Information seeking and challenging the concept of the unreliable narrator


Information seeking and challenging the concept of the unreliable narrator:  finding autism, finding the true self by Penny Andrews and Marika Soulsby-Kermode

 

Where we’re coming from

It is hard to explain how constantly being challenged by the world about the way your brain works, the way you express yourself, and even something as basic as how your body moves, feels.

 

Can’t you just stop that?

No.

Can’t you just be normal?

No.

 

No one believed us, so we stopped believing ourselves. We began to think ourselves mad. We were diagnosed as mentally ill, riddled with psychosomatic nonsense, difficult, and our own testimony about how we felt and acted was deemed unreliable. The sound and the fury, signifying nothing.

We tried to cover it all up, to appear as normal as possible. Sometimes it worked, sometimes we couldn’t keep a lid on it. Then something clicked. We realised something else was wrong, that there was a diagnosis that actually did apply to us, and set out to get that verified externally so we would be believed.

That was harder than we thought.

 

Asperger Syndrome is the name commonly given to a form of autism. It is a lifelong neurological disability that affects how people see the world, process information and relate to others.

It affects social communication, social interaction and social imagination. So, how we communicate with others, how we interact with others, how we predict (or rather can’t) others’ behaviour - which can be mistaken for a lack of empathy. There are other associated characteristics, like intense special interests, sensory processing problems, anxiety and difficulty with changes to routines.

There are positive attributes too, like harnessing those special interests for focus and attention to detail, and a rare kind of honesty when directly questioned.                

It has long been accepted that is is more difficult to diagnose women and girls with autism. There are stereotypes to overcome, including within the medical profession, partly due to most of the literature discussing males and most research looking for male autistic participants. Simon Baron-Cohen’s theory of the extreme male brain is increasingly popular. The typical special interests of autistic girls are more socially acceptable - animals, fashion, pop music - and women are socialised to be kind and forced into playing well with others, whereas ‘boys will be boys’.

 

The difficulty with being subjected to this situation is the enormous amount of negative reinforcement that needs to be fought against in order to break free of it. Bullying and other sources of difficulty lay a foundation which causes us to constantly call the authenticity of our lived experiences into question, and the appropriation of diagnostic tools such as the Autism Quotient as memes by some online communities only further serves to trivialize the difficulties being faced.

 

Everyone’s a little bit autistic.

I’m making something out of nothing, everyone does that.

 

Without appropriate support, this cycle and constant questioning can continue indefinitely. Even after an individual is screened or diagnosed, this mode of thinking often persists: ‘No-one noticed any of this for thirty years, so how can I trust in this label?’

Ironically, it is the years of conditioning brought about by living our lives as a neurological minority which paint us into this corner: we learn to suppress certain behaviors in order to ‘pass’ as best we can, as a means to get by and meet the expectations of the world around us. As a result, symptoms become masked and may go unnoticed. For example, kicking one’s legs or sitting on one’s hands stands out less than rocking, but still stems from the same need. Flicking fingers are shoved into coat pockets; the lining may quickly wear out and become destroyed, but that is a small price to pay when no other options seem available. These are but a few examples of dysfunctional coping strategies which only serve to exhaust an individual.


Where we’re going to

There are many reasons for obtaining a diagnosis, and some use the label for practical reasons without accepting disability as part of their selves. As Campbell (2009, p. 27) says,

Without a classification or diagnosis it is very difficult to have certain needs arising out of bodily or mental differences recognised … the processes of identity formation cannot be separated from the individual who is brought into being through those very subjectifying processes.

Personally, I (Penny) needed the diagnosis to understand myself and stop punishing myself, to accept myself as disabled and know how to work around it. The benefits of reasonable adjustments and so on came later, but I was very aware that the choice of whether or not to pursue a formal diagnosis, and whether that diagnosis would be NHS or privately obtained, would not just impact on my feelings of legitimacy but also on how my disability would be viewed by educational institutions, funders, employers and so on. All kinds of people apply conditions to disability, for reasons of bureaucracy and prejudice but also to obtain some kind of critical perspective on what it means. Is this person authentically impaired? They need written evidence plus the equivalent of peer review or an impact factor to make that judgement.

