Chapter 1

To start

Autistic people are different from non-autistic people in a lot of ways, and that is a good thing!

This book will help you understand autism. Reading this book will help you learn what being autistic means, and it might help answer some questions you have about autism. It can show you how to make life better for autistic people.

The first chapter of this book says how the book works.

This chapter talks about:

  • What the book is
  • Who the book is for
  • How the book talks about autism
  • How to read the book
  • What is in each chapter

Who is this book for?

Anyone can read this book, but this book is mostly for autistic people. This means all autistic people.

Some of us have an autism diagnosis, which is when a doctor says you are autistic. Some of us have a self-diagnosis, which is when you figure out that you are autistic. Some of us aren’t sure if we are autistic, and that’s okay. Lots of autistic people aren’t sure at first, and this book can help you figure it out.

People who aren’t autistic should also read this book, since this book can help people become better allies. Allies are non-autistic people who want to help autistic people.

All sorts of people can be allies, like friends, family members, and people who work with autistic people. Anyone who wants to help autistic people can be an ally.

Most of this book will be good for allies to read, and there is one chapter of the book just for allies. It talks about how allies can help autistic people. Even if you aren’t autistic, you can learn a lot from this book.

Lots of people don’t know they are autistic. Some allies might actually be autistic, and you might be one of those people. This book can help you learn about yourself.

How to talk about autistic people

This book uses certain words to talk about autistic people, and we use these words for good reasons. We use words that respect autistic people, and words that autistic people chose to talk about ourselves. Some people use words that make autism seem like a bad thing, so we use words that show what autism really is.

“Person-first” language and “identity first” language
There are 2 ways that people talk about disability: person-first language and identity-first language.

Identity-first language means that you say the disability first, then you say the word “person.”

“Autistic people” is an example of identity-first language. We say “autistic” first, and then we say “person.” “Disabled people” and “Deaf people” are other examples of identity-first language.

Person-first language means that you say the word “person” first, then you say the disability.

“People with autism” is an example of person-first language. “People with disabilities” and “people with intellectual disabilities” are other examples of person-first language.

People can choose the words they like to be called. Many people with intellectual disabilities like using person-first language, and they’ve used person-first language for a long time. They want others to know that they are a person, and that their disability is only one part of them.

A lot of Deaf people and autistic people like identity-first language. They feel like their disabilities are a big part of who they are, and want others to know that their disability is important to them.

This book uses identity-first language to talk about autism. This book calls autistic people “autistic people”, and not “people with autism”.

The words we use might not seem important, but they are very important. The words we use change how we think. Person-first language gets used to hurt autistic people. It says that autism is only a small part of us, and doesn’t make us who we are. But autism is a big part of our lives, and is an important part of who we are!

Not every autistic person uses identity-first language, but a lot of us do. Different people use different words for different reasons. You can use whatever words you want to talk about your disability!

Functioning labels and support needs

This book doesn’t use “functioning labels”. Functioning labels are words that try and show different “types” of autism, such as:

  • “High functioning”
  • “Low functioning”
  • “Mild autism”
  • “Moderate autism”
  • “Severe autism”
  • “Classic Autism”
  • “Asperger’s Syndrome”

Functioning labels don’t help autistic people get what we need, because they don’t show how autistic people need help with different things. Functioning labels hurt us. Someone might say we shouldn’t get help if we are “low-functioning”, or that we don’t need help if we are “high-functioning”.

This book uses the words “support needs” instead. Support needs are things autistic people need help with. Different autistic people need help with different things. Some people need more support, and some people need less support. Some people might have more support needs sometimes, and less support needs other times. The words “support needs” mean we need help, and don’t judge us for needing help

This book does talk about groups of autistic people, like non-speaking autistic people and autistic people with intellectual disabilities. These words make more sense than functioning labels, and are also more respectful.

How to read this book

Here are some tips for reading this book:

Chapter names are big and bolded, and start with the number of the chapter.
For example, the first chapter is called “Chapter One: To Start”.

Chapters are split into sections to make them easier to read.
For example, right now you are in the section called “How To Read This Book”! The topic of each section is split up with big bold text.

There is a list of other things to read at the end of each chapter.
These extra things can help you learn more about what we talked about in the chapter.

Keep track of Words to Know.
This book will have a lot of words that you might not have heard before. Words that you should know will be written in bold, and we will say what the word means the first time we say the word. There is also a “Words to Know” section of the book, so if you forget what a word means, you can look at this section for help.

About the chapters

Chapter One: To Start
This is where you are right now! Chapter One is about the book and who it is for, and talks about how to use the book.

Chapter Two: All About Autism
Chapter Two tells you more about what autism means. It talks about things autistic people experience and what autistic people need.

Chapter Three: Who Can be Autistic?
Chapter Three talks about who can be autistic. Autistic people can have other disabilities besides autism, and this chapter also talks about those disabilities.

Chapter Four: Autism Facts
Chapter Four answers some questions about autism. It tells you the facts about autism, along with some wrong ideas people have about autism.

Chapter Five: Autism and Disability
Chapter Five talks about what disability and neurodiversity means. It shows why disability and neurodiversity are important.

Chapter Six: Self-Advocacy and the Self-Advocacy Movement
Chapter Six talks about self-advocacy. It says what self-advocacy means, and tells you who can be a self-advocate. It also talks about the self-advocacy movement, and gives you tips about how to be a self-advocate.

Chapter Seven: Know Your Rights
Chapter Seven talks about disability rights in the United States. It shows the rights of autistic and disabled people.

Chapter Eight: Finding And Making Autistic Community
Chapter Eight talks about the autistic community. It says what autistic community is, and tells you where you might find autistic community. It also talks about who is left out from autistic community, and gives tips about how we can make sure nobody is left out.

Chapter Nine: Being An Ally
Chapter Nine is all about allies. It gives some advice about how to help autistic people. Even autistic people might find this chapter helpful, since it can be useful to help other autistic people!

Chapter 1 Resources