autism-acceptance

Red Instead Project!

I promised to make an official post today so here we go!!


Okay everyone, here are my ideas! Ideally I’d have one or two people show a picture or short video for each point, so I feel like I’ll create an email address to receive submissions and try to compile them all together! Also, if anyone is really good at editing videos and wants to help with that portion of the project, please let me know! Thanks 👍👍👍

#stopthestigma #redinstead #acceptancenotawareness

Autistic people can(’t)
- have children
- get married
- keep a job
- graduate
- live on their own
- be trans
- be girls
- be POC
- be adults 
- be a contributing member to society 
- be famous
- have emotions
- be multiply disabled
-stim in public

And maybe a few like this, although I think we don’t necessarily need this, I might add a small slide at the end saying stuff like this!
- autistic people need to be cured
- autism is caused by vaccines
- autistic people are a burden

The email you can submit to is redinsteadproject2017@gmail.com

I’ll be accepting submissions from today (March 26) to April 7, 2017!

You may also submit suggestions for videos/pictures but note that I may not use all of them, depending on how much I get. Make sure to include your tumblr URL in the submission, so I can credit you at the end!!

(Just tagging a few that were interested so the word can get out @candidlyautistic @sbroxman-autisticquestions @autisticliving @kikikid1412 ) Thanks everyone, and I hope we can make this a success!

Communicating with autistic people

In light of April & autism acceptance month I thought I’d make a post about how autistic people communicate, because understanding and accepting our communication styles is one of the most important parts of autism acceptance. The things listed here are from my own experience and from information I have gathered from talking to other autistic people, it is by no means exhaustive. If you want to add something on I have missed feel free :+)

  • Lack of eye contact doesn’t mean we aren’t engaged, oftentimes maintaining eye contact is actually more distracting than not. 
  • Our body language is different. Trying to assume how we feel from your knowledge of body language will often lead you to wrong conclusions.

  • Our tone does not always indicate our feelings, it’s often more telling to listen to the words we are saying themselves then try to guess what our tone means
  • We will likely have difficulty reading your body language and tone. The subtleties of communication don’t come easy to us, if you want us to understand what you are feeling or offer support it is most useful to communicate your feelings thoughts and needs directly.
  • Things we say may come off as rude or overly blunt, even if it is not intended this way.
  • We have varying degrees of understanding sarcasm. Some of us struggle to understand any of it, some of us actively understand and employ it and everything in between. We are also prone to literal-mindedness in general meaning we may have trouble with taking other forms of jokes or figurative speech literally. 
  • Our communication abilities often vary with things like stress and sensory input. For example, under little stress or a good amount of sensory input I can communicate enough to explain detailed thoughts as in this post, form sentences and employ tone and cadence to my speech. At varying levels of sensory input I may begin to speak in monotone, take several minutes to put together a single sentence, or be unable to access most of my vocabulary aside from sounds and simple words like “yes” and “no”. 
  •  It is very common for autistic people to empathize by comparing similar experiences. (for example: person a: “My dog got sick, I’m worried about him.” autistic person: “Oh, my cat got sick last year too.”) People who do not empathize like this often see it as ‘one-upmanship’ when the intent is only to empathize or express sympathy. 
  •  We may interrupt you before you’re done speaking. It’s very common for autistic people to have difficulty telling when other people are finished speaking. If we interrupt you it is almost never out of rudeness but we genuinely cannot tell when is the right time to speak.
  •  We may occasionally take over the conversation especially with info-dumping. When I info-dump I’m very excited and I feel like I can barely keep the information I want to talk about down. Being so excited, I tend to ramble for a long time, elaborating unimportant details as I am unaware to whether the listener is bored or even listening. I’m not saying you have to stay completely engaged and remember every detail but at very least don’t get angry with an autistic person for their infodumping.
  •  A lot of autistic people also have auditory processing problems. This means that what you say might not register for a few moments or you might have to repeat yourself. Please be patient with somebody who has poor auditory processing, as it’s not really something we can help. 
  •  If you are asking the autistic person to do a task or activity of any sort (giving them directions to somewhere, asking them to come to a party, asking them to help you fold your laundry) we usually need very clear and precise instructions or plans.

