Nathan Hughes has curated a collection of the most useful and interesting blogs that are written by people like himself: People with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nathan’s selections reflect a variety of experiences and provide advice, wisdom, experiences, poetry and art from people with ASD who are reaching out to help others.
As someone who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, I feel that the voices of people who are diagnosed with this condition are vastly underrepresented. We often do not see articles, blog entries or biographies written by those with ASD when we are searching for resources. Instead, we see works that are written by parents, teachers or researchers who use their experiences to guide them. I am not discounting the stories and experiences of these writers. However, the perspectives of autistic men, women and children are vital to our overall understanding of this diagnosis. In order to give some of these individuals the attention that they deserve, I am highlighting ten blogs written by people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder that aim to help the general public become aware of the needs that they (and those in similar situations) have. These blogs are in no particular order, as I feel that each of them has its own particular purpose for the ASD community.
Life With Asperger’s is a very unique blog, as it is written by a man who has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and who also has two children with this condition. Through his website, Gavin Bollard provides his thoughts on various issues that affect the Asperger community. These thoughts are very valuable, as they are based on both personal experiences with Asperger’s and through his experiences with autism parenting. For example, in several different entries, Bollard provides his perspective on the types of employment that may be beneficial to those who have Asperger’s Syndrome, and how individuals with Asperger’s can excel in the workplace. His thoughts on this (and other topics) are worded in a somewhat blunt manner, but they are still very insightful and provide parents and individuals with great life advice from someone who has seen both sides of living with autism.
When it comes to blogs about Autism Spectrum Disorder, The Invisible Strings provides a different perspective than most of the others. While bloggers usually write about autism in order to give advice or give information about their daily lives with the condition, M. Kelter tells stories about his past in order to give readers an insight about how his experiences have shaped his life as an autistic man. These stories include tales about his academic and social struggles in high school, the depression that he experienced in high school, and his experiences with employment. Although many of these stories are clearly negative in nature, Kelter displays a superb ability to reflect on his past so that others with Autism can experiences success in their lives.
This blog differs from the rest in one important way. It is not exclusively written by one person. Instead, Squag encourages youth and adults on the autism spectrum to share their thoughts through several different avenues of expression, such as poetry, art and short essays. Each of these different postings is filtered through a group of moderators who help autistic individuals showcase their creative sides. In my opinion, this blog is a needed outlet for expressing a positive attitude about autism, as many blogs on autism focus on the more challenging aspects of the disorder. Instead of focusing on sensory defensiveness and meltdowns, the posts on Squag embrace the gifts that those with Autism Spectrum Disorder possess, and it is refreshing to see this change in tone.
This blog is written by a 17 year old boy from England named James, who is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and was studying at a local sixth form college (the equivalent of attending junior through senior years at an American high school) when his entries were written. Through his very detailed posts, James talks about his studies in mathematics and physics, his struggles with interpreting the actions of his peers and his anxieties about finishing secondary education and applying to universities. I particularly enjoyed reading this blog because it gave me the perspective of an intelligent young man who happened to be living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. This contrasts to other personal blogs about this disorder that I have read, where an adult either writes about her present experiences or discusses events that have happened in her past. Therefore, James’s blog entries should be looked at by any parent or teenager who would like some personal insight into teenage experiences and how ASD can impact them.
As many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder understand, learning about the world of employment can be a significant challenge for teenagers and young adults. This is why Asperger Management is very useful for people like us, as it is one of the only blogs that has a main focus on the employment difficulties of people with autism. In each post, Malcolm Johnson focuses on a different issue that he has grappled with as an employee who is on the Autism Spectrum, whether this is accepting constructive feedback, talking with bosses and supervisors, or dealing with conflicts between himself and his coworkers. He shows through these examples that although these types of ordeals can be hard to manage for people like himself, they can be conquered through the use of certain social skills. This is highly encouraging for people with autism who are just beginning their careers, as it shows them that they, too, can survive in the workplace with the help of strategies that are supportive of their needs.
One important domain that I have not covered with the above blog reviews is that of the video blog. Willow Hope provides a wealth of information about Asperger’s Syndrome and other Autism Spectrum Disorders through her channel on YouTube, where she has posted a variety of video blog entries that discuss her experience with ASD. She centers each video on a particular issue that often affects the ASD community, such as self-stimulatory behaviors (or stimming) or being a female who is on the autism spectrum. Overall, I feel that Hope uses the platform of video blogging to her advantage, as she is utilizing a method that allows visual learners (whether they are on the autism spectrum or not) to access the good advice that she gives and the valuable information that is provided through her videos.
This blog serves as the reflection journal of Joe Powell, an autistic man who is employed as a self-advocate for those like himself. I found this journal to be a very interesting read, as Powell talks about how he has blossomed from someone who had given up his hopes for meaningful employment to someone who is thriving as the national director for a Welsh advocacy organization. Powell’s story is especially inspiring as he describes how he attempted to build his social skills as he searched for a permanent job, and how he was able to end his dependence on disability benefits once he was hired as a self-advocate. Powell admits that he still struggles with certain social skills, but he also claims to be happier than he ever has been, and it is heartwarming to read such a touching story.