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Little Victories: Publishers Need to Stop Framing Resenting Autistic Children as “Love”

Shannon Des Roches Rosa twitter.com/shannonrosa “What does the story you tell matter, if the world is set upon hearing a different one?” –Ta-Nehisi Coates After my autistic son was diagnosed 18 years ago, I went looking for autism and parenting guidebooks. And while I found exactly zero mainstream resources for helping him be a happy and well-adjusted autistic person, I did find a sizable industry centered on “fixing” him, whether through ABA therapy, specialized diets, supplements, or worse.  It’s not surprising that humane strategies for parenting autistic children were not selling books in 2003, as the autism zeitgeist had only just moved on from blaming autism on “refrigerator mothers” and exploded into an autism-vaccine-epidemic panic. That era’s media outlets would typically only frame autistic children as damaged goods who needed to be reshaped into “normal” children. But we have long since debunked the autism epidemic and vaccine causation myths, plus…

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Wouldn’t You Want to Know If Your Autistic Child Was Being Harmed?

Created by Ezra Katz, Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons [image: Simplified all-black figures of an adult holding the hand of a child while they stand side-by-side, on a yellow background.] Autistic Science Person twitter.com/AutSciPerson I am exhausted by non-autistic parents who: Ignore the experience of autistic people who went through ABA  Say ABA “was never like that” for their child  Assume their child cannot be traumatized long-term because they “seem happy”  Think we’re saying they’re trash parents You can’t speak for your kid. You can’t know what they think, what they feel, and what may have caused them long-term trauma that they’ll have to work through. You. Can’t. Know. That. Right. Now. That’s not how mental health effects from masking and from sensory invalidation work. And then I try to remember that when I’m talking to one parent who is speaking over their kid and their experience, five or ten…

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On “Energy Budgeting” and Acknowledging Internal Autistic Realities

Photo courtesy the author. [image: Photo of Anne Corwin, as a child of about 7 years old with pale skin  and dark hair with bangs. She is sitting on a tree branch while leaning against the trunk and looking into the distance.] By Anne Corwin Too many of us (autistic people) grow up knowing only how to run on momentum, and operate in a depleted state much of the time without even realizing it… until we “crash,” leaving us and everyone around us asking, “what happened?!” Regardless of whether we are put through formal ABA programs as kids—or even whether or not we’re accurately diagnosed as children—autistic folks often end up learning the polar opposite of “energy budgeting.” This is partly due to a defect in how our society at large operates, of course—but that’s a whole other gigantic discussion beyond the scope of this article. There are still things…

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The First Tendrils of Communication

Photo © Shannon Des Roches Rosa [image: Orange and purple flowers among green leaves.] Cal Montgomery montgomerycal.wordpress.com twitter.com/Cal__Montgomery For Mel Baggs and Phil Smith, who knew, and know, communion with the wild places better than I can imagine. Do you remember how you learned to communicate? If you communicate pretty typically, odds are it wasn’t perfect, but it included something like: you reached out socially, and people reached back. You looked at them; they gazed adoringly back at you. You smiled; they smiled back and waved. “Hi, Baby! Hi! Oh, what a beautiful face!” You laughed; they reveled in your chortles and giggles and were silly in the hope that you would laugh again. You cried; they held you and comforted you and tried to figure out what was making you miserable. You called out at night; they pulled themselves out of exhausted slumber, scooped you up, and blearily cuddled…

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It’s Never Just a Sandwich

Photo © Angelina Creations | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: An Asian child eating a sandwich.] Emma Dalmayne twitter.com/EDalmayne As an autistic adult and a mother of autistic children  I am often asked about meltdowns and how they feel. I can tell you how it feels to have a meltdown from my perspective, and how to help your child. When you have a meltdown it’s as if the world is ending. Everything is too much, and you feel like an overwhelming darkness has engulfed your very being. Irrepressible anger that may seem completely irrational to an outsider can be inwardly devastating us internally. When your child suddenly explodes because their sandwich has been cut at the wrong angle, or another child has won a game—or even because they have been jostled in a queue, that’s the catalyst. It’s the last straw on the camel’s back. It’s not the sandwich necessarily; it’s a…

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Getting Through The Pandemic With Art-Fueled Joy

Sunday Stillwell For the past three years, I have worked in a local elementary school as a one-to-one support aide to a handful of K-2 students with various intellectual disabilities, in a self-contained functional academic life-skills (FALS) classroom. My job is to assist the student I am working with in all aspects of their day. I sing songs during circle time, help them learn to request items with their communication devices, teach ABCs and 123s, and during recess I play tag because it made everyone giggle and little bodies have a lot of energy to burn in the last two hours of school. But, hands-down my favorite days are the ones when we draw pictures, sculpt creatures out of clay, or create masterpieces in art class using bits of rolled up tissue paper, glue, and a vivid imagination. My favorite days. Then, in March 2020, COVID-19 hit, and those in…

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Recognizing How Autistic Children Express Love

Image © Farid Iqbal Ibrahim | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: The fingers of two silhouetted hands forming a heart shape.] Ann Memmott annsautism.blogspot.com I want to talk about how autistic children might express love for their parents or carers.  A well known book about ‘five love languages‘ says that these languages are: Words of affection. Doing things for someone Giving gifts Quality time together Physical touch It’s certainly true that there may be a good few autistic young people who express their love for their closest family using one or more of those. But there are other ‘languages of love’ in autistic communities: 1) “I love you, so I won’t cause you a brain event by overloading you with eye contact and other social/sensory stuff.“ But of course in the world of non-autistic people, this may be deemed rude, aloof, ‘in their own world.’  A misunderstanding. 2. “I love…