Resources

Black and white photo of an open book. The book is positioned diagonally in the upper right corner of the photo. It is laying open with a ribbon bookmark hanging out the bottom of the book. Indescript text can be seen on the right-hand page. The book is on a white surface which makes up the rest of the image.
Photo by Olia Gozha on Unsplash.

Updated 02 June, 2022.

This is a ‘living post’ which I will update regularly. It is not a comprehensive list of resources, rather a collection of what I have found as I learn about autism, my autistic identity, and neurodivergence in general. It is a way for me to keep track of what I have read as well as my ‘To read’ list. As such, the contents will, at least initially, be related to areas of autism most relevant to me personally. Over time, I expect this will expand as I learn about autism in general and how it impacts others with different experiences. Resources on other relevant topics such as trauma are also included.

For a more comprehensive list of autism resources, Autistic Science Person’s blog may be a great place to start. For trauma resources, this blog post from Trauma and Lawyer’s Mental Health contains an expansive list of resources.

Each section is listed in alphabetical order.

Also, please accept my apology for the clumsy book descriptions. I have never been good at describing books in a few sentences. Each book title is linked to the author or publishers page where you can find better descriptions and reviews.

Contents

Autism Self-assessments

Social Media

Books – Autism and Neurodivergence (General)

Books – Autism and Neurodivergence (Memoir)

Books – Autism and Neurodivergence (Fiction)

Books – Trauma

Books – ‘To read’ list

Websites, Blogs, and Essays

Journal Articles

Autism Self-assessments

These are commonly used assessments to assist in determining if a person is autistic. They are by no means comprehensive and they all have (many) problematic features. The language in particular, is often imprecise, confusing, and outdated. They often contain double-barrelled questions and are based on stereotypes. Many autistics have reported these assessments to be confusing and frustrating to complete.

Psychometric assessment (questionnaires) alone should never be the sole tool used to determine a diagnosis, particularly because of the aforementioned issues. However, if you are wondering if you are autistic, they may provide a general indicator for you to further explore.

Aspie Quiz. I have found the results do not display on a mobile device’s browser (which is frustrating after spending 20 minutes answering questions), however it worked on a computer.

Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)

Autism Spectrum Test

Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire (CAT-Q)

Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale – Revised (RAADS-R)

Social Media

These links are to hashtags on Twitter, which is the platform I use the most, however they are used on other social media platforms as well.

#ActuallyAutistic Used by people who identify as autistic — formally diagnosed, self-diagnosed, or those who suspect they may be autistic — to separate themselves and their tweets from non-autistic people (e.g. parents, charities, or researchers). The latter group generally tweet about autism using #autism, which often contains hateful content. Thus, #ActuallyAutistic was designed to be a safe space for autistics to communicate with and support each other. According to The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, #ActuallyAutistic was originally created by the autistic tumblr community and has spread to other social media sites.

#AskingAutistics If you would like to ask an autistic person a question, use this hashtag. It is often used by autistic people to ask if others have similar experiences, or by allistic people who have a question about being autistic.

Books – Autism and Neurodivergence (General)

Aspergirls by Rudy Simone

Published 2010.

This book by autistic author Rudy Simone shows up on most lists of recommend autism books. It is a handbook for girls and women, with suggestions for navigating a number of life events.

Aspergirls was written in 2010 when Asperger’s syndrome was still a diagnosis and is directed towards autistics with lower support needs. I personally found it contained language that is now associated with ‘Aspie supremacy‘ and did not find it as useful as others have, as it made me a little uncomfortable.

Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Adults by Luke Beardon

Published 2022.

Dr Luke Beardon is an allistic author and ally. I am still reading this book and will write more when finished. It came highly recommended by other autistics.

Divergent Mind by Jenara Nerenberg

Published 2021.

Divergent Mind is written by Jenara Nerenberg, an autistic and ADHD author. It covers a range of neurodivergencies such as autism, ADHD, synesthesia, and sensory processing disorder, with a particular focus on how they impact women. The author weaves her personal experiences with those of others as well as research.

