Am I autistic, or is autism something I suffer from? Should I come out, to my friends, to my family, to the people I work with? Should I drop the mask? How can I explain my experience to a neurotypical world?

The Subtle Spectrum offers an exploration into the postdiagnostic landscape of autism and the transformative journey of one woman, from her awareness of difference, through acceptance, to an embracing of autistic identity and beyond as she questions the cultural identity of autism.

Joanna’s narrative is enriched with insights from a range of diverse contributors, creating a reflective opportunity for people to gain a better understanding of the experience of being autistic. With a focus on relationships built across a neurodiverse divide, the book considers topics as broad as mental health, work opportunities and abuse, weaving theory and research with lived experience to give true insight into the life of an autistic person, both pre- and post- diagnosis.

Written with a raw and engaging honesty, this is a crucial read for anybody who identifies as autistic as an adult or teenager, or anyone looking to support somebody exploring diagnosis. It will also provide an invaluable insight for social workers, educators and relationships counsellors working with autistic people.

chapter 1|2 pages


chapter 4|4 pages

Fragments of difference

chapter 5|6 pages

Reflections on difference

chapter 6|12 pages

Fragments of awareness

chapter 7|3 pages

Moving between difference and awareness

chapter 8|9 pages


chapter 9|12 pages

The report

chapter 13|25 pages


chapter 14|16 pages

Blog part three: half a year after diagnosis

chapter 15|5 pages

Reflection: history repeating

chapter 17|12 pages

Reflection: interoception

chapter 18|28 pages

Emotional connection

chapter 19|15 pages

Pregnancy (explanations of a photoblog)

chapter 20|13 pages

Special interests

chapter 22|6 pages

To be identified is our pride