Monthly Archives: April 2013

Why Autism is Awesome: Just Another #AutismPositivity2013 Flashblog!

This post was originally published on That Autistic That Newtown Forgot at http://thatautisticthatnewtownforgot.blogspot.com/2013/04/why-autism-is-awesome-just-another.html, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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This post is for the autism positivity flashblog scheduled for today, the last day of April or the month known as Autistic Acceptance month by many Autistic activists.
The theme for today is “autism is awesome”.
Why is autism awesome?
A.    Autistic people think differently. We are not driven to conform because we are unhooked from the nonverbal cues that regulate social performance and behavior. Instead we listen to our hearts, our dreams, our creativity and imagination. While some of us buckle under social pressure, our hearts, our interests and our dreams remain connected to the special interests that make the world awesome to us.
B.     Autistic people generally operate in less continuity with the regulatory social norms surrounding sexuality and gender. We are a queer group and one must recognize that the liberation of autistics must be part of the liberation of queers of every kind, because our people are less likely to be obedient toward those sets of rules and regulations.
C.     Autistic people are creative in both a scholarly and artistic sense. Many of us have special interests which drive us toward creative enterprise, causing us to immerse ourselves in certain types of research and to sometimes utilize said research in artistic projects. This blog itself is evidence of autistic creativity. Many of us need to draw or doodle just to stay comfortable in certain situations.
D.    Autistic people have an awesome, loving warm community, for those searching for such a community. While many of us feel alienated occasionally, since my recent involvement in autistic activism, I have joined in a network of activist-scholar autistics and queers throughout the country. When I am feeling lonely, isolated or erased, it is great to be able to unite with my autistic friends via our online community. I think this means something. None of us need to feel alone ever again. We can know that there are other people who have many of the same experiences as we do, often just a click away.
E.     We are all different! I want to point something out, while a lot of non-autistic people frame non-speaking autistics as burdensome or annoying, as an autistic myself, I am glad that our community comprises so many different perspectives and modes of feeling and expression.
F.      Autistic people find ways of being happy that NTs can often not even imagine. We have a tendency to immerse ourselves in topics or ideas that excite us. Sometimes this excitement causes us to stay up all day and night. This can be bad for us, but the passion is something that brings a light to our lives that many lack.
G.    Autistic individuals are detail-oriented. For those of us who have not been so brutally oppressed that we are forced to stop caring, we are all about the details. We read everything closely, often literally, but in that close reading we are able to see through many of the word games and fictions that are everywhere in NT society.
H.    Autistic people are winning. This flash blog and others proves that the autistic activist movement is growing! We are influencing a whole generation and those working with us will soon be as many as there are stars in the sky! Additionally, we are doing crucial intersectional work, like flashblogging against Ag Gag legislation this Friday!
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Laura/Light It Up BOO celebrates 1000 Ausome Things: Finding the Positive in My Neurology #AutismPositivity2013

Until four years ago, I felt like there was nobody else who thought like I did. I didn’t know there was such a thing as disability rights or disability pride. I felt like a burden, and neurologically inferior.

That all changed in January 2009. That’s when I discovered the book Born on a Blue Day. The author’s thoughts echoed my own very strongly. It was as though that book was written to tell me a message. That I am not inferior to anyone. That there are other people whose inner mental workings are a lot like mine. That I don’t have to be ashamed of my neurology.

The author of this book, Daniel Tammet, has been a fascination of mine since then. It’s a real gift to find a story where the author seems to be reading your mind.

In June 2009, I got on Facebook. Facebook has been a haven for me and other autistic people. It’s where I met some of my very favorite people, like my boyfriend Zach and someone whom I call Penguin. Penguin and Zach are also autistic. I don’t use Facebook the way I think non-autistic people do. The way I use it is to connect with other autistic people and our allies. It removes communication barriers that we often struggle with offline, like body language. It’s easier to read an emoticon than a facial expression.

In June 2010, I started going to Autreat. Autreat is an autism-positive conference designed for and by autistic people. I got to meet autistics who had made a name for themselves, like Jim Sinclair and Ari Ne’eman. I also participated in the young adult ceremony which I feel solidified my role as a member of the community.

Since then, I have been able to delve into other obsessions, namely the Apollo moon missions forty-some years ago. This is my favorite part of being autistic. We may not be able to describe how studying our obsessions feels, but it is so euphoric, in my experience, that I’d never want it taken away from me. That’s a unique kind of joy limited to the world of autistics. Where you fall in love with a topic. At Autreat, Monday night is special interest night, where we can share our obsessions with each other. Visiting neurotypicals (“normal” people) can often hear the excitement in our voices.

