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Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger's Syndrome Paperback – 1 May 1999

3.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd; 1 edition (1 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853027499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853027499
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and compared to Liane I have been a lot less successful at having a more mainstream life. If I don’t tell people I have Asperger syndrome they think I am strange, stupid, and unpleasant. If I do tell people I have Asperger syndrome the first thing they always say is how ‘normal’ I seem despite it. I guess telling people you have AS lowers their expectations of you and the standards they judge you by, totally altering their perception of what you are like.
There is no question that Liane has been more successful at living a normal life than the majority of people on the autistic spectrum manage, which is no doubt why she chose the title ‘Pretending to be Normal’. There are many thousands of people like her who have always been different but who have found ways to fit in, deep down though they perhaps feel they are not being as true to themselves as they could be… they might feel ashamed of the secret difficulties they are so good at hiding and overcoming, or they may resent other people not being aware of the effort they are putting in all the time to keep up appearances.
It’s easy for neurotypical readers to complain that she was not as severely afflicted as they were hoping, or that she doesn’t fit the rain man stereotype of autism they like to cling to, but that is totally missing the point… if this book has one message it is that amongst the wide diversity of the autistic spectrum there are at one extreme people like Liane, and because the problems they experience are hidden they are in many ways more alone and isolated than those for whom they are more obvious. Why shouldn’t she tell her story? It is as valid as anybody else’s.
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By A Customer on 19 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
I chanced on this book in 1999 and I keep coming back to it. Liane Holliday Willey is a heroine to me. Her title "Pretending to be normal" is ironic - on page 89 she says "I had finally reached the end of my race to be normal", i.e. realised that she can be herself, as well as learning how to get on with other people. I am very encouraged by her tale of "how much I have changed, how much I have progressed" and her conviction that "my AS traits never had a chance to take over my bid for a more mainstreamed life". My copy is now well-thumbed, with plenty of highlighting in the margins. Phrases from this book have become like proverbs for me: her realisation that she was "too close to lonely"; her husband's affectionate "you're so weird"; her injunction to herself and to us to always "do your best", and "make time for fun, no matter how you define it". Other people might have said similar things but for me to accept it, I needed to hear it from one of us. I also saw what another reviewer said about her emphasis on sensory stuff - yes, I thought that was weird too - but then I thought, isn't that what this is all about? We're not all going to be weird in the same way!
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Format: Paperback
I'm the one who is fed up with pretending to be normal like anyone else. I have been feeling distant and different from other people like she felt in her university days. I usually felt neglected, alienated, and discounted when interacting with other people. They superficially seemed nice to me, but actually they implicitly hated me. That was why I could trust nobody else. I often felt left behind like the author missed her college classes in a state of confusion in the crowd. After I was diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger syndrome(AS), I realized that I don't have to pretend to be a neuro-typical(NT) person any more! Even though I come to know my AS traits now, it has been very tough to maintain stable relationships with other people, which causes frequent job changes. Especially, unwritten rules and sudden changes get on my nerves! NT people have taken them for granted, though.

Recently I have come to recognize I could find someone to go to bat for; job hunting agency staff who deal with challenged people have trying so hard to understand the specifics of developmental impairments. To my great surprise, they know the ropes more than typical hard-headed psychiatrists! Thanks to them, I can be more objective and understand both the pros and cons of AS and ADHD more than before I met them.

Like Liane Holliday Willy said, people with AS can be normal with more understanding people, I'd say. Then they won't have to suppress their feelings and stress themselves out!
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully absorbing account of the life of someone with Asperger's Syndrome. I read this book cover to cover in one sitting. Liane Willey's style is very good, and the book gives a real insight into what it is like to see the world differently. The author is extremely positive about her experiences, and I'm sure will provide a lot of hope and encouragement to others with AS. Although some of her experiences were clearly distressing, there is also a great deal of humour here. The two-headed baby episode had me laughing out loud ! In addition to the personal account of the author's life, there is also a section providing practical advice on coping with Asperger's Syndrome and explaining it to others which is extremely useful. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who has AS or knows someone who does.
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