It’s early morning April 30th as I’m starting to write this post, which is highly ironic, as I should be sleeping right now. Unfortunately, houses in St. John’s don’t seem to have soundproofing, and the housemate whose bedroom is next to mine is talking on the phone.
But aside from that, this topic is more than just a positive one, it’s a pertinent one for me this year. (And likely to be a long post, with many examples.)
Or at least, either calm down or render it so I can’t feel you again….
Gah. For the last several days (almost a week) I’ve been able to feel my heart beating pretty much anytime I’m not focused on something specific/concentrating. Especially when I’m trying to get to sleep at night.
It’s not that (as far as I know) my heartbeat is currently abnormal. I think it’s a sensory issue having to do with interoception. (Check out Musings of an Aspie’s post defining interoception and detailing some of the things it involves.) But the basic definition is that interoception is the perception of things that are internal to your body – temperature, organ and muscle feelings, hunger, thirst, need to use the toilet, etc.
Together, Chapters and the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador managed to raise $206.19 (Cdn) for the ASNL Library fund. Yay! And Chapters is also interested in doing more with the ASNL – Double Yay!
So, thanks to everyone who came out and contributed by buying books during that period; it helps a lot.
The following is a letter that I will be sending to the Board of Directors of the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador concerning the “Light It Up Blue” campaign. At the bottom of the post is a link to the PDF version.
Dear Mr. Crocker and Members of the Board,
Once again this April, St. John’s/Newfoundland has tried to demonstrate and/or encourage “autism awareness” (or “autism acceptance”, as most autistics prefer) by “Lighting It Up Blue” on Cabot Tower and the Confederation Buildings. And I really have to protest.
What do giraffes have to do with autism, you ask? It’s all about symbols and symbolism. The majority of the Autistic community do not care for the puzzle piece symbolism, for fairly clear reasons – there’s nothing about us that’s missing, for one thing – and it was a symbol created by allistics, not autistics. We need our own symbols.
And that’s what Unstrange Mind’s post for today is about – what are the autistic-created symbols for autism? Read, and find out!
So, another April post. This one also about things near and dear to our hearts – stimming. (No, it’s not the post I’ve been promising for two years now. Sorry. That one’s still going to take some time to do.) No, this one is a first look at Musings of an Aspie’s company, StimTastic.
Note that I say “first look” because I haven’t yet received any of their products. However, hopefully next month after my birthday I’ll be able to provide some specific product reviews…. 😉 (Yes, some stuff from StimTastic is first on my birthday list.)
Heh. Remember when I said in the last post not too expect too many recommendations this month, despite the posting volume on Autistic-oriented blogs? Well… there was another wonderful post put up today that really needs signal boosting.
Unstrange Mind is doing a series this April for the Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge (check the following post for the link if you’re curious), and she’s hitting things hard, the way they need. And today’s post (well, all these posts she’s writing, but today’s happened to strike me) is about something that is a huge problem in trying to gain acceptance for autistics. The Empathy Question.
Please, read through the post E is for Empathy – it highlights a number of problems with the idea that autistics have no empathy (talk to my mother, or my best friends; they’ll dismiss that idea immediately). It even mentions a new study that brings to light some problems with the “well-known” Sally-Ann Test, a study that I hadn’t heard about before.
Not to mention the ludicrous treatise she mentions that says something about since autistics have no empathy, we have no sense of community. *cough, cough* Um, what do you think my blogroll list is?
Anyway, she also provides links to another blog post about empathy, that in turn provides links to more. Please, take a look at them, and absorb the message we’re trying to send.
There are a lot of good posts going up for April that have nothing to do with Autism Speaks (at least, not directly), and I honestly wish I could recommend them all, but I’d probably overload my blog with posts if I did that. (Though don’t be surprised to see a few of them going up as rec posts over the next few months! Also, feel free to poke around my links page and check out the blogs I’ve got there, most of which I would be recommending from.)
This post on autism awareness by Andraya, of Asperger’s and Me, definitely needs to be signal boosted and pointed out to people, however. It points out something to people that helps explain part of why Autistics in general have no interest in being “cured” of our autism. Aside from the fact that it’s a huge part of who we are… most of what people/parents with autistic children who have extreme difficulties are looking at: Is Not Autism. Epilepsy, GI issues, Depression, Anxiety… they are not the same as autism. Yes, autistics may be more likely to have these issues than the general population, but as Andraya points out in this post, females are more likely to have depression and anxiety than the “general population”.
