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Welcome to Lifelong Access, formerly known as Marcfirst.

Marcfirst Celebrates: Autism Acceptance Month

Happy Autism Acceptance Month! We are so excited to celebrate and spread some information from reputable sources about the topic. Autism is often characterized by differences in social interaction and behavior, but the experiences of people within the community are so much more vast than that! In recent years, there has been more of a focus on defining autism as a spectrum. Here is a great example of what that spectrum can look like compared to traditional ideas about autism:


Taken from Unashamed Voices of Autism Facebook page.


To further highlight the array of experiences and abilities of people with autism, I selected a few videos from the YouTube channel "Special Books by Special Kids"! This organization's platform revolves around bringing awareness and understanding to various disabilities and conditions by learning from the people who experience them. They also often showcase their family members and friends, too!


It is a fun way to gain more exposure to people you may not meet in your life, and is a helpful guide for how we can communicate with others who may have different needs or ways of communicating.


Meet Chloe, an adult living with autism! She makes fantastic points about inclusion and accessibility. I especially love her statement, "presume competence"! It basically means to always assume that someone is able to do things until they tell you otherwise.

For more fun and impactful stories, check out Garrett, a teenager and self-proclaimed "Aspie"; Riley, a fun-loving kid with autism; and Aaron, an adult with autism in the workforce! Feel free to check out more of this channel to meet more friends!


As we can see from these lovely people, diagnoses are not a one-size fits all. While learning more about different disabilities can help us to better understand others, it is also important to know that assumptions and stereotypes should never be relied on when interacting with someone--let them guide you, and adapt to how they wish to communicate.


It is also important to note that autism is often represented in the media in very specific ways. Usually, television and film showcase savant-like individuals, or people who have disabilities but are exceptional and inspiring for their specific abilities. While these people do exist and it is great to celebrate what makes them special, it is important to remember that people with disabilities do not need to possess exceptionally impressive gifts to be appreciated, valued, and loved.

While the folks in the SBSK videos all seem very proud to be a person with autism, it is important to also remember that this can take time, and not every person with autism will necessarily be as comfortable and excited to discuss it. It is perfectly normal--and encouraged-- to take time to learn to love and accept yourself. It doesn't always happen overnight, and that's okay, too!


Of course, now it's time for the books! This month we have quite a few memorable and captivating stories for adults, young adults, and children. Each of these stories highlights someone on the autism spectrum and their experiences, and is a great learning tool for accepting and effectively understanding the people around us!


Look for these books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon! Some are even free as Ebooks on Amazon.


“On the Edge of Gone” by Corrine Duyvis is a young adult fantasy/sci-fi novel focusing on a main character who has autism. It is a fun and memorable read that addresses living with autism and being a biracial girl—but in the context of the apocalypse! 


John Elder Robison’s memoir, “Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Aspberger’s” is a sensational story following John’s life growing up. It is described as moving and darkly funny, and will surely captivate you! 


Temple Grandin’s memoir, “Thinking in Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism” was recently updated from the original published in 1995. It discusses autism diagnosis and advancements, and also showcases Grandin’s experiences as both a scientist and a woman with autism. 

“Running with Walker: A Memoir” by Robert Hughes tells the story of his son Walker growing up with autism. It captures the perspective of both a parent raising an autistic child and a child growing up with autism vividly! This is definitely a book to remember.

“Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome” by Clarabelle van Niekerk follows Sam and his family as they begin the journey of diagnosis. It also includes helpful tips for kids to interact with friends who have autism or Asperger's! (Ages 5-7). 

“Ian’s Walk: A Story About Autism” by Laurie Lears follows Ian and his sister, Julie as she learns to see the world through his perspective. This is a great story about relating to others despite our differences and making the effort to understand! (Ages 4-8). 


“My Brother Charlie” by Holly Robinson Peete is based on the story of her own son who has autism. She collaborates with her daughter about her experiences growing up with her brother to create a beautiful story to help us love those around us! (Ages 6-10). 


“Spaghetti Is Not a Finger Food: (and Other Life Lessons)” by Jodi Carmichael is told from Connor’s point of view, a child growing up with Asperger's. Fun illustrations highlight the trials and triumphs of his story! (Ages 7-10).


About the Author

Marissa is a graduate student at Illinois State University and has decided to create blogs for Marcfirst in the coming months to build awareness about important topics. Marissa has a background in women’s and gender studies, and uses this to locate high-quality research and understand diverse points of view that she herself can never fully experience. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed are Marissa’s and do not necessarily represent the official views of Marcfirst.

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