Autistic In Public

Honestly, I wish I didn’t need a social media platform. But here’s the thing: every other successful LBGTQ+ author does. Our books don’t often get the big fanfares, the major marketing investments. We’re expected to reach our readers on our own or get left behind.

And it feels nearly impossible when you’re autistic.

Growing up, I knew that other kids grasped the rules of how we were meant to behave in a way I didn’t, couldn’t. Books were my sanctuary, my refuge. I keenly remember the first time I visited NYC in sixth grade and walking around Midtown in a state of holy awe: here was where books came from.  Here was where I could belong, even if I didn’t fit in at school, because I knew books, loved books, with my whole being. 

I wrote my first book not soon after. I was 13, it was a complete 60k, an absolute disaster, and I’m very proud of it still.

I learned early on in life I wasn’t supposed to express myself: I was too loud, too weird, prone to going off on tangents and confusing people. I made an effort to be someone other people liked, and got told off for doing it wrong—or worse, welcomed in because cruel people identified me as an easy target. Writing books was the only way I could have a sort of personhood. Even today, I feel most like myself putting words on a page.

Which isn’t great when the current hot platform for book sales is a video app.

Every social media site has rules of its own, things that resonate with users and the algorithms. Unspoken rules that leave me feeling, once again, like I can’t navigate. These other YA authors have a hundred thousand followers on TikTok—what am I doing wrong when I make similar videos and only get a handful of likes? It wouldn’t bother me as much were these numbers not so intimately tied to book sales, were book sales not the thing j needed to keep doing the work I love. Once again, I feel my trauma responses kick up, as I scramble to figure out what I need to show the world to make people like me.

Which isn’t healthy, but social media isn’t built for anyone’s health, especially not for autistic people.

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