Special Interests Bring Special Joy – Do NOT Minimize Our Joy!

A couple of days ago, I wrote a comment on one of my friend’s Facebook status in response to a Neurotypical (NT) attempting to gaslight their experience with Special Interests (sometimes referred to as a Sp-In or Sp-Ins [pronounced “spin” or “spins”]).

Basically my friend wrote about how they were shamed out of sharing their Special Interest at a young age by the adults and peers in their life because the intensity of their Special Interest was apparently “too much” for these people. One of these adults decided it was ok to attempt to gaslight their experience by saying stuff along the lines of “it was annoying how often you would bring up [insert Sp-In].”

As someone who has been in a similar situation regarding Special Interests (I will write about this someday – but it might take a while because it’s a LONG story), I couldn’t just sit by and let this person gaslight my friend without at least ATTEMPTING to bridge the communication gap that so often happens in “neurotypical-to-neurodivergent” interactions.

My job as an Autistic advocate is to educate and attempt to translate Autistic and Neurodivergent cultural and communication practices into ways that NTs can understand. Am I always successful in my endeavors – no. But I keep trying anyway because “every barrier that Autistics adults breakdown today is one that Autistic children will not face tomorrow.” (source for quote listed below in image caption)

“Every barrier that Autistics adults breakdown today is one that Autistic children will not face tomorrow.”
Image source: https://www.facebook.com/autisticinclusivemeets/posts/2481699312134787

Fortunately this time my endeavor was worth it. After I posted the comment, at least 6 other people (7 including my friend) liked my comment, and the person who was gaslighting my friends stopped responding 😂. Best of all, my friend learned something new about themselves 😍. And for me, that is my ultimate goal. If someone learns something new about themselves and/or someone they care about from my advocacy work, I have done my job. I love sharing my knowledge with people and it makes me feel so good when people have an “Aha!” moment while I’m sharing my knowledge.

Now for the moment of truth. Below is the comment I left on my friend’s status in response to a NT adult attempting to gaslight them. I hope you learn something by reading this ☺️:

“Yes and no!

Yes, Autistics have a different processing style. We also have our own unique style of communicating. This is part of our culture – Autistic culture. (Yes- Autistics have their own culture and it should be respected just like any other culture)

In Autistic culture, it is polite to infodump about our Special Interest.

Also, our Special Interest give us intense joy, and when you tell a child to minimize themselves in regards to their special interest, you minimize their joy. 

Instead of insisting children assimilate into Neurotypical culture, how about take the time to learn about Autistic and Neurodivergent culture and let’s learn to meet in the middle.

Yes, I know all of this happened in the past, and I’m not holding that against you or anyone else. I still think that it’s important to learn and grow every day. Like Maya Angelou once said “When you know better, you do better.”

And what a better day to learn about Autistic culture than today on #AutismAcceptanceDay. (My comment was posted on 4/2/21 – which is Autism Acceptance Day)

Please read this about the JOY that our Special Interests bring us:

https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/the-obsessive-joy-of-autism/

Read this about different communication styles:

https://neuroclastic.com/2020/12/16/free-pdf-download-of-neuroinclusive-social-story-on-chatting-and-infodumping/

Also this:

Thank you 💕.

As a bonus, here’s a link from of one of my all time favorite bloggers, “A Diary of a Mom,” which explains how one of the links I shared (The Obsessive Joy of Autism – by Julia Bascom) was the catalyst for helping them understand their Autistic daughter and the importance of Neurodiversity. THIS is the power of education!:

https://web.archive.org/web/20201020193106/https://adiaryofamom.com/2011/12/19/disclosure/

Thank you Melissa Joan Hart – #HappyFlappyFanGirling

Thank you so much Melissa Joan Hart 😍😍😍😍!!!

Your allyship means so much to me and my neurokin!

I’ve been a fan of yours since I was a little girl.

When I was in preschool, I used to watch Clarissa Explains It All. I don’t remember much of the show since I was so little, but I remember liking all the bright colors! I watched it again in high school and I loved it.

When I was older (like around 8), I loved watching you and Salem on the live action version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. You also sing my favorite version of “One Way Or Another” on the soundtrack! I loved this song growing up! It was really hard to find before the days of streaming music.

