Find your people.

When I found the autistic community, it was like finally coming home after 23 long years at sea. Often you don’t realize how lonely and frightened you’ve been the whole time, until you find your people.

Community As Home – Portraits – Disability Visibility Project
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of a distant lighthouse directing its beam toward the viewer and illuminating a short-haired figure sitting alone in a small canoe. We are looking at the figure from behind. They are gripping the sides of the boat and eagerly looking towards the lighthouse and shoreline. The waters around them are relatively calm and the parts of the image that are not being illuminated by the lighthouse are a dark, deep purple and blue. Above the horizon line of the ocean, the sky is dark and cloudy, and going up the image, the clouds transition to a view of rolling ocean waves. In these stormy waves, the same figure is in their canoe to the left of the image, but they look tiny against the rest of the ocean. Between the visual transition of the clouds to the waves, there is a large blue gray cloud shape that serves as a text bubble. Inside the cloud shape it reads: “When I found the autistic community, it was like finally coming home after 23 long years at sea. Often you don’t realize how lonely and frightened you’ve been the whole time, until you find your people. -CADENCE”
An illustration by Ashanti Fortson of a distant lighthouse directing its beam toward the viewer and illuminating a short-haired figure sitting alone in a small canoe. We are looking at the figure from behind. They are gripping the sides of the boat and eagerly looking towards the lighthouse and shoreline. The waters around them are relatively calm and the parts of the image that are not being illuminated by the lighthouse are a dark, deep purple and blue. Above the horizon line of the ocean, the sky is dark and cloudy, and going up the image, the clouds transition to a view of rolling ocean waves. In these stormy waves, the same figure is in their canoe to the left of the image, but they look tiny against the rest of the ocean. Between the visual transition of the clouds to the waves, there is a large blue gray cloud shape that serves as a text bubble. Inside the cloud shape it reads: “When I found the autistic community, it was like finally coming home after 23 long years at sea. Often you don’t realize how lonely and frightened you’ve been the whole time, until you find your people. -CADENCE”

Image Credit: Ashanti Fortson, Community As Home – Portraits – Disability Visibility Project

Autistic people have built many niche communities from the ground up—both out of necessity and because our interests and modes of being are, well, weird.

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity (p. 218)

ANI launched its online list, ANI-L, in 1994. Like a specialized ecological niche, ANI-L had acted as an incubator for Autistic culture, accelerating its evolution. In 1996, a computer programmer in the Netherlands named Martijn Dekker set up a list called Independent Living on the Autism Spectrum, or InLv. People with dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and a myriad of other conditions (christened “cousins” in the early days of ANI) were also welcome to join the list. InLv was another nutrient-rich tide pool that accelerated the evolution of autistic culture. The collective ethos of InLv, said writer and list member Harvey Blume in the New York Times in 1997, was “neurological pluralism.” He was the first mainstream journalist to pick up on the significance of online communities for people with neurological differences. “The impact of the Internet on autistics,” Blume predicted, “may one day be compared in magnitude to the spread of sign language among the deaf.”

The neurodiversity movement: Autism is a minority group. NeuroTribes excerpt.

Autistic kids need access to autistic communities. They need access to autistic mentors. They need to know that the problems they go through are actually common for many of us! They need to know they are not alone. They need to know that they matter and people care about them. They need to see autistic adults out in the world being accommodated and understood and respected. They need to learn how to understand their own alexithymia and their own emotions. They need to be able to recognize themselves in others. They need to be able to breathe.

AutisticSciencePerson

In Te Reo Māori the word for Autistic ways of being is Takiwātanga, which means “in their own space and time”. Most Autists are not born into healthy Autistic families. We have to co-create our Autistic families in our own space and time.

A communal definition of Autistic ways of being
A young person with a back pack on looks down a city street, buildings resembling book spines line each side. Text reads: Find Your People
A young person with a back pack on looks down a city street, buildings resembling book spines line each side. Text reads: Find Your People
Image Credit: Swamburger

Until one day… you find a whole world of people who understand.

The internet has allowed autistic people- who might be shut in their homes, unable to speak aloud, or unable to travel independently- to mingle with each other, share experiences, and talk about our lives to people who feel the same way.

We were no longer alone.

7 Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture » NeuroClastic
A blue humanoid wearing a yellow Star Trek uniform sits alone on a bench accompanied by their belongings. A space scene with a path into they sky is in the background
Heike Blakley

…the central tension of punk rock: it was built on individualism and an anti-hero ethos, yet expressed itself as a community. The motivation for punk was individualistic artistic expression, but the glue for the subculture was the experience of finding like-minded misfits.

We accept you, one of us?: punk rock, community, and individualism in an uncertain era, 1974-1985
All Hail Open Doors

Did you ever feel

Like you don’t quite belong

Just hold on

And go find your people

Find your people

Opening doors has become my calling

Welcome to this house

All Hail Open Doors by Swamburger and Scarlet Monk of Mugs and Pockets

I believe all persons with Autism need the opportunity to become friends with other Autistic people. Without this contact we feel alien to this world. We feel lonely. Feeling like an alien is a slow death. It’s sadness, self-hate, it’s continuously striving to be someone we’re not. It’s waking up each day and functioning in falsehood (French, 1993).

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking
A person sits in a shopping cart in a parking lot with a paper bag with a smiley face on it over their head. A street sign reads "Lost, Very Lost" with arrows pointing left and right
Lost by Heike Blakley

How can we cultivate spaces where everyone has that soaring sense of inclusion, where we can have difficult and meaningful conversations?

Because everyone deserves the shelter and embrace of crip space, to find their people and set down roots in a place they can call home.

“The Beauty of Spaces Created for and by Disabled People” by s.e. smith in “Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the 21st Century
Are you awake or are you sleeping?
Are you afraid? We've been waiting for this meeting

We have come here for you, and we're coming in peace
Mothership will take you on higher, higher
This world you live in is not a place for someone like you
Come on, let us take you home

It's time to go, you are infected
Come as you are, don't be scared of us, you'll be protected
(Protected, protected)
I guess you are a different kind of human
I guess you are a different kind of human

Omega hai foleet, Omega hai foleet

There is a flaw in man-made matters
But you are pure, and we have to get you out of here

--A Different Kind of Human by AURORA

Don’t be scared; you’re okay. You can come with us, and you’ll be safe.

AURORA on Twitter: “Track number 8: A Different Kind Of Human.”

Omega hai foleet

By Swamburger and Scarlet Monk of Mugs and Pockets
When I walk back to the booth where I was sat
With my transformation hidden ‘neath my hat
That’s when suddenly it strikes me
All the lonely pilgrims like me
Form a tribe of travelers scattered ‘cross the map
 
So let’s defy the distance here to there
Let’s write each other postcards and call that prayer
Let’s congregate in a place that isn’t anywhere
At the temple of broken dreams

--Temple of Broken Dreams by Ezra Furman

Further reading,

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Navigating Stimpunks

Need financial aid to pay for bills or medical equipment? Visit our guide to requesting aid.

 

Need funds for your art, advocacy, or research? Visit our guide to requesting creator grants.

 

Want to volunteer? Visit our guide to volunteering.

 

Need a table of contents and a guide to our information rich website? Visit our map.