For me (Mari), the primary impetus was my love of my job. My role is very focused around metadata management, so skills such as my attention to detail and ability to systemize and organize information into logical hierarchies are a natural fit, and I find the work very rewarding. The problem is that until early last year I was fighting what felt like a losing battle against migraines, nosebleeds, constant fatigue and low-grade fevers/infections. These were clearly the symptoms of stress, but I couldn’t pinpoint their source: I liked my job. It was Penny who initially suggested the possibility that I might have Asperger Syndrome, and as she has known me well for some time, I took her opinion very seriously. As I researched, I began to see intimately familiar experiences (which I had never shared with anyone) being described, which was a very surreal experience for me.

From a more practical standpoint, I also saw the possibility for reasonable accommodations to be made for me at work. I was beginning to find names for pain I had no idea how to describe (or simply thought everyone else experienced but was better at tolerating than me). My difficulty with high-pitched monitor whines was no longer being 'too sensitive' but rather 'sensory processing disorder'. My tendency to hear words spoken to me as garbled at times wasn't my being inattentive, but rather 'auditory processing delay'.

 Overload image

‘Overload’ by Mari

 

Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) from Miguel Jiron on Vimeo.

Many of the accommodations I needed were fairly simple and possible within the scope of my role: noise isolating headphones, written rather than verbal instructions, the opportunity to telecommute occasionally to recuperate, doodling in meetings (which helps me focus on conversation). Obtaining these accommodations was my most immediate goal when I began on this journey; I did not wish to feel as if was being forced to choose between my job and my health. After years of doubting my sensory perceptions, the terminology I was coming across in my research, and the specificity with which the symptoms were outlined, finally made me feel as if my pain was being given a degree of legitimacy. This gave me the courage and emotional reserves to pursue a diagnosis in earnest.

Doodle entitled Monthly Meeting 

Doodle by Mari

 

My experience has, in some ways, been the reverse of Penny's. Although my journey began out of an immediate concern over my employment, I have found myself significantly re-evaluating my sense of self throughout this process. As my screening and diagnosis have been extremely recent (six months and a week ago, respectively), I am still very much in the midst of coming to terms with my identity as a disabled person, and what that means.

 

The first stop on the journey

Both of us came to the idea of being autistic via female friends, rather than medical professionals or mental health services. Fictional and media representations of autistic people came later. Penny had read the experiences of her friend K, who had detailed the process of seeking and obtaining a diagnosis on LiveJournal, and Mari’s journey began via a suggestion from Penny.

It’s true that once you know a lot about autism, you start seeing it everywhere. Not the ‘everyone is on the spectrum’ thing, as the spectrum is just a way of explaining the range of abilities people with autism have; it is not like the Kinsey scale. However, you begin to recognise the signs in other people, and I (Penny) started to notice it in myself and later in Mari.

 

Seeing myself in K’s accounts frightened and excited me simultaneously. I felt like a hypochondriac, the sort of person who puts generic symptoms into a search engine and comes out with 87 different possible life-threatening illnesses. My information literacy and critical thinking skills made me doubt myself intensely with this new possibility, but my curious mind meant I sought every kind of information going and then proceeded to assess, collate and discard whatever I found. My access to subscription resources via the Open University, where I was a student at the time, and my ability to understand and work with those sources, was invaluable. There is a lot of quackery and misinformation around autism.

I usually find it very difficult to see myself in others’ accounts of themselves, which I later learned is fairly typical of autistic people, but what K wrote made sense to me in a way that the endless accounts written by non-autistic people about their child or sibling scattered across the media never did. I think the final thing to click was K’s experiences with gender, which mirrored my own, and I ended up discussing this in detail during my diagnostic assessment.

 Watch comic strip: story, Penny and artist Steve Horry

Watch comic strip: story, Penny and artist Steve Horry

 

I came to the understanding that few ‘phases’ of my growing-up were just passing fancy; rather, all were ways of trying to understand and cope with the messages I was receiving about the world. My dislike of certain textures was not fussiness but sensory overload I was unable to suppress. I tried to make the world logical. Girls are not like this, therefore I am not a girl. I like this person, therefore I must dress like them even if it does not suit me. I tried to learn the rules and be normal, and consistently got it wrong, as people are not consistent and do not constantly analyse the world the way I do. I began to understand this, through reading both personal accounts and journal articles. I also began to understand why I did not like uncertainty, why I checked my watch and panicked constantly if my husband was late home, why I got so upset if plans had to change. I was not throwing a tantrum.

