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

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The face of autism is changing. And more often than we realize, that face is wearing lipstick. Autism in Heels , an intimate memoir, reveals the woman inside one of autism's most prominent figures, Jennifer O'Toole. At the age of thirty-five, Jennifer was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, and for the first time in her life, things made sense. Now, Jennifer exposes the co The face of autism is changing. And more often than we realize, that face is wearing lipstick. Autism in Heels , an intimate memoir, reveals the woman inside one of autism's most prominent figures, Jennifer O'Toole. At the age of thirty-five, Jennifer was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, and for the first time in her life, things made sense. Now, Jennifer exposes the constant struggle between carefully crafted persona and authentic existence, editing the autism script with wit, candor, passion, and power. Her journey is one of reverse-self-discovery not only as an Aspie but--more importantly--as a thoroughly modern woman. Beyond being a memoir, Autism in Heels is a love letter to all women. It's a conversation starter. A game changer. And a firsthand account of what it is to walk in Jennifer's shoes (especially those iconic red stilettos). Whether it's bad perms or body image, sexuality or self-esteem, Jennifer's is as much a human journey as one on the spectrum. Because autism "looks a bit different in pink," most girls and women who fit the profile are not identified, facing years of avoidable anxiety, eating disorders, volatile relationships, self-harm, and stunted independence. Jennifer has been there, too. Autism in Heels takes that message to the mainstream. From her own struggles and self-discovery, she has built an empire of empowerment, inspiring women the world over to realize they aren't mistakes. They are misunderstood miracles.


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The face of autism is changing. And more often than we realize, that face is wearing lipstick. Autism in Heels , an intimate memoir, reveals the woman inside one of autism's most prominent figures, Jennifer O'Toole. At the age of thirty-five, Jennifer was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, and for the first time in her life, things made sense. Now, Jennifer exposes the co The face of autism is changing. And more often than we realize, that face is wearing lipstick. Autism in Heels , an intimate memoir, reveals the woman inside one of autism's most prominent figures, Jennifer O'Toole. At the age of thirty-five, Jennifer was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, and for the first time in her life, things made sense. Now, Jennifer exposes the constant struggle between carefully crafted persona and authentic existence, editing the autism script with wit, candor, passion, and power. Her journey is one of reverse-self-discovery not only as an Aspie but--more importantly--as a thoroughly modern woman. Beyond being a memoir, Autism in Heels is a love letter to all women. It's a conversation starter. A game changer. And a firsthand account of what it is to walk in Jennifer's shoes (especially those iconic red stilettos). Whether it's bad perms or body image, sexuality or self-esteem, Jennifer's is as much a human journey as one on the spectrum. Because autism "looks a bit different in pink," most girls and women who fit the profile are not identified, facing years of avoidable anxiety, eating disorders, volatile relationships, self-harm, and stunted independence. Jennifer has been there, too. Autism in Heels takes that message to the mainstream. From her own struggles and self-discovery, she has built an empire of empowerment, inspiring women the world over to realize they aren't mistakes. They are misunderstood miracles.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    This book was so honest and well-informed! I was a little nervous going in, I admit, because (a) I feel like the only point of heels is to utilise them as a weapon, and (b) I've read so many autism-books and been burnt a lot by negative assumptions and problematic viewpoints. But this book CELEBRATES autism. Especially in women! I also loved that it acknowledged POC and queer autistic women...and nonbinary autistics too! It was aimed specifically at women, but it didn't diminish everything to "tw This book was so honest and well-informed! I was a little nervous going in, I admit, because (a) I feel like the only point of heels is to utilise them as a weapon, and (b) I've read so many autism-books and been burnt a lot by negative assumptions and problematic viewpoints. But this book CELEBRATES autism. Especially in women! I also loved that it acknowledged POC and queer autistic women...and nonbinary autistics too! It was aimed specifically at women, but it didn't diminish everything to "two" genders, which honestly was refreshing. It's part memoir and part guide-book. I swear I highlighted so many passages that my kindle looks like a rainbow threw up on it. But it not only debunked myths, it actually went into the "why we autistic women do this and this" which was so enlightening?! It's like "Oh so THAT'S why I do that thing." It's not because you're failing or stupid or weird. As an autistic, it was amazing. I learned WAY more from this book than from any "expert's" book that I've read. A few things that didn't work for me: The author lives an extremely full (an extroverted) life and at times it was a bit daunting to read thinking "oh if she can do all this, then I'm failing"...which obviously is not true and I DID appreciate seeing such a vast spectrum of what autism can look like. It just made the book unrelatable (to me) in a lot of places. It also went off on a lot of psychology or just musing tangents that I was kind of 0_0 not following. If you're on the spectrum or know someone who is, I can't recommend this book enough. Please read it. Understand us! I love how it showed that autistic women aren't rare unicorns. We're here. We're usually being misdiagnosed or ignored, but we're here and there are a lot of us and there should be more books out there that finish off encouraging autistics to be proud of who they are. To understand themselves. quotes taken from the eARC ~ not to be reused elsewhere Instead, I'll repeat the simple fact that "autistic people" are not a monolith. We are a diverse group with diverse daily experiences...just like everyone else in the world. We don't actually have different brains. We have differently wired equally-human brains. Human functions - like feeling - aren't missing, for crying out loud. They're just different in brains that are neurologically different, regardless of which way the comparison is made.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ross

