Engaging with individuals on the spectrum should be a foundational part of any parent’s plan to support their autistic child. It’s relatively easy and comfortable to access resources from doctors, therapists, and other parents of children on the spectrum. Communicating with or accessing resources from people who are #actuallyautistic is sometimes, unfortunately, an afterthought; however, there is plenty of information easily available from autistic sources for anyone interested.
It’s important to not assume people on the spectrum exist only for educational purposes. If you know autistic people in your community, spend time with them when possible. If you don’t know anyone personally on the spectrum, there are plenty of ways to engage with people remotely and use what you learn with your own children. Below are some examples:
- Read blogs authored by autistic people. Pick a few to read regularly and then commit to reading a post by someone new every week. This site has a list of blogs by autistic people or you can also visit our page of Autistic Bloggers.
- Search the hashtag #actuallyautistic on Twitter to hear what people on the spectrum are saying about current issues (But don’t use the hashtag in your own tweets unless you are also autistic).
- Find websites such as this one that attempt to aggregate the voices of people on the spectrum.
- If you are new to disability rights and neurodiversity, start by reading some foundational texts such as Joseph Shapiro’s No Pity, the anthology Loud Hands, or Jim Sinclair’s article “Don’t Mourn for Us.”
- Stay up to date with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s latest policy statements.
- Attend local autism events. Don’t merely participate in a walk for awareness. Look for events where people on the spectrum are invited to speak.
- Listen to a podcast led by or regularly featuring people on the autism spectrum.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out personally to someone you read about, follow on social media, or hear speak! Chances are if they were willing to publicly offer their opinions or expertise once, they are likely to respond.