5 Examples of Autistic Representation That Made Me Feel Loved
Representations in media are not easy to come by as an autistic biracial Black transman with multiple disabilities. But, when I stumble on the rare gem of a positive representation in the media I am left feeling connected, overjoyed, empowered and seen.
These representations in the media create visibility. They also teach through challenging stereotypes and introducing a new, more realistic perspective of the topics and identities represented. The impact autistic representations in media like those have is unlimited. It has the potential of changing how others in my community interact with my autistic traits, increasing accessibility and inclusiveness. It helps my family and friends gain insight into my autistic traits. It affirms my identity.
Here’s five autistic representations across different media platforms that have made me feel seen.
1. Comic Strips
As an artist, I love comics. It’s the idea that I could create a world different from my own where I felt seen, valued and loved as an autistic kid mixed with all my other intersecting identities. Creating these comics gave me refuge and hope. Over the last few years, I’ve discovered growing voices in the comic strip and graphic novel scene beginning to include positive autistic representations. Spectrum Voices Comic is one I especially love because of the affirming messages and I’ve used them to help me advocate for myself, and in navigating challenging stereotypes.
I struggled with reading, so books were something I tried to avoid at all costs until I received cognitive-linguistic therapy two years ago and my love for books was unveiled. I felt like I was going on an adventure into a new world– the world of books. Because the adventure was new and the number of books out there was overwhelming, I found myself seeking recommendations from others. I sought stories of identity, connection and positive representation of my intersecting identities. That’s how I came across the Autistic Advocate due to their affirming positive autistic book list. Some of my favorites so far are “Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism” and “The Reason I Jump” by Naoki Higashida and “All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism” edited by Lydia X Brown.
3. Digital Magazines
Online magazines, such as Zoom magazine, are created for and by the autistic community. Zoom magazine describes its content as “respectful to the autistic community, realistic, hopeful and zooms in on every milestone, every accomplishment, for none are too small or insignificant.” It promotes self-advocacy and positive representation of the autistic community. Every issue I have read has provided me with some support, tools, connection, and leaves me feeling like they get the real me.
4. Organizations for and by the Autistic Community
What better way to feel seen than to be given a platform to share your voice and express yourself. Non-profit organizations like the Art of Autism and the Asperger Autism Network are two examples that are created by and for people with autism that have made me feel seen through offering a space for connection, to share our talents, promote self-advocacy and empowerment, offer an art gallery, blogging opportunities and much more.
5. Film Shorts
The creativity and length of film shorts have the opportunity to communicate so much in a short amount of time. Pixar’s Loop is a wonderful example of how to present a positive autistic representation while teaching about communication, interaction and friendship and challenging autistic stereotypes. At 35 years old, I was brought to tears with affirmation and hope for the future finally seeing a diverse, positive autistic representation in a short film that I longed for throughout my life.
These five examples of positive autistic representations in media remind me of the invaluable experience that helps me feel seen. I hope these representations continue to grow as we continue to move forward and autistic individuals, like myself, will get opportunities to share and represent themselves within all the intersectionalities of who they are.
On days when I encounter stereotyped representations in the media and discrimination, I turn to these positive affirmations as they remind me of my worth, my abilities and who I am as a whole person, including being autistic.
I am unique and there is beauty in my differences. Everyone has gifts and talents, including me. I am doing my best, and my best is good enough. I am enough exactly as I am. I am autistic, awesome and I don’t need to be fixed. There is value in the way I communicate and do things.
I am unapologetically me.