I’ve been there. I know how easily one internalizes society’s prejudices toward disability, and I’ve been fighting it for years now. It’s okay.
I’m not quite ready to say it gets better, to be honest. I’m living alone in a small apartment in a small town, underemployed and constantly worrying about money, and moreover, about my future. But I can say in the past few years, I’ve had some fantastic friends. In my last semester of college, my friend Aurora said that getting to know me was the highlight of her, and her friends’, semester. The world that seemed so daunting and confusing a few years ago is only half as daunting, half as confusing now.
So I’m not going to be insensitive to the challenges we autistic people face today, but I can say that our lives have so much capacity for growth and change, and in our darkest hours it might be all too easy to forget that, but it’s still true. The world has capacity for growth and change too, and if we all work together, we can change it.
Monthly Archives: May 2013
I’ve been there. I know how easily one internalizes society’s prejudices toward disability, and I’ve been fighting it for years now. It’s okay.
This post was originally published on livinautistic, at http://livnautistic.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/livnautistic-celebrates-1000-ausome-things-autismpositivity2013/ and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
I found out I’m autistic almost 2 years ago. It was the BEST MOMENT of my life. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of wonderful moments in my life. But in that moment, it was simply Ausome! In that moment, I felt like Clark Kent. In that moment, I was no longer a lonely stranger wandering in a strange land. In that moment, I found my true identity. In that moment, I had a true sense of belonging. In that moment, my life took on a much more meaningful purpose. In that moment…I’m not going to list all the 1000 Ausome things I had in my life since I made the self-discovery, but I’m proud to say, finding out I’m autistic completely changed the direction of my life.
I used to be a unhappy person. Like many autistic people, I once was totally lost in this world. I was the cat who thought itself as a dog. I thought I was a neurotypical and I was ashamed of my neurological difference because I thought them as my weakness. I tried my best fitting into this neurotypical world but it wasn’t very successful. I felt I have to consistently apologize for whom I am. I felt I was somehow different but I didn’t know why or how. And because of that, I was angry, defensive and very insecure.
Finding out I’m autistic changed the person I am. It helps me to understand why I am different. I began to know myself better. I became mindful of my own being. I changed my self-perception. No more negative feelings of doubt and guilty. What takes its place is self-accpetance. Now I can concentrate my energy on living positively — how to work around my weakness and utilize my strengths. I’m no longer disabled by my sense of worthlessness. I know now, I am who I am. I’m aware. I have finally come to my own self. At last, I found the key to my true happiness.
As part of my self-discovery, I looked around for other autistic people like me. And I have found them. There is a huge autistic community on Facebook. There are many of us. We share our stories, our interests, knowledge, support and camaraderie. We talked, we joked, we laughed and we celebrated. I’m no longer alone. We are no longer alone. We have each other. Is that not the most Ausome thing in the world?
In days to come, I hope to meet my autistic friends face to face. I look forward for new adventures and new friendships. My son is 7 right now and I am looking forward to introducing him to the autistic community. There are so many wonderful things we autistic people can do. Together we will build a better world for our future generation. And that is Ausome!
This post was originally published by Rose at The Caffeinated Autistic at http://thecaffeinatedautistic.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/the-caffeinated-autistic-celebrates-1000-ausome-things/, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
I meant to write a post on my birthday (a week ago today) and failed. April is always a difficult month for a variety of personal reasons, but it’s become even more so with the knowledge that April is Autism Awareness month. I have seen far too many blue puzzle pieces or rainbow puzzle ribbons.
But today isn’t about that. Today is Autism Positivity day, and I’m going to tell you the best things about being autistic, for me.
1. Obsessions. I never really understand why people consider this a negative trait, and refuse to allow autistic children to indulge in their obsessions, rather than using them as an opportunity to learn (or even maybe as a reward if it’s difficult to use it in education). If you meet me in person, I can guarantee you that at some point in time, I will launch into an infodump about why Sherlock Holmes is autistic, why all the female characters are amazeballs, why Susan Pevensie’s ending was the saddest thing I’ve ever read and why I hate C.S. Lewis for what he did to her, and why platonic friendships in all sorts of media aren’t specific to gender and are amazing. Just to name a few.
2. Stimming. There is angry stimming and panicky stimming, and the cause of these is no fun, but stimming itself is AWESOME. And I’ve handflapped and rocked in happiness and contentment and drew patterns over the skin of a fellow autistic person. And co-stimming with another autistic person is by far one of the best things to do.