This book was recommended by many people on social media and was the first book I read when I was beginning to wonder if I was neurodivergent.

Growing Up Disabled in Australia edited by Carly Findlay

Published 2021.

Growing Up Disabled in Australia is an anthology of stories, poetry, interviews, and art by 46 Australians representing their experiences of growing up disabled in Australia.

This book is not entirely about autism or neurodivergence, however several of the chapters are. It provides a great discussion of neurodivergence, disability, chronic illness, and mental health challenges from the perspective of the social model of disability.

The varying perspectives of the contributors were often relatable, and I learnt a lot from this book.

Letters to my Weird Sisters by Joanne Limburg

Image of the book cover. The text states ‘Joanne Limburg. Letters to my weird sisters. On autism and feminism.’ The image is of abstract art. A small round-ish charcoal coloured circle is balancing on a larger orange circle, which is balancing on a light-grey round-edged rectangle. There is the online of 2 rough-edged rectangles overlapping the left side of the orange circle and grey rectangle. The background is a plain magnolia colour.
Book cover from my copy.

Published 2021.

I am currently reading this and will provide more comment on completion.

Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate by Cynthia Kim

Published 2014.

Cynthia Kim was diagnosed with Asperger’s (which is now part of autism) as an adult. This book has been written as a guide to life with autism and is illustrated with the author’s own experiences.

I think I would have found this more helpful to read at the earliest stages of my autistic discovery, as the guide mostly contained information I had already come across. Many others have said this book was very helpful for them though!

The Neurodivergent Friendly Workbook of DBT Skills by Sonny Jane Wise

Image of the book cover for The Neurodivergent Friendly Workbook of DBT Skills. There are two text boxes. Both contain black text with a white background. The first contains the book title. The second states ‘A workbook of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy skills reframed to be neurodivergent friendly with the added bonus of accessible mindfulness practices, sensory strategies and managing meltdowns.” There is black text at the bottom of the image which states ‘Written & designed by Sonny Jane Wise @livedexperienceeduator. The background is comprised of geometric shapes in pastel purple, green, pink, yellow, and blue.
Book cover from my copy.

Published 2022.

This is a workbook of DBT skills which have been reframed to be neurodivergent friendly by multiply neurodivergent author Sonny Jane Wise. There are sections on everyday wellbeing, mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and managing sensory needs.

The workbook “does not focus on compliance or change who we are. It’s about giving us the skills to identify as well as regulate our emotions, find ways to manage our distress and both recognise, fulfil and advocate for our needs” (p.1).

The title link is to the eBook. A physical book is available on Amazon.

Neuroqueer Heresies by Nick Walker

Image of the book cover. The text states 'Neuroqueer heresies. Notes of the neurodiversity paradigm, autistic empowerment, and postnormtl possibilities. Nick Walker. In the centre of the image is a butterfly, with a human brain for its body. It is shaded blue and green. The text is purple and teal and the background is plain purple.
Book cover from my copy.

Published 2021.

Neuroqueer Heresies is a fantastic primer by Nick Walker, an autistic academic, on the difference between the neurodiversity and medical paradigms, as well as the neurodiversity movement.

If you have recently discovered you are autistic, I highly recommend reading this.

If you are allistic, please read this, especially if you have any interaction with autistic people.

Some of the essays in Neuroqueer Heresies are available on the author’s website.

Neurotribes by Steve Silberman

Published 2015.

Written by allistic author Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes is considered the most comprehensive history of autism published to date. It provides an often harrowing discussion of the abuse and torture autistic people have endured, particularly due to egotistical and career-advancing beliefs held by professionals (my interpretation).

The text does appear to be sympathetic towards Hans Asperger. Since the publication of NeuroTribes, it has been suggested Asperger was more cooperative in the Nazi regime than previously thought. It is worth keeping this in mind when reading this book (note the author is an allistic ally who continues to promote autistic voices over allistic voices).

Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Sarah Hendrickx

Published 2015.