Thank you so much again for your continued support. 💕

#HappyFlappyFanGirling

Enjoy some of these classic Melissa Joan Hart videos 😍!

Happy Autism Acceptance Day 2021

Thank you Haley Moss,

I know I didn’t write anything hugly original for #AutismAcceptanceDay like I have in past years, but I do want to say that as an Autistic person I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the allyship I have seen today compared to years past. 

I love that the public is slowly moving away from the pathology and fear-based view of Autism and instead moving towards a view of Autism that is strengths-based, affirming, and accepting. 

Even Melissa Joan Hart has shown up as a true ally to Autistics. I knew there was a reason I always loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch (the live action one, not the cartoon) 💕.

This is a step in the right direction. Thank you to all who tirelessly advocate for the safety and well-being of all Autistic and Neurodivergent people.

Happy #WorldAutismAcceptanceDay!

🧠♾🌈

#AutismAcceptanceMonth 2021

Buckle up friends! 

It’s finally April, which means it’s the official start of #AutismAcceptanceMonth!

Get ready for a fun month full of educational memes and maybe the occasional short story or writing if I get around to it (remember, even though I’m not working, I’m still in graduate school – which does take up a lot of my time and headspace. I’m hoping to graduate by the end of the year, #fingerscrossed 🤞🏻).

I sincerely hope y’all learn some valuable information about Autism and the Autistic community this month! I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you! Thank you!

🧠♾🌈

Respecting Children’s Lived Experiences (a.k.a. Being 10 years old today is ASTRONOMICALLY different than being 10 years old in 2003)

Wise words that we all need to listen to!

I was 10 in 2003. The world is exponentially different now – 18 years later!

Don’t be arrogant and assume you know what it’s like to be a child in today’s time just because you were a child. 

Yes, your experience as a child is 100% valid – however, being a child in our time (the past) is vastly different than being a child in today’s time (the present). We didn’t have YouTube and Netflix/Hulu streaming and social media and an increasingly collapsing sociopolitical climate, not to mention surviving a global pandemic and virtual schooling! Whew, that’s a lot to navigate growing up today.

Please trust children’s experience and be willing to guide them as best you can! Sometimes all you can do is hold space!

Riding a Bike

Riding a bike.

When I was around 6, I tired to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels, but it was so frustrating! Each attempt would inevitably end in me having a meltdown. And every time my dad would lose patience with me! I became so fed up with melting down after falling off my bike and my dad’s response that I put my foot down and said I didn’t care if I used training wheels for the rest of my life! At 6 years old, I would have rather dealt with the slight inconvenience of training wheels (which tbh wasn’t THAT big of a deal to me) than deal with the constant meltdowns from failing (I’m both Autistic and ADHD and one of our neurodivergent “traits” is low frustration tolerance – this was BY FAR the main source of my meltdowns as a kid).

However, when I was around 11 or 12, I decided to try again. I had just started middle school and I would constantly overhear my classmates talking about riding their bikes. I wanted to impress my friends. So one weekend, my dad and I went to the park so I could try to learn how to ride a bike. I still melted down a couple of times, but I was older now so they weren’t as frequent. Plus my motivation to impress my peers outweighed the possibility of an inevitable meltdown. After a few tries, I eventually learned how to ride a bike.

When I was 13, I got my own pink beach cruiser and I had so much fun on it when I was in 8th grade. I even used it in college a couple of times. I eventually sold it because I got to big for it (I was around 4’11” when I got the bike) and it was hard to control on campus.

I don’t bike much anymore – part of the reason is because I’m too short for most bikes 😝. I tired riding a “Jump” bike once and I was too short to effectively control it, lol! (I’m 5’01” 3/4 if anyone was wondering). Such is life I guess 🤷🏼‍♀️😅.

Groundhog’s Year – A Year In Quarantine

TL;DR: Today is my quarantine anniversary. I can’t believe this whole thing has already gone on for a whole year! It’s “groundhog’s year!”

Image Description: A GIF of Bill Murray from the movie “Groundhog’s Day (1993)”. The words on the picture say “Well, it’s groundhog’s day… again.”

One year ago today, Friday, March 13, 2020 was my last day of work before Covid-19 ruined everything!

