Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism is now in its final stages of publication, preparing to be printed for the wide world to see by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, we, the Spectrum Women and authors of this book, felt it would be a great opportunity to tell you a little about ourselves and the reasons why we were part of this incredible project. Each Spectrum Woman has a unique story to tell and today we would like to introduce you to Terri Mayne…
Since as far back as I can remember, I’d always just been me. I’d always found my own way to get by in life by working things out getting through as best I could. I had no concept that I probably seemed unusual to most people, I was often confused and sad when people didn’t share my views or interests. I somehow felt I was always starting from scratch with learning, thoughts, interests, friendships… it was as if I’d somehow missed out on a Quick Start Guide to life when everyone around me had clearly read a full book and got the t-shirt!
Throughout my childhood I’d never heard of autism, yet I always felt like I was different to my peers yet I never felt that I was unusual. As the years passed, I started to realise that I was struggling to get by, that consistently not fitting in and being excluded was actually pretty tough and not much fun at all. But throughout everything, I consistently worked out my own ways to get on in life, from enjoying interests, learning at school and attempting to socialise. As a child especially, I was never a social butterfly nor an academic whizz but I was bright and resourceful. The trouble is, when you are in school you are expected to conform both academically and socially and I couldn’t do either. My school grades weren’t bad at all but I couldn’t face going on to University, my mind had simply ceased to absorb information.
As I moved into a work environment, I found that I excelled when left to my own devices to manage a task or problem but that most jobs didn’t afford that flexibility. Having someone actually set me work caused me an enormous amount of stress and I just couldn’t function, I quit so many jobs like that. One day, a manager spotted my potential and I landed an entry level job in Project Management where I had control over my own day to manage tasks as I thought best. It suited me down to the ground. I was able to use my skills and methods — albeit non-conformist — to succeed and it felt good!
At age 33 I was identified as autistic. The more I began to understand about autism, I realised that I was no longer alone. There were others out there who thought and felt like me! First through meeting Artemisia, then Barb Cook and Kate Ross, I got to know my fellow Spectrum Women writers and we all connected so well. When Barb first spoke of the opportunity to contribute to the book, I felt honoured to be thought of amongst such capable and inspirational women.
My chapter covers Executive Functioning and whilst we discuss the challenges that many of us experience in this area with getting our brains and bodies to do the things that we want them to do, I was particularly grateful for the opportunity to write about how autistic people can use their autistic traits and abilities to achieve many things in life and share my own experiences in the hope that others may benefit. Frequently the skills of autistic people are different to those of non-autistic folk, however, we can open up a whole new dimension of thought as a result of an autistic mindset.
I am passionate for autistic people to feel empowered to make positive contributions using their skills. Autism is not just a set of deficits; an autistic mind is a different neurology, a different way of thinking and can be capable of truly ground-breaking things.
Barb Cook and 14 other autistic women describe life from a female autistic perspective, and present empowering, helpful and supportive insights from their personal experience for fellow autistic women. Michelle Garnett’s comments validate and expand the experiences described from a clinician’s perspective, and provide extensive recommendations.
Autistic advocates including Liane Holliday Willey, Anita Lesko, Jeanette Purkis, Artemisia and Samantha Craft offer their personal guidance on significant issues that particularly affect women, as well as those that are more general to autism. Contributors cover issues including growing up, identity, diversity, parenting, independence and self-care amongst many others. With great contributions from exceptional women, this is a truly well-rounded collection of knowledge and sage advice for any woman with autism.
The Authors: Edited by: Barb Cook, Michelle Garnett
Contributions by: Jen Elcheson, Artemisia, Catriona Stewart, Anita Lesko, Liane Holliday Willey, Samantha Craft, Jeanette Purkis, Kate Ross, Becca Lory, Renata Jurkevythz, Terri Mayne, Maura Campbell, Dena Gassner, Christine Jenkins
Foreword by: Lisa Morgan
Release date 21st August, 2018.
Paperback / softback / Kindle
2018, 9.02in x 5.98in / 229mm x 152mm, 288pp