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Resources (by Autists): "Nothing About Us, Without Us"

Key Definitions & Concepts

A Communal Definition of Autism. This definition is derived from the lived experiences of autistic people (almost all other definitions are derived from the observed behaviour of autistics, many of which are not features of autism itself but the trauma associated with conformity and pathologization). Most (not all) autistic people accept self-identification as valid, for many reasons. Much like a gay man didn't need to visit a psychiatrist to know he was different, back when homosexuality was a male psychiatric disorder, many autists don't feel they need a psychologist to confirm their difference.

Me and Monotropism by Fergus Murray. Monotropism is a theory of autism created by autists, and is one of the three concepts that many autists identify as key to understanding autism (the other 2 are the double empathy problem and neurodiversity, see below). After being ignored for over a decade, monotropism is starting to become recognized not only among autists but also in the wider research community (which now includes many autists). 

The 'Double Empathy Problem': Ten Years On by Damian Milton et al. The double empathy problem questions the supposed absence of "theory of mind" and communication "deficits" of autistic people and looks, instead, at the challenges of interaction between 2 different (often mutually incomprehensible) ways of being, neither of which is inherently disordered. Understanding the double empathy problem is to understand the challenges of cross-cultural communication: many of these challenges are structural; not individual, but interactional. For more info: BPS Seminar Series

Autistic Self-Advocacy and the Neurodiversity Movement by Kathy Leadbitter et al. The concept of neurodiversity sees neurological diversity as biologically natural and beneficial, and uses a human rights lens to advocate for inclusion and the de-pathologization of difference, together with the acceptance of non-conformity. At the same time, the neurodiversity movement recognizes that many autists need high levels of support and different types of therapies, and advocates for funding to go into those supports and therapies, rather than into a search for a "cure" or "prevention."


History: Darkest Before Dawn: Autism, Ableism, and the Rise of the Neurodiversity Movement


Autistic Culture: The Five Neurodivergent Love Locutions; Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture


Organizations: Useful Autism Organizations (and not so useful ones)


For the ADHDers identifying with some/all of the above: Autism vs ADHD (from an autistic POV)

Selected Books & Online Resources

"The Electricity of Every Living Thing" by Katherine May (book)

Writer Katherine May shares her story of discovering she was autistic in adulthood, and debunks many persistent myths about autism and women. See also: Episode 220 of the We Can Do Hard Things podcast with Glennon Doyle, "Why So Many Women Don't Know they're Autistic, with Katherine May"

"Diary of a Young Naturalist" by Dara McAnulty (book)

I loved this book not just for Dara's perspective and inner experiences, which mirrored my own, but also for his autist-friendly family - 3 autistic children, autistic mom, neurotypical dad - and the lovely, thoughtful ways in which they support each other and celebrate each other's uniquely autistic ways of being in the world.


"The Reason I Jump" by Naoki Higashida (book)

I wanted to include this book, to represent the nonverbal autists who communicate through AAC (augmented and alternative communication). It's very telling how many people don't accept that Naoki could possibly understand what he is saying (even in his Wikipedia entry), because they have never fully grasped how differently people can be wired.


Autistic Collaboration (Website)

Neuroclastic (Website)

Stimpunks (Website)

Neuroqueer (Website)

Embrace Autism (Website)

Monotropism (Website)

Thinking Person's Guide to Autism (Website)

Autism from the Inside (Youtube channel)

Noncompliant (Podcast)

“Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different . . . We are more like travelers from the distant, distant past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that might give us quiet pleasure.”

– Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump
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