5 reads to help you learn more about autism

MHA Admin

Wed, 04/12/2023 – 09:16

by Kristen Abell

April is Autism Awareness Month, and despite gaining much more recognition in recent years, autism is still misunderstood by most people – even by some people who are autistic themselves. With an increasing number of adults and children being diagnosed with autism, it’s important for all of us to have a better understanding of neurodivergence and how we can make the world a more understanding a supportive place for autistic people.

Here are five book recommendations for those who are looking to learn more about autism and what it’s like for those who are autistic. There is a saying in the autistic community: Nothing for us without us. Keeping with that spirit, most of these books are by autistic authors.

NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman

As a writer for Wired, it wasn’t uncommon for Silberman to conduct interviews with Silicon Valley geniuses. Before long, though, he started noticing a pattern: Many of the people he interviewed seemed to have children that were autistic. Had he discovered a new Silicon Valley Syndrome? Or was autism on the rise? Silberman’s book takes an in-depth look at the history of autism – from Hans Asperger’s and Leo Kanner’s first revelations to current-day research – and explores how the rise of technology may have created the perfect space for neurodivergent people to thrive. This book gives a great overview of autism for those just delving into the topic who want to learn more about the history of the diagnosis and some of the treatments and political movements surrounding it. 

Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin

It would be hard to have a list of books about autism without including Grandin. As one of the first adults to speak openly about her experiences with being autistic, she is one of the most well-known autistic people in the nation. In Thinking in Pictures, Grandin takes us through her childhood up to adulthood and what it’s like to live inside the autistic mind. She explains how she experiences interacting with other people, how she envisions her work projects, and why it’s so important to have autistic thinkers as part of our society.

Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison

Although Robison wasn’t diagnosed with autism until late adulthood, he does an incredible job in this memoir relating how autism impacted him throughout his life. Another common saying among the autistic community is: If you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person. Reading memoirs from multiple autistic people shows how true this is. Autism showed up in different ways for Robison than for other authors on this list, and his life story is fascinating – at one point, he designed guitars that lit up and smoked for the rock band Kiss, among other things. His audiobook has become one that many people who work with autistic children and adults use as an example of the type of speech patterns some autistic people have.

Uncomfortable Labels by Laura Kate Dale

According to some studies, there is a significant correlation between autism and identifying as LGBTQ+. This led me to explore books on being transgender and autistic, and I found Uncomfortable Labels by Dale. This book helps to consider how we gender children’s behavior and how that impacts what we view as “normal” behavior. For example, historically, it was not believed that girls could be autistic because autism presented as quiet, antisocial behavior. Most young girls were expected to be quiet already, so it could be hard to identify when their quiet behavior crossed over into antisocial behavior, according to the autistic diagnosis. Thinking about all of this through the lens of a transgender girl flips a lot of these gendered norms and makes you think about how harmful that can be for all children.

The Secret Life of a Black Aspie by Anand Prahlad

Unfortunately, there are far too few books by autistic authors of color available currently – a trend that hopefully changes in the future. This book is a little different in some ways from the others on this list. Written by a poet and professor, it is more lyrical in tone than the others, but it is also a vibrant look at what it means to be a Black man who is autistic. Prahlad writes about tasting people, the colors of cities, and seeing spirits while also explaining sensitive days and the masks he’s had to wear to survive.

These are just a few of the many books and other resources available to help you learn more about autism. I hope you’ll consider taking some time this April to explore neurodivergence and how you can support the autistic people in your life.

Kristen Abell (she/her) is the webmaster at Mental Health America and a writer.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will house a “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center, that will provide case management, mental health community advocacy, and oversight from the M.I. Mother’s Keeper mental health advocates. 
 
The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will offer patrons access to immediate coverage by general surgeons as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.
 
Our goal is to help people in the best way possible in an effort to preserve and to save more lives in the Nation’s Capital and beyond.

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Emergency

Code Red
Gunshot Victim
Life Threatening Wounds
Physical Assault Victim
Severely Injured Auto Accident Victim
Burn Victim
Epilepsy/Seizures
Cardiovascular
Choking & Breathing Obstructions
and more…

trauma

Child Sex Assault Victim
Domestic Violence Victim
Drug Overdose
Rape/Sex Crime Victim
Suicide Watch
Trafficking Victim
Nervous Breakdown
and more…

Mental Health

At Capital City Emergency Trauma & Wellness Center patrons with mental health emergencies that include life threatening situations in which an individual is imminently threatening harm to self or others, severely disoriented or out of touch with reality, has a severe inability to function or is otherwise distraught and out of control, will have access to quality and psychiatric emergency services and referrals.

Physical Health

Whether your life threatening medical emergency involves excessive or uncontrollable bleeding, head injury. difficulty with breathing, severe pain, heart attack, vision impairments, stroke, physically collapsing, or seizure related, rest assured that our professionals will properly assess and evaluate the level of response that will be most needed to help provide stabilized care solutions and minimize complications as well as reduce early mortality.

Holistic Healthcare

We offer healthcare solutions that will support the whole person which includes their physical, psychological, emotional, social, & spiritual wellbeing. Research supports that because your mental state can affect your overall health we support and offer the inclusion of complimentary and alternative medicine(CAM) practitioners and naturopathic doctor recommendations and referrals as a part of our Outreach Community Resource Center’s care regimen and support.

Rehabilitative

Emergency care can typically result in traumatic injuries for which rehabilitation becomes an essential component of care in trying to achieve the best long-term outcomes for the patient. In addition to speeding up recovery times and helping to prevent further complications, rehabilitative care also helps to support a patient’s self-managed recovery once discharged from our facility. Our Outreach Community Resource Center works closely with our trauma center’s discharge department to assure that patrons requiring these services are linked with qualified professionals who will be accountable to the standard of care required to help the patron be successful in their recovery.

Social Services

Our “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center intends to promote “expansive” beneficial community enriching services, programs, case management, & linkage to “approved” partner resources and supports in all of the following intended areas and more:

Social Services

  • Clothing
  • Food Pantry
  • Housing/Shelter
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  • Toiletries
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  • Etc.

Extended Family Services

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Career Training

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  • GED Courses
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  • Job Etiquette & Grooming
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  • Sales Training
  • Software/Technology workshops
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Return Citizen
Program Partner
(Bridging the Gap)

  • Case Management
  • Temporary Boarding/Housing
  • Transitional Program Registration

Prevention/Intervention Outreach,
Workshops, & Programs

  • After-school Behavioral Health Program
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Nutritional Outreach

  • Cooking Demonstrations
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Community Outreach

The Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition is partnering with the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health advocacy organization to provide outreach services on the community level as an aid in reducing the existent health inequities that many District citizens are facing as a direct result of the presence of debilitating social determinants and the lack of culturally appropriate care choices and realities for community members residing in marginalized and lower-income communities.

It is the vision and intentions of the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health Advocates organization to help improve the quality of living for citizens living in our Nation’s Capital and beyond by overseeing the delicate linkage to services and by maintaining higher standards of care accountability for deserving citizens of the Nation’s Capital.

For more information or to enroll as one of our service providers, please email us at:
info@healthydcandme.org