to learn for when you grow up and leave home. Things like cooking, cleaning and making things.

What limits do you feel Autism imposes on you?

It makes me feel stupid, because I don’t always understand things.

What do you feel Autism adds to your life?

I’m very creative and I am good at all kinds of things like singing, drawing, making things and analysing. I see details in things that a lot of people don’t always think of.

Are you happy & comfortable to share a few of your traits?

Yes a little bit, I can become quite aggravated so I sometimes shout and slam doors but this isn’t all the time. Words also mean a lot to me, more than they might mean to others.

What is one myth or misconception you’d like to correct about Autism?

People think we’re “retarded”, I’ve seen a lot of gifs or memes about it.

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The Many Faces of Autism

Yesterday I touched on the difference between Male and Female Autistics and the fact that it can appear very differently across the Genders which makes it harder to spot. I’d like to expand a little on that, as it is a bit of a generalisation and shouldn’t be taken to mean that there are two types of Autistic person.

Sometimes, Autism may be very apparent in any person, regardless of gender, race, background or whatever other contributing factor goes into making up a person. Other times, it is not.

To use a very obvious example, if you have a non-verbal person who refuses to make any kind of eye contact and perhaps hums, wears headphones and flaps their hands you might look at that person and immediately realise that their methods of communication and processing of certain situations may be different to that of someone else. Even if you don’t know about Autism or other Learning Difficulties, it’s fair to say you’re likely to want to treat this person differently. And to a degree, rightly so. If someone has specific needs it’s right to ensure you address those when dealing with them.

Other people however may not exhibit these things, it may be that you don’t notice their Autistic Traits because they’re subtle or that the individual is practicing “masking”, this is something may Autistic People to in order to blend into their surroundings better and have people less likely to notice that they act a little differently.

It is important at this point to recognise that neither person is more or less Autistic than the other. They are however at different places on the Spectrum. A common misunderstanding is that someone’s place on the spectrum determines how Autistic they are. This is untrue, and it also doesn’t decide what their IQ is likely to be.  Although looking at these two examples, it might be tempting to assume that the one who is masking their Autism has the higher IQ it is not as clear cut as that nor is it generally true.

The reason it is said that Male and Female Autism appears differently is that often a male child on the spectrum will act out, whereas a female child on the spectrum will tend to act in. This means that the frustration of the male child may look like tantrums, misbehaviour and mischief where the same thing in a female child might look like withdrawal, self harm and disordered eating. This isn’t always the case, but the common assumption that girls are already quieter than boys in general feeds into this and means that it isn’t commonly noticed that a girl may be on the spectrum.

This is why we need the awareness surrounding Autism, the very fact that it is a spectrum makes it difficult to know how it affects any one person. It can look very different, and certainly other factors as I’ve mentioned can lend to that. Personally I have known male autistics on both sides of what I’ve said, one was very much an “act out” kind of boy and still is although since learning that he is Autistic he has been able to learn to control some of his impulses, the other is much more of an “act in”. That doesn’t always mean that those act in impulses are going to be outwardly destructive, it could just be that that person experiences high levels of anxiety. The second person, who acts in is just as unlikely to get an Autism Diagnosis without coming to the realisation himself, as a Female who acts in and just as much the same is true that the boy and girl who act out are more likely to have their Autism noticed.

So this is why, when I am told that girls on the spectrum going unnoticed is a form of “medical misogyny” I can only disagree.

There are many people of all backgrounds (and whilst I have chosen to talk about “male and female” in this article, don’t be fooled into thinking this doesn’t also affect the LGBT Community – I just don’t feel I can accurately describe the feelings behind Gender Diversity as it isn’t something which affects me personally, so I haven’t) who are going unnoticed, so this is not really a gendered issue. It’s a definite Awareness Issue, which is being worked on constantly even in the medical field.

The more people who take the time to learn about Autism, the more it will be understood, and that by the way doesn’t have to be courses like I’ve done, it doesn’t have to be a massive pile of books like I’ve read – I wanted to do that because I was interested and intrigued because of my own link to the subject. All you need to do really is listen to Autistic People.

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Why Autism Awareness is Essential

I recently got into it with someone about Autism Awareness vs Acceptance and I feel that needs touching on with some focus. It was suggested that Awareness centres a Neurotypical Experience over that of an Autistic Person and that Awareness does nothing for Autistic People. I could not disagree more.

