Today I am going to be reviewing The Spectrum Girl’s Survival Guide (How To Grow Up Awesome and Autistic) by Siena Castellon. I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book from NetGalley. This book will be released on March 19th 2020. It is a non-fiction, YA book for teenagers who identify as autistic or on the spectrum. Now, just a disclaimer, I do not have autism, nor am I on the spectrum. However, I do have friends with autism and have always wanted to learn more about it. As with every review, I am going to be very honest. I cannot spoil this for you because it is non-fiction. I’m just going to discuss my thoughts and if I feel it’s worth checking out. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
WHAT THIS BOOK DOES RIGHT
Firstly, I want to state that this book is written by a teenage girl with autism so nobody can question her authority on the subject (which sadly people have done in the past with other ‘own voices’ novels). Siena has created this guide predominately for females as she states that there seems to be a myth that girls cannot be autistic – only males can – which is simply not true. There are many topics covered in this book that are exclusively geared towards feminine practices, so I can understand why it isn’t for boys. Having said that, anybody can read this and get so much from it. I am living proof. This book opened up my eyes to many misconceptions surrounding autism that I didn’t know and am so glad I do now. For example: 1.) People with autism do not like hearing ‘oh you seem so normal’ or ‘you seem to be on the high-functioning end of the spectrum.’ According to Siena, people with autism are normal, their brains are just wired differently. To imply they are abnormal is insulting. Furthermore, on a bad day, Siena feels she could be viewed as low-functioning and on a good day, high-functioning. It is not polite to place those with autism into either of these two boxes. 2.) Being autistic is not something to be pitied. She wants everybody on the spectrum to view their autism as a superpower. There are many, many advantages to being wired differently and it’s time to change the perceptions of neurotypicals (those who don’t have autism) that autism = bad. It can be much more difficult to be autistic in regards to understanding how neurotypical society works, but it does not have to be limiting.
There are many comics illustrated and captioned by Siena herself within this guide. I love how well they captured her messages and had just as much of an impact as her written chapters. She highlights how isolating autism can be when teachers at school do not make allowances for those with special needs. Not all, but a lot of those in the academic profession have an expectation that students with autism should do their best to ‘fit in’ instead of creating a comfortable teaching environment that is inclusive for all. She teaches girls with autism to watch out for sexual predators (as those with autism cannot always detect deception), how to handle getting their period (as those with autism are sensitive to certain materials such as sanitary pads), how to handle high school social situations (as those with autism find social cues difficult to navigate) and so much more. I cannot express how happy I am that this book exists and how much it is going to help teenage girls growing up in a mostly neurotypical world. There is even a chapter at the end about celebrating neurodiversity which is incredible.
WHAT THIS BOOK DOES WRONG
I honestly cannot think of a single thing this book does wrong. I want everybody to read it because I guarantee there is something to learn. Siena is such an inspiring human being and I’m proud of her for not only creating this guide but sharing so much personal information in order to help others. I know that wouldn’t have been easy.
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this book 5/5 stars. It was fantastic and kept my rapt attention the entire time.
If you are interested, you can order a copy here.
I hope you enjoyed this honest review. Let me know your thoughts down below. I appreciate all feedback. Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
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