Tag Archives: 30 Days of Autism

H on Acceptance, Love and Self-Care: #AutismPositivity2015

By H

Acceptance is
knowing people have your back.
Acceptance feels like
it is safe to be yourself.

Self-care is
fidgets in my pocket,
long baths before bed,
knowing when I need time alone,
knowing my limits,
welcoming my intense feelings,
hanging with friends,
and knowing my interests are important.

Love means so many things
I am accepted
Love holds me
Love lets me be me.

#WalkinRed Image description: H wearing a red shirt, chewing his stim necklace, sits relaxed and curled in a large armchair. Text reads: "Walk in RED, Relax in RED, Stim in RED, And be your own true self."

#WalkinRed Image description: H wearing a red shirt, chewing his stim necklace, sits relaxed and curled in a large armchair. Text reads: “Walk in RED, Relax in RED, Stim in RED, And be your own true self.”


Original Post: https://30daysofautism.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/h-on-acceptance-love-and-self-care-autismpositivity2015/

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Holding Space as Acceptance, Love, and Self-care: #AutismPositivity2015

By Leah Kelley

#AutismPositivity2015I think about self-care rather often it seems… though I’ll admit that if I were to define self-care as I thing I do, I don’t actually engage in it quite as regularly as I contemplate it…

I think though, in my typical-atypical-fashion, I might like to twist this topic a bit and try to think about it and explore self-care from another angle.

Perhaps self-care is not just about a thing we do – but it is also very much about the thing(s) we do not do – or do later – or do with support – or do differently… and the ability to do this (or to not) is intrinsically connected with love and acceptance.

Perhaps it is also connected to holding space… for ourselves and for others.

I love the metaphor of holding space. To be honest, I am somewhat mesmerized by what I see in the richness of possibility that exists in the multiple interpretations of this concept.

I am so powerfully drawn to the liminality that I can get quite lost in existential meanderings when I contemplate the idea(s) of holding space…

I suppose… H and I have been indirectly talking about holding space for others as we are processing the loss of my father, who died in early March. The past few months have been a time of intense loss filled with powerful emotions – but as our family is moving forward, I have been considering how we might honour this space that was filled by my father.

I have two other posts on my blog that are about my father (aka Papa). Interestingly, one is about acceptance and love, and the other is about limit setting, so I suppose it is natural for me to be considering him when I am writing of Acceptance, Love, and Self-care.

I think I miss my father so much in part because I miss being wrapped in that feeling of acceptance.  I feel badly for my children that the strength of his acceptance and love is now missing for them… and… I feel badly for myself.

But I am finding my way… and I am seeing how connected acceptance and love are to self-care… and how Papa shared that as such a gift for others in the way he also held space for others.

Holding space is a way of demonstrating acceptance and love – and it is crucial to building a positive sense of self, and self-understanding that is partnered with feeling deserving of self-care.

When we demonstrate that we value other people, they can more fully appreciate, understand, and value who they are… and then they are supported in extending care to themselves and beyond.

Perhaps this is the opposite of shame…

Harrison and Papa Smooch- B+W

I think perhaps for me one of the most profound things has come to me in my efforts to support H. When we knew things weren’t going well for my father, H was in tears and said, “You know I am really going to miss Papa. You know there’s going to be a hole in my life – there’s going to be an empty space…”

And it was one of those moments when I paused… thinking please let the words come to me.

And I paused another beat…

And then I responded, “You know, H, you’re right – there is going to be a space there – a space where Papa was and now he wont be there – and that is going to leave an empty place in our lives and in our hearts.

But there is something about that space that is important. We have an opportunity to consider that spot – that place he held… and now it’s empty…

We get to decide what to put there.
And part of that is choosing something that will be honouring of Papa.
And when we put our energy into that place I think in that way he lives on.

If we do something that would make him proud or that would make the world a better place, then we use that energy that would have been there – and we make it into something that is good.

I think that is what a legacy is…”

When I think about my father, I am reminded of so many things, but I am perhaps most moved by the way he was deeply, deeply accepting of people… and welcomed us all to the table, or the comfy chair in his study – to just sit quietly, or to bounce around ideas or possibilities, or to argue the finer points of philosophy or politics or the education system… or to get a kick in the butt …or to just get some much-needed words of gentle guidance and encouragement.

He was someone who was completely willing to entertain lofty goals and outrageous dreams… and then help lay down a plan to make the almost impossible a reality.

I choose my steps and move forward in a way that I hope is honouring of my father… now the tables have turned and we are holding space for him.

Bedtime Chat and Cuddles with my Father

Recently I have been talking to H about holding space in another way…

We were meeting with friends and I asked ahead about how we might best support their son, who is also Autistic and is the same age as H. I wanted to support H and this other young man by understanding what we might need to know about how he communicates and how best to connect.