All my life I have treated myself as a problem that needed to be solved, I’m not exaggerating. For as long as I can remember I have examined my every move, everyone I’ve ever been friends with has had their own specially tailored experience and the reason for that is that I was so desperate to be accepted, to be liked and to keep a friend that I altered as much as I could that that person might not like or appreciate.

See, I’m the awkward type, everything I do seems wrong, nothing ever quite fits. So I tried to be perfect. I tried so hard, in fact, to be perfect that I went down dangerous paths to find coping methods to keep myself at bay and be popular, bubbly Becky. Needless to say, it didn’t work. At the hands of myself, I went through an eating disorder that even today most people in my life aren’t aware of. I self harmed, something I have kept closely guarded from as many people as I can. These were my control measures. These were how I could keep up with each slightly different, slightly tweaked Becky that I created.

I took Drama at school and I was good at it. I achieved a B Grade overall which was not only for performance but also for understanding of lighting techniques and writing your own play. Yet I could never get through an Audition to be in a play. Why? A supposedly achieving student in that very field and I couldn’t get even a bit part? Because I can’t improvise. Give me a script and I’ll give you a performance but so help me god given a choice I can’t even get a sentence out. I never wanted to be an Actress. I never wanted to be on stage. I just didn’t want to be me. My whole life was a stage, and I was the lead role.

Drama helped me to develop my Mask. It taught me techniques to pull off the front I put on to get through social interactions of all kinds. Unfortunately, it did not help me to not be annoying.

Due to my complete inability to fit in to any group of people, my tendency to annoy the hell out of everyone around me, my absolute talent at falling out with people and most likely my love of Gothic Fashion. I was nicknamed Tragedy by my peers. Oh not to my face exactly, but I heard it. I knew what they called me, and I was somewhat surprised to find that people actually knew me as that. I was pointed out by one boy and introduced by that name. Over the years, the only friends I could completely be at ease with just happened to be autistic.

Between the ages of 12 and 21 I was at the doctors regularly imploring them to believe there was something wrong with me. When my Mum found out about the self harm, (something I admitted because she thought the bruises on me were to do with my boyfriend at the time, who, as much as I now understand he was manipulating and gaslighting me – never physically hurt me), she took me to the Doctors and they prescribed me my very first antidepressant at 15 years old. I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression and given Fluoxetine (Prozac).

I took that for a while, but friends would comment that I didn’t seem like myself any more and they didn’t like being around me. Of course they didn’t, it stopped me being able to pretend. I was either up or I was down and I could not for the life of me find any spark to be the friend I’d convinced them I was. So I stopped taking it. Over the years I was prescribed a few different drugs that either had no effect on me at all or I stopped taking because in my mind they made me either numb or dangerous.

Then they tried me with Therapy. With my at this point full diagnosis of Depression, GAD, Bulimia, Obsessive Tendencies and Self Harm. The therapist didn’t want to know. He did tell me exactly what I’d need to do to be considered, which I won’t repeat here because it’s incredibly dangerous and he was just lucky I was logical enough to understand how bad that advice was and tell my Doctor what was said. I daren’t think how dangerous that would have been to me before I hit my twenties.

I will say, I will recommend the IAPT team to anybody. That was what they sent me to after the therapy didn’t work out. It’s good, it’s really good. But it also took me three tries to find a Therapist within that team that I could talk to. See I didn’t even fit in therapy! I was even doing Mental Illness wrong.

Of course, now, well now I understand that Women on the Spectrum are often misdiagnosed with exactly the things I was diagnosed with.

I understand that we stick out because we don’t understand how to blend into a neurotypical world,.

I understand that the reason I felt so at home with Autistic people is not because I was more patient due to my mental state but rather because we understood each other without having to say it.

Autism can show itself differently in women compared with men, that’s why the help is very geared towards boys and men. It’s a lack of awareness and it’s because it shows differently.

That’s why at 30 years old, my life is just about falling into place and making sense to me, my experiences, the things I’ve done that have left people incredulous as to my behaviour. It’s because I just don’t get it. You know what? It’s fine, because I’m finally learning about myself and treating myself like a person instead of a mistake, a blot on the page.