This book by autistic author Sarah Hendrickx covers many of the differences experienced by autistic girls and women and how autism may present differently to the standard diagnostic criteria. There are sections discussing each stage of the lifespan, covering a range of life events that may be experienced.

Books – Autism and Neurodivergence (Memoir)

But You Don’t Look Autistic at All by Bianca Toeps

Image of the book cover for But you don't look autistic at all. There is a photo of the author. She has pink hair with brown roots, falling just below her shoulders. She is wearing pink glasses and glancing sideways. She is wearing a white top and overalls. The text is dark pink and the background plain pale pink.
Book cover from my copy.

Published 2020.

Written by autistic web developer and photographer Bianca Toeps. The original is Dutch. I read the English translation.

Toeps talks about her experiences growing up and into adulthood but not knowing she was autistic. Throughout the book there are quotes and stories from other autistic people, snippets of research, and a discussion of the DSM 5 diagnostic criteria.

Diagnosis Normal by Emma A. Jane

Published 2022.

Author and academic Emma A. Jane talks about a range of issues in this memoir from abuse, depression, cPTSD, and queerness, to her late diagnosis of autism after being sectioned in a mental health hospital during the first Sydney covid lockdown.

I am part-way through Diagnosis Normal and will add more when I finish it.

Drama Queen by Sara Gibbs

Published 2021.

Sara Gibbs is a UK comedy writer who was diagnosed autistic at age 30.

Drama Queen chronicles her life growing up while always feeling different, especially as a teenage girl and young adult.

This was my first autism memoir. I was often able to relate to Sara’s experiences and enjoyed the read.

There is a short video excerpt from Drama Queen on Sara’s Twitter account.

The Electricity of Every Living Thing by Katherine May

Published 2019.

This memoir follows Katherine as she traverses the South West Coast Path in England. Katherine’s year-long journey is an attempt to discover why her life has been so difficult.

After hearing a radio discussion on autism, Katherine realises this could be her and eventually receives a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.

This is a beautifully written memoir; a very raw and honest account of her life. I throughly enjoyed this and look forward to reading Katherine’s follow-up book Wintering.

Later Bloomer by Clem Bastow

Published 2021.

Clem Bastow is a screenwriter and journalist from Melbourne, Australia. She received her autism diagnosis at age 36.

Late Bloomer is a memoir with information about autism woven throughout the narrative.

I related to many of Clem’s experiences and throughly enjoyed her poignant, and often humorous writing.

Odd Girl Out by Laura James

Published 2018.

Laura James is an English journalist who discovered she was autistic in her forties.

Odd Girl Out discusses Laura’s journey as she discovers what it means to be autistic — as a person who always felt different, a mother, wife, and journalist. She also reflects back over her earlier years and the impact of undiagnosed autism.

I did not relate to, or enjoy this, as much as the other memoir’s I have read. However this is more a comment about me and my experiences than the book or author.

Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation by Hannah Gadsby

Published 2022.

Ten Steps to Nanette follows Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby’s life up to the Netflix recording of her show Nanette. Hannah talks about growing up in Tasmania while it was illegal to be homosexual, as well trauma, and her late diagnosis of autism.

I listened to the audiobook — narrated by Hannah — which I think gave it a lot of impact. I could relate to many of Hannah’s experiences of the world. However, I can’t do this justice in a couple of sentences. The Guardian has an extract from Ten Steps to Nanettte about Hannah’s autism diagnosis. If you can, I would recommend watching Nanette before reading the book as it sets the scene and Hannah’s style.

Books – Autism and Neurodivergence (Fiction)

The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

Published 2017.

The author is an allistic English teacher who works with adults with learning difficulties and autism.

Elvira is 27 and suddenly finds herself living alone for the first time. She learns to cope by creating a list of seven rules to live by. Elvira discovers her life has not always been what she thought it was, and living in a neurotypical world requires more nuance than her rules allow for.

The back cover mentions Elvira is ‘neuro-atypical’ however the word autism is never actually used in the book, which is unfortunate. Elvira is clearly autistic. The book was recommended by other autistics who mentioned they very much related to the main character and loved the book.

