Book review: I am autistic by Chanelle Moriah

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I Am Autistic – Chanelle Moriah (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)

Reviewed by Louise Ward

Chanelle Moriah was diagnosed with autism at the age of 21. For years, they struggled to fit in, leading to poor mental health and suicidal thoughts.

This book is Chanelle’s personal experience of being autistic aimed at reassuring autistic people and educating neurotypical people with the goal of making life a little easier for everyone.

The book is a beautifully bound hardcover, written and illustrated by Chanelle, who is diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and SPD (sensory processing disorder).

It’s part manual and part diary, with a note on how to use the book (however, it’s better for you, but there’s a structure if you need it), checkboxes for mark the parts of the experiment and larger boxes in which to take notes. There are line drawings that break up the text nicely, illustrating what behaviors can look like and often injecting humor into the proceedings.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which a person’s nervous system has developed differently than most people.

Chanelle says, “It involves all aspects of how our minds and bodies work.”

The book then goes on to explain stimming, eye contact, sensory issues with clothing and food, cognitive overload, and being literal to name just a few of the ways in which life (or rather, neurotypical people) throw curveballs at people with ASD every day.

I found this book fascinating, clear and engaging, and very easy to read. This is a book that will enable many of us to recognize behaviors on a personal level, with the benefit of normalizing and managing them.

It also creates the opportunity to understand neurodiverse people in our lives and communities, opening up space for dialogue that can only benefit us all.

A wonderful resource for individuals, parents, employees – all of us.

■ The Hawke’s Bay Readers and Writers Trust has arranged for Chanelle Moriah to give a free book and ASD lecture at the Hastings Library on Wednesday, June 29 at 6:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Email [email protected] with any questions.

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