At just 16 years old, UK-born Charlie Michael Baker is one of the most impressive young adults I’ve ever encountered. I first learned about Charlie when he reached out to me through Instagram, informed me about his new book, “Autism And Me,” and asked if I might be interested in sharing his story with the Instinct Audience. I was definitely intrigued. In his publishing debut, Charlie provides a candid look into his life as a young person living with autism who also identifies as gay.
Charlies explains that his self-realization at a young age, was not always met with acceptance as he endured years of heartbreaking, unrelenting bullying from classmates at multiple schools and an academic structure in which many school administrators and teachers failed to protect him. These experiences would become the inspiration behind his new book.
Still, Charlie’s story is not solely one of despair and darkness, though he openly expresses that, at times, the constant bullying had become so overwhelming he contemplated suicide. Thankfully, his saving grace was a loving family and sharing his story online, where he was surprised to gain a substantial social media following of supporters worldwide.
Charlie’s new book covers some of his most difficult days, but ultimately, it’s also a story of acceptance, hope, optimism, and triumph of the human spirit. Quite wise beyond his 16 years, Charlie is a shining example we all can follow as a guide on how to thrive in the face of adversity.
In a somewhat surprising correlation, Charlie also expressed his adoration for the Kardashian family in his book. He is impressed by their ability to create intriguing content as their authentic selves, unapologetically, that translates into global brand success. Kourtney Kardashian even inspired him to start his own blog. In blogging his experiences, he aims to teach the power of celebrating our differences and embracing what makes us unique despite disparaging words from others.
Like Kourtney, Charlie is now a successful influencer and advocate in his own right, with over 1.1 million social media followers today. He’s garnered support from TV celebrities such as reality TV star Charlotte Crosby as his book continues to strike a chord with new readers.
Charlie’s honesty in “Autism And Me,” as he recounts growing up with autism, provides valuable insights. It addresses stigmas, raises awareness about the challenges individuals face on the autism spectrum, and asks us to all be kinder, more empathetic, and more loving to one another overall.
With a genuine commitment to doing his part to make the world a better place, Charlie has thus far raised more than £200,000, all of which he’s donated to organizations that help autistic people worldwide. His ultimate goal is to donate $1 million.
CA: Can you tell us more about your book and what inspired you to write it?
CB: Ex-Real Housewife Christine McGuinness inspired me to write my book. From her advocacy and being an established celebrity in the public eye, nobody with less than 100k followers was talking about autism. So I decided to step up. I self-published my book Charlie Baker: Autism And Me in March of this year, and it took off within the first week, selling 14,000 copies with reach as far as Dubai and Australia.
CA: You mentioned that you had difficulty in school due to bullying. Could you share some specific instances or stories that stand out?
CB: I was bullied a lot in school for being different, which is very upsetting. Being autistic, you’re seen as ‘different’ to the other kids, and I was then treated like it. Children at school were always horrible to me. They’d laugh at me, they’d throw things at me, they’d call me names, and I’d often hide from them. At lunchtime, I’d always lock myself in the bathroom so they wouldn’t do it. One time, some kids who didn’t like me chased me around the school, throwing and shouting things at me. The school safeguarding team then took me out of school and put me in a glass-fronted classroom, and then when they walked past, they’d point, laugh, and shout things. School wasn’t a nice experience for me.
CA: How did you cope with the bullying and feeling different during school?
CB: I didn’t cope well with the bullying, in fact, I didn’t cope at all. I was often left feeling suicidal. I often felt like it would all go away if I were to hurt myself. I’m thankful I never hurt myself, but they made me feel that way.
CA: Your book has gained a lot of attention and support. What has been the most rewarding part of sharing your story with others?
CB: It’s been a crazy journey! I published my book when I had £5 in my bank account and 2,000 Instagram followers. Everything has changed. My whole life! Now, I even get recognized when I go out; it’s been crazy! I’d say the most rewarding thing has been how many people I’ve helped with my book. Telling my story helped me a lot as I used it to vent, but it’s also helped loads of other people. I’m so thankful to everyone who’s supported me too. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.
CA: Were there any role models or sources of inspiration that helped you navigate your journey growing up with autism?
CB: I hadn’t really accepted my autism until recently. I didn’t know how to feel about it. I’ve had lots of help from friends though about autism and learning about what it actually means to be autistic.
CA: What advice would you give to other young individuals on the autism spectrum who may face bullying in their lives or feel isolated at school?
CB: Bullies are just jealous; they really are; they’ll see something in you and just try to beat it out of you. Bullies bully because they think that it’ll dull your shine, and that’s one thing you shouldn’t ever let them do. Always be you! I’d say that to anyone going through any kind of bullying, neurodivergent or not.
CA: How did your family and friends support you during your challenging times, and what role have they played in your success?
CB: My close friends have played a massive part in my success as an author and a person. I have the most wonderful support system, a small one at that, but I love each and every one of them so much.
CA: You’ve gained a significant following on Instagram. How has social media impacted your advocacy and connecting with others with similar experiences?
CB: Social Media has played a massive part in my journey. Social media has helped me reach millions of people worldwide and get my story told. If social media weren’t around, I wouldn’t have had a way to market my book. I couldn’t pay for marketing because I had no money. However, my free Instagram page came into clutch. I started posting about it, and people shared, shared, and shared it again; it’s grown and grown ever since.
CA: Can you describe the impact you hope your book will have on raising awareness and understanding about autism?
CB: Charlie Baker: Autism And Me has had a detrimental influence on the neurodivergent community. I’ve educated people not only on how I was bullied for being different but also on the different types of autism and the signs of having autism without waiting a gazillion years to be diagnosed with it officially.
CA: You’ve received attention from celebrities like UK reality TV star Charlotte Crosby. How has this recognition affected your mission and advocacy work?
CB: It’s been a crazy, crazy journey, and some huge names have been in the messages. It’s been crazy, from celebrities in my messages to being referred to as a celebrity myself; it’s definitely all come as a shock. However, I’m very grateful that I’ve been given this platform and voice to advocate for this. I couldn’t be happier about what I’ve built.
With support from his global admirers and a loving host of family and friends, Charlie is poised to continue positively impacting the world as a true rising leader of change. Visit Charlie’s website to learn more and order his book.