Friends & Family2023-06-29T20:14:44+00:00

Family & Friends

You’ve landed on this page because you want to become a good ally and support to your autistic friend or loved one. And you’re off to the best start. Educating yourself in a space that’s 100% positive about autistic and neurodivergent people is the best thing you can do. Depending on how much you know already – or even how much you think you know – this might be a small or a large task. But it’s a task with a great reward, because how you change the environment and your reactions and assumptions around that person can really make a difference for them.
Dive in with an open mind and remember that autistic people experience the world in a different way to neurotypical people. Neither way is THE right way, but one of multiple right ways – difference, not deficit.

AGN Resources

There are a lot of myths out there about autism, many of which stem from research done when autism was first recognised. You’re probably already aware of many of the myths, considering that a lot of them influence how autism is perceived and understood by the majority of society today.


The autistic community doesn’t have a good history with having real allies, which is why neurotypicals spoke for us, wrote stereotypical and often incorrect findings, and turned autism into something that should be feared. Thankfully, the community is starting to take back its voice and does amazing work, but having good allies is really important as well.


Meltdowns are NOT temper tantrums, even though they can involve screaming, kicking, stamping feet etc. What parents have to realise is that meltdowns don’t overwhelmed by their experience, environment and emotions that their anger, sadness and frustration bursts out.


A Parent’s Handbook to Supporting Newly Diagnosed Teens and Pre-Teens

This book caters to parents of older children and young individuals who may be autistic, recently diagnosed, or struggling with their autistic identity. It does not claim to provide a comprehensive guide, as every child is entirely unique, possessing distinct strengths and challenges unlike any other.


You may have heard of the term ‘special interests’ (however some autistics do not prefer this term), referring to an interest that brings autistic people a lot of joy. Neurotypicals often misinterpret these interests as obsessions, as the amount of repetition and enthusiasm shown for the interest is sometimes larger than what a neurotypical would show. It is important to understand that passionate interests are not negative, and the reason it brings the autistic person so much joy is because this world can be very unaccommodating and scary, whereas a beloved movie, book or hobby can feel like a safe space.


Positive family support is brilliant to have, and is especially vital in a crisis which might be what an autistic person experiences prior to formal recognition.

It is really important to recognise that our individual understanding of what it means to be autistic is grounded in how neurodivergence has been understood in the past.


What do we mean by Identity First Language?
For some years now, person first language has been taught as the ‘correct’ and respectful way to refer to people who are disabled. Thus, ‘people with disabilities’ rather than ‘disabled people’. This is often the way professionals are trained. However, some disabled communities now reject this terminology and prefer identity first language.


Recommended books

Nurturing Your Autistic Young Person
Supporting Spectacular Girls: A Practical Guide to Developing Autistic Girls' Wellbeing and Self-Esteem - Helen Clarke
What works for Autistic Children - Dr. Luke Beardon
taking off the mask
Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World - Laura James

Additional resources and information

Recommended Video

A Sensory Exploration of Being a Teenage Autistic Girl with Joanna Grace

Recommended Video

RAISING HAPPY AUTISTIC KIDS – interview with Cathy Wassell of Autistic Girls Network

From our blog

Useful links

Building a Positive Space for your Autistic Child and/or Yourself with Chris Bonnello

Autism and Anxiety with Dr. Luke Beardon

What does the world often misunderstand about autistic people? Lots.

Short animation explaining double empathy, written and narrated by Kieran Rose and co-produced for an autism Train the Trainer programme for mental health professionals with the Anna Freud Centre and AT-Autism.


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