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The Unrecovered

Photo © Lluís Ribes Mateu | Flickr / Creative Commons  [Painting of the Ancient Greek demigod Hercules and the giant Antaeus, c. 1570, Oil on canvas. from the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.] Emily Paige Ballou chavisory.wordpress.com This is the reaction I wrote in response to the article The Kids Who Beat Autism, originally published in the New York Times Magazine in 2014. While I have no doubt that the parents and therapists profiled believe they have these kids’ best interests at heart, I was—and am—angry and frustrated at the celebration at their “recovery” on the part of people who are not the ones who are actually going to bear the consequences for the rest of their lives. I’m sad for the kids who are. The parents, teachers, and therapists and researchers without a clue who celebrate “recovery” because they still wrongfully define autism as a fixed set…

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When Autistic People Have Epilepsy

Photo © Ivo Dimitrov | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Illustration of a human brain, in profile, made of colorful cogs in various sizes and shapes.] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [Content note: This post discusses suicidality, mental health, and death.] In the early 1990s, I was engaged to a man with epilepsy. He had tonic-clonic seizures and he was a big guy, so I was always alert to the possibility of an episode. I knew there were stores we couldn’t shop in, and roads I couldn’t drive down. I caught his body and lowered him safely to the ground more times than I can remember. I guarded him from the pressing crowd of curious onlookers when he came around after a public seizure. And I worried, feeling helpless, when his medication levels were off, and he had seizure after seizure. I can’t know what it is like to have epilepsy or…

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Untwisting Perceptions: Autism, Parenting, and Victimhood

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com Content note: this article discusses murder, disability, and mental health. There is a horrifyingly typical coupling of devotion with murder, whenever disabled people are the victims. A recent example is Ruby Knox, an autistic young woman, who was murdered by her mother Donella, in Blenheim, New Zealand. Donella drugged Ruby, then suffocated her. Both the reporting and the judge on the case portray Donella as a “loving mum who was driven to kill her daughter.” I’m here to say: Fuck that. I need you — and judges and reporters everywhere — to understand that, however difficult it may be for families to support their disabled loved ones, murder is never excusable. There are always other options. Always. That last message is especially important when you consider that disability-related filicides like Ruby’s are more common than the occasional high-profile story might have one suppose — according to Julia Bascom…

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The Effects of Stigmatizing Language on Suicidal Autistics

M. Kelter theinvisiblestrings.com Photo by Boudewijn Berends, used under a Creative Commons license [image: head and shoulders of a person wearing glasses backlit by partially-lighted fog and clouds.] When it comes to online discussions about autism issues, I regularly interact with two realms. The first realm is one we’re all familiar with: the day-to-day articles and conversations and debates that take place regarding a wide range of spectrum issues. Causation, research, personal stories, opinions … just the usual autism topics that you come across as you scroll around blogs, and Twitter, and Facebook. The second realm consists of an invisible community. It’s made up of people who are absorbing every discussion, every debate, every article … yet they are not participating, not sharing their own ideas. They’re just there, quietly and attentively taking it all in. This second group is made up of suicidal autistics. This is not just an…

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Rejecting the Politics of Shame

TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today, Finn Gardiner talks about being the “truest, best self” he can be, tackling the “politics of shame head-on,” and recognizing “that I could live with my autistic, black, queer, trans self without guilt just for being alive.” Finn Gardiner [image: Selfie of a smiling black person with shaved hair & rectangular gold-rimmed glasses.] Finn Gardiner www.expectedly.org My path to autism acceptance and rejecting the politics of shame came along with my recognition of the other intersections I experience: recognising my gender identity, fighting internalised racism, and defining and following a path that was based on my own self-determined goals — rather than what parents, professionals, and other authority figures around me deemed appropriate. My childhood and adolescence were steeped in the politics of shame. Family members…

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Sometimes Accommodations Aren’t Enough: Autism and Anxiety

TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today, John Elder Robison talks about why accommodation is important, yet may not be enough to help autistic people like him with co-occuring conditions such as anxiety. John Elder Robison jerobison.blogspot.com With April being Autism month, the folks at TPGA asked me to write about accommodations. How about anxiety, Shannon asked? Foolishly, I agreed. After thinking about the topic for hours, till smoke dribbled from my ears, I cannot conceive of any accommodation I could request around my anxiety. Photo © John Elder Robison [Image: Close up of water running over a rock in a stream.] For me, anxiety is one of the most disabling aspects of autism, and it’s with me — at least at a low level — most all the time. I am almost…

When Autism and Schizoaffective Converge

Cissi Tsang www.samarobryn.com There have been various studies and speculation abounding regarding the relationship between the autism spectrum and the schizophrenia spectrum. That is not surprising because there are some similarities in behaviours between the two. Both conditions feature such things as social withdrawal, difficulty with empathy and difficulty with reading verbal and non-verbal cues. What happens if both conditions collide and exist together within a person? This is an area that is not often explored. It is almost as if the population of people who have both an autism spectrum diagnosis and a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis do not exist in the minds of most people. However — such people do exist. I am one of them. I have Asperger’s syndrome, as well as Schizoaffective Disorder. How can it be, though? I must note that the DSM-IV-TR does note this possibility. Although rare, it does happen. With this article, I…

For Autistic Teens Feeling Doomed or Broken

You are not alone. Many teens who receive an autism diagnosis feel broken, and suffer from pain of acceptance — even to the point of suicidal thoughts. And the resources you need are not easy to find. So we asked several adult autistics who were once autistic teens themselves: If you were in this headspace, how would you feel, what would you want people to say to you, what could possibly help? These are their replies. Karla Fisher I was angry the day I received my diagnosis. At first it just made me feel “broken.” People tried to tell me that I was the same person I was before. But those words did not make me feel better. Reaching “acceptance” of my label took me around eighteen months. There is very little written about this process that pertains to autistic people as our emotions do not neatly lineup in the…