Friday, October 31, 2014

on being autistic, not okay

Hannah B writes on her tumblr "on being autistic, not okay"

Content warning for abstract sensory overload

Glimpses of unseen autism

Stimmycat gives us Glimpses of unseen autism on Autism through the Medium of Cats

Looking through some family photos I found one of me as a little girl, smiling as I created two lines of plastic animals. Lining up toys is one of those famous signs of autism, but I doubt my parents knew that. The ways I’m autistic are subtle and easy to dismiss, but I've realised that the signs were always there for me, even if nobody recognised them.
At school, when I was ten, I wanted to do my project on cheetahs but the teacher told me I should do it on the Botanical Gardens because I went there most weekends. Whenever our task was to write about what we did at the weekend I would wrote about going to the Botanics for a few hours to feed the squirrels. I didn't write that in the rest of my free time I was reading about cheetahs and other cats, pretending to be a cat, and sitting by the radiator to watch my own cat. These things were unremarkable and not worth mentioning. I’d been doing them every day for as long as I could remember.
Another thing I’d always done was spinning. I became an expert at pushing with the balls of my feet to spin on my heels as fast as I could go. I’d hold out my arms to feel the tugging at my fingertips, or pull my arms across my chest against the force pulling them outwards. When I wasn't spinning my hands never stopped moving. I squeezed my fingers, rolled up the edge of my t-shirt, and fiddled with my hair till it got tangled so often my mum told the hairdresser to cut my hair short like a boy’s to make me break the habit. But I also picked at my fingers, my lips, and the rest of my face.
I slept badly most of the time and none of the advice I was given helped much. In the evening the radio and my parents’ voices kept me awake and I was woken early in the morning by the sound of the central heating coming on. The sound of my brother bouncing a ball in the garden messed with my brain in ways I didn't understand, but my parents said it was doing no harm. In the school playground it sounded like every child was screaming.
I was scared of the children and terrified of the teachers and did everything I could to avoid making them angry. But at home my frustration and anxiety surfaced. I acted out and melted down. The psychologist said I was fine, and put me on a reward system that fixed my behaviour but did nothing for my emotions.
I always had friends at school but nobody else saw the teasing. But being teased was better than being alone and risking worse bullying or other children’s pity. I was desperate to make other friends but I couldn't manage it. When I could bring myself to admit this I was told it was due to my low self-esteem. My best friends were my cats.
I was shy. ‘She’s very shy’ was the explanation for every failed attempt at social interaction.
Home and school made a predictable routine that I was rarely forced out of.
I did my best to be a normal girl so people would like me and so they wouldn't see the ways I was different from everyone I knew.
Normal girls from my background went away to university, but once I was there I couldn't pretend any more. I couldn't cope with bars and clubs, or understand other students’ social interactions, and without my family or school friends I was more alone than I’d ever been. The noise in my flat gave me panic attacks and depression took away the energy I used to act normal and compensate for everything that assaulted my senses.
I had to drop out, but a year later the GP treating my depression noticed my autisticness. Once I’d got over my disbelief I realised, this explains everything.
I've felt sad and angry that I wasn't diagnosed as a child and had no support and no understanding of who I was. But I wonder now if support at that time would have meant being made to appear even more normal and my understanding would have been that I was disordered. Now I’m an adult I can choose not to accept these things.
But it’s comforting to look back and understand my life in the light of autism, and to see that autism has always been a part of me, because it feels like I know who I really am.

Ten Examples that Show Violence Against Autistics is Alive and Well in American Culture

Ben Edwards writes Ten Examples that Show Violence Against Autistics is Alive and Well in American Culture

Trigger warning/content: This post contains graphic description of electroshock, murder, torture, and abuse towards autistic individuals.  Please be advised before reading that this post contains instances of horrific treatment that if you do not think you can stand to hear about, do not read any further.

If You Walk on Issy's Shoes

Amy Sequenzia writes If You Walk on Issy's Shoes

TW for mentions of abuse, silencing, attempted murderer of Autistic person, murderer apologists

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Preparation for ASDay 2014

I know I'm late running for ASDay 2014, but I have most things in order!

For one, the submission form is now open and ready to take submissions.  And the Facebook event page is online.