The response of this family was that they appreciated being asked and suggested that people always do better when they are met with an approach of holding space.

This modeling and these opportunities for H to be aware of and honour the support needs of others, also has embedded within it the powerful message that his own needs are valid. It is empowering to for H to understand ways that we respectfully honour limits and pay attention to self-care for ourselves and for our friends and loved ones.

We are honouring space… place… pace… with this message:

You matter and we acknowledge you and make space for you – we hold it – we make sure others see you there – we give you room to be involved at whatever level is working for you in the moment – and whatever that may be – we accept and encourage it…

And if it changes… if it is different later – if you need less – or if you find you are seeking more – we don’t hold what you needed before against you… and we don’t use it as a measure of what you might or might not need in the future.

The message is: I accept you in this moment exactly as you are…

You are welcomed…

I see you… you are whole…

You are enough…

I hold space for you…

I watched my son with this other young man. I witnessed his capacity for acceptance  – and for holding space in a way that seemed so like his Papa.

I think perhaps this is a bit of his legacy. My father, H’s Papa, would be proud.

Acceptance, Love, and Self-Care 6

Though his absence is deeply felt, my father’s default to love and acceptance helps me to now hold space for myself and H and others. Papa’s legacy is found in the way H and I move through life now, and holding space for him is a way of caring for others and for ourselves…

And I am grateful…

Original Post: https://30daysofautism.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/holding-space-as-acceptance-love-and-self-care-autismpositivity2015/

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H at 14 and 30 Days of Autism celebrate ’1000 Ausome Things’ #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by Leah Kelley at 30 Days of Autism, at http://30daysofautism.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/h-at-14-and-30-days-of-autism-celebrate-1000-ausome-things-autismpositivity2013/, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.


AutismPositivityBanner1Today H asked me about “Autism Positivity” and about the purpose of the flash blog. After I answered in some detail, explaining the premise and the intent, he summed it all up rather neatly:

“Oh, I get it, Mom… Autism Positivity is the opposite of Autism Speaks!”

Um… ya…

So that is the first ausome thing. Right there!


H is insightful and often cuts thought the noise to find the essence of the thing!

That is AUSOME!

Autism isn’t a coat of paint upon my child – and H and I both agree that looking for a cure is an assault and an insult to who his is. He knows that he is growing up to be an autistic adult… and he is learning skills to help him transition into adulthood.

It is not easy… there are things that he struggles with that a non-autisic person would probably breeze through… But there are things about this young man that are absolutely spectacular – and some of that (perhaps a huge amount of that) is related to him being autistic.

That is AUSOME!

cardboardknight.jpgThis boy is creative – and curious. He has been building since he was very young. He can imagine and visualize and create things out of nothing.

That is AUSOME!

When he was 5 we got a new barbeque – Craig spent the day (or a fair part of it) putting it together – and H spent the day exploring and constructing with the boxes and packing materials.

That is AUSOME!

This reminds me too – that he used to call the instruction booklets that came with his Lego – the “Contructions Book.” At a time when he was struggling with conventional reading and writing, he could read these directions with an ease and visual fluency and comprehension beyond most people.

That is AUSOME!

H is still building… here you see an example of his ever-changing experimentation with the exoskeleton. This version has a moving jaw and is built with carpet roll tubes (a favourite medium these days) and Meccano pieces and washers used for the hinges… or so I am told!


H is resilient. He has the mind of an inventor. He works at something with a focus and determination that I greatly admire. His creations do not always work as he imagined and he literally goes back to the drawing board and uses his problem-solving skills to try another way. Sometimes he simply finds another way that does not work… and he celebrates that too.

That is AUSOME!

He built this Ghostbusters proton pack for Hallowe’en… and used only recycled or found items (except for the spray paint and the coveralls).


He recently told me, “Mom, I love my inventive mind!” I think it was the day he was trying to make a hoverboard like the one in Back to the Future.

Seriously – that is sooo AUSOME – it almost brought me to my knees!

H loves LOVES retro pop culture, sci-fi, retro gaming systems, working in the garage, tacky horror B movies, and he is an ace at doing voice impressions. In fact, he is the kid who knows who Stanley Kubrick is, and he is working on making his own horror movie… complete with all the special effects and props.


That is AUSOME!

H is learning about self-advocacy and appreciating his own authentic Autistic self. He has given presentations within his school district, for teachers in a graduate program at Simon Fraser University, and he presented at the Arizona TASH Conference in January, 2013.Fccebookprideshot

That is AUSOME!

I am sure I could keep going on… but I want to leave space for others to share as well.

So… my final ausome point is that there are amazing and reliable resources out there if you want to know more about autism, like The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.

That is AUSOME!


images-1You can read information written by autistic people. There are books, like the Loud Hands Anthology, and there are also many wonderful and insightful blogs written by autistic adults.

