By Clara Törnvall

Why did the poet Emily Dickinson write poems about the sea without ever having seen it? Why is Wonderland so strange to Alice? Why does movie star Daryl Hanna so often play a robot or a mermaid? What does the philosopher Simone Weil mean with “to love oneself as a stranger”? And why do the TV-viewers think that Greta Thunberg is joking?

The Autistic – Women on the Spectrum is a personal essay about women with high-functioning autism. The book studies how the autistic woman has been positioned in culture, myths and reality. Who is she, who has she been, and why has she been invisible for so long?

The adult autistic woman is a person that we do not yet know. Up until the 1980s, autism was regarded as a condition reserved for boys. In movies and TV-shows, the talented and socially awkward woman is still portrayed as a copy of the manly nerd, with the same interest in computer games, the Rubik’s Cube, and train timetables.

And yet, these women exist, and always have existed, in all social classes and cultures. With her own autism evaluation as a framework, Clara Törnvall takes a journey back in time and sees her own and others’ history through new eyes.

The Autists is set in the reception rooms at the neuropsychiatry in Stockholm; in cultural history and at the kitchen table in the homes of ordinary autistic women. It’s an eye-opening book that questions our view of normality and deviation, and a group of women who’ve been invisible in society up until now.

First published by Natur & Kultur, Sweden 2021

Czech Republic, Host
Chinese Simplified, Dook Book
Denmark, Forlaget Klim
Estonia, Hea Lugu
Finland, Atena
Germany, Hanser Berlin
Hungary, Europa Publisher
Italy, Elliot Edizioni
Netherlands, Uitgeverij Volt
Poland, Osnova
Sweden, Natur & Kultur
World English, Scribe Publications

Personal, entertaining, educational.
M Magasin

She writes with clarity, the style is characterised with rigour and clear pedagogics, making it easy for the reader to learn a subject that for many has only had a stereotypical ‘Rain Man’-connotations.”
Svenska Dagbladet

…even if you ought to avoid hyping the autistic as superheroes, Törnvall shows that conformity to the norm is a ludicrous waste of the power in these beautiful brains.
Dagens Nyheter

[E]ven today, the adult autistic woman is a person who is difficult to grasp. She’s our civilisations’ elusive shadow. She’s the topic of of the thought-provoking book, The Autistic.

A carefully and intelligently composed book that fills a gaping hole.[…] It is part of a big knowledge building that is ultimately about getting girls and women on the spectrum made visible and noticed.
Dagens ETC