If you’ve ever seen the movie Please Stand By or the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, you’ve experienced a small taste of what living with autism or Asperger’s can be like. Living on the spectrum can make a person feel lonely, confused, and often misunderstood.
Previously, Asperger’s syndrome and autistic disorder were considered two separate conditions. The two have since become integrated in a new category called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 59 children in the United States had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by age 8 in 2014, a 15 percent increase since 2012.
Additionally, recent studies have also discovered the comorbidity of ASD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. A review published in April 2014 in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience suggested that 30 to 50 percent of children with ADHD also show signs of ASD.
With its increasing prevalence in both children and adults, ASD is certainly getting more attention, and those affected by the disorder may be in search of some support from others who are in the same shoes.
That’s why we’ve gathered blogs that aim to unlock the intellect and creativity within ASD individuals as well as remove the stigma surrounding mental disorders. These blogs help everyone — especially caregivers and diagnosed individuals — see ASD in a different light by promoting autistic art and autistic voices and by providing medical news, candid parenting tips, and up-to-date information on autism advocacy.
The Mom Kind
After failing to find blogs that document personal accounts of raising multiple children on the spectrum, The Mom Kind author and social media influencer (@themomkind) Alicia Trautwein decided to start one of her own. From parent coaching sessions to caregiver advice, Trautwein covers all of the bases about raising a family with diverse needs. She emphasizes that in addition to taking care of their families, moms need to make time for themselves, too, and strive for balance in their daily lives.
After spending several years as a special education teacher, Autism Adventures blogger and social media influencer (@autismadventures83) Melissa Finch decided to share her knowledge and tips online. Not only does she provide resources to help strengthen skills in reading, math, vocabulary, and more but Finch also offers advice to teachers and parents about how to teach and communicate with children on the spectrum to optimize their learning and development. Parents and teachers can watch educational videos that demonstrate some of Finch’s lessons, and she has a colorful shop dedicated to enhancing children on the spectrum’s development.
Four Plus an Angel
Jessica Watson, Four Plus an Angel blogger, is a mother of five children. Her oldest, Ashlyn, was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old. Her youngest children, a set of triplets, were born prematurely in April 2007. Hadley, one of the triplets, died just days after she was born due to complications from two pulmonary hemorrhages.
Watson has blogged about each of these difficult parenting experiences and what she has learned from them: to never take any time with her children for granted. The blog is a mix of parenting tips and personal accounts that any grieving mom and mother of a child on the spectrum can relate to.
Confessions of an Asperger’s Mom
As a mom, writer, autism activist, and caregiver to two sons on the spectrum, Confessions of an Asperger’s Mom author Karen Wesley Weaver is not one to hide the difficult realities that come with navigating her sons’ autism and Asperger’s. Despite the challenges she faces on a daily basis, Wesley Weaver encourages caregivers and moms with children on the spectrum to practice self-love and offers tips for making well-deserved time for yourself.
A blog dedicated to the women of the autistic world, Her Autism is a fabulous resource for answering the trickiest of lifestyle questions when it comes to ASD. For instance, how do you hold an autistic child accountable? Another example: As an autistic adult who doesn’t care about style, why is there a need to “dress for success”? This blog is dedicated to every quandary of the female autistic mind, which you can explore in six separate sections of the site: Her Relationships, Her Style, Her Health, Her Home, Her Education, and Her Life’s Work.
The blog is authored by Heather Galloway, who describes herself as: “not so autistic that I cannot live a fairly ‘normal’ life, but autistic enough that everyone who meets me knows that I’m different.”
The Autism Dad
This extremely personal blog is written by a single father who details the day-to-day life of raising not one but three autistic sons. In The Autism Dad, Rob Gorski recounts the good days, like the time the family went out to dinner and it wasn’t total chaos. He recounts the nightmare days. And he also shares the personal moments about fathering special needs children, like his post "Even Daddies Make Mistakes and Need to Apologize." The site is lighthearted and motivational, thanks to features like Gorski’s list of autism quotes.
The Art of Autism
The Art of Autism is a nonprofit with a goal of promoting the artistic abilities of those on the autism spectrum — a mission it achieves online through numerous projects. The blog features reader submissions of all forms of art (poetry, drawings, videos, blog posts, and more) from people with autism, as well as their caregivers, family members, therapists, and others. Check out the gallery section to see the 20 categories of art, from self-portraits to pets.
The Art of Autism blog also has a plethora of first-person essays and news write-ups, plus movie and book reviews.
Finding Cooper’s Voice
Finding Cooper’s Voice is written by Kate Swenson, an ambitious, career-driven mom who has completely opened up the discussion of what it’s really like to raise a child with autism spectrum disorder. Cooper is a severely autistic 9-year-old. In a recent blog post, Swenson recalled that Cooper’s doctors told her that her child would never speak if he hadn’t spoken by age 4. Today, Cooper speaks 40 or so words, can read, write his name, use a fork and a spoon, type on a computer, and put on his own shoes and jacket. He lives with his parents and younger brother, Sawyer, and although Cooper is the site’s namesake, Swenson writes most about her experience parenting a child with special needs.
Some of her popular posts focus on hard-hitting subjects, like her articles "I Blamed Autism for My Divorce" and "I Had Become My Son’s Disability." But Swenson also shares plenty of advice for parents with a newly diagnosed child, including tips on how to give an autistic child a haircut.
Founded by Bob and Suzanne Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism, Autism Speaks has become one of the leading online crusaders for the condition, with a lot of information about how to manage autism, medical advice for people with autism and their families, and advocacy efforts. For parents caring for autistic children, take advantage of the site’s Parent section, where you’ll have access to information to guide you through haircuts, genetic testing, making friends, and more. Likewise, in the Research section, you’ll discover plenty of articles on science news, current studies, and applications for fellowships and grants.
The site is also a top resource for autism advocacy, with information on current events, walks, and the newest Autism Speaks partnerships.
Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
Dedicated to straightforward news, the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism blog is ideal for any person living on the spectrum. Posts are written by educators, caregivers, experts, students, and those living with autism. The blog includes information about autism resources, such as an extensive list of movies, books, autistic authors, and helpful websites. The blog also provides a space for people with autism to share book reviews and write essays. You can submit a pitch here, and the blog's staff decides if you’ll be featured.
With additional reporting by Nicol Natale.