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.
In this chipper memoir cum inspirational guide, O'Toole (the Asperkids series) documents life with Asperger syndrome, a classification within autism spectrum disorder. O'Toole's primary audience is girls and women on the spectrum, who are often underdiagnosed and "camouflage" their condition. Her book aims to help them and their families and friends see autism as "a neurological, not pathological, profile" and recognize the gendered ways in which that profile presents itself by using examples from her own life. O'Toole details her own childhood spent obsessing over Little House on the Prairie and the Smurfs, tirelessly rearranging her mother's nativity set, and pleasing adults but alienating other kids. As an adult, her Asperger's left her vulnerable to an eating disorder and abusive relationships. Each chapter includes a synthesis of research or explanation of autistic traits, and references to her current work as a motivational speaker. She offers encouraging, if trite, adages throughout: "I believe that kitchens are for dance parties (and brownies). That there is no such thing as too much glitter or too many I love you's.' That life is an endless feast of adventure and possibility and wonder." Regardless, O'Toole's compassion and enthusiasm are infectious.