3. Another way of thinking. This isn’t very concrete, but I find more and more that I think I’m thinking in a similar manner to a neurotypical person, but then I mention what I’m thinking out loud and yeah, I’m not. But so many times, this means I have the solution to a problem that no one else thought of, and sometimes? This makes the life of an autistic child better because their parents get it because I was able to articulate it.
4. Repetition is amazing. This applies to so much and has to do with echolalia as well as repetitive movements like stimming, but also? It is why I am good at my job. I’ve been employed for just 2 1/2 months, and you’d think that isn’t even long enough to be good at my job, but I’ve already been training people. I’m fast and accurate and no one at my job but me likes being in the back because it’s boring, and yeah, when it’s slow, it is, but it’s repetitive and perfect and lovely.
5. Language. Language and words are fantastic and I’ve been an avid reader since I learned right before my 4th birthday – when I apparently taught myself. I was reading at a post high school level in the 2nd grade, and I was often in trouble for trying to read novels behind my science textbooks. I majored in English in college, and even taught it myself for two years (a job that I found too stressful because of red tape and paperwork). I love words, and I love what they can do, the images they can evoke, or the things they do to my ears when they’re spoken. There’s a segment from an episode of Sesame Street that includes the phrase “lilting Liliputian lullaby”, and isn’t that just the best thing to say and hear?
This post was originally published by Tripped Up Mommy on The Tripped Up Life at http://trippeduplife.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-tripped-up-life-celebrates-1000.html and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
Today I’m participating in the Autism Positivity Project Flash Blog by celebrating two of the most “ausome” parts of my world: Angel and Princess triplets. This flash blog is about showing the world the positive side of autism, the acceptance part of autism. And, on the last day of Autism Awareness month, I felt it was important to participate in – even though I’m really late in the day.
Here is a description from the author of The Third Glance blog, who is one of the major organizers in this effort. I couldn’t have explained it any better than this: 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!
|Princess and Angel triplets|
No matter how difficult life can be when raising triplets, two of which have neurological differences which make communication extremely difficult, there’s never a day without moments of pure and overwhelming love and pride in my children – all my children, those with autism and those who are neurotypical.
This post was originally published by Kristy on Konabarbie at http://konabarbie.blogspot.com/2013/04/konabarbie-celebrates-1000-ausome.html, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
Gosh I’m old!!
To us the diagnosis was never a negative one. It was actually a relief to finally have a name to something because we knew he was different. Us meaning me and my son because at the time of his diagnosis I was a single mom and it was just the two of us dealing with the school issues, the stomach issues and the sleeping issues.
All of those issues were dealt with in time and now he is doing great in college and loving it and living on his own. I couldn’t imagine him any different than what he is, Asperger’s and all. Personally, with the exception of the school struggles and IEP nightmares that weren’t his fault, I think he was much easier to raise than an NT child.
He struggled in high school, but not only got into the college of his choice, but made the Dean’s list last semester.
He learned how to play the violin in third grade and then taught himself how to play the guitar when he was a teen using methods he learned from violin in third grade.
Not to mention he’s a computer genius!
And I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom!
Yes, he’s “ausome”!
This post was originally published on My Life in Triplicate at http://mylifeintriplicate.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/1000-ausome-things-no-1-is/, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
… Walking around like you don’t have a care in the world!
Have you ever just gone out for a walk and along the way start skipping, or twirling, or giggling?
I have. At 40 years old I, in fact, just did ALL of that tonight! And it was wonderful.
Why? Because that’s what my son, Theodore, wanted to do.
While the girls were off playing soccer with coach Dad, me and my ASD prince went out for a walk. While on our street it can get pretty busy and cars and trucks rush through trying to skip a light or two on Route 5. It’s not a super busy street but as you could imagine at certain times it is busier than others. And people LOVE to speed down the street.
So we walk down the sidewalk, hand in hand, to the end of our street, cross over, and head toward the paved trails near the CSX/Amtrak RR lines.
It is here, in the late April sunshine, on a day that felt more like June, we dropped hands and walked all over that trail like we OWNED it. We skipped. We hopped. We ran. We stopped and cuddled. We took in the sun. We felt the wind in our hair. We twirled. We giggled. We looked at doggies. We splashed through puddles. We ran a few steps forward, turned around, and ran back toward each other.
Had my girls been there, they would have done the same and no one would have looked twice.
But somehow when Theo does it, and he is in full-on-happy mode, he likes to vocalize and make really LOUD happy noises. His gait is awkward. His movements aren’t the smoothest…and those flappy hands are always moving.
That’s what my non-verbal Autistic son does. And he’s not afraid to show it or do it. That’s a positive. To do what you want — twirl, flap, vocalize, hum — and to do so not caring if you have the approval of others.