These are all common parts of autistic communication styles but it’s important to remember not every autistic person is the same or will have all of these traits. We are as varied in personality, thoughts, and behaviors as allistic people, but we are tied together by shared experiences. Being aware of these traits and unlearning them as inherently bad communication styles is helpful to autistic people as a whole, but if there’s a specific autistic person in your life you want to better communicate with, the best thing you can do is ask them how you can do that and honestly discuss differences in communication and needs to best understand each other.

  • Normal people: the way you talk is wrong
  • Normal people: your accent is wrong
  • Normal people: your tone and inflections are all wrong
  • Normal people: your facial expressions are wrong
  • Normal people: your contributions to discussion are all so terribly wrong
  • Normal people: you're not smiling properly
  • Normal people: your body language is an abomination unto mankind
  • Normal people: what is wrong with you and your hand gestures
  • Normal people: make more hand gestures or everyone's going to think you're a serial killer
  • Normal people: I have never before beheld a horror like that of your natural voice
  • Normal people: don't talk about your interests
  • Normal people: but make sure you do talk
  • Normal people: can't you just watch the normals and copy what they're doing?
  • Normal people: no you weren't supposed to copy that bit
  • Normal people: everything about the way you interact is wrong
  • Normal people: why don't you want to be social??? Why don't you want to TALK to people???? Why are you so quiet and withdrawn???

Since April is coming up I think I’m going to do some posts talking about how bad of an organization autism $peaks is.

First hardly any of the money they raise goes towards helping autistics. The majority goes back into funding even more fundraisers and research into a “cure”. Second they don’t listen to autistics. Unlike other organizations there are no autistics in autism $peaks and they refuse to listen to the voices of autistics.

Third autism $peaks really dehumanize autistics in the way that they talk about autism. They’ve been known to say stuff like “autism ruins marriages” and have constantly referred to autistic children as being “missing”. They talk about autism as if it’s a cancer, a disease that needs to be eradicated. If you want a clear picture of how autism $peaks views us autistics then you should watch their 2009 awareness ad titled “I am autism” though I warn you the video is disgusting in how it talks about autism. The video makes autism out to be a creepy stalker that will steal children away from their parents. The whole video is really sickening and I warn you to only watch it if you think you can handle it, maybe read a transcript of it instead if you’re really curious.

Finally they have funded some really terrible things such as the Judge Rotenberg Center which used electro shock “therapy” on autistics. They abuse autistics to stop them from doing things that are normal autistic traits such as stimming. This place needs to be shut down and I’m amazed that it hasn’t been yet. I’ll probably make another post talking more about this place later.

So in conclusion, this April do not “light it up blue” as that is an autism $peaks movement. Autism $peaks us a horribly ableist organization that is practically a hate group. If you support autism $peaks then you are not supporting autistics!

