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Rejecting autism
Talking about autism

Talking to young people about autism

Important: know that it is normal to hate/ reject your diagnosis at first. Why?


The internet

Online, autism is typically described as a negative thing. The media shows autism as a disorder and something to be feared. The term “autistic” is used as an insult in quite a lot in online communities/ spaces (e.g. in online gaming).


Feeling alien

Autistic people often already know they are different before they are diagnosed, but don’t have a reason why. When you are expected to be like everyone else but struggle with being like them, it is common to see yourself as “wrong” or “broken”. 


In this respect, being told you are autistic can be quite empowering. Rather than feeling different from everyone else, it helps you to know that there are millions of people who think in a similar way that you do. 


But if you are picked on, bullied, mistreated and more without knowing why, you learn to blame yourself for your differences. Then when you eventually get a diagnosis, it is common to blame it all on autism.


In this respect, it is really helpful to start open conversations about autism before diagnosis, so it is less likely to be seen as a negative thing.


Diagnosis during crisis

Most autistic people are only referred for a diagnosis when they are struggling or at crisis point. People think this crisis point, and how you act when you are struggling, is Autism. But actually at this point you are Autistic and have co-occurring Anxiety, Depression or Trauma. 


It is very difficult to come to terms with an autism diagnosis at a point when you are immensely struggling. You might think Autism means you will always have this struggle but the crisis is usually caused by masking your Autistic traits or not understanding about Autism and yourself. Understand that Autism and Crisis are not the same thing and do not have to co-exist.

The additional difficulty here is that people often don’t explain what autism is, so it is very easy to incorrectly see intense anxiety, trauma, anger and more as part of autism, when they are a result of lack of the right support/ understanding. 

People should be able to learn about autism before they start to struggle, so they aren’t likely to view it so negatively at the point of diagnosis


Autism acceptance is really important for the long term wellbeing of autistic people, so tackling these barriers is crucial. One way to do this is by talking to autistic young people about autism and doing it in a positive way. 

So, how should you talk about autism?


Talk about it before diagnosis - to help normalise the idea of being autistic


People have different skin colours, hair colours, eye colours and more. This is part of diversity.


We have differences in the ways our brains function too. This is part of Neurodiversity.


Whilst everyone's brains are different, around 15-20% of people are Neurodivergent. This means that our brains work in ways that are very different to societal standards of 'normal'.

Neurodivergence include: Autism, ADHD, OCD, Dyspraxia and Tourette's Syndrome.


15-20% of people, is A LOT of people who have brains that are wired differently. 

It is helpful to emphasise this with people so they are not alone, and that being different is a natural, and beautiful part of human variation. 


Different perspectives are vital for creativity and innovation. If we were all the same, the world would be much less interesting, and so being different is a beautiful way to be! Being different or neurodivergent compared to others can mean that you can find some things difficult, but if you get support for your difficulties, then your strengths and unique thinking are a true credit to the world.


There are a variety of ways to talk to young people about autism and neurodiversity, before the point of diagnosis:


Some famous Autistic People

  • Slushii - Producer/ Artist/ DJ

  • Tom Stoltman - World’s Strongest Man 2022

  • Dan Bull - YouTuber

  • Dan Aykoyd - Comedian, singer, actor, writer (He played Ray Stantz in Ghostbusters)

  • Adam Young - Lead singer, Owl City

  • Albert Einstein

  • Heather Kuzmich - Model

  • Satoshi Tajiri - Creator of Pokémon

  • Matt Haig - Author 

  • Anne Hegarty - Chaser from The Chase TV Show

  • Anthony Hopkins, Actor

  • Tim Burton, Movie Director

You should talk about autism in the right way 


There are three main attitudes that people tend to have: 

  1. You should try your best to fit in and “be normal”: While people who say this have the right intentions, this is a harmful perspective as the world is set up in a way that isn’t suited to the needs of autistic people. “Fitting in” takes a lot more energy for autistic people and many autistic adults say this is completely unsustainable, leading to high levels of burnout and mental health difficulties.

  2. “You are so much more than your disability”, “autism is only a part of you and you are so much more than that”: While people have the right intentions here too, it is important to recognise the impact this phrasing has. Autism is the name for the way your brain is wired, which is completely unchangeable. Viewing autism as separate to you can be detrimental to the wellbeing of autistic people as it tailors people towards wanting to “fix” or “cure” themselves. 

