I don’t think I might be autistic.
Three years ago, after noting his developmental delays and observing certain behaviors, I suspected that Philip might be autistic. When it came time to seek a diagnosis for him, he was referred to an autism center at a children’s hospital, and I was given the names of several websites where I could do research about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As overwhelming as the process was, I was comforted that the center guided us to the various autism resources available to parents.
Cynthia Kim is a mother like me. When she was 42, she began to suspect that autism might explain certain behaviors and experiences, too. When she went looking for answers, she discovered many specialists, books and websites that could tell her all about autism in children. Unfortunately, Kim wasn’t looking for help deciding whether her daughter was autistic or not.
Cynthia Kim thought she might be autistic.
After struggling to find information and support as an undiagnosed adult, Kim wrote a book to help others called I Think I Might Be Autistic: A Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis and Self-Discovery for Adults.
I “met” the other Cynthia K via her blog, Musings of an Aspie. A few weeks ago on her Facebook page, she offered free copies of her book to volunteers willing to write a review. I signed up and received my copy in the mail last Friday.
My first reaction upon seeing the book was one of relief. I primarily enjoy books in their audio form. My little sensory seeker usually wants to use mommy as a crash pad and/or jungle gym; once he falls asleep at night, there’s no guarantee he’ll stay in bed until morning. Therefore, I rarely get to sit down with a book uninterrupted when he is awake and have learned to go to bed when he does. That’s why I was happy to see that Kim’s sleek, compact book was only 110 pages, including the index.
Despite its brevity, the book feels very thorough. The first two chapters are a great introduction to ASD. Kim begins with the formal, technical language of the American Psychology Association’s Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but then she explains the diagnostic criteria by posing questions that center on specific examples for each one.
Once Kim has explained ASD, she takes us through her own process of realizing she might be autistic, self-diagnosing and then getting an “official” diagnosis. One might think the book would end there, but Kim goes on to write about what to expect and options to consider after receiving a diagnosis. Each chapter concludes with bullet points that summarize the section. Throughout, Kim adds the caveat that she is relating her personal journey and that what she experienced might not hold true for everyone.
Even though I’m not autistic, I found this book to be useful. That may seem obvious since I’m the parent of an autistic child. While it’s true that this guide can help parents like myself gain insight into their children, I think reading Kim’s book could be an exercise in empathy for everyone. I don’t think I might be autistic, but I found myself nodding my head when I was reading through the list of traits. I have yet to meet a person without some kind of sensory sensitivity or who always communicates without flaws or who has perfect relationships or who has never made a social misstep. I think everyone can relate to these items. Once that connection is established, it makes it a little easier to understand how challenging life might be for autistic children and adults when these difficulties are combined and intensified. In other words, reading Kim’s book goes beyond raising awareness of autism-it encourages acceptance.