Things You Can do to Help Disabled People That Don't Cost A Cent
  • Do not talk about an obviously disabled person in front of them as if they can’t hear or understand you.
  • Do not talk to a disabled person’s companion instead of them.  
  • Ask permission before touching people, or their wheelchairs/other equipment. Even if you want to help.
  • Ask disabled people about their lives and really listen to their answers.  (Within reason. Asking people personal questions about their sex lives, for example, is rude unless you are very close to them and they’ve communicated they’re OK with that).
  • Listen to what they say whether they are speaking, writing, typing, using text to speech, using a letterboard, using PECS, gesturing, using sign language, or using any other form of communication.  People who cannot speak can still communicate.
  • Stand up for people you see getting bullied.
  • Understand that disabled people don’t just need friends, they can be friends, too.
  • Every public place does not need to have loud, blaring music and TVs with flashing screens.  
  • If you blog, put bright, flashing images that can trigger seizures under a cut so that people with seizures can avoid looking at them.
  • If a job can possibly be done without a person driving, don’t require candidates to drive/have a driver’s license, and don’t interview candidates and then reject them because they don’t drive.
  • When talking to someone who has trouble speaking or stutters, and takes a long time to speak, wait for them to answer. Don’t keep repeating the question or pressuring them. Yes, if you’re like me and your mind is going really fast and you forget what people are saying if they take too long, it can be hard to be patient.  Do it anyway.
  • If you are talking to a deaf person, make it easier for them to lip-read by facing towards them while looking at them, and not covering your mouth with your hands.
  • If you are talking to someone with hearing impairment or auditory processing disorder, it is more helpful to slow down or rephrase what you’re saying than to just speak more loudly.  
  • Some disabled people have difficulty understanding nonliteral language such as metaphors and idioms (e.g., “a stitch in time saves nine”). If you’re talking to someone like this, try explaining what you mean by these figures of speech, or just not using them.
  • Recognize that failure to make eye contact does not mean someone is lying to you. It may be uncomfortable for them.
  • Recognize that unwillingness to go out to loud, crowded bars does not mean someone isn’t interested in socializing with you.
  • If people have difficulty spelling, or using the appropriate jargon/terminology for your social group, do not assume they’re stupid.  You may need to paraphrase some “jargon” for them.
  • Recognize that a person can need time alone and it doesn’t mean they don’t like you or want to be with you. It’s just something they need so they can function at their best.
  • If a person does not recognize you, do not assume they don’t care about you.  They may be face-blind.
  • If a person does not remember your birthday (or other major names, numbers, or dates) do not assume they don’t care about you. They may simply have a bad memory.
  • Understand that a disabled person’s talents, however esoteric, are real, not unimportant “splinter skills.”
  • Colorblindness affects more than just knowing what color something is.  To a colorblind person, colors that they can’t see will look the same if they have the same degree of lightness/darkness.  That means that to a red-green colorblind person, a red rose on a green background will blend in instead of contrast starkly, and the Chicago CTA El map will be difficult to understand.  Understand that something that stands out to you and seems obvious may literally not be visible to a colorblind person.
  • Accept stimming.
  • Don’t tell them “but you look so normal.” But, if they accomplish something you know they were working really hard to do, it’s great to compliment them on it.
  • Understand that a person can be working incredibly hard to do something and may still not perform as well as you’d like them to, as well as the average person would, or as well as the situation demands.
  • If someone has a major medical problem, disability, or chronic illness, then just eating some special healthy diet or exercising more isn’t going to cure it. It might help, it might hurt, it might do nothing, but they’ve probably heard it before, and it’s none of your business in any case.
  • A person with OCD knows that checking or counting or whatever compulsion they perform won't really prevent disaster from happening, it’s just a compulsion. That doesn’t stop them from feeling the need to do it anyway.  A person with anxiety may know at least some of their fears are irrational or unlikely to occur. That doesn’t stop them from feeling anxious.  A person with trichotillomania may know it hurts them to pull out their hair or pick at their skin, but they have trouble stopping themselves anyway.  A depressed person may know they would feel better if they got out of their house and talked to people, but that doesn’t make them feel any more up to doing those things. A person who hallucinates may know the hallucinations aren’t real, but that doesn’t make them go away or feel less upsetting.  You see the pattern?  You can’t cure people with mental illnesses by telling them they’re being irrational or hurting themselves.  If it were that easy, they’d have cured themselves already.
  • Do not tell a person with ADHD or mental illness that they should not be taking medication.  This is a personal decision. Furthermore, since medications have wide-ranging effects on people’s bodies and minds and often unpleasant side effects, most people taking medications have thought through the issue, done a cost-benefit analysis, and decided that the ability to function better is worth it.  Their decision should be respected.
  • A disabled person with intellectual disability who has the academic or IQ abilities of, say, a seven year old does not actually have the mind of a seven year old. They have different life experiences, needs, stages of life, bodies, and so on.
  • If a disabled person is having a meltdown, they are not angry, they are terrified.  They’re not throwing a tantrum or being aggressive, they have gone into fight or flight. The best thing you can do is remain calm yourself and help them calm down. It may help to keep your distance, keep your voice low and calm, let them retreat to a safe place if they know to do that, or remind them to do so if they don’t.  Reasoning with them won’t work well because they’re unlikely to be able to hear and understand you.  The worst thing you can do is start yelling yourself, threatening them, be violent to them, cut off their escape route, or get right up in their personal space.  

