Autistic Pride: Our stories matter

Published on: 17 June 2024

BookTrust's Writer in Residence, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, celebrates autistic voices.

A photo of Rashmi Sirdeshpande and the front covers of Keedie, Show Us Who You Are, Gina Kaminski Saves the Wolf, The Circle Breakers, and A Different Sort of Normal

Happy Autistic Pride Day!

Being autistic in a world that isn't built for us comes with many challenges, but it's who we are and I love our beautiful minds, the intensity of our joy and curiosity, and our unique perspectives. Our stories and voices are so varied. And they matter.

Thanks to the incredible work of writers such as Elle McNicoll, Patience Agbabi and Abigail Balfe in pushing open doors across genres, we're seeing a growing body of books reflecting our diverse experiences.

Recently, I was so happy to see an autistic kid hero in the hilarious picture book Gina Kaminski Saves the Wolf by Craig Barr-Green and Francis Martin.

We need more. We need ALL the stories – from funny stories, romances and heartbreaking stories to sweeping fantasies, edge-of-your-seat thrillers and thinky sci-fi.

We exist in all the worlds. We belong in all the stories and not just as an afterthought.

I'm a relentless optimist but I'm excited to see what the future will bring. As children's publishing opens up, I hope we'll see many more authentic own voices books with intersectional experiences too (I might just have something special up my sleeve on that front, but you didn't hear that from me!)

This is important...

We want all children to feel seen and understood and for the world to see that we can ALL be the stars of our stories.

We're clear on that. There's no debate. So when we talk about representation in books, we need to remember these intersectional experiences. Because no child should feel like they fall through the gaps.

I should know. I always loved books but as a then-undiagnosed autistic South Asian kid with ADHD, I didn't see myself on the page. I fell through the gaps. Let's not do that any more. Let's do better.

I'm ending this Autistic Pride Day piece with great thanks to the autistic writers who have worked hard to break down barriers in this industry and to all the educators, librarians, bloggers and booksellers who champion these books and get them into the hands of children.

I don't think you will ever fully know the difference you have made and the difference you continue to make. Change is happening. Step by step. And for that, we owe so much to you.

Check out our list of books with autistic characters

 

Meet our latest Writer in Residence

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books. Our current Writer in Residence is Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

Find out more