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Hi, all–

I’m back, at least, from a “you can see the blog now” angle.

I learned a lot over the past few months, and I’ll be blogging again soon, assuming there’s interest in a return.  If I do return, do note there will be considerable changes with regard to content since I’m making a lot of serious changes in who Nicole is, as a result of leaving the school I loved far sooner than I intended.  Identity is an ongoing problem with Autistics, particularly Autistic women who love to mask, and I’ve done a lot of introspection over these last two months.

BUT the main thing is that I am gainfully employed again, so I feel safe resurrecting the blog.

 

Temporary Hiatus

During the job hunt, which has come faster than expected due to a mutual agreement with my now former employer, I am temporarily putting the blog on hiatus and removed a lot of posts.

I am still writing blog posts, and will work on design/revision of what is here, so you may notice some changes.

You can reach me, as always, via e-mail or Twitter.

Posted in Advocacy, Parenting

From the Archives: Why Parents Shouldn’t Be Activists…Unless…

In the Neurodiversity community, we do take some flak about yelling at parents.  We tell them not to do this or not to do that.  When they say their lives are hard, we invite them to suck it up.  We’re kinda mean that way, I guess.

But there’s a reason behind our “meanness.”

Here, I unpack why parents of Disabled children suck (and also present the alternative: the “Warrior parents” we totally want in our activist movement):

Continue reading “From the Archives: Why Parents Shouldn’t Be Activists…Unless…”

Posted in Advocacy, Identity

From the Archives: When Doctors and Psychologists Hold Women Hostage

I wrote this piece to give women in particular practical steps on what to do when they know they are Autistic, but can’t get a diagnosis.  The good news is, the general consensus in the Autistic community is that self-dx is completely valid, and this is true more so now than when I realized I was Autistic 2 years ago.

The interesting thing is that if you tell people that you “realized you were Autistic” in an interview, they will, in fact, print that you were “diagnosed as Autistic” anyway since it’s hard for neurotypicals to believe that anyone would self-dx anything and tell people about it.  I get that.  Web MD tells a lot of people they have conditions they do not in fact have.  However, this is different. This is something we do in the Autism community not because we looked up “symptoms” and decided we had them.  Instead, we realized we didn’t fit into society and wondered why that was.  We started talking to others who were like us, and realized we had more in common with those “others” than we did with people we’d known our whole lives.

We pieced together that if many of them had formal diagnoses of Autism and we were so very like those people (and yes, our “symptoms” might be a little different from each other, but we know them in such a way that it was impossible to shake the idea that we were, in fact, like them), we simply had to be Autistic, too.

We had to be.

And some of us went to doctors or psychologists who said we weren’t Autistic.  And some of THOSE doctors had never seen an adult female presenting, so they didn’t know what one looked like when one did, and others knew that we were Autistic and hid it from us because they believed it wouldn’t help us to know.

Instead, we learned, over time, that we were Autistic by being accepted by the people with-and-without formal diagnoses as being part of the group.

We shared our common stories and realized that even if what, specifically can “set us off,” we all had meltdown variants and/or had learned how to avoid them, over time.

And we all took refuge in rules, so sometimes we fight amongst ourselves because the rules we, ourselves, internalized, do not allow us to be open to other perspectives.  As a Catholic Autistic, I get a LOT of flak from people because of my beliefs about abortion, contraception, and marriage.  They believe it’s because I’m rigid, however, I am open to their perspectives being different than mine and want to chat and learn because even if we disagree, I care about them as people and want to learn about what they find important to them.  They, however, rarely are interested in hearing my perspective, so we just don’t talk about those things and sometimes they blow up at me and block me because I said something I believe they disagree with.  We can be a touchy bunch.

Regardless, we are a community and we are very alike in the ways that matter, even if we don’t like each other all that much sometimes.  It’s like when you get a bunch of people together at church and they gossip and fight with each other constantly, but if you add a new person into the mix, they’ll keep gossiping and fighting, and yet all come together to “get” the new person.

That’s family.

So, here’s what I wrote about what to do when you can’t get that diagnosis.

