This was originally written to encourage a friend with autistic kids. I have edited out the personal references and made them general.
Dear Parent of an autistic child,
I wanted to share some thing I thought might give you a more positive prospect when considering your child’s future, since you’ve talked about that being a major concern.
First, I highly recommend reading blogs and books written by adult autistics. Many times, the view from the inside is more insightful and nuanced than even the best view from the outside. Many, many things have been said by the leading experts at different times that have proven to have exceptions or even just be plain wrong in general.
I’d recommend you start with Temple Grandin. Watch the movie about her life. It’s very accurate and endorsed by her. Read her books. I’d particularly recommend “Thinking in Pictures” for an in depth view of her and others experiences. Then I’d recommend that you take a look at the book she and Sean Barron wrote together, which is called “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships“. It makes explicit what things need to be made explicit for autistics to navigate the world of other people. Another awesome work she produced was “Different…Not Less!“, which is a compilation of autobiographical essays written by about a dozen different autistic adults about their life from the beginning to the present, how they handled education, work, and relationships. There is really quite a diversity of experience and ability on showcase there, while at the same time there are common themes about acceptance, mentorship, and the need for satisfying work. I have read it twice already and got more from it the second time.
Secondly, I’d recommend the following websites and YouTube channels:
- Purple Ella on YouTube
- Amythest Schaber on YouTube
- Musings of an Aspie – blog by Cynthia Kim
- Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
- Autism Discussion Page – FB group. This is particularly good for parents of autistic kids, I think.
- Christian parents of kids with aspergers (high functioning autism) – this is an encouraging group for Christian parents in the trenches. Lots of sympathy, some good answers, and people with kids of a wide spread of ages, from baby to adult.
Thirdly, if you wanted advanced or more comprehensive books, check these out:
- Neurotribes by Steve Silberman
- In a Different Key by John Donvan and Caren Zucker
- The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin
In conclusion, I guess I’m saying take hope. Lots of times, “auties” just need to be taught in a way that they can understand and then they can lead their own kind of fulfilling life. Those that fail often fail in similar ways that neurotypical American kids fail in, by failing to find support, self-discipline, and meaning. This article is about the very first child ever diagnosed with autism in America and I think he has had a pretty good life: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/10/autisms-first-child/308227/
Feel free to reach out to me if you want to talk. I’m no expert, but I have read some of them and could point you in their direction. Also, I’ve spent about a year processing my own autism and have much to say about my own variety.
May God bless you as you try to love your child knowledgeably,
Tyler Upchurch <><