So, it’s World Autism Awareness Day – or, as the vast majority of autistics prefer to refer to it, World Autism Acceptance Day. (Check out World Autism Acceptance Month!) And what, one wonders, are the savvy, internet-connected autistics of the world wearing this month?
I can tell you one thing. It’s sure as hell not blue.
The Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is holding a fundraiser for their library at the Chapters on Kenmount Rd. (just up from the Avalon Mall) in St. John’s, from 7pm to 9pm tonight. A percentage of the prices of all books bought during that period will be donated to the Autism Society by means of a Chapters/Indigo gift card, in order to help expand the ASNL Library.
So, I was taking a look at my stats (yay, people are interested in my analysis of the problems with the SD article!), and I noticed a referring link from www.lunalindsey.com. I went, okay, I haven’t seen this before… so I clicked on the link.
The post is titled: Splines Theory: A Spoons Metaphor for Autism. In it, Ms. Lindsey looks at the spoons metaphor for dealing with energy resources with invisible disabilities, and some issues she has with it, and provides a new metaphor for exploring what’s going on that causes us to have energy drains and difficulty changing routines and such. (And a commenter adds another metaphor, for those who aren’t a comfortable with computer-oriented ones.)
It’s a rather interesting look at things, and resonates with me. Quite a bit. It makes sense – even more sense than the spoons metaphor (which is incorporated into the Splines Theory as a whole). I like it.
Vathara told me about an article on Science Daily on Friday that claimed that they’ve found a definite genetic link to autism that doesn’t involve Fragile-X (which is more linked to intellectual delay/disability than autism directly). According to the Science Daily article, and the abstract of the article it’s taken from, it involves a mutation in the CHD8 gene that results in GI tract issues, insomnia, macrocephaly (large heads and wide-set eyes), and being on the autism spectrum. Okay.
This post is a followup to Let’s Talk About: Imagination and Modes of Thought. Partially because while I wasn’t entirely wrong about my “mode of thought”, I wasn’t exactly correct about it either; and partially because there’s a new Tumblr blog out there called “Autistic Thinking” that I recently stumbled across. The aim of the Autistic Thinking blog is to: “[describe] the different and possibly unusual patterns of thought and perception experienced by autistic people of all types. It’s meant to show how diverse we actually are, compared to the simplified ideas other people have of us”, to quote the blog description. And reading it, I got inspired to write this post, because of my recent ruminations about how exactly I do think.
Okay, the post I’m recommending is not actually called “Interrupting and Correcting”; it’s a series of 3 posts about the AS (read that as Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum) need to be Right. But… reading through it? My first thought was, Mom, this is why I have such a hard time controlling my urge to step in with a correction when I know you’ve made amistake.
Because as my mother would (correctly) tell you – that’s a major problem I still have. I can get by in social situations, for the most part. I learned early on that politeness and “shyness” are a good combo – and I do seem to give off the general vibe of “asexual” when meeting new people. (Or, at least, if people do flirt with me, I don’t notice, and don’t respond – I tend to draw in on myself when meeting new people as well….) But say something that I know is incorrect… and I have to almost bite down on my tongue (literally) to keep myself from making a correction. And still, about half the time, I don’t manage to stop it.
Now, I didn’t get the same type of bullying that the author of this post got – I was more inclined to be bullied because I was smart, and because I was a very tall, clumsy girl, in elementary school, and in high school, I was with people as smart as I was, so there wasn’t that kind of “that person has the answers” dynamic going on. But… being smart got me the respect of the teachers. And therefore their approval. And that mattered, because one thing I was shown in elementary school is that there are good adults out there who will do their best to protect you from bullies. And adults are more likely to believe you when you don’t feel well or can’t do something if they respect you. (Not always, but enough so that my analytical side could come to that conclusion.)
Please note that the topic above is really the main topic of only the first post. The other two go into strategies to help deal with the need to be right.
(P.S. My planned post following up on Modes of Thought will be out – either tomorrow or later today, depending on whether you subscribe to the “day changes over at midnight” theory or the “day changes over after you fall asleep” theory. If the latter, it will be out tomorrow – this is what I say; if the former, it will be out later today – which is what the website says.)
This is very much an aside, not a standard post, but I think it needs to be said.
Sunday, I posted a recommendation link post to Nick Walker’s “What is Autism?” I then proceeded to go and read his entire blog (called Neurocosmopolitanism). There aren’t very many posts there at the moment (from what I can see, he’s quite the busy man – and there is a new one up today), but the ones that are, are well thought-out, and thought-provoking.
