Meet Rudy Simone: Autistic Bestselling Author, Advocate & President and Founder of the International Aspergirl® Society
Sam: Thank you for being here, Rudy. It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to get to know you and to learn more about your recent works and projects. Your well-received Aspergirls was one of the first books I picked up, years ago, before I came to terms with the fact that I am on the autism spectrum. Before we begin, can you please tell me how you refer to yourself as an individual on the autism spectrum? For myself, I am comfortable with many terms, autistic.,Aspergerian, Aspie, and neurodivergent. What is your personal preference, if you don’t mind me asking.
Rudy: Aspie. On the autism spectrum. Autiste (in France). And of course, Aspergirl.
Sam: Rudy, I understand you were also diagnosed later on in life, like myself. When did you first suspect you were on the autism spectrum? Were there any major signs?
Rudy: It was one of those backwards unravelings. I was reading my first AS book by Maxine Aston and her paragraphs on women were hitting a nerve. Then I saw “Mozart and the Whale” and related to the female character. Little by little, as I was interviewing people for my 2nd book, I become more and more aware, but just under the surface, a truth I didn’t want to utter for fear of sounding ridiculous, or making something real that wasn’t. Finally, it could no longer be denied, and I had to proclaim it out loud. I think the first person I told was my boyfriend, then family members one by one. Most of the ridiculed the idea at first, but I knew what I knew. I experienced the same tidal wave of memories, emotions and realizations that we all have in this situation. A big “holy sh-t” moment.
Of course there were major signs throughout my life. Too many to list here.
Sam: How long after you suspected were you diagnosed?
Rudy: I guess I’m still not officially diagnosed. I was “diagnosed” by one of those internet bandits that used to stalk me. (This happens when you get a little bit famous.) She interviewed me on Skype, emailed me a little sheet of paper that said “you’ve got Aspergers,” and then ran around telling everyone that I’m not an aspie. What she doesn’t tell them is that she’s mad because I wouldn’t let her use the word “Aspergirl” in her book title. It was cheap to be diagnosed via Skype, but it cost me hundreds in legal fees, as I had to trademark the term and concept of Aspergirls to protect it from her. I lost my trust in people in the autism world after that. That is why I distanced myself for a time. I have no need to be assessed by anyone, but of course I’d want Tony Attwood to do it. He and I have met a few times, I’ve given workshops for his clinic staff. I think if I was a fraud, he’d have sniffed me out.
Sam: A lot of our readership is late-age diagnosed adults. What would you say was the affirming or beneficial aspect about confirming you were an Aspergirl?
Rudy: Because you can spend a lot of time and money on self-help books, counselors, medication, or blaming the world for your problems. Not that those things are a waste, necessarily, but they’re incomplete. One little read of Aspergirls or another book on the subject can be the key to unlocking your truth once and for all. We don’t have all the answers when we get older. Sometimes I think life is a race with no finish—we run and run until we drop. Very few people get to the end of their life with all their questions answered and all their hopes fulfilled. This is one last question you’d have niggling away at your brain.
Sam: I struggled with my identity, after I realized I was very likely an Aspergirl. Did you have any moments of doubt about being on the spectrum? How about after time passed?
Rudy: Oh, yes, for the first few years I felt like a fraud off and on. And then of course, two years ago I made that infamous video that said I was no longer on the spectrum, which caused a mini shit storm in the AS world. Tough. It’s my journey, and I have doubts and questions like all of you. Now I’m firmly comfortable with the moniker. If I’m not an Aspergirl, who is? If you knew my story, my full story, you would never doubt it.
Sam: You’ve been up to some very interesting projects. Particularly, the Aspergirl Society. I am pleased to now be an active member. I enjoyed viewing the videos you created specifically just for the group and the articles from other autistic women I respect. Can you tell us about how the Aspergergirl Society came about?
