From Self-Advocacy

Autistic Warriors

Warrior

We have no autism warriors in this house. We do, however, have Autistic Warriors.

As the neighborhood mothers and children gather at the bus stop two houses down, two Autistic Warriors wait for their bus.

Autistic Warrior the Younger runs in circles and cries “Wooo!”

Autistic Warrior the Elder smiles. “Ahhhh, such ferocity! He fights a brave battle against the anxiety of imminent school bus arrival!”

At the craft store, Autistic Warrior the Younger dons fearsome headphones to shield himself from the horrifying banalities of cashier-induced platitudes.

He fights a more formidable battle another day. The sour faces of judgmental and prejudiced shoppers sneer. They expect silence and order as they purchase their bananas and frozen Celeste Pizzas. To defeat them, Autistic Warrior the Younger unleashes his greatest weapon:

“Hello! My name is Tyoma. Would you like to know a bit about me? I have autism, Tourette’s and OCD. I could read before I was two and I am profoundly gifted. Sometimes my Tourette’s makes me jumpy so I can’t be still. Thank you and nice to meet you.”

These are the Younger’s words–a script he wrote to relieve the inexorable internal pressure of not knowing what to say. He chooses when and where to use it.  More than one pretty brunette at Target has been startled by his impromptu delivery.  Scowling cashiers, previously confounded by chirps and defiant hops, soften their features.

His introduction often evolves into pleasant conversations about numbers or merchandise.  We hear, “My xxx has autism, too!” more frequently than you would predict. Once, a cashier with dangly earrings and sparkly eyes leaned forward and beamed, “My son is autistic, too.” I took a second glance, and noticed the warrior horns of a True Ally emerge, pointed and imposing.

Self-advocacy is potent weapon against Autistic Warrior’s foes, stigma and ignorance. And when the Younger Warrior is weary of the battle and chooses not to engage, I remember. People imbibe auras.  Emit calmness and confidence, I remind myself, never shame or exasperation.

Self-advocates and allies speak in many voices; some soft and peaceable, others loud and ferocious. Regardless of volume or style, connecting personhood to autism wins every battle.

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A Quiet Week Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things

1000 Ausome Things Title
Our progress as parents arises from positivity. We use words like “differences” and “strengths.” We look for coping skills and strategies. We tone it down, tune it up, and take life 15 minutes at a time. This makes our family strong.

But we are greedy.

We want to change the world.

So we join the flourishing tribes of allies, autists, and kin striving to eradicate outdated myths.

I would like to share autism positivity from three perspectives of the autism spectrum:

  • As the mother of an autistic child.
  • As the daughter of a father with Asperger’s syndrome.
  • As an autistic adult.

Here are some delightful slices of my life:
 
1000 Ausome Things 1

Tyoma

At six years old, Tyoma is a remarkable child. Most are struck by his intellect and vocabulary. Tyoma loves projects.  He embraces each one with unrelenting enthusiasm and meticulous design.  You can find him building LED displays or creating fonts on Fontstruct.  A language lover, Tyoma has taught himself Japanese hiragana and he can even read you  highlights from your Toyota manual. He is quirky in a charming, innocent fashion; endearing himself with unusual observations and out-of-the-box thinking.
 
1000 Ausome Things 2

Dad

Dad has always been a collector and an adventurer. Before marrying my Mom in the 60s, he split his time between working on his Ph.D.  (mathematics!) and collecting minerals. He even took a job in the Alaskan goldmines so he could add a few specific specimens to his treasury. After marrying mom, Dad became a collector of photographs. Their website hosts images from their trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Galapagos Islands, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and many other destinations.
 
1000 Ausome Things 3

Me

I blush to pat myself on the back, so I asked my husband to name my most positive characteristic.  Without hesitation, said “empathy.” I laughed. Empathy is a characteristic not often associated with autism.  He is correct, however. Autism boosts my empathy. Emotional regulation issues allow me to experience emotions intensely—I am a sensitive person. Processing the emotional states of others is hard work for me. Body language, facial expressions, and cues other than spoken words are continuously monitored.  This combination of effort and sensitivity opens my heart. I care how people feel and I long to nurture, soothe, and support.

Autistic People Are…

Autistic People Are...Worthy

WORTHY

We cannot choose our birth nor predict our health, intellect, or neurology. Even when born typical, mishaps can  snatch mobility and mental agility. Age propels us from acceptable norms toward frailty and infirmity.  Any one of us is potentially different.

Autistic people are worthy. Humble or grand, let our value be created by our actions and not by how well we match accepted norms and ideals.

An #Autistic Child on Being Different

Three Eyed Guys
Friday, apropos of nothing, my son announced:

“I would rather everybody else in the world have three eyes, than just me have three eyes. That way, people won’t ask me questions I can’t answer.”

I have a built in autism spectrum decoder, so I’ll re-phrase his message:

“I want to be like everyone else, because I don’t know how to explain my differences.” Or simpler yet, “If I could explain myself, I wouldn’t mind being different.”

My six year old son cannot explain how or why he is different.

Humanity is not homogeneous. We are each a string of differences.  Different sizes, shapes, skin colors, religions, political views, and different mental wiring. While categories help us conceptualize differences, civility flourishes when we accept every person individually.

Educate yourself about differences, even the ones that frighten you. Perhaps we can’t all live together in harmony, but we can halt an uncivilized avalanche of hurt and blame.

One day my son will understand himself well enough to educate others.  I urge the adults in this world to look upon children with compassion and hope.

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Overwhelmed: Find Purpose in the Small Things

Overwhelmed

My blogging has heaved to an abrupt stop. I write unsatisfactory, incomplete posts, unable to translate my meaning into lucid words.

So, I dive into random art projects. Modest and primitive, each tiny task focuses my mind and relieves anxiety.

I will obsess over verbal perfection and hesitate to publish an unscrutinized sentence, yet I can slap gesso on a paper bag. Or doodle in ink.  I can create some small thing. It may be imperfect, unbalanced, or unsettling–but it is me.

When you feel your worst, create. Grab a marker and some stickers. Rip open envelopes and decorate them. Stamp butterflies on an old map. Bake. Sew. Organize. Do something, anything. You will be released. Even an overwhelming, disappointing day can be a success.

I share my humble fare because the process removes me from anxious dark places. Find your small things and share openly.

Asperger's and Boredom
Waiting for Sandy to pass.

 
Artichoke head
Yay! I love making anatomy collages!

 
Akahisia
I often feel restless and compelled to move.

 
Butterfly Lungs
The day I realized I needed energy to feel boredom.
Self pity seems to be effortless, however…

 
Vessels and Vines
A kidney illustration reminded me of vines and flowers.