I had a really very good day on Saturday with friends. Even though there were people present with whom I wasn’t previously acquainted, I didn’t feel as nervous as I do normally. A few of my Safe People were there, which helped of course. But mainly it was the fact that I felt free to wander in and out, and be quiet if I wished to. Nobody demanded anything of me, even my presence. Nobody asked awkward questions. I was allowed to observe the others playing a game I didn’t know, and then I was asked to join in later, by which time I had grasped the rules because I had been able to watch for a while without feeling under pressure or scrutiny. The whole atmosphere was relaxed, so that even when I didn’t do all that well in the game - which I had expected, if I am honest - I didn’t feel that sense of crushing, embarrassing defeat I usually do when I fail even at ‘unimportant’ things.
The room we were in (an ex-studio) was soundproofed, which meant that if I went outside I could be quiet immediately.
All in all, Saturday was in fact pretty much the perfect day for me. I wish all social events could be like that.
So here is an important resource that everyone with autism should be aware of. I’ve been much more comfortable going out in public the last week knowing I have this in case anything happens.
These cards are made for free by the Disability Independence Group, and you can customize yours with your most likely reactions (I am most worried about going non-verbal in stressful situations, so I included that in my form, and they added I am prone to mutism).
Once again, these are FREE, and they can be a huge help in a situation you aren’t expecting.
I got this card after I went nonverbal in a very bad situation. I was yelled at and told I could talk, locked up, and put in an intensive unit with scary people that made things worse. I would not have expected this before, but it all could have gone much differently if I had this card to relay the necessary information. So for that reason, I’m spreading this and reminding you that if a situation like that is possible, you should get one. There’s no harm since it is free, and although I hope you never have to use it, it is always good to be prepared.
There’s a difference between TV Autistics and autistic characters on television. TV Autistics—Bones, House, Sheldon, Sherlock—are caricatures, and, not coincidentally, all fan-diagnosed. They are socially awkward/anti-social/socially maladapted, eccentric geniuses free of any serious adaptive functioning limitations, motor issues, sensory sensitivities, or language differences, able to manage independently in all major areas of daily living, with a bonus side of savant skills and the empathic range of a rock. They’re awesome, but they’re a stock character, and they manage to simultaneously hint at the autistic experience without actually meaning it.
(Image is of a white background, a rainbow symbol make of dots in curvy lines, and then the words SpectumSingles.com)
A unique dating and social media website created BY people on the spectrum FOR people on the spectrum. Spectrum Singles has been created to connect with other Autistics. You don’t have to be single to join! This is also to make friends who are Autistic.
When you create a profile, you take the Innovative Spectrum Compatibility Test, which gives you a colour (I’m Blue!). You are then “matched” with other people who are that colour, and you can browse their profiles and add them. You don’t just have to add your colour though! You can also browse by age, gender, country, religion, hair colour, eye colour, level of education, income, language, smoking/drinking status, etc. You can also specify what your sexual orientation is, and whether you’re looking for friendships, relationships, or both! The great thing is that there aren’t just binary genders to choose from!
So this monday I gave my first presentation to teachers about autism, Im still buzzing!
During rehersal I shook like a leaf the whole way through. To think I had to give a presentation to over 30 people in just a few hours was really overwhelming.
But I had amazing support from the woman running the event, she told me, “no one has ever listened to you about your autism, NOW is your chance to make them listen”
Totally inspired I put on my best suit dress, make up and tied up my hair in a bun. Today I wanted to stand out.
During my presentation I began with a story “I once knew a girl…” and begin to explain my life as I grew up without a diagnosis and all the strugles involved. But I never once let on that it was about myself. I wanted them to look at me and see a normal person, not an autistic person. I wanted to drive a point home.
Once the story hit crunching point I suddenly change topic and ask my audience to do various tasks to make them feel as uncomfortable as possible and deliberately gave them little to no help as I gave vague instructions.The first excercise was to draw various shapes on a peice of paper with little to no hints on where, how big and in what formation. Once the taskwas done I showed them a very basic drawing of a dog and asked them all to reveil their drawings. Sure enough everyone had drawn a mess.
Next experiment was to pair everyone together and have them stare into each others eyes for a whole minute without looking away or talking. Obviously very few of them managed to last even 10 seconds without a giggle.
After putting them through hell I explained why I had put them through what they had just experienced. I could see light bulbs light up in their minds as I began to explain that what I had just put them through was something alot of autistics have to go through. When you give vague instructions many autistic people struggle, even if the task might seem very straight forward.
The second test was to help them understand how uncomfortable it feels to socialise for autistic’s. What they felt after 1 minute was how they might feel after just a matter of seconds.
I then encouraged the audience to ask me questions on how to help or deal with autistic students, I tried my best to answer most of the questions but I really wish I had more time.
Now understanding how hard it is for some autistic people to do simple tasks, I picked up my story where I left off and the tension in the room peaked. They now knew the struggle first hand and sympathised with my story.
My story eventually came to an end, it had finally caught up with my present life. I looked everyone in the eye as I gave my grand reveil. This wasnt just some random girl in the story I once knew, this random girl was me. Gasps could be heard as I could see disbelief in their faces. This is what I wanted. I wanted them to look at this confident well dressed girl talking about autism. I wanted them to see just how diffrent I looked compared to how they mentally imagined autistic people. My point had been made in a magnificent way.
After I revealed my identity as autistic I got a loud applause. Many of the guests came forward to me to congratulate me on just how well my presentation was. They were in awe at how much the story had impacted them. I even saw a few teachers cry! Im so happy I gave this presentation, I hope it really helps the teachers realise that ANYONE can have autism and to understand that daily life can be a struggle.
