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But Everyone Feels This Way

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Member Reviews

I absolutely cannot wait to devour this. (haven't had the chance to sit and read but giving it a 5 stars now - if anything changes you'll know via social media)

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With most memoirs, I already have a good sense of who the author is, like in the case of Making It So, and I’ve picked up the memoir because I’m interested in hearing their story in their own words. In the case of But Everyone Feels This Way, I hadn’t heard of Paige Layle before. Instagram recommended a Reel by her. I don’t remember the Reel or what she said in it, but she mentioned her book coming out soon. I was intrigued, looked it up, and was able to get an eARC through NetGalley/Hachette.

Paige Layle is a twenty-three-year-old from Ontario, Canada—the same province as me, and a fact I only realized when I was well into the book and noticed she was using a lot of Canadian school terms, like saying “Grade 3” instead of “third grade,” and then she mentioned Toronto, and I was like, “CANADIAN. WE HAVE A CANADIAN HERE. FROM ONTARIO LIKE ME.” Sorry, I get unreasonably excited when unexpected Ontarians show up in my to-read list. Anyway, Layle is quite young to write a memoir, but they are passionate about being an autism communicator. Layle takes us chronologically through their life, sharing how they struggled through early childhood and adolescence. She expected her autism diagnosis, received at fifteen, to change everything and was surprised when it didn’t—but it allowed her to better express her needs, work on her relationship with her mom, and figure out what she wanted after high school.

Autism as a condition is drastically misunderstood. At its core, But Everyone Feels This Way is a first-person account of “discovering” autism. It has two major audiences: allistic people like myself who want to learn more about autistic people’s experiences, and young, neurodivergent people who might be autistic and not realize it. For that latter group, I hope some of them find this book illuminating.

Women in particular are underrepresented among autism diagnoses. This compounds misunderstandings about what it means to be autistic, what “#ActuallyAutistic” looks like, as the hashtag might say. I briefly perused Layle’s Instagram as I prepared to write this review, and I noticed a disturbing trend of comments like so: “You aren’t autistic, stop pretending. If you were autistic you wouldn’t be able to talk to us like this.” Now, it’s no surprise that the comments are a toxic trashfire. Still, I think these comments represent an unwillingness among the public to believe that autistic people can be verbal, can communicate with grace and elegance, can have complex and nuanced takes on things. This comes down to stereotypes—but I’d argue it’s also symptom of insecurity among neurotypical and allistic people who are invested in the idea that autism is something to be feared rather than embraced, at best tolerated as opposed to accepted and even celebrated. It’s these people whom Layle hopes to disarm, I think.

But Everyone Feels This Way is quite raw and pointed. While some will call Layle’s style simplistic, there is a difference between simplistic and simple, and Layle’s writing is the latter. It’s clear, and it’s honest—allistic readers are just used to people not saying exactly what they mean, engaging in ellipsis, etc. While I won’t litigate the legitimacy of Layle’s autism, let me say that Layle’s writing is, to me, one of the clearest indicators that they are autistic. It’s not bad writing; it’s just different from the range of styles that tend to be drummed into neurotypical writers—and if that isn’t your thing, cool, but I think you would be missing out.

What I found most compelling about this book is how Layle builds, layer by layer, our understanding of her experience of autism as she moves through the each year of her life. I like to think I had a good handle on general facts about autism, many of which Layle shares in various fact-box sidebars throughout the book. However, there is a difference between holding a mental list of autistic traits in my head and actually hearing an autistic person describe how she embodies and experiences those traits on a daily basis. In this way, this book serves its primary purpose as a memoir: to build a richer empathy for autistic life than a work of more general reference nonfiction could ever achieve.

As a teacher, I found the chapters in which Layle is in high school very helpful and challenging. She describes in detail the process of getting an IEP, an individual education plan (this is the point where I realized she’s in Ontario) and how some teachers would abide by this plan while others would … not. This doesn’t surprise met, but it does sadden me. I would like more Ontario high school teachers to read this book so they can hear directly from an autistic person why the accommodations in an IEP are not niceties, not wants, but needs.

The problem, Layle makes clear here, is not Layle themself. It’s that we built our society for neurotypical people, so neurodivergent people are often at a disadvantage in meeting expectations. School is difficult because you need to be quiet, sit still, not challenge your teacher’s authority or expertise even if you’re confused by how they are teaching you, etc. Neurotypical people, and most allistic, neurodivergent people like myself, learn how to play the game well enough to mostly fit in. (In my case, for example, I can relate to a lot of Layle’s experience in terms of being highly intelligent and academically motivated while not very socially involved. However, I didn’t experience her struggles to understand her teachers’ or peers’ emotions and motivations, so I had an easier time figuring out “how to behave” in high school. This is the privilege of an allistic brain.)

