Author Archives: Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley

A Quiet Week Celebrates #AutismPositivity2015

By Lori D

One year ago to the day, I put my mother in a nursing home. I feared she would not last the month, let alone recover and look forward to resuming her life at home. Self-care this year has been the key to supporting my parents and adjusting to a new way of life.

Although my blogging subsided, self-nurturance thrived with art journaling. Simple techniques such as rubber stamping and vintage collaging let me put pictures to my feelings, which in turn spurred words and emotion.

Please enjoy my journey and nourish your own.

Warmest wishes,























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NonSpeaking Not Silent Acceptance, Love andSelf-care: #AutismPositivity2015

By AutismDogGirl

I am autistic and I work hard to bring change, I fight for acceptance and fight the stigma of autism, I fight to bring reform to autism service dogs, I fight to get the Mason alert in place, I fight to promote acceptance and under standing and I fight for the right for preferred communication method and the right to AAC and providing a communication alternative to autistics as soon as possible,

So what is acceptance?
Acceptance is not giving up, acceptance is a starting point, acceptance is what allows us to make real progress,

Acceptance is what leads quality of life
Acceptance is no longer working against myself but working with my abilities and limits to reach my potential in acceptance I a, no longer working to be normal I am working to be successful with what I have, it is about supporting myself where I need supports and building on my strengths,
Acceptance is so important for the autistic community, when we are accepted our accommodations we need are seen as known, standard and logical, we are viewed as important an valuable. We are t painted as burdens but as autistic people who have our own value.
Right now advocates have to fight to promote acceptance, and it is not the norm this means thousands of autistics live hearing they are burdens, broken and need fixing when they need to hear they are autistic, they may need help and supports but that’s ok, they have a right to supports,  in stead of focusing on fixing them and making them normal the focus needs to be on giving us tool that help us communicate and be successful
Acceptance is recognizing communication and communication needs are different for everyone, AAC is seen as a basic right and not a last thing to try but instead an important first step
Over this year I have been working hard to be a good advocate, I advocate for autistic rights, for the Mason alerts and for reform for autism service dogs these can burn me out  on top of this I have lost 3 loved ones this year so selfcare has become critical for me but what self care is changes with acceptance
When people talk about self care, it is often in the context of daily living activities such as teeth brushing, taking medications, showering, eating dressing ect, areas in which I experience many moderate to severe difficates, but self are is so so much more and takes on a larger meaning when you have reached acceptance and maybe  one of the most important things when it comes to acceptance and when it comes to self advocating

For me acceptance and self care means I recognize my limits, it doesn’t mean I have  no issues in defficates in self care but rather that I recognize that I need help with my daily care activities and I recognize I do need help,
For me acceptance and self care is about recognizing my limits
Self care and acceptance are not burning myself out trying to be normal,
Self care is doing what Is right for me
It means Giving up one skill that takes so much from even when it is something others prefer,
It is recognizing that what is right for me isn’t what others prefer and not everyone will accept or agree with but something I need to do for me
Acceptance and self care is using AAC in favor of speech
It is not being ashamed to be autistic and realizing I’m not broken, ivy brain works different and I need to do what is right for me and not what makes everyone else happy,
Today self care and advocacy means not writing the perfect blog post but writing a short choppy blog as best I can and working on a better one another day

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Acceptance is a Journey: Acceptance, Love, and Self-care #AutismPositivity2015

Acceptance is a journey
And it is one we will always be on
No matter how far we travel there is always further to go.

