Hi. We are Tanya Masterman and Yenn Purkis and we have something very exciting to announce. Our book, “The Awesome Autistic Go To Guide”, is due to be released in late April. With contributions from autistic young people, the book is aimed at autistic tweens and teens aged 10-14. It is all about positive self-knowledge and empowerment for autistic kids.
As autistic adults who were once kids ourselves, we have a good idea of what information is useful and engaging for young autistic people. We know from firsthand experience that the world isn’t always set up well for those of us who are different. So along with content that will encourage and validate our readers, we have included lots of ideas for managing life’s challenges, including sensory issues, ‘meltdowns’, and communication difficulties.
“This book is all about being autistic – what it might feel like and some of the good things autistic people can do. It has some tips for managing tricky situations and reasons why being you can be totally awesome! This book is your go to place for getting to know yourself and your autism. It has lots of useful information and fascinating facts about autism. There are some fun activities and places where you can write in your thoughts. You may already know some things about autism or you might not know much. Whichever way, this book will help you to understand more about who you are and what it means to be autistic.”
Our book is written from a strong position of celebrating neurodiversity and instilling a sense of pride in readers. Autistic pride centres on the value, worthiness and importance of autistic people to humanity, just as we are. Pride is particularly important for autistic children, as they often experience bullying and other kinds of invalidation, which can eat away at their self-esteem. Pride and self-love are powerful protective factors in life, and enable strong self-advocacy.
At the same time, our book is not one that glosses over the challenges that autistic tweens and teens – and all autistic people – might face. We don’t take the “autistic people have superpowers approach” because that can compound harmful stereotypes. Instead, our book focuses on the positive aspects of being different and how to use strengths, interests, talents and lived experience to navigate the ups and downs of tween and teen life.
“Having people in the world who are different from one another is a really positive thing. It is important to have a variety of ways of looking at the world. Different ways of thinking and doing things make it possible for us to have a world where not everyone and everything is the same. If everyone thought and acted the same way, humans would be like robots. There would be no new solutions to problems, no creativity, and no interesting art, drama or music. Life would be very boring indeed!”
The book includes many fun activities that encourage readers to record their thoughts on autism and other aspects of their identities. There are a number of quirky illustrations too. We love that it is such an affirming book.
Our book is not for parents, carers, educators or therapists, although they may gain helpful insights from it. It is for autistic kids themselves to read, enjoy and benefit from. Unlike many books which try to ‘fix’ autistic people, this book is about working with the strengths of autistic children and managing challenges in a positive way. It reflects that every autistic person is an individual with their own strengths and areas needing support.
We hope you – and more importantly your kids – love this book as much as we do. We hope it makes a big positive change and supports your kids to know themselves and their autism better and to be proud to be themselves, just as they are.
Written by Tanya Masterman and Yenn Purkis, illustrated by Glynn Masterman.
If you would like to learn more, you can get a copy of the book, here.