- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 3654 KB
- Print Length: 235 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07CLCHGR9
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer reviews: 13 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #203,266 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Between you and me: Personal stories from neuro-diverse couples Kindle Edition
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This is a deeply damaging and unfair perspective on autistic individuals. If read widely, which I sincerely hope it isn't, it will only serve to cause further harm to the already vulnerable autistic community.
From the outset the book states it is "the perfect companion for couples in neurodiverse (ND) relationships who are trying to understand one another better" but it only has autistic males and neurotypical (NT) females. So balance out of the window immediately.
The book ignores the fact that autism is a very-nuanced spectrum, and focuses and portrays those with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) as geeky Sheldon-type male. Such ignorance displayed by comments such as that made by "trained clinical psychologist" Liz who, after her husband scored 32 [out of 50] on the AAA test stated "My 'mildly autistic' husband was not so mild at all!". Given there is no such thing as "mild” autism and more importantly, the type of autism is most certainly not determined by the score on the AAA test (which is NOT diagnostic), it is incredible that a book with extensive input from "world expert" Tony Attwood(TA) allows such an ill-informed statement to be made.
TA is the professional contributor to the book – providing several pages of comments of each couple’s story. Having heard TA speak at the Different Together Couples conference in May 2019 I heard first-hand all his jokes at expense of autistic people. He continues this ableist narrative in this book showing a shocking lack of respect for autistic people with his constant use of offensive terms and generalisations. Aside from his constant use of the pejorative term “the Aspie” (which the NAS discourage), examples include:
P27: Speaking "Aspergerese": "In relationship counselling I speak Aspergerese in terms of fighting Aspie with Aspie".
P28: Being “Aspergated” and how a NT can be "infected" by autism: "yes it is absolutely a case of Asperger's being infectious" and then goes on to say on p46 "Asperger's is infectious one-way - you hope, as an NT, that you are going to change the Aspie. No, if you did that you would get the Nobel prize for science and peace""
In several instances he, as do several of the female contributors, perpetuates the myth of autistic people having no empathy; there is no attempt to explain that whilst we may struggle with cognitive empathy, we do not generally struggle with affective empathy. This book (and the Different Together website) simply refers to empathy. This is a hugely damaging myth and it is disgraceful that TA has not used this platform to educate the audience.
He then goes on to make sweeping generalisations about autistic people. It is very convenient for him to handpick parts of each NT story and explain any negative instances as being due to their partner's autism. For example:
Page 45 Q: Karen talks about how she always seems to be the one at fault, in David's opinion. Why is this?
It's the Aspie's Teflon coating - "nothing sticks on me". It's their comforting mechanism throughout their life for having made so many errors.
Page 62 Q:Why is shouting and irritability often the packaging that AS use to communicate?
TA: Because they don't know how to be subtle, there are only intense emotions. So when any emotion is attached to what they do, it's at maximum volume.
Then there is the inconsistency and contradiction which is convenient for twisting the narrative to further disparage autistic people:
From p192: Why do so many people with AS seem to be able to cope with the demands of work but are not able to cope with the softer demands of home?
Because, work for the most part is predictable and the Aspie knows what is expected of them
Whilst on p110: Why can it be so hard for people with Asperger's syndrome to hold down a job?
Often this can be because of the social demands in that setting and the need, within most jobs, for flexibility in planning.
Many contributors to the book also ignore the genuine suffering of autistic people; to get a formal diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, its needs to be shown that you suffer a "clinically significant impairment in everyday life” as a result of AS. Nowhere is this really covered - it is only the "suffering" of the NT that is considered. So how can this book possible state it is a “perfect companion” to a ND relationships?
I am not saying that ND relationships are straightforward, but to attribute all problems to the autistic partner, and none to the NT partner, is deeply unfair. As TA said himself at the Different Together conference “I wish NT people could see some of the damage they do to autistic people” (one of the few autism-friendly things he said). The empathy goes both ways.
And this book is an example of the lack of empathy that NT’s have towards autistic people and I sincerely hope some readers of the book look at other, more balanced, sources of information.