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“I think we all need people in our lives who share our identities”: The Power of Autistic Mentorship

Photo courtesy Anne Borden [image: Two white people: A boy with medium-short dark blond hair, and a woman with short dark brown hair, posing for the camera. They are sitting on a wooden bench next to a large bush.] Anne Borden and Raya Shields live in Toronto, where Raya is an autistic mentor to Anne’s son Baxter. Both Anne and Raya are members of Autistics for Autistics (A4A), an autistic self-advocacy organization. In this conversation, they discuss autistic mentorship: what it is, why it’s important, and how we can forge new approaches to autism through autistic-led and directed projects. —- Anne: Raya, how would you describe what you do? Is it autistic mentorship, or what term would you use? Raya: I refer to myself as a mentor and to the work that I do with children and young people as mentorship. I also have my Bachelor of Arts in Child…

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Helping Autistic Children Understand Death and Dying

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © Benedic Belen | Flickr/Creative Commons [Image: Black-and-white photo of an Asian woman comforting a small crying child who is wearing a tiara, and has their hands over their face.] The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism asked Autistic adults to fill out a survey about death and dying to create a resource for people who need to explain death to Autistic children. The response was tremendous—in less than a week the survey had 50 responses, mostly from Autistic adults. What follows is a summary and analysis of the responses. We hope it is useful to you, your child, your family, your clients, and your students. Please note that some of the responses discuss difficult material, including suicide, and suicidal ideation/threats. Bullet Point Summary Autistic adults were surveyed about death and dying. Most learned about death through observation of people, animals, and plants. Learning about death was…

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Dear Young Autistic Person: Why We’re Angry

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [Image: Young white boy with an open-mouthed, yelling expression, and hands over his ears.] Dear Young Autistic, I am like you. I am Autistic. Now I am a middle-aged Autistic (I’m probably older than your parents) but I was once a young Autistic like you are now. One of my biggest struggles was (and is) with anger. People have commented many times over the years about my anger. You might be angry, too? People around you might talk about your anger to you or to each other where you can hear them. Or maybe people don’t talk much about your anger because you’ve got ways to push it down and hide it from everyone. If you think you aren’t angry at all, check to make sure you didn’t hide it so well you can’t see it yourself. Why was I an angry young Autistic? I felt stuck…

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Why Autistic Friends Matter

We want April — Autism Acceptance Month — to matter, to help further acceptance and understanding of autistic experiences, happiness, and rights for autistic people of all ages and abilities. We will be publishing your Autism Acceptance posts and pictures all month long. If you want to participate, contact us at thinkingautism at gmail dot com. -TPGA Editors It matters when you meet someone who gets you. When you see someone who moves like you. When you’re with someone who understands what you like and why, even if you’ve only known each other for thirty minutes. Leo felt instantly comfortable when he met Zoe (and Julia) for the first time, and hung out with them at a local aquarium. They were instant friends. Leo got to be his own genuine happy autistic self thanks to Zoe and Julia being their own warm lovely autistic selves. Autistic friends matter. They really…

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Conversations Between Autistic Self-Advocates and Autism Parents – Part 2

Self-Advocate Elizabeth (Ibby) Grace’s blog Tiny Grace Notes is subtitled “Ask an Autistic,” and that is exactly what people do — solicit Autistic insights from her. We asked if we could republish a recent conversation Ibby had with Tina, an autism parent — to show that these conversations do happen, that they can be fruitful, and in the hopes that more such exchanges will happen. This is part 2 of 2. We recommend reading Part 1 first, for context. —- Tina writes: I’ll try to answer your questions. I’m glad you asked all these questions. I dont know how many I can answer but am trying to answer them. J likes pizza, it’s the only thing he’ll eat. He strips the cheese off, eats that first then licks the tomato sauce off then scrapes the soft doughy part with his teeth and leaves the outer crust and what’s left of…

Conversations Between Autistic Self-Advocates and Autism Parents – Part 1

Self-Advocate Elizabeth (Ibby) Grace’s blog Tiny Grace Notes is subtitled “Ask an Autistic,” and that is exactly what people do — solicit Autistic insights from her. We asked if we could republish a recent conversation Ibby had with Tina, an autism parent — to show that these conversations do happen, that they can be fruitful, and in the hopes that more such exchanges will happen. This is part 1 of 2. —- Tina: I have a question. I have a severely disabled son. He is nonverbal, is still in diapers, has self harming behaviors, hits himself in the face repeatedly and eats with his hands. I doubt he will ever progress to the point of living independently. I just can’t imagine that ever happening as he’s already 12 years old and only in the last year has he indicated that he understands what I mean when I ask him if…