Chapter 8

Finding and creating autistic community

Doctors say that around 1 in 59 people are autistic.
But remember, doctors still aren’t good at diagnosis.
Many people don’t get diagnosed.
That means the number of autistic people is probably more than 1 in 59!
There are millions of autistic people all over the world.
We have a lot of ways to find each other.

What is autistic community?

Some people think autistic people can’t have a community.
They say autistic people are loners.
They say we can’t have friends.
These people are wrong!
Autistic people have communities.
Autistic community is very important.

Autistic community can mean a lot of different things. It can mean:

  • Autistic people hanging out together
  • Autistic people helping each other solve problems
  • Autistic people talking to each other online
  • Autistic people fighting for our rights

Autistic community doesn’t have to be all about autism.
Autistic community can be autistic people just hanging out.
We might talk about things we like.
We might play video games together.
We might do other things we enjoy.

Autistic community helps us feel good about who we are.
It is important to get a chance to be yourself.
When everyone is autistic, it can be easier to be yourself.

It is important to spend time with people who accept you.
Autistic community can help us accept other autistic people.
That makes it easier to accept ourselves for who we are.

Autistic community creates autistic pride.
We deserve to feel proud of who we are!

Autistic community history

There have always been autistic people.
We have been around as long as humans have been around.
We have always found each other. We have always spent time together.
But 30 years ago, something new happened!
The internet got started. People went online.
This made it easier for autistic people to find each other.
Autistic people first started talking to each other online.
Soon, autistic people started meeting in person.

After that, autistic people started forming our own groups.
We started talking about being autistic. We taught others about autism.
Since then, autistic people have made lots of communities!
Some autistic communities are on the internet. Some meet in-person.

Finding autistic community near you

There are a lot of groups where autistic people hang out together.
There might be one near you.
These can be great places to meet other autistic people!

Some of these groups might not have what you are looking for.
Some of them are run by non-autistic people.
They might try to make autistic people act “normal.”
Always be careful when looking for groups.
Here are some ways to tell if a group will work for you:

Who is in charge?
Is the group run by autistic people or someone else?
Do non-disabled people help with the group? Do they tell everyone what to do?
It’s always best if autistic people decide what their group does.

What is the goal of the group?
Is it for autistic people to hang out?
Is it to do disability advocacy?
You can choose a group that does things you’re interested in.

Is the goal to teach us how to act non-autistic?
We shouldn’t have to act non-autistic to meet other autistic people.
It is a big problem if the group is not a safe place to be autistic.

Who can join?
Is it just autistic people? Can non-autistic people join, too?
Both kinds of groups can be good.
But some autistic people want groups that are just for us.
Pick a group that works for you!

Where can I find autistic communities?

Here are some places you can find autistic communities:

  • Local meetup groups.
    Some autistic groups meet using a site called
    You can search “autism group” on that website to find groups near you.

  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network affiliate groups.
    ASAN has a list of groups that we work with.
    You can check and see if there is one near you.
    The list is at
  • People First groups.
    Most states have People First groups.
    They are for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
    People First groups work on self-advocacy.
    They fight for our rights.
    You can find a list of People First groups at
  • College groups.
    Some colleges have groups for disabled people.
    Some groups include all disabled people.
    Some groups are just for autistic people.
    Most colleges have a website for groups.
    People who aren’t students can’t always get to these websites.
    If you are a student, it is a good place to look.
    If not, you can try to call or email the colleges and ask.

Sometimes there are conferences for autistic people.
A conference is when people from many different places get together.
They all talk about a specific thing, like autism.
Conferences usually happen once a year.

Autistic community online

There are a lot of autistic people online.
Many autistic people talk online using social media.
Social media are websites that people use to talk to each other.
Here are some social media websites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Instagram
  • Reddit

You can find other autistic people by searching on these websites.
You can look up words like “autism” or “neurodiversity” or “#ActuallyAutistic.”
Sometimes, non-autistic people will use these words online, too.
They might say bad things about autistic people.
You might find these people when you search social media websites.
You should ignore them.
Keep looking and you’ll find actually autistic people.

Creating Your Own Autistic Community
If you still can’t find an autistic community, you can create your own!
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) also has tools for this.
These tools can help you make a community.
To find the tools, look at the end of this chapter.

Who is left out?

Autistic communities sometimes leave some people out.
People of color can get left out.
Women can get left out.
Transgender and non-binary people can get left out.
Poor people might not be able to afford to come.
People with other disabilities might get left out, too.

Sometimes people are left out on purpose.
For example:

Bob runs a group for autistic people.
He says the group is only for “high-functioning” people.
Autistic people with intellectual disabilities get left out.
This is bad!

But groups can also leave people out by accident.
For example:

May runs a group for autistic people.
She says the group is for all autistic people.
But at the group, most of the people are in college.
They talk using long, hard words.
They get mad when people ask them to use shorter words.
Autistic people with intellectual disabilities stop coming to the group.
May doesn’t want to leave people out.
But her group isn’t accessible for everyone.

There are also problems in society.
These problems make some autistic people get left out.
These problems happened before Bob or May started their groups.
But they are still problems.

Being left out happens for a lot of reasons. Here are some:

1: Society has wrong ideas about who can be autistic.

Remember, doctors still miss a lot of autistic people.
They miss people like women and people of color.
These people might not get an autism diagnosis.
They might not know they are autistic.
That will make it hard for them to find your group.

Most autistic people in TV shows, books, and movies are white boys and men.
But, most autistic people are not white boys and men.
There are not a lot of autistic women in TV shows, books, and movies.
So autistic women don’t see examples of autistic people like them.
There are not a lot of autistic people of color in TV shows, books, and movies.
So autistic people of color don’t see examples of autistic people like them.
This can make it harder for them to realize they are autistic.

Non-autistic people also see movies, TV, and books.
They also mostly see autistic white men.
Doctors see movies, television, and books, too.
They may think that only white men can be autistic.
They might not diagnose women or people of color with autism.

Because of this, your group might just be white autistic men.
Other autistic people might not feel like they belong in the group.
Groups need to find ways to help everyone feel like they belong.

2: Some groups leave out people who don’t have a diagnosis.

Not all autistic people have a diagnosis.
Remember, it can be hard to get a diagnosis.
Also, some people don’t want a diagnosis.
Some groups ban people who don’t have a diagnosis.
Those groups leave a lot of people out.

3: Some groups aren’t accessible.

You need to think about making your group accessible.
Different autistic people have different needs.
For example, some autistic people have a hard time with loud noises.
If your group has lots of people talking at once, it might not be accessible.
Some non-speaking autistic people need more time to write out their thoughts.
If people in your group talk too fast, non-speaking people might get left out.

Some autistic people have other disabilities.
An autistic person might also use a wheelchair.
So, groups need to meet in an accessible building.
Some autistic people are Deaf.
So, groups need to make sure to get a sign language interpreter.

When your group isn’t accessible, people get left out.