Cover Image: The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide

The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide

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Member Reviews

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed are my own. 

I do admit to being an adult reading this, but I still think it's good! 

I definitely see how this could be helpful to teens and kids. It was enjoyable and not overly heavy or preachy. And I liked that it was marketed to girls, because a lot of representation for autism is male. (Even better if we can get some LGBTQ+ out there, but I digress.) 

Great little book!
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I requested Siena Castellon's book for two reasons.  First, because I gained a student in the fall who has behaviors similar to those with Autism (her mother will not accept the diagnosis currently), and secondly, because I have felt, for several years now, that I am on the spectrum. "The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide" gave insight to the author's struggles with being on the spectrum and suggestions to those who face similar difficulties.  
While I felt that many of her suggestions-especially in regards to speaking to staff at school-were excellent, the book was a bit narrowly focused on what she experienced. I recognize that it might be difficult, as girls are underdiagnosed, to find others for collaboration, but I feel that some other points of view would have enriched the book.
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This is such a lovely book! Siena writes in such a way that I feel like parents of girls on the spectrum can totally understand it, and girls on the spectrum can feel seen and understood. I definitely ordered a copy for my library's collection!
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This book's audience is teen girls who identify as autistic.  It begins with a foreword by Temple Grandin, a very successful and smart professor who is well known for her work on animal welfare.  She is also autistic.  Being endorsed by Ms. Grandin is an impressive beginning to this excellent resource by Siena Castellon.  Siena, herself, is on the spectrum and is a teenager;  as a result she is a good guide to the issues that her audience may face.  Siena is also a role model as she is quite accomplished, open and honest as she talks to (not down) her readers.

The book itself is so comprehensive.  It can be read as written or can be browsed through.  The table of contents is clear and a good guide to what can be found where in the text.  Another plus in this title is the addition of cartoon illustrations that further enhance the text.

I highly recommend this book not only as a resource for the teenage girls who are its audience but also for anyone who wants/needs to better understand those who have autism.  It can help family members, friends, teachers and others to interact better with those who have been diagnosed.  It could also be used as a tool for mental health professionals who want to better understand their clients who are on the spectrum.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this practical and informative title.  All opinions are my own.
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This book is great. That’s a good way to start a review, right?

No, seriously. Written by an Autistic Girl for Autistic Girls, the author writes eloquently and with intelligence, but with enough oversight to make it very easily readable, as well as easily able to be digested (unlike that last sentence...ugh.). It doesn’t read as too childish, which can happen when an adult writes for children. There is some repetitiveness at the beginning of the chapters, but this is something that is common in Non-Fiction, so is not an issue.

I love love love the different cartoons (which, reading via the Kindle app on my phone, were small and hard to see), they were cute without being babyish, and I was so happy to see a variety of races, abilities, appearances etc. Being an eARC I can’t comment on how it will look in the final publication, but it was laid out and simple to follow in my copy.

The author was wonderful about showing suggestions. When she spoke of the varying sensory issues she herself faced, such as clothing tags or uncomfortable clothing that she was required to wear, she also gave many suggestions on how she does and how the reader could potentially mitigate these. There was a definite understanding on the part of the reader that although she had given you a half page of suggestions, there were more out there and you should try until you find a way that works for you. She also made it seem like a normal, run of the mill issue, so that was nice.

Som subjects I felt could have been expanded on somewhat, such as sex and sexuality, but I do undertand that this is seen as a private topic for many and can understand why it was left open. I did like that every single topic was left open and given suggestions on how to find out more information. The links at the back of the book were numerous, and also the referencing of books that the author used was well done, allowing parents or girls to read more if they chose to. 

I was glad to see m-to-f trans kids included as “Girls”, after all, if that’s how they identify, then that;s what they are. I do wish there had been a little about f-to-m, but as it is a guide for girls I kind of understand it. 
Speaking of trans and lgbt+, I loved that the author acknowledged that “coming out to yourself” is an important and often difficult step, and how some people would never go further than that, and that that was their decision and totally ok. Also all relationships someone may get into were treated as the same, regardless of the gender/sexual orientation!