Continue reading “From the Archives: When Doctors and Psychologists Hold Women Hostage”

Posted in Books, writing

Painful Reality: When Fiction is Just a Construct

You never really think about your relationship with books being anything too unusual.  I mean, it’s painfully clear if you’re a reader that not everyone is a reader, and that you’re a bit different if you’re a book lover.  That’s made obvious early and often by the popular people over the years.

[Image: A white woman’s arms (the body is in shadow), open an large old book. Dust flies out of the book in the shape of a heart.]
What I’m talking about is that deeper relationship with books that is a lot closer to obsession.

In my case, I began reading before I was speaking all that much, and was the kind of baby who would escape my crib to go find the books (or toys; I woke up at night a lot and would get myself out of bed to where the action was).  One time, I threw all the books I could find into my crib and cried because, while I had mastered getting out of the crib, getting back in wasn’t possible.  I needed those books.

My mother doesn’t per-se remember teaching me to read.  I just figured it out.

Side note: reading early has nothing to do with reading ability or intelligence, and late readers catch up.  The teacher in me needs to tell you that.

But I digress.

The point I am making is that my relationship with books was different from my relationship with people.  At night, books and the odd toy could comfort me, but people were unnecessary.

Continue reading “Painful Reality: When Fiction is Just a Construct”

Posted in Autistic Identity, Identity

But What if I HAVE to Remember: Random Thoughts From Aphantastic Autistic

I’ve written before how I can’t see pictures in my head.  It’s called Aphantasia, and some of us Autistics have it.  Others, think in pictures, and some of us think ONLY in words or ONLY in pictures.  It seems like the average person (thus, a neurotypical) can both visualize pictures and words, I guess?

At any rate, this break to relax I watched a lot of crime shows.  I like them a lot, and no, I don’t know why.  It probably has to do with trying to learn human nature, and my need to understand how the world of people works.

So, I was watching old Unsolved Mysteries shows and they were showing police working with a psychic.  It dawned on me then that I imagine part of why I don’t believe in that stuff is because I am incapable of picturing anything in my head, so the idea that someone can, is already foreign to me.  When I was a child, I assumed if I believed hard enough, I’d unlock my psychic abilities.  As I got older and more religious, I assumed they were all sinful.  Of course, there’s a middle path on this because the Bible does point out some ghosts and is full of prophecies so there’s room for some level of belief.

But heck, I couldn’t even be helpful if I were the victim of a crime.

Think of it!  The police always want to know what the perp or perps look like, and I’ve heard many a crime victim go, “I can’t ever forget that face!”  I do know, from law school, that false identification is common and it’s very common across racial lines, but people do have some idea of what someone looks like.

I can’t even describe people I know.

I don’t per-se know how I feel about this and in terms of disabilities one could have, not seeing pictures seems relatively minor.  But I envision situations when THINGS HAPPEN and it isn’t really that minor at all.

That reminded me how situationally-based disability really is, and for the most part, it doesn’t much matter whether I think in pictures or not.

But what if something happens?

Most people don’t even know not thinking in pictures is a “thing,” but increasingly, as we get to know the brain and what it can and can’t do it does trickle down sometimes into education.  We have these volunteers who come to read with the kids who had some training where they learned that not all kids make pictures in their heads when they read, so they shouldn’t assume it.  This gives me hope that other kids will figure out sooner than I did that teachers aren’t speaking metaphorically when they say “picture a sunny day.”  They literally do mean you should, in your head, make a picture of such a day because you can do that.

I can’t do that, and I guess the advantage of knowing that is that I can explain this to a police officer if I’m involved in a crime.

I just hope that he or she can understand that I’m not making this up.

Posted in Identity

From the Archives: Doctors Hiding Diagnoses? This is a Thing?

There’s one way to easily annoy a lot of Disabled people: infantilize us.