I (Mari) had spent a great deal of time researching for several months, and was voracious as Penny in doing so. This was time well spent, as it intellectually armed me with a specific array of information, which I would eventually bring to my GP (and later, my caseworker with the National Autistic Society).  However, for me, there was still very much a disconnect between intellectual and emotional acceptance of the possibility that I might be autistic, and until this gap was bridged I found it very difficult to vocalize my concerns with a medical professional. My concerns were not unfounded: I had once tried to describe my experiences of synaesthesia and my constant need to move/fidget to a counsellor while at university in order to try and make sense of them, only to have those concerns dismissed as 'trying to be different' and 'just nerves' respectively.

Like Penny, my experience was riddled with self-doubt. My husband said that at the rate and thoroughness with which I was researching the symptoms of various mental illnesses (including hypochondria itself!), we should just buy a copy of the DSM. Later on, my support worker would repeatedly point out that my autistic traits were incredibly obvious, including my insistence on asking her specifically what she meant every time she said that.

In other words, my need to research, evaluate and assess autism only proved my autism further.

'Information seeking’ in any form is a matter of associating one concept with another. As autistics, the associations we form are seen as unusual and thus often misunderstood -- but this does not invalidate their worth. A critical advantage offered by dialogue, community and conversation in online spaces is that it does not need to be limited to verbal (or even written) formats.The ‘missing link’ which allowed me to explore the idea of being diagnosed and receiving support was not an article or text, but rather a response to a sound clip I sent to Penny.

Music and sound are a tactile/kinesthetic as well as auditory experience for me, and I have a tendency to listen to certain things (often repeatedly) in order to calm myself down. I sent this clip to her as an example, and in return she sent me a YouTube link to a song which evoked the same sensory response, despite objectively sounding very different to the original clip. Penny was able to understand the sensory association immediately, with no need for verbal explanation. Being able to communicate effortlessly through my ‘native language’ was a key moment of validation which provided a buffer against the transactional costs of seeking help early on.

Lamp sound doodle by Mari 

‘Lamp sound’ by Mari

 

 

Travelling in parallel

Mari: I am aware that while I have faced many obstacles along this journey, I have also been afforded a great deal of privilege in my life that mitigates many other difficulties I could have encountered. This is precisely the problem; often the most critical and useful information is inaccessible - financially or otherwise. In addition,  I had understanding, compassionate medical professionals who listened to me and my concerns - many other women do exactly the same only to have their concerns dismissed. I was well aware that the research I carried out and the information I gathered would not guarantee a diagnosis itself, but the reassurance it provided on this journey has been invaluable.

Penny: I wonder how different my life would have been if I hadn’t been considered clever and if I hadn’t been so tenacious and persistent. I could read, write, pass exams and sometimes shut up. That got me through school, in the end, but not through university the first two times. Had I been less academically promising, and less able to copy non-autistic people for short periods to get by, would I have been diagnosed earlier? Perhaps not, given the era and my gender, and my education meant I could understand the process later. It also meant I could navigate my way through some areas of my life as though I was not disabled, even though this was exhausting, and when I was asked to provide a list of reasonable adjustments for work with no guidelines whatsoever, I was able to research and articulate the help I may need.

We understand the internet, we understand information, we understand academic papers and monographs and we understand blogging and social media. These things helped us in our journeys, but we know we are lucky.

Ladder sketch 

Snake Sketch

Snake and ladder sketches by Mari

 

Just the beginning

Diagnosis is very recent and raw for Mari. I (Penny) am two years in at the time of writing, so feel I can describe the process for you.

 

I am sent a developmental questionnaire about my childhood and adolescence, to pass on to a parent or someone who knew me well when I was younger. I post this to my mother, with instructions to send it directly to the clinic. On the day, I am encouraged to bring my husband and mum, so the psychologist can ask them more questions and also so they can be there when I receive my diagnosis. This is not just to support me, but so that they understand why it has been made.

In the weeks before the appointment, I do not sleep and constantly feel sick. I fear being told I am a fraud. I am myself suspicious of people on the autism forums I visit online who have proudly diagnosed themselves. Some have found the diagnostic process too long and difficult and pulled out, some have been rejected for assessment referrals by their GPs and psychiatrists, some do not seek medical confirmation at all. I am certain that I want an official diagnosis, on the NHS, even if I was able to go private - which I am not able to afford. I want to trust in the label and know that I (and my money) have no influence on its application.

My GP reassures me that if it is not Asperger Syndrome, it is not nothing, and I will not be sent home with a flea in my ear. I still feel sick.

I get to the clinic, and the psychologist tells me the appointment will take two hours. I am distracted early on by the cockeyed radiator cover behind her. I tell her this, worrying, and that I am sorry for looking past her head rather than into her eyes, and she smiles. I know it is going to be okay.