I learn about myself
What I can do
How I can do it
What I need to do differently
And how I can do better
But I can always learn more

I need to let myself stop and do those better ways
Even when I think I accept myself
I learn
And I challenge my understanding of myself

Acceptance is a journey
One I’m always undertaking
Pushing myself farther
Making myself more okay with who I am and how to best live in this world

Challenges will always occur
And I need to step up to them
Letting myself live in a way better for me
Letting myself be happier with who I am

Acceptance is a journey
One I must be on
Spreading to others
Sharing my message
Of hope
Of love
Of how it is not a bad thing to live as I do

Of how every person is worthy
And how you shouldn’t deny someone their humanity
Because of not understanding them

Acceptance is a journey
One that can be hard
But one that is worthy
To undertake
Because we will always make more progress
Towards a better life


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AlwaysAspiegirl: Acceptance, Love, and Self-care #AutismPositivity2015

By AlwaysAspiegirl

I am a huge fan of Autistic Acceptance, both by those of us who are Autistic, to those with Autistic kids, to those who don’t really have that much connection to anyone with Autism (as far as they know anyway). I think that everyone should have a good dose of acceptance when they think of Autistic people, and realize that there are great struggles there, but also great beauty! Having autism is just our life. Just like you have your life, we have our life. It’s not like we know what it’s like to be anything else.
I love that I am not “normal”! I love that I don’t fit into the mold of “normal” people around me. I love that I do my own thing and that it really doesn’t bother me that I’m alone doing it. I love that I am a part of the whole of humanity that comes in all different colors, shapes, sizes and brains! I love that I have my own specific role, different from everyone else.
I love that I can’t stop researching things! I am totally obsessed with learning things! Sometimes, though, I get frustrated when I run into things that either haven’t been studied, or written about, because then I can’t get my question answered! But I love that when I get interested in something, I look at it from every angle – contrary to what people think – and that I’m so certain when I’ve decided something that I can’t just be tossed around by every wind.

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A Road To Me: Acceptance, Love, and Self-care #AutismPositivity2015

By Brigid Rankowski

Fridays are normally a “social” night. However, the upcoming weeks will be breaking mybrainalittle bit with all the social.Startingright now, the next and last free day I’ll have until June 4th is this upcoming Thursday. I’ll be traveling to 4 different states for multiple events.Yes, I’m very glad I recently purchased new tires.I’m willing to drive hundreds of miles in the upcoming weeks with loads of social interactions and new experiences for one simple reason.I found communities where I can be myself 100%.

My trips will take me to two major flow events. For these weekends, I can spin my props until I can’t feel my hands anymore. Then I’ll spin using other body parts just to keep spinning. Reconnecting with amazing people who don’t flinch at my obscure pop culture references allows me to be social in my own special way. I literally get to talk about or indulge my special interests almost non-stop and it’s so liberating.

I’m free to be me.

Self Love is a work in progress for me. There have been deep dark holes in my past where I didn’t like myself. I fell into the spiral of negativity; which has ALWAYS been around my social interactions with people. Saying the wrong thing, doing something awkward, laughing at the wrong time, getting lost in the conversation: those little things other people never paid attention to or noticed ate me up from the inside.

Then one day I woke up and realized who I am.
I’m Brigid.
There is no one else exactly like me in the entire world.

Every day is a new change to play and explore the world around me. The first steps to fully embracing myself involve not being so judgmental or holding myself to lofty expectations. My apartment will never be spotless and my laundry will only be fully put away when it decides to communicate with me. “Perfect” is an illusion we create of some imaginary life we think we are supposed to have.

Instead of being social tonight, I’m taking it easy at home. I’ve defrosted a pizza and have a bottle of wine. It’s an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind type of night as I get things prepared for an active weekend in front of me. Tonight needs to be restful so I’m on top of my game for this weekend. Take it easy on yourselves and treat each other well.

And maybe it’s funniest of all
To think I’ll die before I actually see
That I am exactly the person that I want to be
Amanda Palmer – In My Mind

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The Black Autist #AutismPositivity2015

By Timotheus “Pharaoh” Gordon

Great news everyone!! I will be hosting a panel at MomoCon two Saturdays from tomorrow and it will be on my insights on “With the Light”, a manga series that follows a family of an autistic boy and his progression throughout his childhood.

I will be wearing an autistic acceptance shirt on that day. It will have two things:

– The front will be a 3-D outline of African, filled with pan-African colors. On the outline it reads “Autism Acceptance”, with the neurodiversity symbol in the middle of it.