It’s also why at 17 when I was out with my boyfriend and another guy asked if he could buy me a drink.. I accepted it and went to sit with my boyfriend. It wasn’t a major burn, I didn’t even know what I’d done. The guy had asked if he could buy me a drink, he had not asked if I could sit with him while I drank it, talk to him and go anywhere with him later.

It’s why at 20, I got into a taxi with a couple I didn’t even know when they asked if I wanted a ride. It was late, the busses were on strike and it made perfect sense if they were going my way. I later heard about why I should definitely not have done that.

It’s why women who are undiagnosed and unnoticed as Spectrum Women are in danger.

It’s why.. at 16 when I excitedly bought and opened my Year Book.. I discovered I’d been voted third most annoying girl in the entire Year Group – and I never saw it coming.

It’s why Awareness is Essential to the Autistic Community.

I don’t know that my life and my experiences would have changed much if I’d had a diagnosis younger, my experience is what it is, but I do know that I’ve finally found myself and I’m a whole lot happier for it.

What I do know is that being understood as an individual, people taking the time to learn about our unique needs and our struggles and trying to make us comfortable whether they’re neurotypical or autistic is not Acceptance, it’s Awareness. You can accept something exists without being aware of what it means.

I accepted Autism 25 years before I became aware of my own Autism.

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Autism In Heels by Jennifer Cook O’Toole

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This book is a raw and honest account of the author’s own experience with Autism and it is also the book that has most helped me to accept myself.

Reading this book was like looking in the mirror, some of the experiences within could so easily be me and it was heart wrenching to listen to at times, because I’ve been there. I’ve been that girl in so many of those situations. For Jennifer to have experienced these things and more than me, I am so sad she had to go through the things she did.

That said, she has also taken those experiences and used them to enrich other lives, to show Autistic Women everywhere that they are not mistakes, or wastes of space or any of the things that cloud their brains every day. She has taken those experiences and shown that despite not really understanding the world around us, we can bring something special to it.

This book meant so much to me that I actually contacted Jennifer after I’d finished to thank her for bringing us this book and I will absolutely be checking out more of her books. Everyone should have the Jennifer Cook O’Toole experience!

What I really liked about this book is that at the start of the chapters where she’s going to talk about something heavy like Self Harm, Eating Disorder or Abuse, she tells you this is the chapter she’s going to do that in and gives you an opportunity to skip it and where to pick the book back up. This is a fantastic use of trigger warnings rather than just saying “at some point in the book” and she also gives the reassurance that it’s ok to do that and no decision is the wrong one.

I did continue with these chapters because I wanted to see what she was going to say, and some of what’s in them has affected me in the past, but, it’s far enough in my past that I feel safe to do so. For those who do not, trust me when I say these chapters are clearly marked and she will give you a chance – at least on the audiobook, I haven’t seen a print copy but I assume they’re the same.

Another thing I felt was a lovely touch was that she reads her own work on the audible copy. It feels like you’re getting that extra personal touch and it’s read in such a way that only the author could read it. She knows which of these moments made her happy or sad or indifferent and you can hear it in her voice. Especially the sadness in some parts. It was like being at one of her talks which is great for those of us who would never be able to afford to attend one (she’s over in the USA).

I’d recommend this book to anybody, but definitely if you are a woman who is coming to terms with Autism, or think you may potentially be on the spectrum. Read this, because this was the mirror I needed, the voice I needed to hear saying “Hey, you know what, it’s ok. You made it”

Click to visit Jennifer’s Website!

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Odd Girl Out by Lucy James (Audiobook narration by Louiza Patikas)

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This was such a useful and interesting read for me, I think probably in most cases it’s helpful if you yourself are on the spectrum but if you’re interested in life stories and autobiographies it’s probably for you too. If you are on the spectrum however, this is likely to put you in touch with some things you can relate to.

