When I first read that Cynthia Kim was writing a book, I was very excited. Her blog, Musings of an Aspie, was the final puzzle piece in recognizing that I’m not just “as close to the Spectrum as you can be without being diagnosable,” as I wrote in my first post. I’ve always strongly identified with the ideas and feelings she writes about on her blog, and it was a pleasure to sit and read her words in a full book.
I love that autistic women are fighting for more awareness and understanding with these blogs and books. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this community, and I pray their efforts will benefit women and girls now and in the future. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate is a book I can recommend without reservation.
First, the book itself. I enjoyed the aesthetics of the cover as well as the formatting of the text. Lists and sidebars help highlight important information. The content is well-organized – and I like things that are well-organized. Although a lot of the content was taken from her blog writings, the book does not feel like a collection of isolated essays. I felt like the topics and sub-topics flowed incredibly naturally as I devoured chapter after chapter.
Personally, there were so many things I related to in this book. For example, when she talked about our difficulty blocking out extraneous stimuli, I remembered climbing into the trunk of our car on numerous occasions to find and stop whatever was rattling. Her list of tactile sensitivities had me going, “Yep, yep, yep,” and chuckling that she included both “tags” and “TAGS.” Her discussion of executive function deficits and difficulty making decisions gave me a flashback to standing in the kitchen crying because I didn’t know what I wanted to eat and Mom was getting frustrated with me (this was very common). I couldn’t help but remember issues in a dating relationship when she said, “It may take hours or days to understand what took place during an especially emotional experience” (p. 143). My best friend and I laughed as I read aloud the section on The “NO” Reflex, because it sounded so very familiar to both of us. I could go on and on!
I loved that she included a lot of solid practical advice for both autistics and the people who love them, such as “Lessons from an ASD-NT Marriage” and “Rescue Strategies for New Parents.” Like Ms. Kim, I’ve come up with a lot of coping strategies on my own, but she lists some that I hadn’t thought of (like carrying something pleasantly-scented if I’m going to be somewhere with objectionable odors).
A thought kept interrupting my reading. One of the first books I read specifically about adults with Aspergers was Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships by Ashley Stanford. It helped my mom and I recognize that AS fits my dad, but I remember it being a kind of depressing read as it focused on the deficits and struggles. Reading Cynthia Kim’s book was more like reading John Elder Robison’s Be Different (which I can’t believe I haven’t talked about on here yet. I should. It’s awesome). Both of these books are written by autistic people who are honest about the struggles that come with being autistic, but they talk about growth and the good stuff, too. They have a realistic, balanced optimism that I truly appreciate.
If you haven’t noticed, I think this book is really, really good. “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”