Other ideas?  Please reblog and add more.  The more the merrier.

It’s not that autistic people are against any kind of therapy. What we’re against is “early intervention” that aims to squash away all evidence of autism that will backfire when that tiny child is older.

Teach autistic kids how to be a healthy autistic person with a bag of tricks to cope when their brain and the world clash and they will be a lot happier later in life.

Support autistic people who don’t fit the stereotypes

Support autistics who are women

Support autistics who are trans or nonbinary or any other marginalized gender identity

Support autistic people of color

Support autistics who aren’t savants

Support autistic people who fluctuate between verbal and nonverbal

Support autistic people with special interests that aren’t STEM related

Support autistics who can “pass” as neurotypical in public but struggle at home

Support all autistics

We are all unique people with unique combinations of autistic traits.

Whether you fit the stereotypes, break every one, or are somewhere in between, you are valid and deserving of support

Sparrows and Penguins

(or, An Anonymous Guest Blogger Stops By)

Imagine that you’re a sparrow, living in a family of sparrows in a town of sparrows in a world of sparrows.

But you’re kind of a shitty sparrow. Kind of the worst sparrow, actually.

You can’t fly. You’ve been to doctors who have prescribed medicine to help with flying. But you still can’t. You try every day, and every day you fail and this thing which all the other sparrows tell you is critical.

For a while, you stop trying. Failing every day just wore you down and you couldn’t do it anymore, so you stopped trying to fly. It was nice in some ways, but you felt guilty because you weren’t raised to give up. It made a rift with your family. Flying is an important activity that sparrow families do together. Isn’t your family important to you? Don’t they deserve for you to at least make the effort?

So since it’s nothing medically wrong with you, you go to a therapist, who diagnoses you with a phobia of flying. You work on overcoming your fear. You’re lucky, your family is very accepting of mental illness (other sparrows are not so lucky, and it hurts your heart to think about that). They appreciate and admire how hard you’re working. They try to include you, so instead of getting together and flying, sometimes they get together and all sit in their nests. That sort of sucks too, but it’s a definite improvement.

You continue to try, and fail, to fly. You try harder. You try as hard as you can. Sometimes you can’t even make yourself flap your wings, it’s just such pointless bullshit and you feel like you’ll never succeed. Sometimes you go up on a chair and jump off and flap real hard and go splat anyway.

Sometimes mean birds make fun of you because you’re a terrible screw-up.

For 26 years, this is what your life is.

One day, almost out of nowhere, as an afterthought, an aside, something barely worth mentioning because it is so obvious, a doctor says, “by the way, you’re a penguin.”

Holy shit. You’re not a failure. You’re a penguin. You’re not lazy or stupid or weak. You don’t have messed up values. You’re a penguin. You have always been a penguin.

There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re a beautiful penguin. The most perfect penguin. But it’s just a fact, penguins can’t fly.

Now when you’re with you’re sparrow friends and they’re all sitting in nests, you sit in a bucket of ice. Mostly you bring your own. Some bird restaurants are really accommodating and will bring you a bucket of ice to sit in. Sometimes mean birds give you shit about your bucket, but it doesn’t hurt as much as it did before, because you know you’re a penguin and you’re just exactly what a penguin is meant to be.

