Twirling Naked in the Streets is an autobiography about growing up as a girl with undiagnosed autism.
The story unfolds in a straightforward manner that makes it easy to follow along and relate to the ways the young girl’s quirks, hypersensitivities and presumed princess manners cause social friction, bewilderment and hostility in her near surroundings.
It is a lonely story, a path of misunderstandings and mysterious dysfunctions into an ever more complicated adult world where the alienation seems to grow with every anticipated and missed milestone, up till the ‘moment of truth’ where Jeannie’s diagnosis, emerging self insight and discovery of online communities of fellow aspies gives her the explanation she was looking for.
Despite the gloomy plot, the story isn’t a heavy read – it is vivid, humorous and entertaining to read, and the simple, matter-of-fact like observations of Jeannie’s fellow characters make them easy to imagine and relate to.
What I liked most about the book is how it shows ways autism symptoms can present in girls and women who may otherwise not come across as stereotypically autistic. Jeannie is a girl who talks well (and a lot). Who has friends at least some of the time. Who goes out (drowning the sensory overload with alcohol), studies (albeit interrupted), lands jobs, and initially comes across as socially capable at job interviews (although she can’t hold onto the jobs). She also gets married and have kids.
In other words, from an outsider’s perspective her life may seem fairly normal, but in reality her autism pervades all spheres of her life, draining her energy and limiting her capacity to meet the standards of a so called normal life / womanhood.