Bullying was a recurrent theme, and I liked that the author gave ways to stand up to bullies, as well as genuine examples from her own life, but also that she acknowledged that teachers can be complicite in the bullying, or even be the bully themselves. I think the biggest thing I took away from this was that despite the fact that many Autistic people struggle with communication, it is important to have people you can communicate well with, and to lean on them and keep them in the loop if things are not going well. 

The author gives so much information in this book I could talk all day. Honestly, if you are Autistic, if you have social skills that leave you struggling with communication with your peers, if you have an Autistic child/niece/nephew/grandchild/godchild - read this book. 

Content Warning: Discussions of: bullying, self harm, menstruation
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars.
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This book is written for females with autism, specifically teens, which I am not.  However, it is a really good insight into the troubles they face and a great look at the general world of the autistic teen, so would be helpful for parents and carers, too and ought to be in every school and public library.
From the very beginning, Siena draws a crucial line between the term autistic teen and a teen suffering from autism, and this difference is paramount in how she handles the problems: these are all normal teen problems with a twist.  
Reading through, I came across lots of advice that will resonate with any adult bringing up a teen: 'what you wear doesn't define who you are.  There are things that are so much more important, such as being kind, generous, thoughtful, accepting and forgiving.'  
Segemented into neat sections so the user can easily find their specific area of difficulty, there are loads of very straightforward tips.  After first sympathetically acknowledging the drawbacks teens with autism face in that particular scenario, and without sugar-coating any of the possible pitfalls, Siena swiftly offers positive encouragement and advice without dwelling too long on the problem.

If you, or someone you know, finds life challenging, it's worth reading this book as some elements may well resonate with you.
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I appreciate the intent behind this book, I love that this exists in the world, and in fact I was moved to actual tears because certain passages made me feel so seen and valid and included. Over the years I've grappled with imposter syndrome in relation to my own diagnosis because I'm generally "high-functioning" — though I agree with Castellon, "high-" and "low-functioning" are labels that really do more harm than good — but there are also a million little things that only another autistic girl would ever notice, let alone understand. (This is why #ownvoices representation matters!)

There are several sections devoted to self-esteem and reminding the reader that they're not alone, even though it can feel that way; at times they border on cheesy, but on the whole they seem genuine. I do have some concerns, though: Castellon often uses phrases like "I'm sure you've had a similar experience," which undermines the acknowledgment that autism is a spectrum condition and individual presentations vary greatly, and (ironically) may make readers feel excluded if they haven't had a similar experience. Additionally, some of the "advice" in the mental health sections are very close to "positive thinking will cure your depression," which is inaccurate and unhelpful.

I think this could have used a lot more editing and input from others (both experts and peers); it tackles an extremely wide range of topics, and the author doesn't seem qualified to give advice on all of them.

While I liked the inclusion of the author's personal anecdotes and preferences — making the tone more akin to a chat between peers than a well-meaning lecture from some kind of authority figure — some of the advice is overly simplistic, is phrased in a borderline patronizing way (considering the target audience is the author's peers: teens and preteens), and/or is presented as the single best way to solve a problem when, again, everyone's experience is different. The comics are cute and I love the diverse characters, but I found the dialogue and advice overly simplistic.

The author's privilege also shows in a lot of the tips: not every reader will be able to get/use a laptop to circumvent handwriting issues, or have access to therapy, or switch schools when the bullying gets really bad but administration won't address it. (Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for Castellon that these things worked for her. But it's naive and oblivious to present them as relatively fast-and-easy one-size-fits-all solutions.)

I appreciated the intersectional intentions in the section about LGBTQ+ identity, but since the author self-identifies as a (straight?) cis girl, honestly I was annoyed by the advice about these topics, such as coming out. While I can appreciate the desire to create a widely inclusive resource, it's not really credible advice. If LGBTQ+ autistic teens were consulted in the writing of this section (which would've been a good place to start), they don't seem to be acknowledged; if they weren't, I honestly think it would've been better to omit this section, or at least replace the advice with better-researched resources for the reader to look into. And the presentation of this section that might alienate some readers, because it's addressed primarily to MTF trans people — although this is marketed for autistic girls, it's hardly a stretch to imagine closeted/questioning/nonbinary young people picking it up (or being gifted a copy); and although the LGBTQ+ community is more widely accepted now than it used to be, being queer and autistic still isn't easy.

