The Arc of the US’s Autism Now Center has partnered with the Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) and has written an excellent booklet, “Welcome to the Autistic Community!” This is a positive-language, informative, accessible document with clear illustrations, that gives a newly-diagnosed autistic person a handle on what autism might mean for him/her. There are chapters like “Am I Okay?” and “Where are the other people like me?” and “What are my rights?” The booklet also covers the topic of differently-developing brains, sensory overload, and self-esteem.
My one piece of advice: I want them to put out a first-grade reading level version, so that someone like Nat can read it to himself or have it read to him and really be able to parse what it means to be an autistic adult. I don’t want anyone to forget that some autistics have intellectual disabilities. I want to be sure that all of these efforts at inclusion, acceptance, and accessibility do not pass over someone like Nat.
But for now, I can read it to him.
The takeaway here is: download it. Read it. Tell others. This booklet needs to be spread everywhere, like appleseeds, and take root all over the earth. Doctors’ offices, schools, places of business, libraries, hospitals, supermarkets. Write it on the doorposts of thine house and upon thy gates. We are here we are here we are here.
And as Nat would say, “It’s a-different, that’s okay.”