– On the back, the shirt will have the famous quote from Dr. Temple Grandin: “I am different, not less”. Below it is InuYasa in half-demon form. InuYasha embodies Grandin’s quote because he’s still strong and capable of fighting for what’s right, despite being half human and half dog demon.

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The Modern Epicure #AutismPositivity2015

By Alanna Rose Whitney

Epicureanism gets overlooked and it really is a shame.

The first thing that comes to mind might be, a website for recipes – and thus the idea of epicureanism as it parallels the indulgence of a gourmand. Or maybe it is something you associate with hedonism and bacchanalia. Or maybe it’s something you have never heard of before at all…


Image Description: Cropped close; the author’s mouth partially open with her hand wearing red nail polish holding a raspberry next to it.

The truth is that epicureanism is a lot more fundamental than that. It’s not some gluttonous, materialistic, irresponsible philosophy based in decadence and excess. Epicures do value pleasure as the most important thing in life but it is essential to understand that in this context, the word pleasure does not imply ecstasy but rather an absence of pain.

The basic tenets of epicureanism declare that the foremost goal in life should be existing in a state free from any kind of significant suffering. Obviously you can’t prevent every bad possibility from ever occurring, but the point is more about preventing unnecessary ills than sheltering oneself from the hardships of our world. Fighting for human and civil rights is epicureanism in action.

I have never understood the vilification of pleasure as sinful, “everything in moderation” is a much better motto. The purpose of life has always been crystal clear to me; experience every new thing you possibly can while you’re still here and do your best to help make those opportunities available to everyone else – and never stop learning. Epicureanism was something I believed in long before I even had a name for what it was.


Image Description: A glass bottle made to look like a crystal skull filled with dried red and yellow/pink rose petals.

My hypersensitivity and sensory perception make it impossible for me not to see the value in both physical and mental satisfactions. The idea of “sins of the flesh” stems from the concept that physical pleasure is a distraction from God or academia or morality and that is entirely ridiculous because grounding oneself in sublimity frees the mind to invent and create in interesting ways. Yes, some people do their best work under stress, but in general a positively enjoyable atmosphere is far more conducive to progress and innovation.

The moral of the story?
Stop and smell the roses once in a while ❤


Image Description: A wordsquare comprised of the words; rose, opal, says and else. On either side is an illustrated pink rose, one upright and the other facing down.

It’s the same basic idea as “self-care” is within the Disabled/Autistic/Neurodiverse/etc communities. You have to take care of yourself first because it’ll help you hold onto your spoons longer. When someone is tired, hungry, sad or angry, stressed out or worn down – then that person isn’t likely to get much done at all, which will, in turn, make them feel even worse.

So take the time to get a restful sleep, have a decadent and nutritious meal, engage in hobbies or activities that bring you pleasurable mental and/or physical stimulation. Overworking yourself is and endless cycle because the more you push the lower your stamina gets and then you have to try that much harder just to keep up.

Take a break and enjoy the spirit of #AutismPositivity2015


Image Description: “Autism Positivity 2015 Flash Blog” in black text over a colourful image; six hands of different colours, each rotated in a different direction. Each hand is against a background/rectangle of a different colour as well.

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Grimalkin on AtheismPlus: Acceptance, Love, and Self-care #AutismPositivity2015

By Kit “Grimalkin” Partin

Acceptance, love, and self care.

What does all that really mean? Acceptance and love can mean so much.

Sometimes, people say they accept you, but it’s in spite of who you are, not for who you are.

Sometimes, people say they love you, but it’s a means of getting something they want. It’s a tool.

And self-care, in mainstream culture, is selfish. You’re supposed to care for everyone else in the world before yourself.


Well, there’s a place where all of that doesn’t apply. That place is the world of autistic culture.

