A North Yorkshire author has written her debut children's book encouraging autistic youngsters to enjoy outdoor activities based on her own experiences.

Allie Mason, from Bedale, has written her debut publication - The Autistic Guide To Adventure - after her experience of being diagnosed as an adult two years ago, at the age of 23.

“When it was commissioned, it was a childhood dream come true. As cliched as that is, I was just so happy to have the opportunity to share more about a topic I myself was only starting to understand,” she says.

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Although it's her first book, Allie was first published by The Northern Echo when she sent a poem to us at the age of 9.

"It was all about how much I hated telephones," she recalls, "a foreshadowing of my adult autism diagnosis if I ever saw one.”

The inspiration for Allie's book came when she entered a roller-skating marathon in Berlin last year, and she struggled to find tales of inspiration from people similar to her.

“I knew I was setting myself a challenge. Yet, as I began to search online for autistic athletes and adventurers whose stories could inspire and motivate me, I realised there were very few.”

The Northern Echo: Allie felt there was a lack of inspiration for autistic people when preparing to take part in a roller-skating marathon.Allie felt there was a lack of inspiration for autistic people when preparing to take part in a roller-skating marathon. (Image: Alile Mason)

Determined to change this, Allie set out to write her book which encourages readers to join in activities ranging from archery to stargazing, sailing to fossil hunting, snorkelling to nature-writing, and much more.

The book also includes easily digestible factsheets for activities as well as a summary of the sensory experiences involved and suggestions on approaching activities when you’re just getting started.

With personal anecdotes and interviews with awesome autistic athletes, Allie hopes it will give autistic young people the support they need to take on the great outdoors.

She explains how her late diagnosis held her back: “I really struggled to take part in various activities, without ever being able to identify why.

“My mum worked in a special educational needs school with autistic children. And yet she came home every day and didn’t recognise that she had one in her own house. So, we always laugh about that.

The Northern Echo:

“It was two years ago that I came across an article in a magazine that changed my life. The author had been misdiagnosed with depression and anxiety, only later to find out she was autistic. I recognised so much of my experience in it.

“It took me several months to find the courage to approach my doctor, and six further months until my assessment took place."

“When finally, at 23, I was diagnosed as autistic it was a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, it answered a lot of questions that had been accumulating since my childhood. On the other, it highlighted that a lot of the struggles I faced when I was younger could have been avoided with the right support.”

The Northern Echo: Allie was keen to get involved in sport and adventurous activities as a youngster, But there were a lot of invisible barriers for me, she says.Allie was keen to get involved in sport and adventurous activities as a youngster, But there were a lot of invisible barriers for me, she says. (Image: Allie Mason)

"I struggled with the sensory elements of being in the classroom," she recalls of her time at school, "as well as social expectations."

Although she was keen to get involved in sport and adventurous activities when she was younger, Allie recalls how her lack of diagnosis held her back: "There were a lot of invisible barriers for me which I now realise were things like sensory issues and difficulties in social situations.”

“I still face these barriers today, but I now have the tools to address and mitigate them, and I didn’t want to keep these to myself. I wanted to write a book where neurodivergent young people can recognise themselves and feel they belong."

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Allie left Ripon Grammar School in 2015 after taking her A-levels and says that the support she got at school, even before her diagnosis, made a huge difference: "The help I received from RGS staff enabled me to finish my A-levels even when I doubted myself. Without that support, I wouldn't be where I am today."

The book, which is published on March 21 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, has opened up a whole new avenue of opportunities for the writer: “As a children's author, I love that I have the chance to help the next generation feel more confident and comfortable in their own skin.


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“Highlights for me have been speaking at national events, becoming an ambassador for causes I support, meeting lots of other incredible autistic people and hearing from those who have appreciated my articles or podcast interviews.”

“I hope my book will help children feel more confident to try something they’ve always dreamt of but never felt they could do because of their support needs.”

The Autistic Guide to Adventure by Allie Mason is out on March 21.