You will get your best information from those who are autistic – I can promise you that!

And that is AUSOME!

This post is a part of the ’1000 Ausome Things’ #AutismPositivity2013 Flashblog Event

Related Posts:
• Autism Positivity… and the motivation to reframe “tragedy”
• 30 Days of Autism to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers’: a letter to my son #AutismPositivity2012
• The kid who knows who Stanley Kubrick is: Dreaming Big


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by ASD.

Pinterest2© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2013)

I am not the only one who has a positive perspective to share with you. Please click this button to find an entire blog devoted to reframing negative stigma and celebrating the positive aspects of autism. This project was set up by The Autism Positivity Team, a group of people who are determined to shift the conversation, including myself and some spectacular friends of mine.

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30 Days of Autism to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers’: a letter to my son #AutismPositivity2012

To ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers/Autism’: A letter to my son

I have written three posts over the past few days… none of them this one. I have worried about saying the wrong thing, offering useless platitudes, or trite words of encouragement. I wanted to write something meaningful, and hopeful, prideful, and helpful.

I have been waiting for the muse…

But it has not really come.. and so … and thus – I must just write to you and offer what leaks out of my fingers and onto the keyboard.

Writing mirrors life.

Sometimes there are no magic words.

Avoidance will not get the job done.

Sometimes it is just hard work.

Sometimes we need to take the next step – even when we are uncertain of the destination – or the ending of the story, and we must be heartened to know that at least we are still moving and choosing a direction.

Through my observations, my interactions with you, and my discussions and friendships with autistic adults, I understand that your path is not an easy one.

I understand that you process and think differently than many other people and that you experience the world in a way that many do not understand.

I understand that the world may come at you unevenly and that your response may at times appear uneven. I see that there are times when the words to express your experience elude you. Sometimes your words don’t match the narrow cookie cutter definition of what is expected. Sometimes you are anxious and overwhelmed by these expectations – you realize they are there – but you are not always successful in unraveling and detecting them.

What I would like for you, my son, and others who experience the world differently – is to feel that you are accepted and loved this very day – for who you are and your unique way of interfacing with the world. I want you to feel that you are perfectly loveable this very moment and that you do not have to change a thing to be worthy of that love.

I want you to be able to live a life free of shame and misjudgment.

I want to tell you not to listen to the media proclaim that ‘autism is an epidemic, or a tragedy.’ This path that you are on is difficult enough – without feeling that autism makes you somehow less. I want to encourage you to feel a healthy indignance about these attitudes – and then put that feeling into action and work along side those of us who are committed to increasing autism pride, understanding, and acceptance.

I want you to know that there are people out here that do understand and care. There is a whole world of people in the autism community who are connecting on facebook, on Twitter, through gaming and other online groups, and through special interest activities. Some of these people are NT (neurotypical – like me), some are parents of autistic children (also like me), and some are adults on the spectrum (like your Dad). We welcome you and your voice and your perspective.

You matter!

Sometimes you do not fit in the box. In fact – you seldom do… and there are many out there who see this as a good and admirable thing. You have a way of seeing the world that is fresh, unique, creative, poetic, and you help me to see it from a different angle. This is the gift you offer those around you.

I understand that you may be seeking a way to feel that you have worth and that you matter – as you pick your steps and navigate your way through a world that seems to be created for neurotypicals, and that rewards homogeneity and extroversion. I understand that you have felt misunderstood, judged, and that this can weigh heavily upon you…

But I have hope…

You asked me once if it was good or bad to have autism. We were in a parking lot, heading into a store. You were about 6 or 7 or 8…

You caught me off guard… and I muddled my way through, as I so often seem to do.

I reached out into the nothingness and hoped for something useful to fall into my mind so I could explain to you. What came to me was cookies cookies and autism:

Sweetheart – do you like chocolate chip cookies?


Well – sometimes there are cookies with chocolate chips and sometimes instead of that they have M&Ms? Both are cookies and both have chocolate in them.. right??


One isn’t better than the other – they are a little bit different- but they are both good. Well, that is a little like autism: you think a little bit differently than most people – it is like a cookie with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips. It is still a cookie… it still has chocolate – it is still good… it is just a little bit different. It is OK to be different – that is what makes the world interesting.

Oh… OK! This is a metaphor – right Mom?

At that age – my explanation completely satisfied you.

However, and although it saddens me to consider it, I suspect there will come a time when it may be you that googles “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers/Autism.” I hope that you may find this letter – or another – that gives you hope to know that you are valued and appreciated for what you bring to this world. I hope that you find support, and hope, and messages of pride that strengthen you when you may be feeling vulnerable.

And I hope – that in the future – these messages of positivity will seem archaic relics of a time gone by – because all the world can appreciate the beauty and strength of the kind of diversity you represent.

Love Mom x0x0x0x

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