Pretending to be Normal – Review

Book Review of

pretending-to-be-normal“Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome”

(Autistic Spectrum Disorder)
Expanded Edition

by Liane Holliday Willey, Foreword by Tony Attwood
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Whilst I had hoped to borrow this book from the PDSG, I am very pleased that I decided to buy it because I have found so much within it that has touched, confirmed and inspired me. My copy is littered with pencil markings and little sticky notes.

Initially I felt almost angry with the author – she grew up in a comfortable American family with parents ( her Father in particular) who gave unconditional love and support. Even during her school years she was recognised as talented and gifted, and nurtured accordingly. But real life caught up with her when University brought major changes and she encountered the sometimes harsh, bullying world of neurotypicals. Liane completely nails it, time and again in her description of Aspie life in a neurotypical world.

She has been a willing and compliant student, pretending, in the main, to be a NT – denying herself the freedom of living as an Aspie. Well we know how hard that is; I pretend to be NT most days and it wears me down to the bone.

Liane was most fortunate to marry a man who completely “gets” her; no big deal, just 100% love and support. Fortunate lady, indeed she actually infers that with age, her Aspergers becomes “less”.

However, when I reached the updated section towards the end of the book headed up “Pretending a Little Less”, Liane’s writing felt more open following an official Aspie diagnosis in her mid 50’s. This book has inspired me to be braver in disclosing my own Asperger’s and Liane’s writing provides ideas and possible solutions to situations. Some of these are clearly unworkable in the U.K., but there are ways to help ourselves, in particular – letting go of those who simply do not allow us “to be”.

I have definitely benefitted from reading this book, and it continues to be thought provoking post reading.
Helen Jones – Guest Contributor

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The Next Axia21st August 2024
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