My parents had been begging me to come home all week because of the virus. They were especially concerned because I’m in a high-risk group (I’m a Type 1 Diabetic) working in a high-risk job (on-call substitute preschool teacher). But I kept politely declining because I didn’t know how I was going to get off work. I was in denial of how serious the virus was. When I went to work that day, one of the teachers was too scared to hug the kids because of the virus 😢. A little boy walked up to the teacher and reached his arms up to gesture for a hug. The teacher said something like “I’m sorry, I want to hug you but I don’t want to get sick.” I politely asked the teacher about it and she told me that she was scared of catching the virus. I bent down to hug the little boy and said something like “I’m not scared.” If only I knew then what I know now.

After work, I called my parents for advice because I was scheduled to go to work the following Monday (March 16th), but my parents wanted me to come home. Per their advice, I called work to try to cancel my upcoming assignment without repercussions (my work has a point system and you lose points if you skip or miss an already accepted assignment and if you lose too many points, you get fired 😱). However, when I called them, they gave me the whole “dO yOu AcTiVeLy HaVe ThE vIrUs (do you actively have the virus)?” runaround and they told me I had to keep my assignment. I had to call my parents back and tell them I wouldn’t know if I could come home until Monday (March 16th).

My assignments for the upcoming week ended up getting canceled that following Sunday night (March 15th). That following Monday (March 16th), instead of going to work, I spent the whole day packing up as much as I could to get ready to live with my parents after living on my own for 5 1/2 years. That night, I ordered Red Robin from Grubhub, and I spent my last night in my first apartment with no roommates. I had only been living there for 6 months before the world turned upside down.

The next day, on Tuesday March 17, 2020 (which happened to be St. Patrick’s Day 🍀), I drove 3 hours south of my apartment to go live with my parents and officially start “quarantine life”. I, along with everyone else at the time, thought the virus would be gone by the summertime and I could eventually move back to my apartment. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and in June I officially moved out of my apartment and moved in with my parents.

This last year has definitely been challenging. I miss a lot of things about living by myself. I miss the privacy and quietness of being alone. I miss having my own kitchen. I miss my new couch and coffee table that I got for my birthday a month earlier. Despite all that, I’m safer from the virus where my parents live than I would be in my apartment. I would also go stir crazy from all the loneliness. I’m so happy that my parents are able to keep me company during these trying times.

I miss my job, but I know that I’m safer without it. I’m still waiting to get the vaccine. I have to take extra precaution with the vaccine because I’m allergic to sulfa drugs (I had a bad allergic reaction to sulfa back in December that landed me in the hospital for 4 days because of my Diabetes [type 1] – thanks 2020 😒 [don’t worry, I’m ok now ☺️]).

Covid also impacted my progress in school. I’m so lucky that my classes have all been online (although I took a semester off in the Fall to work on my project/thesis proposal). FYI, writing a proposal when all your professors and colleagues are online only is incredibly challenging.

I know I wrote a lot, but I had a lot to say because this whole year has collectively traumatized a generation – who wouldn’t have a lot to say about that? If you read this much, thank you for listening to my story of what I affectionately call “groundhog’s year”.

If I were to tell myself this story to myself a year ago today, I would think this would have all been a fever dream! Although I’m not where I would have pictured myself a year ago, I’m safe – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Stay strong, stay safe, I love you all!

Shame on You Golden Globes

CW/TW: restraints mentioned, murder mentioned, injustice, ect…

Please sign this petition asking the Golden Globes to remove the movie “Music” from their nominations list.This movie contains not one, but TWO scenes where the main character (who is portrayed as an Autistic teenager) is put in a prone restraint!

To those unaware, this is the SAME type of restraint that was used on George Floyd (a black man who was a victim of police brutality in May 2020) and Max Benson (a 13-year-old Autistic teenager who was a victim of disgusting ableism in 2018). Both people DIED as a result of this barbaric practice.

At least 21 states ban prone restraints in schools. I’m personally disgusted and shocked that my state isn’t one of these (my state is pretty progressive – also Max Benson lived and died in my state).The fact that this movie is nominated for a Golden Globe is BEYOND irresponsible.

Whatever you do, please don’t support this dangerous and deadly movie!

Thank you!

