Ginger the rooster.


Will I…

Will I find the right strategies to support her neurodiversity in a neurotypical world? Or will I instead teach her to mask who she really is and pretend to be someone she is not?

Will I be a good advocate? Will I be competent enough, smart enough, savvy enough to navigate systems to make sure she receives the services she needs?

Will I be patient enough? Will I be a rock for her to lean on when days are hard?

Will I be able to guide her through the confusing realm that is female friendships? These adolescent relationships can be difficult to negotiate… will I be able to support her and encourage her to keep trying?

Will I learn what she truly wants and needs? Will I push her to succeed while helping her learn and accept her own limits?

Will I be able to protect her but still empower her to become a strong, confident woman?

Will they…

Will they respect her needs? Or will her struggles be brushed off because she’s “just a little autistic”?

Will they accept her and value who she is? Will they appreciate how hard she is trying?

Will they adapt and meet her where she is? Or will they refuse to budge and freeze her out if she can’t meet their standards?

Will she…

Will she feel happy and comfortable to be who she is? Or will she harbor her real self and present a facade to the world?

Will she make true, meaningful friendships? Or will she feel alienated from her peers?

Will she feel accepted by her family? Or will she view herself as the “black sheep”?

Will she find love?

Will she know? Will she know that I love and treasure everything about her, even when I am at my worst?

Here is my list. It’s not exhaustive but it is exhausting. I wrote it down so I can let it go. These worries will always be there, but I won’t let them be all there is. I will laugh. I will play. I will cry. I will yell. I will pray. I will do it right and I will get it wrong. But I won’t let the worry keep me from trying and trying and trying again. Because she’s worth it.

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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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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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