Ironically, for a book with a subtitle all about the diagnosis itself, this aspect of the book seems to be the least well-developed. I thought it was really interesting how Layle admits to disappointment that their diagnosis did not magically fix how people relate to them—there is a particular scene between Layle and their former best friend that highlights this keenly. I wish Layle had gone more into this side of things, but instead she focuses more on how the diagnosis changed her family dynamic.

This isn’t a perfect book, and of course it behoves me to observe that Layle in many ways fits the mould of influencer: young, white, woman. But Everyone Feels This Way runs the risk of being elevated into some universal tale of autistic experience because we would like it to be that simple. We like it when we can read one book about something and say we know about that identity. But it’s not that simple, of course. Layle can’t speak for all autistic people, doesn’t pretend to, and if you expect this to be a general crash course in autism, look elsewhere. Although there are some basic definitions and facts sprinkled throughout, this book is a memoir first—it just happens to be a memoir by an Actually Autistic person.

And that, in my opinion, is a good enough reason to pick it up. Layle’s unrelenting honesty, the way she matter-of-factly links her struggles to her suicide ideation and attempts, is a good enough reason to keep reading to the end. Because ultimately this is a book about someone trying to come to terms with the fact that the world was not built for them—and the people for whom it was built have no idea just how different things seem the people on the outside. Sometimes bemused, sometimes distraught, sometimes nonchalant, Layle’s memories reveal the kaleidoscope of rich, wonderful, uplifting, terrifying truths that accompany being a young autistic person coming of age in the 2010s and navigating adulthood in the 2020s.

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WHEW. This is a memoir of late diagnosis, of twice-exceptional, of understanding why women are frequently excluded from the ASD process, and so much more. In so many ways, it felt like this could be my story (except dx at 29, not 15). A deeply moving memoir and one I highly recommend even for those outside the ASD community! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free advance copy.

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This review was sent out to Penumbra...and will be out, hopefully, in the coming weeks. I got word it is under revision.

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Book Review — “But Everyone Feels This Way: How an Autism Diagnosis Saved My Life” by Paige Layle

Pub Info — Coming on March 26, 2024 from @hachettebooks @hachetteus @hachettego. Currently has a 4.26 average & 30 reviews on Goodreads.

Categories — Nonfiction, Memoir/Biography, Autism & Spectrum Disorders, Autism in Women & Children, Advocacy, Psychology

The Author — Paige Layle is a “autism acceptance activist” on YouTube and TikTok. She was diagnosed with ASD at 15. @paigelayle is her handle. She makes videos on TikTok and has over 2.5 million followers.

Quick Summary — Layle, now in her 20s, writes on her experience growing up and being “diagnosed late” with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

More Info & Thoughts ⤵️

🌸 This is an informal look at ASD in young girls in a modern age. While it is an informal biographical & anecdotal account, Layle connects her experiences with psychology.

🌸 I don’t know anything about Layle outside of this book. I didn’t know about her advocacy or TikTok; I just thought the book sounded interesting. That being said, it definitely resonated with me. Passages felt like they could’ve been lifted right out of my memories — knowing you didn’t fit in, something was off with your socialization or personality and your peers knew it, but you really didn’t know why and teachers just separated you from the class and gave you extra work 😂

🌸 These stories reflect back on themes of the diagnosis — rigidity, adherence to structure, discipline, topic obsession, social missteps and over calculating your behavior, pattern recognition, observing everything to the point of overwhelming yourself, perfectionism, masking. It’s not always obvious, but it’s clear if the content resonates with you what she’s portraying in her stories.

🌸 This book is accessibly written, casual but informative. If you’re a woman* who thinks they relate to any of this, I encourage you to try this book. You may see yourself in the pages.

*Anyone can read this and get value, but it’s common for women to go undiagnosed or unnoticed. Gender is part of this book’s advocacy as well. So, might be of special interest.

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First, I acknowledge that I am not the target demographic for this book, so my review may not carry as much weight.

Paige Layle is an autism advocate who found her voice on TikTok. She writes about her experience with autism and her path to a diagnosis. I admire her commitment to advocating for her disability (and she does define it as a disability) and her attempt to inform others about autism, both theoretically and practically.

