Nerdy, shy and socially inappropriate. By Cynthia Kim

Nerdy, shy and socially inappropriate: a user guide to an Asperger life is a book by Cynthia Kim writer of the blog Musings of an Aspie. Unlike other books I’ve read recently on Aspergers, this one was like sitting down with one of the understanding friends I’d so like to have handy in real life. So much of it tallies with my experiences growing up undiagnosed, although it seems that Cynthia had a family environment more tolerant of the differences she displayed. (I think my family mostly wanted me to be happy, and couldn’t quite appreciate that I could be happy *and* different. And solitary. And bookish. And so on.)

One of the major characteristics of many post diagnosis books appears to be a feeling of woe – in my recently arrived post diagnosis pack, there’s a diagram of the transition phases including denial, anger, sadness and so on. What if you don’t feel anything negative? For Cynthia, and for me, the autism (or aspergers) diagnosis clicks into place, and sheds light on things we’d never understood. This is a positive thing, and I’ve not a lot of time for people trying to tell me I should think otherwise.

Of course there are differences between my experiences and the authors. We aren’t one and the same person, despite the many similarities, not least the martial arts interest. But this book is a personal memoir, as well as a practical guide, and it never feels exclusive. It’s never telling me my experience of me is wrong, if you see what I mean, just that our experiences might be different.

There are also lots of factual/ informative sections which were particularly interesting. And hints and tips on how to manage various of the challenges that come along with this different way of processing life. I’m going back to reread the chapter on Executive Function, and then I might be handing it out to various other people I know struggling with those aspects.

All in all, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, particularly to anyone diagnosed in adulthood, or just wanting to understand the aspergers experience. I would say that I found it particularly useful covering the female experience, but I don’t think it’s written in such a way that men would get nothing from it. (Not being a man, I can’t really tell you that definitively though.) (I have felt that some books written by male authors are exclusionary – there are aspects of life that they just gloss over.)

So, go buy it. Preferably from the nice affiliate links at the top of the post. Thank you. (Disclosure: book was received for review from JKP books.)

If you’d like to read more of my personal experience of diagnosis, my post So, autism, is a good place to start.

And if you’re interested in books about adult women and autism, you might also enjoy Pretending to be normal.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers
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  1. Hands down the best aspergers book I’ve read, but given how much Cynthia’s blog posts resonate that wasn’t a surprise. For me, the most important section was the feelings constellations around anger. I have never known anyone who deals with difficult emotions like I do, until I read that section. I want to send it to all the people who’ve experienced that side of me, and just say ‘this’. Of course I won’t, but it’s enough for me to know I’m not alone in this. I will reread this book regularly I suspect, and cannot recommend it enough.

    • For me the executive function section really hit home. But yes, so much in it, and definitely one I’m going to turn to time and again.

  2. Yes, I got a lot from that too. Just been mulling it over as I attempt to sort out my many piles, again and I am somewhat perplexed. How is it that my brain can love cataloging and organising – ie all my music (special interest) was catalogued and organised alphabetically when I was younger (how the tapes with various artists annoyed me – ‘various artists’as a category was not satisfying); I loved to organise my wRdrobe by colour; adored any kind of filing system etc; still enjoy colour sorting things like loombands ‘blush’ and yet… I can’t organise a damn thing. I was an appalling secretary – whatever possessed me to take on that role in the first place is beyond me now. It’s utterly frustrating to have a brain that seems to constantly throw up such paradoxes.

  3. Rather, I can create the systems but I can’t maintain them.

    • I can’t create the systems at home. I’ve always been personally disorganised. When I was a programmer and support team leader, my desk always looked like there’d been a paper blizzard – but I always knew what everyone was doing, remembered every bug we’d worked on, and could go directly to any part of the system to find and fix code. How does that work then? I say my brain is Object Oriented – but families aren’t!

      • I was thinking last night, after I read this, that actually, I think you’re pretty good at creating the systems – if you read through your Montessori post as an example, those are systems you’ve created, and certainly in the short term,you appear to be maintaining them. Your family films night is another system that popped into my head. There were others that came to me last night but that escape me now, of course! The spoon post makes sense in this regard – the unquantifiable impact of other people on the system equation is part of where my attempts fall down, or perhaps that’s an excuse – Dave would certainly remind me that my life was just as chaotic before children as it is now.

        I think I know what you mean about your object oriented brain; I suspect mine is similar because I certainly recognised your desk description and the ability to know who/what was where etc It is so bloody frustrating, and I suppose this is part of the reason for low self esteem – high intelligence, coupled with obvious ability for commonly perceived difficult task, gives people an impression of almost superhuman ability, yet when the things people, generally, can do without thinking we find nigh on impossible, it can make you (me) feel utterly incompetent plus I think others can view it as laziness at best or arrogance at worst – too good to be bothered kind of attitude, which does enormous damage, IMO. My self talk when I screw up (constantly) is horrific – yesterday I attempted to correct it by telling myself that actually, I’m doing bloody fantastically well given all I have to deal with. Of course I won’t remember to do that more than once or twice and the same old self abuse will continue to eat away at me. Hmm this should probably be an email not public! Hey ho.

        Ps I completely get the tax return panic. I have a ball of worry sat in my stomach about that exact thing 🙁

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