And as always, I do advise people to review our FAQs and our Content Filter List.

I know it's only about a week until Nov 1st, but let's have a great day!!

Participation Post 2013

Contributors List

Autistic Contributors Alyssa, Yes, That Too: Autistics Speaking Day 2013
Alana, Written Words
Abby, A Story Told In Autism
Michael Scott Monje, Jr., I am at peace (with killing my socially constructed self) (see Trigger Warnings)
Leeanne Marshall, Autistics Speaking Day: My Pathway
Autisticook, Fear (See Trigger Warnings)
Sparrow Rose Jones, Autistics Speaking Day 2013
Cynthia Kim, Autistic as a Reclaimed Word
Nicole Nicholson, Isolation, Loneliness, and the Angry Aspie (See Trigger Warnings) 
Amy Sequenzia, My Fingers Speak
Ibby Grace, I Speak To Thank
Ash Satoshi, My Life in Singapore: A Message For Autistics Speaking Day
Matt Friedman, Real Monsters of Autism (See Trigger Warnings)
FeministAspie, You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party
Patricia Elaine Chandler, The Unaltruistic Nature of Autism Speaks
Alexandra Holt, Regression. Does it Really Exist?
Nicole Nicholson, a bright light jolted Aanteekwa awake (See Trigger Warnings)
Joe Andrew Campos, We're All Awesome
Amy Sequenzia, Autistics Are Speaking
Steve Summers, An Autistic Social Issue: Dismissal and Disrespect
Rayn, Autistics Speaking Day 2013!
Jasun Horusly, The Book I Read: Jonathan Lethem’s Infinity Loop
Jasun Horsley, How Am I not Myself
Queerability, Queerability
Bird Gardener, Finding My Voice
Nightengale, Speaking from the shadows
Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, Impact
khawkgirl, Autistic Vloggers and Autistics Speaking Day- LAFA
Bridget Allen, My Value: Autism, Feminism, and Poverty
"Aspie Kent", Being Myself
Jennifer Hughes, People Like Us (See Trigger Warnings) 
rattiepuff, Why I speak (See Trigger Warnings) 
Catsidhe, Autism on TV isn't always done wrong (See Trigger Warnings) 
Jodie Gray, Shared and Different Voices (See Trigger Warnings) 
The MoUsY spell-checker, "So you mean you're an engineer?"
Rainbow Goddess, Autistic person speaking
Tuttleturtle, But what about those florescent lights?
Judy Endow, Words for Autistics Speaking Day
Paul, A helpful guide to my elementary school (see Trigger Warnings)

Ally Contributors 
Sharon Bergman, Chickens and Autism
Autismum, Autistics Speaking Day 2013
Kelly Green, Convergence
PK, When autistic people speak their truth, just listen

Thank you all for your hard work!!  You are the success of ASDay 2013!!

Words for Autistics Speaking Day

Words for Autistics Speaking Day By Judy Endow

Autistics Speaking Day Nov 1 2013

It isn’t right that autistics are in the position of needing other people to allow us our place in this world. We need to be able to take our own ticket when others refuse to give it to us. It is wrong that we have to be dependent on the benevolence of others and at their whim to merely being granted permission to participate in everyday life on planet earth.

People need to learn about inclusion. Autistics need to learn to steal tickets when others can’t be depended upon – some teachers in schools I consult to still don’t “believe in” inclusion as if it is a religion.

But for real THEY ALWAYS have the choice on whether or not to allow us autistics a space at the table of humanity. So shouldn’t we, in turn, at least be taught how to steal tickets when those in charge decide we shouldn’t have them for whatever excuse they resurrect in the moment?

Friday, October 17, 2014

A helpful guide to my elementary school

Paul wrote A helpful guide to my elementary school, part of which is quoted below. The rest you can find through the link.

Subject warnings in place for bullying and restraints.

So I wanted to write a piece for Autistics Speaking Day. I wrote this blog post that was well over 2100 words, and spoke to the idea of making sure that if a child is different, don't be their first bully. It went far deeper into things than I really feel comfortable talking about in public (not so much about my parents, who despite their faults are/were generally okay, but more about the absolutely hellish experience I had in elementary school – kindergarden through 6th grade.

