My Summer Reading: Autism in Heels by Jennifer Cook
During my career as an Occupational Therapist, I have worked with many autistic girls and have learned so much from each of their stories. The girls I have worked with have often been misunderstood and diagnosis has often come late. For a number of these girls, years of ‘Masking’ or ‘Camouflaging’ (suppressing of autistic behaviours) has taken its toll and has negatively impacted their emotional wellbeing.
During my summer break I read and was super impressed by ‘Autism in Heels’ by Jennifer Cook (previously Jennifer Cook O’Toole). Jennifer was diagnosed with Autism at age 35 and in her book she bravely and honestly shares her life journey pre and post diagnosis.
Personal accounts such as Jennifer’s are so important in helping us to develop our understanding and to adapt/update the support we offer as professionals. Jennifer describes how autistic girls often have the same interests as their non-autistic peers but that the level of intensity they have in these interests may be far higher. She also gives clear insights into her experiences of the sensory environment and how this has affected/ continues to affect her daily life.
Jennifer’s book is another hugely important step forward in understanding how autistic girls may present differently to boys and in reframing autism as a difference rather than a disorder. I hope that Jennifer’s book will empower autistic girls and women to recognise and share their strengths. I also hope that it will increase the ‘autism-friendly’ support provided by all those around them.
Jennifer’s book made me laugh and it made me cry. It made me think of all the wonderful autistic girls that I have been fortunate enough to meet, each one of them individual and each one of them amazing!