Tag Archives: Autism Positivity Day

Expressing PosAutivity in A Negative World #AutismPositivity2014

By Kerima Cevik

Dear Mrs. Çevik,

I have spent the past week of ESY getting to know Mustafa. He is a pleasant happy 5 year old. We have discovered he has developed his own gestural language. He is able to communicate his needs very well. There is no need to send lunch, unless you are concerned about allergies. He enjoyed his sandwiches, grapes and juice with his classmates. He had a great deal of fun today.  I have attached a list of supplies he’ll need for next week’s activities. I am looking forward to working with him.

                                                          Sincerely,
XXXXXXX XXXXXX, M.Ed
Image of multicolored background with uplifted arms
and hands reaching upward  with the words
Autism Positivity 2014 Flash Blog written in black
them

There was a time when my son Mustafa spoke Turkish. Turkish imparts more meaning with less verbiage. I believe this is why he chose Turkish,  despite hearing two other languages spoken in our home. When expressive language failed him. he created his own method of communication, using a combination of the simple ASL signs he was learning and gestures, sometimes grasping objects and putting them together in order get his message across. Once he entered kindergarten, al his attempts to communicate were ignored everywhere except at home. There was a push to invalidate his attempts because they did not fit into the definition of the language he was expected to speak. PECs were half heartedly presented as an alternative and we were asked to reinforce their use. When I asked how he was supposed to learn grammar from these cards, I was told it didn’t matter, because according to professional opinion, he was not competent to create more than two word sentences.

How low would your frustration level be if you used every possible thing at your disposal to communicate and you were deliberately ignored?

When I say my son is heroic, what I mean in part is the way he handles the issues in his life like systemic ableism . Were I in his place, I believe I would meltdown repeatedly for hours on end. Yet my son gets up each day, and puts all his effort into finding any way he can to send messages to a receiver. Communication can only occur if the receiver accepts the message sent.

He is, unlike presumptions based on his labels, an incredibly patient preteen.  His frustrations are natural considering his circumstances. I didn’t learn this overnight. It took directly working with him for years, looking at him based on what he did in homeschool and not what we were told to believe. He is not a secret genius. He is not, like Big Bird, eternally 6 years old. He is not a nonspeaking infantile angelic figure in a growing asexual body here to test my faith. He is an 11 year old boy, with the mischief, hopes, dreams, good days and bad of anyone else his age. He has great challenges and he spends each day of his life in a battle to overcome them. He needs three things to express himself; communication supports, a person willing to accept all avenues of message delivery from him, and that all those working with him assume he is competent to communicate expressively. He does not require verbal speech. He needs respect and the belief that if given the assistive technology and supports he needs, he can express himself.

Sometimes the world of activism is so gruesome and harsh, and so much negative news hits so quickly that it is overwhelming. I watch people get caught up in passionate battles to be heard, to get their points across because sometimes those points mean saving lives in the balance. But the internet distances and that can cause great harm. It creates people who don’t really behave the same way offline. Hurtful nasty individuals who carry their unhappy lives online and attack others for no good purpose. I see deliberate posting of inflammatory content with the intent of spiking hits on social media. I see people looking for answers who are caught in the autism wars of groups with cult like followings and dangerous destructive agendas that condone murder and I feel myself reeling back from it all. I feel the need to unplug.

When I need air, when I want to find my center I look at my son. How tall he is now, the unmistakable mustache, the glimpses of a calmer spirit. All the professional warnings of puberty and its struggles notwithstanding, the mother who wondered what would happen when her son towered over her is now sitting beside him each day and breathing to the motion of his rocking in his seat, smiling when he reacts with joy at making himself clear. The pall lifts from my life because I remember he is the reason for what I do. He has already surpassed other’s expectations. I feel the air filling my lungs. Exhaling feels like walking in sunlight.

Blogging was never for me. It was and is for him. It was to leave a trail of words to help him find his way to the reality that he was, is,  will always be, a loved person. He matters. In a world where his peers will always be measured by the worst moments of their lives, he needed to know, everyone needs to know, that our son’s person-hood is measured by all the moments of his life. The joyful moments are so happy because we can look back on the where we began this journey and see how far we’ve come together. This body of work is a legacy for him to know, whether we are here or not, that we love him as he is. Not because we hope to change him. But because we can see him in his entirety now and we know he is an amazing person. He is a stronger person than I am. He perseveres. He overcomes, regardless of how long it takes him. He does not give up. These are the qualities of greatness. .

