Women Differentiated

It was the summer of 2020, during the doldrums of the COVID-19 pandemic, when I first learned of Jenara Nerenberg’s book, Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World that Wasn’t Designed for You. Having recently learned that my 15-year-old daughter, previously identified as gifted and, having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), was also on the autism spectrum, I used the extra space and time freed up by social distancing to seek some answers about why my daughter’s many differences took so long to figure out.

Little did I know I’d learn so much about myself.

While some excellent books have been written about autism by autistic women, such as Jennifer Cook O’Toole’s Autism in Heels and Sarah Hendrick’s Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder, surprisingly few focus on the female experience of neurodiversity. So, I was thrilled to happen upon Divergent Mind, which looks at the difference being female makes on receiving an accurate “diagnosis” of any kind.

Divergent Mind is equal parts personal exploration and investigative journalism. An award-winning writer educated at Berkeley and Harvard, Nerenberg flexes her journalist’s muscles to explore how ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and sensory processing disorder (SPD) — as well as often lesser discussed sensory sensitivities, including misophonia and synesthesia — affect females specifically. In the process, she shares her personal discoveries about her own neurodivergence, providing a different perspective from the usual author-as-expert books.

The author’s investigation shines a much-needed light on the gender bias that has long pervaded the worlds of med...


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