- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 1 edition (September 21, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1849057575
- ISBN-13: 978-1849057578
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate: A User Guide to an Asperger Life 1st Edition
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I have been a fan of Cynthia Kim's blog, Musings of an Aspie, for many years. This book has everything I've come to expect from her blog and more. Poignant and practical by turns, and always insightful, this book is a must read for anyone trying to get a better understanding of autism. -- Lynne Soraya, blogger for Psychology Today and author of Living Independently on the Autism Spectrum In this honest and beautifully articulate book, Cynthia Kim reflects back on her life before and after her recent diagnosis, and she describes how her diagnosis helped her to gain a new understanding of herself and events in her past. The book is packed full of useful tips for others with Asperger's, and her own experiences with marriage and raising a child provide a valuable perspective which is both eye opening and a real pleasure to read. -- Elisabeth Hurley, PhD, Research Officer, Autism West Midlands, UK Cynthia Kim unequivocally captures the true essence of what it means to be autistic! What it means to be me! She helps you understand yourself, which enables you to struggle less with yourself and life. There's no doubt about it that Aspies are complex. Kim addresses all facets of what makes us different head-on. From shutting down to contentment and peace, it's all covered in this eye-opening account of living with Asperger's. Insight and advice follow each section for a clear and concise plan to help in your everyday life. -- Anita Lesko, BSN,RN,MS,CRNA, internationally recognized Autism Advocate, author of Been There. Done That. Try This!, also published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
I have been a fan of Cynthia Kim's blog, Musings of an Aspie, for many years. This book has everything I've come to expect from her blog and more. Poignant and practical by turns, and always insightful, this book is a must read for anyone trying to get a better understanding of autism. (Lynne Soraya, blogger for Psychology Today and author of Living Independently on the Autism Spectrum)
In this honest and beautifully articulate book, Cynthia Kim reflects back on her life before and after her recent diagnosis, and she describes how her diagnosis helped her to gain a new understanding of herself and events in her past. The book is packed full of useful tips for others with Asperger's, and her own experiences with marriage and raising a child provide a valuable perspective which is both eye opening and a real pleasure to read. (Elisabeth Hurley, PhD, Research Officer, Autism West Midlands, UK)
Cynthia Kim unequivocally captures the true essence of what it means to be autistic! What it means to be me! She helps you understand yourself, which enables you to struggle less with yourself and life. There's no doubt about it that Aspies are complex. Kim addresses all facets of what makes us different head-on. From shutting down to contentment and peace, it's all covered in this eye-opening account of living with Asperger's. Insight and advice follow each section for a clear and concise plan to help in your everyday life. (Anita Lesko, BSN,RN,MS,CRNA, internationally recognized Autism Advocate, author of Been There. Done That. Try This!, also published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
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Top Customer Reviews
Kim's writing addresses a population of adults with Asperger's who have not, thus far, had an articulate voice in Asperger's literature: "good girls" (and "good boys") who quietly make it to adulthood without being diagnosed. Those who have struggled through school and work, taking their challenges upon themselves, and succeeded enough to pass as intelligent people not quite working to their potential, will find this a particularly welcome text. The same traits that keep these "quiet kids" under the radar as children continue to create difficulties into adulthood, and Kim is a knowledgeable and sympathetic guide for this experience.
As it now stands, popular Asperger's literature can be foreign terrain for those in whom intelligence and disability coexist with a overcharged sense of responsibility. The warranted success of memoirists like John Elder Robison and Jeannie Davide-Rivera (alongside more sober but extremely gifted advocates such as Temple Grandin) is creditable to their ability to tell evocative, energetic stories about themselves. While all of these authors are strong narrators, theirs are stories that only a small minority with Asperger's can recognize themselves in. If Temple Grandin's exceptional mind makes her a fascinating person and a patient and talented teacher in the neurology of autism, her personal experience is difficult to identify with unless you are yourself a savant. Robison and Davide-Rivera, conversely, present life with Asperger's as a sort of heedless tear through childhood and adolescence, full of risk-seeking behavior and impulsive experience, followed by a long denouement (after diagnosis) in which those adventures are retold and sifted for clues. Plenty of adults with Asperger's do find kinship with the latter authors' sense of "otherness." Those with a risk-averse experience of autism, however, can start to feel unwelcome in the popular narrative.
Kim's contribution to Asperger's memoir literature is not so much a biography for the "rest of us," however, as it is an adventure memoir of interiority. Both "squeaky wheels" and quiet observers will recognize their own challenges in this book, especially where Kim turns from personal anecdote to practical suggestions for maintaining relationships in adulthood. Her investigations of executive function impairments, control, and shame are some of the best written in any work on Asperger's.
Kim's book, however, is specifically an account of a life spent trying, prior to diagnosis, to observe and mold herself into the right kind of character for every situation and every person, accumulating rules and reactions that felt inauthentic to her own personality. Beyond the challenges of social life and expectations, she describes a permanent well of deep, personal contentment and capacity for wonder.
This emphasis on interiority is what makes Kim's book unique and necessary. Kim captures the richness of adaptation as much as its frustrations. Her descriptions of the elation and the intense, pure joy that she believes is unique to those with autism, for example, is a piece of psychological art few have approached in their Asperger's-centered biographies. Moreover, she treats this hard-won practice of adaptation as a finely-honed discipline, and one that can act as an unexpected reserve of strength when the desire to "make up for lost time" and reclaim years of lost potential is constructively acted on after diagnosis.
Though Kim's book addresses gender very sparingly, its place in the current literature makes this an especially beneficial guide for women on the spectrum.
