for Educators, Parents and Students

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“Trust me, I want to talk to you. My inability to speak is confused for my intelligence.”

Diego Peña is a sharp-witted 9-year-old boy whose goal is to deliver a message that shatters misconceptions about autism. Only Diego cannot yet speak. By pointing to letters on a laminated letter board and typing on a keyboard, he breaks through his silence to express his inner-thoughts in Anatomy of Autism.

In this pocket guide for individuals who support autistic students, Diego concisely articulates the challenges and dilemmas he faces with his sensory system, communication, and motor system. He thoughtfully explores the implications and possibilities of these challenges as a primary school student. His experiences nudge educators, therapists, parents, and students to rethink their approaches to supporting individuals who are autistic and non-speaking.

Diego’s words reveal a disarming truth. The real experts of autism are actually autistic themselves. Anatomy of Autism adds to the emerging generation of autistic voices—from Ido Kedar in Ido in Autismland to Naoki Higashida in The Reason I Jump—challenging us to listen and consider their perspectives about what it means to have autism and complex communication challenges in a world that has yet to fully realize their capabilities.

Diego reminds us that autisic kids have incredible potential given the proper opportunities and supports. In the foreword to Anatomy of Autism, bestselling author Ido Kedar praises Diego for his advocacy and leadership at such a young age:

“The insights found in these pages reflect my experiences and those of other people with autism clearly and succinctly. I am proud of Diego for undertaking this task to help improve the lives of those with autism and their loving families.”


Diego Peña is a young autistic author and self-advocate in the making. On his agenda are disability rights, inclusion, and educating others about autism. Diego's limited ability to speak does not stop him from spreading autism acceptance and awareness through his writings and presentations. Diego uses an iPad, letter board, and key board to communicate.

Anatomy of Autism is his first published book, achieving #1 bestselling status in its category for over a month. The success of Anatomy of Autism led to its translation in Spanish: Anatomia del Autismo. Diego enjoys creative writing, horse back riding, playing on his iPad, and swimming.