About Chris Bonnello (Captain Quirk)

Bonnello with his first two novels, Underdogs and Underdogs: Tooth and Nail. Photo by Sarah Chambers-Tonner.

Chris Bonnello is an autistic teacher, author and autism advocate, formerly a primary school teacher. Since 2015, he has become a national and international speaker on autism issues, and the multi-award-winning writer behind autisticnotweird.com. He is also the author of the Underdogs novels, a near-future war series featuring autistic and otherwise neurodiverse heroes.

Bonnello was first assessed for autism in 1989, at the age of four. Despite a damning report into his deficiencies concerning speech, expressive language and social competence, he did not receive a diagnosis since he was not deemed “severe” enough by 1989 standards.

At the age of ten, an educational psychologist reported him as having a “slightly odd personality”. He grew up believing himself to be the weird kid, until his Asperger Syndrome diagnosis finally came at the age of 25. Since then, he has been able to turn his attitude around and define himself by his strengths rather than his weaknesses, and encourages other autistic people to see their own strengths.

Bonnello speaking at Sydney Opera House, April 2018.

Having qualified as a teacher and worked in both primary and special education, he left the profession and launched Autistic Not Weird in April 2015, to share his insights from both a personal and professional perspective. At time of writing (October 2021) autisticnotweird.com has had nearly 3 million page hits, and his Facebook community stands at over 148,000 followers.

He also has followings on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In July 2017, follower support on Patreon allowed him to quit his day job to write for Autistic Not Weird for a living.

Speaking at India Autism Centre, January 2019.

As well as returning to special education, Bonnello delivers talks (nationally and internationally), has been nominated for six awards to date (winning four), has played chess internationally (winning nothing), captains his local Boys’ Brigade company, published his first autism-related non-fiction book in 2016, and the first novel in the Underdogs series was released in May 2019 – its sequel was shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, and the series has two further sequels to follow.

His personality remains slightly odd.



Shortlisted National Diversity Awards 2017 Positive Role Model (Disability)
Winner Autism Hero Awards 2017 Top Journalism Award
Winner Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018 Advocacy, Policy and Media
Winner Autism Hero Awards 2018 Online Social Network Award
Winner National Autistic Society Professionals Awards 2019 Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum
Shortlisted BAPS SEND Blog Awards 2020 Blog Post with Biggest Impact*
Shortlisted The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2020 Underdogs: Tooth and Nail

*Post nominated: Fifty pieces of advice from an autistic adult, written for autistic children


What We Love Most About Life: insights from 150 young people across the autism spectrum (non-fiction), 2016. Art/design by Nancy J. Price.

‘Hide and Seek’ (short story), in Monster Anthology, 2016.

‘The Book of the Bystander’ (short story), in Bystander, 2017.

Underdogs (novel), 2019. Published by Unbound.

Underdogs: Tooth and Nail (novel), 2020. Published by Unbound.

Underdogs: Acceleration (novel), TBC. To be published by Unbound.


BSc (hons) Mathematics with Education (University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2007)

PGCE Primary Teaching (Nottingham Trent University, 2010)

MA Creative Writing (Nottingham Trent University, 2017)

ABC Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Concepts (Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute, 2020)


Are you tired of characters with special needs being tokenised and based on stereotypes, or being the victims rather than the heroes? This novel series may interest you!

Underdogs, a near-future dystopia series where the heroes are teenagers with special needs, is a character-driven war story which pitches twelve people against an army of millions, balancing intense action with a deeply developed neurodiverse cast.

Book one can be found here:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU
Audible (audiobook version)
Book Depository
Review page on Goodreads

Chris Bonnello is a national and international autism speaker, available to lead talks and training sessions from the perspective of an autistic former teacher. For further information please click here (opens in new window).
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Copyright © Chris Bonnello 2015-2021