Skip to main content

Book Review: "Blazing My Trail: Living and Thriving with Autism" by Rachel B. Cohen-Rottenberg

"Blazing My Trail: Living and Thriving with Autism" by Rachel B. Cohen-Rottenberg is a "sequel" to "The Uncharted Path" which I reviewed here and followed up here.

When we last left Rachel's story, she had fully accepted her place on the autism spectrum and was making plans to take control of parts of her life. The plans weren't big plans but every long journey begins with small steps.

At times, it feels like an entirely different person has written this book. This Rachel is capable, confident, assertive (without being nearly so argumentive) and full of promise.

Yes, it is a sequel and indeed in the first chapter or two, it feels like you need to have read the first book - but then it all changes and from then on, whenever it references past events, it provides a handy recap.

I feel that the titles of the books were very well chosen, with "The Uncharted Path" being about taking uncertain steps into unknown territory and Blazing My Trail being about running with full confidence along that path and leaving a trail for others to follow.

I get the feeling that Rachel's experience with medications had a lot to do with this positive turn of events and she spends a bit of time talking about their effect. Unlike many people, I'm not a "hater" of medications. I've seen them doing good under the right conditions. Rachel's medications however are a good reminder that regardless of how many second opinions you get, not all drugs are suitable and all must be strictly monitored with specific measurable goals in place. Some types of drugs shouldn't be taken except in the most crucial of situations.

The book provides a lot of practical and ready-to-use advice and insight for adults on the spectrum (and parents of children on the spectrum). In particular, Rachel talks about ways to overcome the sound and spatial sensitivities which are obviously the issues which give her the most trouble. Rachel also covers everyday events such as standing up for your rights as an individual - something that I, and many shy(?) aspies have a great deal of trouble with.

The second half of the book is more of a discussion of "bug bears". Rachel's feelings about the social constructs around the autism community and their perception by the wider community in general.

A lot has changed. The "old" Rachel would have written this aggressively like a lone revolutionary out on a crusade but this "new" Rachel is quietly persuasive, tolerant and altogether more worldly. She is not afraid to change her opinions or to challenge the deep seated beliefs of the wider autism community. The result is some pretty engrossing reading.

I also noticed that Rachel uses the word Aspergers more often than Autism in this book. This was strange because it felt like the word "Aspergers" had been purged from her last volume in favor of Autism. I'm sure there's an interesting story behind the turnaround but sadly it's not covered in the book, though there seem to be some tantalizing hints.

Rachel raises some absolutely brilliant concepts and covers various subjects including abelism. the puzzle piece metaphor, the theory of mind, the perception of "autism as a sickness" and label-grief.

I enjoyed this book even more than the Uncharted Path, mainly I think because of the positive outlook. This is a brilliant book by one of the most individual writers in the autism community which will have you pondering the issues it raises long after you've put it down.

Blazing My Trail is available on Amazon.

Honesty Clause: I was provided with a copy of this book at no charge for review purposes.


Anonymous said…
Thank you for the review.
It looks like another great book, I love what the author writes, I plan on buying it soon.
In times like this I hate that the freight of books for my country is so expensive and take almost two months.
Eileen said…
I just wanted to take the time and thank you for all the great info that you provide in this blog!

I have autism and Sensory Processing Disorder and love to read others and how they conquer their daily battles!

Also I have a contest going on right now if you wish for you and your followers to join in:

Have a great week ahead and keep up the great work!
Simplicity said…
I'm always excited to learn about new books about autism. I'll definitely take a look at Rachel's book. Another book I found recently that concerns autism is 'Austin Nights' by Michael Davidson (herocious). While it's not a mystery, its use of numbers reminds me a lot of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time", which I just loved.
Anonymous said…
Interesting post, this was really useful. thanks!

Popular posts from this blog

Why Do Aspies Suddenly Back-Off in Relationships? (Part 1)

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is why an aspie (or suspected aspie) suddenly goes "cold" and backs off on an otherwise good relationship. It's a difficult question and the answers would vary considerably from one person to another and would depend greatly on the circumstances. Nevertheless, I'll try to point out some possibilities. Negative Reasons I generally like to stay positive on this blog and assume that people are not necessarily "evil" but simply misguided. Unfortunately, I do have to acknowledge that there are some people out there who take advantage of others. I read a book a few years ago on "sociopaths in the workplace" and I was stunned by the figures. They suggested that sociopaths were so common that most workplaces (small business) had at least one or two. The fact is that there are lots of people out there who really feel very little for others and who are very manipulative. I'd like to say that aspies are

Aspie Myths - "He Won't Miss Me"

I apologise for the excessive "male-orientated" viewpoint in this post. I tried to keep it neutral but somehow, it just works better when explained from a male viewpoint. Here's a phrase that I've seen repeated throughout the comments on this blog on several occasions; "I know that he won't miss me when I'm gone because he's aspie" Today, we're going to (try to) bust that myth; Individuals I'll start off with a reminder that everyone is an individual. If all aspies were completely alike and predictible, they'd be a stereotype but they're not. Each is shaped by their background, their upbringing, their beliefs and their local customs. An aspie who grew up with loud abusive parents has a reasonable chance of becoming loud and abusive themselves because in some cases, that's all they know. That's how they think adults are supposed to behave. In other cases, aspies who grew up in those circumstances do a complete a

Why do Aspies Suddenly Back Off in Relationships (Part 2)

In part one, we looked at the role that Change Resistance plays in causing aspies to suddenly go "cold" in otherwise good relationships. This time, I want to look at self esteem and depression; Self Esteem The aspie relationship with themselves is tedious at best. People with Asperger's commonly suffer from low self esteem. As discussed in earlier posts, this low self esteem often results from years of emotional turmoil resulting from their poor social skills. Aspies are often their own worst enemy. They can over analyze situations and responses in an effort to capture lost nonverbal communication. This often causes them to invent problems and to imagine replies. Everything made up by aspies will tend to be tainted with their own self image. This is one of reasons that people with Asperger's will sometimes decide that they are not good enough for their partner and that they must let them go. Sometimes, the aspie will develop a notion of chivalry or self-sacri