To oversimplify the current portrayals of women in Asperger's writing, they tend towards two divergent descriptions. On one end is the impulsive, free-spirited, otherworldly Asperger's woman. Davide-Rivera's pride in her tendency to act without consideration of consequences as a young girl falls into this camp, as does Simone's argument that women with Asperger's have near-paranormal talents.
On the other end, there is the controlling-unto-normalcy Asperger's woman, whose herculean self-restraint in adolescence makes her Asperger's symptoms nearly impossible to detect by early adulthood. The well-intentioned argument by Tony Attwood that a young person with Asperger's will ideally move from the home of a "secretary-mother" (who compensates for the executive shortfalls of the Asperger's child), to the home of the "secretary-wife" (who compensates for the executive shortfalls of the Asperger's man) illustrates the latter description well. Both settle for describing coping mechanisms and adopted social identities, without considering the possibilty of a self-aware, self-accepting adult.
Attwood's developmental leap mirrors persistent errors of omission in the wider popular writing on adults with Asperger's. These errors assume that single adults with Asperger's are fated to remain dependent on their parents or caretakers; that men with Asperger's do not (and maybe should not) pursue relationships with men or women with Asperger's; and perhaps most disheartening, that women with Asperger's- unlike men- are on their own after adolescence.
These lacunae cannot be amended in one volume, but Kim has addressed their common theme of dependence in a strong first entry to what will hopefully become a broader genre for adults newly-diagnosed with Asperger's. That is, experience-based guidance for living a relatively "normal" life, constructively seeking out neurological and practical adaptations, and-most importantly- acknowledging the centrality of strong relationships.
Kim anchors her narrative in her relationship with her husband, which not only provides insight into her own story, but acts as a means for portraying lifelong challenges into adulthood. "Maybe you need a minder," Kim writes of herself in the last chapter. "I have one! The problem is, I'm married to him. How uncool-- not to mention unromantic and unsexy and unequal-partnershipy is it when my husband needs to remind me to do all these little things?"
This is an inner struggle, not to mention a source of shame, that many of Kim's readers in relationships will find familiar. Its resolution, within her relationship, is as valuable as her courage in posing it: "I... asked him if he doesn't get tired... He laughed and said, 'Of course, but what am I going to do? We chose each other.'" The ability to communicate this kind of concrete, interpersonal sense of worthiness, with an eye towards fully growing into oneself, is what makes Kim, as much as Grandin and Robison, an exceptional memoirist.
She does an outstanding job of explaining in easy to understand language, the anguish of living with this disability. Of more importance, is her insight into the best ways to make this disability into more of a positive than a negative trait. She explains that many extremely gifted and talented people live with Asperger's Syndrome and in many ways having the diagnosis can be a blessing. Since she was never diagnosed as a child, all of the characteristics of Asperger's were unknown to her until adulthood. Unlike the vast majority of books on the subject, this one and its predecessor offer heartfelt hope for adults who are on the spectrum, or for those who may be wondering if they are.
She explores all of the behavior characteristics of a person with Asperger's, and offers reassurance that it's nothing to be ashamed about. This book provides answers to so many questions that needed to be addressed. Since the author wasn't officially diagnosed with Asperger's until she was in her 40's, no one is in a better position than her to discuss the ramifications of going through life knowing that you're different, but having no clue as to why. The author explains all of the oddities of living with this condition, and does so in an honest and humorous way. She provides so many examples from her own life, and explains how difficult it was growing up 'different,' but being clueless as to why.
Living with Asperger's can be very frustrating, especially so if you're an adult and have never been officially diagnosed. Spending your life on the outside of social circles, being extremely uncomfortable around large groups of people, being afraid of saying the wrong thing; these are common traits of people with Asperger's Syndrome. Without a diagnosis, it can easily lead to a feeling of hopelessness, depression and just wondering what's wrong with me. This book addresses all of these issue and a whole lot more. It's not only a great reference for those who've been diagnosed, but even more so for those who may think that they have this disability. Hopefully this book will show up when someone does a search for characteristics of Asperger's, such as shyness and awkward social behavior. It would be a shame to have such a useful book go unnoticed by those who could benefit most. My fear is that while a search for a book on Asperger's would direct you toward this book, a search for characteristics may not. This book needs to be heavily marketed by the mental health community.
Reading this book lifts the fog that people with Asperger's live with on a daily basis. It summarizes what living with Asperger's is all about, and does so in a way that few other books come close to. The author writes from personal experience and this is what sets this book apart. It offers all sorts of suggestions on how to make your life, not only better, but great. It clears up many misconceptions about living on the spectrum. Most of all, it provides hope for those who had none before. It's like a user guide to life, only in this case it's more specifically a user guide to life with Asperger's Syndrome. I highly recommend this book for anyone who's been diagnosed with Asperger's, their families, or anyone who may think that they may have this diagnosis. You won't be disappointed and after reading the book, you'll have a much better understanding as to why your life has evolved the way it has.
Kim was diagnosed in 2012 at the age of 42, and within months was blogging about her process of discovering herself as a woman with autism. [Musing of an Aspie.] Her first book is an excellent account of the symptoms of autism and the diagnostic process – with professionals or alone.
Her recent book is a summary of what she has learned on her journey, with suggestions for readers on dealing with a variety of issues.
In her chapter headings, “Growing Up Undiagnosed,” she says: “Kids like me were labeled nerdy, shy, or gifted.” Later she says, “I made it well into middle age before realizing that I wasn’t just shy or weird or nerdy. That I wasn’t going to outgrow my quirks and wake up to suddenly find I was ‘normal.”
Other chapter title includes: “Parenting Aspie Style,” “The Autistic Body,” and “Redefining Myself.”
It is a well-written must-read for anyone who wants to understand today’s newly diagnosed adults; or who is one.
Wilma Wake, LCSW
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To the author,
I am in love with your mind. Can we be friends?