I have mixed feelings about this one. There were some good points in here and it shows how positive a diagnosis can be — once Tom realizes what the cause of his life-long struggles is, his depression evaporates and he is able to start taking concrete steps to cope with things. This is a combination autobiography and a series of pocket biographies of famous people he thinks were Autistic. The autobiography bits were the best part, and I found myself getting increasingly agitated every time another random biography bit would pop up. After a while I got it, this guy was also probably Autistic, hooray. I get the desire to classify and systematize, and I also now notice people I am pretty sure are/were Autistic, but in this case I think it distracts from the overall personal narrative.
This book is also through the viewpoint of Asperger’s instead of the broader ASD criteria, which I personally feel to be outdated at this point. He says here that “it seems reasonable to recognise Asperger’s syndrome and classic autism as crucially different in important ways,” which I don’t entirely disagree with, but a) I reject Asperger’s as a label for a variety of reasons, and b) that dual classification system leaves out both people like me who I don’t think fall into either camp, and falls into the high/low functioning trap. I’ve found it much more useful to think of functioning as a fluctuating thing and needing different supports at different times. There’s definitely different kinds and expressions of Autism, but it’s so variable and so individual — someone who’s non-verbal and high support needs might be less affected in some areas than I am, so calling one of us high-functioning and one of us low-functioning flattens our actual need for support and our lived experiences in the world. It also feeds into disability stigma, where someone who is non-speaking might be seen as incapable — but they might be more capable than me in a lot of areas, and then because I’m highly verbal I have never been offered any support. Also, he barely talks about women at all and doesn’t even mention trans people, which was surprising considering that this only came out three years ago.
Anyway, there are good parts here and sections I was affected by. I also liked learning about traffic signs and their design and history. This was described as funny, but I didn’t find it funny — that’s probably a me thing because I tend to find autobiographies that are described as funny to be be sad, which was the case here. I don’t know if I’d recommend this because I felt like it was a bit out of date and leaves out big chunks of thinking that I find more helpful about Autism. But that is a very personal thing and I’m sure a lot of people would find this useful or interesting. I was mainly annoyed and mentally arguing with him for two days.