#ShineOnMax

#BlackLivesMatter

#WeSeeYouSia

ABA Is Insulting To Our Intelligence

“ABA is abusive because…”

It’s honestly f***ing insulting to our intelligence.

Many of the methods used in ABA and ABA-type practices are incredibly condescending and patronizing!I was in ABA-type practices for about 10 years (1996-2006) thanks to the public school system!

The only reason I stopped getting the services was because I moved away!

I also didn’t get my IEP redone when I moved back to the same school district two years later (my family moved back to the area). Therefore, I had no IEP in high-school (I had one from preschool through 7th grade).

It’s absolutely untrue that most #ActuallyAutistic people who speak out against ABA are late-diagnosed people who never went through ABA. I went through it and it is a 100% waste of time! I’m considered one of the luckier ones. There are people who have went through ABA who have had much worse done to them than I ever had!

“Obedience Is The Enemy of Critical Thought” – My Thoughts and Experience

CW/TW: Hitler, Holocaust, authoritarianism, current events (USA), No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), “zero tolerance” policies, public school trauma, behaviorism, swearing, Trump, etc…

I have known this since I was at least 9 years old 😢.

It is precisely this draconian mindset that helped to lead the horrific events that happened in my country on January 6, 2021.

Ever since I learned about Hitler and the Holocaust when I was around 10 years old (4th Grade), I secretly feared something similar might happen again if we weren’t careful. I feared because I saw this mindset being harbored in our public school system every single day.

This was in the 2002-2003 school year, which was the first official school year of the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) act. The NCLB act was a notorious government mandate that change a ton of ways that public schools in my country were allowed to run. The most famous way was that they cut government funding from underperforming schools (which to any reasonable person seems logically backward). This means that poor schools only got poorer because they couldn’t afford to get upgraded training and equipment to help their kids succeed.

Luckily, my elementary school wasn’t affected by NCLB funding cuts because we were a massively privileged school in a massively privileged part of the country. However, another way that NCLB affected how schools were ran was by encouraging schools to change their disciplinary policies.

During this particular school year, my school introduced something called “zero tolerance” policies*. In a nutshell, “zero tolerance” basically means adults can punish children for pretty much anything and children get in more trouble if they try to defend themselves (yes, even verbally). I’ll post links about “zero tolerance” policies and why they’re dangerous in the comments.

As an Autistic child with a one-on-one aide (who was used as a “classroom” aide to not single me out) as well as my own district assigned “behaviorist”, I got in a lot of trouble during that year via “zero tolerance” policies. I also happened to switch aides several times during 4th grade which lead to a lot of trauma that year (It’s a LONG story that I’ll write about someday).

Sometimes the adults would just shout “zero tolerance” to me when I tried to defend myself (verbally, never with my fists – I wasn’t a physically aggressive child but I did have a sharp tongue 😜). And every time I asked them what “zero tolerance” meant, they would gaslight me and tell me that I knew what it meant. In reality, I actually didn’t know what “tolerance” meant – or if I did, I had forgotten in the moment.

I’m understandably still very resentful for this treatment even though I know it was the system that allowed this to happen that is harmful and not the individual people involved. They were just simply complicit, which further proves my argument as to why the mindset described in this meme is so f***ing dangerous!

Unfortunately, my deepest fears ended up coming true when Donald Trump (a.k.a Mr. Orange Cheeto Man) became president in 2016! This mindset led to his election which further led to everything that has happened under his “administration” since. And if y’all have been following the news in the USA for the last 5 years, I’m not exaggerating when I say that Trump is the 21st Century Hitler (#SorryNotSorry). I shouldn’t have to explain why.

This is why I fight! This is why I’m so vocal about letting children be children and understanding children at a HUMAN level. Because if we stay complicit during these unpredictable times, the consequences could be dire.

Please, take care of yourself.

Stay safe!

I love y’all and thank you for reading this really long post. 💕

*”Zero tolerance” policies are usually about drugs and guns, but it can also be “used” as an anti-bullying measure, which is the common usage for “zero tolerance” policies in elementary schools. Blow is a link that explains more about “zero tolerance” policies in elementary schools:

https://www.verywellfamily.com/does-zero-tolerance-work-in-schools-620855