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A Documentary About “Scary” Kids Scares Me—On Behalf of the Kids

One of the families featured in A Dangerous Son (Source: HBO) [image: A white family of four, with two young kids, on a couch together.] Kit Mead kpagination.wordpress.com Content note: Discusses violence and abuse regarding children with mental illness and disability, and the Newtown shootings. I’m not going to watch “A Dangerous Son,” the HBO documentary that tells “a story about families with children who have psychiatric disorders that lead to violent behavior.” I’m going to avoid it mostly because I have already read all of those stories. Again. And again. And again. And I have found them incredibly disturbing each time—on behalf of the children who are being written off and exploited. Especially because, as Mel Baggs points out: Across violent and abusive sets of environments, we—the kids—are the only ones seen as having a violence problem. And those environments are so very often the context for “violent outbursts.” Like…

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The Stories We Don’t Tell: My Mom On Raising An Autistic Child And Why She’ll Never Write About Me

Sarah Kurchak and her Mother Jane Kurchak  [image: Cheerfully geeky selfie of the author, a white Canadian woman wearing glasses and also goggles on top of her head; and her mother, a white woman also wearing glasses plus a pinstriped blue collared shirt, tie, and white jacket.] Sarah Kurchak www.riskyfuel.com When I’m feeling particularly frustrated with my career, I offer to ghostwrite a memoir for my mom. It’s a slightly bitter, semi-serious joke. I’m mostly taking a shot at the fact that the memoirs that non-autistic parents write about raising their autistic children have a much better shot at getting published and selling than anything that I, as an autistic person, could ever hope to write about autism. But there’s also a little part of me that just wants that payday. (I can’t extend this offer to my dad, because he’s a fellow autist and no one seems particularly interested in…

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Autistic, Gifted, And Black: An Interview With Mike Buckholtz

Music producer, actor, and writer Michael “Hot Mike” Buckholtz is also an advocate for autistic people, especially those who, like himself, are part of the Black/POC communities. We recently chatted with Mike via email about his background, some specific challenges (and deadly prejudices) Black autistic people face, and ways he thinks younger autistic people of color can empower themselves. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @OfficialHotMike. Mike Buckholtz [image: Black-and-white photo of Mike Buckholtz: a Black man wearing a silver suit, glasses with blue lenses, and pulled-back locs.] TPGA: Can you tell us a bit about your fabulous career in music and entertainment, and whether being autistic has been a factor? Mike Buckholtz: I started out as a Hip Hop music producer for MC Hammer beginning in 1989. Hammer and I met in 1984 in the U.S. NAVY as barracks roommates. MC made a fantastic statement about that time. (I’ll…

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Study Shows that Puzzle Pieces Evoke Negativity from the Public

Morton Ann Gernsbacher www.gernsbacherlab.org [Image: M.Remi Yergeau, a white person   with shoulder-length blond hair, holding a sign that has a puzzle piece image with a red slash through it and the wording, “People not puzzles.”]  Why was the study conducted? They’re everywhere. On the lapels of NCAA basketball coaches during the Final Four. On a FOX reporter’s bowtie during the World Series. On bumper stickers, backpacks, bracelets, beer koozies, tote bags, and the background of a prime-time soap opera. They are puzzle pieces intended to represent autism (and autistic people). Symbolizing autism with a puzzle piece began with the UK’s National Autistic Society: “… designed by a [non-autistic] parent … It first appeared on our stationary and then on our newsletter in April 1963. Our Society was the first autistic society in the world, and our puzzle piece has … been adopted by all the autistic societies which have followed.”…

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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…

NeuroTribes: A Reminder And Reflection of Our Humanity

M. Kelter theinvisiblestrings.com As an autistic, the impression I was left with after reading Steve Silberman’s book NeuroTribes was one of enormous relief. The book not only avoids the usual pitfalls of fear-mongering and stigmatizing language that surround the topic of autism, but actually explains the origins of those pitfalls — as it pieces together a comprehensive history of both the autism spectrum itself, and the various ways ‘autism’ has been defined over the decades. [Image: The cover of the book NeuroTribes, by Steve Silberman.] Knowing this reaction to NeuroTribes had a lot to do with my own diagnosis, I became curious as to how non-autistics feel about Silberman’s book. The result was conversations with two people who have different connections to autism: Michael McWatters, the father of an autistic son, and Deborah Budding, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist. Michael McWatters M. Kelter: First off, just a general question: what did…

A Single Mom’s View of Autism Divorce Rates

Estée Klar www.esteeklar.com I have always found the idea of blaming the autistic child for the deterioration of marriage unfair to autistic people. Yet, when my own marriage ended, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of those ideas behind the eighty per-cent divorce rates and autism might in some way be true. A single mom of an autistic child for several years now, I’ve seen that when relationships fall apart, we begin by looking outside ourselves for the external causes to blame. No matter what the circumstance, illness, disability, death are the certainties of a full life. We make vows for better or for worse, even if most of us want the “better.” Frequent divorce seems to reflect the advent of the re-start button — an impatient, quickly gratified culture with many options at our fingertips, and a waning attention span. It’s perhaps an unforgiving view about what as…