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The Unrecovered

Photo © Lluís Ribes Mateu | Flickr / Creative Commons  [Painting of the Ancient Greek demigod Hercules and the giant Antaeus, c. 1570, Oil on canvas. from the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.] Emily Paige Ballou chavisory.wordpress.com This is the reaction I wrote in response to the article The Kids Who Beat Autism, originally published in the New York Times Magazine in 2014. While I have no doubt that the parents and therapists profiled believe they have these kids’ best interests at heart, I was—and am—angry and frustrated at the celebration at their “recovery” on the part of people who are not the ones who are actually going to bear the consequences for the rest of their lives. I’m sad for the kids who are. The parents, teachers, and therapists and researchers without a clue who celebrate “recovery” because they still wrongfully define autism as a fixed set…

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How Finding Autistic Community Leads to Self-Acceptance

David Gray-Hammond, photo courtesy author [image: A white man with short brown hair, a beard, and glasses. He is wearing a teal shirt and light brown pants.] David Gray-Hammond @emgntdivergence Developing skills in self-advocacy can often seem confusing and frustrating. It requires us to be aware of our needs in a detailed way, while also being able to communicate them in a world that so often seeks to silence us. I have always argued that self-acceptance is the first step to self-advocacy, but in order to accept ourselves, we must first know ourselves. When I found the autistic community, I found thousands of people who understood my experience in a way that others simply could not. It was in this understanding that they taught me the vocabulary that I needed to describe my strengths and struggles (in fact, I did not even know the words to describe my most basic…

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Autism, Transmasculine Identity, and Invisibility

The Transgender Pride Flag By SVG file Dlloyd based on Monica Helms design [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons [image: A flag with five horizontal stripes. The center stripe is white, flanked by two pink stripes, then a light blue stripe at the top and the bottom. Devin S. Turk @devinst97 Everyone in my life knows that I’m transgender. Comparatively, very few people know about another major part of me: that I’m autistic. At age twenty-one, I’ve come to understand that many of my young adult years have centered around trying to bridge the gap between my two ways of being: The way that I present myself to the world, and the way that I perceive who I am. I imagine that someday, hopefully soon, those two components of my life won’t feel far apart. And hey, sharing this essay might even help. I realized I was trans when I was…

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Autism and Intense Interests: Why We Love What We Love and Why It Should Matter to You

Photo © Deanna | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: White child with short brown hair holding up a massive bunch of colorful Mardi Gras beads.] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com If you know an Autistic person or are Autistic yourself, you are familiar with the intense interests and consuming passions that we can get so engrossed by that we forget to eat, sleep, or even use the bathroom. While not every Autist has one or more deeply-lived interests*, the laser-focus with which we can approach preferred things is generally considered one of the hallmark traits of autism. An Australian research study from 2016  demonstrated the tremendous value of going directly to Autists, by asking us about this tendency in order to discern our motivations. The researchers wanted to answer the question: why are Autists drawn with such intensity to the things that catch their interest? To that end, they developed a 20-item, self-administered assessment…