You give yourself permission to stop trying to fly. Not failing all the time improves your mood and overall function. You finally feel confident declining when invited to flying outings. You don’t waste the energy feeling guilty about it.

You love your family of sparrows, but you also find a whole community of penguins to love too. Things you thought were just you, like preferring fish to bird seed, things you thought you were totally alone in and wrong for, are common and accepted. Some are even admired. Your new penguin friends think your flippers and chubby penguin belly are lovely. You bond over how and when you discovered you loved swimming.

Knowing you’re a penguin means knowing where you fit in a world you never felt like you fit into. It means all the things penguins can’t do, it’s not a personal failing when you can’t do them. You’re not supposed to be able to. You can do other things instead. Sparrows are actually quite poor swimmers. You feel good about the things you excel at.

This is why I think labels are important. This is why I think “we’re all birds, let’s focus on our similarities instead of our differences” is harmful. This is how my autism diagnosis was like breathing, after holding my breath for 26 years.

Autism Speaks uses “acceptance” a lot, but they don’t promote the autism acceptance that autistic people are seeking.

A quote from the A$ website explains it all.

“It’s helpful to distinguish between accepting that your child has been diagnosed with autism and accepting autism.”


That is not acceptance

Acceptance is accepting a person exactly as they are right this moment. You are not accepting a person if you do not accept all aspects of them. 

Autism Speaks is still promoting hate. Their brand of acceptance is “I accept my child’s diagnosis, but I’ll never accept autism because it ruined my life.” (See how it focuses on the neurotypical mom, yet skips away from asking for or acknowledging the autistic child’s input? That’s what Autism Speaks does.)

Don’t fall for the lies Autism Speaks tries to tell you. They aren’t promoting true acceptance. They’re promoting “tolerate this horrible child stealing condition because you can’t change it right now, and wear blue so everybody knows you support this viewpoint!”


The word “tolerance” has many definitions. One of them, when used in terms like “racial tolerance” or “religious tolerance” means: willing to accept feelings or beliefs that differ from our own.

But “tolerance” has a second definition, and this is what Autism Speaks promotes: A willingness to put up with something that is bad, painful, difficult or annoying.

Tolerance is not acceptance.

Tolerance is not acceptance.

Tolerance is not acceptance.

Tolerance is not acceptance.



[”Autism Speaks has mastered the skill of deceit. Autism Speaks uses inclusive language while applying exclusive tactics. It deceives and lies. It never apologizes.” –Amy Sequenzia]

#BoycottAutismSpeaks #REDInstead #AcceptanceNotAwareness #Neurodiversity

6

I made a webcomic strippy thingy! About autistic spectrum disorder! And here it is!

I started this as my final project for 2D design last quarter and I just finished it yesterday while I had free time to work during my printshop internship. This comic is the culmination of dozens of hours of work, lots of frustration, a couple of tears, and an earnest desire to explain myself to other people.

Feel free to share this with others so that more people can learn about ASD!

Imagine with me for a moment.

Imagine a teacher telling you there’s a big exam. They don’t tell you what day it’s on, what time it happens or what chapter in the textbook it will cover. Oh, and it’s your entire grade. You’re under immense pressure to get all A’s and this one class will ruin you if you score lower than an A.

Imagine feeling your stomach knot up because you don’t know how long you have to study, you don’t know what to study and the textbook is like 500 pages long.

Imagine crying every night as you try to power through all this information, but it’s impossible to retain it because there’s so much that you forget as much as you absorb.

Imagine crying when you wake up every morning afraid you missed the exam because nobody can tell you what time it is.

Imagine being stressed to the point of shaking and chewing your fingernails off whenever you go to class because today could be exam day and you’re nowhere near ready.

Imagine it finally being exam day. You were finally able to find out what time it is last night. You got an email at 2am saying the exam is at 7. 

