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Autism Uncensored: A Dangerous and Spirit-Crushing Book

Photo © Charley Lhasa | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Plush red Elmo doll lying on asphalt. A yellow chalk speech bubble has Elmo appear to be yelling “Help!”] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [Content note: Extensive discussion of restraints. Discussions of gaslighting, denying Autistic autonomy and competence, child abuse, autism profiteering, and similar goblins. Discussion of the 1960s medical view of autism as it continues to occur today.] You may have seen the recent Washington Post article titled “Bystanders were horrified. But my son has autism and I was desperate,” an excerpt from Whitney Ellenby’s new book, Autism Uncensored: Pulling Back the Curtain. True to the exposé tone of the title, Ellenby describes in livid detail the day she wrestled her panicked son, Zack, by clamping his 50 pound frame tightly between her thighs and locking her feet together. The two spent over half an hour in combat as Ellenby dragged him inch…

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How to Use Visual Schedules to Prevent Accidental Gaslighting

theuninspirational theuninspirational.wordpress.com (Content note: This post mentions ABA briefly, and gives a detailed example of an autistic child being exposed to gaslighting.) I’m an autistic parent to an autistic child. After I tweeted a bit about my take on autistic parenting, that made me think that I want to explain one of the benefits of using visual supports for clarifying life and create predictability. Visual supports like picture schedules can be used in a number of ways. Sometimes people use them in ABA settings to visualize what reward the child will receive, and I want to be clear that I don’t do that. I don’t do any kind of ABA or therapy that attempts to make my kid appear allistic (non-autistic). In my home, we use pictures and visual support to make life easier for us, as the autistic people we are. Nowadays, both my kid and I are mostly verbal but…

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At Home in Ourselves: A Mindful Acceptance of My Autistic Son

Photo © Stuart Anthony | Flickr/Creative Commons [Image: Two backlit people attempting to jump over a horizon-adjacent sun.] Leslie J. Davis www.dharmamamas.com “When I practice breathing in and I say, ‘I have arrived,’ that is an achievement. Now I am fully present, one hundred percent alive. The present moment has become my true home. When I breathe out I say, ‘I am home.’ If you do not feel you are home, you will continue to run. And you will continue to be afraid. But if you feel you are already home, then you do not need to run anymore. This is the secret of the practice. When we live in the present moment, it is possible to live in true happiness.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, “No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life” Every Monday night I sit with my meditation group and practice breathing in and out in an attempt…

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The Stories We Don’t Tell: My Mom On Raising An Autistic Child And Why She’ll Never Write About Me

Sarah Kurchak and her Mother Jane Kurchak  [image: Cheerfully geeky selfie of the author, a white Canadian woman wearing glasses and also goggles on top of her head; and her mother, a white woman also wearing glasses plus a pinstriped blue collared shirt, tie, and white jacket.] Sarah Kurchak www.riskyfuel.com When I’m feeling particularly frustrated with my career, I offer to ghostwrite a memoir for my mom. It’s a slightly bitter, semi-serious joke. I’m mostly taking a shot at the fact that the memoirs that non-autistic parents write about raising their autistic children have a much better shot at getting published and selling than anything that I, as an autistic person, could ever hope to write about autism. But there’s also a little part of me that just wants that payday. (I can’t extend this offer to my dad, because he’s a fellow autist and no one seems particularly interested in…

Book Review: The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily

[Image: Book cover: blue background with rows of scribbled-out red hearts interspersed with casual white lettering reading “The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily | Laura Creedle”]  Kathryn Hedges www.khedges.com The greatest strengths of the YA book The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle were the realistic portrayals of two very different neurodivergent teens, and their gentle romance. It was wonderful for an autistic character (Abelard) to break so many negative stereotypes and for a non-autistic character (Lily) to accept his differences so enthusiastically. They are an adorable couple with great promise (except for conflicts over her tardiness and his need for promptness). I also empathized with Lily’s struggles with unsympathetic teachers and her own feelings of failure. However, I was angry and disappointed by the tragically ableist conclusion. (Spoilers ahead, in case it matters.) I expected this to be a story about two neurodivergent characters who…

What Good Representation of Autistic Characters Looks Like, Part III: Setting, Plot, and Character Growth (Plus Some Bonus Goodies)

Elizabeth Bartmess  elizabethbartmess.com This is a three-part series. Part I explores autistic interiority and neurology. Part II explores Diversity in Autistic Characteristics and Demographics. In Part I of this series, I talked about how good representation of autistic characters shows interiority—characters’ inner experiences and reasons for doing things—and how various aspects of autistic neurology affect our experiences, particularly sensory differences, language and speech differences, social skills and abilities, and our ability to strongly enjoy specific interests. I also briefly mentioned executive function, the usefulness of routines and structures, motor difficulties, and a few other common differences, plus some common co-conditions, and discussed how having these differences, and having to interact with others surrounding them, results in our developing skills and coming to new situations with particular expectations for what will happen. In Part II, I talked about variation among autistic people: we each have a particular constellation of neurological characteristics…

What Good Representation of Autistic Characters Looks Like, Part II: Diversity in Autistic Characteristics and Demographics

Elizabeth Bartmess  elizabethbartmess.com This is a three-part series. Part I explores autistic interiority and neurology. Part III explores Setting, Plot, and Character Growth.  In Part I, I talked about how neurological differences affect autistic people’s internal experiences and strategies, and how we change over time as a result. Today, I’ll talk about variation in autistic characteristics, in our and others’ relationship to our diagnosis (or lack of it), and variation in demographics, as well as how others’ perceptions of us influence how they treat us, and how we change in response. On Friday, I’ll bring everything together and add some thoughts and links to advice on writing autistic characters, along with a list of some common aspects of autistic experience that are underrepresented in fiction, plus a list of all the books and short stories I’ve mentioned. Even though autistic people have many things in common, we also vary a…