Awareness is important. I've written quite a few blog posts about this. The first Autism awareness day post was back in 2012. You can find all the autism-related posts by typing autism into the search box on the right hand side or by clicking the autism tag. The more people who know about the autistic spectrum, the easier my son's life will be!
So here are some books & films that have helped me to understand more - and they are not academic tomes. There are very good academic books (I would recommend Tony Attwood) but this is a list of novels/films/TV shows that I think do a good job of explaining/representing the autistic spectrum.
The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon is a novel that has been made into a play. I haven't seen the play, but the book made so much sense to me when I read it & resonated with me more than academic books about Autism. If you haven't read it, it's well worth a go. There are parts of the book that are ludicrously funny, and others that make a parental heart ache. Imagine collecting your child from a police cell and not being able to give them a hug. I can't tell you how thankful I am that Matt is an enthusiastic hugger!
All Cats have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopman. I bought this book to take into primary school to help Matt's class mates understand why he sometimes acted wierd. It's charming & lovely - great for explaining difficult concepts to younger children, but also a simple introduction for adults too.
A different witch, Debora Geary. In fact not just this book, buy all her books! The main character in this book is an adult woman with Aspergers who is brave, funny & loving. I interviewed the author in this post, and I love to re-read her books often.
Snowcake. I love this film. It stars Alan Rickman & Sigourney Weaver - need I say more? I know that the plot has some pretty big errors & there are a lot of missed opportunities, but the two actors make up for all of it. Alan Rickman being supremely grumpy & Sigourney transforms herself into a high funtioning autistic woman. There are some blurry OCD/autism overlaps that bother some people, but I love it. The main character was advised by Ros Blackburn. If you get the chance to hear her speak, do it! We (DH & I) heard her talking at a NAS 2 day thing and she was wonderful. Articulate, blunt, without a smidge of self pity, brutally honest about her disabilities, and inspiring. There's an interview with Ros about the process of working with Sigourney Weaver here.
Rainman - watch the film by all means, but please don't take it as a guide to autism! That film has probably done more harm than good for autism awareness, but that doesn't mean it's a bad film - just a very very narrow interpretation on autism that is regarded as fact because Dustin Hoffman does his usual wonderful acting job.
The Big Bang Theory. I'm sure most of you already know about it, but just in case.... This is an American sitcom based around an initially unlikely friendship group of intelligent & socially awkward men, and the cute wannabe actress who moved in across the hall. The cast developed over time & now has 7 core characters;4 men, 3 women. The central character is Sheldon. The writers have (wisely) refused to label him, which gives them more scope for plotlines & development. However, Sheldon has a lot of very clear autistic-type traits. The show is funny & touching, and does a lovely job of showing the incredible irritation of living with Sheldon as well as the way that he becomes the group's centre. It's not really a show about autism, but it made geeky cool, and has an underlying acceptance of differences that has made it such a loved & succesful show.