Understanding Autism through the Actually Autistic Lens: Resource List

Post-Event Resources for Educators, Therapists, Parents, Advocates, Students, and the Neurodivergent Community Seeking to Better Understand Autism Through the Autistic Lens

A heartfelt and resounding “thank you” to all of the presenters and attendees who participated in the TRIO Training Academy’s conference: Understanding Autism through the Actually Autistic Lens, hosted by Penn State. What a phenomenal event it was!

Many people in the audience had excellent poignant questions presenters were unable to answer during the live sessions. There were many requests for further resources. Bear with us as we update this list and check back to see what we’ve added.

Support NeuroClastic, Support Actually Autistic Voices

Check out the swag below with the artwork drawn by autistic psychotherapist and illustrator, Kate Jones (Kate Jones Illustration on Facebook and DissentByDesign on Instagram)

Schereéya’s Prayers & Pixies

The closing presenter of the Penn State conference was Schereéya, who talked about autistic headcanon and representation in the media. At the end, we learned they have a book that’s hot off the presses! Grab your copy of Schereeya Reed’s book, Prayers & Pixies by Schereeya (Reed): presenter of Autistic Representation in Media (ToolKit). Also, you can follow Schereéya on Instagram and Twitter and check out this great article from them on writing respectful representation:

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About Autism From The Inside-Out

Below are some articles and resources that were referenced during the conference.

From the presentation by Terra Vance and Kate Jones, Autism and a Framework for Evolving Empathy, below are the complete articles article referencing autistic identity and emotions and how they differ from non-autistics:

Many presenters referenced eye contact. Check out this article with quotes from Autistic people about why they don’t make eye contact.

Lauren Melissa’s presentation,
Destigmatizing Stimming: Understanding & Embracing Autistic Self-Regulation, taught us so much about stimming and why we do it. Check out the two powerful articles by Lauren Melissa below:

Here’s Why Autistics Should Stim Out Loud

Wondering what autism is? Check out autistic psychologist, Dr. Erin Findley, in this opening presentation as she explains Autism from the inside out. Then check out the article below by autistic novelist, C. L. Lynch.

Autistic Communication and Communication Rights

Maisie Soetantyo from Autism Career Pathways, Tiffany Joseph from Nigh.Functioning.Autism, and Tee Unmasked presented on Autistic communication and masking. Check out Tee Unmasked’s article on calling Level 3 autism “severe autism” below!

Autism and Intersectionality: Race, Gender, and Issues of Justice, Access, Advocacy, and Being a Co-Conspirator

Jules Edwards, who presented Integrating Indigenous Knowledge with Modern Supports and co-presented Let Autistic Kids Be Kids, has a growing list of BIPOC Autistic writers and creators to follow.

Image features a microphone and Autistic, Typing’s logo. Retrieved from Autistic, Typing’s page.

Oswin Latimer, Executive Director of the Autistic-led nonprofit, Foundations for Divergent Minds, presented Forget Behavior: Understanding Autistic Cognition. Oswin can improve your therapeutic practice! Contact Oswin Latimer, Autistic Consulant.

Also on the Board of Foundations for Divergent Minds is Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, Autistic author, consultant, educator, mother, and all-around amazing human being. If your business or organization is seeking to make meaningful change, NeuroClastic recommends contacting Morénike.

Image retrieved from MorenikeGO.com

Also, for corny jokes, beautiful poetry, family, compelling writing, and system system disruption, check out Tiffany Hammond of Fidgets and Fries to have your brain broken in the best ways.

And check out Native American autistic indie-folk recording artist, Russell James, and the premier of his new song (today), A History of Crime!

Function Labels, Support Needs, Savant Skills, and Systemic Ableism

Autistic Children: Human Rights Issues

Parenting Autistic Children

Check out this presentation from Sarah Selvaggi-Hernandez, The Autistic OT, on Autistics Parenting Autistics! You can get a complete sensory profile from Sarah here.

Autistic in The Workplace: Inclusion and Accommodations

On Self-Harm

So You Think YOU Might Be Autistic, Too? #Neurolurker

The Sensory-Mapping Resource, the Brain Story (with Free Printable Worksheet) Mentioned in Several Presentations

Speller Resources and Organizations: On getting reliable communication for Autistic NonSpeakers

For those who are looking to support nonspeakers and those who are minimally and unreliably speaking to access reliable communication, many were excited by the by Gregory Tino and Brian Foti’s presentation, Are Non-Speaking and Not-Thinking Synonyms? and Ben Breaux’s presentation, Apraxia Effects and Stigmas: A Real to Life Autistic’s Perspective. But first, a brief explanation of the methods of spelling to communicate they use.

Many autistic people with apraxia and other motor planning challenges do not experience success with traditional methods of spelling to communicate.

Rapid Prompting Method

Rapid Prompting Method was developed by Soma Mukhopadhyay to help her nonspeaking autistic son, Tito, have a reliable form of communication. RPM is a method of teaching communication that involves the student navigating the two-dimensional space of a letterboard (a stencil or large-print laminated card that has the alphabet on it), then moves on to navigating the three-dimensional environment.

You can learn more about RPM and its founder in this interview with Soma:

Watch this video to learn how RPM works and see it in action through teen Nonspeaker Lucien Gonzalez’s journey to reliable communication:

RPM Resources:

(Note: Descriptions retrieved or adapted from respective websites)

HALO – Helping Autism Through Learning and Outreach: HALO is an organization that provides the services of Soma®RPM (Soma-Rapid Prompting Method), an academic program leading towards communication, the expression of reasoning and understanding, more reliable motor skills, and greater sensory tolerance. HALO aims to provide the highest level of service for those diagnosed with autism (speaking and nonspeaking), cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other related disorders.