Books – Trauma

The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk

Image of the book cover for The Body keeps the score. There is a stylised blue outline drawing of a woman arching forward with her arms and legs kicking backwards. The text states 'The body keeps the scoreL Mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma. 'Fascinating, hard to put down, and filled with powerful case histories ... the most important series of breakthrough in mental health in the least thirty years' Norman Diodge, author of The brain that changes itself. Bessel van der Kolk. The background is a plain, pale beige. There is a small logo in the bottom corner for the publisher, Penguin.
Book cover from my copy.

Published 2014.

This book is often considered the formative text of complex trauma*, written by psychiatrist and academic Bessel van der Kolk. It discusses the research and theory behind complex trauma, illustrated with case studies.

I found some of the language and concepts to be very medicalised, paternalistic, and outdated. However the general theory within the book is comprehensive, from which I learnt a lot.

*Others argue it is Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman published in 1992 — well before The Body Keeps the Score — which I am yet to read.

Lifting Heavy Things by Laura Khoudari

Image of the book cover for Lifting heavy things . There is a photo of a black kettlebell in the centre of the image. The text is yellow and white and states 'Lifting heavy things. Healing trauma one rep at a time. Laura Khoudari. Foreward by Licia Sky cofounder of the Trauma Research Foundation.' The background is a plain lavender colour.
Book cover from my copy.

Published 2021.

Laura Khoudari is a personal trainer with her own experiences of trauma.

Lifting heavy things provides an introduction to trauma and embodied movement with lessons from Laura’s experiences throughout the book. Most of the examples focus on weightlifting, however the lessons are just applicable to other forms of movement and exercise.

I highlighted a significant portion of this book. It has given me a lot to think about regarding my own trauma.

My Year of Living Vulnerably by Rick Morton

Published 2021.

After a diagnosis of cPTSD, Australian author and journalist Rick Morton spent a year learning more — about trauma, vulnerability, and love.

My Year of Living Vulnerably is a memoir from childhood to present, interspersed with interviews and research discussing Morton’s findings along his journey.

Funny, poignant, and educational. This was a great read.

Books – ‘To Read’ List

The Autism and Neurodiversity Self Advocacy Handbook by Barb Cook and Yenn Purkis

Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness by M. Remi Yergeau

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida

The Secret Life of a Black Aspie by Anand Prahlad

Typed Words, Loud Voices edited by Amy Sequenza and Elizabeth J. Grace

Unbroken: Learning to Live Beyond Diagnosis by Alexis Quinn

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity by Devon Price

We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation by Eric Garcia

Websites, Blogs, and Essays

Unless otherwise specified, all resources below are by autistic creators.

Autistic Science Person. Really great collection of resources. There are sections for autistic people, parents, professionals, teachers, etc.

Humanising the DSM’s Definition of Autism. This is a great essay for anyone who thinks they may be autistic and are working through self-diagnosis or preparing for a formal diagnosis.

Monotropism. Link to a Google Doc containing a four minute animated video describing monotropism — the way many autistics can intensely focus on one task at a time and have difficulty switching to a different task. The video was co-produced with autistic people and is part of an educational module for those who support autistic people.

Neuroqueer: The Writings of Dr Nick Walker. A fabulous collection of essays about neurodivergence and autism, some of which can be found in the book Neuroqueer Heresies (see the above book section).

Journal Articles

Eberhard, D., Billstedt, E., & Gillberg, C. 2022. Neurodevelopmental disorders and comorbidity in young adults attending psychiatric outpatient clinic. Psychiatry Research. 313, 114638. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2022.114638

This paper found 63% of people admitted to a mental health ward met the criteria for a neurodevelopmental diagnosis such as autism and ADHD, despite having not previously received a formal diagnosis. This was more common in women than men. This suggests neurodevelopmental conditions are more prevalent than offical statistics suggest and under or missed diagnosis is common in those who have been diagnosed with a mental health concern. This paper is open access (it is free to read).

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