Our Autistic Lives

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

This is a brilliant own-voices, non-fiction read about autism.  On too many occasions, books about the spectrum are written by neurotypical academics, so it's great to see this collection of narratives, direct from the mouths of autistic adults. 

The book is structured by age groups (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60 and 70s) but within these the voices are diverse,
spanning different continents, genders, sexualities and ethnicities.  

Through the stories, we learn about the differences and similarities between neurodiverse people, as well as their similarities and differences to neurotypical people.  It is interesting to see the differing impacts (or lack thereof) of diagnosis, and how an autistic mind ages over time.  

I'm always impressed with books from Jessica Kingsley Publishers and this one is no different.
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This is such an important book. So often, the voices of autistic people are shouted over or ignored. Autism is often seen as a child's condition, and autistic adults are either imagined to be either too disabled to speak for themselves, or not disabled enough to 'count' as autistic. This book is made up of voices of people in their twenties and onwards, some diagnosed as children, many (especially the older contributers) diagnosed later in life. Some of the stories are sad, as people struggle with ableism, acceptance, and building a life in a world that isn't designed for their neurotype. Others are more positive and hopeful, stories about people discovering why they are different and finding the knowledge freeing. 

What's most interesting in this book are the common threads across the different stories. Everyone is so different (if you've met one autistic you've met one autistic), but there are common themes of loneliness and feeling disconnected from people, a desire to make those connections, self discovery, and acceptance. I think this is an important book for both autistic and non autistic people to read. Autistic people will see themselves in these stories. I know I did. There is something very comforting about knowing that other people are coping with the same things I am. And non autistic people need to learn that autism does not mean that someone isn't still a person. Autistic people, autistic adults, are valuable members of society, even if society sees them as unproductive.

This book tries to be very diverse, and in some ways it manages, but there are always more stories to be told. Read this book, and then seek out more actually autistic voices. We are out there and we are speaking. It's time to finally listen, and accept.
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I found this fascinating reading indeed! There was much that spoke to me, it has to be said. My son was diagnosed with HFA with an addition of ADD when he was 3 years old. I can see that my father is probably on the spectrum and me too (although the few people I have mentioned this to, look at me like I am crazy so I don't mention it anymore). I DO think I fit the criteria though and a lot of what the people in this book were saying, especially when it comes to hobbies and interests in their younger years, I can so relate. Also the social question: "how are you?". It took me YEARS before I stopped responding as if the asker actually wanted to know the answer to the question! It still throws me sometimes, lol.

Anyway, I like the way this book was divided into sections according to age. I paid particular attention to the 50's because that is where I am but I read every word of the book and I don't think there wasn't anything that didn't resonate with me, regardless of the age of the person (or sexuality, or nationality). I felt validated, reading this book, I really did. I have kept so much hidden over the years, in order to fit in. I still play the game when I out in public but it sure is nice when it is just my son and I at home (I have a daughter too but she is as NT as you can imagine), and we can just relax, each of us on our computers and with some music playing. We share what we discover online and we can be ourselves, completely.

This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to get a better handle of what it is like to live with something that is this differently wired thing called Autism. It is not wrong or something to make fun of, it just IS.

5 stars from me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
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Our Autistic Lives chronicles and celebrates the lives of a diverse range of people who feature at all different sectors of the spectrum. It is a deeply inspirational, moving and honest look at an often misunderstood and sometimes-maligned condition and I am overjoyed that the publisher has put such a fascinating and necessary book into the public domain. It's an eye-opening, thought-provoking and heartfelt peek into the world of an autist and what they experience on a day to day basis but importantly not only the struggles of living with the condition are highlighted but the positive aspects that can accompany it too. It gave me a deeper understanding of the complexities of the condition and its impact on patients lives and the fact that it remained highly readable while doing such important work of shining a light is further kudos to the editor. These first-hand accounts are grouped together and organised by age and vary in terms of gender, class, race, ethnicity, religion and sexuality giving us an extraordinary cross-section of those affected by autism.

Compiled by Alex Ratcliffe an autism advocate and expert in the field with over a decades worth of experience and herself a self-diagnosed autist, readers are treated to effectively the inside scoop on what it means to be on the spectrum, how it impacts their lives and both the feelings and experiences those with it encounter. This is undoubtedly essential reading for those who wish to know more about the lives of those on the spectrum but will also appeal to those who have recently been diagnosed as it shows they are not alone in their behaviours and emotions and could reassure in a situation where the person may not wish to verbally correspond to gain that reassurance; I can see this being a comfort and inspiration to those who may only just have begun their journey with the condition. It's full of detail and comes straight from the horse's mouth so to speak, and I really appreciated this engaging, direct approach. A rare and special book very much styled in a take no prisoners, pull no punches manner. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Jessica Kingsley for an ARC.
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I really wanted to like this one and I made it about 25% of the way in and it all felt repetitive. I respect that everyone has a different story and they deserve to have their story told. I enjoyed the format because it is a quick read, at this moment in time I do not see myself finishing it. However, that may change when my brain is in the mood for this specific type of story.
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A rare insight and accurate portrayal of what it's like to live with Autism taken from the perspective of those adults who are actually on the spectrum themselves.  This book is a breath of fresh air and should be mandatory reading for anyone who is touched by autism in any way, whether professionally or personally. 

