I was gifted a digital copy of Different Not Less by Netflix’s Heartbreak High star and disability advocate Chloe Hayden as part of a Random Things Blog Tour.
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? None of it made sense.
Chloé desperately wished to be part of the fairytales she so dearly loved. A world in
which the lead is considered a hero because of their differences, rather than excluded
and pushed aside for them. She moved between 10 schools in 8 years, struggling to become a person she believed society would accept. After years of being ‘weird, quirky, Chloé’ she was eventually diagnosed with autism and ADHD. It was only after a life-changing group of allies showed her that different did not mean less that she learned to celebrate her true voice and find her happily ever after.
I found it enlightening and informative. I especially liked how it was not only full of Chloe’s lived experiences but also packed with her useful tips. For example (and this is great advice for everyone!): Curate your Instagram feed and fill your bookshelves with humans of different body types, neurotypes, sexualities, genders, ethnicities…create a new normal. There is also advice for women on handling their periods, when their sensitivities may be heightened, and managing mental health and burnout.
I can imagine that this book would be extremely helpful for neurodivergents to read and will help them feel seen and understood. For me (a neurotypical), reading this book was like peeling back the many layers of an onion. It was difficult to read in parts because of some of Chloe’s experiences, but it was also a privilege to read it, and I learnt an awful lot. Chloe’s perspective on life is both eye-opening and heartfelt.
It feels like we are living in a time of positive change. Whilst there is a way to go, I hope we look back on the 2020s as the start of an era when being neurodivergent is truly seen as being different, not less. Bravo Chloe.
I’d recommend this book for neurodivergent teens or adults. Also, for anyone else who is curious and who wants to understand better and support the neurodivergent community.