    This is an amazing book. An extraordinary look into autism in women told with fascinating anecdotes from a captivating writer. I have always enjoyed the Asperkids books but Jennifer O'Toole has really outdone herself describing this personal journey. I was riveted from the first moment. I would not get this book unless you have time to read it in one sitting because you will not be able to put it down. This is a must read not only for women on the spectrum, and those that love them, but for any This is an amazing book. An extraordinary look into autism in women told with fascinating anecdotes from a captivating writer. I have always enjoyed the Asperkids books but Jennifer O'Toole has really outdone herself describing this personal journey. I was riveted from the first moment. I would not get this book unless you have time to read it in one sitting because you will not be able to put it down. This is a must read not only for women on the spectrum, and those that love them, but for any woman finding her way in a world that is sometimes confusing. Not only does this book provide great insight, but it is gripping that way Jennifer O'Toole interweaves her personal story throughout. I could not recommend this book higher.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    (I received a free eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.) I actually had to take a break in the middle of reading this because it struck home — not just close, but all the way. As in, I recognized very specific thoughts and behaviors that I’ve noticed but never considered in an ASD context, and I just felt seen and understood in a way that I never have before. The anecdotes and analogies used are well-chosen, making each point accessible to a diverse audience. O’Toole also makes so (I received a free eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.) I actually had to take a break in the middle of reading this because it struck home — not just close, but all the way. As in, I recognized very specific thoughts and behaviors that I’ve noticed but never considered in an ASD context, and I just felt seen and understood in a way that I never have before. The anecdotes and analogies used are well-chosen, making each point accessible to a diverse audience. O’Toole also makes some effort to address intersectionality — considering the numerous other complexities addressed and the space it would take to address the nuances, it’s adequate, but by no means comprehensive or revolutionary; she does a better job with the broader feminist angle. My biggest concern is the gendered use of heels and pink to symbolize females, especially considering that the author acknowledges in-text that there are so many ways “spectrum girls” can choose to demonstrate (or not) our relationship to femininity, and that biologically-female Aspies might not even identify as such. No one ever does seem to talk about all the complexities of being a girl on the spectrum: the specific challenges boys don’t face, the difficulty of being diagnosed in the first place, the extra social obstacle that it often is in a world where women in particular rely on interpersonal skills, the vulnerability to other types of harm (specifically, self-harm and toxic relationships). And that’s all on top of the universal difficulties, the stigma, the disadvantages of living in a world built for neurotypical people.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ronnie Stephens

    I really struggled with this book. I wanted to love it, and I believe that it's a vital conversation about women on the spectrum and how to improve practices around diagnosing/supporting women on the spectrum. However, the writing was choppy and repetitive; many chapters felt like adapted speeches with little serious editing to improve flow. Additionally, the order of the chapters did not help establish a clear trajectory or push the narrative forward. I'm hesitant to describe this book as a mem I really struggled with this book. I wanted to love it, and I believe that it's a vital conversation about women on the spectrum and how to improve practices around diagnosing/supporting women on the spectrum. However, the writing was choppy and repetitive; many chapters felt like adapted speeches with little serious editing to improve flow. Additionally, the order of the chapters did not help establish a clear trajectory or push the narrative forward. I'm hesitant to describe this book as a memoir because, in truth, there are very few narrative aspects evident. Most frustrating, though, is that the author has major blind spots when it comes to intersectionality and gender identity. O'Toole adhered strictly to traditional conceptions of male/female, despite the fact that much of her argument likely applies to gender identities outside the traditional binary. Additionally, she explicitly co-opts Sojourner Truth while misrepresenting the work of early suffragettes. Ultimately, O'Toole has an important message, but the flaws in both rhetoric and thinking muddy that message significantly.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    WOW! Just WOW! I first heard Jennifer speak in January of this year. She mentioned that she had a new book coming out this summer. At that point, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. Later on I discovered that the digital ARC was available on Edelweiss—YIPPEE! (Being a librarian has its perks.) As someone who is on the Spectrum myself, I found myself totally relating to Jennifer’s experiences of social awkwardness, her attempts to fit in, and of feeling misunderstood. At times, it got so inten WOW! Just WOW! I first heard Jennifer speak in January of this year. She mentioned that she had a new book coming out this summer. At that point, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. Later on I discovered that the digital ARC was available on Edelweiss—YIPPEE! (Being a librarian has its perks.) As someone who is on the Spectrum myself, I found myself totally relating to Jennifer’s experiences of social awkwardness, her attempts to fit in, and of feeling misunderstood. At times, it got so intense that I had to put my iPad down and step away for a bit. Overall, reading Jennifer’s story helped me to validate and reaffirm my place in a unique sisterhood. My hope is that other neurodiverse women will pick up this book, read it, and feel affirmed and validated in their unique experiences. In addition, I would highly recommend this title to mental health professionals and anybody else who cares for and wants to better understand women with high-functioning ASD.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gara