Many thanks to Netgalley and TBC for a copy of this ARC for which I have given my voluntary and unbiased review.
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Our Autistic Lives by Alex Ratcliffe is a collection that focuses on an often under recognised group, autistic adults. (Note I use the terminology autistic adult rather than adult with autism as one of the things I learned from reading this book is that this is often the prefered term within the community,  since they view their autism as part of who they are rather  than an illness to be treated or cured.)
This is a collection of first hand accounts,  in people's own words, and is broken down by age categories. The people interviewed range from those in their twenties to those in their eighties,  and there is a mix of nationalities , genders and sexualities. The book includes a mix of those who have received an official diagnoses and those who have self diagnosed. In a large proportion, the diagnosis was less than ten years old, meaning that for many of the participants they had gone through the majority of their lives feeling "other" without understanding why. What was most striking was the common experiences these diverse people had, the difficulty in forming and sustaining relationships,  and the issues surrounding parenthood. 
While I am not autistic,  I felt that  reading this book gave me a greater understanding of what daily life is like for those who are.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher,  all opinions are my own.
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Autistic adults are so often hidden in the sidelines while the focus both medically and socially is on children, finding literature that addresses our lives, needs and experience is wonderful. I really appreciated the fact that the autistic adults who were the subject of the book were allowed to speak for themselves without some sort of narrator or expert trying to "interpret" their lived experiences. Having said that, I would have liked a sort of summing-up at the end or something to pull all the individual stories into a bigger picture, while of course acknowledging that autistics like every other marginalised identity are not a monolith.

The book included a good range of experiences, but there were definitely common themes running through and they really resonated with my own. To sum up the feeling I got from the book, it was both hopeful and sad. The contributors acknowledge the many challenges that being autistic in our world can create, and the strain it puts on both individuals and their relationships, but at the same time there were plenty of more positive memories and thoughts, people who had made a success of their life in their own terms and were happy.

There was a good range of identities on the LGBTQ+ spectrum featured among the accounts, but not so much diversity in terms of ethnicity/race/religion. I suspect this is partly to do with the spread of knowledge and acceptance of autism in different countries and communities, but it does leave the book with a very western focus.
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Superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL			
			
I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  			
			
From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.			

This collection of narratives from autistic adults is structured around their decades of experience of life, covering 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60 and 70s+. These are varied and diverse, spanning different continents, genders, sexualities and ethnicities, yet the author highlights the common themes that unite them and skilfully draws out these threads.

Each chapter is based on accounts from one age group and includes accounts from people of that age, giving an insight into the history of autism and signifying how gaining a diagnosis (or not) has changed people's lives over time. The book is about ageing with an autistic mind, and helping the reader find connections between neurotypical and neurodiverse people by acknowledging the challenges we all face in our past, present and futures.

It is never easy to be autistic - but this book can show people, especially teens, that they can thrive with it, not just suffer from it. The narratives were enjoyable and each person was fascinating on its own - it is a book that you can read it bits here and there and still get a lot from it vs. reading it through and deciding what to take from it then.

This book is an essential buy for libraries and schools:  people are getting diagnosed to be on the spectrum at all ages these days so it is a good idea to keep an open mind about the people in your life and whether they may be autistic or not.
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Being recently diagnosed with autism as an adult, reading the experiences of other autistic adults was inspiring. It's always good to be reassured you're not alone and that others have and still do go through what you are.
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I work with children with Autism so this book appealed to me massively. I enjoyed reading personal experiences from adults all over the world and it was incredibly eye-opening. It's a really easy book to get stuck into and I couldn't put it down. I loved how the book was broken up into ages too!
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Our Autistic Lives by Alex Ratcliffe is a collection of accounts of people on the autistic spectrum throughout their lives, a snapshot from different people in their 20's - 70's. If you're looking for a book that tells you about autism from a medical or profession point of view this isn't the book for you. This is a book for those wanting to experience autism from the inside, how it feels to be autistic and the different experiences individuals have. It is a book that also helps people on the spectrum find common ground or understanding of their condition from reading what other people experience. It gives a wide variety of different genders, sexuality's, ages and experiences of how the condition has impacted the individuals. 

I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome last year. This came at the end of a breakdown and a number of mental health diagnosis's like OCD, Body Dysmorphia, Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, anxiety and depression. For me, it was a feeling of relief to gain an understanding into my quirks and issues. I now can give myself permission as it were to be autistic and to find ways to manage the difficulties that come with it. It can also be isolating as a 40 ish year old with a diagnosis like this. That is where this book comes in. I found it fascinating and helpful to gain an insight into other peoples lives, I guess people like me. It is comforting and in many ways gives hope that difficulties can be overcome. Obviously, not every bodies experience is positive but that's important to, honesty is important.  

5/5 for an honest view into autistic lives, a wide variety of people and their individual experiences. I would recommend this to newly or established diagnosed (and self diagnosed) individuals looking for understanding and reaching out to find others who experience the world in a similar way that they do. Also for family and friends wanting to understand a little more of the autistic experience. 

Our Autistic Lives is due out on 21/01/2020. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishing for this e-Arc copy for an honest review.
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Excellent! Thoughtful and interesting.
As a person on the spectrum (Asperger's) I wish I had this book.
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