Posted in Burnout, Self-Care

Wiggling Past Worry: Autistic Resilience in Adversity

I’ve been told that being Autistic is kind of like having some anxiety and some depression at all times, but otherwise by itself it’s fine.

You’re anxious because of the constant stress to fit into this world not designed for us, and you’re depressed because this is just “normal” for you to be in a highly stressed state all of the time.

And the thing of it is, the anxiety and depression are connected to real, verifiable incidents.  We’re not making things up in our head about how the world treats us and how it hurts us to be out in public, even though we might want to be out of the house.  It is, objectively harder for us.

But, you know, we keep going.  This is status quo for us.  It’s never going to fully go away, and we learn how to mitigate the worst of it by changing our behaviors and/or medications, depending o the severity of symptoms and whether or not we are able to change our behaviors.

We generally have to work, for example, and work is a constant stressor, particularly when it takes places outside the house (as is the thought of interviewing and looking for work, etc.).

But you know what’s interesting about us?

Despite the constant anxiety and depression, we are freaking resilient people, especially if we have the right people around us, affirming us for what we are good at doing.

Continue reading “Wiggling Past Worry: Autistic Resilience in Adversity”

Posted in Catholic leadership, School Leadership

Routine

Most everything to be done is on hold or being done by people higher up than I am.  The Diocese is working on spinning this.  My pastor is on a two-week vacation.  We can’t very well merge the kids right this exact moment, and so we wait.

My days are filled with throwing away things that should have been tossed eons ago and shredding.  A lot of shredding.  A lot of questions as to why this is even here for me to shred, and then I realize it; this was a very bad school.

My nights consist of trying to exit the building as close to 3 as possible, getting into my nightgown, and moving into bed, watching Survivor reruns while I game a little on a laptop or just stare mindlessly.

I sleep better than I have, but not enough.

When I can move forward, I have energy to keep going.  When I am stuck, waiting and worrying, I feel anger and frustration.  I feel abandoned, and useless.  I can’t use my Autistic powers to plan a solution because I must wait.

And in the meantime, we’re on the front page of the paper; below the fold, at least, but still.  With a half-true account concocted by the Diocese who is scrambling to figure out just what the heck my boss did before he left.  Whatever he did do, as I understand it, it was not exactly what he said he did, so we’re guessing a lot, and the story that they gave is wrong in several places, and I can’t correct it.

It doesn’t matter.

See, the thing is, to me, what’s happening right now is what was meant to be last year.  The school I inherited was a bad school, where gossip and malice and the other tools of the devil ran rampant.

We changed that.

But not fast enough.

Continue reading “Routine”

Posted in Books, intersectionality

Read this Book: Kat and Meg Conquer the World

For your reading consideration, I have another great YA title.

[Image: Cover of the book. Kat and Meg Conquer the World is in bubble letters with “Kat,” “Meg” and “World” in very big letters, “conquer” in slightly smaller bubble letters and “and” and “the” in the smallest letters. “Kat” and “Conquer” are in white, “Meg” in yellow and “World” in orange while “and” and “the” are in shades of blue. They are on a blue pixelated background (tiny squares of various shades of blue) with tiny golden coins dropping on the title. There’s a puffy red pixelated heart to the side of the title and a sword next to Meg’s name. At the bottom is a large orange skateboard. In the upper right corner, it says “Separately, they’re a mess. Together, they just might be awesome.” There are what look to be test tubes with lightning in them on the sides of the title, coming up from the bottom of the book. A LOT is clearly going on here. At the bottom is the author’s name, in blue bubble-type letters: Anna Priemaza.]

Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza, is about two girls who meet and have a remarkable friendship.  Kat is new in town since they have moved to help grandpa downsize.  She’s got to start high school all over again since in her last province (yup, Canadian book) they start high school in grade 9, but in this place, it’s grade 10 so she feels like she has to do an unnecessary stint as freshman all over again.  Kat is very intelligent and her grades typically reflect this.  She also has anxiety, and it’s pretty intense.  Her therapist has never been much help except when she taught her how to count to slow her breathing to calm down to prevent a panic attack.  She’ll be counting a lot in this book.  Where she does feel pretty good is the world of her online game, and watching videos from her favorite YouTuber.

Meanwhile, Meg is local, but can’t seem to keep any friends.  Though every bit as intelligent as Kat, she struggles in school grade-wise. She’s bubbly and energetic, always running everywhere.  She’s between friends when she and Kat get partnered by default for a long-term science project.  Meg has ADHD with hyperactivity and therefore she struggles to focus on things she doesn’t have interest in, and she also struggles to make and keep friends since she’s missing some social cues.  She’s always swapping friendship groups, though people do seem to like her in general.  She is intensely in love with the same YouTuber Kat is.  She is also very annoyed with her stepdad, who she called dad since her own dad died when she was little.  He attempted to get custody of her younger siblings (his natural children), but not her, and she’s brooding over the whole thing.  Meg is also Black, and much is made of her hair style, her little sister’s hairstyle, skin tone is mentioned and the occasional racial sensitivity nod, but I’m not sure how much she “feels” Black and hope Black reviewers will help here to see if this depiction rings true.  More on that later.

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Posted in Autistic Identity, leadership, Self-Care

Masking, Anxiety, and Other Everyday Woes of the Autistic Woman

I wrote a piece yesterday that I set back to private regarding a parent-student interaction thing.

I walk a tight line with confidentiality and trying to help inform other leaders about Autism in education.  I think I was alright with that post, but if I get “outed” by identity, my school is so small, each player in that post will be instantly recognizable.  That’s not okay.

While that post gave me some good feelings because it helped me to justify why it will be okay whether the child in question stays or leaves, I have spent all of today in Autistic overload due to anxiety.  I don’t think it’s because of the post per-se, but because of dreading the follow-up conversation with a neurotypical parent which will happen tomorrow morning.  As a Catholic institution, we remember that parents, not schools, are responsible for their own parenting decisions.  It is his mom’s right to do whatever she sees fit, and I do applaud that right because I profit from it as a parent of a homeschooled child.

But as an Autistic who lives with anxiety as a “normal” fact of life, the implication that I know less about her child’s neurology than she, herself, or the neurotypical establishment doctors know, hurts me, too.  (By the way, Autistics, for “fun” look up anxiety symptoms…you’ll probably find you live like this ALL THE TIME.  It’s actually NORMAL for you, so you don’t think these are actual conditions neurotypicals do NOT experience all the flipping time and if they suddenly do, they ask for help.  Who knew?)

Here’s more on anxiety and masking: the endless cycle.

Continue reading “Masking, Anxiety, and Other Everyday Woes of the Autistic Woman”