Rudy: It’s the Aspergirl Society actually. You stuck an extra syllable in there. Yes, I was skyping with a client in the Midwest, and she was telling me the same thing that all my female clients tell me. They hate their job, they don’t have friends, they’re husband doesn’t understand them. They have a lot of hobbies that they want to turn into a career. I was tired of feeling the futility. I wanted to create something concrete, that at the very least, could let a woman know she wasn’t alone, and at best, could give her clear direction and tangible results in her life.
Sam: What would you like us to know that the society offers that individuals might not be able to find elsewhere?
Rudy: Like you said, I make private videos just for members, on subjects that appear to be in our collective subconscious—in other words, they seem to be timely and hitting home for a lot of our members. My videos are often about tapping into your personal power and forging your destiny, as well as more down-to-earth issues, like money management, etc.. We have articles strictly by and for Asperger women, and other free gifts. Plus, you get a Skype session or two with me. And we are doing real world events, which you get free entry to. It might take us a while to get to your area, but there’s no expiry on that last bit. We are also encouraging members to get active in their community, create an event, which is what we’ve done in Paris, Berlin, NY and next year, Rome. I envision a LOT of traveling in my future. We are also thinking of other little perks for members—bumper stickers, bracelets, things that remind us we are not alone—we are each stars in a powerful constellation.
Sam: There is what I would consider a reasonable fee to join the Aspergirl Society. Can you please tell us what that money goes toward? Do you have any plans for those that are in the low-income bracket, in order that they might be included?
Rudy: Membership is only $28 a year, or $55 if you want two Skype sessions, and that’s even lower in actuality for Europeans and Brits because their currency is stronger. Money is going towards everything that I mentioned above. We have given away several memberships and have several more to give away. Sponsorships are put entirely towards gift memberships for women that want to join but can’t, because of a legitimate financial struggle.
Sam: The society has autistic women called “Ambassadors” from different places in the world. How many Ambassadors does the organization currently have? What is the role of the Ambassadors? Will you be adding more?
Rudy: Yes, we will. Originally this was just me and a group of friends with a secret FB page, women I could trust. When I decided to make this a real thing, I dubbed my friends “ambassadors”. I think some of them didn’t know how serious I was. Some of them have said that they don’t want an ‘official’ role so have dropped the title, and others are waiting to get in but I don’t know them well enough…yet. So I won’t give you an exact number, because that is going to change in the near future.
Sam: I appreciated your “Power of Attraction” video I viewed recently. How do you choose the topics you discuss on your videos to share with the society?
Rudy: Like I said above, I seem to be tapping into something intuitively. Intuition is a driving force in my life, which is part of what that video is about. When you reach a certain plateau in your mental and spiritual life, you can really begin to live through both educated decisions and intuition. One without the other is not adequate if you want to achieve your full potential.
Sam: We have some definite commonalities in being Aspie women. We also have some other commonalities. I am also attracted to kindred people with certain energy. I especially appreciate individuals who are kind, open-minded, supportive, and giving. I try to love all people, but those with a heart-for-service and authenticity, I tend to attract more. What type of folks are you drawn to and hoping to attract to the society? I guess I could say “our” society now (giggle), as I already feel a part of the community?
Rudy: So far, every woman in the group is what you described. There isn’t a bitch among us except maybe me (…giggles). There are no trolls, no one is disrespectful. There are one or two I have not met yet, but when they have their skype sessions, I will. I get a great feeling of “I know you already” when I meet these women. Older ones are full of confidence and fire but also still have need of camaraderie, and the younger ones are often in that state of uncertainty and confusion that we were all in. I’m so happy I can be there for them to say, “you’re perfectly normal in our world, darling.” And give them some vital bits of information and encouragement and wisdom that no one ever gave me.
Sam: I noted you are currently living in France. It is wonderful to have Aspergerian females from all over the world. I read on your website you are going to study French and write in French. Is this still your plan?
Rudy: I use the word “Aspergian”. I notice you like the extra syllable. I think it’s just laziness on my part. I already studied at the Sorbonne in a summer course which didn’t help as much as I had hoped. I will be giving a lecture in French just two days from now. I had help from my Paris ambassador Liliya, who translated or checked my translations. I’m dividing my time between Paris and NY for now. I prefer Europe, beyond a doubt, to living in the States.
