Autism is a developmental disability. Autism is also considered a dynamic disability, in which a person’s needs and abilities fluctuate day to day or hour to hour.
Autism is a form of neurodivergence characterised by hyper/hypo-sensitive sensory perception, a monotropic (more singularly focussed) attentional style, and a unique social communication style.Amy Pearson and Sophie Hodgetts , 2023
An autistic person experiences the world differently due to their neurotype. An autistic person differs from a neurotypical person in the way they:
- process sensory information,
- move their body,
- recognise bodily signals and emotions (interoception).
Autistic persons thrive and live well when they have the support they need to meet their sensory, communication, movement, executive functioning, and social needs. Unfortunately, many physical and social environment are not built to accommodate their needs.
Language preferred by the autistic community
The autistic community prefers the term “autistic” person / children / adult / activist. However, some autistic individuals may prefer to be referred to as “person with autism”.
We should respect their preference and not correct or lecture them because every person has different understandings about their own lived experience and identity.
Discard “high or low functioning” labels
Functioning labels are inaccurate and subjective. It is often used to describe an autistic or disabled person based on their abilities to speak, perform self-care activities and perceived level of intelligence.
The fact is: every person’s ability to function varies depending on the situation, their mood, their stress level, their sleep quality the night before, and other factors; regardless if the person is autistic or not.
It is more accurate to describe the specific support that a person needs. For example:
- “She mostly communicates via speech and manages daily basic tasks on her own. She may need support when there is an unexpected change to her schedule, or when she is in an environment with complex background noise, glaring lights and/or a large crowd.
- “He works full time and needs support with daily basic tasks such as reminders to eat, drink, going to the toilet and shower. He also needs help to plan out his weekly and monthly schedule.”
If one must use a quick label to describe an autistic person, it is better to use “ support needs ”. The term shifts away from judging a person based on certain functioning abilities, towards a focus on how much and what kind of support that they need.
The term also allows for fluidity to describe the different degrees of support that an autistic person requires at different stages of life. For example, an autistic person may have “moderate support needs” as a school going child, “low support needs” as a working young adult, and “high support needs” as an adult dealing with stressful life events such as grief or moving.
This page collates resources that are neurodiversity affirming, with priority given to authors and creators who are autistic or neurodivergent.
Understanding the Autistic Mind 1 by NeuroClastic
My Brain is Autistic (illustrated book) by NeuroClastic
Start Here: a guide for parents of autistic kids by Lar Berry & Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Autism: A Guide for Parents by Autism Wellbeing, UK
A Guide to Understanding Your Autistic Child by Ira Kraemer, Autistic Science Person
Attention, monotropism and the diagnostic criteria for autism by Dinah Murray, Mike Lesser & Wenn Lawson
Monotropism: Explanations by Monotropism
Sensory Processing Differences
Sensory Differences by Autism Tasmania, Australia
Sensory features in autism: Findings from a large population-based surveillance system by Anne V. Kirby, Deborah A. Bilder, Lisa D. Wiggins, et al. in Autism Research
In Our Own Words: The Complex Sensory Experiences of Autistic Adults by K. MacLennan, S. O’Brien & T. Tavassoli in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Double Empathy Problem
On the ontological status of autism: the ‘double empathy problem’ by Damian Milton
Double Empathy: Why Autistic People Are Often Misunderstood by Catherine J. Crompton, Kilee DeBrabander, Brett Heasman, Damian Milton & Noah J. Sasson in Frontiers for Young Minds
Milton’s ‘double empathy problem’: A summary for non-academics by Reframing Autism
Women and Girls
Autism, Girls, & Keeping It All Inside by Autistic Girls Network
“No you’re not” – a portrait of autistic women by Rosie Barnes in Wellcome Collection
‘The Lost Girls’ series by Beatrice Leong in The Vibes (Malaysia)
- Part 1: On being diagnosed with autism as an adult
- Part 2: Challenges of neurodiverse professionals in the workplace
- Part 3: Creating healthy relationships out of abuse and dreadful social interactions
- Part 4: On creating conversations about autism with autistic voices
- Part 5: At the crossroads of autism and motherhood
Understanding Autistic Women: 6 Must-Reads for Clinicians by Dr. Neff, Neurodivergent Insights
Autistic Burnout and Aging by Judy Endow
Autistic Burnout vs Depression by Dr. Neff, Neurodivergent Insights
Navigating Autistic Burnout: Self-care strategies to recover and recalibrate by Justine Field in Reframing Autism
Supporting Children through Autistic Burnout (Parent/Carer Guide) by Helen Edgar in Autistic Realms
Supporting Pupils through Autistic Burnout (Teacher Guide) by Helen Edgar in Autistic Realms
Autistic Communication by Emily Lees, Autistic Speech and Language Therapist
Autistic communication & interaction styles by Emily Lees, Autistic Speech and Language Therapist
Communication as a basic right by Jordyn Zimmerman in Medium
Communication Method for Autistic Children: Whose Choice? By Yong Ennie in Project Haans
Four Ways I Help My Autistic Children Communicate Without Speaking by Meghan Ashburn, Not an Autism Mom
Helping Nonspeaking Children Spell, Type, and Point to Communicate by Meghan Ashburn, Not an Autism Mom
Let’s give them something to gestalt about by The Informed SLP
Coping With a Crisis When You Have Unreliable or Intermittent Speech by Shannon Des Roches Rosa in Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
Autism and Safety Toolkit: Ways for Family Members to Support the Safety of Autistic People by Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Sensory Processing Support
“It’s Not Rocket Science” Considering and meeting the sensory needs of autistic children and young people in CAMHS inpatient services by National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), UK
Considering and meeting the sensory needs of autistic people in housing by National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), UK
Sensory Overload & Tooth Brushing: 15 + of the Best Tips by Dr. Neff, Neurodivergent Insights
Autism, Interoception, and How to Improve Your Awareness by Dr. Neff, Neurodivergent Insights
Whole Body Listening: Time for a Change by Elizabeth Sautter in Everyday Regulation
Autistic Body Language by NeuroClastic
Autistic Friendships – illustrated story by Meg Raby
Autistics & eye contact (it’s asynchronous) by Embrace Autism
‘Social skills’, turn-taking, and board games by Melanie Heyworth in Reframing Autism
Understanding Non-Autistic Social Skills by Autistic Science Person
Neurodiversity-affirming social skills curriculum