I could tell you that he uses a TouchChat HD somewhat to express himself. I can tell you that once all the other myriad medical questions he deserves answers to are addressed we will dedicate all our energies to this single task of helping him master the AAC app. I can tell you all about how occasionally but rarely,  he has spoken words. His voice is changing. We are surprised to learn that his changing voice is becoming a true baritone. But that is really not what this is about. This is about telling you that I believe that my son is competent to express himself without verbal speech. His performance art in communication is patient and beautiful.

I am positive that my love for my son is returned. He demonstrates that each day. Without saying a word. By his patience, an arm around my shoulder at movie time,  walking back into a room to hug out an apology for something gone wrong. I know he has very few people he cares for in this way. I am aware therefore, of how very important it is to be one of those he loves.

I cannot impart on you what it does to an autistic child when you understand them. Their entire quality of life improves. They gain confidence. They begin to self advocate. They try their best each day. Many parents have stories of learning their children must have been in excruciating pain for days weeks even months and not been able to communicate it to them. Looking back on the meltdowns and behavioral issues then has them wondering how any child could endure such things without melting down continually or lashing out more frequently. Behavior is communication.

If you want your life with your loved one to change for the better, start by changing how you feel about them. They know, in your body language, if you are disappointed, angry, ashamed. When you have done that work on yourself, begin to observe your loved one. What happens before a crisis. What happens before joy. Then do whatever is necessary to help your child complete the communication cycle with you. Be the open receiver to the message.

Love your child. Or as my late uncle John used to say when we ended our phone conversations.

“Take care, kid. Enjoy your child.”

 

Original post at: http://theautismwars.blogspot.ca/2014/04/expressing-posautivity-in-negative-world.html

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Shaping Clay’s Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014

By Michael Scott Monje Jr.

Reading Against the Grain

If there’s one thing, and only one thing, that I’m going to talk about with regard to autism and communication, it has to be the way that it changes the context of what I’m reading when I read literature. For me, almost every story I encounter is multicultural literature, since almost all of them have either been written by allistic people or for allistic audiences.
It might seem like this is a small thing, or overly obvious, but it’s not. Consider this: that every time you are about to read a story from 50 or 100 years ago, or from a region of the United States you’ve never lived in, you are actually reading about another culture, another people, and another set of social assumptions that you don’t really understand.
Most of us latch on to this and do the work of cultural translation when the break between ourselves and the characters we’re reading about is obvious, like when we read work that is translated from another language or by someone from a different racial or ethnic background. Sometimes, our teachers try to remind us that the social and cultural realities that books respond to are not the same as the ones we are experiencing, but more often than not, they do so in a way that still attempts to make the story’s message meaningful to our immediate circumstances.
That’s not how reading works for me. Unless I’m reading work by other Autistic people that is intended for an Autistic audience, I am constantly caught up in an attempt to understand the context of the intended reader’s experience. To me, as an outside observer, the enjoyment of the story is equal parts what is actually in the story and what the writer’s choices say about zir view of the “average” reader of zir time and place. Each book is an argument about what a writer thinks the commonly held beliefs of zir culture are and what that writer’s attitude toward said beliefs are.
I am never closer to another human being than I am to the writer of a book while I am reading it. If I were able to coast along on the assumptions about motivation and priority that govern most people’s approaches to storytelling, I would not find myself looking so deeply into each story. If I did not have to struggle to understand why characters would care what other characters think about them, then I would miss out on the varying levels of cultural conformity and the diverse ways that deviance has been policed across different societies.
If I thought like allistic people thought, I might have missed the fact that Dickens’ London is absolutely not the same place as Woolf’s London, and that the entire social ethic of the two writers’ times has changed to the point where the decadence that lies between them is not merely an artistic change, but an actual death and rebirth of a national identity.
I’m not saying that allistic people don’t do this. English departments exist in colleges because they do. What I’m saying is that they have to be specially trained to do it, and they usually only apply these skills and methods of thinking to literature. For me, these skills are a natural part of my communication process, because the act of close reading is the same as the act of translation across languages and cultural contexts. Since almost every conversation I have had in my entire life has involved this kind of translation, every communication I have is roughly following the same process I use for unpacking literature.
Because the way that I read and understand stories is tied in to the way that I navigate communication in everyday contexts, people think that I have a special insight into the things I read. This is often reinforced by the fact that I have so much to say about so many things when I read, even if I only read something once. What they miss, though, is that the effort I save by being able to close read something in a single pass is not really energy saved. It is counterbalanced by the fact that every communication I have with other people is just as taxing to me as doing full-on literary interpretation.
The result of this uneasy balance is a tendency to communicate in parables. It is much easier for me to tell a story and then to wait for someone to unpack its meaning than it is for me to have a straightforward discussion with someone. This is an extremely helpful thing to me when I am working, but it can be frustrating when I am dealing with people in a face-to-face setting. When I find those communication partners that can recognize it for what it is, though, then I have some of the most rewarding conversations I’ve ever had.
When I can’t communicate in stories, analogies, or parables, then finding words becomes much, much more difficult for me. Luckily, as I produce more and more creative work, there are less and less people demanding that I talk to them in their own ways. They are learning to switch into my vocabulary, to view my less direct communications for what they are.
My need to deeply interrogate everything I read has not always been met. There was a long time in my life when I struggled so much to grasp the basic point of character behavior that seemed utterly inane to me, and I was not mature enough to accept that behavior I did not understand could be motivated by honest and worthwhile thought. I was nearly thirty before I found the maturity to see that the world was not divided into cultural contexts that I could decode and banal ramblings by people with empty lives, but that it was instead simply full of cultural contexts that could be decoded if I had the right scaffolding.
Stories are the textbooks to our theory of mind. The important thing to remember is that not everyone will read a textbook and develop the same theory. If we did, then there would never be controversy and debate, and our discourse would be nonexistent.
Please remember this article the next time you hear someone call another person’s communication “nonsense”.

