Growing in to Autism (Sandra Thom-Jones, MUP)
Sandra Thom-Jones had a successful life before she knew she had autism. Or, more specifically, before she had a diagnosis of autism. A well-respected researcher in her 50s, Thom-Jones knew all her life that she was different and navigated the neurotypical world without this book to help; her deeply emotional autobiography mean others don’t have to. In Growing in to Autism the author walks us through her personal experience of autism both with and without the support and recognition that diagnosis brought. Her sons were diagnosed before she was (historically, it’s less likely that a girl or woman will be diagnosed with autism, though not necessarily less likely that they will be autistic) and Thom-Jones’s motivation to write ultimately came from her family. With her first book, she has hit it out of the park. Thom-Jones uses short, precise sentences to articulate big ideas and convey profound experience. Her writing seems to mirror some of the ways in which she experiences life: it is ordered, intelligent and effective. So much of the author’s life has been translating the neurotypical world when that world would not do the same for her. This isn’t really a book about hardship, but about achievement. Growing in to Autism will both break the reader’s heart and make them envious of the author’s profound abilities. Readers who enjoyed Temple Grandin’s Thinking in Pictures might enjoy this book.
Rebecca Whitehead is a freelance writer from Melbourne.