[Front cover of Standing up for Myself. The background is made up of pastel pink, blue and yellow triangles arranged haphazardly. At the centre is a white square with the title in big blue lettering. A green character with short, bobbed hair, green shorts, t-shirt and trainers is leaning up against the title, pointing towards it with their left thumb over their shoulder. They have a small shy smile under big green eyes]

Standing up for Myself is a book for Autistic young people about boundaries, personal space, consent and power play written by Evaleen Whelton, an Autistic teacher who educates on Autistic experience and culture through their companies AUsome Training and Konfident Kids.

The book presents lots of information on Autistic differences inter-weaved with workbook style questions and advice for young Autistic people. Standing up for Myself champions Autistic identities and differences whilst acknowledging that there are many people and systems in the world which do not look favourably on Neurodivergent people.

The book is split into several sections looking at personal space, consent and power play and how a young Autistic person can spot and navigate these situations in their lives. The section on consent was particularly powerful, giving clear advice to young people on how to give and gain consent if and when they want to.

Another favourite part was a workbook page which allowed the reader to put all the times that people took their own stuff out on them into the big “not my stuff” bin (pictured below). This is a wonderful tool which helps the reader to understand that others people’s behaviours are self-projections and do not reflect the morals, behaviour and personality of the reader.  

[The workbook page entitled Not my Stuff. The page is white and has the following text at the top in black: How about you take a bit of time now and put all the time that people took their own stuff out on you into this big “not my stuff” bin. A grey-scale picture of a metal bin with a lid is at the centre of the page, a white rectangular sign on the bin reads: Not my stuff.]

The language used throughout Standing up for Myself is very well thought-out and complex ideas and processes are explained in a thoughtful and accessible manner. Evaleen shares her own examples throughout to make the reader feel more confident in exploring their own experiences.

The only thing which could make this book even better is giving readers enough space to explore in a way that is most comfortable to them. Creating more gaps between the workbook sections – or making it clear that readers could take it at their own pace – could make these sections less overwhelming.  

Standing up for Myself would be incredibly useful for Autistic children and young people everywhere and would make a brilliant resource for KS2 and KS3 educators. Evaleen has created a safe space for Autistic children and young people to explore their differences and struggles, allowing them to create their own ways to survive and thrive in a world which is often very confusing and overwhelming.

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