Original post at:http://www.mmonjejr.com/2014/04/shaping-clays-expressions-of.html

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FRANKENWEENIE: Sparking Connections #AutismPositivity2014

By Antonia Lidder

2e0db-screen-shot-2014-04-21-at-6-45-04-pmWhen your child is diagnosed with autism, it can feel like your world has fallen apart. Last year, when our son Gabriel was three, it happened to us. And though life is extremely hard for us, and much more so for him, he has opened our eyes, minds and souls to magical things in everyday life – like cinema.

Our son is essentially non-verbal, having very few words, and like many with autism he has major difficulties with language, communication and social interaction. We first took him to the cinema when he was two, and a passion was born. In the darkness of the theatre there’s no threat or pressure from neurotypical folk expecting conversation and eye contact. The two-dimensional characters provide a safe way of accessing life experiences: our son can’t seek answers and information as others would by asking questions and sharing fears. The darkness and ‘front focus’ help reduce the constant overwhelming visual input that is part of his life: how can you attend to the ‘thing’ in front of you when your eyes are flooded with hundreds of images every minute from every nook of peripheral vision?

In spring 2012, when he had a vocabulary of approximately 15 words, Gabriel clearly said ‘Sparky’. We were excited that he’d said a word and was undoubtedly trying to communicate with us, yet we had no idea what ‘sparky’ was. We searched our memories and came up blank. Then one day I recalled, ‘Last month we did see a trailer for a Tim Burton film – there was a dog in it called Sparky, but it’s only mentioned a couple of times, and it was so fast, and we’ve only seen it once…’

‘Nah,’ my husband said, ‘can’t be.’

How much we have learnt since.

That one trailer was to seize Gabriel’s imagination like no other. How did we discover that ‘Sparky’ was indeed the endearing dog of Burton’s creation? Gabriel showed us. We went to the cinema and Gabriel ran to a cardboard FRANKENWEENIE placard and spent 45 minutes dancing, babbling, singsonging and beaming in front of it. Over several months we hotly anticipated the release of the film. With every poster, every Disney Store window display, Gabriel turned to us with animation and joy. He began to request ‘Sparky?’ for the trailer and, always, he’d turn to us and exclaim and dance and beam.

One night, having difficulty getting Gabriel to sleep, I sat quietly with him. Thinking he’d finally drifted off, I tiptoed away, only to be stopped in my tracks by the little voice that floated out of the darkness – ‘Something big is gonna happen!’ The moment was eerie and magical; tears filled my eyes and swelled my throat.

Many phrases from FRANKENWEENIE were to follow, and this was before we’d even seen the film! Gabriel made – ‘Turtle, dinosaur’ – a request for us to sketch Shelly the turtle’s transformation into a T-rex like monster. He started to tell us ‘Mr Whiskers had a dream about you last night.’ He learnt new words: bat, monster, sea monkey! And, amazingly, he began to role-play. We’d been told that ‘autistics’ lack imaginary capacity, yet our son took what he saw in the FRANKENWEENIE trailers, and ultimately the film, and began to apply it to his toys: play-sniffing, tracking, chasing cats, even dispensing kisses.