Radiator comic strip 

Radiator comic strip: story, Penny and artist Steve Horry

She asks me many questions about childhood, university, dropping out, work, my life now, why I seek a diagnosis (quality of life, mainly). Half an hour before the end, she calls my husband and mother into the room, and asks them some more questions, including how my husband and I met, how our marriage is going etc. It is all intimate and scary. Finally, the psychologist says she has no doubt in her mind and that I have Asperger Syndrome. I nearly cry with relief.

She hands me a brown envelope with a leaflet about the NAS, a list of books to read and a sheet about the Autism Act 2010, which says I am entitled to a social services assessment. I later look on my council’s website and find that the assessment I am entitled to, as everyone is, but help I am not as I do not meet the criteria.

A few weeks later I am sent a one-page letter I can use when people need proof of my diagnosis, and a full diagnostic report. A copy is sent to my GP and my psychiatrist, who sees me one last time to check I am OK. The last part of the report tells me that I should focus on the positives of my condition. I finally start to believe in the diagnosis.

Gone exploring

Misdiagnosis is not uncommon for individuals in situations like ours, as we lack a vocabulary or frame of reference to adequately articulate what we experience. Yes, you are reading these words before you on this page, but like so much else, our capacity to string these sentences together is reliant on our mastery of systemizing and pattern-matching. So much of what we experience cannot be expressed through words.

Naturally, this inability to fully describe how we relate to the world can make childhood a bewildering experience. Attempts at ‘translating’ are often rebuffed, even though no malice is involved: ‘No, the television is on mute, it isn’t making any noise’. Time spent in school becomes terrifying, each day filled with sentences like  ‘Days don’t have colors, you [slur],’ or fears that you will be hit, spat on or have your possessions taken by your peers.

When something as basic as your sensory input is repeatedly called into question, the result is a profound lack of understanding of one’s own identity. This can result in anxiety and depression, which can significantly impact quality of life.

Attempts to make sense of these difficulties within a clinical context can also result in incorrect and possibly damaging diagnoses. For example, certain types of repetitive behavior (which are a key part of the autistic profile) can often be misattributed to conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder by an uninformed professional. This pathologizing of characteristics which are not necessarily harmful to the individual also severely impairs the sense of self.

The autistic activist known as ArecBalrin wrote in the comments of a June 2013 Guardian article that often we are not able to articulate our experiences because we are not approached in the right way. Teenager Naoki Higashida  uses a Q&A format in part of his book, recently translated by David Mitchell, and Balrin says: 

It might not occur to him yet that there is something wrong with the questions and that he can challenge some of the assumptions implicit in them.

One of the assumptions is that the autistic perspective or response is always defective, when often it is logical and people of the neurotypical phenotype are the ones acting illogically.

It is considered rude in many situations to say what you mean and mean what you say - socially, we are supposed to dance around issues. Someone you know spills your coffee at work. They offer to pay for a replacement. The general understanding for many neurotypical people is that the offer is in itself the reparation for the damage caused, and the expectation in most contexts is that you will smile and tell them not to worry about it. All of this is subtext. Logically, the person who spills the drink should not make an offer if they hope it will not be accepted, and the person whose drink was spilled should not say it does not matter if they were really looking forward to that drink. Of course, these ‘rules’ are not hard and fast, because everything in the non-autistic world is ambiguous; so as soon as you learn one thing is true, then something contradicts it.

Much like English grammar.

 

Timelines

Penny

January 2010: Read post on LiveJournal from K about how she might have Asperger Syndrome, and why she thinks that. I have heard of it before, but usually only in the context of children and teenagers or of adult males who live with their mothers. What she says rings a bell, and we are very similar in some ways. I start frantically reading up on the subject and watching every TV programme and movie I can find on the subject. I read endless blogs and lurk on forums set up for people with autism and their families. I go through the Autism tag on the Guardian online and read every piece for the past five years.

 

February 2010: Read post on LiveJournal from K saying that she has actually been diagnosed with AS. I make a list of everything from my childhood onwards that may be relevant, behaviours and experiences, and make an appointment with my new GP. He tells me he can only think of one or two local psychiatrists who believe in adult Asperger’s diagnosis, but agrees to a referral.

