Asperger syndrome is a developmental disorder that causes difficulty in communication with others due to lack of neurotypical social skills and (sometimes profound) sensitivity to sensory stimuli.
Rudy Simone knows what it’s like to live with this condition, and she’s been making the world a better place for females on the spectrum ever since the debut of her award-winning book, Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome.
Boys are diagnosed with Asperger syndrome four times more often than girls. Women and girls on the spectrum often fall through the cracks and are misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder, to name a few.
Because young girls on the spectrum often learn to “mimic” socially-appropriate behavior in order to survive, they may carry these traits into adulthood and never understand why, although they are acting like everybody else, they still feel very different.
Through both her books and her music, Rudy Simone has helped bridge the gap between the “space cadets” of the world and their neurotypical counterparts.
And each of us “Aspergirls” who fall somewhere on the spectrum are forever grateful to her for helping us connect the dots and giving us a chance to stand in the sun.
While her music and message will continue on, Rudy has penned her last book about Asperger syndrome. In a delightful play on words, said book is entitled, Aunt Aspie’s Weapon of Mass Instruction.
I had the pleasure of catching up with this multifaceted author and artist recently. In this candid Q&A, Rudy explains the origins of Aunt Aspie, what it’s like being an unintentional hero, and where the muse is leading her next.
“I was writing professionally for about a year before I became aware of Asperger syndrome. I was writing my novel, Orsath and working for Ghost Hunters (TAPS) for their magazine. I was an investigative journalist in paranormal matters, and it was a lot of fun. I was getting quite bored with it, though. Then I was a senior editor at a self-help publishing company and read hundreds of self-help books, which I’m sure has proved invaluable in my career as a non-fiction author.”
“It’s meant to be a fun title that conveys the fact that there is a LOT of information contained within its pages. Any topic I can think of, that is marginally connected with ASCs (autism spectrum conditions) or that might impact the life of someone on the spectrum, is covered.”
“It’s definitely a reference book, but it is my style of writing, meaning conversational and witty (I hope), so the reader might find they are going through the pages much as you would any book. I like the electronic format for this kind of material. You will be able to click links and jump to where you need to go at once, instead of thumbing through pages.”
- Give a funny example (excerpt) from your book.
“Epiphany – is not the name of a stripper although it could be. It is a profound realization, a true aha, light bulb moment. The brain is a flexible organ, and most people, including autistic people, will have occasional realizations their whole lives that might be considered epiphanies.
It was an epiphany when I realized, e.g. that I probably had Aspergers.
Some epiphanies are fun, some make you feel lighter, others are unpleasant, like giving birth to a bowling ball. Like when you encounter a character trait that you despise in others, then realize you possess this trait in spades. Not a very nice feeling at all, but good for growth.
Epiphanies are exhausting, especially for aspies, with their black-and-white thinking. Realizing you’ve done something less than perfect your whole life can be regrettable, but instead, be grateful that you realize it now. Someone should have a baby and name her Epiphany so they can say “I just had an epiphany and it weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces.”
5. How will people who are not on the spectrum benefit from this book?
“It actually contains a lot of useful advice, period. I’m sure that it will miss a large audience because of the title and my target audience but honestly, many people would find it fun and helpful, I’m sure. But it could obviously benefit anyone who lives, loves, or works with, people on the spectrum.”
“I had an apron and a pair of purple reading glasses et voilà!, Auntie was born. In the UK where I lived for a long time, they have what they call ‘agony aunts’ whom you can write to or call in to and they help you with your problems. She first appeared doing book reviews on my Aspergirl Show on YouTube. I would have liked to have made more episodes, but I’m so busy with so many projects, I don’t have time. She could have a full-time show with advice and cooking lessons too.”
“I have always followed the muse. It led me to Aspergers, and to my novels (I have a 2nd coming out soon) and to my albums and to other things. I honor that. Once you start doing things for money or because it’s expected, it loses soul.”
“I’ve got two albums out and both have received marvelous reviews. I’ve done it without any big corporation behind me or even bandmates so it’s been a hard slog. Today is very exciting because I’ve been asked by some young filmmakers in Hollywood to score a short film they are doing on AS, which is a proper film.”
They love my albums, Thief of Dreams and Gothic Blues and will be using a couple songs from those as well as a song from my forthcoming (3rd) record, tentatively called Penny Dreadful. As I said, I follow my muse. Music is my first love, and I’m good at it.
Yes, she is.
A lot of folks are prejudiced and don’t want to give it a chance. I’ll be clutching an Oscar or a Grammy someday, though, I really believe that.”
- How does it feel to have so many people on the spectrum learning from you and looking to you for guidance?
“It was really sobering at first. I thought, “Uh-oh, I better grow into the role.” Then I got tired of it. I write books, I’m not Gandhi. I’m more like Brian in The Life of Brian, “Stop following me.” It is nice though, to know I’ve helped people. Even the tiny bit of success I’ve had is a double-edged sword though, gossips will talk.”
“Don’t know. Like I said, I have another book and album and film coming out, so she’ll be hanging up her apron for a while, I think. If I had help and a proper camera, I’d love to do some more shorts for YouTube because she really is a bit of a character. I had to rein her in several times while writing because she does have a risqué sense of humor and a bit of a salty vocabulary.
When you have been through as much as she has, you really just don’t mess about. You say what you mean and you mean what you say. Those who don’t like it can go to that other aunt’s house. You know, the one with the pink curtains, candy cane rails, and sugar roof.”
I have to say, this writer would prefer Aunt Aspie’s house over the candy house any day. After all, Hansel and Gretel didn’t fare so well there, did they? 😉
My sincere thanks to Rudy Simone for taking some time out of her hectic schedule to do this interview.
Get your copy of Aunt Aspie’s Weapon of Mass Instruction today.