But the biggest moment was yet to come. It wasn’t Gabriel seeing his Sparky birthday cake on his fourth birthday and being utterly transfixed sparky cake– ‘Spaaaaarky!’ It wasn’t going to the cinema three times a week to see FRANKENWEENIE while it was out. It wasn’t him managing to go to nursery for two hours because he had a laminated picture of Sparky in his hand and another in his bag. It was the giant sign he gave us during our first viewing of the film.

We’d spent months digesting, assimilating and loving the FRANKENWEENIE trailers, posters and placards, so we approached the screening with the ecstasy of parents knowing they were giving their child The Greatest Gift Ever. It started brilliantly, Gabriel was spellbound, but then he started to scream and sob… Sparky had been hit by a car.

Tim Burton didn’t show us the car, he didn’t show us the corpse; we saw nothing but Victor’s reaction – a face of fear shouting ‘Sparky! Nooooo!’ And that was the moment that many clinicians and educators were proven wrong. We had been told ‘autistics can’t express empathy and have little or no sense of other,’ yet here, in his distress, Gabriel was clearly showing us otherwise. He has shown us the same countless times since, identifying with a film character to such an extent that even subtle bullying will reduce him to tears. The first screening of a film is always difficult (and this is where Autism-Friendly Screenings are vital), as Gabriel has yet to discover that the character emerges triumphant and safe.

FRANKENWEENIE sparked a magical trajectory for us, showing us the actual potential in our beautiful boy, rather than the deficiency that others perceive in him because he can’t express himself in recognised, neurotypical ways. It also has given us so many moments of unbridled joy and discovery that I don’t have the words to convey their significance in our lives.

Ultimately, FRANKENWEENIE is the tale of a boy who is different, isolated and misunderstood. The boy loses himself in film, and the adults find themselves as he shows them what love really is. In this way, and every other way, FRANKENWEENIE is the film of our lives.

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Please note: this post first appeared on the Picturehouse Blog after I was invited to contribute to it-the link to that, which also contains images, is http://picturehouseblog.co.uk/2013/12/05/frankenweenie-sparking-connections/ In addition, it also appears on film director, Tim Burton’s Facebook page-the link to that is
https://www.facebook.com/TimBurton

 

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A Kindergartener’s Short Definition of “Autistic” #AutismPositivity2014

By Kim

Screen shot 2014-04-28 at 10.14.58 PMMy six-year-old son, Will, had been very excited about his new Lego minifigure that he named Max. One day, when I picked him up from school, his aide told me that Will had been playing with Max and calling him “auto-tistic.” Even with his adorable mispronunciation, we could guess that Will was trying to say “autistic.”

I’ve talked to Will about autism, but I’ve never been sure how much he understands. He knows he is autistic and he has heard me mention other autistic people as well. But I had never heard him talk about anyone being autistic before. This was something new.

I asked him, “Buddy, what do you mean when you say ‘auto-tistic?'”

And Will replied, “Fantastic.”

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Expressions of PosAutivity #AutismPositivity2014

We know you have been waiting… and we have been working and organizing behind the scenes and now we are excited to announce:

The Third Annual Autism Positivity Flashblog on April 30th, 2014!!

Join us in honouring diverse forms of communication and in celebrating Autism Acceptance and we will once again flood Google with positive messages about Autism. 

“Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014″

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 6.45.04 PMExpressions of PosAutivity is intended to be a celebration of the multiple and varied ways to express experience or convey ideas. This year we hope to highlight the importance of flexibility in communication within our diverse community and honour multiple forms of personal expression, from the written word, to art, to photography, or a video (as a link), or…

We invite you to explore, share, and celebrate your moments, stories, or images of courage, strength,  and/or positive identity and pride in a way that speaks to you and rails against stigma. Express something PosAutive about autism, about being Autistic, or about the Autistic person/people in your life, etc.

Last year and the year before, hundreds of bloggers came together in a show of support and solidarity in response to negative stigma. The posts that came flooding in from all over the world were a beautiful example of the power of strength in numbers. With so much negativity still surrounding Autism and the misinformation and misconceptions that continue to abound, we this year invite you to participate in an intentional celebration of acceptance intended to highlight the importance of flexibility in communication within our diverse community.

