What I Mean When I Say I'm Autistic - Unpuzzling A Life On The Autism Spectrum
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ibsn13: 9798986482712

What I Mean When I Say I’m Autistic is more of a personal diary made public rather than a memoir or a primer on Autism and suffers for it. I’m not sure it’s something in-between either, I don’t really know what it is. It’s OK, I guess?

I didn’t hate it but I didn’t find it to be very interesting. Compared to The Autistic Experience by Joe James and Marie-Laure Del Vecchio, Annie Kotowicz’s What I Mean When I Say I’m Autistic lacks the breadth of experience to make it feel like it matters.

Annie Kotowicz’s self-reflection and thoughts on her experience of being Autistic, although important to her and those around her, feel like a drop in the pond compared to the 80+ Autistic voices that were featured in The Autistic Experience.

I’m sure the text was a great writing exercise for Annie Kotowicz and I’d love to do something similar for myself. But I question how relevant it is for people other than Annie Kotowicz, her fairy tale boyfriend Jake (this man is either A. not real B. a one in a billion catch C. he kills kids and it’s all a facade) or people close to Annie Kotowicz.

For a text that is so focused on one person’s experience of being Autistic, I would have expected some more detail about that experience. I would love to know what it felt like to be Annie Kotowicz in those moments where her being Autistic led to real conflict so that I could connect to her on a deeper level.

Annie Kotowicz does talk about moments from her life like this but they’re written in such a way that makes her and me as the reader feel so far removed from these events that they’re very hard to relate to. It’s really hard to relate to the list of behaviors, symptoms and coping mechanisms that the rest of the book can be reduced to at times.

What I Mean When I Say I’m Autistic also doesn’t serve as more comprehensive primer on Autism that someone could read and be guided onto a path of self-discovery because of how specific the text is to Annie Kotowicz’s experience (the section on Musicals for example, demonstrates this specificity quite well). If you’re looking for a more general book on Autism, check out Understanding Autism In Adults And Aging Adults by Theresa Regan. I was hoping for Annie Kotowicz to provide me with a shorter, perhaps more compelling “primer” on autism, but I definitely didn’t get that.

Long story short, I didn’t like this text very much. I was expecting something else which I didn’t get, so after reading it, I was left feeling a little confused. This is a shame because there are quite a few chapters that have concise, compelling and particularly poignant views on the Autistic experience that deserve to be in a better book.

I might be able to be convinced to read other work by Annie Kotowicz but this book really didn’t do it for me.