Autism resources, links and recommendations

Autism resources for free download – guidance for reasonable adjustments in the workplace, an example school talk handout and an example of content that I deliver in a typical autism awareness 90 minute session.

As well as my own books, there are lots and lots of texts out there that outline various aspects of autistic lived experience and more. Here are some of my favourites:

The world of neurodiversity contains lots of words and terms that may not be entirely clear at first, so here’s a quick and simple guide to the vocab:

  • Autism – a neurological state of being, from birth, that means the individual will have a different way of perceiving the world, communicating and socialising. This may be disabling, to a greater or lesser degree, and much of this disabling is due to the world not being designed to allow autistic people to thrive.
  • ADHD – a neurological state of being, from birth, that means the individual will have a different way of perceiving the world, communicating and socialising. See what I did there? Autism and ADHD are very similar at the broadest level, but specific to ADHD we will find features that may be to do with attention (or indeed inattention) and energy levels. It is possible (maybe even common) for people to be both autistic and ADHD.
  • AuDHD – an informal term for being both autistic and ADHD.
  • Asperger’s – an older term for a particular presentation of autism (associated with low support needs, often) that is now rarely diagnosed, with many preferring the term autistic. Has some connotations with unpleasant themes to do with Nazism due to Hans Aspergers’ apparent behaviour (though this is an unclear, murky and highly controversial area – suffice to say that emotions run high when discussing Aspergers.)
  • Neurodiversity – a cover-all term for humanity’s huge diversity of neurology, and the fact that there are so many different ways for our brains and consciousness to work. This term tends to cover ‘from-birth’ diversity, from autism and ADHD to dyspraxia, Tourette’s and dyslexia.
  • Acquired Neurodiversity – a term for the diversity of neurology that can develop during a life time, from conditions such as depression and anxiety to neurological disabilities that occur as a result of an accident.
  • Neurodivergent – the term for someone whose neurology is different to the ‘typical’ neurology in some way. Not a euphemism for autistic.
  • Neurotypical – the term for someone whose neurology appears to be of the majority. Often described as ‘normal’, which is obviously an unhelpful simplification. It is probably best to view a neurotypical person as one who is not in any way negatively affected by the way the world is set up.
  • Pathological Demand Avoidance – a controversial term that describes a fairly common aspect of autism (or is it a separate thing? We don’t know!) whereby any demand made will result in a negative, often strong, reaction. The thing is, PDA may just be a trauma response, or a manifestation of monotropic task switching differences.
  • Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria – a term that describes another common trait of autism and ADHD whereby any kind of criticism or rejection can be met by very strong negative reaction (sorrow, anger, fear, anxiety). Again, possibly a trauma response, though it might be something separate.
  • Monotropism – a fascinating theory that explores the idea that autism (and possibly ADHD) involve a kind of narrow, focused attention upon the subject of the focus rather than a broader, ‘polytropic’ focus. This narrow attention tunnel may be more efficient and rapid, but harder to shift from focus to focus, which can make task switching harder for monotropic people.
autism resources - monotropism
  • Masking – a term, used along with ‘camouflaging’, that describes the way neurodivergent people may consciously or subconsciously hide their neurodivergent behaviours. This is usually done as a trauma response to maintain safety and security, and can develop at a young age and is usually happening at school.
  • Burnout – a term for when autistic people reach a limit of what they can handle and start to cease to function. It is distinct from depression (though presents similarly) in that it is helped by rest and relaxation. Often, autistic people experiencing burnout will no longer be able to mask. It can last for weeks, months and even years.