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Neurodiverse-Friendly Workplaces in Your Community: A Symposium Report

Photo courtesy Max Sparrow [image: Symposium organizers and presenters stand in front of the Dirt Coffee Truck while the Dirt workers smile from the left window of the truck. From left to right, the people pictured are: Dr. Elaine Meyer, Bill Morris, Lauren Burgess, Kris Harrington, Drew Webster, Dr. Stephen Shore, Dr. Kristie Koenig, Thomas Koenig, David Finch, Becca Lory Hector, Philip Tedeschi, Antonio Hector, Erica Elvove.] Maxfield Sparrow UnstrangeMind.com I am sitting in Dirt Coffee in Littleton, Colorado. Ryan, an outgoing young woman with enormous blue eyes, has served me a massive Americano to which I’ve added tons of cream. “Do you know about our mission?” she asks me. I do know the mission of Dirt Coffee, but I let her tell me anyway because I want the joy of hearing the words again.  I discovered Dirt Coffee earlier today when I attended a symposium at the University of Denver’s…

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Rethinking Autism and “Picky Eating”

Photo © Melissa | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Lunch box with each food type in a different compartment. Foods include pretzels, jellybeans, raspberries, sliced cucumber, and whole wheat sandwich bread in a butterfly cutout.]  Alex Earhart autisticallyalex.com For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ashamed of what I do and don’t eat. The stigma of being a “picky eater” has followed me my whole life, bringing comments (and no small amount of exasperation) from family, friends, wait staff, and strangers. I’ve recently been examining why I struggle with certain foods, and have come to the same conclusion as I have with much of my post-autism-diagnosis self-exploration: I’m actually incredibly strong, and my experiences are real and valid. Why am I so “picky”? Well, if you could experience my senses for a few hours, I bet you’d be more understanding, less judgmental, and I’m fairly certain you’d stop…

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On ABA: They hate you. Yes, you.

Amanda Forest Vivian adeepercountry.blogspot.com Content note: Includes discussion of discrimination and abuse by teachers and ABA practitioners, and a photo of a child in ABA therapy receiving an electric shock. —- I always think about Danny, who was not really named Danny. It’s too bad I can’t use his real name because it’s one of my favorite names. I’m sure he’s forgotten me, but I can remember his name, his face, his favorite subway train, and the words he made up. He was a kid I met this summer at the school where I interned. I have written about him several times, sometimes at length. And although he was my favorite kid at the school, that isn’t why Danny is always surfacing in my mind, tiny in his big t-shirts, flinging himself around and reciting things. It’s through Danny that I found out for sure, this stuff is about me.…

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Review of Killer Caregiver (Lifetime Movies)

[image: Promotional graphic for the movie Killer Caregiver, with a black background, a woman’s face with a malicious expression and a red filter, and bright orange block letters reading, “Killer Caregiver”.] autisticaplanet through1filter.blogspot.com Content note: Some plot spoilers, mentions of violence. Killer Caregiver stands out from the rest of Lifetime Movie Thrillers. First of all, the adults in the movie actually dress and act like believable adults, not petty, spoiled man-boys or woman-girls—though they do live in a McMansion like nearly every Lifetime movie family in the 2000’s through the present. This thriller also differs from the Lifetime norm as the main character Mariah’s son, Jacob, has autism. When a male client makes an unwanted aggressive advance on Mariah (Nicole Hayden), she jumps from her van in an attempt to escape. He then becomes pinned to an entrance gate by the rolling-in-neutral car. He dies and Mariah survives, though she…

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What Is Light Sensitivity Like for One Autistic?

Photo © Jasper Nance | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Photo of lightning exploding in a purple night sky above silhouetted conifer trees.] M. Kelter theinvisiblestrings.com I’ve had a life-long aversion to lights. I wanted to share what this means in terms of the subjective experience, and how this sensitivity generally seems to operate. The concept of a sensory aversion is probably self-explanatory, but it can include more subtle effects that may not be as apparent. I’ve noticed two primary factors that can cause my eyes to feel pain (no surprises here): brightness levels, and sudden changes in lighting. What are the types of “pain” involved, specifically? This can vary. Certainly an intensely bright light can cause a sharp pain, but that’s probably true for many people. Let’s define “intensely bright” as something akin to a camera flash. That can cause a sharp, stabbing pain, and that pain can persist…

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I Might Be You / Neurodiversity: A Review of Two Books

[image: Cover of the book “I Might Be You,” showing two seating white women facing and engaging with each other.] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com I Might Be You: An Exploration of Autism and Connection (2012) By Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky; Audio version (2013) read by Lois Prislovsky PhD and Ariane Zurcher Neurodiversity: A Humorous and Practical Guide to Living with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Dyslexia, The Gays, and Everyone Else (2016) By Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky; Audio version (2016) read by Chad Dougatz, Lois Prislovsky PhD, Carol Riggs Holloway, John Bond, and Jery Yarber I read “I Might Be You” in 2014 and loved it, but never thought to review it back then. When I discovered that Barb Rentenbach and Lois Prislovsky had a second book out, I got it in an Audible version and, on a whim, decided to get the Audible version of “I Might Be You” as well, and…

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Hoshi and the Red City Circuit: An Excellent Debut by a Neurodivergent Author About Neurodivergent Protagonists

[image: Illustrated cover of the book Hoshi and the Red City Circuit, by Dora M Raymaker, featuring a person in silhouette sitting on the ground fending off rays of power from a pitchfork-wielding person silhouetted in red.] Kelly Israel Introduction Hoshi and the Red City Circuit, the debut work by Dora Raymaker, is first and foremost an excellent page-turning detective story about private investigator Hoshi Archer’s race to discover who murdered three Operators. Operators are a caste of people with disabilities. They are also the only people who have the ability to run the multi-layered, complex technology of the future. It is next a story about Hoshi herself and the many friends, allies, acquaintances, enemies, and lovers she has known and cared for on her way to becoming the person that she is. Hoshi is also a story that grapples with the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) community’s ghosts and…