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Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a…
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Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World (2017 original; edició 2017)

de Laura James (Autor)

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583349,252 (4.13)4
Laura James knew she was different. She struggled to cope in a world that often made no sense to her, as though her brain had its own operating system. It wasn't until she reached her forties that she found out why: Suddenly and surprisingly, she was diagnosed with autism. With a touching and searing honesty, Laura challenges everything we think we know about what it means to be autistic. Married with four children and a successful journalist, Laura examines the ways in which autism has shaped her career, her approach to motherhood, and her closest relationships.… (més)
Membre:Lurven71
Títol:Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World
Autors:Laura James (Autor)
Informació:Bluebird (2017), Edition: Main Market, 240 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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Odd girl out : An autistic woman in a neurotypical world de Laura James (2017)

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Es mostren totes 3
Books by people with autism about their condition are a dime a dozen. We don't need more.

And yet, I'm inclined to recommend this book -- if you'll allow me a preface. When I started reading this, a lot of it was routine to the point of boredom -- a chronicle of anxiety and rigidity. Standard autistic traits. Some insights from researchers on the topic -- yes, women with autism typically are better at hiding their condition than men, because they're better at mimicking "normal" behavior. But this really isn't news, any more. I was reading this book in dribs and drabs, without much enjoyment and without learning much.

Then, on about page 185, I realized what James's real problem is. She has (Big Heavy Word Alert) alexithymia, which is a fancy Greek way of saying that she has no words for her emotions -- she doesn't know what she's feeling. She says herself that she doesn't really have the ability to distinguish pleasant from unpleasant emotions -- all she can tell is strong or not strong. She has enough self-consciousness to know whether things are "in control" or "out of control," but she can't really self-regulate because, other than that, she can't recognize what is going on. She writes rather wistfully about her partner's ability to sum up his emotions in one or two words. Hers, she thinks, are too complex for that. It doesn't seem that way to me; truly, what she keeps describing is the Big Two of rigidity and anxiety plus some sensory problems. So why is it so hard for her to know what is going on? Because her ability to analyze herself is affected.

Suddenly, that made the book more significant. Roughly half of people with autism -- including highly intelligent ones like James -- have alexithymia. This helps explain some of the problems James has had in therapy (although a lot of it may just be that she ran into the wrong types of therapists -- a Freudian turned loose on a person with autism is effectively guaranteed to do more harm than good, e.g.). But most people who can't describe their emotions can't describe their lives, either. James is a good writer and a good researcher; she can.

A autistic person with alexithymia is at a significant handicap compared to those who can identify their feelings. She finds it harder to understand others, or to understand the ways they use to control their behavior; she has no way to connect others' feelings with her own. Autism is defined in terms of social problems and repetitive behaviors, but emotional problems are also high on the list -- I, for instance, suffer from excessive loyalty, excessive susceptibility to rejection, and "emotional contamination" (the ability of others to inflict emotions on me). James, in particular, suffers from the second of those. But she hasn't really learned how to deal with it.

It's a rather heart-rending tale. You may not enjoy it. But if you read this book with the goal of understanding what it is like to experience feelings you cannot identify, it can be the source of very deep insight. ( )
  waltzmn | Jun 7, 2019 |
After wondering all her life why she seemed different from other people, in her mid-forties Laura James was diagnosed with both Ehlers-Danlos and Asperger’s (and I suspect she may have synesthesia, too, although she doesn’t say so). Over the course of a year, she learns all she can about these disorders, and things start making sense to her- and to her husband. It’s not that she’s been a failure- she was highly successful, with four children and a career as a journalist. But there had always been situations that caused extreme discomfort, sometimes even leading to a meltdown. Crowds, uncomfortable clothing, sensory overload- even some colors- are all things she tries to avoid.

Highly intelligent, she and her second husband created a life that allowed her to succeed and still be protected from things that stressed her. Getting her diagnosis explained so much about her, but she’d already gone a long way towards accommodating her problem. The diagnosis meant she could find out how other people dealt with having autism and allowed her to be in contact with people who faced the same problems.

The book follows her over a little over a year’s time, with sections of current time alternating with her past. It’s a really interesting read, but I could never quite get invested in her story. There is a dryness to her prose that seemed somehow stand-offish, even though she talks about some really painful events. Perhaps part of being autistic, perhaps part of being a journalist, used to presenting facts. A four star read; I recommend it to anyone with a person with autism in their circle, because it might really help them to understand that person. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Jan 31, 2018 |
This memoir explores the 17 months following Laura James’s diagnosis of autism at age 45 (“I imagine what it will be like next year when I am fixed”), as she comes out and comes to terms with her condition.

It’s an accessible and nearly experiential (for readers) immersion in the mind of an autistic person -- a high-functioning person (wife, mother, journalist), due in part to her ability to observe and imitate neurotypical behaviors and “pass” as “normal.” But the imitation never changes her interior nor relieves her anxiety, and she begins to realize that it is exhausting her and keeping her from being her best self.

It’s illuminating about autism for a wide audience, and helpful both to autistic persons with similar issues and to neurotypicals with their own dysfunctions.

In the end, only three things matter:
How much you loved,
How gently you lived,
And how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.


(Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.) ( )
  DetailMuse | Jan 23, 2018 |
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No n'hi ha cap

Laura James knew she was different. She struggled to cope in a world that often made no sense to her, as though her brain had its own operating system. It wasn't until she reached her forties that she found out why: Suddenly and surprisingly, she was diagnosed with autism. With a touching and searing honesty, Laura challenges everything we think we know about what it means to be autistic. Married with four children and a successful journalist, Laura examines the ways in which autism has shaped her career, her approach to motherhood, and her closest relationships.

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