However, I did not like the writing style or the format of the book. It was full of random quotes and maybe poems? There were so many lists and what the author described as "field notes," as well as the stream of consciousness of a someone barely in their 20s.

Again, I admire the attempt and I do believe this book could be helpful for young people struggling with the same things the author did, but for the rest of us, this one is probably worth skipping.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this book.

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Happy Publication Day, But Everyone Feels This Way!

As we head into World Autism Month in April, with the official World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, there is no better time than the present to review this important memoir. But Everyone Feels This Way was written by Paige Layle, an activist and influencer who sheds on what life is like as an adult autistic woman.

You might recognize Paige Layle from TikTok. Since the muddled days of the pandemic, Paige has been posting short videos to the “For You Page” where she advocates for disability awareness and educates viewers by drawing upon her own experiences as an autistic female.

Her book, But Everyone Feels This Way, expands on her digital platform by incorporating accessible learning opportunities with her lived experience growing up with autism. She recounts her early years, her challenges with mental illness, her autism diagnosis, and most importantly, the way the world and her perspective of it changed upon receiving her diagnosis.

Paige and I are like—in many ways.

As a neurodivergent myself, I recognize the importance of #OwnVoices literature that reflects the lived experiences of any individual with a disability. Even more so as a woman with these experiences. When I was diagnosed with ADHD in my twenties, it was, as Paige Layle puts it, Not A Good Time.

There is so much information and frankly misogyny pervading the understanding of disabilities as they pertain to AFAB individuals. Paige Layle put so perfectly into words what it’s like when you don’t look like you have a disability—according to neurotypical standards, of course.

As her story progressed, I really resonated with Paige Layle’s experiences. Particularly because Paige and I both attended McMaster University and we both dropped out after our first year. While I ultimately returned under very different circumstances, Paige Layle chose not to return to formal education.

During our time there, we both dealt with the Student Accessibility Services (SAS). To say I was disappointed by my experiences with SAS is… an understatement. It goes to show how difficult it is to exist in neurotypical spaces as a neurodivergent and how common these perspectives are.

Paige’s story is incredibly important and timely.

More and more, society is becoming educated about disabilities. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, young people were diagnosed 7% more in 2022 than they were in 2017, while the working-age population was diagnosed 4% more.

While some may wrongly attribute this to a cavalier nature about diagnoses, anyone who has actually fought for a diagnosis knows how incredibly difficult and problematic the system is.

The key to increased accessibility of diagnoses and proper accommodations is, of course, awareness. Books like But Everyone Feels This Way help. However, Paige’s story is not just for those who create the systems; it is also for those who live within them.

Her book is informative for those who are less educated on autism or those who are trying to better understand the experiences of a loved one, like a family member, partner, or friend. Most importantly, autistic readers can see themselves in Paige’s story and feel represented.

Representation is absolutely crucial in literature, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. Paige’s memoir is beautifully written, raw and authentic. I would recommend it to anyone within my network, whether online or in-person, because I really did enjoy it that much and believe that it is crucial reading. TL;DR: Go read this book!!!

Paige Layle’s memoir is educational and emotional; a must-read for understanding disability in the modern age.

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I've followed Paige on TikTok since she initially blew up back in 2020. I found what she was sharing about Autism incredibly relatable and she just had this spark that I really loved. A couple of months back, when I saw that she had a book coming out, I was incredibly excited and interested in what she would say.

But Everyone Feels This Way is a raw and honest account of Paige's childhood where she went undiagnosed, to her mental health struggles, and then follows the difficulties she still faces surrounding the ignorance people have about Autism. It was a very informative read while also remaining deeply personal to her own experience.

I loved the formatting of Paige telling her own story and the interjecting "field notes" of stuff she noticed while the event was happening. I also listened to the audiobook which Paige narrates and she was such a great narrator.

I often feel weird about rating memoirs and so on goodreads I have this marked as no rating, but Netgalley won't let me do that so I will just give it five stars. Just know that I really did love this book.

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It's been a while since I've read a memoir, and this one was a pleasant surprise! As someone not on the spectrum but otherwise ND, it's always so interesting to talk to/hear from other neurodivergent adults about their experiences.

Didn't listen to the audiobook, but I've heard it's a good complimentary experience (read by Layle herself), so I look forward to checking that out as well!

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What a story!! I commend Paige for her candid look into the life of someone with autism. Being 46, I can really feel for classmates of mine who were labeled "bad kids" because no one really knew about autism back then. Definitely eye opening and I recommend this to parents, kids, and young adults alike to help further understand the struggles of someone dealing with autism.