  3. “Autism is a superpower”: Some people describe autism as a “super power” that brings huge positives into the world. While autism does bring huge positives into the world, only framing it in a positive light can be dismissive of the challenges/ barriers autistic people face. It is ok to acknowledge that being autistic has challenges (while also recognising that most of the challenges are caused by the environment, rather than autism itself). 
    “Autism doesn’t feel like a super power when I am bullied every day at school”. 


Instead, we should talk in a way that is neurodiversity affirming. We believe it is helpful to look at the 5 As of neurodiversity affirming practice, from The Autistic Advocate, when it comes to talking to young people about autism:


Authenticity – A feeling of being your genuine self. Being able to act in a way that feels comfortable and happy for you. 


Acceptance – A process where you feel validated as the person you are not only by yourself but by others. 


Agency – A feeling of control over actions and their consequences in your day to day life. 


Autonomy – A state of being self-directed, independent, and free. Being able to act on your ideas and wants. 


Advocacy – To speak for yourself, communicate what is important to you and your needs or the needs of others.


You can read  more about what this means here.


When young people understand autism in an affirming way, they can start to externalise some of the difficulties they experience, rather than blaming themselves which often leads to feelings of self hatred and shame.

When autism is talked about in the right way, we hope to see young people switch from trying to hide or reject autism to: 

  • The best: ‘Embracing autism and using their autistic strengths in the best possible way’

  • Second best (and also important): 'I'm stuck with it whether I like it or not so I might as well try and enjoy it’

Be ok with being uncomfortable

Talking about autism is really difficult at first.


People may struggle with talking about it, or it may not have been spoken about for so long that it is really hard to start the discussion. But breaking the ice and starting the conversation is really important to be able to start the journey to understanding and acceptance. 

Often a barrier to talking about it is fear of getting it wrong. Starting the conversation, getting it a bit wrong but opening up the way to future dialogue/ conversations is much better than never talking about it at all. But using the principles in this guide, you are likely to have a great start to the conversation. 


It is also ok if a young person has ideas or questions you don’t have the answers to. It is ok to say you will come back later, and one great place for quality information/ responses to difficult questions is the online autistic community and searching for neurodiversity affirming information (as there is also a lot of wrong/ harmful information about autism online).  

Here is a great starting point.


Share the social model of disability

Read more about our pespective here.


Introduce autistic adults


Just being openly autistic is enough to have a positive impact on wellbeing. Being openly autistic and comfortable can help young people shift towards a feeling of acceptance. 


Once the ice has been broken, this is really important/ helpful. Connection with others whose brains work in a similar way to you, is really helpful to have a positive perspective.

Drip feed rather than talking about autism all at once


A one off course or information can be too much. The best way is sharing information is over time.  Consider sharing little blogs, information on famous autistic people, memes and more a bit at a time.

For young people: Resources to see/ autistic people to follow


Messages from autistic young people

YouTube Videos

Resources/ people
Fast Facts About Autism (World Autism Awareness Day)
Autism From The Inside

Fast Facts About Autism (World Autism Awareness Day)