We welcome all of you, anyone who is Autistic, anyone who has an Autistic person in their life, and all who blog about autism to share a message of support, wisdom, hope, and pride to this year’s flashblog by posting to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1fWjZ76uOG2KK3u0EsZll12EQ_6goDNVzEKK2BBZ8R7k/viewform

Please join with us on the last day of Autism Acceptance Month – April 30th, 2014 – in a Flash Blog of Autism Positivity.

To participate:

1. Publish your post on April 30th in the following title format: “[Your Blog] Expressions of PosAutivity: #AutismPositivity2014″

2. Share your post on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media site using the hashtag #AutismPositivity2014

3. Add your link to the Autism Positivity website (submit here or above) and grab the badge from the page tab above.

4. Share/reblog this message to your blog, page, etc.

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Thank you,

The Autism Positivity Project Flashblog Team, 2014

If you have any questions, please contact us at autismpositivity@gmail.com

We can also be found on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThinkingAboutPerspectivesAutismPositivity

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/positivityautie/autism-positivity-2012/

Tumblr: http://autismpositivity.tumblr.com/

Twitter: @PositivityAutie

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Awakening: Reinventing Mommy Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published on Reinventing Mommy at http://reinventingmommy.blogspot.com/2013/05/awakening-reinventing-mommy-celebrates.html and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
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When I sat with my screen open to a blank page contemplating what I would write for Autism Positivity 2013, I had a hard time selecting one specific aspect of my sweet 4-year old autistic son that does not fill me with boundless joy.  He is positivity and love and goodness personified.

Yet, when thinking on this journey that both my boy and I walk hand-in-hand each day, one word came to mind – awakening.

You see, before my son was born, I was a workaholic quality engineer for a tissue processing company.  On the day I went into the hospital to give birth, I had been on bed rest for two weeks.  I looked forward to returning to my normalcy – the hustle and bustle of my career.  If not for my son’s special needs and eventual autism diagnosis, I might still would be in that same building, cranking out reports day-after-day.  My son would be in daycare like so many other children his age.  We would be looking at private schools for his coming Kindergarten year.  He might have a sibling.  I would hurriedly make my usual Earl Grey Tea without enjoyment and would speak to people in passing.  We would be an absolutely ordinary family.  Nothing remarkable about us, really.

This little boy I carried and delivered that day had other plans.  He was here to change the world for more people than he could possibly imagine.  There would be nothing ordinary about him; he was destined for an extraordinary life.

Indeed, he has been my greatest teacher.  After my son was diagnosed, his very wise developmental pediatrician recommended that I seek training in DIR/Floortime from a very respected professional at Floortime Atlanta.  I immersed myself in her teachings and those of Dr. Stanley Greenspan, but their most poignant piece of advice was this:  Follow Your Child’s Lead.

And I have been doing so ever since.

It was a radical shift in everything I had learned about parenting.  For the first two years of his life, I had operated on the principle that so many are taught – parenting is a dictatorship.  It was my role to command; it was his to follow.  I had to throw away the parenting books full of advice and milestones and take his hand, giving him control over the life through which I was to lead him.  Instead, I gave him control, stayed at his side, and was determined to let him determine the course in the days and months and years ahead.

Floortime and my son reversed those roles and – in doing so – opened my eyes to the world as I had never seen it before.  No longer did I see flapping hands as a negative; they were a sign of my son’s overflowing joy.  When I got down on his level, put my head alongside his, and looked to see what he was seeing, I saw incredible wonders and beauty in our world that I never knew existed.  In trying to take into account his sensory needs, my senses were opened to experiences that I never imagined.  I learned just how little we really needed words for communication, that I could understand my boy without him ever saying a word.

It is through my son that I have come to understand what true beauty really is.  It is through him that I take the moment to breathe in each experience and live life to its fullest.  My morning tea no longer is made in a rush.  Instead, I inhale the aromas and watch the leaves swirl peacefully in the infuser.  I listen to the gentle clinking of the rock sugar as it hits the bottom of my glass.  I see hues of color in each bubble and marvel at its travels on the breeze.  I know that all behavior is communication and I open my eyes to hear what it is that he has to tell me.  I know that love comes in so many forms that I cannot say that his lack of spontaneous hugs and kisses means he doesn’t love; rather, his whole existence is an outpouring of love.

My little boy – my little boy who says so little while saying so much – taught me all of this.  I’d argue that it is because of his autism that he has opened my eyes and ears and heart and soul to all of the richness that life has to offer.  I followed his lead and he’s showing me the world through his eyes.

What a beautiful awakening I have experienced…all because of one little boy.