The rest can be found through this link

But what about those florescent lights?

Tuttleturtle writes But what about those florescent lights?

I was going to make my post on time this year, I really was. But then things came up that were more important than writing a blog post. And now again, I vary between writing thousands of words because someone mentioned a topic that I wanted to reply to because they were wrong and not being able to pull up what I was going to write about on here. But, despite all that I'm going to write a post, even if its two days late, and even if there's a lot going on, and even if I don't remember what I was going to write about because so much is going on. And I'm going to make it meaningful.

Right now, what's meaningful to me and easy to talk about, sensory issues, so that is what I'll write about.

I don't hide from people that I'm on the spectrum and that I have bad sensory issues. It'd be rather hard to hide the sensory issues wearing blue glasses around, but still some people do overlook them and say that you can't notice. I question them sometimes, if I'm sitting sideways in a chair, wearing blue glasses, and stimming, but apparently this isn't enough to be visible sometimes.

Sensory issues can be invisible. Even more than other parts of autism. Social issues are visible if you're interacting with people. Communication issues, the same. Issues with change aren't immediately visible, but generally come up quickly, and are understood to be part of autism. Same with the other parts of RRBs. And well, stimming is usually visible, though apparently sometimes overlooked.

Sensory issues, when they're hypersensitivities at least (which within the HFA crowd seem to be the most common based on my experiences, though in SPD, hypersensitivities are actually less common than either hyposensitivities or seeking behaviors), are generally very internalized. The person reacts strongly, feels pain, doesn't process things properly, but doesn't show others very much. They don't scream out every time a florescent light turns on, but that doesn't change that the florescent light has an effect on them. It's an invisible reaction. Because others don't know. And others don't expect the environment could effect people so much.
Which leads to sensory issues being overlooked. We talk about communication. We talk about change. We talk about how many people are murdered by family members for being different. But, what about that simple florescent light?

Just for me? I hear those lights. They hurt. They feel like they're stabbing my brain with high frequency buzzing. They make me want to rip my ears off because it would hurt less than listening, and they jam my brain, because I have to listen through the buzzing. And try to concentrate through it. Eventually the buzzing might give me a migraine. A sudden noise of the sort might have other reactions, but lights are these constant offenders, like someone taking the static, turning it high frequency, putting it in headphones, and making you walk around wearing it so you're the only one who can hear it.

And then of course there's the vision part. They flicker. I don't know who gave people the idea that the flicker isn't visible to the human eye because its definitely visible. And both the flicker and the buzzing get worse as they age. A constant distraction of a fan flapping in front of your face, flip, flip, flip, flip, flip, because its flicker flicker flickering. And again, people deny it, because they don't see it. And because its so fast, again, not only is it distracting, its a slow buildup of too much getting too pain. Someone flicking lights on and off is irritating. Now, have that happen always in the room. It's normal. The eyes or the processing behind the eyes or something has to compensate though, and it doesn't so much like doing so (to put it not very scientifically), and eventually the eyes are tired, and hurt and tired, and the headache sets in.

And trying to process things with these - apparently my communication skills drop significantly as soon as you turn on a florescent light, and come back when you turn it off. Other sorts of processing is harder to test, but it generally gets messed up.

I know others who are more messed up by the lights. And others who are less messed up by the lights. I have other visual processing issues (headlights are one of my biggest ones), and many others in other senses. But, we don't need to look at dealing with everyone always. We have to look at doing what we can to make things better, when we can and how we can.

When that means in my bedroom, giving me LEDs, for when I can't use natural sunlight, that's a thing, because that's something that helps. And that's a thing that is worth mentioning even though it doesn't fix every visual processing issue I have, not to mention every sensory issue I have.
When that means, getting places to at least replace the bulbs earlier if they have to use florescents - that'd be a huge step.

But, right now, as I walk around, I'm in a way showing people that this matters, and when it comes up I explain. I'm wearing my tinted lenses, for myself, but doing it for myself is being open. And sometimes being open is enough to be saying a lot. Just wearing my lenses is enough for someone to say, why are there blue lenses? And that itself, is communicating to them about me, about autism, and about the importance of actually taking care of our sensory issues.