9261612166_e1e352e525-5658075

Authoring Our Own Lives: How Autistics and the World Benefit from Auti-Biography

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © barbara w | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Hands on a typewriter keyboard, at a sunny wooden desk, next to a drink on a crocheted white doily, amidst some plucked green leaves.] The last decade has seen a blossoming of blogs, articles, books, and documentary films about autism, authored by actually Autistic people. This is an exciting time of growth for Autist-created content about autism, and I want to encourage all Autistic people to document their lives: whether in a private journal, or to share with the public. There are great personal and community benefits that come from Autistic people writing about our lives—especially when we write about emotions, victories, and challenges and not just the factual events by themselves, although any autobiographical writing is helpful to the writer as well as to others if they decide to share what they’ve written. Michel Foucault, the postmodern philosopher,…

9610009792_653bf0167b-2289126

Fast Learners Are Not Better Than Other People

Finn Gardiner expectedly.org (Content warning: ableist slurs.) Photo © U.S. Department of Education | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Three schoolchildren of different races, sitting together in a classroom reading corner, reading books.] It is not nice to say that fast learners are better than other people. That is because it is mean to people who learn more slowly. It is not bad to learn slowly. It is not bad to be a fast learner either. Everyone can learn something. We just need different ways to learn things. That is OK. But some people treat fast learners like they are better than other people. That is not nice. I am a fast learner. I am not better than somebody who learns more slowly than I do. I just have different learning needs. Some people call fast learners gifted. There are many problems with that. Gifted is not a good word. Calling fast…

image2_taxonomyofplants-5037699

The Taxonomy of Plants: A Tale of Multi-Generational Autistics

Hannah King mystinkybackpack.blogspot.ca GRANDPA If you wanted to talk to my grandpa, plant taxonomy was a good opener. He would take us for long walks in the forests of North Jersey. Be quiet now, don’t scare the wildlife. “What kind of plant is that, Grandpa?” I would whisper. I never remembered the answer. But I liked to hear him talk to me. Photo © Hannah King [image: Close up of a barnacle-covered rock at low tide.] Every July, us kids would stay at their house near the shore. Grandpa, who had been an inventor at Bell labs, kept the tidal charts taped to the side of the refrigerator so he knew when to fish, when to swim and when—at four in the morning—to take the six of us racing down the pebbly sidewalks to collect shells and walk the puddled moonscape of a Jersey low tide. Back home in his…

51bobqwyctl-_sx329_bo1204203200_-7879282

Why To Siri With Love Is a Wrecking Ball of a Book

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [Content note: possible triggers include: forcible sterilization of minorities including Autistic people, forcible gynecological experimentation on minorities, Judge Rotenberg Center, electric shock, stereotypes about Autistics lacking empathy or a sense of humor, stereotypes about Autistics or Black people lacking the ability to feel pain, snakes and feeding live rodents, harmful Supreme Court verdicts, dehumanizing of Autists, getting drunk, preferring drunkenness to talking with Autistic children, humanizing the author of a grossly dehumanizing book.] Come mothers and fathers / Throughout the land  And don’t criticize / What you can’t understand  Your sons and your daughters / Are beyond your command  Your old road is rapidly aging.  Please get out of the new one / If you can’t lend your hand  For the times they are a-changin’.  -Bob Dylan [image: Book cover: A blue background with informal font white text reading, “To Siri With Love,” with a photo of a…

4802134274_3ef3a4de24-5132754

Coping with a Crisis When You Have Unreliable or Intermittent Speech

Maxfield Sparrow Unstrangemind.com Photo © Marcia Furman | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: White person with tousled medium brown hair slumped over at a restaurant table, face hidden, with sunglasses resting on the top of their head and hair.] Autistic people already know how alarming and overwhelming a crisis can be. But when we have unreliable and intermittent speech, a crisis can go beyond stressful, even becoming deadly. I’d like to share a few tips on how I’ve managed to stay alive despite intermittent speech. Sections: What is unreliable and intermittent speech? People With unreliable and intermittent speech can help others in emergencies What to do when you are in a crisis and need to contact someone  Text someone you know or a professional helper Use TTY/Relay to contact someone Use an AAC over the telephone Use the Text Crisis Line How to interact with others during a crisis Decide whether and…

maxsparrowsoup-6436467

Labels Are Valuable Tools

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com There’s something that kind-hearted and well-meaning people say that can hurt. And it usually goes like this: “Let’s go around the circle and introduce ourselves.” “Hi, my name is Max. I’m a writer, artist, musician, and public speaker. I live in a van with my cat, Fermat, and I am Autistic.” “Oh, Max, I don’t think you should call yourself autistic. Labels are for soup cans, not people! You’re such a sweet, intelligent man. You don’t need to use that label on yourself any more. We all accept you here. You’re just like us and seem totally normal to us. Don’t label yourself.” [Image description: A bowl of alphabet soup with the word “Autistic” made of alphabet noodles floating in it.] The person who says “Don’t label yourself“ is trying to be progressive and enlightened and kind and accepting. It is so hard to tell them that…

first-trans-solidarity-rally-and-march-washington-dc-usa

Under a Double Rainbow: Autism and LGBTQIA+

Photo © Ted Eytan | Creative Commons/Flickr [image: Multiracial crowd rallying with flags and signs behind a banner reading “Trans Solidarity against transphobia for justice”.] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Ten years ago, I wanted to write a paper about autism and gender issues for a gender and sexuality conference at which I had previously presented. I started the research, then dropped into a depression after realizing how little material was available, and that the existing research about autism and gender was both dismal, and erasing. The medical journals talked about transgender autistic children as if their gender issues were delusions, mere symptoms of their autism. I never wrote that paper. Today, not only is there good autism information available, but the “double rainbow” of being both autistic and LGBTQIA+* is just beginning to be more accepted and understood. We have a long way to go, but people are beginning to understand…

samdov-4987073

The Best Bar Mitzvah Boy

Todd Drezner www.lovinglamppostsmovie.com Dov and Sam | Photo © Brad Alpernin [image: Two white Jewish pre-teen boys, wearing suit jackets and ties at their Bar Mitzvah service, posing together and smiling for the camera.]   We told our son Sam that there is no applause at Bar Mitzvah services. But when he finished his speech, a wave of clapping and cheering burst forth from the crowd—a genuine display of emotion that no religious custom could have stopped. There was a lot of feeling behind that applause. Love, certainly. Appreciation of a job well done. But also amazement. It’s probably safe to say that not everyone in attendance had expected to see what they’d just seen. And here is where the story gets interesting. But first some background. A Jewish boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah when he turns 13 (a Jewish girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah). Traditionally, the Bar Mitzvah leads…