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This was a very informative and enlightening memoir covering the author's life from early childhood to adulthood and her struggles with mental health and autism both before and after diagnosis. It's written in a very accessible way from a youthful perspective.

Notable moments that stuck in my memory:

- The early memory about picking a seat on a schoolbus and being very particular about it. When I was a child, I similarly had my "favourite seat" on a tram wagon and I didn't realize it could be a sign of ASD.

- The endless asking of questions and just wanting to know / understand things that were "obvious" to everyone else. I got so many people accuse me of trolling them, annoying them or asking bad faith questions. Seems it's just normal in autism to "not get it", especially when it comes to convoluted social rules.

- Author's mother being "offended" that her daughter "behaves autistic". Luckily, the mom finally got around to accept her daughter, but so many of us relate to "you aren't my perfect child as I envisioned it" parental rejection and spite.

- The "go cry somewhere else" and "you just want attention" reactions. I wish parents understood their child wanting their attention is a normal developmental trait not a sign of bad character. I swear parents just want self-raising children like ready made cupcakes.

- Parents having guests / friends over in the house where they smoked, drank and swore... How irresponsible can you be to do that in front of your children and then dismiss it as "mommy and daddy are having fun"? Awful. Go do that in a pub or a restaurant, not at home with underage children. Eww.

- Peer rejection and broken friendships because the author was judged by the allistic standards and "I don't care if you're autistic, you should still behave the way it's convenient for me" attitude.

- Treating teachers like friends and peers and not like bosses or gods. Respecting people for what they know and how they behave and not for their hierarchical position. And then teachers hating the author for it or punishing her for it... I wish "respect is earned, not given" applied to parents and teachers too.

- The psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and therapists ranging from mostly helpless to outright dismissive. I could write a whole book how the mental health help industry is unequipped to serve neurodivergent people. Every time she repeated "I didn't go there to vent, I expected actionable advice and didn't get it" I felt I knew this all too well.

- The "you don't look autistic" dismissals. Omg. I wish we didn't have to deal with that nonsense anymore, but it's everywhere.

- The brief mentions of "treatments" for autistic people which were basically lessons "how to be more palatable to allistic people" (for example how to properly hold eye-contact). Somehow, nobody does any training how to make allistic people more palatable to autistic people. I feel this is a shared minority experience, any minority, racial, gender, sexual, ethnic, religious, disabled people, neurodivergent people, mentally ill people - the focus is always how do they change themselves to "fit in" into the society arranged by the rules of the majority, and very little effort is put into how to accommodate minorities so they can be their actual authentic fully realized selves.

It's a memoir of great resilience and trying to save yourself in a world where everyone else wants you to be not-you. It has an uplifting ending, the author started independent adult life, worked, became an influencer, and found more inner peace, balance and happiness. It's just heartbreaking to witness how hypocritical the society is, telling everyone "be yourself" but leaving the unspoken out "...as long as you are who we want you do be". You have to fight on every step for basic human rights like tolerance, freedom, independence, self-worth.

I wish she explained at the end what happened with Sam or her father, but I guess it wasn't necessary for the big picture.

Also glad she mentioned some positive relationships in her life: with her brother, a couple of teachers who understood her, with her dog. Autistic people crave real connection too, yet are often depicted as unable to be connected with by everyone else. Luckily, it's not the case here.

Thank you Hachette Go for the ARC!

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By far one of the BEST autism memoirs I've read! This is a deeply personal, open book about the autism influencer author's journey to getting an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, her struggles with self-acceptance, depression and suicidal ideation as well as great commentary and insights into societal ableism and how one autistic person's experience is only one autistic person's experience.

HIGHLY, highly recommended, especially on audio read by the author herself. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital and audio copy in exchange for my honest review. Perfect for fans of books like fellow Canadian, Sarah Kurchak's award-winning "I overcame my autism and all I got was this lousy anxiety disorder."

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Paige grew up knowing she was different than everyone else. She struggled for years before finally getting an autism diagnosis.

It was really interesting to hear Paige’s stories as a non-autistic person. I definitely learned a lot from this memoir!

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.
I have been reading a lot about autism lately, and this is a very powerful addition to the books I have read. This author bravely details her childhood and all her suffering--including suicidal thoughts--and how finally arriving at a diagnosis, and then finally choosing to learn about herself, made her life more manageable and worth living. I like how Layle was brave enough to show it all--her behaviors that caused her problems and misery both at home and school, and how no one seemed to be listening or to know what to do or how to help. I also like how she showed that just receiving a diagnosis alone did not "fix" everything--she still had a hard road ahead of her, and even now autism affects her life all day, every day. I also appreciated the more informational explanations about autism, about being disabled. Very well done and a powerful read.