Diversity makes the world go round. Neurodiversity too. Curing us would rid the world of its most interesting citizens. I want to cure ignorance and closed-mindedness about the neurodiverse. My obsessions are for sharing, not for eliminating. Not for preventing. You can’t take away autism without erasing people like me and my friends.

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FairyTale Forgotten Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things about Autism #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published on FairyTale Forgotten, at http://fairytaleforgotten.blogspot.com/2013/04/fairytale-forgotten-celebrates-1000.html, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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So, here in the FairyTale Forgotten household we are full of Ausomeness. You see, we’re a family with four people who all fall somewhere on the spectrum and my boyfriend who is still learning about all this ausomeness but is doing a fabulous job of enjoying the journey.

I could easily list a thousand things that are wonderful about my family but I’ll narrow it down to a smaller list of 10 because I know you’ve got a lot of posts to read about all the Ausome Things today!

1. Group flapping. When we’re happy, we’re all happy together and we flap til our heart’s content.

2. Unenforced eye contact. No one makes anyone look anyone else in the eye at my house because we know we listen with our ears and not our eyes.

3. Movie scripts. We can do an entire movie back and forth between us without it even being turned on, laugh at all the good parts, and still eat dinner.

4. Music. We really get into some music at my house. There is dancing, rocking, humming, singing at the top of our lungs (because I think we’re all tone deaf but we still love to sing), and we all know the words. It. Is. Ausome.

5. Fidgets. My house is full of fidgets and every single one of us uses them. We spend all day with something in our hands that soothes us and we all have different tastes.

6. Noise-cancelling headphones. No one bats an eye at those things at my house. Ours are fairly new to us but, OH BOY, do we love them.

7. We “get” each other. If one of us doesn’t know what’s up with the other, someone else in the family will know. And the boyfriend, he’s getting pretty darn good at figuring out what we each need at different times to get us all back to our happy, flappy selves.

8. Stims. We flap. We spin. We rock. We bounce. We hum. We tap. We mimic sounds. We script. We play with each other’s hair. We rub our cheeks on soft stuff. We carry around matching toys because…well, matching. We bounce off of each other when we need some impact therapy (the twins wrestle hard, yo). We are one stimmy household and we LOVE it.

9. Perspective. If you’re looking for someone who will see things differently, you will find them here. You give us a thing that you’ve been fiddling with for a while and we’ll turn it into a thing you didn’t even think about. We aren’t afraid to crawl in the grass to watch a bug, climb a tree to get a bird’s eye view, lay in the dirt to take a picture that you didn’t notice at eye level, or smell things that most people would run from. We’ll take that thought that you had and come at it from OUR angle (which is unique to each of us). We march to the beat of our own full percussion section (because who wants just one drummer, right?).

10. Love. We love deeply, truly, honestly, and with as much loyalty as anyone you’ll ever meet. We’re never bashful about it either. If we love you, you know it because we aren’t good with a poker face. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and we weep with the world when it hurts. You’ve never seen hearts so pure as you’ll find in my family.

These are only 10 of the Ausome Things about my Autistic family (and our adopted NT who is as wonderful as you could ask a person to be!). Remember you’re never alone. There are those of us out here who will welcome you with open arms. Autism is Ausome. It is amazing and brilliant and spectacular and awe-inspiring and so many other words that I could spend all day typing. You get the idea. Have an Ausome Day and remember that Acceptance lies in you!

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Tsara Shelton of Autism Answers Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things: Autism: Challenging, not sad

Autism: Challenging, not sad
I have a mom and four brothers who were on the autism spectrum. As a sibling and daughter I’ve dealt with much guilt regarding the way I used to think about my family members. A guilt that festered, becoming a bold but offensive ingredient in the creating of me. I write about it consistently, in hopes that some insight or revelation may help another struggling someone out there, and so that I will always remember what it is that I’ve learned, and continue to learn.

However, one thing I have never struggled with is feeling sad about autism.

I’ve seen people I love challenged by communication and sensory issues. I’ve listened to my brother voice a painful anxiety over the possible shape and size of Buick’s 2016 sedan designs, and watched my other brother grunt and stim while trying desperately to just make a word come out of his mouth the way it sounds in his head, and I’ve sat outside the door as my youngest son had meltdowns that broke my heart, while opened it up to new understandings at the very same time. I’ve seen all of this and felt sad for the challenge or difficulty, and wished I could help fix it, but never have I ever felt sad about autism.