Imagine being unable to sleep because you’re afraid you won’t get to class in time. 

Imagine going to school feeling exhausted and plopping into your seat in class. The exam starts…and it’s from a new edition of the textbook that everybody except you got, so all your cramming and preparation for the exam was for nothing. 

Imagine you bomb the test even though you gave it your best. But you are so angry that you weren’t allowed to adequately prepare for reasons that are entirely not your fault, but the failure is still on YOU. You walk out of the classroom crying in rage, kick every locker you see and go home to bury yourself under pillows for the rest of the day.

Imagine feeling like the only loser who failed that “really simple” exam and being reminded of it every time people talk about school.

That is what it feels like to be autistic and have my routine constantly shuffled around, have plans changed on me last minute and not getting enough info to prepare for something because the people who informed me of the change won’t give me any more details. All of a sudden I’m in the middle of huge sensory unknowns that I can’t prepare for, so the likelihood of having a very public meltdown may be extremely high.

Can you understand the utter frustration and helpless feeling? Do you understand how scary that is?

Be kind to the autistic people in your life. Don’t shuffle routines without warning. Don’t change plans at the last second without seeing if they’re okay with that or not. Try to be as informative as possible when mentioning something that’s coming up. Even if it’s something like “June 10th at 10:30am, dress for hot weather and expect it to be loud” is a lot more helpful than “it’s June 10th.”

Don’t get frustrated with an autistic person if they repeatedly ask you about something that’s coming up. It could mean they’re worried about it, are afraid you’ll forget about it or are hoping you have more than vague information to give them. 

Please, even if it’s the thirtieth time in an hour, try to answer nicely. Reassure them about their concerns if possible, let them know that you haven’t forgotten about it(or thank them for reminding you if you did) and give them information as it becomes available, or tell them that you’re working on finding out. 

Knowing that you’ll make sure it works out, that you remembered and that you are trying to find out about missing info can ease some worry. But make sure you actually DO look into it and pass along relevant info as soon as you know it. You’ll save the autistic person and yourself a lot of stress.

This whole scenario applies to autistic people who can talk and don’t need a lot of daily help as well as the nonverbal autistic people who need lots of daily help and can’t make their communications understood.

Actually, this goes especially for caregivers of nonverbal autistic people who need lots of daily help and can’t make their communications understood– it’s so easy to drag them through your day and forget that they have wants and needs too. 

If a major part of their routine is something like walking in circles around the living room while watching Star Trek reruns before dinner, tell them about it instead of dragging them out the door at a time they’re expecting to stim by walking and enjoying their favorite show.

Because what you’re doing is the equivalent of telling somebody you’re going to a silent mime show and then taking them to a noisy construction site instead. Their brain is prepared for a quiet experience, so their mentall walls aren’t up. What do you think is gonna happen?

To the disgusting autism moms who claim they will never be proud of their child’s autism: 

You are teaching them internalized ableism.
You are teaching them lateral ableism.
You are teaching them to hate who they really are.
You are teaching them that they’re not allowed to be their real self.
You are teaching them that they have to be fake to please you.
You are teaching them that your love for them is conditional.

And any angry responses to this post will prove that I’m right.

I’m so tired of autism moms lamenting their child may never get married, say “I love you” or hold down a job. Funny how all these are things the moms want to do with the child. They act like an autism diagnosis is robbing them of experiences they see other moms have.

Yeah, and while you’re crying about all these things you want you’re missing out on the child right in front of you and you’re missing out on what they want.

It’s not all about YOU, autism moms.

Yes, it’s stressful. Yes, it’s frustrating. Yes, it’s hard. 

But you want to know what’s harder? Being autistic and surrounded by people who say “Be yourself…” and as soon as I flap my hands, somebody pulls me aside to say, “…but not like that.”

I stopped listening to those people. Do you want to be one of those people to your child?