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How Being a Minority (of Mixed Race) on the Autistic Spectrum Shaped My Life

Emanuel Frowner www.instagram.com/emanuelfrowner Emanuel Frowner (photo courtesy the author) [image: A smiling mixed race man with short black hair in a natural style, and a mustache. he is wearing a collared orange-and-blue Knicks pullover.] I grew up mostly in the Bronx with my dad and my grandmother, and I still live there. The neighborhood was dangerous during my childhood because of fighting and drugs—a few people were killed. Therefore, I could not go out alone (until I was 17) and my folks were very protective of me. I would see my mom on the weekends. Sometimes, I would hang out with my siblings (with my folks). They had a different mom than I did, but we had the same dad and grandmother. Even though my grandmother looked very white, she called herself black, but my dad did not agree with her on that. My mom called herself black as well.…

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I’m Not Just Socially Awkward

Photo courtesy the author [image: Blurry photo of a pink ride-on bouncy balloon with an animal face and two “horns” for handles. Overlaid white text reads, “I’m not just socially awkward.” Smaller white text in the lower right corner reads, “@oufoxgloved” and “Autnot.Wordpress.com”] Rhi Lloyd-Williams autistrhi.com When I tell people I’m autistic, it usually goes one of two ways; either they can’t make me fit into their idea of what autism is and completely reject it, or they mark me down as “socially awkward” and leave it there. Autism explains my lack of constant contact, it explains my monologuing about things that interest me, it explains why on social occasions I move around a room like a loose cog in a machine—catching on things, getting stuck in places, jarring against this and that before being knocked into a corner and staying there. Those are the things about me that you…

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Autistic Commonality and the Illusion of “Quirky”

Emily Paige Ballou chavisory.wordpress.com Some people insist on describing the autistic spectrum as ranging from the non-speaking and very profoundly disabled, to the “just quirky.” Or, during discussions about the need for acceptance and accommodation, the same people might tell autistic self-advocates, “That may be fine for autistic people like you who are just quirky, but you’re not like my child.” Some of those same people even insist that autistic people who are “just quirky” should probably have a different label than ‘autism’ altogether. Meanwhile research shows “camoflauging” influences autistic suicidality [image: Screenshot of a tweet. The icon and user name are blurred. The tweet reads, “If u can”disguise” your autism then imo u cannot possibly have autism. #NeedRealDiagnoses #SuckItGroupingEveryoneUnderOneLabel #FocusOnObjectiveReality”] But I actually wouldn’t mind if the word “quirky” were to disappear entirely from autism discussions, and take with it the dismissive and simplistic idea that autism is a…

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Happy (Autism Diagnosis) Anniversary

Chris Williams medium.com/@Marrowsky Hello. My name is Chris Williams. Nice to meet you. I recently celebrated an anniversary. If you’re reading this, thank you for letting me share it with you. On January 7th of 2017, my doctor telephoned. My screening, my tests, my questionnaires, and interviews with my family had been reviewed and evaluated. My diagnosis was in the mail. “…Chris demonstrates pattern of behavior and impairment consistent with Autism Spectrum Disorder 299.00 (F84.)…” I’ll introduce myself again, for the first time: Hello. My name is Chris Williams, and I’m autistic. Nice to meet you. My diagnosis was, it still is, mind boggling to me. Perhaps to those of you who know me. Perhaps not. To have a paradigm shift, at thirty-six years old, in self reflection, and in reflection about my personal relationships. My memories now telling me different stories. An awfully familiar stranger resembling me in mirrors.…

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Autistic, Gifted, And Black: An Interview With Mike Buckholtz

Music producer, actor, and writer Michael “Hot Mike” Buckholtz is also an advocate for autistic people, especially those who, like himself, are part of the Black/POC communities. We recently chatted with Mike via email about his background, some specific challenges (and deadly prejudices) Black autistic people face, and ways he thinks younger autistic people of color can empower themselves. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @OfficialHotMike. Mike Buckholtz [image: Black-and-white photo of Mike Buckholtz: a Black man wearing a silver suit, glasses with blue lenses, and pulled-back locs.] TPGA: Can you tell us a bit about your fabulous career in music and entertainment, and whether being autistic has been a factor? Mike Buckholtz: I started out as a Hip Hop music producer for MC Hammer beginning in 1989. Hammer and I met in 1984 in the U.S. NAVY as barracks roommates. MC made a fantastic statement about that time. (I’ll…

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What Happens to Autistic People in Prison?

What happens to autistic people in prison? We spoke with Clare Hughes, the Criminal Justice Coordinator for the United Kingdom’s National Autistic Society, about the unique experiences of and considerations for incarcerated autistic people. Clare has been leading on the NAS’s work expanding its accreditation programme to police forces, prisons, and probation services. Note that while some discussed issues are UK-specific, many can be generalized. Photo © Dave Nakayama/Creative Commons license [image: Prison cell bars, with the background cell itself slightly out of focus.] Clare Hughes: We don’t know how many autistic people there are in prison in the UK: information about people diagnosed with autism isn’t collected routinely for the general population, let alone for prisoners, and many will be undiagnosed. HM Young Offender Institution (YOI) and Prison at Feltham diagnose young people in the prison, if they are there long enough. In February 2016, they identified that 4.5% of…

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Parents: Don’t Hide Your Children’s Autism Diagnoses From Them

Reid Knight Dear Parent who is considering not telling your child about their autism: Like many autistics, I found out about my autism through Google. Unlike many autistics, Googling didn’t lead me to a self-diagnosis of autism (though I view self-diagnosis as just as valid as a professional diagnosis). My parents only told me I was autistic after looking at my internet history, and finding out that I already knew. I was fourteen years old when, out of curiosity, I Googled the doctor I had been seeing for as long as I could remember — and discovered that the medication cocktail I had been taking since I was a toddler was actually an “alternative” treatment for autism. For twelve years, I was given 10 to 20 pills each day, without being told what they were for. I was also subjected to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and other therapies without being…

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Black and Autistic – Is There Room at the Advocacy Table?

Dr. Poinsett aka Godmother Doc and @yayayarndiva [image: photo of a Black woman with short silver-and-black hair.] Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett Over the last year, the Nation of Islam — which does not represent mainstream Islam — has resurrected the fallacious “CDC Whistleblower” argument that vaccines, and the MMR vaccine in particular, is causing autism in Black males. That autism is something to be feared, eradicated. At times the rhetoric has gone so far as to accuse vaccines of killing black and brown children. As both a Black pediatrician and mother of a son with severe mental health and learning disorders, I know that vaccines prevent diseases, save lives, and do not cause autism. Many studies unequivocally show that there is no connection between vaccine components and the development of autism. Autism manifests independently of the vaccine schedule. The reality is that autism is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that likely…