    Insight into the dynamics of life "on the spectrum" is helpful to me, since my granddaughter has been diagnosed with autism. She received this diagnosis at 2, but this was after repeated efforts to determine what was going on with her. One doctor, discovering her severe social anxiety, volunteered to write a Prozac prescription - for a 2-year-old! I think that autism is rampant among females, and obviously misunderstood and frequently overlooked as a basic cause of many behaviors of girls. I fou Insight into the dynamics of life "on the spectrum" is helpful to me, since my granddaughter has been diagnosed with autism. She received this diagnosis at 2, but this was after repeated efforts to determine what was going on with her. One doctor, discovering her severe social anxiety, volunteered to write a Prozac prescription - for a 2-year-old! I think that autism is rampant among females, and obviously misunderstood and frequently overlooked as a basic cause of many behaviors of girls. I found the writing to be somewhat rambling and repetitive - like a good conversation that frequently diverts to other topics, but always returns to the main thrust of the discussion. The fact that this was written by someone on the spectrum helped to contribute to my overall understanding of autism in females.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Mullen

    This book sheds light on the often unrecognized differences in the world experiences of women and girls on the spectrum through one woman’s journey. O’Toole’s narrative weaves together her life in self-reflective stories along with the research and study information that helps explain not just her own choices but the way others perceive her. As the mother of an adult woman on the spectrum, I found her story not just inspirational and enlightening but a powerful tour de force capable of creating This book sheds light on the often unrecognized differences in the world experiences of women and girls on the spectrum through one woman’s journey. O’Toole’s narrative weaves together her life in self-reflective stories along with the research and study information that helps explain not just her own choices but the way others perceive her. As the mother of an adult woman on the spectrum, I found her story not just inspirational and enlightening but a powerful tour de force capable of creating the kinds of changes that are long overdue in the medical community when it comes to approaching spectrum girls’ and women’s needs and unique perspectives. Her style is quick and filled with wit and candor. I could not put it down and thank O’Toole and her publishers for making this book happen.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol Moog

    Jennifer O'Toole's latest book is a brilliant and personal reflection of life on the autism spectrum for women and girls. Her voice cannot be denied! I wholeheartedly recommend this book to clinicians, parents, identifiers, and explorers of autism. Reading it will increase your knowledge your sensitivity, your worldview and your . It will be immediately enlightening and enormously useful. Carol Moog Phd Practicing psychologist/co-author The Autism Playbook for Teens

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brittney Farley

    Autism in Heels is a true story about Jennifer O'Toole. Jennifer shares her story about what it's like to live with Asperger's, which is on the Autism spectrum. This is a great story that advocates for people who live with a disability and shows that they are just like everyone else. This is a great read for young adults.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    DNF at 50% Okay, so I hate that I'm the very first review for this book and am giving it a bad rating. But I just didn't care for it. Doesn't mean others won't! The beginning felt more like reading an academic article or study than a story about her life with autism. It's not told in an interesting way in order to keep my attention. It's just like this is what happened and how I found out I was autistic. Here are other facts about autism and autism in women. Maybe if you're super into the facts o DNF at 50% Okay, so I hate that I'm the very first review for this book and am giving it a bad rating. But I just didn't care for it. Doesn't mean others won't! The beginning felt more like reading an academic article or study than a story about her life with autism. It's not told in an interesting way in order to keep my attention. It's just like this is what happened and how I found out I was autistic. Here are other facts about autism and autism in women. Maybe if you're super into the facts of autism it might be interesting, but I just wanted to read an interesting memoir about a woman living with autism. After that, it becomes more like a story I guess. She starts telling actual stories from her life. However, I just couldn't get into it. It completely failed to captivate me. It was literally putting me to sleep. The storytelling skills were just not there in this book. At least, not in my opinion. So, I gave up halfway through.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christa

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alessandra

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard Adames

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  15. 4 out of 5

    SarahJean

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jenifer Jacobs

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica - Eight Full Lives

  18. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Osborne

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Keller

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gina Beirne

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Prange

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nash

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gina

  26. 4 out of 5

    Moon

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kalli M.G.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lianna Woods

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily Childress-Campbell

  31. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Preskitt

  32. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

  33. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Leung

  34. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

  35. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  36. 5 out of 5

    Jacqui Scolari

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  38. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  39. 5 out of 5

    Julia Long

  40. 4 out of 5

    Zoe's Human

  41. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  42. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Shapiro

  43. 4 out of 5

    Maryme

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