All books featured by the Autistic Collaboration Trust are written by members of the Autistic community and contribute to the co-creation of Autistic culture.

You are invited to read, contribute further books and recommendations, and offer feedback from your unique repository of lived experience.

The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale

Jorn Bettin, 2021, published by S23M.

To make ‘The Beauty of Collaboration at Human Scale’ widely available to members of the Autistic community, you can download a copy of the book free of charge if you fill in the form below, to confirm that you openly identify as neurodivergent and agree for your identity to be published in a list of Autistic and neurodivergent people on the website.

All our allies who visibly and openly support banning all forms of conversion therapies are also welcome to download a copy of the book free of charge.

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Reader feedback

First, the overall sense that came across to me, what struck me as the book’s central message, the Big Idea that I expect will stick with me over time: 

It is a deep de-pathologizing of autism—i.e., it goes far beyond the message that I’ve encountered so far, which is a much weaker “autism is an acceptable (even if odd, quirky) human variation.” In contrast, your book goes all the way to “autism is a crucially, vitally, urgently needed human variation—a powerful corrective and counterbalance to the hierarchical, dominance-based mentality currently driving human society and the planet off the rails.” 

I don’t know if that is your intended main message (I hope I’m not too far off), but it is certainly a message that comes across loud and clear to me from your writing; and it is a message I find extremely compelling, helpful, and new.

You then back up this message with a huge number of examples contrasting neurotypical and autistic (and aboriginal) approaches, values, tendencies, and so on; and with a huge number of practical examples of how the autistic approach can be translated into real-world organizations, relationships, protocols, methodologies, frameworks, and so on. All of this makes it very clear that autists have genuine, and important, urgently-needed skills and abilities, especially related to collaborating in ways that are beneficial for society and the planet —because they are in alignment with broad evolutionary principles.

A major corollary of the main idea (again, as I understood it) is your description of neurotypical and neuronormative traits. The most striking idea that came across to me in this regard is: the neurotypical mode of being is a communicational learning disability. That is quite a shocking way to put it, but you make an excellent case for it. It’s a radical idea but it rings true.

Beyond the “learning disability” idea, the more general sense I got about the contrast between the two neurotypes is that autism corresponds to a “non-civilized,” collaborative, egalitarian, diversity-honoring, exploratory, honest, non-self-promoting mode; and neuronormativity corresponds to the modern type who is individualistic, hierarchical, competitive, dominating, exploitative, bullying, conformist, deceptive, and ruthlessly (even pathologically) obsessed with social ranking. 

You also clearly emphasize that a hugely important part of the bullying, conformist deception of neurotypicals is the pathologizing of autists—and you do a great job dismantling that deception.

Actually, you don’t even stop at showing how autistic collaborative styles could counteract much of what ails the world today. You go even farther and make a convincing case that, by removing social power structures/barriers (which undermine the free flow of ideas), a wonderful kind of evolutionary-collaborative play could unfold and produce all kinds of new possibilities and “living systems.” This, too, is totally new to me—and just plain wonderful and inspiring. It’s a beautiful vision of human potential!

Another recurring theme is “psychological safety,” which seems particularly important to making your vision and specific proposals work.

On the practical, applied level, you present (and create new language/conceptual frameworks for) an organic, life-mimicking approach to business ventures—modeled on biological-evolutionary structures/processes/systems—i.e., business as a part of nature rather than opposed to it.

You are also helping me to see the role of scale more clearly than I have before. I think you’re right, in a fully literal sense, when you say that our cognitive limits (relative to scale) are as “real, immutable, and relevant for our survival as the laws of physics.” When you put it that way—in terms of immutable laws—you are giving a warning: “There’s no getting around this or ‘outsmarting’ this!” Modernity is full of the lie that reality is endlessly mutable—that we can just pick and choose whatever we like; that we can always get away with bending reality to our will; and that this is actually a noble and “progressive” pursuit.