Im not much of a writer so apologies for the terrible grammer ;_;
Sometimes I look at my life and wonder if I’ll ever “grow up.”
I have to write myself notes and/or set alarms to remember to do things, and they still don’t get done a lot of the time.
I can’t keep my living space clean for more than a day, as hard as I may try.
I can’t bring myself to answer the phone if it’s an unknown number. I have a very hard time calling people other than my mom, husband, and things I know are automated.
I get lost even when I’ve been somewhere a thousand times. I get lost even when I have the GPS on. I get lost inside of unfamiliar buildings.
I can’t go out for a “fancy dinner” for special occasions because I can’t eat anything they serve. For our anniversary dinner, my husband has some kind of fancy salmon or fish; I had “margherita” (aka cheese) pizza.
I can’t carry on a normal conversation unless I’ve known the person for more than five years. I can’t even bring myself to be the one to greet someone most of the time.
I can’t manage to wake up and start my day before 11AM. The days when I have to work at 6, I’m basically asleep on my feet until 8.
I can’t handle life in an NT world, and sometimes it really gets to me.
The media stereotype of disabled people tends to fall in two camps, ‘worthy cripples’ or 'benefit scroungers’, argues MN blogger Lucy Britton - here, she explores how societal expectations around disability affect her own behaviour
'I am made to feel like a con artist for using a wheelchair’
When getting out of my wheelchair to climb into the car I have two signature moves. One is to stand up and to loudly declare to all who can hear “it’s a miracle!” The other is to steer my chair level with the seat and move my bum over as if my legs are paralysed. Which one I choose depends whether I’m in a belligerent mood, or a vulnerable one.
I can stand, just not for long, and I can walk, just not very far. I need to use my wheelchair in order to have a hope of going anywhere beyond my own home. Limited as my mobility is, though, I am still made to feel like a con artist for using a wheelchair. You see, society says that to use a wheelchair you must have paralysis. The only exceptions to this rule are people with broken limbs and the elderly. The movement of limbs is a way to sort the inspirational cripple from the thieving scrounger.
Over the last few years I’ve become increasingly aware of raised eyebrows when I get out of my wheelchair. A couple of years ago when taking my children out for the day, the woman deciding whether or not I deserved a disabled person’s ticket asked me, “are you stuck in there? It’s just I need to know if you’re one of those people who can just pop in and out”. My moral worth was to be measured by how many steps I could take. A wheelchair is key to leaving the house for people with a huge range of conditions, including those experiencing fatigue, yet we’re constantly told we need to justify our usage.
And so, it comes to this: either I allow people to see me stand from my wheelchair and accept that they will assume I am morally deviant, or I play the game and look like the disabled person they deem worthy enough, and get on with life in the usual way. I often choose to play the part which alienates me and others like me most – the media stereotype of the worthy cripple.
Performing disability, so that our unique needs conform to society’s version of what being disabled should look like, is an act of self-preservation.
Not all disabled people are automatically hated, you see – not in all situations, at least. There are certain things we are good for. Do you have a media story that needs an extra sentimental push? Roll in the cripple. Are some non-disabled people feeling a bit deflated, and in need of an inspirational boost? Our achievements make perfect memes, especially if we have won a Paralympic medal or swum the Channel. This creates a paradox: ‘real’ disabled people must be completely bedridden in order for their disability to be legitimate, yet if they want to win respect rather than just well-intentioned pity, they must be capable of incredible physical achievements. We are Schrödinger’s cripple, simultaneously high achieving and entirely incapable. That is our Paralympic legacy.
I would love to tell you that this begins and ends with what strangers think, but the outcomes are far more serious. I have spoken to many disabled people who fear for their benefits - the money they need to live on - should their neighbours make decisions about them based only on what they cannot see. Disability hate crime has increased in recent years, from street harassment to assault, and this correlates with the scrounger narrative pushed by successive governments and the right-wing press.
They take the fraud rates for disability benefits, estimated at 0.7%, and exaggerate them, so that every disabled person is presumed to have even odds of faking their disability. This distorted link between fraudulence and disability leads to our every economic decision being viewed with suspicion. Those all-too-familiar arguments about benefits being too high if people can afford widescreen televisions, mobile phones, cigarettes and alcohol are constantly thrust upon us. A self-flagellating disabled person can be donned with a crown of thorns and presumed to be genuine, but one who drinks, smokes and watches Jeremy Kyle on a large television is a scrounger and a faker. One must not exercise consumer choice.
Performing disability, so that our unique needs conform to society’s version of what being disabled should look like, is an act of self-preservation - a means of avoiding economic destruction or physical punishment. In order to be deemed worthy we have to abide by certain rules. Do not: stand, buy anything, drink, smoke, walk, have a Sky dish, keep your curtains closed (even if you’re photosensitive), drive a Motability vehicle, be bedridden, be fat, watch daytime television, be offended by scrounger narrative (“they don’t mean genuine people like you”), have children, become a single parent, go to theme parks, live in a council house, get tattoos, claim benefits, get a mobile phone (especially not an iPhone). Do: win a Paralympic medal, lose your puppy and appear in the media, become a millionaire, swim the English Channel, and raise millions for charity. See how easy it is to be accepted?
How dare this “Psychiatrist” trivalise Autism in this way, especially when many Autistics require technology to communicate.
Autism is not caused by smartphones. It does not make people “borderline Autistic”, whatever that means. Autism begins in the womb, and is not instigated by smartphones. This is just fear mongering. First it was vaccines, then it was dairy, GMOs, pesticides, circumcision, … And now technology?!
This doctor should have their medical license revoked. This is disgusting.