Book Review: Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate by C. Kim
Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate is a very interesting read, The book is the story of it’s writer, Cynthia Kim, and her understanding of Autism. It is called a “User guide to an Asperger Life”. Recently, Asperger’s Syndrome was rolled into the wider category of ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ in the diagnostic manuals, so is no longer given as a diagnosis.
I came across this book about three years ago, shortly after I had become aware of Autism in a real way. I came across it via Kims excellent blog “Musings of an Aspie” which i found while trying to understand adult diagnosis, and the diagnostic criteria. The blog is still live but doesn’t seem to have been updated in many years.
I bought this book when I was starting to wonder about whether “Autism” could apply to me. This book resonated very strongly with me. Strongly enough that it actually upset me! I was searching for answers, and they were leaning towards Autism, but I wasn’t ready for that, not really. Fast forward several years and I was diagnosed in late 2020. I pulled the book back out again and reread it. It was still helpful, and I got more from it in the second reading.
So, what is the book about? In short its about navigating life with Aspergers Syndrome. It is a mixture of personal history and research. It covers topics from traits and habits, understanding the presentation of autism in the body, the sensory environment, diagnosis and self acceptance, and to forming and maintaining relationships. Anecdotes are used throughout which make the topics easy to digest.
It is really well written. The writing is clear and accessible. There is a good balance of personal stories to more generalisable ideas. The book gets a lot of very positive reviews because of this, and they are deserved.
I found it hard to read my first time out, mainly because of where I was in my own journey. There are a lot of parts that resonated, and some that cut. The quote below for example, puts into words once of my deepest fears. The type of fears that make you reject the diagnosis even while you are wondering if it might be the case.
“But when your own child asks you if you have feelings, well, that’s one of those times when the reality of ASD hits and hits hard”
Quote from the author, taken from Chapter 5 of the book.
Did I like it? I did like it. Its a really useful book. It stays on the point, and doesn’t take any longer than it needs to when explaining each topic. The chapters are also tidy enough that you could, arguably, pick it up and read just one or two relevant one. As I said, it had some parts that cut, but even those were useful for me. They helped me see my fears for what they were.
Who is it for? Like may of the books I have come across in my relatively short journey so far, this is going to be most useful for the recently diagnosed, for those who think they may be autistic, and for those who want to know more about the autistic experience.
It is definitely a useful guide. You might be wondering why then I have given it just over 4 stars and not 5? This is for just one key reason. The book was published in 2014. Its not as up to date as I would like. The world of autism is moving very quickly. The research increase, the supports are changing, the community is growing. 7 years in autism land is like 30 in others. If this was a novel then that wouldn’t matter but in terms of a guide book it does.
Final Verdict: I do recommend this book. It is very useful. It is available through all major book sellers and many public libraries.