 

March 2010: Read a link from K to a 2008 article in the National Autistic Society magazine, then called Communication, by Dale Yaull-Smith. The paragraph that resonated with K most also hit me like an electric shock:

I often wondered why I found areas of my life, such as planning, decision-making, motivation and styles of thinking, so difficult while others appeared to deal with these areas of life with ease. I observed people and tried to copy some physical behaviours e.g. body language which I have found exhausting because, with hindsight, I know that my concentration has been fundamentally focused on trying to understand and interpret other people's behaviours and intentions. As a result, I managed to get by on a superficial level but never really grasped functioning socially on a deeper level. (Yaull-Smith, 2008)

 

October 2010: First of three appointments with a psychiatrist, the only person who can refer me to the tertiary diagnostic service at Sheffield and apply to the primary care trust for the funding to go to another area for diagnosis. I have to chase this funding decision up, so does he.

 

April 2011: I read an interview with Paddy Considine in the Telegraph, where he explains that his Asperger’s diagnosis was a relief. He is a performer, I am a performer. It helps to know that someone I admire enormously has this, was diagnosed late and approaches performance in a similar way. Later he is interviewed for radio, and I love him even more.

 

May 2011: Diagnosis.

 

July 2011: Participant in autism research at University of Sheffield, where I am told that I am in the top 5% for the verbal reasoning, pattern matching and other intelligence-measuring tasks the researchers gave me, but ‘obviously autistic’ in the social and storytelling tasks. I was reminded of the storytelling task in October 2012, when asked to play an information literacy game with story cubes in Andrew Walsh’s games in libraries session at Library Camp. I couldn’t do that, either - my reading of the abstract objects was too literal.

 

November 2011: Apply for, and am accepted for, a position as Ambassador for the National Autistic Society. I go on to appear in the national and local media multiple times, help launch an employment campaign at the House of Commons, work with my local council on issues affecting adults with autism and be invited to Downing Street in recognition of my advocacy work.

 

 

 

July 2012: Try to get support from the Open University in my final degree project. Staff are part-time and hard to contact. Academic staff refuse to change any criteria. Tutor accuses me of blackmailing him when I ask for assistance to fulfil my potential. It takes 7 weeks to get any help. Two weeks before the deadline I finally see a support worker, who only knows how to work with dyslexic and low ability students. In December, I will find out that my marks actually went down from the pre-support draft report mark, denying me a First in my degree by a whisker.

 

August 2012: Begin my first job (fixed-term contract) in a library, which is also my first job with reasonable adjustments in place. By Christmas I learn how to thrive in the right working environment.

 

January 2013: Watch the Temple Grandin HBO movie on Sky. Freaked out by the scene in the cafeteria - the director has shown exactly how it feels to be overwhelmed by sensory stimuli, and elsewhere in the film why autistic meltdowns happen.

 

June 2013: Read Guardian feature with David Mitchell and Naoki Higashida. Higashida sets more neurons firing in my brain with this on why he repeats questions and actions, which rings so true for me:

I imagine a normal person's memory is arranged continuously, like a line. My memory, however, is more like a pool of dots. I'm always ‘picking up’ these dots – by asking my questions – so I can arrive back at the memory that the dots represent. (Higashida, 2013)

 

Diagnosis is not the end, it is only the beginning of understanding. I have never been able to articulate what Higashida says so beautifully, but I experience it all the time.

 

Mari

September 2011: Period of illness at work which does not seem to improve. Suggestion from Penny to consider Asperger Syndrome. She and I would engage in several conversations on the topic via e-mail and Twitter over the course of the next 22 months throughout the course of the journey.

 

November 2011: Newsround: My Autism & Me transmits on CBBC. The segment, which was presented by a young girl with Asperger Syndrome, was geared towards a younger audience, but information was presented in such a clear and straightforward way that I found it difficult to ignore. Additionally, while I saw a great deal of my younger self in Rosie (the presenter) it was actually footage of her younger brother (who is nonverbal) engaging in various repetitive behaviors which really drove the point home. I had to leave the room because his actions were too overwhelming to watch at times.

Newsround stress doodle by Mari 

‘Newsround stress’ by Mari

 

 

December 2011: Read Attwood book, photocopy and highlight relevant pages. Research his work further, and study his website. Literally gasp and drop my iPad at this paragraph when I see it, and begin to cry:

Some girls may not seek integration but escape into imagination. If you are not successful with your peers, you can try to find an alternative world where you are valued and appreciated. The girl may identify with a fictional character such as Harry Potter or Hermione Granger, who faces adversity but has special powers and friends. If she feels lonely, then imaginary friends can provide companionship, support and comfort. There can be an interest in ancient civilizations to find an old world in which you would feel at home, or another country such as Japan where you would be accepted and of like mind or even another planet with an interest in science fiction or a special and intense interest in the traditional fantasy worlds of witches, fairies and mythology. (2011, Online)

 

I'm an avid fan of Tolkien and many other fantasy intellctual properties/franchises, have the equivalent of a first degree in Latin, and have been an Anglophile since the age of eleven. My dream as a child was to move to the UK - and so I did. Needless to say, this paragraph had a profound effect on me.

