Pretending A Little Less- book extract

It’s Autism Awareness Month and each week we’ve shared a series of blog posts on books by, for, and about autistic adults. Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Expanded Edition is an updated edition of the bestselling story of a woman who, after years of self-doubt and self-denial, learned to embrace and appreciate her Asperger’s syndrome traits.

Liane Holliday Willey shares, with insight and warmth, the daily struggles and challenges that face many of those who have AS and charts her inspirational journey to self-acceptance.

“When Pretending to be Normal was published in 1999, I saw society as if a big mesh fence surrounded it. I could poke my fingers through the holey mesh, and see the blurry images on the other side, and put my ear against the tight weave to hear conversations within the webbed walls, but I couldn’t break down the barriers that were so real, they might as well have been made of steel chains. Read blogs and memoirs from those on the spectrum and you will quickly note most of us felt like we were on the outside looking in, always trying with all our might to prove we had potential to offer, kindness to share and skill sets to turn into productive work. We tried everything to just get a foot in the door of the NT world. We knocked and knocked and pleaded and fought and bribed and pouted and joked and offered favors and turned over every leaf to find a way in to typical society until we were exhausted and spent or until we found a way to pretend we were what society wanted us to be. Though our pluses outweigh our negatives, we are different thinkers who can act in ways not always socially acceptable, leaving society confused…”

To read the full chapter, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about this book visit our WEBSITE, or browse a selection of our books written for autistic adults HERE.

The perfect job – book extract

As you might already know, we’re marking Autism Awareness Month throughout April by sharing a series of blog posts on books by, for, and about autistic adults. Featuring personal stories from those with Asperger’s Syndrome, Sarah Hendrickx’s book, Asperger Syndrome & Employment highlights successful scenarios and provides suggestions for employers and those in search of work. This extract looks at key criteria which can be helpful to think about. 

Is there any such thing as the perfect job? Or is this an oxymoron? A suitable job is one which allows best use of specific skills and minimises the areas of weakness. Lone working, excellent factual memory, logical analysis and problem-solving are likely strengths for someone with AS. Jobs which have been suggested to be more suitable for those with AS include:

  • aspergerpostman – lone working, lack of pressure, involves exercise
  • gardener – lone working, lack of pressure, physical work (can be relaxing)
  • IT technician – lone working, technical precision required, problem solving
  • software engineer – problem solving, working to precise specifications
  • photographer – creative, lone working, using technical skills
  • researcher – analytical, focused, detail-driven
  • accountant – proficiency with numbers, accuracy
  • librarian – system focused, excellent factual memory
  • piano tuner – perfect pitch, lack of pressure, lone working, specialist interest

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Forest School and Autism

Upon the release of his book, Forest School and Autism, we spoke to author and practitioner Michael James about what exactly Forest School involves, and why it’s so well suited for autistic learners. 

What exactly is meant by the term ‘Forest School’?

The term “Forest School” describes a specific approach to outdoor learning. Forest School has a strong ethos of learner-centered practice combined with an understanding of the benefits to wellbeing which come from regular contact with nature. Forest School is attended by people of all ages and abilities.

forest school

How is Forest School suited to the needs of autistic people?

Well, I’m always very aware of the saying “If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person of autism”! The learner-centered ethos of Forest School seeks to accommodate the individual needs of different learners, and this flexibility can allow autistic learners the space to be themselves and engage on their own terms. This space includes the physical space of natural settings, which is far greater than in indoor settings, and also there is more space in time afforded by the Forest School approach. In my experience, this approach can suit autistic learners very well. Another strength of Forest School is the heightened awareness of place which can encourage practitioners to consider the sensory environment which is obviously important when learners have different sensory needs. For Forest School to best meet the needs of autistic learners the practitioner needs to develop autism awareness, and this book aims to promote and encourage that.

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Autism & Ageing – book extract

The latest in our blog series for Autism Awareness Month, we’re looking at Wenn Lawson’s excellent book for autistic adults. The first book to look seriously at the practical issues facing older adults with autism, Wenn Lawson’s groundbreaking handbook Older Adults and Autism Spectrum Conditions offers support, advice, and sensible ways in which to look at the issues. In this extract, Wenn uses himself as a case study.

autistic adults

As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed a few changes related to ASC that are relevant to this discussion. I’ve divided them into physical setting, emotional wellbeing and social setting, though clearly each overlap.

