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.
Sometimes we cannot do all the things…
Sometimes events are beyond our control…
This year’s Autism Positivity Flashblog has been shifted to May 15 to accommodate the needs of our team. We hope this will suit you as well! The date change is a lovely metaphor that embodies self-care, acceptance, mindfulness and accommodation in all the best ways… for many of us…
The theme for the 2015 flashblog is:
Acceptance, Love and Self-care
Tell us how you celebrate yourself, your Autistic family, friends or loved ones. Tell us how you celebrate the Autistic community. As you share your stories, art work, and poetry tell us how you integrate self-care into your life.
Let’s start a “tsunami” of positivity to honor Autistic pride, acceptance and love!
Join us in celebrating Autism Acceptance and we will once again flood Google with positive messages about Autism.
For the last three years, hundreds of bloggers have come together in a show of support and solidarity in response to negative stigma. The posts that have flooded in from all over the world have been a beautiful example of the power of strength in numbers. With so much negativity still surrounding Autism and the misinformation and misconceptions that continue to abound, we this year again invite you to participate in an intentional celebration of posAutivity and Acceptance within our diverse communities.
We welcome all of you, anyone who is Autistic, anyone who has an Autistic person in their life, and those who blog about autism to create a message of support, wisdom, hope, and pride to this year’s flashblog by posting to:
Ableist, they cried, and I wondered what they meant. The refrain echoed across the blogs I read, the feeds I followed and the tumbling of social justice writers. What does “ableist” mean? Why are people angry, passionate, and consumed by this word? It feels ugly, like “racist,” but I did not understand.
Concepts confound me. They twist in my brain, making social and political issues abstract, hard to fathom. Understanding ableism took time.
Dictionary words helped:
ableism (noun) able·ism | \ˈā-bə-ˌli-zəm \:discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities.
Stories helped more. When I was ten, Dr. Seuss’s “The Sneetches” created my world view. I can still visualize Mama Sneetch, smug and sneering, walking her child by the no-star Sneetches.
Ableists are Sneetches who consider themselves superior because of their mental and physical health. When people put themselves above others, their actions can demean, patronize, or exclude others. Like a contagion, negative attitudes spread, enabling stereotypes and de-humanizing worthy individuals.
Consider a stutterer and the people who mock him. Is he less of a person because he cannot speak fluently? What about my mother, who tootles along the grocery aisles with her walker? Is she less of a person because she needs extra time to buy her free-range eggs and bruiseless apples? Of course not.
At our local YMCA, a wheelchaired tennis player hauls an improbable amount of gear up and down the elevator. An ableist would swoop in and collect his gear and roll him to the elevator. A respectful person would ask if he needed help. I asked, and he beamed, “I got it!” I beamed back, “Cool!” In the elevator, an unspoken conviviality passed between us as if we were watching a friend blow out birthday candles.
That warm moment motivates me to speak out against ableism. Every person deserves respect, fairness, and autonomy.
My moral compass leans more toward how I treat others than personal beliefs. I do not feel I have the right to tell others how to worship, whom to love, or what to spend their money on. Yet this same compass also impels me to insist on the fair and ethical treatment of others. Equality, empathy and dignity should center the civilized soul and direct future generations.
To pursue social justice, I volunteered years of service to non-profit organizations. Alas, I discovered not all charities are benevolent organizations. Some are self-serving profit machines, more concerned with lavish salaries than philanthropy. I deemed Autism Speaks to be such an organization a few years ago.
Organizational greed becomes infinitely foul when it stigmatizes the people it serves to earn pity dollars through sensational claims. In November of last year, the co-founder of Autism Speaks, Susan Wright published “Autism Speaks to Washington — A Call for Action.”
She describes autism as a thief, a dire illness that steals millions of children. Further, she implicates autistic children as the source of broken families, bankruptcies, and endless adversity. This inflammatory missive contradicts my views absolutely, yet the insinuation that autistic people are unworthy offends the most.
Protesting Autism Speaks is protesting their negative portrayal of autistic individuals for cash. The following quote captures the need people have to protest, boycott, and campaign against this organization:
I urge you to take action by sending a loud message to Autism Speaks. Boycott their corporate sponsors. Do not let Autism Speaks profit from their false and offensive campaign.
I urge you to take action by promoting Autism Positivity. Spread articles that humanize and depict the experiences of actual autistics. Do not let any person be misrepresented or stigmatized.
We can create an inclusive and accepting future. Follow your moral compass.
No, I haven’t been bitten by a zombie, but rather this my state after suppressing stims!
“Stims,” autistic slang for “self-stimulating behavior,” is a misnomer. I am not “stimulating” myself. Before I rock or spin or sing I am overstimulated to begin with!
“Self-stimulating behavior” is the sort of label scientists give behaviors they don’t fully understand. You could file it away next to “Refrigerator Mothers” or embrace its irony and make a night of it.
So here I am, two weeks late, celebrating the “Night of the Living Stim,” a delightful event where stims are celebrated by their owners. I hope sharing my experience opens your eyes and makes you smile. Perhaps you might try stimming yourself!
When I stim, I am an airplane.
I inhale deeply and stretch as if to embrace the world. Thus positioned, I am ready for flaps or perhaps a foray of wild spins. Exaltations of “woo” complete my whirling celebration of toads, cookies, or wilderness walks. I stim most often when I am happy.
Stims represent many things to me.
My stims are a dance. I don’t need a beat or bass line to keep internal time. Emotion is the pulse that swells the tide inside my mind. I am over-excitable and celebratory in a lively, visual way.
My stims are transcendent. I go where shamans go; to a self-generated euphoria of thought so intense it becomes movement. The divine is sublimated into circular motion and sinuous courses.
My stims are a weapon. At times, intense anxiety pushes my body to flee or fight, with no enemy in sight. I duck and dodge, rock and swing to placate primitive instinct. I battle ferociously when I sway like a boat.
What is stimming like?
Picture yourself at the edge of a cliff, breathing in the fear of a plummeting descent. Whoosh! You have been pushed over and find yourself zinging toward the earth. Without thought, you flail your limbs and to your surprise, you are uplifted by wings you never knew you had. The rhythm of beating wings is your stim, your tool to save yourself from rocky chasms or to hoist yourself heavenwards.