2987524621_03acd3d57f-9558388

Being Hyper-Verbal Is A Real—And Disabling—Autistic Experience

Photo © ePi.Longo | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Two Vietnamese men, seen from behind, wearing billed caps and squatting as they have a conversation. The man on the right is gesticulating with his left hand.] M. Kelter www.TheInvisibleStrings.com Content note: This article discusses suicide risk factors specific to the autistic experience. In autism discussions, I sometimes notice the word “hyperverbal” being used synonymously with “talking a lot” and I worry this kind of understanding can skip over much of what is really happening with this particular form of communication. Hyperverbal expression, whether it is verbalized or experienced internally, is autism and it is a disability. It has less to do with the volume of words expressed and more to do with the processing style that is common to some autistic people. I want to provide general information about hyperverbal communication here in an effort to help clarify its nature…

What Good Representation of Autistic Characters Looks Like, Part II: Diversity in Autistic Characteristics and Demographics

Elizabeth Bartmess  elizabethbartmess.com This is a three-part series. Part I explores autistic interiority and neurology. Part III explores Setting, Plot, and Character Growth.  In Part I, I talked about how neurological differences affect autistic people’s internal experiences and strategies, and how we change over time as a result. Today, I’ll talk about variation in autistic characteristics, in our and others’ relationship to our diagnosis (or lack of it), and variation in demographics, as well as how others’ perceptions of us influence how they treat us, and how we change in response. On Friday, I’ll bring everything together and add some thoughts and links to advice on writing autistic characters, along with a list of some common aspects of autistic experience that are underrepresented in fiction, plus a list of all the books and short stories I’ve mentioned. Even though autistic people have many things in common, we also vary a…

What Good Representation of Autistic Characters Looks Like, Part I: Interiority and Neurology

Elizabeth Bartmess elizabethbartmess.com This is a three-part series. Part II explores Diversity in Autistic Characteristics and Demographics. Part III explores Setting, Plot, and Character Growth. “A lot of writers and actors seem to be able to get their heads around what autism basically is, in terms of language, sensory, and social communication difficulties. But then it’s as if they don’t know, or can’t extrapolate to, the full range of experiences that autistic people actually live. That things have happened to us, and things have happened in certain ways for us all our lives, and those things have had consequences for who we become and who we are….[T]he autistic characters [readers and viewers] are used to seeing have no depth of experience. They are people without history.” —Chavisory, at Chavisory’s Notebook This series is about what autistic characters look like when they’re written well, when they have the depth of experience…

15155593064_5893793be2_n-4199946

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…

Fish Out of Water

Lydia Wayman autisticspeaks.wordpress.com I take in a gulp of air and shut my eyes tight before I plunge beneath the surface. One, two, three… It starts to feel like my brain is tingling from the inside. Four, five, six… I’m not counting in seconds, not in minutes, but in hours. Seven, eight, nine… I search for anyone, anything who will ground me through my ever-increasing internal chaos. Ten! When given the cue, I cannot break the surface fast enough, gasping for breath. I’ve done this thousands of times, and yet, after twenty-five years of daily descents, I am no more sure that I will survive the next one. —- I’m really not a writer.  Writers have readers.  I write because it’s the only way for me to get from one day to the next without semi-spontaneous internal combustion taking effect. I’m not a writer.  I’m a processor of the world, an organizer…

A Partial History of Ableist Language

Adam Thometz angryautie.wordpress.com I recently came across a post by Lydia Brown at Autistic Hoya, one of my favorite autism/disability blogs, in which she creates a glossary of ableist vocabulary. The reason for including some of the words should be immediately apparent to anyone with their head in this century (eg. “retard,” “mongoloid,” “suffers from ___”) but there are some words, the inclusion of which seems questionable or just overly sensitive or PC to the average person (eg. “idiot,” “dumb,” “moron”). I myself was shocked to find these words as well but it turns out that these words have a dark history that most people are not apparently aware of. When I debate with someone about autism in real life, I might perform what the average person would see as nitpicking: criticizing the use of certain words or phrases. My reason for doing this is that they invisibly propagate the…

Why Wouldn’t Autism Parents Want to Presume Competence?

Jaden Walker about.me/jaden.walker A few days ago, congress held a panel on the rising prevalence of autism. As I worried, a great portion of the debate devolved into the long debunked connection between autism, vaccines, and mercury. To put it mildly, I spent a lot of it with my palm firmly attached to my face. One of the redeeming portions was near the very end, where two actual autistics were allowed to speak: John Michael Carley and Ari Ne’eman. While I won’t get into everything that was said (these two were brilliant, as always), one moment is stuck in my head and I just can’t shake it. One of Carley’s comments was (my quote is probably not exact), “Your sons and daughters with autism can hear what you say about them and read what you write about them.” Before he’d even fully finished the sentence, several people behind him began…

To a Parent in a Parking Lot

Meg Evans megevans.com I met you last weekend when I was leaving a crowded shopping center. Your son, who might have been about ten years old, suddenly did a cartwheel in front of me while I was walking to my car. You took hold of your son’s hand and then glanced toward me and apologized by saying, “He’s retarded, sorry.” I didn’t say anything to you before you went on your way. No doubt your attention was focused on keeping your son safe, and rightly so. You wouldn’t have wanted a nosy stranger to lecture you on how your son might feel about your choice of words. Indeed, you probably believed that your apology was the best way to protect your son’s feelings, by letting me know that there was a reason for his behavior. I’m sure there must have been many times when ignorant, judgmental people yelled at your…

Autism and the New DSM-5 Criteria: Who Will Be Left Behind?

Emily Willingham www.emilywillinghamphd.com When news broke that the autism spectrum categories of Asperger’s disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) would get subsumed into the wider maw of a general “autism disorder,” people worried. They worried about autistic people who are quite verbal or who have typical cognitive skills. What would happen to individuals whose autism doesn’t manifest in those terms as profound? The biggest concern was a new category for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-5, social communication disorder. Would people like my son, diagnosed with Asperger’s and whose autism includes echolalia, anxiety, motor deficits, repetitive behaviors, learning differences, and other features well beyond the social, get rolled into what looks like a flimsy, catchall not-safety net of “social communication disorders”? And what other kind of communication is there if not social? Based on early reports, the concerns were legit. One alarming presentation at a…