This post – with its description of the pathology paradigm, how it damages us and impoverishes society (not necessarily mentioned, but I’m a firm believer in the “Patchwork Quilt” society, rather than the “Melting Pot”), and its suggestions for how to build a neurodiversity paradigm (that is not solely about autism, but other “conditions” involving differences in neurological wiring) really made me think. And one of the things that most made me think was about language use, and how it affects our views of ourselves. In particular, the term “Autism Spectrum Disorder”.
Nothing wrong with the term “Autism Spectrum”. That’s a very good term. It’s the “Disorder” component that Mr. Walker takes issue with, and argues against very well indeed. He points out that using the term “Disorder” makes it appear that there is something “wrong” with us – which is exactly the sort of thinking that autistic advocates are trying to fight. That the neurodiversity community is trying to fight.
So. I have gone through my links list, and changed each description/category of “ASD” to “Autistic”. I have not yet decided whether I will do this to my posts or not – I suspect not, simply because they provide a record of how I thought at the time. But the change has to start somewhere, and who better for it to start with than ourselves and our allies?
[Added Note: I have also changed the title of my post category and tag of “ASD” to “Autism Spectrum”.]
This is a guest post on the blog Raising Rebel Souls. Nick Walker is autistic, and has come up with a description of autism that matches my own experience and, as I understand it, the experiences of the majority of my fellow autistics, no matter where they might fit on the spectrum. He also removes the pathologizing element from the equation / description, and writes clearly, presenting facts as they are known.
Most of you reading this blog probably know Ariane and her daughter Emma, if only in reference to their blog, Emma’s Hope Book. (If you don’t, click on the link. Really. Ariane is a great resource for parents who are having difficulties dealing with their autistic children, and is a great proponent of presuming competence because of her own experiences.) Recently (as in the last half year, maybe somewhat more), Emma’s been contributing directly to the posts on the blog. One of the most recent posts was about the body-mind disconnect that Emma experiences; her brain knows what she wants to communicate or do, and her mouth (and/or body) will do something completely different.
MedicAlert® Canada (officially “MedicAlert® Foundation Canada“) includes “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (as well as “Autism”, “High-Functioning Autism”, and “Kanner’s Autism”) in the list of conditions that they can include on one’s record. I just joined yesterday, because my mother has been worried that if I ever end up in an accident, or some other situation where I could panic and lose my speech, or end up unconscious, emergency responders might not realize that I’m autistic, and that could be part of the problem. (There’s also the concern about cops, and if I ever get taken in for some reason or another – there have been incidents in Newfoundland with the cops misunderstanding autistic behaviours as drunk or drugged….)
Most people (in Canada and the US, at least!), I know, have at least heard of MedicAlert, and know the symbol and what it means (aka that the person wearing it has certain conditions, and to know what they are, flip the ID symbol). But I’m not sure that people necessarily understand the details of how it works.
So, I had this interesting dream last night, one that I thought brought up some issues important enough to discuss. So, despite the lack of statement in the title, this is actually a “Let’s Talk About It” post. As usual, I will welcome any commentary.
To explain the dream, we’ll have to go back to yesterday (plus a bit of back story), because I think something that happened then was what triggered it. (Note: Seriously rambling post because of it, but there are a few other points in there aside from the main one, so….)
NaNoWriMo (and over the last couple of years, Camp NaNoWriMo) is a big thing for me. But this year, things got off to a slowish start, mostly because my conscious awareness of the whole “Camp NaNoWriMo’s First Session = April” was entirely absent until this morning.
*shrugs* Happens sometimes.
So, there I am, forgetting completely about it, and reading blogs about Autism Awareness Month and all that… and what should pop into my inbox but a note about Saturday’s Marathon Writing Session.
*tagAught blinks at email, and goes, “Huh. It’s Camp NaNo already?” pauses “Gah! April’s already one week gone! Write! Need to write! What to write?!”*
So… it’s April 2nd. World Autism Awareness Day. Everyone’s posting about it. Everyone has their own opinions on the differences between “Awareness” and “Acceptance”, and what that means for those of us on the spectrum and our allies.
Okay, this wasn’t originally planned for the next post. In fact, this wasn’t originally planned to be a post at all. But my dad listens to CBC classics, and something that was said on the program early this afternoon caught my attention. Combined with the whole idea of AAC, not just speech, as valid means of communication, I started thinking about this post.
Stories are a very ancient means of communication. They have been used for the three great ‘E’s – to explain, to educate, and to entertain.
