If you’ve been scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and TikTok lately, you may have come across content tagged with #ActuallyAutistic or #Autistictiktok. These hashtags highlight content created by autistic people and their families, who are sharing their experiences online.
As they all point out, autism is a spectrum condition. This means you can be slightly, moderately or severely affected, and in a variety of different ways.
Some people may be non-verbal and need daily support to communicate. Others may cope well with daily life, but find too much noise, lights or change unbearably stressful. Even two autistic people in the same family can have very different experiences. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, the community is much larger than you may think. You probably know one or two people on the autism spectrum yourself — but don’t realise it.
Take climate activist Greta Thunberg, who is famous for her work publicising the climate crisis. She calls her diagnosis of autism her “superpower.” because it helps her focus. She says, “Autism can be something that holds you back, but if you get to the right circumstance, if you are around the right people, if you get the adaptations you need and you feel you have a purpose, it can be something you can use for good.”
April 2 is Autism Awareness Day, a day launched 15 years ago by the United Nations to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism. In that spirit, here are great social media accounts to follow by people on the spectrum and their families, sharing tips, insights and understanding.