Helen Hoang on Her—and Her Character’s—Diagnosis Process for Autism
This Week from the Reading Women Podcast
In this week’s episode, Joce talks with Helen Hoang about her latest novel, The Heart Principle, which is out from Berkley Books.
From the episode:
Joce: Oh my gosh, I love where this book falls into the span of your life and your writing journey as well. In the book, we know that Anna is going to regular therapy sessions with her therapist. Her therapist suggests that she may be autistic. And then she goes home, and she does her own research. And I’m wondering, is this process of being diagnosed as autistic—is this typical? And is there anything that you wish was different about the process?
Helen: So Anna’s process was not my process. She has this surprise diagnosis that kind of just pops up because her therapist sees it. But my personal experience was that I was reading and researching on my own. I couldn’t conclude, but I was pretty sure I was on the spectrum. And so what I did was I went out, and I looked for a therapist so I could talk to her and see if she thought, was that me. And after she agreed with me, I still wasn’t comfortable enough with that. And I went, and I saw a psychiatrist so that I could get a more official diagnosis.
And I don’t know what I would want to be different about the process. Most of the hard parts were how other people looked at the diagnosis. So it wasn’t the process itself, but just how other people accepted it afterwards. I do know that when I was researching the book—because I didn’t know what it was like to have a kind of surprise diagnosis—I spoke to a family friend who had actually received a surprise autism diagnosis in marriage counseling and from their therapist. And he said that it changed his life. And it was just something that just came out so out of the blue for him, anyway, and that it’s really positively impacted his marriage, his work, and everything after that.