The Protective Gift of Meltdowns

Maxfield Sparrow Photo © 2017, Maxfield Sparrow [image description: a turtle in the middle of the road on a hot, sunny day. His skin is dark with bright yellow stripes and his shell is ornate, covered with swirls of dark brown against a honey-yellow background. The turtle is rushing to get across the street and his back leg is extended from the speed and force of his dash toward freedom.] I hate meltdowns. I hate the way they take over my entire body. I hate the sick way I feel during a meltdown and I hate the long recovery time—sometimes minutes, but just as often entire days—afterward, when everything is too intense, and I am overwhelmed and exhausted and have to put my life on hold while I recover. I hate the embarrassment that comes from a meltdown in front of others. I hate the fear that bubbles up…

Kerima Çevik, a Black woman over 50 with braided gray hair wearing Neurodiversity 3.0 by ThinkGeek, a black T-shirt with a world globe design on the upper chest area in the shape of a human brain, colored in physical map fashion i.e., water is colored light blue and land masses green, clouds white, looking to her left over bent wire-rimmed glasses in that way that mothers look at their children when an outrageous behavior has just ensued.

#AutisticWhileBlack: Diezel Braxton And Becoming Indistinguishable From One’s Peers

Kerima Çevik The author’s idea of what displaying autism positivity looks like [Image: a Black woman over 50 with braided gray hair wearing Neurodiversity 3.0 by ThinkGeek, a black T-shirt with a world globe  design on the upper chest area in the shape of a human brain, colored in physical map fashion i.e., water is colored light blue  and land masses green, clouds white, looking to her left  over bent wire-rimmed glasses in that way that mothers look at  their children when an outrageous behavior has just ensued.] There is an article in a paper called The Daily Net, about singer Toni Braxton’s 16-year-old son Diezel working as a professional model for the past two years. The article refers to him as “formerly autistic.” It goes on to say he has, “fortunately, moved past” autism and is now a celebrity himself. Apparently, when her son was thirteen, Ms. Braxton…


In Silence and in Sound: Autistics Do Not Benefit From Presumptions of Deficit

Photo: Ian Chen | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Close-up black-and-white photo of a young East Asian child, with one finger over their lips in a position indicating “hush.”] Maxfield Sparrow When an academic writes accurately about aspects of autistic lived experience, some people grumble. “All they needed to do was ask me and I would have told them,” some will say. “We’ve known this for years but they act like it’s a shocking new revelation,” others might add. I, however, rejoice. Formal confirmation of autistic common knowledge is exactly the kind of research we need out there. I am so happy when an academic paper states the obvious (at least obvious to us autistics) because it means there is finally an information source that “the system” will respect. Do I wish people would actually listen to actual autistics? Most definitely, I do. But until we manage to shift…


Book Review: The State of Grace, by Rachael Lucas

Elizabeth Bartmess Book Cover via [image: Cover of the book The State of Grace: A medium-green background covered with rows of lighter green happy face emojis tilted sideways, except one pink sad face emoji on the lower right. Large white text in an all-caps informal font reads: “The State of Grace” Smaller text in white script reads, “Rachael Lucas” Smaller white all-caps informal text in the upper right reads, “Sometimes fitting in means standing out.”] The State of Grace is a young adult novel narrated by Grace, a fifteen-year-old high school student who deals with common teenage issues like dating, friendships, family conflict, and birthday parties, while also being autistic in a world not designed for autistic people. Grace is a well-rounded and sympathetic character. She has various interests (horses, wildlife, Doctor Who, My Little Ponies), rides and cares for a horse, has friendships and complex relationships with…


An (Autistic) Review of Vibes Hi-Fi Earplugs

Vibes Hi-Fi Earplugs. Photo from [image: White earplugs resting in a black box with red sides.] Jeff at Spectrum Disordered First off, I am quite sensory sensitive/defensive to noise. “Bad” sounds shut me down and hurt, even at low volumes, if it is the wrong type of noise. My existing coping mechanisms have been playing music through in-ear headphones, and foam earplugs. I haven’t tried many stand-alone active noise-canceling products, save for a few hi-fi music headphones with noise cancelling features. In reviewing the Vibes earplugs, I am primarily contrasting them with foam earplugs. Unboxing The Vibes come in an attractive small package, containing items similar to what you would expect from music earbuds: the earplugs themselves, additional small and large fit rubber earbud inserts, and matchbook-sized carrying case. For anyone who has carried foam earbuds in a pocket, the carrying case is a bonus. Though the case is…


Autism and Addiction: A Problem with Deep Roots

Photo © Taston | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: A white person’s hand reaching for a blister pack of red & blue pills] Maxfield Sparrow Autistic people stereotypically don’t drink alcohol, or take drugs. We love clear boundaries and rules, so we don’t do anything illegal. We’re generally less susceptible to peer pressure. And everyone knows drinking is a social activity, so obviously autistic people wouldn’t even drink, let alone become alcoholics. Right? Wrong. Not only do some autistics drink and/or use drugs, but we risk addiction as well. The roots of autistic people’s addiction can go all the way back to childhood, so it’s very important to think about how we are raising autistic children today—if we want to help them avoid the pitfalls of addiction in the future. Why Do Autistics Drink and/or Use Drugs? This question is easy to answer. Ask any autistic person—even those who…

Photo of a person from mid-thighs down, standing on tippy toes, wearing red over-the-knee socks spangled with pink and black swooshes.

Autistic People Move Differently, Too

Dyspraxia is when you have a lot of trouble with motor planning, which is our ability to learn new movements. So it’s not the practicing part of it, it’s the learning part. When you’re introduced to [a new movement], how smoothly can your brain understand what the demands are and get your body to do that?