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.
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