And this comes after a day in which Theo did not want to do much of anything at school. But his day improved. His night got even better. And isn’t that what we all want… just a chance to get out and do what we want in the sun?
Yes, autism is hard. Yes, it is challenging. Yes there are times when all we want to do is sit and rock the time away. And, yes, we have bad days too just like everyone else. It’s just that sometimes those bad spells multiply because we can’t get our feelings across.
So next time you go out for a walk think of my Theo, do a twirl or two, and live, laugh and love in the moment.
This post was originally published by Paula C. Durbin-Westby on the Autism Acceptance Day blog, at http://autismacceptanceday.blogspot.com/2013/04/autism-acceptance-day-celebrates-1000.html, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
Autism Acceptance Day Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things! #AutismPositivity2013
Check out the many many links on The Autism Positivity Project’s links page for the 2013 event, which …Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things! #AutismPositivity2013
The most AUSOME thing I learned this April (today being the last “official” day for Autism “awareness” month, but not even the mid-point of International Autism Acceptance Decade 2010-2020, International Autism Acceptance Decade 2010-2020 is that there are now people who were diagnosed as adults, who have actually always known about Autism Acceptance events the entire time they were going through the process of diagnosis.
Some day, children and parents of children who are being evaluated for autism will have access to materials about Autism Acceptance, created by Autistics and our allies. Although there may be non-accepting things tagged as “acceptance,” we will have made enough impact that it will be much easier for families to find positive and accepting messages about autism. Those families will be able to learn about what our lives are like through initiatives such as the Autism Positivity Project and through writings like the Autism Acceptance Day blog interviews.
I would like to write much more about Ausome things, but I am working on getting many more interviews ready to be posted. Those interviews are each so Ausome, that, while I don’t have 1000 of them yet, they add important voices to discussions about autism and should be a “required reading” for people wanting to learn more about what life is like for some of us.
This post was originally posted by Jenny Saul-Avila on Minute to Minute Mommy at http://minutetominutemommy.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/minute-to-minute-mommy-celebrates-1000-ausome-things-autismpositivity2013/, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
‘Things are not always what they seem in this place. So, you can’t take anything for granted.” – The Worm, Labyrinth
I’m not going to sugar coat everything and I am not always going to be politically correct. Before moving forward in this post, I will say that for me, having an Autistic child can be a real roller coaster – with extreme highs and lows and everything in between.
But there’s one huge and awesome thing that Autism has taught me – never take anything for granted. And I will say now that not taking so much for granted is a GOOD thing. In fact, at this point in my family’s life, in my own opinion, it’s the best thing about Autism.
Prior to Nathaniel being born, I had some loose, vague ideas of how I envisioned his infancy, toddler-hood and childhood, etc. I thought about holiday traditions and playing in fall leaves, picking dandelions, sledding in snow, stuff like that. I don’t have a long history of many babies or young children in my life, so I didn’t think I had any real firm idea of how I wanted it all to be.
Until I watched, mostly via Facebook, how other people’s children, born around the same time as my own, grew along a different path. I saw the things they did as families, the places they went, the things they experienced that seemed so different from my little family. I never knew much about early childhood development; I just assumed my child would develop along pretty much the same path as others’.
But I’ve gained some perspective, through my own experience and through reading the experiences of others who have children with special needs and through reading the writing of those with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities. I have really come to realize that NOBODY knows how their child is going to develop or how their life will play out. Whatever notions we might have about our futures, about our children’s futures, about our friends’ and other family members’ futures – it’s all up in the air. My little family’s life is always evolving and changing. I have absolutely no idea what the next month will hold, let alone the next year or two or 10. Yeah, it’d be nice to have a crystal ball at times to save oneself a bit of anxiety, but none of us have that. I don’t think I fully appreciated that before.
The ability to communicate has been one of the biggest things I no longer take for granted. Nathaniel started talking, albeit in one syllable approximations, late last spring/early last summer, when he was a little over 2 years old, after not having a single word and only having a slight grasp of using two different signs, “more” and “all done.” He could point, but it was sort of vague (his pointing when he wants something across the room is still not the best – I think he doesn’t realize that my line of sight isn’t identical to his). He was frustrated and often unhappy and on edge, as were we, because we could not understand him and we wanted so desperately to understand. But once we began to learn more about his delays, about his diagnosis, we found therapists who could help. Then, on the way to talking, he quickly learned how to use a picture exchange book, which helped lessen some of the frustration he was having & that was also our frustration, in wanting to help. Now, he has more words than I could begin to count, he can say “more” and “all done,” he is speaking in sentences and except when he’s flustered or not feeling well, he can do a decent job of getting across to us what he needs and wants – his words can be hard to understand at times, but we’re getting there. And he can understand us better, as his vocabulary expands. He understands not to touch certain things, because they’re hot, so now he can be in the kitchen when we cook or bake. He knows what it means to be “cold,” or “comfortable.” To some, this may seem like no big deal – but to me, it’s all completely awesome. Every word he says I know took a lot of learning and growing. I am on the way to “getting” that the ability to communicate, through any means, is not something to take for granted.
