Anne Carpenter’s August Book Review

TITLE:  The Hidden Spectrum: Revealing the World of High-Functioning Autistic Females (Kindle Edition)

AUTHOR: Fuller, Kristin, LCSW

SUBJECT AREA: Autism Spectrum Disorder-Females

PUBLISHER: Independently Published (for both Kindle and Print Editions)


NUMBER OF PAGES: 207 for Kindle Edition

Until recently, it has been thought that autism was mostly found in males and the statistics have often borne that out-for many years. There was a much higher ratio of males to females in autism cited in the scientific literature and the bias toward males has been longstanding and stubbornly persistent. But as more and more girls and women are diagnosed as autistic this will have to be more closely examined by scientists and clinicians. The book, The Hidden Spectrum: Revealing the World of High-Functioning Autistic Females, by Kristin Fuller, LCSW, bears this out as she provides a thorough exploration of the experience of being a girl or woman on the autism spectrum.

The author starts out by describing, in minute detail, the longstanding male bias of autism research, diagnosis and resulting services and supports that doesn’t consider the differences in gender presentation of ASD. There is a description of the different manifestations of ASD in females such as more subtle characteristics with less outward aggression and a greater tendency toward other psychiatric conditions especially anxiety and depression with anxiety being a major player. Women with ASD are forced to navigate a difficult terrain throughout their lives due to lack of understanding about their condition.

The author gives a thorough description of the many difficulties women with autism face but also describes services and supports such as counseling, online support groups, forums and educational and employment supports and opportunities in each chapter. She breaks down the merits of each service and support and how it can help the individual. In addition, she offers thorough descriptions of the many difficulties faced by women with ASD and how the co-existing disorders can complicate their lives and also how they can get help for these difficulties.

Nothing is overlooked here; sensory processing challenges, anxiety, difficulties with romantic relationships are all part of the mix. The book seems repetitive at times and there is a lot of information to digest at one time, so while I found it to be an interesting and useful book, it sometimes left a bit to be desired. On the other hand, this is a necessary tool for teachers, parents and clinicians so that they can have a better understanding of what it’s like to be female on the autism spectrum and I was impressed with the thoroughness and the careful research the author put into this book. This incorporates relatively new insights into the female autistic experience and can be seen as a breath of fresh air in the autism world.

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