The Subtle Spectrum: An Honest Account of Autistic Discovery, Relationships and Identity  book cover
1st Edition

The Subtle Spectrum: An Honest Account of Autistic Discovery, Relationships and Identity

ISBN 9780367709235
Published June 14, 2021 by Routledge
320 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Am I autistic, or is autism something I suffer from? Should I come out, to my friends, to my family, to the people I work with? Should I drop the mask? How can I explain my experience to a neurotypical world?

The Subtle Spectrum offers an exploration into the postdiagnostic landscape of autism and the transformative journey of one woman, from her awareness of difference, through acceptance, to an embracing of autistic identity and beyond as she questions the cultural identity of autism.

Joanna’s narrative is enriched with insights from a range of diverse contributors, creating a reflective opportunity for people to gain a better understanding of the experience of being autistic. With a focus on relationships built across a neurodiverse divide, the book considers topics as broad as mental health, work opportunities and abuse, weaving theory and research with lived experience to give true insight into the life of an autistic person, both pre- and post- diagnosis.

Written with a raw and engaging honesty, this is a crucial read for anybody who identifies as autistic as an adult or teenager, or anyone looking to support somebody exploring diagnosis. It will also provide an invaluable insight for social workers, educators and relationships counsellors working with autistic people.

Table of Contents

Preface  Identity First Language  Trigger Warnings  Chapter 1. Introduction  Chapter 2. Mapping Experiences of Being a Diagnosed Autistic: More of a Doodle than an Ordinance Survey Map  Chapter 3. Travelling from Autism Awareness to Autistic Identity  Chapter 4. Fragments of Difference  Chapter 5. Reflections on Difference  Chapter 6. Fragments of Awareness  Chapter 7. Moving Between Difference and Awareness  Chapter 8. Diagnosis  Chapter 9. The Report  Chapter 10. Blog Part One: The First Weeks after Diagnosis  Chapter 11. Reflecting on the Impact of Diagnosis on my Identity  Chapter 12. Blog Part Two: The First Months after Diagnosis  Chapter 13. Reflection  Chapter 14. Blog Part Three: Half a Year after Diagnosis  Chapter 15. Reflection: History Repeating  Chapter 16. Love Across a Neurodiverse Divide  Chapter 17. Reflection: Interoception  Chapter 18. Emotional Connection  Chapter 19. Pregnancy  Chapter 20. Special Interests  Chapter 21. Reflection: Recognising the Impossibility of Change was Crucial  Chapter 22. To be Identified is Our Pride  Bibliography

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Joanna Grace is the founder of The Sensory Projects and works as a sensory engagement and inclusion specialist. She has been a special school teacher, a foster carer and a support worker for people with disabilities and neurological diff erences. She grew up on a boat at sea and now lives in rural Cornwall close to the ocean that she loves. Joanna is autistic.


This wise and compassionate book provides a roadmap toward what author Jo Grace wonderfully calls 'a small private place, unseen by the outside world, a hidden gem' -- to personal acceptance of oneself as autistic, and the discovery of autistic community, in a world built for non-autistic people. It's engaging and uplifting reading for anyone on the spectrum, and for readers who want to comprehend the nature of autistic experience.

Steve Silberman, author, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity