October Newsletter: Spirits, Spooks, and Sweets

It’s my favorite time of the year!  Halloween is coming up soon, and for many Latine people like myself, it’s also close to Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). I love this season of spirits, spooks, and sweets.

AWN also recently commemorated Indigenous People’s Day on October 9 and Latine Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15.  

I published a post on AWN’s blog about Day of the Dead that talks about some of its Indigenous influences, Latin American history, and differences between how the holiday is currently celebrated in Mexico and Guatemala. As a Guatemalan-American, I hope you’ll learn something new.

But before I tell you more about the blog, and about some new resources and research, I want to tell you a story about a distressing healthcare experience I recently had. This experience brought up many of the issues AWN exists to address. I went into my closest urgent care clinic with possible COVID symptoms, and after paying, realized his waiting room was full of conservative magazines/books that were anti-vax and likely anti-trans. During the check-up he literally tried to convince me not to get a COVID test because as he stated “no one is dying of it anymore.” And when I was asked about when my last menstrual period was, I felt unsafe disclosing I was trans. I also was not going to tell him about how I am disabled or lecture him about eugenics, which I REALLY wanted to do. In an ideal situation, any patient, including trans and disabled people, should never be scared to provide a care provider a full picture of their medical situation, in order that they can best treat you. But sometimes, that’s just not safe, and while I got a negative COVID diagnosis, it left me with an incomplete picture of my health. That’s one reason why AWN released a resource on this topic in 2020, Trans Autistic Healthcare Guide: Before You Go, Know Your Rights & What to Expect at the Doctor and in the Hospital.

Day of the Dead. Guatemala vs. Mexico. What's different?

Celebrating Day of the Dead as an Autistic Latina

Many Latine communities celebrate Day of the Dead on November 1st, aka “All Saints Day,” and also sometimes November 2nd, aka “All Souls Day.” It is a time when people honor the spirits of their ancestors. Some believe it is a time when the veil of the spirit world and the mortal world becomes thin enough to contact those ancestors. I’m Guatemalan-American, and I have traveled to Guatemala and Mexico to learn more about these traditions, along with celebrating Day of the Dead in the United States. Personally, I believe my maternal grandfather, whom I celebrate each year as part of this tradition, would very likely self-diagnose/be diagnosed with autism if he had been born closer to today! You can read more about Day of the Dead on our blog:

New Resources and Research

AWN is also up to a lot more! We recently helped create a resource for researchers working with the autistic community, we’re partnering on promoting a survey for disabled and Deaf trans people, plus we’re there’s a paid study designed to measure emotional experiences in autistic teens and adults and teens and adults with other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)

  • AWN is a partner in sharing the first-ever Disabled & Deaf Trans People’s Survey (DTPS). The DTPS aims to empower disabled and Deaf trans people by gathering and sharing knowledge about our/their needs, experiences, and priorities, particularly centering Black people and people of color. Learn more and take the survey at: DTPSurvey.org
  • There’s a new resource for anyone thinking about doing research on the autistic community, including autistic people: the Research Basics Training. It is a new, accessible, 3-part course that teaches community members about the research process, how to make sure research is ethical, and how to participate in research as a community partner. The Research Basics Training was made by a team of autistic and non-autistic people who worked together on every step, including AWN’s Kayla Rodriguez and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu. This team created it because they could not find a course that was accessible for autistic people with different needs. Learn more about it here.
  • Paid Study Opportunity: AWN recently collaborated on creating the Emotion Dysregulation Inventory-Self-Report (EDI-SR). The EDI-SR was designed to measure emotional experiences in autistic teens and adults and teens and adults with other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This study is enrolling individuals ages 11 and older who are autistic and/or have other intellectual or developmental disabilities, and their parents/caregivers. Individuals must be current United States residents to participate. This study should take 1-2 hours to complete (participants may take breaks), and they will be compensated with a $75 Amazon e-gift card for their time and effort within 10 business days of completing the surveys. Learn more here.

Have a Happy Halloween! And if you celebrate Day of the Dead, ¡Feliz Día de Muertos!

As someone who’s usually helping others edit these emails and managing our email platform, it’s always fun when I get to write an email. Thanks for listening to my story.  Glad to be in community with you.


Kayley Whalen
Communications & Digital Strategy Manager
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network


Kayley Whalen

Communications Consultant
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network

Kayley Whalen