Resources for Folks Who Are Autistic, Questioning, or Who Want to Be Allies
A collection of resources for folks questioning if they are Autistic, are Autistic, or those who want to be an ally.
Having been learning a lot about the wide array of experiences of autistic folks over the past few months, I've gathered a collection of resources. I've shared parts of this collection with a number of folks in my life, but I figured it might be helpful to share all of these links here.
Whether you're autistic (formally diagnosed or self determined), wondering if you might be autistic, have an autistic loved one in your life, or just want to better understand and support autistic folks in the world, hopefully this collection will prove useful.
Before digging into the resources, I wanted to share a really worthwhile read by Dr. Devon Price. He's the author of the excellent Laziness Does Not Exist and Unmasking Autism, and has a plethora of excellent articles on Medium which are worth reading. His article on the perils of seeking an official autism diagnosis (and also why an official diagnosis may still be useful) is something everyone should be aware of before embarking on the process.
I'm sharing this not to disuade anyone, but to ensure that folks are well aware of the potential costs and risks. If you need a diagnosis for academic or workplace accomodations, or to help ensure insurance coverage or benefits for related medical support, then it is likely very beneficial to have an official diagnosis because those spaces are often very steeped in gatekeeping and it may be the only way you can access those supports. It may also feel validating to have an official diagnosis.
But it's also so important to note that not having an official diagnosis doesn't invalidate your experiences or identity. You can be a self-diagnosed or self-determined autistic, and that doesn't make you or your experiences matter any less.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a great resource to start with, and I highly recommend exploring their website. They also published a book that I mention below (Welcome to the Autistic Community).
Dr. Megan Anna Neff (Insights of a Neurodivergent Clinician) is an ADHD-Autistic clinician with a doctorate in clinical psychology, and has created a wonderful set of resources for clinicians and neurodivergent folks alike on her site. She has a collection of workbooks, infographics, and blog posts that might be helpful.
Kieran Rose (The Autistic Advocate) is an author, public speaker, trainer, researcher and consultant. He specializes in autistic masking, burnout, and identity. He himself is autistic, and the parent to three neurodivergent children. He has a great collection of trainings, presentations, papers, and blog posts on different aspects of what it means to be autistic, masking, and burnout.
Last but not least, Embrace Autism is run By Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht and Eva Silvertant (both of who were diagnosed as autistic as adults) and is an amazing resource. Among an excellent collection of blog posts, they also offer auto-scored versions of the most common psychometric tests used in diagnosing autism, along with phenomenal information on the scoring and results interpretation. If you're wondering if you might be autistic, this can be a good place to start before (if you choose to) engaging with a professional on the subject.
Books I've read:
- Unmasking Autism by Dr. Devon Price
- We're Not Broken by Eric Garcia
- Welcome to the Autistic Community by ASAN
- Being Twice Exceptional by Melanie Hayes
Memoirs I've read:
- Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby
- Funny, You Don't Look Autistic by Michael McCreary
- How to Be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe
More books to check out (but that I haven't read yet):
- The Secret Life of a Black Aspie by Anand Prahlad
- The Autistic Trans Guide to Life by Yen Purkis and Wenn Lawson
- Neuroqueer Heresies by Nick Walker
- But You Don't Look Autistic at All by Bianca Toeps
- Stim: An Autistic Anthology edited by Lizzie Huxley-Jones
- To Be Gifted & Learning Disabled by Susan M. Baum, Robin M. Schader, and Steven V. Owen
- NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
- Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness by Roy Richard Grinker
- The #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Advocacy by Jennifer Brunton and Jenna Gensic
Many of the resources above are overwhelmingly by white people, and so I also wanted to include some links to resources specifically for Black folks as well because the intersections of marginalized identities cannot be ignored.
While I haven't read Parenting Rewired: How to Raise a Happy Autistic Child in a Very Neurotypical World by Danielle Punter & Charlotte Chaney myself, I did read an excellent review of it by Callum Stephen on Instagram and thought it was worth including for anyone who is a parent of an autistic kid.
Aurora Remember Holtzman's Embracing Intensity blog, podcast, and community for twice exceptional (2E) adults is yet another great resource. 2E means anyone who is considered "gifted" in some way and also has a disability, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc. So while this resource isn't just related to being autistic, it may still be useful to some folks as well.
Hosted by Jesse Meadows and Dr. Ayesha Khan, Disorderland is a really excellent podcast that explores "pathology culture and an abolitionist take on the world of mental health, trauma, and neurodiversity."
Finally, while there are a lot of additional resources and organizations out there, it's important to point out that many of them are actually harmful to autistic folks. For example, applied behavioral analysis (ABA) has proved again and again to be incredibly damaging to many autistic folks, organizations advocating for a cure for autism should not be trusted, and autistic people themselves should be listened to over allistic (non-autistic) people when it comes to their lives and what is best for themselves. So be sure to use critical thinking when it comes to any information you come across.
But hopefully this collection has been able to provide some helpful resources and help you along in your own journey.