A woman with long brown hair smiling next to a yellow book with the words 'Unique.'
10 Mar

Q & A with Jodi Rodgers, author of 'Unique'

This month, we caught up with sexologist, counsellor and educator Jodi Rodgers, who we all adored watching on the ABC’s ‘Love on the Spectrum.’ We spoke to her about her book ‘Unique’ and why it’s important for both autistic and non-autistic readers alike.

Congratulations on publishing your book ‘Unique!’ What inspired you to write it? 

I have spent over 30 years listening to the stories of autistic people and am a believer that stories are a wonderful way in which we can learn about one another. This is a book of stories. I wanted to share with others how much my autistic people have taught me and shifted my understanding of how we all experience the world, and how we relate and understand one another.

‘Unique’ includes dozens of moving stories from some of the autistic people you’ve worked with throughout your career. What was the process of incorporating these stories like and why are they such an important part of the book?

I struggled with the fact that I’m a neurotypical person who was writing about autism, but it was the autistic people in my life who encouraged me to keep writing. Each chapter is based on an experience that I’ve had with an autistic person and how these experiences changed my point of view of how we all think, sense and feel emotions and also how we communicate our differences. These stories are about shifting the perceptions of any reader about all people in their lives, autistic or not.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of misconceptions around autism and the experiences of autistic people. How does ‘Unique’ dispel some of these harmful myths?

I believe “Unique” demonstrates the diversity of autism, but the greatest myth that I wanted to be blown apart, was that autistic people do not desire friendships and relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth.

‘Unique’ emphasises the importance of being empathetic and curious about all of the relationships in our lives. Why do you think it’s so difficult for us to do this and how can we change our mindset?

I think that the “more different” a person is from ourselves, the harder it is for us to feel that we can connect with them. We are very quick to judge difference, rather than taking the time to learn from one another. If we were all a little more patient, if we all listened with an open mind, then there are so many wonderful things to learn. Each of us has our own point of view and experience of this world and that gives us all access to a wealth of knowledge on what it is to be human.

‘Unique’ reveals that all of us are often more similar than we think, regardless of whether we’re autistic or not. What are some similarities between neurodivergent and neurotypical people that people are often unaware of?

Many people are not aware of how neurotypical neurology works, let alone people who may be neurodivergent. This book is not academic, but it does give insight into how all people develop social skills and communication, how we use our senses and how our thought processes work. I really wanted people to have a little more insight into themselves, so that then they could have greater understanding that the neurology of autistic people just “differs.”

Some readers might assume that ‘Unique’ is written for autistic people, but it’s really written for everyone! Why should non-autistic or neurotypical people read ‘Unique’? 

Yes, this book is for everyone. Of course, it is a celebration of autism, but it’s also for every person who has an autistic person in their lives, whether in their family, a friend, a partner, a work colleague or person in their community. It is also a book about all of our relationships and how we all seek connection. We all want to belong and feel accepted and welcomed. All of us.

To grab your copy of Unique, head to the Hachette Australia website here. To find out if Jodi's book tour is coming to your city, you can visit this website. And, to learn more about Jodi and her work, you can watch her AUStism interview below or visit her website!

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