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Autism and Coping With Pandemic Stressors: Advice from TPGA Community Members

Photo © Tony Cheng | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Blue medical mask painted with a toothy, red-lipped smile.] Content note: Discussion of self-injury, self-harm, and aggression. —- Of all the varied stress bombs COVID-19 has lobbed at autistic people and their families, one of the more universal is the stress caused by routine disruption, coupled with constant close quarters. Few of us are at our best under such circumstances, so we wanted to share some advice and insights from autistic people and/or parents who are experiencing what you are experiencing about handling some of the tougher aspects, like increased tendencies towards self-injury and aggression. We also want to direct people towards our existing resources: Autistic Insights on Meltdowns, Aggression, and Self-Injury Understanding Autism, Aggression, and Self-Injury: Medical Approaches and Best Support Practices Behaviour Analysis, The Autistic Way  Eleven Ways You Can Make Your Autistic Child’s Life Easier First, we…

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Your Lax Social Distancing Is Stressing Out Autistic People

Carol Greenburg twitter.com/autisticenough Image © Shannon Des Roches Rosa [image: Photo of six people, seen from behind looking at downtown San Francisco from atop Twin Peaks.] Now that every rule of social engagement we’ve painstakingly tried to learn has been turned upside down by social distancing, it’s not just our routines that are disrupted: It’s our whole concept of the importance of Rules. I’ve heard many parents say their autistic kids are “rule-followers” and bitten my tongue wanting to ask if they thought it’s because we’re naturally rigid, or because we’ve been undergoing compliance training for as long as we can remember. Regardless of the origin, many of us cling desperately to whichever skills that get us approval rather than admonishment. Not always a bad thing, many rules certainly do make sense in appropriate context. All we-were-made-for-this jokes aside, social distancing is a stark example of a good rule in…

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The Protective Gift of Meltdowns

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © 2017, Maxfield Sparrow [image description: a turtle in the middle of the road on a hot, sunny day. His skin is dark with bright yellow stripes and his shell is ornate, covered with swirls of dark brown against a honey-yellow background. The turtle is rushing to get across the street and his back leg is extended from the speed and force of his dash toward freedom.] I hate meltdowns. I hate the way they take over my entire body. I hate the sick way I feel during a meltdown and I hate the long recovery time—sometimes minutes, but just as often entire days—afterward, when everything is too intense, and I am overwhelmed and exhausted and have to put my life on hold while I recover. I hate the embarrassment that comes from a meltdown in front of others. I hate the fear that bubbles up…

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Why Do So Many Autistic People Flap Our Hands?

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com [image: rainbow colored hands in silhouette, upraised and reaching out with joy.] The saying goes, “if you’ve met one Autistic person, you’ve met one Autistic person.” That was really hammered home for me today as I watched a short video in which an Autistic man explains why Autistic people flap our hands … and pretty much nothing he said matched up with my own experience. A few of the things he said even bothered me. My intention is not to erase what he said, however. His view of why he used to flap his hands is just as valid as my view of why I still flap my hands. There are many ways of being Autistic. (Since the video was not captioned, I took the time to make a transcript of it for those who can’t hear or understand it. That was fortunate as the original video…

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Hard Truths: Disability and Poverty Go Hand in Hand

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com Photo © *Hajee | Flickr/Creative Commons [image: Person with black hair and a blue coat. They are holding a hand-lettered cardboard sign over their face. Sign reads, “VERY HUNGRY PLEASE HELP!”] I am not the only Disabled person economically struggling, as disability and poverty go hand in hand. Why is that? The answer is complex, since disability leads to poverty and poverty leads to disability. It’s a vicious cycle and sometimes a downward spiral, leading people to lead lives perpetually circling the drain, always on the edge of annihilation. Let me see if I can untangle some of it for you. “You’re dooming yourself to a hand-to-mouth existence.” That’s what my parents told me when I dropped out of high school. And they were right. Well, they were half-right, anyway. I have spent the last three decades living hand to mouth, but it is not a fate…

From Autism Stress to Autism Acceptance

Brenda Rothman mamabegood.blogspot.com I had a lovely conversation with another mom of an autistic child, face to face, sipping coffee, while we talked about hot-button issues in the autism community. Without losing respect or good will for each other. Maybe it was the coffee. It was good coffee. We debated “cure:” why some parents want it and why autistic persons are offended by it. She said the desire for a cure would never disappear for some autism parents because their children are more severely challenged. She told me the story of a single mom with an adult autistic son, who was non-verbal, had restricted motor abilities, was self-injurious, and would never live independently.  She related how difficult it is for the single mom to handle her grown child, how distraught she is about how she would care for her child as she aged, who would care for her child after…

Autism Is Not Invisible Anymore

Lou Tecpanecatl ourlifewithdiego.blogspot.com Christmas is supposed to mean a day of relaxation and family meals. But last year, we decided to visit my parents in Ohio, and we booked a flight on Christmas Day. We knew in advance that flying with our older son, Diego, was going to be stressful because he might feel the need to get out of his seat to walk around and we were not sure how he would handle the airport crowd. We arrived well in advance of our departure in order to check our luggage and to make sure the kids had a chance to eat. Things were going relatively well until we got to the security checkpoint. I was in charge of keeping Diego from getting out of line and running somewhere else. My wife and I frantically unloaded the stroller and removed the baby’s jacket and shoes (he was six months old…

On the Verge of a Meltdown

Prather Harrell www.africanamericanautismofaz.org No, not my autistic five year old son … I’m the one on the verge of a meltdown! It was one of those days where I could not seem to make anyone happy. Jonah, my five year old, had been having a bad summer all along. I can’t say that I blame him. Here we go changing his schedule around from KinderPrep (ABA/habilitation) in the mornings and public preschool in the afternoons with a few therapies sprinkled in between, to therapies in the morning and KinderPrep in the afternoon and no more Mrs. Marsha period (his preschool teacher – Jonah completed preschool this spring and will be headed to Kindergarten this fall). The teachers changed, the students changed, some of his therapists changed — we flipped his entire schedule around and no one ever consulted him about it. I guess I’d be pretty pissed too if somebody…