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Autistic Replay: Both Involuntary and Misunderstood

Photo © Dean Shareski | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Close-up photo of a remote control’s “Replay” and “Rewind” buttons.] Emma Dalmayne www.Autisticate.com Content note: This article discusses trauma and an infant being assaulted Have you ever watched an autistic individual joyously laugh or begin to sob broken heartedly for no reason apparent to yourself? It’s very likely they are replaying a memory of an event that has passed, possibly as recent as that day or even months or years ago. We can feel the exact same intensity that we felt at that moment, see the same sights, smell the same smells, and hear the same sounds. Depending on if it’s a pleasant memory, we may sit there smiling, giggling, or laughing uproariously—to the amazement of anyone nearby. Similarly our distress is absolute if it’s a depressing memory: tears will run, and the devastating sadness experiences at that time will…

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Starting Points for Understanding Autism

Oolong oolong.co.uk Photo courtesy the author [image: Photo (light-painting) by the author: a spectral outline around a hand and arm, raised as if to flap.] I believe that the best way to understand autistic minds is in terms of a thinking style which tends to concentrate resources in a few interests and concerns at any time, rather than distributing them widely. I wrote in some detail about how this explains the observed features of autism in Me and Monotropism: A Unified Theory of Autism. Here, I want to distill what this means for living and working with autistic people, expanding on the six starting points for understanding autism that I identified in ‘Theories and Practice in Autism.’ I’m writing in the first person here, as a late-identified autistic adult who has worked and talked with many other autistic people in various contexts over many years. I believe that everything I…

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The Best Bar Mitzvah Boy

Todd Drezner www.lovinglamppostsmovie.com Dov and Sam | Photo © Brad Alpernin [image: Two white Jewish pre-teen boys, wearing suit jackets and ties at their Bar Mitzvah service, posing together and smiling for the camera.]   We told our son Sam that there is no applause at Bar Mitzvah services. But when he finished his speech, a wave of clapping and cheering burst forth from the crowd—a genuine display of emotion that no religious custom could have stopped. There was a lot of feeling behind that applause. Love, certainly. Appreciation of a job well done. But also amazement. It’s probably safe to say that not everyone in attendance had expected to see what they’d just seen. And here is where the story gets interesting. But first some background. A Jewish boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah when he turns 13 (a Jewish girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah). Traditionally, the Bar Mitzvah leads…

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Parenting in the Park

arbitrary I took both of my children to the park the other day. It shouldn’t be some sort of big announcement that a mom takes her kids to the park, but I was by myself with my two children, who have very different, needs, wants, and abilities, and I am a chicken. There. I said it. I am a scaredy-cat when it comes to taking my kids out into open, uncontrolled situations by myself, unless Jack is buckled into his wheelchair. He has escaped my grasp so many times, wrenching my shoulder as he goes; there are dangerous situations around every corner, and he is fast. And as mature and amazing Katie is at 5, she really is still a small child who deserves to be looked after on a busy street, or a park… but it is summer, and my children are convincing, so I took them. Katie providing…

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Reflecting on My Future Self

Jennifer Byde Myerswww.jennyalice.com Grocery shopping this morning,  a mom and her son passed by me in the floral department. She is probably in her 50’s because her son looked about 10 years older than mine… and yes, her boy plays for our team: Autism. Right down to the 6 foot 2 inches of young man flapping his hands next to the strawberries and “oooo–Wheeeeing” in the dairy section. I could tell before the stims though, it’s amazing how quickly I can spot a person with autism who’s in the same part of the spectrum as Jack. When I see another family with a special needs child, I always try to smile — at the child, or the parent, hopefully both, to show that, even though I don’t have a stamp on my forehead or my son in tow, I understand a little bit about their life. I always hope that…

Joy, Guilt, Tomatoes: Parenting & Autism

Jennifer Byde Myers www.jennyalice.com My son Jack is a long, lean, boy with an odd gait and a subtle smile. His first diagnosis was benign congenital hypotonia, which was later upped to cerebral palsy, ataxia. He added his autism diagnosis just after he turned three, about the same time he began to walk. He can spin a plate over and over again, but he can not yet stab a piece of food with a fork.  He straddles the worlds of ‘autism’ and ‘special needs’; stimming, using a wheelchair as necessary when his muscles are too weak, or when the environment is too bustling. He’s a young man of few words, unless he does say something, at which point he is always relevant, and often wry. I’m his mom, so I can generally guess what he needs, but communication is a struggle; it can be hard for him to clearly share what…

The Stories We Shared

On March 24, the editors issued this invitation: TPGA would like to share an autism perspective: yours. As members of the autism community, we know that awareness is only a first step. Increased awareness brings opportunities to share our experiences and strive for what people with autism deserve: understanding, and acceptance. …Please send us a short essay on one thing you want readers to know about autism — as it relates to you. Share what you’ve experienced or witnessed. Tell readers about a formative experience; something joyful, or a brief moment of despair. Share your hopes, dreams, past, or future. Anecdotes laced with humor — however dark though not mean-spirited — are especially appreciated. We published 22 stories, vignettes, and interviews. Six personal stories from people with autism Corina Lynn Becker, Why I Am Wearing Black For this young adult with autism, April “is month of reflection, of remembrance. It…