This video is part of my new project called Autism Explained. It's an autistic created resource for parents providing practical advice to help you create healthy supportive environments for your children. Check it out here: or on FB: CHANNEL LINKS: Patreon: Facebook: Twitter: Written Blog: More Videos: Email: ----------------------------------------------- // WELCOME TO ASPERGERS FROM THE INSIDE!! My name is Paul and I discovered I have Aspergers at age 30. If you're new you can check out a playlist of some of my most popular videos here: Yes, I know, I don't look autistic. That's exactly why I started this blog, because if I didn't show you, you would never know. As the name suggests, this channel is devoted to giving you insight into the world of Aspergers. This blog started off being just my story, but I've learned SO MUCH about my own condition from meeting others on the Autism Spectrum that now I make sure to feature their stories as well. I've come a long way in my own personal journey. Now I'm sharing what I've found so you don't have to learn it the hard way too. ----------------------------------------------- // WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THIS BLOG I value your time which means there are NO YOUTUBE ADS on my videos. You can expect me to get to the point with concise useful information. I focus on what is most important and don't shy away from difficult topics. The best way to learn about Autism is to see it in real life ( i.e. via the stories of many, many people on the spectrum). In this channel I endeavour to show you what Autism and Aspergers look like in real people and to also give you some insight as to what's happening on the inside. I upload a new video every weekend with some bonus content thrown in mid-week too. There's always new stuff coming through so be sure to check back and see what you've missed. (Is this where I'm supposed to tell you to hit that subscribe button?) Topics Include: - What is Aspergers/Autism? - Aspie Tips, coping strategies, and advice on common issues - Learning Emotional Intelligence (this is my special interest!) - Autism in real life: stories from special guests Everything I do is and endeavour to go deeper and take you 'behind the scenes' to understand what may, at first glance, seem 'odd'. oh, and I love busting stereotypes and turning preconceptions upsidedown :) ----------------------------------------------- // ABOUT ME I discovered I have aspergers at the age of thrity. It has been my life's mission to understand these funny creatures we call humans. My special interest is a combination of emotional intelligence, psychology, neuroscience, thinking styles, behaviour, and motivation. (I.e. what makes people tick) My background is in engineering and I see the world in systems to be analysed. My passion is for taking the incredibly complex, deciphering the pattern, and explaining it very simply. My philosophy is that blogging is an adventure best shared. ----------------------------------------------- // EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TRAINING I also run autism friendly online emotional intelligence training. So if you like my direct, systematic style, and would like to improve your own emotional intelligence skills, check it out here: ----------------------------------------------- // CONTACT Blogging is an adventure best shared which means I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to leave me a comment or send me and email at any time and I'll do my best to respond promptly. Email: Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this channel! I look forward to hearing from you! Peace, ~Paul
Why everything you know about autism is wrong | Jac den Houting | TEDxMacquarieUniversity
TEDx Talks

Why everything you know about autism is wrong | Jac den Houting | TEDxMacquarieUniversity

Being diagnosed with autism is often seen as a tragedy. But for Jac den Houting, it was the best thing that's ever happened to them. As an autistic person, concepts like the Neurodiversity paradigm, the Social Model of Disability, and the Double Empathy Problem were life-changing for Jac. In this talk, Jac combines these ideas with their own personal story to explain why we need to rethink the way that we understand autism. Jac den Houting is a research psychologist and Autistic activist in pursuit of social justice. Jac currently holds the role of Postdoctoral Research Associate at Macquarie University in Sydney, working alongside Professor Liz Pellicano. In 2015, Jac was awarded an Autism CRC scholarship to complete their PhD through the Autism Centre of Excellence at Griffith University in Brisbane. Prior to this, they gained almost 10 years’ experience as a psychologist in the criminal justice system, with the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Corrective Services. Jac was identified as Autistic at the age of 25, and is proudly neurodivergent and queer. After participating in the inaugural Future Leaders Program at the 2013 Asia Pacific Autism Conference, Jac quickly became established as a strong advocate for the Autistic community. Jac is a current member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia and New Zealand (ASAN-AuNZ)’s Executive Committee, the Autism CRC’s Data Access Committee, Aspect’s LGBTQIA+ Autism Advisory Committee, and the Aspect Advisory Council. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at
Amazing Kids - Autistic Spectrum Condition (Better audio levels)
Amazing Things Project

Amazing Kids - Autistic Spectrum Condition (Better audio levels)

I've been made aware that the audio levels weren't great for people with hearing problems so I have made this version with the voices enhanced. Hopefully it's better than before! The audio sources came from many different devices and recorded in different environments so the quality varies a lot but the content is as invaluable as ever. Enjoy! Listen to children from different backgrounds share their unique experiences of the autistic spectrum in their own words. We started this project back in 2017 by asking parents of autistic children to interview their kids and share their answers with us. The questions and parents’ guide were put together with the help of the lovely people at ADD-vance Trust in Hertfordshire. We had hoped to create a whole series with the interviews, but unfortunately our Kickstarter campaign didn’t reach its goal, so we decided to do a single animation instead. It was hard (and kind of painful) to have to condense hours of precious insights into just 5 short minutes. A big shout out to everyone who donated on our GoFundMe campaign - we really appreciate your support! Thanks to you we got some lovely original music, a world-class producer and a super-talented editor on board to make this animation even more special. Links: Amazing Things Project: ADD-vance Trust: Tiimo App: Additional autism resources at Twinkl