Physical setting

This broad topic includes health and mobility at home, outside home, at work, using public transport, and visiting family and friends.

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How to Cope Productively with the Effects of Unemployment and Jobhunt with Confidence- book extract

Thanks for joining us for week two of sharing content from a selection of our rich resources for autistic adults. Last week we featured The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum and Autism Spectrum Disorder in Mid and Later Life. This week’s extract is from Unemployed on the Autism Spectrum: How to Cope Productively with the Effects of Unemployment and Jobhunt with Confidence by Michael John Carley.

Addressing the high rate of unemployment among people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this vital guide offers advice on how you can overcome negative emotions, maintain your confidence and process unemployment in an emotionally healthy way.

“‘Lying?’ Now, why is a discussion about ‘lying’ an appropriate segue into a chapter on securing employment? Because it’s a concept, a sensation, and an interpretation that seems to plague our spectrum world’s potential for employment.

So much of what is essential to finding and keeping a job revolves around behaviors we refer to as ‘professional.’ There’s professional appearance (good clothes, hygiene, etc.), professional attitude (staying positive even when you don’t want to), and professional behavior (the unwritten rules about what’s expected from us as we relate to one another in the workplace). All of these scripts are adaptive—for no one’s born that way. These are tricks that the majority of the business world demands from those who choose to inhabit it.

To a higher percentage of neurotypicals this resonates as ‘no big deal,’ because they pick up this behavioral code a lot more instinctively than we do, and because they don’t initially see as much harm in adapting. But to us, so-called professional behavior can often feel like lying. It’s not who we really are and this bothers us more…”

To read the full chapter, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about this book visit our WEBSITE, or browse a selection of our books written for autistic adults HERE.

Coming Home to Autism

New book Coming Home to Autism takes a room-by-room approach to guide the parents of a newly diagnosed child through day-to-day family life. There are ideas and routines to try at home, including advice on toilet training, diet and nutrition, sensory play, and much more. We sat down with co-authors Tara Leniston and Rhian Grounds to find out more…

Congratulations on the publication of your first book! We want to let our readers know a bit more about it, so, can you tell us who this book is for? Who did you have in mind when you were writing it?

Tara – When my son was diagnosed with autism 5 years ago, I was looking for a book like this. I needed simple practical advice that was easy to read, and something I could use at home.  All the books that were available at the time were either very medical based, diaries of other people’s journeys, or books on pointing fingers as to why your child had autism.  I was very fortunate that I lived in the London borough of Wandsworth at the time Dylan was diagnosed, and I had access to the best help. I was also in a position where I could throw myself fully in to learning all about autism and Dylan. While I was writing I was thinking of all the information I wish I’d had in one place – as opposed to spending hours, weeks and months researching and wasting a lot of money on things that didn’t really help at all.

Rhian – Yes, as Tara says, it was written for families with younger children and those children with a relatively recent diagnosis. I was constantly thinking back to all the families I have worked with, what they said was most useful during their sessions and what they wished they had more advice on. I was also thinking of all the other professionals I have worked with over the years and how their knowledge has contributed to helping children and families consider and plan for all their child needs; from the day to day activities, sleep and communication. This book really is a combination of all those experiences and expertise.

autism

How did you discover your shared desire to help and advocate for autistic children?

Rhian – My career has been dedicated to working with all ages with ASD. I have worked, volunteered and supported autism awareness campaigns. At the same time Tara was raising money for the National Autistic Society; launching herself off buildings, clearly advocating for Dylan and autistic children! She was also supporting local families with advice and signposting them to resources and services. Through our common desire to advocate and consider ASD as part of our families and communities we developed a friendship.

Tara – I gave up my career as an actress to help Dylan and I threw myself in to learning all about autism and how I could help others in the same situation as us. The autism community is a fantastic group of supportive people, families and professionals. I believe Dylan brought Rhian and I together to write this book.

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Aging on the Autism Spectrum-book extract

During the month of April, we’re sharing a series of key extracts from some of our best and most popular books for autistic adults here on the blog. You may have already seen the extract from The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum which we posted earlier. Next up in our series is Autism Spectrum Disorder in Mid and Later Life edited by Scott D. Wright, PhD.