As a supplement to other available resources — I second Castellon's recommendation of the Smart Girl's Guide series, which were invaluable during my formative years — this book definitely fills in a specific gap. But I would caution against relying on it as a primary guide.
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Whether you're an educator, a parent, a teenager with Autism or have a friend who is, this book is an insightful guide into making middle/high school just that much smoother.

Siena Castellon is a 16 year old with Autism who has run the gamut of experiences, from surviving bullying to learning all about her mental and physical health to starting her own website and offering services to other students with Autism. Her book is a detailed guide, written for teens by teens, of how to live in a neurotypical world when Autism and any other disorders that come with it (like ADHD, dyslexia or dyspraxia). She touches on every subject one could think of, including sexual assault, how to communicate with others and teachers, and how to be your own best advocate.

I definitely have some students who would benefit from a book like this, and I'm excited to share this with them. I hope whatever life brings you, you find a book like this that can make your ride through the teen years smooth and fulfilling!
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Excellently written, accessible and honest guide to Life, actual practical tips and advice. Well handled and very good, not afraid to confront topics head on.
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All I can say is I wish that this book had existed about 25 years ago!  I wasn't diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder until I was 36, but if I'd read this when I was at school it would have been a massive help.

Siena Castellon is a young autism advocate and neurodiversity campaigner, who in this #ownvoices guide gives other autistic girls advice and tips for dealing with their feelings and emotions, their phsyical and mental health, dealing with friendships and relationships, coping with school, managing sensory overload, and so on.  

I particularly loved the way she addressed overlapping conditions like dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, and even more so that she included a section on LGBTQ+ identities  

As I'm out of the target age range I skimmed over some parts (e.g. on periods and dating) but there was even some new and helpful information in here for me.  Highly recommended for any ASD teens in your life, particularly if they are newly diagnosed.
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This book is extremely good for the age it is aimed at, and for those with autism. It's very informative and descriptive in a way that will help. Unfortunately I did not finish this book, but managed to get around halfway through the book before deciding I would not finish it due to no being the target audience, and that it wasn't helpful in terms of helping those with autism. I'm sure some people could take elements of the book and apply it to help others but for me I dont feel like I could do this, but it is still an exceptional book, just a shame I couldnt finish it.
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Despite not being the target audience for this book, I really enjoyed Siena's guide to living on the spectrum. I wasn't diagnosed with ASD until adulthood; however, this is a title I desperately wish I could have had 10-12 years ago as I was going through high school. 

Siena's stories are personal and she has a positive attitude towards a disorder that so many people view with such disdain. For people like me, who have felt inexplicably different for a large majority of my life felt as if someone finally understood. It was so comforting in the simple fact that I'm not alone. 

However, it should be noted that while Siena's story is definitely relatable, it should not be hailed as the end-all-be-all of survival guides. Autism is a spectrum and people's experiences differ. Siena also has a great support system which she relied on to help her through any questions or concerns she had. This isn't always the case. 

Overall, I believe this book is important. It is amazing #ownvoices representation for a topic that I feel is not discussed nearly enough. I highly recommend!
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Thanks netgalley for an ebook copy in advance of publication date. 

5 stars - non fiction, fact based with personal relatable experiences in different situations, for an intended reader audience being females on the autism spectrum.

This survival guide was interesting to see the authors personal perspective of her situations at school and social situations - as although I don't define as a teen on the spectrum ( way too many years since I was a teen in the 90's), as a disability education support employee this book has given me fresh understanding from a teens perspective and has helped me to pick up strategies to relate to several teens I work with. 