Instead I have enjoyed much fun and insight, and seen my brothers and children and friends and others enjoy the same, thanks to autism!

I have always tried to be kind to everyone, but without the autism in my world I am quite sure I never would have truly known what kind was. As a child I thought being nice was simply helping people and doing things you’re told. But thanks to autism I have learned: kind is not about doing things for others, or allowing things to be done to you. Kind isn’t smiling and agreeing all of the time.

Kind is a caring and curious interest in another person.

Another person will always have life experiences, stories, and beliefs that are different than your own, often drastically so. How fantastic to take advantage of and enjoy that!

Because of the autism I am surrounded by, my world is beautiful and inclusive. I adore difference, without an expectation of assimilation. My family is drastically diverse (imagine the Muppets, Gonzo included!) and deliciously accepting.

It was my mom—who now travels the globe as a mental health therapist, specializing in autism—who taught me, by consistent example, that being accepting doesn’t mean not helping or not raising the bar. It doesn’t mean allowing people to be cruel or take advantage, and it doesn’t mean segregating. It means seeing yourself as perfectly valuable and able to change and grow, and knowing absolutely that so can everyone else. It is in this knowing that we can treat and accept everyone as able and valuable, and we can share with a curious passion all of our talents and abilities, while helping others discover their own.

Autism is challenging. Much like my husband’s dark skin, my daughter-in-law’s sexual preferences and my aunt’s thyroid problem and obesity have been challenging, but they are not sad. To see them as such is to create another challenge that will only lead down a less fun and unlikely-to-be-useful path.

My autistic brothers have offered me the most important gift. The gift of truly knowing what it is to love and to be kind. And in accepting that gift (eventually!), I have offered them the gift of seeing their value, and knowing their worth. And all the while we have gained skills and shared them with volume!

We fully intend to keep on doing that!!

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ED Note: The author of this post is on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Autism-Answers/214643311941262?fref=ts

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Gnus-wombats-ducks celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by Cecile on Gnus, Wombats and Ducks, at http://gnus-wombats-ducks.blogspot.com/2013/04/gnus-wombats-ducks-celebrates-1000.html, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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One of the things I love most about myself is my ability to keep joy somewhere inside to take out whenever I need it. I can laugh for ages about something funny, and then keep the joke or picture or funny word in the back of my mind, and at any later stage bring it to the fore again, and it makes me laugh all over again with the same amount of joy. I can look at something beautiful and shiver inside, and keep the shivers for later when I can close my eyes and experience the same joy the beauty brought me the first time. I can repeat a favourite line from a book or movie or poem a thousand, no, a million times without it losing its appeal. I can listen to a song on repeat for days without getting tired of it. I can reread a favourite book a hundred times and keep on enjoying it as much as the first time. I don’t get bored and I don’t crave novelty, I have such a wealth of experiences inside my head that I can dust off and enjoy again and again!

I love my imagination. I can close my eyes or get busy with my hands and my mind flies free and I create situations, dialogues, people, atmospheres. I can get lost in beautiful happenings and detail. I can get lost in imagined joy. Imagined sadness. I can see in my mind someone being kind to someone else, and experience the happiness and drift in that feeling without needing words. I can create needs and fulfil them and feel the gratitude. I can let go of words and talking and misunderstandings and just feel. I love this extra world in my head!

I like that I am not tugged in different directions by fashions and trends. I know what I like and what I don’t like, and my preferences are not dictated by social pressures. I don’t feel the need to be like other people and can thus look at new things as they are and make a judgement based only on my own reaction to it. I am not tempted to spend money on cool or popular things I do not want or need.

I like my need to question everything and to look at things from different angles. I want to understand, even though I  know my own understanding is also only a part of the whole. I love to analyse and rethink and question and ask why why why – just like a child.

I like who I am.

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I Speak of Dreams celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by Liz Ditz on I Speak of Dreams, at http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2013/04/i-speak-of-dreams-celebrates-1000-ausome-things-autismpositivity2013.html, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
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What is this all about? Autism Positivity explains

Last year hundreds of bloggers came together in a show of support and solidarity in response to an anonymous person’s Google search “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers”. 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 invite each of you to share one, or two, or more “Ausome” things!

