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On “Energy Budgeting” and Acknowledging Internal Autistic Realities

Photo courtesy the author. [image: Photo of Anne Corwin, as a child of about 7 years old with pale skin  and dark hair with bangs. She is sitting on a tree branch while leaning against the trunk and looking into the distance.] By Anne Corwin Too many of us (autistic people) grow up knowing only how to run on momentum, and operate in a depleted state much of the time without even realizing it… until we “crash,” leaving us and everyone around us asking, “what happened?!” Regardless of whether we are put through formal ABA programs as kids—or even whether or not we’re accurately diagnosed as children—autistic folks often end up learning the polar opposite of “energy budgeting.” This is partly due to a defect in how our society at large operates, of course—but that’s a whole other gigantic discussion beyond the scope of this article. There are still things…

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Advocating for Autism Acceptance in Tanzania

M. Kelter theinvisiblestrings.com CN: Physical abuse A few months ago, I was contacted by an autism support organization in Tanzania, and asked to follow their upcoming public events on social media. The group is called the Living Together Autistic Foundation (Li-TAFO) and created these events as a way to share autism education and reduce stigma in communities that otherwise have little to no resources available. As these efforts began to unfold, it was clear from their Instagram page that audiences, initially small, were growing into much larger crowds. To better understand the purpose of these events and their potential impact, I communicated via email with Li-TAFO’s creator, Shangwe Isaac Mgaya, who is currently endeavoring to create an autism center in her area that would be the first of its kind. Photo © Li-TAFO.  [image: Photo of a group of Tanzanian adults and children, in front of a LI-TAFO banner.] M: On…

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What Happened to Ethics, in Research About Autistic People?

Photo © Thomas Haynie | Flickr / Creative Commons  [image: Scrabble tiles spelling out the word “Research.”] Ann Memmott annsautism.blogspot.com I wondered whether a recent major international autism conference had discussed ethics as a topic this year.  I found one discussion. Well, that’s better than none, for a three day conference about our lives.  Here’s part of that research team’s paper. It’s called “Pervasive Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest in Applied Behavior Analysis Autism Literature” and was written in 2021 by Bottema-Beutel, and Crowley for a journal called Frontiers in Psychology.   “Result:  Of the 180 studies that met inclusion criteria, we found that 84% had at least one author with …a conflict of interest, but that they were disclosed as conflicts of interest in only 2% of studies…Five of the eight journals we examined had policies requiring disclose of conflicts of interest related to employment; clear violations were evidence in four of…

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The First Tendrils of Communication

Photo © Shannon Des Roches Rosa [image: Orange and purple flowers among green leaves.] Cal Montgomery montgomerycal.wordpress.com twitter.com/Cal__Montgomery For Mel Baggs and Phil Smith, who knew, and know, communion with the wild places better than I can imagine. Do you remember how you learned to communicate? If you communicate pretty typically, odds are it wasn’t perfect, but it included something like: you reached out socially, and people reached back. You looked at them; they gazed adoringly back at you. You smiled; they smiled back and waved. “Hi, Baby! Hi! Oh, what a beautiful face!” You laughed; they reveled in your chortles and giggles and were silly in the hope that you would laugh again. You cried; they held you and comforted you and tried to figure out what was making you miserable. You called out at night; they pulled themselves out of exhausted slumber, scooped you up, and blearily cuddled…

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Why Elon Musk Being Autistic Isn’t That Great For Autistic People

“Elon Musk oveseeing the construction of Gigafactory”  by jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0[image: Elon Musk, wearing mirrored sunglasses and a reflective chartreuse safety vest.] Sarah Kapit twitter.com/SarahKapit Elon Musk announced to the world that he’s autistic on Saturday Night Live. Some people have claimed that this represents a noticeable step forward for autistic people in public life. But I’m not celebrating. My interest here isn’t to rehash all of the reasons why Musk is an obnoxious public figure who has done damaging things to his employees and the world at large—although I hold this opinion. Other people have already written about the litany of his misdeeds. Instead, I want to consider Musk’s shortcomings in the specific context of autism and disability politics. First, Musk did not describe himself as an autistic person. He said he had “Asperger’s,” which is a term that is rooted in ableism. In the U.S., “Asperger’s” is…

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It’s Never Just a Sandwich

Photo © Angelina Creations | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: An Asian child eating a sandwich.] Emma Dalmayne twitter.com/EDalmayne As an autistic adult and a mother of autistic children  I am often asked about meltdowns and how they feel. I can tell you how it feels to have a meltdown from my perspective, and how to help your child. When you have a meltdown it’s as if the world is ending. Everything is too much, and you feel like an overwhelming darkness has engulfed your very being. Irrepressible anger that may seem completely irrational to an outsider can be inwardly devastating us internally. When your child suddenly explodes because their sandwich has been cut at the wrong angle, or another child has won a game—or even because they have been jostled in a queue, that’s the catalyst. It’s the last straw on the camel’s back. It’s not the sandwich necessarily; it’s a…