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Cari Noga Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by Cari Noga on http://www.carinoga.com/2013/04/30/1000-ausome-things/ and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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So it looks like one thing. Son spells out name with train tracks. Cute.

Alphabet tracks

That’s what I would have thought three years ago. And then dismissed it.

But when my son did this two nights ago, it took my breath away. After all, difficulty with communication is a hallmark of autism. That’s what the professionals say.

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Restless Hands: What Autism Means To Me #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published on Restless Hands, at http://restlesshands42.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/restlesshands42-celebrates-1000-ausome-things-autismpositivity2013/and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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It’s been a rough week so far, and I’m tired, so this will be short.

Autism has brought so much positivity into my life. I still don’t know if I qualify for a “formal” autism diagnosis, but it doesn’t really matter. The autistic community has accepted me, and supported me, and helped me to understand myself, and now I no longer feel isolated for my scattered handful of mental functioning deficits, and that is enough.

Autism has given me friends, and new hobbies, and new ways of thinking about myself, and of thinking about others, and thinking about thinking, and about education, and about human rights and dignity and intelligence.

A few days ago, I saw a screening of the documentary “Wretches and Jabberers,” the story of two men who grew up without any codified means of communication and then, as adults, traveled the world teaching others about autism and about the fact that intelligence does not require speech.

And I cried at the times in the film where I could understand the body language and needs of these men and their own aides did not.

And my dear friend and housemate flapped zir hands with me at the wonderful parts.

And zir boyfriend laughed with the two of us at some of the ridiculously clueless comments that a few allistic (non-autistic) audience members made afterward, and the three of us cheered for the two autistic young men who volunteered to come up to the microphone and tell the whole audience that they liked the film.

Autism means many different things to different people, including people on the spectrum and their families. I know that for many people, being autistic has involved a lot of pain and suffering and stigma and struggle.

I will continue to fight for a world in which being autistic does not have to involve any more pain or suffering or stigma than not being autistic.

Because to me autism means, and will always mean: laughter with happy flaps, and the fun of pointing out patterns and oddities to each other, and rocking while brainstorming about disability rights, and geeky jokes, and people who squee in joy with me at rainbow colors and the unexpected beauty of under-appreciated things like math, and science, and solitude.

To me, that is autism.

And I hope they never find a cure.

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My Boys with Autism are Awesome #AutismPositivity2013 Kat’s Cafe

This post was originally published by Katrina Moody on Kat’s Cafe, at http://katscafe.org/boys-with-autism-awesome and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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Being Positive about Autism

Last year I was a part of the Autism Positivity project because I felt it was so important to present the positive side of autism. Our reality, yes, but not always so awful, autism is just a part of who my boys are, and my boys with autism are freakin’ awesome!

I’m not going to say it’s always rainbows and puppy dog tails, but my three guys have shown me, time and time again, how utterly awesome they really are, and this year’s Autism Positivity Project asked us to focus on that “Ausome” and share it around.

I couldn’t ask for a better reason to share a bit of our reality with you all. You see, it’s easy to be depressed, to feel overwhelmed, and to worry about the future when you have children with special needs. It doesn’t matter if your kids have autism or some other diagnosis, if you can’t see the positive in it and who those amazing kids are then it’s harder than ever to be the best parent you can be.

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Cissi Tsang: Believe in your strengths – 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013v

Lots of people will tell you about what you can’t do. About how debilitating having autism can be. This is what I’ve noticed from a lot of non-autistic people. They either lower their expectations of you, or if you are deemed “high functioning”, then they will insist you are not autistic. That is wrong.

Remember: there’s a lot of things you CAN do as well. There are a lot of positives with autism, so work with your strengths. You are more capable than what some people would like to tell you. Just because you have autism doesn’t mean you’re meant to be a vegetable. We have a lot to offer to the world.

Sure, autism is pervasive. It defines us by colouring how we perceive and interact with the world. That doesn’t make how we operate “wrong” in any way. It’s just different.

I’m autistic, yes. I don’t make a big scene about it, but I do let people know that I have it. It’s a part of me and it shouldn’t be denied, in the same way as my ethnicity and background. I’m also a photographer, I’m studying for a Master’s in Art and Design, a freelance writer and a musician.

Do I have difficulties from autism? Yes, all the time. I’ve been described as having “extreme difficulty with sequential thinking” and “global cognitive difficulties”. Considering some of the…well, stranger ways my brain works sometimes, yes, I agree with that.

However, I refuse to let those labels restrict my aspirations. Don’t let your labels restrict you, too. There are always methods to work around anything.

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