Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, Identity, intersectionality

Dear Late Diagnosed Person

To the Late-Diagnosed Person–

I hate that term, Diagnosis, since it sounds like someone had to validate your very existence.

I prefer the term “awareness” or “validation.”

Awareness is when you knew your brain operated differently.

Validation is when someone said, “Hey, your brain works differently” and they didn’t mean it as an insult.  It just was a fact.

How do we ever know what it’s like in our heads, as compared to someone else’s?

I think one of the interesting things about finding out that we’re Autistic in particular, though this really goes for any Neurodivergent quality, is we get to actually think about what other people see inside their heads, and then we encounter a whole lot of interesting information when we realize that everyone is not doing what we’re doing.

Continue reading “Dear Late Diagnosed Person”

Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, intersectionality, leadership, Teaching

The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Accepting That I’m Not a Superhero

The thing about being Autistic, I think, that can be really detrimental to living a functioning adult life, is that we believe a lot of what we’ve been taught.

Think back to all those posters on the walls at your schools.  Think about all those heroes they made us read about, so that we could learn to cultivate all those virtues “they” wanted us to all have.  We were supposed to be honest, hardworking, and compassionate.  We were supposed to save the world!

But, as we Autistics have found, we aren’t really supposed to be too honest.  Being too honest doesn’t work out so well for us.

A lot of people can hang out at the water cooler (literally and metaphorically) all day long, and yet they seem to get ahead at work.

And when you give so much that it hurts, all that happens is you’re hurt.  There is no reward.

And yes, it’s all possible for all this suffering we go through on this earth to be rewarded in the afterlife, but we see so many people flagrantly ignoring the rules we were overtly taught and internalized, and they do, in fact, get ahead on this earth.

If they meant that honesty, diligence, and compassion would mean not a danged thing now, but might or might not in the afterlife (if it exists), why the heck didn’t they just say that?

Continue reading “The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Accepting That I’m Not a Superhero”

Posted in Advocacy, Catholic education, Catholic leadership, Disability in Education, leadership

It is Over: Ableism and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

While scrolling through Twitter, I caught another poll (they seem common, lately, on Autistic Twitter) about employment.  I marked “full-time,” which really understated how much I work, and for how little.

In a few short months, that won’t be accurate again.

Fair warning: this is a post that will get ranty a bit because, well, ableism.

Continue reading “It is Over: Ableism and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

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 Advocacy, Catholic education, Catholic leadership, School governance, School Leadership, Teaching

That Principle is a Bitch: What I Believe About Education

So we’ve recently had some “scandal” in my school regarding how my priest and I colluded to ruin the school.

Keep in mind, we only had between 60 to 70 students in the last decade or better except for one spike at which we briefly went up to 90 and went right back down.

Also, Catholic schools that close almost always have over 100 students in them at the time.

Also that we have to run the school as the parish hall regardless so fewer students means fewer staff members so the difference between running the school with and without kids is financially negligible.  Because there are few of us.  If I have to hire more people, we get into the danger zone.  So we’re fine now, and actually BETTER on paper than when we had 60 kids.

But somehow Father and I destroyed everything.

One Protestant who pulled all her kids out is getting all her gossip from someone who is making things up in her head about what is happening.  It’s somewhat hilarious to see her calling me a bitch all over the place when we have never once spoken.

Ever.

Oh, and she spells my job as principle, which is amusing to me.

So, in her honor, and in honor of all my naysayers, I figured I’d write about my beliefs of education, which are also, not surprisingly, the underlying principles of my school. Continue reading “That Principle is a Bitch: What I Believe About Education”

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”

Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, intersectionality

Disappointing John Warriner: Why it’s Hard for Me to Change

Autistic people like to be right.

We have a saying in my house, “technically correct is the best kind of correct.”  It’s what my husband and I say to each other about ourselves or about our son when we realize we’re arguing in circles and all of us are convinced we’re right.  Because I was more able to see the point of view of other people than my husband was, inevitably I’d say something that was right in terms of, if you looked at lived experiences, and my husband would say something that he’d internalized as a rule.  Once upon a time, I’d said, “Well, you’re technically correct…” at which point he replied, “Well, that’s the best kind of correct.”  Ever since we make that the family joke.

And it really does give you a handle on why we Autistics can be difficult to change.

One of the things I learned from going to public schools myself, is that embarrassment is the worst thing in the world.  See, if you do something embarrassing two things happen 1) people can randomly bring it up in the future and use it to color their future opinions of you and 2) your mind has this irritating habit of doing this thing where, if you’re sitting there, enjoying the day, it will decide to bring you down a peg or two and replay an incident that was horrifyingly embarrassing.  Objectively, I know now that brains playing bad memories over again is a typical thing.  In fact, I seem to remember learning it in high school when I read a Dave Barry column and he mentioned his brain doing that as if it’s what brains do all the time (thanks, Dave!  You really helped me out with that!), but at the same time, I still think I react more strongly to that embarrassment than the typical neurotypical.

Female Autistics in particular have a hard time being recognized because we tend to do this thing where we’re aware of how we’re perceived and can even (often) sense other people’s emotions and what they are thinking.  We’ve learned this from years of playing detective and trying to fit in, which we might have managed in elementary years, but when things start getting too intense around middle school, we often can’t make it anymore and just get lost at the “fitting in” game.  But some of us can still sense what other people are thinking and feeling, but we can’t do anything about it so we’re ostracized for being different.

That’s not, clearly, ideal.

Continue reading “Disappointing John Warriner: Why it’s Hard for Me to Change”

Posted in Advocacy

The Lady at Guadalupe: Permission to Be Yourself

If you don’t know anything about apparitions of Mary, you may not know about some powerful stories.  Inevitably, the “certified” visions appear only to children or people who have no power in society.  As an example, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to a young girl who was illiterate, yet was able to repeat what the lady said, that she was the “Immaculate Conception.”  There was no way that young Bernadette, far removed from the theologians of her day, could possibly have known they were all kicking around the idea of Mary’s immaculate conception and whether or not it was true.  No one in the village really knew about that going on.  Later, in Fatima, Portugal, “a lady” appeared to three shepherd children.  One day, she made the sun dance.  The weirdest part about the sun dancing was that not everyone there saw it, which seemed to make it even more believable as divine (Bible stories inevitably have unbelievers seem to not see a thing).

But the big common denominator inevitably is: a silenced voice sees a lady (the viewer or viewers rarely call her Mary, but eventually they figure it out or someone else will eventually decide it is she).

Today is the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Americas (not just Mexico, as some might believe).

Continue reading “The Lady at Guadalupe: Permission to Be Yourself”