I first skimmed the contents - a forward by the illustrious Temple Grandin and subheadings I was interested in were titled "masking to fit in"  (Side note: I cannot believe in over 10 years of employment in the sector I had not heard of the term masking). I also dived into the section titled "how to survive school".  After reading these I then went back to the start and read the book from cover to cover. 
Many of the resources listed are UK based.
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Hi all!
Today I am going to be reviewing The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide (How To Grow Up Awesome and Autistic) by Siena Castellon. I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book from NetGalley. This book will be released on March 19th 2020. It is a non-fiction, YA book for teenagers who identify as autistic or on the spectrum. Now, just a disclaimer, I do not have autism, nor am I on the spectrum. However, I do have friends with autism and have always wanted to learn more about it. As with every review, I am going to be very honest. I cannot spoil this for you because it is non-fiction. I’m just going to discuss my thoughts and if I feel it’s worth checking out. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

 This is a snapshot from my NetGalley account
WHAT THIS BOOK DOES RIGHT 
Firstly, I want to state that this book is written by a teenage girl with autism so nobody can question her authority on the subject (which sadly people have done in the past with other 'own voices' novels). Siena has created this guide predominately for females as she states that there seems to be a myth that girls cannot be autistic - only males can - which is simply not true. There are many topics covered in this book that are exclusively geared towards feminine practices, so I can understand why it isn't for boys. Having said that, anybody can read this and get so much from it. I am living proof. This book opened up my eyes to many misconceptions surrounding autism that I didn't know and am so glad I do now. For example: 1.) People with autism do not like hearing 'oh you seem so normal' or 'you seem to be on the high-functioning end of the spectrum.' According to Siena, people with autism are normal, their brains are just wired differently. To imply they are abnormal is insulting. Furthermore, on a bad day, Siena feels she could be viewed as low-functioning and on a good day, high-functioning. It is not polite to place those with autism into either of these two boxes. 2.) Being autistic is not something to be pitied. She wants everybody on the spectrum to view their autism as a superpower. There are many, many advantages to being wired differently and it's time to change the perceptions of neurotypicals (those who don't have autism) that autism = bad. It can be much more difficult to be autistic in regards to understanding how neurotypical society works, but it does not have to be limiting. 
There are many comics illustrated and captioned by Siena herself within this guide. I love how well they captured her messages and had just as much of an impact as her written chapters. She highlights how isolating autism can be when teachers at school do not make allowances for those with special needs. Not all, but a lot of those in the academic profession have an expectation that students with autism should do their best to 'fit in' instead of creating a comfortable teaching environment that is inclusive for all. She teaches girls with autism to watch out for sexual predators (as those with autism cannot always detect deception), how to handle getting their period (as those with autism are sensitive to certain materials such as sanitary pads), how to handle high school social situations (as those with autism find social cues difficult to navigate) and so much more. I cannot express how happy I am that this book exists and how much it is going to help teenage girls growing up in a mostly neurotypical world. There is even a chapter at the end about celebrating neurodiversity which is incredible. 
WHAT THIS BOOK DOES WRONG
I honestly cannot think of a single thing this book does wrong. I want everybody to read it because I guarantee there is something to learn. Siena is such an inspiring human being and I'm proud of her for not only creating this guide but sharing so much personal information in order to help others. I know that wouldn't have been easy. 
OVERALL STAR RATING 
I gave this book 5/5 stars. It was fantastic and kept my rapt attention the entire time. 
If you are interested, you can order a copy here.
I hope you enjoyed this honest review. Let me know your thoughts down below. I appreciate all feedback. Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
Disclaimer: This post contains links to my Book Depository Affiliate which helps fund my blog, I am not being paid or sponsored for this post/products – all my thoughts/opinions are my own
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5 stars!

*quick disclaimer: I am not the intended audience for this book. This book is meant to be a guide for teenage girls with autism and that is not me. I do have a family member who is an autistic teenage girl and I used what I have seen her go through to help me while reading this book. *

TW: There were "triggers" mentioned in this book but, they were laid out factually and professionally.

