cover image Autism in Heels: The Untold Story of a Female Life on the Spectrum

Autism in Heels: The Untold Story of a Female Life on the Spectrum

Jennifer O’Toole. Skyhorse, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5107-3284-1

In this chipper memoir–cum–inspirational guide, O’Toole (the Asperkids series) documents life with Asperger syndrome, a classification within autism spectrum disorder. O’Toole’s primary audience is girls and women on the spectrum, who are often underdiagnosed and “camouflage” their condition. Her book aims to help them and their families and friends see autism as “a neurological, not pathological, profile” and recognize the gendered ways in which that profile presents itself by using examples from her own life. O’Toole details her own childhood spent obsessing over Little House on the Prairie and the Smurfs, tirelessly rearranging her mother’s nativity set, and pleasing adults but alienating other kids. As an adult, her Asperger’s left her vulnerable to an eating disorder and abusive relationships. Each chapter includes a synthesis of research or explanation of autistic traits, and references to her current work as a motivational speaker. She offers encouraging, if trite, adages throughout: “I believe that kitchens are for dance parties (and brownies). That there is no such thing as too much glitter or too many ‘I love you’s.’ That life is an endless feast of adventure and possibility and wonder.” Regardless, O’Toole’s compassion and enthusiasm are infectious. (Aug.)