Autism in ‘Freya Harte is not a Puzzle’

Greetings Earthlings! 🙂

This week I’d like to talk to you about an exciting new book for autistic teenagers- ‘Freya Harte is not a Puzzle‘ by up and coming Irish author Méabh Collins. The book centres on 14 year old Freya Harte who has just received an autism diagnosis and details her experiences as she comes to terms with it.

Having read an article about this book and it’s author Méabh (she and I are the same age and interestingly also diagnosed at the same age!) I was very excited to read it. Finally- a book about a teenage girl with autism written by a fellow autist! Best of all, Freya is coming up through the Irish education system- just the kind of book my teenage self could have related to.

So what did I make of it?

Author Méabh Collins

Quite frankly, I couldn’t put the book down! Freya’s experiences of autism were so similar to my own (apart from the timeline on the diagnosis), I really connected with her. Her literal thinking, the constant battle to fit in with her peers, the struggles to keep the tears at bay, the solace of the confined bathroom stall- it all hit very close to home. One of the things I most liked about the book was how Méabh gave us a genuine insight into the workings of the autistic mind and the issues we can have with twisted logic. For example, Freya struggles with an eating disorder because she read an article about foods for a healthy brain and thought that if she changed her diet drastically, maybe her brain would be more normal. She also gets up really early on a Saturday and takes the Luas into Dublin city to buy a Disney magazine far away from where anyone she may know might catch her buying it so that her peers don’t judge her for her specialist interest. It seems a bit daft when you read it, but these are the kind of logical decisions/conclusions the autistic mind makes- there’s method in the perceived madness!

This book gives great insight into how we work and I would highly recommend it for any teachers, parents or friends who are trying to support a woman through an autism diagnosis. No two autists are the same, but it’s a very good starting point to help you to understand what our minds go through on a day to day basis, how we see the world and rationalize every aspect of our day. Méabh deliberately took the approach of focusing on autism from the inside out. No stereotypical savants, no tricks or exaggerations for dramatic/comedic effect; just a nuanced exploration of the female autistic experience so that the reader can begin to understand how and why we think the way we do.

Understanding goes a long way to helping an autist, so this book is a must read for anyone who knows a woman with autism and would like an insight into the autistic mind.

Hope you enjoyed this post dear Earthlings! 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!


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