I’ve been turning this over in my mind for the last month. I hear many adult autistics writing about how April is a hard month, like Karla Fisher on Facebook

IRL Status: I have come to the conclusion that April is not a month for me to do Autism stuff. 😉 I am not strong enough. The good news is that there are significantly more of us autistics speaking against the flood of crappy Autism messaging and they are strong enough. The parent allies are also increasing in numbers. The bad news is there is still a flood of crappy messaging and we are in a place as a people where acceptance is so far away. It makes life for those of us living it, so hard every day and still it continues…

I thought I would focus on gratitude. Here is a sampling (not a complete list by any means!)

I am grateful to (say) Judy Endow for waking me up, and making me see the many, many assumptions I have about social skills and the “hidden curriculum“.

I am grateful to (say) Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg for many things, but this month, for her sense of humor

Neurotypical-awareness-10
Image source: http://www.disabilityandrepresentation.com/2013/04/10/they-need-your-help/

I am grateful to Landon Bryce and all the work that he does for autism advocacy at  ThAutCast.  For we neurotypical folk, it isn’t always easy to read, but I am still grateful.

I am grateful to Brian R. King for his words of wisdom on relationships, and his shattering honesty, like this post http://brianraymondking.com/2013/04/we-all-fall-apart-sometimes/

I am grateful to Kassiane S. for sharing her joy and fierceness, all over the internet but especially at Radical Neurodivergence

I am grateful to Steve Summers for sharing with me what “eye gaze demand” feels like for him: https://www.facebook.com/notes/steve-summers/eye-contact-and-autism/589026277774684

That is my short list.  What about you?

Read more at

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 10:14 AM in autism | Permalink

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YetAnotherLefty Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by Liam on YetAnotherLefty at http://yetanotherlefty.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/yetanotherlefty-celebrates-1000-ausome-things/, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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I’m going to choose just one thing that is “ausome” (awesome) about being an autistic person in the twenty-first century.

And that thing has to be Autistic Community and Culture.

For me, being autistic means never, ever being lonely. I know that sounds strange, I know that people think of autistics as “loners”, I know we struggle with the day to day social interaction demanded of us by others, I know many of us found teenagehood and young adulthood hell. I’ve been lonely and I’ve felt condemned to it myself – but not any more. How can I feel lonely when I know that more than 1% of people – maybe even 2% of people – have brains that work like mine? When I’m melting down in the supermarket, there’s probably three or four or five other people there struggling not to melt down themselves or at least knowing exactly how I feel. When I flap my hands in delight at the beach, there must be a dozen people there who do the same or wish they could express themselves in the same way. As I walk around my University campus, I do so in the knowledge that hundreds of other autistics are doing and have done and will do the same.

I feel like I’m a part of something. A community, a tribe.

We have our own language – of flapping arms, rocking bodies, hums and buzzes and shrieks, words repeated over and over and over, phrases and facts plucked out of the air for just the right occasion. We understand each other, even if others haven’t learnt to yet.

 

It’s through the internet that this culture and sense of community is growing. We connect with each other here, talk about our experiences and name them – stimming, meltdown, echolalia, aut-dar. We have words for things we didn’t know we needed words for – neurodiversity, NT, “Nothing About Us Without Us“, self-advocacy. We have people *like us* we admire, role models of autistic adult hood to follow so we know we don’t have to stop being ourselves when we grow up. We have people like us who we know – found all across the world – people who will listen and understand and help when we are struggling and celebrate with us when things go well.

Autistic community was a life-saver for me. I found open arms ready to welcome me (without assuming I liked to be touched) and people who could say “It’s okay, you’re okay and you don’t have to change any way you don’t want to change to grow up. You’re an amazing human being just as you are”. People who would make suggestions on how to get a good teething ring as an adult, who’d say “It’s okay to leave the supermarket with only half your shopping if you’re going to have a meltdown”, who’d affirm “Yes, that’s a good idea” when I suggested making myself step-by-step picture instructions of my morning routine because I kept missing steps.
I needed this alternative way to be an adult. I know there are hundreds and thousands of teens and young adults who need the same advice and help and welcome.

I’m @AutistLiam on twitter and I am there for any autistic person who needs some support and advice. Because we’re a community and that’s what we do.

Check out the other blogs people are writing today here: https://autismpositivity.wordpress.com/ The list of participants is your guide to the many people out there who love you and want to help.

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