Learn about autism from those who are actually autistic, like Paige Layle. (Image via Instagram)
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Learn about autism from those who are actually autistic, like Paige Layle. (Image via Instagram)

April is Autism Awareness Month, but these Instagram accounts are educating people about autism all year round.

Autism Awareness Month might be in April, but for those who are on the spectrum, Autism Awareness Month is every single month, and the following autistic influencers have overcome so much in order to get to where they are today. We can learn something from them every day.

These influencers have inspired me in so many ways, and I have often turned to their accounts when I was feeling stressed or having a bad day. Some of these accounts don’t have as many followers as other Instagram influencers; however, I feel like they should have many more: They lead regular lives like everyone else, and they are using their platforms as influencers to help others understand what autism is.

1. Paige Layle

Layle first went viral on TikTok for talking about autism in girls. Layle is an eyelash technician living in Canada. She has autism, but there are many people that don’t believe that she does because she is described as “too good looking” and a “social butterfly,” resulting in some saying “there is no way she is autistic.”

Layle shows that autism doesn’t have a specific face or look. She shows that you can be the most beautiful person in the world and still have autism. She even made an interesting analogy about snowflakes when describing how autistic people are all unique and how they are not all the same, as many people think.

Layle made a couple of videos talking about autism in girls. She did not get diagnosed until she was a teenager because autistic girls are often overlooked.

She also talks about masking, which leads to a late diagnosis for many girls because they are so good at it. That’s how I was growing up; I was practically an expert at masking.

Layle is very knowledgeable when it comes to these topics, and what better way to learn about autism than from someone who has it?

Profiles: Instagram, Twitter, TikTok

2. Hoping for Happy

Hoping for Happy, also known as Anna Zoe, who uses she/they pronouns, not only inspires those who have autism, but they also inspire those who are in the LGBTQ+ community, the mental health community and they promote body positivity as well.

Anna posts about a lot of educational topics, with many of their posts showing a sign with the message they are trying to convey. They talk about emotions, the harm of glow-ups and how you should never judge a book by its cover, plus Anna has strong opinions on many other matters.

You will feel inspired if you go on Anna’s profile. I often share their quotes. You can also ask them questions on any topic, and they will give you honest and thoughtful answers. They are constantly teaching people about topics that many people don’t want to talk about.

Profiles: Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

3. Nala

Nala may be a dog, but she and her handler, Megan, are teaching people every day about what it’s like to be an autism service dog. Named after the popular “Lion King” character, Nala posts about a wide variety of topics.

One of the most popular things on Nala’s profile are her and Megan’s trips to Disney World, where she charms everyone with her adorable Mickey ears and is very popular with a lot of the Disney cast members, like Donald Duck.

But her profile isn’t just filled with colorful Disney photos. It also brings attention to the importance of service dogs and the training they receive. She also brings awareness to discrimination in the disability community.

I followed Nala not only because I am a Disney fan, but also because I love being educated about what service dogs do, and I am always open to learning new things about disabilities. Nala and Megan are making that possible with their Disney visits. They also do Q&As, so people can learn more about service dog training and autism.

Profiles: Instagram

4. PJ Au

PJ, which is the name that this influencer prefers to go by, is a model on the spectrum. She is known not only for her modeling pictures, but also for bringing attention to why Autism Speaks is not a good organization. She does not promote the typical puzzle pieces that are used for autism awareness. Instead, she promotes the infinity symbol.

PJ is also asexual, but she shows that being asexual does not mean you can’t be in a relationship. She is in a loving relationship with a neurotypical man who is also asexual. They both talk about what it’s like to be in that kind of relationship.

PJ, like Layle, shows that autism does not have a look, and that just because you have autism does not mean you are incapable of living a fulfilling life. PJ has a job, a relationship, she lives independently with her man and she is a model. She shows that autistic people can do anything they set their minds to.

Profiles: Instagram

5. The Chronic Couple

Brandy and Matt are a couple, and they are both on the autism spectrum. They run a podcast talking about what their daily lives are like and what it’s like to live on the spectrum.

These influencers are not shy about voicing their opinions, letting people know how they feel about labels and stereotypes, Autism Speaks and masking.

It is a common myth that autistic people can’t feel love, but Brandy and Matt have proven many people wrong, demonstrating that people on the spectrum can indeed find love.

They also show that autistic people can have fulfilling careers, and that they aren’t limited to a certain category of jobs. Brandy is a singer and Matt is an IT engineer,

Profiles: Main Instagram, Matt’s Instagram, Brandy’s Instagram and their podcast

6. 21 and Sensory

Emily, also know as 21 and Sensory, is a graphic designer and illustrator. She has both autism and sensory processing disorder.

Emily posts graphics that she creates, and the topics range from surviving holidays, tips on coping with the pandemic, daily things that might be hard to handle and how to deal with public transport. These graphics are really helpful for those who might need the advice.

Aside from having autism, I also have a few sensory issues, and I feel like many of Emily’s posts relate to me, and they show that I am not alone. I like to fidget, and like Emily suggests, I have a large variety of fidget toys that I can switch out at any time.

Profiles: Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

These influencers are the kind of role models that I could have looked up to when I was younger. The kind of role models that I aspire to be. I always tell myself to be the role model I needed when you was younger, so I plan to be that to someone one day.

Writer Profile

Lisa Lilianstrom

Northern Illinois University
Journalism, minor in Communications

Everyone deserves to have their stories heard. Writer, student, artist — plans to one day travel the world with the love of my life.

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