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Why Do So Many Autistic People Flap Our Hands?

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [image: rainbow colored hands in silhouette, upraised and reaching out with joy.] The saying goes, “if you’ve met one Autistic person, you’ve met one Autistic person.” That was really hammered home for me today as I watched a short video in which an Autistic man explains why Autistic people flap our hands … and pretty much nothing he said matched up with my own experience. A few of the things he said even bothered me. My intention is not to erase what he said, however. His view of why he used to flap his hands is just as valid as my view of why I still flap my hands. There are many ways of being Autistic. (Since the video was not captioned, I took the time to make a transcript of it for those who can’t hear or understand it. That was fortunate as the original video…

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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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What Makes Institutions Bad

Mel Baggs ballastexistenz.wordpress.com Buffalo State Hospital, closed in 1974. Photo © Shannon O’Toole[image: A dilapidated interior hallway of a former state hospital.] Most people don’t have the foggiest clue what’s bad about institutions. What’s bad is something you pretty much never hear about, which is the violence it does to people’s insides at a very deep level. And that can’t be stopped by just removing the things that LOOK bad and throwing a layer of glamour on top. Please, please, please everyone who talks about this in the past tense—STOP. This is still going on. Everywhere. I think too many people get the wrong kind of idea. They will think that this is over. It’s not. They will think that the awfulness and cruelty of an institution is measured by the size, the shape, the physical beauty or lack thereof, the amount of money funneled into it. And those things are…

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Life, Animated: An Autistic Adult’s Review

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [image description: a movie poster for Life Animated. The movie title is in red on a blue background. The top half of Owen Suskind’s head is at the bottom of the image and line drawings of figures from Disney animated movies surround him.] Last week I went with friends to the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine, to see the indie documentary, Life, Animated. Life, Animated is based on a book by Ron Suskind, a journalist and father to Owen Suskind, the Autistic young man who is the film’s subject and an absolute delight. Owen’s greatest love in life is Disney movies and these films have sustained him through many dark years of isolation and bullying (years Owen calls “glop”) as well as all the disappointments and tragedies a well-lived life can bring. And Owen’s life is well-lived, indeed. He is a charming man, a natural…

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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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Rethinking Unhappiness

Ariane Zurcher emmashopebook.com I was alerted to an article written by Dr. Michael Oberschneider entitled Ask Dr. Mike: Expecting and Anxious About Autism. In the piece he writes, “Some of the happiest parents I know (both personally and professionally) have children on the Autistic Spectrum.” In the comments section people weighed in with their thoughts. Many parents wrote of their outrage (and a few of their disbelief) that Dr. Mike suggest “happy” parents of Autistic children even exist. They seemed to equate happiness with a lack of concern. A number of parents suggested that Dr. Mike was simply wrong and refused to believe that he could actually know such parents. One person went so far as to suggest he was trying to trump up more clients, which is an interesting idea, but the logic of that argument eludes me. Before I go any further, I have to say this — there was…

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Happy

S.R. Salas srsalas.com We want April — Autism Acceptance Month — to matter, to help further acceptance and understanding of autistic experiences, happiness, and rights for autistic people of all ages and abilities. We will be publishing your Autism Acceptance posts and pictures all month long. If you want to participate, contact us at thinkingautism at gmail dot com. -TPGA Editors A lady asked me what I wanted for my child (Bas). My answer to her was the same answer I would give if asked the same question about Bella or Lex. And that answer is this:  I want him to be happy! The lady I told this to didn’t think that was such a good answer. As a matter of fact she tried to impress upon me in a very patronizing tone that my hopes for my son were “not very realistic.” Please remember, that this walking book of …

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The Cost of Compliance Is Unreasonable

Beth Ryan loveexplosions.wordpress.com Today I sat in my dentist’s reception area waiting for my appointment. This time my panic had nothing to do with my fear of all things dentist. I had just read this blog entry [Unstrange Mind’s No You Don’t]. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. My husband wept after reading it. This woman articulated so many of my feelings about Evie’s autism — giving them credibility and reason coming from a woman who has autism. Last year at school, Evie was “flopping” often. Flopping meaning sinking to the floor. Some of her special educators felt like it was a behavior and by allowing it to continue, they would be reinforcing the behavior. I felt like maybe it was a behavior sometimes. Maybe it was a function of her motor planning/neurological disorders. We went back and forth about it. Me stating that she needs time…

How To Address Parental Fears About Autism

Brenda Rothman mamabegood.blogspot.com Parents of autistic children are exposed to fears about their children way too early and too often. We hear fears about cognitive ability, fitting in, relationships, bullying, adulthood, job opportunities, independence, financial support, catching up. What we read on the internet scares us. What we read in the paper scares us. What service providers, teachers, and well-meaning people tell us scares us. Sometimes we get stuck in fear and we can’t find a way out. Our brains are wired to produce more connections to the areas we use more. So the more time we spend stuck in fear around our children and their futures, the more connections we build, the stronger those areas become. We build more neural roads between our synapses of autism and fear. We get stuck on those roads. Autistic children and adults have valid and genuine challenges. And parents need to address those. …