This book was very insightful. I learned a lot. I had no idea how much autism can really affect someone despite living with an autistic person. Siena Castellon gave many personal stories and instances from her life to help make this book easier to understand and personal to her readers. I am impressed by the maturity of the writing and I see this being very helpful for many girls. I have multiple people I am buying this book for because it really did go in detail on many aspects of living with autism in a way that will be beneficial to the girls and their families who read this. Well done!

I would recommend that anyone with someone close to them that is an autistic teenage girl consider reading this book because it can give you insight that they might not yet be able to communicate to you themselves.
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After reading this book the first thing I want to say is that I loved Sienna Castellon and I wish her everything good and pure in this world!

I absolutely loved reading this book and here are some of the reasons:

- #Ownvoices - Sienna is both a teenage girl and autistic.

-Makes it clear that being neurotypical is just one way of being, not the only and certainly not the “right” way

- every term (medical, LGBTQ,...) with which some people might not be familiar with was immediately explained in a simple and straightforward way.

- It’s an extremely broad guide going through everything from clothes, puberty (I particularly enjoyed this), friendships, relationships (a big emphasis was put on explaining consent and every teacher in the world should read if not the entire book (they really should!!!) then just those paragraphs because Sienna did a better job of it than any teacher I ever had or heard of), family, society, school, bullying, discrimination...

- The illustrations are a great way of educating people about not only what being autistic is and feels like but also to contradict the misconception that all autistic people are white boys. (Disability rep. is also present.)

- Autism is a spectrum, not something that is unchanging and completely invalidates the “high” and “low” functioning labels.

This entire book is written in such a kind and measured way, sharing experiences and tips that work for the author as well as several others that might work for others. 

I felt like Sienna was talking to me as a friend and I felt so thankful for what she was sharing with me. I know that this book seems to be aimed at other autistic girls but I honestly think that if neurotypicals read it, even if you think that you don’t know anyone that is autistic, you could learn to be a better and more understanding human being and isn't that what we all want?

Thank you to Jessica Kingsley Publishers and NetGalley for this DRC.

10/10
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The Spectrum Girl’s Survival Guide by Siena Castellon Insightful read written by a young lady on the spectrum. Her advice is for girls like her, but those who work in the educational field or friends/family of those on the spectrum would benefit from reading this book. Great read.
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Four stars

Castellon provides a step-by-step, as the title suggests, survival guide for girls on the Autism Spectrum. I love how organized, detailed, and reader-friendly this manual is. In addition to an initial clear presentation, I kept thinking that the format would make it so easy for a reader to return to specific sections for refreshers as needed. 

Though I am not part of the target audience, I wanted to read this work because I thought it might help give me insight into some of my students. I teach college and regularly come across students who self-identify in this way. Along with gaining insight into the varied ways in which a person on the spectrum might experience the world, I was pleasantly surprised to find so much more here. 

There are helpful descriptions of a number of potential co-occurring options. These come with suggested accommodations sections. While I am fortunate to work at a school that does a great job with accommodations (and in a geographic location where we focus on this more than many places), I am always interested to know what I can do better as an individual instructor to support my students' successes. I found this book so helpful on that front. 

Because I feel so removed from the intended audience, I'm struggling a bit to rate this book. That noted, as a member of the unintended audience, I found it extremely effective. I'll be recommending this to my students and colleagues to help build understanding of themselves and of our respective communities. 

Thanks to the author for writing with so much candor and being willing to provide much-needed insight!
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While I am not on the spectrum and therefore my opinion cannot be considered entirely valid, I can say from the perspective of someone who knows many people on the spectrum and who is in school to become a special needs educator that this appears to be a well written and helpful book. I love that it is own voice and is from the perspective of a teen girl rather than an adult. 

I feel that it is not my place to put a rating on this book as I am not the intended audience.

I received this book as an e-arc from Netgalley. This does not affect my opinions.
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I #amreading The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide by @NCWeek on #NetGalley. It covers just about everything you could think of that might affect a teen girl (incl trans). Impressed by how informative it is, even down to very basic things, without patronising or preaching #Autism https://t.co/C1bJZ4eLN9
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