Meet Autism Awareness Advocate & Author: Eileen Lamb

autism awareness

Eileen Lamb is a successful author, photographer, podcast host, and founder of The Autism Cafe blog. Eileen shares her unique and vulnerable perspective on raising a severely autistic child while being on the autism spectrum herself. Eileen fosters a highly-engaged community of 144,000 Instagram users who follow her on her personal journey. The talented mother is also a Social Native creator and has created captivating content for brands like Walmart, Chuck E. Cheese, Panera Bread, and Graze.

Q: What led you to become a creator?

I never intended to become a creator, it just kinda…happened! I started sharing my son’s autism journey after his diagnosis, mainly because I wanted to keep my family updated and educate people in France (where I’m from) because autism awareness is seriously lacking there. I quickly found that writing was therapeutic for me. Not only that but some of my early posts went viral and were helping other people too. It was so nice to hear that people were relating to my words – it gave me the motivation to keep writing. I started a blog and an Instagram page. A year after I started writing on Facebook, I got my first partnership with the baby brand Carter’s and from there, partnerships kept happening.

Q: What are the biggest things you want people to know from your unique perspective, given that yourself and your sons all experience differing levels of autism?

Autism is a spectrum. We’re all different from one another. We all have different strengths, challenges, and opinions. I love this quote from Dr. Stephen Shore: “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.” My youngest son, Jude, and I are both diagnosed with Level 1 Autism, and despite sharing a diagnosis, there are differences between us. For instance, he’s a social butterfly and chatterbox, and I’m introverted and quiet. But most importantly, autism varies in severity. My oldest son, Charlie, is diagnosed with level 3 Autism (severe), he’s still nonverbal at age 9, is intellectually disabled, and has self-harming behaviors, meanwhile, I’m able to answer these questions for an interview. It’s called Autism Spectrum Disorder for a reason.

“Autism is a spectrum. We’re all different from one another. We all have different strengths, challenges, and opinions.”   @theautismcafe

Q: Being an author, hosting a podcast, and being a mother, how do you find balance in creating and being a caretaker?

I follow a schedule, it helps! I’m able to work during the day when Jude is at school and Charlie is in therapy. Most of my podcast work happens after 5 pm, so my husband watches the boys while I work. I’m not actively writing at the moment, but when I do, it’s usually at night.

Q: Your writing style is incredibly authentic and poetic, how would you best describe your writing style and who are the authors you look up to?

Thank you! I would say, it’s raw. I write from the heart. I look up to Bianca Sparacino, her writing is beautiful and has helped me through some tough moments.

Q: Your next book, “For The Love of Autism”, is releasing April 26th. How will this book be different from your previous books, “Be The One”, and “All Across The Spectrum”?

All Across The Spectrum was my first book, it’s about my and Charlie’s autism journey. It was my “baby”, the book I had dreamed of writing. I wrote it to help parents feel less alone in their journey. It also features my photography, so it’s a big book. “Be The One” is more of a self-help poetic book. It’s about relationships, anxiety, and dreams. It’s raw, and vulnerable. Both of these books were published by Thought Catalog.

“For The Love of Autism” is different because it’s a collaborative book. It wasn’t my idea. I only wrote one chapter in it. I’m super excited about it because readers will read stories from many different perspectives.

Q: What is your take on the rise of social media’s effect on self-diagnosis? What are your recommendations for navigating the spread of autism misinformation online?

Again, this is just my opinion, as one autistic person, I don’t support self-diagnosis. I think it’s okay to say “I suspect I’m autistic” but to self-diagnose is a stretch. I understand the barriers to getting a formal diagnosis. It wasn’t easy for me, as an adult, but it’s possible. We should focus our efforts on making diagnosis more accessible, rather than on encouraging self-diagnosis. Too many conditions overlap with autism. Some people are also only self-diagnosis in order to claim autism as their identity, and I find it wrong. Autism is a disability.

When navigating social media, it’s important to remember that what you read online is mostly opinions, not facts.

Q: Your photography captures so much natural emotion, tell us a bit about your journey as a photographer.

Same as my creator journey, it kinda… just happened. I started taking pictures of my kiddos to document their growth and got really into the art of photography. Chasing the light and sunset makes me happy. I’m self-taught, and really passionate about photography so I keep practicing in hope of getting better and better. It’s almost a way of communicating for me.

Q: What was your favorite campaign that you have worked on with Social Native and why? 

The Chuck E Cheese one because it made Jude so happy.

Q: What’s one thing you would like everyone to learn and become aware of during Autism Awareness month?

To parents of autistic children: You’re not alone. It’s okay to feel sad about your child’s diagnosis. It doesn’t mean anything about the love you have for them. You’re allowed to feel, don’t let anyone on social media (or real life) make you feel otherwise. Feel all the feels, and when you feel better, advocate for your kiddo, follow your heart!

To everyone else, remember that autistic people are not a monolith. We’re individuals. No one can speak for the entire community. Some light it up blue, others red. Some use functioning labels, others don’t. Some use the puzzle pieces, others the infinity loop. There isn’t a right or wrong way to advocate, as long as it’s done respectfully.

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