Book review by Katie Munday (they / them)
Approaching Autistic Adulthood: The Road Less Travelled is a personal development book written by Grace Liu. Grace writes about the musings, memories and mishaps of a bi-racial, Autistic, lesbian writer regularly on her blog Unwritten Grace.
The book shares informal advice, observations and anecdotes on Autistic experience, talking from Grace’s own experience and from those of her Autistic friends. The book is split into well defined areas which flow well together; explaining autism, overload, friendship, romance, dating and sexuality, college and university, the working environment, being out and about and bullying and disrespectful behaviour. There is even a handy guide on metaphors used throughout the book. I especially enjoyed the section on college and university as it gave quick checklists for moving house, including skills you might need for living independently. Grace also wrote about the support which can be gained at UK universities as well as talking through her experience with her Graduation day, which was very sensory and socially overwhelming and gives advice to other Autistic people on their graduation day.
The chapters on friendships and relationships was also very interesting and gave good advice for creating and maintaining healthy relationships and boundaries. Grace writes on how consent and boundaries work both ways and how we must respect the boundaries of others as well as ourselves. She also makes the point of asking this question of ourselves: “Do I have the mental capacity for being surrounded by people right now?” for us to try to avoid shutdown (what Grace calls power saving mode). Checking in with ourselves is an important way that we can create our own boundaries.
Although I enjoyed Approaching Autistic Adulthood, it is very difficult to understand who the intended audience was. It is both advice, a collection of stories and anecdotes, educational and self-help. A clearer sense of the genre would make this book at lot more accessible.
Overall, Approaching Autistic Adulthood was a fun read which seemed to find its pace and story a little later in the book. It was lovely to read others experiences, lots of the information and story sharing was very validating for me. Grace writes in a very straight forward way with lots of humour, her work is very nice to read and is quite accessible.
Having read some of her other work, I would love for Grace to write a book about being an Autistic, bi-racial, lesbian within the Christian faith and community – it would be very interesting to read something at length on this.
I look forward to seeing what Grace writes next.
[This book uses both person-first and identity-first language, as well as Asperger’s. Grace explains: “I mainly use identity first language and I only say Asperger’s when talking about my diagnosis or some other context where that word was specifically used”]