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I was very intrigued to read this after an enlightening conversation with my older brother. Our father, while a very good man, husband and provider- had some offbeat tendencies of which we had talked about for years. One glaring tendency was not being able to really look someone in the eye while speaking to them. My brother speculated, "I wonder if he was autistic?" My father was born in 1924, so the term wasn't "available" back then.

Paige tells her story from early childhood to present day (she's about 23) describing situations that set her apart from everyone. A ton of crying, asking a lot of questions in class when she didn't understand something, preferring to work absolutely alone rather than in groups, being excluded from parties, hearing noises that to others might be subtle or non-existent- but to Paige a relentless persecution in the background. These are just some of her challenges, but she also suffered from depression and the nagging desire to kill herself.

Paige seeks out help through various therapists and psychiatrists, spends a horrific sounding stint in the psych ward, and finally gets the diagnosis of Autism. While she still suffers from her brain being built different than most people, she embraces her diagnosis, establishes boundaries to enhance her life, and freely shares her diagnosis when conflicts arise.

I read the ebook and also listened to the audiobook (which she personally narrated). I enjoyed both versions, but was really impressed with the strength and sense of self that bled through her narration. It was as if every single word was so important to her, and she carefully delivered each sentence with that reverence- and occasional spunk. Paige was a top tier student in school, even rating Valedictorian- and approached her schoolwork with an almost manic attention. She is a young woman with a lot of focus and drive with a purpose to educate people about the Autism diagnosis. I commend Paige for her heartfelt efforts.

Thank you to the publisher Hachette Books / Hachette Audio/ Hachette Go who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

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I was first introduced to the author by a client of mine who was questioning their own neurodivergence. After learning that Paige was writing a book about her experience as an AuDHDer, I knew that I needed to read this to better support my clients. As an AuDHDer myself, I found this book to speak to my own experience as a neurodivergent human and the pain and strength that comes with being able to put to words the internal experience of being autistic. I will further recommend this book to clients and friends of mine, especially female-identifying clients and friends, who are on the path to better understanding their beautiful minds and neurodivergence. I also recommend this book to others who desire to better understand and support the humans in their lives who are neurodivergent. Thank you to NetGalley and Paige for this beautifully written ARC.

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My niece was recently diagnosed with Autism, my son is going through an evaluation, and I’ve been wondering about myself. This book was too good not to pick up for this phase of my life.
I am not active on social media enough to know who this author is but I loved reading her story.
There were parts where she was rambling, or the story felt confusing with backtracking but that’s also why I liked the book. She made me see things that are very similar to my niece and even some small things similar to my young son. It’s so nice to be able to get a glimpse inside of a brain similar to someone I know so well. I have had my sister put this book on her reading list and I think my niece will enjoy it in a few years when it is her age level. She currently feel very alone in her diagnosis and we are always trying to find others similar to her.

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This book was extremely insightful, and I loved that the author included scientific information on top of her personal experiences. I really appreciated hearing her story and seeing her journey of self acceptance and learning what works for her. This was a great book!

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As the mother of a girl who was “too social” to have autism, this book hits home. Girls present differently than boys, and it’s a spectrum for a reason. As the old saying goes “if you know someone with autism, then you know one person with autism.” Everyone with autism is an individual. Just like the neurotypical community. It’s hard to believe we all still need so much educating in 2024, but we do. We are always changing and learning. Paige Layle provides a much needed voice on this topic. I’ve heard complaints about the author’s age, but why would we make someone wait until a certain age to share their story? Her perspective is vital and I’m appreciative she took the time to write this book and help make autistic people feel more seen, and to help the rest of us understand a little bit more.

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But Everyone Feels this Way by Paige Layle reads as part memoir, part educational piece and part self help. Paige was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in her early teens and shares her experience as a child living with undiagnosed autism and how her diagnosis changed her life. Paige gives us an honest look into what life has been like for her. I learned a lot about autism throughout this book and she has inspired me to continue to learn more. She is an excellent teacher and gives easy to digest comparisons to help ensure understanding. I always find it challenging to rate a memoir because I never want to judge someone's personal story but I struggled with the slow pacing and felt the language used was for a young adult audience. Overall I think this book could be a great resource to help allistic people better understand the experience of living with autism. Thank you to Hachette Books and NetGalley for the ARC.

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