Different, Not Less by Chloe Hayden

This is Chloe Hayden’s story about how she found life growing up being different. She was eventually diagnosed with autism and ADHD, but before then, she wasn’t quite sure what was going on and tried to find where, and how, she could fit in. I’m interested in this because I have children on the autistic spectrum.

Chloe loved fairies and Disney princesses and in the introduction, she explains how both fairytales and our own lives feature three stages – the Once Upon A Time stage, the Adventure stage and the Happily Ever After stage. The book is kind of a mixture of memoir and self-help book.

She hated primary school and they couldn’t understand her behaviour or how to work with her. This reminded me of my youngest daughter’s experiences. They refused to recognise the ADHD and Aspergers diagnosis she had, preferring to write her off as just “naughty”. These days, things do seem much better, but I could relate to some of Chloe’s experiences of her school days. Chloe explains how homeschooling was the right decision for her.

I found Chapter 3 particularly enlightening. She describes how things like meltdowns feel from the inside, from her own personal experience. There’s also a really useful list for those who need to stim with ideas to help. (My son does the humming and chewing, we have already found chewy toys are helpful.)

As you would expect, the book is written very sympathetically. In the chapter on mental health, there are indications when certain topics are being talked about and these are highlighted in a way that means you can easily skip reading these parts if you would prefer to.

At the end of the book, there is a list of helplines and various websites, not just in Australia (where Chloe is from) but also in the USA, Canada, Ireland and the UK.

There are ten chapters overall and I found something useful in all of them. While especially aimed at other neurodivergents, this book is also helpful for parents, teachers, friends and anyone with an interest in this topic. I especially liked that the focus of each chapter was accepting who you are, being who you are meant to be and loving yourself for your individual qualities and not feeling like you have to conform or fit in a box. I think this is the most important lesson – accept, don’t change.


An empowering lived-experience guide to celebrating and supporting neurodivergence from 24-year-old actor, social media star and disability advocate Chloé Hayden

‘Fierce, unapologetic and joyous . . . This book is a marvel.’
-Jordon Steele-John, Disability Rights Advocate and Australian Senator

Growing up, Chloé Hayden felt like she’d crash-landed on an alien planet where nothing made sense. Eye contact? Small talk? And why are you people so touch-oriented? She moved between 10 schools in 8 years, struggling to become a person she believed society would accept, and was eventually diagnosed with autism and ADHD. When a life-changing group of allies showed her that different did not mean less, she learned to celebrate her true voice and find her happily ever after.

This is a moving, at times funny story of how it feels to be neurodivergent as well as a practical guide, with advice for living with meltdowns and shutdowns, tips for finding supportive communities and much more.

Whether you’re neurodivergent or supporting those who are, Different, Not Less will inspire you to create a more inclusive world where everyone feels like they belong.

Published by karenlouisehollis

53, lives in Lincoln, England. Published writer, book blogger and reviewer, mum, grandma, cat owner, vegetarian. Loves reading and sewing. My second novel is out now - a second chance romance set at the seaside - STARTING AGAIN IN SILVER SANDS BAY.

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