This is currently my favorite autobiography by an autistic person. The reasons for this may be purely personal -- the author does a good job of portraying areas of autism that I don't see portrayed often. For instance, she describes sensory experiences that shift and fluctuate over time, the extent of which she does not entirely understand or notice until they start stabilizing a bit. The book also describes an emotional and physical reality I can relate to, including why the author is grouchy about certain things, what her body does in response to these things, and how her body reacts to her thinking in general. Its author seems like a slightly more amplified version of me autism-wise, but having both the language and the courage to describe things I could not. (This also makes me highly biased toward this book and less likely to be able to find fault with it even when I try, so keep the positive bias in mind.)
The plot itself is a familiar one. An autistic person is born, goes to special education for awhile, learns to type with facilitated communication, starts going to regular high school, and eventually goes on to university and physically independent typing. The way it is told is both more well-rounded and more humorous than most similar accounts manage, and is occasionally punctuated with accounts by the author's sisters and mother, and quotes from other people the author has interacted with, including a correspondence with the Australian fiction author John Marsden.
The author herself has a carefully cultivated dryly amusing tone to her writing -- and, in defiance of stereotype, she describes exactly why and how she cultivated it as she was learning to write. This defiance of stereotype, and her matter-of-fact admitting when she doesn't know something about autism, is another part of why I like the book so much. At one point, a teacher asks her why she's having trouble working with her. The author says, "I don't know. Even *I* don't fully understand autism." These sorts of admissions are rare in similar books.
This book has helped me to learn how to describe what I did not know how to describe, like the shifts in sensory experience. Equally important, it showed me that it was *possible* to describe things I had been afraid to describe, like the author's feelings about school, her reactions to being told she wasn't really disabled or autistic, and so forth -- unlike most books that put everything in terms of autistic characteristics, the author of this book put many things in terms of emotions *added to* autistic ways of showing them (including showing affection by backing into someone). It also shows the discrepancy that can exist between how non-autistic people perceive autistic people, and what we are *actually* feeling and thinking.
While I gave the book five stars, there are a few things I am uneasy about or don't like. Tony Attwood's foreword and afterword contain erroneous ideas about prior books (including that this is the first book by a fully non-speaking person, which isn't the case), and I find that they try too hard to stuff the author into the box she's been trying to step out of. The book spends a lot of time describing a three-dimensional reality of autism that few books manage, and the afterword seems to try to tidily show researchers which parts to pay attention to -- particularly the parts, unsurprisingly, that deal with "theory of mind" and other popular research ideas. I think it would be much better not to bias people to only look at one aspect of the person or to look at a person only as a potential research subject; there is too much of that going on in the autism research world already.
Neither of those things are part of the main body of the book, however. While there are a few ideas and tones within the main body that make me uncomfortable, I'm not sure there could be a book without that. If you buy it, be aware that many people have found it easier to read it outside of chronological order than in chronological order, for some reason. For the most part, this is a very good book, showing an unusually three-dimensional view of life as an autistic person, and if I'm going to recommend an autobiography by an autistic person, this is always among the first.