What to Say Next is a thoughtful, useful book filled with specific examples and advice for autistic people struggling with communication in their lives. It's personal, it's relatable, and out of the books I've read on Autism thus far, this one sits at the top.
For those of you who don't know, around the end of last year I made a masterlist post of all the books on Autism I could find that I think might actually be worth reading. Over the last few months I started to work my way through this list.
Camouflage by Dr. Sarah Bargiela
Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism by Eva A. Mendes and Meredith R. Maroney
The Autism-Friendly Guide to Self-Employment by Robyn Stewart
I Overcame By Autism and All I Got Was This Louse Anxiety Disorder by Sarah Kurchak
What to Say Next: Successful Communication in Work, Life, and Love With Autism Spectrum Disorder by Sarah and Larry Nannery
This book review will focus on What to Say Next, as again, I found it to be the most useful.
Using her personal experience living as a professional woman with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sarah Nannery, together with her husband, Larry, offers this timely communication guide for anyone on the Autism spectrum looking to successfully navigate work, life, and love.
Read the full summary here.
4.58 stars on The StoryGraph
Nonfiction, business, self-help
Informative, reflective, emotional
No content warnings yet.
While I may not be the intended audience for this book as I am not a mother or wife like Sarah Nannery, I do still believe that reading her perspective and journey through living with autism has helped me prepare for my future as I shift from being a student to a professional.
Each chapter of this book takes you through specific challenges that autistic people face in work, life, and love, as it relates to communication. Not only does Sarah state the facts and key challenges, but she provides examples from her personal life to demonstrate and explain these struggles.
I specifically related to the ones about her work life. Having had a few jobs now and gone through college group work, I know how easy it is for things to go astray. I'll miss certain cues, realize later on that I could have handled something better than I did, or that my tone might have come off differently than I intended. There is also the miscommunication and in turn the misunderstanding that follows many interactions between colleagues or supervisors. There was definitely a bit of second-hand embarrassment when reading some of her stories.
Larry Nannery, her husband, also offers his "two cents" at the end of each chapter. He is neurotypical and has an entirely different view of some of the events that Sarah describes. It was interesting to read about their dynamic and how they make it work as an ND/NT couple. It also gave me hope as I know many autistic individuals (including myself) struggle with relationships, especially romantic ones.
However, I'd say the last chapter is the best chapter. It covers self-care tips and advice for dealing with meltdowns, burnout, and other key autistic traits/struggles like sensory and emotional overload. It's always nice to hear from people just like you share how they manage their daily challenges in a world not built for us. It's comforting, but also highly applicable to each of our lives. It's also why I enjoyed I Overcame My Autism so much. I like hearing actual stories from real people, it's easier to connect and resonate with.
I highly recommend this book for anyone, whether you have autism or not. Sarah and Larry Nannery express in the beginning that they want this book to be for anyone struggling with communication. I know it would help a lot of neurotypicals (in work settings, but also in general and social settings) understand autistics and other neurodivergents, but it could also help us understand each other better too.
If you've read this book, let me know what you thought of it! If you haven't, I bet it's on your TBR list now.