I recently re-read a post by Musings of an Aspie: Is there a Link Between ASD Motor Skill Deficits and Social Communication Difficulties? which she posted a year ago. She started out intending to look at ASD and dyspraxia – which is a developmental disorder that seems to involve problems with motor coordination… and sensory issues, and executive order functions. In fact, apparently autism and dyspraxia have so much of an overlap that people can be frequently misdiagnosed with one when they really have the other, or they tend to often end up as co-morbid (co-occuring) diagnoses.
For any fellow Newfoundlanders, there is a talk on the Disability Tax Credit on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 10:30 hrs., at the Holiday Inn on Portugal Cove Rd. This applies to all disabilities, including autism, depression, physical and other mental and social disabilities. It should be useful, because there’s also the fact that if you qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, you are automatically qualified for the Registered Disability Savings Plan – which can be a huge help.
A question that involves a lot of different areas of study. Behaviourists; biologists – both human-focused and zoologists; anthropologists; linguists; even archaeologists and paleontologists. And it’s something very important to the Autistic community, and to the broader autism community (incorporating allistic parents, allies, etc.), because of the difficulties with speech that come with “classical” (aka Kanner’s) autism, and the difficulties all autistics have, to one extent or another, understanding body language and social behaviour.
This question just happened to occur to me as I was driving back from my new residence to my parents’ house (where I now live only on the weekends, so that Imber and I aren’t separated for long – I need my puddy-tat!), having forgotten some stuff that I meant to bring over yesterday evening. (Heck, there’s still some stuff I forgot, but it wasn’t as important as what I did fetch, so I wasn’t going back.) And the question won’t leave me alone, so I thought I’d better start writing.
(And as I started writing this post out – not that I’m finishing it tonight – I realized that it really needs to be a series of posts. So, this is #1 – just what is communication, anyway?)
My sister (the one with the three kids ;)) mentioned in a chat with Mom today that she’d made these neat “time out bottles” to deal with arguments between her two oldest, and she’s also making one for the autistic son of a friend of hers. She showed them to us over the chat, and they look like they’d work very well for dealing with overstimulation and needing to relax, so when she told me how to find them, I grabbed the website and checked it out.
I think I’m going to make some for me. *nods firmly*
Update Jun. 15/17: Updated all links to Unstrange Mind’s new website.
And we’re back again with Unstrange Mind, who is doing all of us the favour of going through the DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic criteria, and analysing it in terms of what it means both for those who are already diagnosed (even though we’re grandfathered in), and those who will be looking for a diagnosis. (Note: Frankly, based on her analysis and just what the criteria says, I fit even better in the ASD diagnosis than I did in Asperger’s! I may have said that before, but it bears repeating.)
Her analysis is not yet finished, but (as mentioned in the top note), I will continue to update as it progresses. However, I thought it was important enough that I want to start getting it out now.
Autism and the DSM-5: Diagnostic Criteria (Section E and Severity Levels): Section E looks at other possibilities for the symptoms; severity levels are ways to measure the current severity of the symptoms in sections A & B (and they are to be measured separately, and are listed as fluid, potentially changing back and forth over time). Severity levels replace the “high functioning” and “low functioning” labels, which I suspect pleases a lot of my fellow autistics. It certainly pleases U.M. She has also posted the contents of “Table 2”, which lists the criteria for the severity levels.
DSM-5 and Autism: Development and Course (Part 2): The second paragraph in the commentary section, this one concentrates on “regression” – which isn’t necessarily the preferred term, but is the one used by the DSM. U.M. illustrates this issue with some personal examples.
DSM-5 and Autism: Development and Course (Part 4): The fourth paragraph continues the early signs of autism, referencing deafness and the fact that allistic children show some of the same repetitive and restrictive behaviours as are typical of autism, but not to quite the same extent (“[t]he clinical distinction is based on the type, frequency, and intensity of the behavior”).
More to follow as they are posted. This is a highly recommended set of posts, and I encourage everyone who has any interest in ASD and what the criteria is to read them.
The neat thing is that she’s planning to potentially give away free copies this weekend, if she can get enough likes on her Facebook page. I’m not one for Facebook (I’ve sworn in the past that I won’t touch FB with a ten-foot pole), but for those who are Facebook users, if you’ve taken a look at Unstrange Mind’s blog, and / or the description of the book, and are interested, here are the details for the giveaway!
Unstrange Mind’s Giveaway – “No You Don’t” – Oct. 04/13.
AutistiCook has a stimming survey set up; it’s now got enough responses that it can serve as a resource for people, but it can always use more. The more responses and details, the better! I encourage people to fill it out; especially as it’s not “just” for autistic stims, but for any kind of stims.