The pro-Neurodiversity blogosphere has taken to decrying bits of this article https://spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/the-lost-girls/ which talks about how hard it is to diagnose women and girls and anyway.  We fully agree with that, because we know we’re social chameleons, and is it EXHAUSTING.  But there was a “throwaway” comment and that’s the one that we’re fighting about.  The gist of it is that if we’re successful at navigating society, then maybe we shouldn’t be diagnosed as Autistic.  Here’s the most popular example right now: https://visualvox.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/protecting-us-from-the-hazards-of-autism-diagnosis/

In other words, we should be denied “medical access” to our “people” because we’re “passing” for neurotypicals.  Let that sink in.  Now, let’s change it up.  A Deaf person goes in for a diagnosis and is never told he is Deaf so his Deafness is irrelevant and might hurt his feelings if he knew.  After all, he’s successful at navigating in a society not made for him.  Or worse: a Black person is denied that she is Black because she does just fine in the dominant, white society and to be told she is Black might make her feel sad.

This is ridiculous, right?

Earlier, I posted how diagnosis should be a choice and I believe that still, however, it is probably good to unpack a few things here.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Doctors Hiding Diagnoses? This is a Thing?”

Posted in School governance, School Leadership, Teaching

Calming Christmas Season

Since we’re still in the mist of the Christmas season (Catholics and Orthodox have a long Christmas season; all that stuff before the day of is Advent, not Christmas), it’s not too late to tell you how our Christmas went this year at school.

For this to make sense, you first have to know what last year was like.

My last-year principal insisted on a few things:

  1. The most important thing in the world was the Christmas show.
  2. Parents expected it, and it had better be perfect.
  3. This was her big marketing piece for the year.

Clearly this made no sense to me because

  1. Isn’t, you know, preparing for Jesus coming the most important thing right now?
  2. Aren’t parents busy trying to make Christmas perfect and in panic mode, and doesn’t this show add one more thing to that?
  3. Doesn’t marketing imply at least some people coming will, you know, not already have bought the product?

However, what did I know?

Continue reading “Calming Christmas Season”

Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, Identity

From the Archives: To Diagnose or Not To Diagnose

I was talking to a work friend about my son, when my husband and I were finally were coming to terms with the fact that my son might be Autistic.

She wrote me that she had heard from one of her Autistic son’s therapists that you just know.  You know when the other mothers have all moved on to worry about whether their kids are eating a healthy diet, and you’re stuck back on “will he talk?” or are just happy that he’s eating anything.  You know when the other parents have birthday parties and can drop their kids off without worry, and you’re frightened that if you don’t hover something will happen.  You know when your child is in a pre-school or Kindergarten class, and he or she has been reading since at least the age of 2 or 3 and is forced to learn “colors” and “the alphabet,” yet his or her favorite words to read are long ones, dealing with the mythology behind the current superhero, rock, or dinosaur interest.

There are many different things that could be signs, but you know when you’re not worried about the “right” things, the things the other parents seem to be concerned about.

But some of us don’t know until late.  You know in middle school, when your daughter doesn’t have any friends and can’t seem to navigate the social structures.  You know when she gets quieter, and withdraws more and more into her books and/or special interests.

But you’ll know.

Continue reading “From the Archives: To Diagnose or Not To Diagnose”

Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, writing

From the Archives: The Baggage of Autistic Literature

So I think I said at one point that I don’t get writer’s block.  And that’s true, strictly speaking.

However, as you can tell, I’m sitting here, spilling out words, but I’m using them to whine about writer’s block.  What gives?

Well, I had three pages of something I don’t much like that I gave up on writing and decided to come over here.  A lot has been going on, particularly regarding the authenticity of Autistic voices.   Far stronger bloggers than I are debating whether self-diagnosis is valid and other fun topics.  Since returning to working outside the house, though, there’s a limit to how much I can really get involved.

So instead, I do my advocacy through writing about things like education and neurodiversity advocacy “and stuff.”

But I haven’t even had time for that lately.  (By the way, hi, blogosphere.  I miss you guys.   Thanks for fighting the good fight on self-diagnosis and other demons!).

Tomorrow I’m due to write my second story for the fiction class (by the way, I’ve got a revised edition of the first story, but I’m thinking about “shopping it around for publication” so if the early draft disappears from the website, that’s why.

So, yeah, here I am, not writing the new story.

Continue reading “From the Archives: The Baggage of Autistic Literature”