There is so much that Nathaniel can do now that he couldn’t do before that has taught me so much. He’s starting to walk up & down steps instead of crawling. Lately, he will alternate feet on a couple steps, instead of putting both feet on one step before going to the next one. He still puts his hands down most of the time, but he doesn’t have to. He can jump forward. Not that long ago, he couldn’t jump in place. He gallops, bear crawls, slinks like a snake, goes up and down a sliding board by himself, is getting comfortable on a platform swing after a long period of not wanting to get on any swing. All of these things are probably no big deal to some – but to me, AMAZING. Every time I see him do these things, I am thrilled. It just doesn’t get old.
And all this progress is not about assimilation. I don’t need for Nathaniel to be “like everyone else.” But I want him to be comfortable, happy, confident and with less anxiety. I don’t take his happiness for granted. I don’t take his comfort for granted. When I see him happy, when I see that he is feeling more comfortable in situations that were hard before, more confident with his own physical movement, I am all the happier. The smile on a child is a beautiful, awesome thing. And my son’s Autism has made me more aware of the importance of another person’s happiness.
That’s pretty awesome…or ausome.
Ahh, this year’s flash blog. It’s been an interesting one this year, putting it all together. But you know, that’s one of the best things about being Autistic. I get to be me, and by just being me, I can help others. The hyper-focus that I can maintain while constantly scheduling and updating the wordpress site definitely help too…
But on a more serious note, what are some of my favorite parts of being autistic? What makes being autistic “ausome”? Lots of things. Here are just a few things that I love about being autistic:
My stuffed animals. At 23, I have over 300 stuffed animals (312 to be exact) and I love every single one of them. They bring me great joy, and I love snuggling with them. If you ever want to make me happy, give me a stuffed animal.
Being a PhD student. I get to spend all day, every day, learning about my favorite subject in the world. I’m paid to perseverate on it. If that’s not ausome I don’t know what is.
Having super-senses. Sometimes this is not so ausome. I often get overloaded and this can lead to meltdowns. I have trouble eating and wearing most types of clothes (but not clothes is an even worse option!) But I rally do enjoy being able to hear everything that goes on all over the place. I like knowing what’s going on and how to find it.
Facts. Facts are awesome. There are lots of facts. I take pride in being a walking encyclopedia about a number of things, and really enjoy learning new facts.
My kitty, who is without a doubt an autistic cat. He’s a sweet, loving cuddly feline who is terrified of loud noises and people, except me. I think my neurology gives us a special bond. He was in the shelter for 9 months before I took him home.
Flapping for joy. Stimming for the love of the movement. Twirling in the rain. (as long as I can dry off immediately after :P)
Playing the piano for hours on end while I let the music carry me away from where I am.
And finally, knowing that I am autistic is one of the most ausome things about autism. Knowing that there is a “why” for all the reasons I’m different from my peers. That there’s an explanation for all the horrors of my childhood, for all the difficulties I face on a daily basis. For the disconnect between me and most people. Knowing that there are others like me. And a whole world out there waiting to accept us with open arms, and let us be unequivocally ausomely autistic.
Autism is a motivator! I was diagnosed, confirmed, with autism, high functioning, in December 2011. I was 33. The year that followed was tumultuous at best. It was about discovery. Exploration. And there were some not positive moments through some negative attitudes expressed following my diagnosis. For the most part, I learned that sometimes churches are not always accepting of adults who have special needs, particularly autism. But even though it was a negative lesson, and painful, I turned it into a positive. I am now in pursuit of opportunities that I never had before in order to effect a positive change. You see, because of my late diagnosis, I also discovered that access to services and therapies an grants for technology like iPads are virtually non-existent for adults with autism. So here’s what I have set about to do. I am not only trying to raise funds for my own iPad an services, but I am also using one of new gifts as a means to raise funds for others to have what I do have now. ABA therapy works. In adults. And I am now very happy. Much more so than I have been for a long time! And that’s awesome!