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When Life on the Autism Spectrum Feels Stormy at Times


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Meet 10 Wonderful Storytellers and Authors on the Autism Spectrum

Reading and being a part of the creative autism community are two of my passions! There’s nothing better than curling up and reading a great story — from a delightful children’s tale to a page-turning memoir about someone’s personal journey. I’ve been fortunate to meet so many people with autism who are wonderful storytellers. I’d love to introduce you to a few of them. Add a tome or two to your library and you’ll be showing your support for their creative pursuits.

1. “The Fire Truck Who Got Lost” by Colin Eldred-Cohen

Colin writes in many genres, but his first children’s book is a real gem. He says his story ideas are a gift of his Asperger’s syndrome. “The Fire Truck Who Got Lost” is the tale of a brave little fire truck who must use his wits to find his way home.

2. “Darius Hates Vegetables” by Darius Brown

Darius is an autistic fifth-grader who writes to cope with the good and bad things he encounters in school. His children’s book, “Darius Hates Vegetables,” encourages kids to try and taste vegetables… at least once.

3. “Really, Really Like Me” and “The Quiet Bear” by Gretchen Leary

As a woman with autism, Gretchen writes children’s books as her way of giving kids a better understanding of differences and how they make us special. Her first book, “Really, Really Like Me,” was illustrated by Dani Bowman, an artist and animator on the autism spectrum.

4. “Noah and Logan” Children’s Book Series by Benjamin K.M. Kellogg

Benjamin writes the “Noah and Logan” stories as a way to help other children with autism learn the social and life skills that were challenging for him as a child.

5. “How to Be Human” by Florida Frenz

The independent publishing company Creston Books saw the potential of one young autistic teenager and published her “How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl” for tweens and teens. Under the pen name of Florida Frenz, Georgia (“an empowered autistic” as she likes to call herself) shares her tips, tricks and insights into understanding the social landscape.

6. “Middle School: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About!” and “A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders” by Haley Moss

Haley is a popular autism advocate. She’s written the books for others on the autism spectrum she couldn’t find when she was in school. Both guides are filled with her strategies and advice for having a successful school experience.

7. “On the Edge of Gone” by Corinne Duyvis

If you like sci-fi, then you’ll enjoy autistic author Corinne Duyvis’ “On the Edge of Gone.” It’s an apocalyptic novel featuring a strong female autistic protagonist.

8. “Aspean” YA Sci/Fi Series by Roy Dias

Keeping the sci-fi theme going, check out Roy Dias’ Aspean Series. Roy has Asperger’s syndrome and he’s also a father to two sons with Asperger’s. The series features characters on the autism spectrum.

9. “It’s an Autism Thing… I’ll Help You Understand It” by Emma Dalmayne

Emma is a vocal advocate for the autism community. She isn’t afraid to speak out about the “miracle cures” that are harmful to children with autism. If you are searching for answers, her advice comes from a person who is on the spectrum and is also raising children with autism. Her book covers a wide range of subjects from autistic mistreatment to sensory issues, from meltdowns to domestic violence.

10. “Being Seen” by Anlor Danvin

Author Anlor Davin shows remarkable courage in “Being Seen,” her memoir as an autistic woman, mother, immigrant and Zen student.

A version of this post originally appeared on Geek Club Books.

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My Response to 'You Have Asperger's, You're Not Autistic.'

Not too long after I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I had a phone conversation with a friend. I chose to tell her I had Asperger’s, even though that wasn’t technically the diagnosis. It would be if I’d been diagnosed a few years earlier. I made some type of joke (can’t remember exactly what it was about) and said, “now that I’m autistic…”

She said, “You have Asperger’s; you’re not autistic.”

But Asperger’s is on the spectrum. The DSM doesn’t use it as a diagnosis anymore, but I still find myself using the term every once in awhile.

What she probably meant is what a lot of parents of autistic children would mean if they said something like, “You’re not like my child. You can speak and have a job as a writer.” Or, “You have an apartment and live on your own.” The stereotypes seem endless.

I was autistic on the phone with my friend, I have been all of my life, and I will remain autistic until the day I die. I find it unfortunate that certain beliefs still exist. I’m supposed to look or behave in a certain way, otherwise there’s no way I could be autistic in some people’s eyes. I wish more people would read about autism or listen to autistic people and not just remember the movie “Rain Man.” No, I can’t count toothpicks that have fallen on the floor. I am a decent artist, though. I will give myself that.

I am autistic, like it or not. And I’m no less than a neurotypical person.

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Thinkstock photo by Lisa Anfisa

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Chuck E. Cheese's storefront sign

Chuck E. Cheese's Adds Sensory-Friendly Events to More Locations

Update: Chuck E. Cheese’s announced in a press release plans to expand its sensory-friendly programming to all U.S.-based Chuck E. Cheese’s locations starting later this year. 

Over the past few months, several major companies, including Target, Toys “R” Us and Costco, have announced sensory-friendly events for people on the autism spectrum. Unfortunately, many of these events have been limited to one or two locations, making it hard for people beyond those locations to participate. Now, Chuck E. Cheese’s, in partnership with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), is expanding their “Sensory Sensitive Sundays” program to include an additional 54 locations.

Chuck E. Cheese’s already hosts regular “Sensory Sensitive Sundays” at it’s Attleboro, Massachusetts and Glen Burnie, Maryland locations. In addition to its other locations, Chuck E. Cheese’s is adding sensory-friendly events to every one of its New York, New Jersey and New England locations – 54 venues in total.

The first of the new “Sensory Friendly Sundays” will be held on Sunday, January 8 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., before Chuck E. Cheese’s opens to the general public. Following the January 8 event, Sensory Sensitive Sundays will be held on the first Sunday of each month – including February 5, March 5, April 2 and May 7 – at all locations.

As part of the sensory-sensitive event, Chuck E. Cheese’s will dim the lights; turn off the radio, music and shows; exclude costumed characters – including the Chuck E. Cheese’s mouse mascot – from walking around the venue; allow outside food for children with special dietary needs and provide sensory-friendly training for staff members.

A spokesperson for CARD told The Mighty that these new programs are not mainstays, rather they are being tested, and, if all goes well, more events will be rolled out nationally over the next year.

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Photo credit: Mike Mozart

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