 

January 2012: Printed and highlighted relevant sections from NAS website to take to GP appointment.


Feb 2012: 1st GP visit. GP took my concerns seriously based on the thoroughness of the information I had presented (see previous two points), though suggested it might be ‘just anxiety’. In the time leading up to this appointment, I felt as if I had to do homework in order to present my case.

 

Aug 2012: No word on referral. Visited GP again, who was very upset on my behalf. It appeared that my case had been lost in bureaucracy, as I needed a referral outside of my local NHS area. Both my GP and I wrote letters to the relevant parties to speed along my referral, and my GP had me fill out a quality of life questionnaire from the World Health Organization to augment my case.

 

Nov 2012: Referral letter received for a screening by the National Autistic Society. I was required to fill out two multiple-choice questionnaires and answer a list of questions in preparation for this screening. I was also given a short form for my parents to fill out.

 

Jan 2013: Screened. NAS support worker determines I would benefit from the services of their ASSIST programme. Appointments with a support worker recur once or twice a month and are ongoing. Am told it will likely be 6-10 months before I receive word on an NHS referral. Reasonable accommodations are made at work; quality of life significantly improves.

 

April 2013: Am told NHS referrals are taking upwards of a year, and am encouraged to seek a private diagnosis for ‘peace of mind’. Earliest appointment available privately within reasonable traveling distance is mid-June.

 

June 2013: Diagnosis.

 

Where we’re at

Mari: As stated, I’ve just been recently officially diagnosed, so many of the raw feelings I felt when I was screened in January have returned to the surface.  My  goals as I work through these feelings as they relate to my identity are twofold - the first is to process and come to terms with what that diagnosis means, and I expect to some extent that is a task I will be continually working on. This healing process is yet another phase in which my information literacy skills will be critical.

The second goal I have is very similar to one that Penny first shared with me when I began on this journey, and is why I have chosen to speak out about my experiences:

 

I want to help prevent others from suffering as I have.

 

Penny’s and my journeys highlight what an arduous process this has been, and it should not be the norm. My support worker has suggested becoming involved with her advocacy work once my diagnosis and the emotions surrounding it are a little less immediate, and this is something I absolutely intend to do. In doing so, I will be using much of the same skillset I harnessed while developing information literacy classes in my first job as an academic liaison librarian. After all, both stem from a desire to make knowledge more accessible, in every sense of the word.

Penny: I am about to return to ‘brick university’ education, hopefully this time successfully after completing my OU degree, and I am petrified that the disability support will not work out. I have loved my job this year, and know now what it is like to work with adjustments in place, and how my condition can actually help me in information work. I will be studying for an MSc in Digital Library Management.

I have become even more determined to be a good ambassador for the NAS and women with autism, and to have more than my disabilities (autism, cerebral palsy and dyspraxia) in my life, despite my activism. I think I make a better role model if I work in a ‘normal’ job and have interests outside of autism, such as my newly-found love of sprinting, but I still want to change the situation so that other women do not have to become librarians and fighters in order to seek information and diagnosis and find self-acceptance.

 

Selected Bibliography

Attwood, T (2008). The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome.London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Attwood, T (2011)  ‘Girls and Women Who Have Asperger’s Syndrome’ [online] available from: http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/index.php/about-aspergers/girls-and-women-who-have-aspergers (Accessed 18 July 2013)

Campbell, FK (2009). Contours of Ableism: The production of Disability and Abledness. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 26-27.

Mitchell, D & Higashida, N (2013).  ‘David Mitchell: learning to live with my son’s autism’, The Guardian [online]. 29 June 2013. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jun/29/david-mitchell-my-sons-autism (Accessed: 29 June 2013)

Spicer, D (1998). Autistic and Undiagnosed: My Cautionary Tale. In: Asperger Syndrome Conference, March 12-13 1998, Västerås, Sweden.

Turkle, S (1997). Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. London: Phoenix. 180, 256, 318.

Yaull-Smith, D (2008). ‘Girls on the spectrum’, Communication, Spring 2008. 30-31.