Acceptance. Acceptance in Autistic Culture isn’t about accepting you despite your flaws. It’s not even about telling you your flaws aren’t flaws (I mean, sometimes they really aren’t flaws, but I digress). It’s about accepting you for your flaws…

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Yes, That Too: Acceptance, Love, and Self-care: #AutismPositivity2015

By Alyssa Hillary

I have been writing less on my blog since… well, ever since I left for China at the end of August 2013. Spending an academic year at a university that really, really did not want me to be there was extremely draining, and I’ve already written a lot of things on this blog. I’m not really out of things to say, because there are always new ideas and new connections and new events, but I’m low on energy to say them here, so I am posting less often than I used to. (I used to post every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and that hasn’t been the case since 2013.)

That’s OK, and deciding that it’s OK is part of my accepting my limits and taking care of myself, which is this year’s theme…

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#AutismPositivity2015: Morénike style :)

By Morénike Onaiwu

Not long ago, a dear friend messaged to gently inquire about this flash blog. It was very sweet of her to ask, and it also served as a helpful reminder for me to try my best to set aside the time to do so. This is my first year participating; last year I wrote an #AutismPositivity flash blog post, my daughter wrote a post, and my entire family created a collaborative post – all of which I forgot to submit and one of which I have since lost! This year, fortunately, is different.

So, about self-care and honoring one’s limits…
What a necessary and seemingly simple concept that in reality is so difficult for many Autistics, myself included, to actually do. We preach balance but sometimes (perhaps often) are guilty of not practicing it. This tendency puts us at risk for burnout, breakdown, or other emotional and/or physical crises. If we won’t take a break, if we won’t allow ourselves the needed time to be still and heal, then eventually the body and the mind will seize for itself the time we won’t give up – and not necessarily in a favorable way. So difficult as it is, we must engage in the “radical act” (per Audre Lord) of self-care. All people need it, but I believe Autistics in particular need to be reminded of this, especially activists and/or Autistic parents. And we should partake in it without feeling weak or guilty or deficient.
So here, in no particular order, are some of the ways I try to practice self-care:
I relish the small ways that I have learned to try to take better care of myself. I might take a break by riding in the car in silence to clear my head or blasting music I like when I’m headed somewhere rather than using that time to return phone calls or check up on things. I leave social events early or skip them altogether if it’s too much for me. We have replaced all of the light bulbs in my home with the type that imitate sunlight rather than subjecting myself to harsh fluorescent lights that drain me.
I shower in the semi-dark with super hot water and take my time in there (I used to feel guilty because I know our planet has a water shortage, but I know giving myself a little more time in the water is therapeutic for me and that I support water conservation in many other ways, so I don’t guilt myself anymore). When I go to a restaurant if I want dessert first or with my meal, I order it rather than feeling sheepish about it.
I often text, email, and message people rather than speaking or meeting up with them (unless I’m up for it). I grocery shop late at night when it’s quieter and less crowded. I take “staycations” when needed to regroup. I stand up for myself instead of being the “nice girl” AKA doormat that I was in ages past. I pray and draw strength and peace from my Christian faith. I read any book I please – a deep complex text one moment, a young adult fiction novel the next. I write – and write – and write.
A few months ago, I came to terms with my severe dislike for listening and responding to voicemail. I hate listening to voicemail with a passion and they can pile up for months. And then I become anxious about missing something important and/or being perceived as rude for not checking and replying to them. I finally decided that as a woman in my 30’s I shouldn’t have to make any more apologies for not getting a message. I called the phone company and had them completely remove the voicemail option from my phone altogether. Now no one can leave me a message. People may think it’s weird, but I don’t care. It works for me, it doesn’t hurt others, and it’s healthy for me. Even if it is unconventional or a little inconvenient for others, it is right for me, and therefore I will continue.
And essentially, that’s how I see self-care. It’s the little things and the big things that help us to be a better person and help make the hard things we do more bearable. It’s my son’s kisses raining upon my face. My daughter’s melodious laughter. Qualify time with my teen sons and daughter. My husband’s knowing glance followed by his smile. Playing scripts again and again through my mind for comfort. Running my tongue in the same pattern across my gums and teeth in a relaxing stim. Being my authentic self. Me – without regret, without shame, without apology. That’s self-care.
Self-care, I believe, is being real. Self-care is self-love.

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