Unlocking Voices – Facebook Group: This group was set up by a parent for parents and professionals who want to learn how to use Soma RPM. It provides many free resources/learning videos in the files section.

Reach Every Voice: Reach Every Voice is an organization endorsed by NeuroClastic that provides remarkable resources for families and individuals at every step of the journey on the way to reliable communication. There are classes available for nonspeakers, classes to teach parents and professionals how to adapt lesson plans for apraxic autistic nonspeakers and those with complex communication disorders.

H.E.E.D – Hope, Expression, and Education: Offering local and online services and resources

Spelling 2 Communicate (S2C)

Spelling to Communicate (S2C) is a method inspired by and similar to RPM with differences in how instruction is delivered and how lessons are structured. S2C was developed by Elizabeth Vosselor of Growing Kids Therapy Center. S2C teaches individuals with motor challenges the purposeful motor skills necessary to point to letters to spell as an alternative means of communication (AAC). The goal is to achieve synchrony between the brain and body.

Skilled and rigorously trained communication partners teach purposeful motor skills using a hierarchy of verbal and gestural prompts. As motor skills improve through consistent practice, students progress from pointing to letters on letterboards to spell to typing on a keyboard. Accordingly, communication moves from concrete to abstract as motor skills progress.

Learn more about S2C through Gregory Tino’s journey, here:

S2C Resources

International Association for Spelling as Communication: I-ASC is an association composed of individuals from the nonspeaking and neurodiverse communities; their families; trained practitioners; and informed allies. I-ASC welcomes our diverse community members without judgment or discrimination of any kind. I-ASC is committed to ensuring access to effective communication that supports agency and autonomy for nonspeaking, minimally and unreliably speaking individuals. (VA, online, and internationally)

Growing Kids Therapy Center: GKTC is dedicated to teaching non-speaking, minimally speaking, and unreliably speaking individuals how to Spell to Communicate (S2C). GKTC has a diverse interdisciplinary team to meet the needs of our clients with motor and sensory differences. GKTC believes that communication and motor control leads to autonomy, independence, and inclusion. (Virginia)

Spellers Learn: a community-sourced catalog of lessons designed for S2C users. (Online)

A.A.L.I.V.E Inside Voice – Inside Voice is a spelling-to-communicate center for non-speaking Autistic Adults. Spelling to Communicate is a communication method that teaches nonspeaking autistics with motor difficulties to communicate through spelling. (Springfield, PA)

Resources for Nonspeaking Autistics (General)

Unspoken Thoughts, LLC: Professional Consulting and Instruction for Students. Providing individuals with motor impairments, limited functional speech, and autism the opportunity to access appropriate education while gaining meaningful independence and autonomy. (Washington, D.C)

California Lutheran Autism and Communication Center: offering educational, communication, and community inclusion resources to P-20 autistic students and the teachers, providers, caregivers, administrators, and families who support them. The Autism and Communication Center (ACC) promotes practices that support inclusive schools and communities based on the notion of presumed competence for individuals with autism. ACC aspires to develop individuals who are empowered to choose and use alternative forms of communication in order to realize their educational and civic potential and to become meaningfully included in school and community settings. (Thousand Oaks, California)

Learn from Nonspeakers!

When you learn about autism from the mainstream, you’re often learning what NOT to do.

When you learn about autism from the Actually Autistic community, you’re often learning from speaking autistic adults without significant communication barriers or movement disability. While those narratives are critically important, you really don’t understand autism without understanding movement differences and how those impact individuals.

Image has a yellow talk bubble and reads, “Communication choice is a human right”

Learn more about nonspeakers by accessing this directory of their books, blogs, vlogs, and social media here!

Learn more about movement differences and motor planning in autism (why most autistic nonspeakers are nonspeaking):

Much of the presentation from Terra Vance, NeuroClastic founder, and Kate Jones, autistic psychotherapist and illustrator, Reframe Your Language, Reframe Your Practice: Autonomous Over Independent, focused on how the press for “independence” prevents nonspeakers from accessing communication rights.

Quote from nonspeaking autistic advocate, Wyatt T. Dutton, used in the presentation.

Matthew Rushin made a cameo in that presentation. Check him out here talking about accepting your autistic self:

The Learning Never Stops

Not even for Actually Autistic people.

The resources listed here: all of the articles, the blogs, the artwork, the understanding, and all of the insights have come from years of exploration. Every adult Autistic person whose words, careers, and lives are shared here has spent countless hours peeling back layers, remembering, re-integrating parts of themselves that had lain dormant, and engaging with their community to understand their neurotype beyond themselves.

The advocates who presented at the Penn State conference did not coordinate with each other when planning their presentations, yet many had very similar things to say. This should reinforce that the messages at the conference are what the diverse, intersectional Autistic want you to learn and integrate into your practice, parenting, and worldview.

So, too, does the learning continue for those who are parents and caregivers, therapists, diagnosticians, educators, students preparing for a career in education or therapy, and allies. May the resources that we’ve provided keep you hungry to continue learning about what Autism is from Actually Autistic individuals.

To keep on questioning and seeking is to invest in improving the lives of the Autistic children and adults in your own lives and the lives of generations to come.

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4 Responses

  1. I am so excited that an event like this was held and that such wonderful information is being provided to people from all walks of life!! All too often the information presented go therapists, professionals, families and the public at large comes through a nonautistic lens. It is so validating and encouraging to see the #ActuallyAutistic perspective and voices being lifted up and amplified. Thank you so much for this work, and for this resource list! What a treasure trove of amazing information! 💜🙏

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