I found that I am very much like Laura, although that isn’t to say I’ve had the same experiences as her. It’s just that the things she describes here are things I’ve felt myself. I think she struggles with quite a lot of things I don’t, but at the same time I could relate strongly to her on the difficulties we do share. One such thing is talking about our feelings. That is something I have struggled with since I can remember. I remember taking a letter to my Doctor and sitting there while she read it because I knew that the moment I got in there I would lie through my teeth rather than voice some of the things in my head. In this book, Laura finally explains the one thing I’ve never been able to find the words for; “I have trouble sharing my feelings because they belong to me, and if I share them, they might be misunderstood”. That’s exactly it for me, I don’t have the communication skills to properly express how I feel, and sometimes I don’t feel enough to really describe it, sometimes I don’t know how I feel.

For me this book explained quite a lot about neurotypical people for me, much as last month I thought I was one, and I feel like I understand a little bit more about why certain things frustrate them or even why certain things don’t. Laura’s husband Tim is Neurotypical and having recently had a conversation about my own thoughts about my place on the spectrum, hearing about Tim’s point of view really helped me understand where my Husband is with things. I’ve found myself explaining what I need, and I think it’s making his life easier, such as “can you be really instructional when I’m helping you because sometimes I simply don’t know what to do” is a simple and easy way to relieve both our frustrations which I honestly never thought about before.

The book allows us to follow Laura through many periods of her life and understand where she was mentally at any given time, the fact that she was able to come to terms with certain issues she had in her life and really move on with this is so encouraging. She tells us of her family and her relationships with other people, about reaching out to others on the spectrum in order to connect with someone she might understand and who might understand her. That’s a really valuable thing in life I think, having someone to truly understand you.

Odd Girl Out really is a wonderful read and I would recommend it to anybody who wants to read something like this, but be aware that it isn’t fiction, it isn’t written like a story, it’s very much a woman explaining her life to you and I found that fascinating but I’m extremely interested in Autism anyway and any relatability I found might not necessarily be there for you, but you might find you relate to other parts that I perhaps didn’t.

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Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin

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I was recommended to read this book by Author ME Purfield because I was looking for more information to add to what I’d already learned about Autism. Having a Level 3 Diploma in the subject my thirst wasn’t satiated and I wanted to know more. Unfortunately, I’ve reached a point with my research and learning that I can’t do any further without it being a University course, and I can’t afford a Student Debt.

This book helped me in more ways than I expected. Not only did it help me to understand Autism, but it helped me to understand myself. It hadn’t occurred to me before reading this book that not everyone thought in pictures, I thought thoughts were pictures in your head. For example, if I’m looking for something, I don’t go through a mental list of the rooms I’ve been in that day or think about where I may have put it down. Instead, what happens is I visualise each room and check what’s on the surfaces in each picture. Sometimes, it may be that a picture of the thing I’m looking for just jumps into my mind when I stop thinking about it and then I can go and retrieve it.

That’s not to say I always find the things I’m looking for, but if I subconsciously know where it is, it’ll be in my pictures.

Similar to this I suppose is the fact that my Dad has admired my photos that I take when I go out walking. “It’s like you see the picture” he says. Well I do. Again, that doesn’t mean every photo I take is a success but the ones I share are exactly how I’ve seen it, even if I’ve edited or added a filter it’s the finished product that I saw when I took the shot. Any editing is simply to make it behave in the same way as my brain showed it to me. The most irritating thing about this is when I see something when I’m driving, because I can’t stop and take a picture of it, and the likelihood is, if I go to that same place on foot then I won’t get the picture I saw, because I won’t be standing in the same place as I was sitting in my car.

Thinking In Pictures is a fantastic book, especially for anybody who wants to learn about their own Autism or that of a person close to their heart. Temple Grandin explains many of her experiences in this book and I was surprised by how many I personally related to. Also interesting, although possibly off putting to some, is her work in Livestock Handling Facilities. I didn’t know how much of this worked and hearing about the engineering of it, and the processes she used to develop her work was very interesting to me.

I think the only thing that I didn’t really like about the book is her insistence of differentiating between “Autistic People” and “Normal People”, this might not bother everyone but it made me uncomfortable. I suppose it’s because I’ve never seen Autistic people as “abnormal” and I don’t think it’s a helpful way to look at it. Perhaps it’s just me, I suppose just because it feels normal to me that doesn’t mean it feels that way to everyone. In all the book was a fantastic experience and it taught me a lot, which is very important I think with reading. You should always be learning when you read whether you’re reading fact or fiction. There’s an opportunity to learn in every book.

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