In an overarching organizational sense, the two main components to the book seemed to be: first, a comparison of neurotypical and neurodiverse styles or modes of being (the relative benefits and liabilities associated with them); and second, a presentation of an organic-evolutionary approach to collaborative ventures that draws from the autistic mode. You present these two main components in a closely-linked and mutually reinforcing manner. This adds up to a powerful argument.

To summarize my overall sense of the book’s message, it is a real tour de force of collaborative, diversity-, community-, and planet-inclusive thinking and practice/application—as opposed to the usual, competitive, self-serving, elitist model. It makes the strongest possible case that autistic/neurodiverse thinking and collaborating styles have a critically important role to play as an antidote to the currently dominant neurotypical social-ranking/dominance approach—a critically important role to play in bringing modern society back into some kind of sustainable balance, functionality, social justice, and sanity (which had always been the human norm for countless generations).

Thank you again, Jorn. You don’t even know me but you’ve done more for me than I can say.

I wish you the best with your NeurodiVentures and all your other ventures and adventures. I hope your book reaches a wide audience. If it does, I’m sure it will have a very beneficial effect.

Greg Sellei, United States

It is possible to hypothesise that the slow downfall of homo sapiens commenced with the delusional belief that dominates the Abrahamanic religions – that “man” has dominion over the earth and her flora and fauna. “Man” has evolved to be a white (Caucasian) upper-middle class cis-male living the fantasy that the trickle-down effect of capitalism benefits all humans.

Humans concomitantly rape the earth deceiving themselves that her resources are infinite and commit violence against each other to compete for control of those “infinite” resources. That alone says a great deal about the ability of the human brain to hold competing beliefs simultaneously, beliefs that are in fact not in the best self-interest of the longterm survival of the human species on the planet.

Humans are becoming increasingly myopic which raises the question: at what point does this myopia become etched in human DNA? Has it already done so? At what point did self-interest outbreed collective interest? When did neuronormativity (neuromajorative thinking) shift from the benefits of the group or community to the rights of the competing individual?

I have been pondering these kinds of questions since I was about nine years old. Why do homo sapiens choose the counterproductive path in their demand for their individual rights? Even when they know the consequence of demanding their rights is a loss of rights for another(s)? Why couldn’t I find another human who thought collaboratively like me? Who thought collaboratively all the time not just when convenient or prescribed?

My Autism diagnosis a few years ago at the age of 67 provided many of the answers and this book provides more important others. Contemporary neuronormative thinking is founded on individual rights at all costs including the mindless violence of various forms of warfare. It wasn’t until reading this book that I made the connection: the neuromajority needs to be pathologize Autists to silence us – we are the enemy against whom war is raged lest we speak of such “heresies” as collaboration and mutual respect. Yet if we don’t talk of these “heresies”, we may not as a species have a future on this planet. Autists are essential to the future of homo sapiens.

– Morgan Constance, Australia

Autistic authors co-create Autistic culture

On this page you will find the ultimate library you have been looking for, as well as a small, less daunting list of historically significant and conceptually foundational publications to get you started.

To understand the beautiful diversity of Autistic people, to learn about Autistic culture, and to connect with Autistic ecologies of care, both online and in your geography, books written by Autistic authors are one of the best starting points. Many of us are also parents and grandparents of Autistic children, have Autistic life partners, and have built our lives around neurodivergent friendships and NeurodiVentures. Importantly, this does not mean that we have completely withdrawn from the rest of society, we are simply co-creating healthy communities and mutual aid networks on Autistic terms, with Autistic tools, based on Autistic research.

The library of books by Autistic authors

The Autism Books by Autistic Authors Project is a beautiful example of Autistic collaboration. It has led to an amazingly comprehensive library of books by Autistic authors. To learn about the neurodiversity movement and Autistic culture, we recommend to start with the Autistic Rights and Neurodiversity reading list.