Sam: Are you still creating music? Can you tell us more about your music and experience as a singer?
Rudy: Oh yes, I have a new (3rd) album I have done little to promote. I do have a beautiful, professional music video coming out in a month or so. The song was co-written by a French autistic author and actor and he stars in the video with me. I’n hoping to do a play, incorporating my music, here in Paris in the future. Gigging in bars is not really my thing anymore. There’s no glamor in it. On the new album there is quite a mix of styles. I even cover a 17th century aria. I’d be happy to give it to your readers on this blog to listen to. (http://rudysimone.net/listening-station.html – click on the album Penny Dredful and “Dido’s Lament”) Use headphones or good speakers! Actually I think you can hear all my songs there. The Album Thief of Dreams is my favorite, with Penny in close second.
Sam: What other vocations have you had?
Rudy: Too many to list.
Sam: Looking forward, how do you envision the society expanding and transforming?
Rudy: Ambassadors everywhere, creating events, hosting meetups in their area, so no woman feels alone. A bricks and mortar headquarters in Paris, a large yearly event, awards for ‘Aspergirl of the Year’….all kinds of things.
Sam: In one of your videos you noted that we as a collective need to do more than spend time with our bottles of wine, Netflix, and Facebook. That is hilarious! As that’s me to a tee, except I prefer hard pear cider or port wine. Getting out there can be scary. I do my best to get up and go when I can, but between my physical disabilities and autism, sometimes it’s very hard. What do you do to motivate yourself to get out of the house and maintain balance in your life?
Rudy: Life is short. I have been on my laptop nonstop for days. I have to remind myself “go for a walk. Go for a jog.” Even in Paris, we are still Aspies. I happen to be in a more social time of my life, but it still depends on who I’m with. I can handle most nonautistic women only for very short periods of time. I’m a little more tolerant of nonautistic men, because they’re generally less catty.
Sam: Do you ever hit that wall, where it’s just hard to do anything? I call it autistic inertia and/or cognitive overload that turns me into a couch sloth. What do you tell yourself during those times?
Rudy: I used to hit it frequently when I ate gluten. Now I NEVER do.
Sam: You have a new book coming out soon. How long was that books in the works? And where can we find more information?
Rudy: It’s available from www.JKP.com It is called the A-Z of ASDs: Aunt Aspie’s Guide to Life. I’m not sure how it started, exactly. I think it had to do with an apron I like to wear when I’m in my country house in NY. I started doing Aunt Aspie’s book reviews, and little sketches on my Aspergirl Show on youtube. I self-published it two years ago, but Jessica Kingsley rescued it from obscurity, polished it up, and it will now get the attention it (hopefully) deserves.
Sam: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about before we close this interview?
Rudy: No, you’ve asked some great questions! I guess you’ve done this before, huh? 😉
Sam: It’s been wonderful getting to know about you. I look forward to your book and to scheduling our Skype session soon! I wish you the very best in your endeavors. I am sure our readers will appreciate your sharing and experience. Thank you again for your time.
Rudy: Thank you Sam. You came highly recommended from a lot of people, including Steve Silberman, which is high praise indeed! I look forward to meeting you on Skype.
- Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome (Jessica Kingsley 2010)
- The A-Z of ASDs: Aunt Aspie’s Guide to Life (coming soon: Jessica Kingsley 2016)
- Asperger’s on the Job: Must-have Advice (Future Horizons 2010)
- 22 Things a Woman Must Know If She Loves a Man With Asperger Syndrome (Jessica Kingsley 2009)
- 22 Things a Woman with Aspergers Wants her Partner to Know (Jessica Kingsley 2012)
- Orsath (Kindle, 2012)
Rudy’s website: http://www.help4aspergers.com/
The International Aspergirl® Society: http://www.aspergirlsociety.com/
Rudy’s Music: www.RudySimone.net (also on Itunes, etc.)