Bringing together a wealth of professional and academic research, alongside personal insights into aging and autism, Dr. Wright’s edited source book focuses on the challenges faced by individuals who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and are middle aged or older. 

The extract we’ve chosen and shared below is a first hand account of aging on the autism spectrum by Temple Grandin.

“When I was asked to do this chapter on autism and aging, the first thing that came
to my mind was that as I got older, my ability to think in a more flexible manner
improved. My mind is like a vast Internet of webpages. In the sixth decade of my life,
the database in my brain has more webpages containing memories of my previous
experiences than it had in the second decade. To understand how to react to a new
situation, I search my database to see how a new situation is either similar or different
compared with information stored in my memory. My thinking is bottom up, and in
my memory files I have memories of specific previous experiences. For example, on
my very first project, where my company was building equipment at a meat plant, I
criticized some poor welding and said it looked like ‘pigeon doo-doo’. The wise plant
engineer mentored me and told me I had to apologize to the welder for my tactless
comment. I apologized for the thoughtless words, but I did not praise the quality of
his welding. I learned to differentiate between rude, tactless comments and legitimate
concerns about welding quality. From this I learned that if I had a concern about
welding, I should have gone to the welder’s boss and stated the problem in more
diplomatic, technical language. I learned how to have better diplomacy to get a project
done correctly.”

To read the full chapter, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about this book visit our WEBSITE, or browse a selection of our books written for autistic adults HERE.

Anxiety and the Autism Spectrum – book extract

As it’s Autism Awareness Month, we’re sharing a series of key extracts from some of our best and most popular books for autistic adults here on the blog. You may have already seen the extract from An Adult With an Autism Diagnosis which we shared recently, and below is an extract from The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum. This short extract focuses on anxiety and autism, and we hope gives a good idea of what readers can expect from this book. 

The high rate of anxiety disorders among people on the autism spectrum may be due in part to the issues that people with autism spectrum conditions have to contend with in being part of the ‘neurotypical’ world. On a daily basis, autistic people have to make sense of a world that is extremely hard to decipher, deal with sensory overload (and worry about potential sensory overload), and navigate an often hostile and incomprehensible social world. All of these experiences can contribute significantly to a person’s anxiety levels. In addition, the autistic traits of perfectionism, preference for structure/routine and repetitive behaviours can all add to the levels of anxiety. In trying to make sense of the world, people with autism often want to imagine the outcomes of events or situations that involve them.anxiety
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Tiger Mums & Parenting Pressures

Uttom Chowdhury is a Consultant Psychiatrist and a dad. His new book, The Tiger Mum Who Came to Tea, is a funny and insightful adults’ picture book, combining knowing humour with sound advice to reassure parents under pressure. In this blog, Uttom tells us about some real-life tiger parenting that inspired the book. 

This is a book I wrote primarily based on my experiences as a parent in North London rather than my experiences as a Consultant in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. It came about after one of the mums from my children’s school told me all about her sons academic achievements and extracurricular activities. He had just done Russian GCSE and was now doing French GCSE as well as violin grade 6 and playing table tennis at a high level, but she was worried he was not reading the right books. He was 13 at the time.
tiger mum

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Autism as Difference Not Disorder: Insights from the Author

Drawing on 30 years of professional experience and detailed research, Difference Not Disorder: Understanding Autism Theory in Practice exposes the myths around autism and provides practical guidance on teaching and learning, behaviour management, addressing sensory and physical needs of children with ASD.

Difference Not Disorder

Our recognition and understanding of autism forms a recent story in terms of human knowledge. In my lifetime this story gained momentum, hastening to the current perception of autism as neurological in nature. However, across the globe this neurological nature, viewed at-odds with the neuro-typical one, is considered impaired or disordered. The over-arching aim of this book was to question this assumption while posing an alternative view of difference not disorder because of all the children I had the honour to work with, children with autism were some of the bravest.

disorder

There are limitless ways in which I witnessed their bravery. They included venturing every day out into a world with incomprehensible social rules and codes in which lack of or inappropriate response could result in unwelcome, verbal attention or even confusing reprimand. It also included perpetually manoeuvring through sights, sounds and textures that could overwhelm and/or aggravate the senses often without being able to express mounting stress and distress; and/or experiencing revulsions towards some tasks but compulsions towards others in situations where you had no idea of the duration or scheduling of either.

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