The Autism Books by Autistic Authors Project aims catalogue all (or more accurately, as many as possible) books about autism which have been written by Autistic authors. This includes self-published works, as well as soon-to-be published books, so long as they can be linked to a publisher, seller’s website, or page such as GoodReads. Inclusion criteria (all must be met):

  1. At least one author (or contributor in the case of anthologies and edited works) identifies as Autistic. 
  2. The book or chapter is about autism or is of a related topic (such as disability justice, mental health, or exercise, and written in a manner relevant to Autistic people), OR in the case of fiction, the book contains an Autistic character which is central to the story. The Autistic character may be explicitly Autistic or coded (preferably with the author acknowledging the character is Autistic).
  3. The book is written in English (unfortunately I do not have the ability include books in other languages).

Whether at least one author or contributor of each book is Autistic been determined from either their reputation as Autistic, the book’s description, or an internet search. This includes both formally diagnosed and self-identified Autistics. 

Neuroqueer Heresies

Nick Walker, 2021, published by Autonomous Press.

The work of queer autistic scholar Nick Walker has played a key role in the evolving discourse on human neurodiversity. Neuroqueer Heresies collects a decade’s worth of Dr. Walker’s most influential writings, along with new commentary by the author and new material on her radical conceptualization of Neuroqueer Theory. This book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the foundations, terminology, implications, and leading edges of the emerging neurodiversity paradigm.

Autistic Community and the Neurodiversity Movement

Steven K. Kapp (editor), 2019, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

This open access book marks the first historical overview of the autism rights branch of the neurodiversity movement, describing the activities and rationales of key leaders in their own words since it organized into a unique community in 1992. Sandwiched by editorial chapters that include critical analysis, the book contains 19 chapters by 21 authors about the forming of the autistic community and neurodiversity movement, progress in their influence on the broader autism community and field, and their possible threshold of the advocacy establishment. The actions covered are legendary in the autistic community, including manifestos such as “Don’t Mourn for Us”, mailing lists, websites or webpages, conferences, issue campaigns, academic project and journal, a book, and advisory roles. These actions have shifted the landscape toward viewing autism in social terms of human rights and identity to accept, rather than as a medical collection of deficits and symptoms to cure.

Being Autistic

Caroline Hearst (editor), 2019, published by Aut Angel CIC.

Our book ‘Being Autistic – Nine adults share their journeys from discovery to acceptance’ contains the stories of very diverse autistic adults who share their responses to discovering and accepting their autism. It offers an insider view of the autism constellation to people becoming aware they inhabit it.

A Field Guide to Earthlings

Star Ford, 2010, published by Star Ford Software Corporation.

Autistic people often live in a state of anxiety and confusion about the social world, running into misunderstandings and other barriers. This book unlocks the inner workings of neurotypical behavior, which can be mysterious to autistics. Topics include the nuances of friendship, dating, small talk, interpersonal conflicts, image, learning styles, social communication, common sense, and white lies.

Proceeding from root concepts of language and culture through 62 behavior patterns used by neurotypical people, the book reveals how they structure a mental map of the world in symbolic webs of beliefs, how those symbols are used to filter perception, how they build and display their identity, how they compete for power, and how they socialize and develop relationships.

Through the Eyes of Aliens

Jasmine Lee O’Neill, 1998, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

This is a rich and positive description of how it feels to be autistic and how friends, family and the professionals that work with autistic people can be more sensitive to their needs. Jasmine Lee O’Neill, autistic herself, perceives the creativity, imagination and keenly-felt sensory world of the autistic person as gifts. She argues that ‘normalizing’ autistic people – pushing them into behaving in a way that is alien to their true natures – is not just ineffective but wrong. In this vivid and enjoyable book, she challenges the reader to accept their difference and to celebrate their uniqueness.

Don’t Mourn for Us

Jim Sinclair, 1993, published by Autism Network International, Our Voice, Vol 1.3

The beginnings of openly Autistic culture. This article is an outline of a presentation Jim Sinclair gave at the 1993 International Conference on Autism in Toronto, and is addressed primarily to parents.