Tag Archives: kids

I Worry About Autistic Children – Trouble in the School System

I was extremely fortunate in life, born into a large family who loved me greatly. Every one of them wanted to see me succeed. They pushed me and taught me things. My grandparents made sure I had good manners and my aunts and uncles taught me art and music. Cousins and family was fun but teachers and school was very difficult.

At home I felt confident and competent, this was always crushed when I went to school. My individuality was not cherished and teachers said I was too much of a distraction to stay in class. Eventually when I learned to sit still (which even now is hard on me) I was allowed to return to class with my peers.

They were strict and it was hard but in the end I had to want to go back to the regular class room so I would be motivated to sit still. Autistic people can do very well if they are motivated but our motivations my not make sense to others.

I’ve learned to use my own motivations as rewards for good work. I tell myself “if you do this now you can have a reward at the end”. Sometimes the reward may be a stretch or stim break, it could be a cup of coffee, or a snack. I need to be motivated and as an adult I have to motivate myself to create good habits.

It’s not much different than what I would do for my dog when helping him learn new habits. All creatures love rewards and I love my dog. I want to help grow good habits so my dog can have a happy life – we just both happen to love treats.

Teachers who punish, call out flaws, and ostracize children who are different were some of my biggest adversaries in school growing up. They didn’t know what to do with me back then. I was “smart and dumb at the same time”. Teachers also called me lazy. There were no accommodations for me growing up, I had to learn to blend in or get kicked out of school.

Fast forward thirty years and parents advocating for their own children often struggle to get reasonable accommodations for their children in the public school system. Schools want to offer many Autistic kids a minimal education and with our current political situation I worry things may get much worse.

Many great historical thinkers had trouble in school growing up. Imagine if they encountered a system that told them they were not worth teaching. What if nobody had taken the time to help them learn and grow?

Everybody deserves the chance to learn and grow. We need to make sure Autistic children do not get shut out of an education just because they have a different way of experiencing the world.

Autism is a Controversial Issue – People Fighting Online

I left Facebook a while ago because I kept getting sucked into the arguments between parents and Autistic people, Autistic people and the anti-VAX movement, and medical professionals and Autistic people. Today I logged back in and was quickly reminded why I left.

The first thing thing that upsets me is that all of these people think they know more about Autism than Autistic people, as if our first hand experiences are of little or no value. This is often parents but can also be medical professionals and organic health nuts (I eat organic but these people are extreme).

Cure culture fanatics telling us we are sick for wanting to stay Autistic – sick for wanting to stay the way we were born. Parents telling us we don’t understand because we are not like their child (some of us WERE at one point and have worked hard to improve as we grew up). Doctors telling us our claims don’t make sense to them , dismissing our complaints.

Next I am saddened for the children who’s parents are always telling everyone what a burden their child is. Many non verbal children can understand spoken language and may be able to read some day. Putting comments like this on the internet publicly doesn’t feel right to me. Telling everyone your child is broken doesn’t seem like loving acceptance either.

Brain damage and Autism do have similar traits but even if you have a brain damaged child – shouldn’t you love them? I am not a parent. All I know is how I would feel if my parents said those things about me.

If someone always talks about you with pity you will eventually begin to pity yourself. From a mental health standpoint this can cause a LOT of problems. Autistic people seem have more health problems and anxiety when they have low self-esteem.

There are a lot of unknowns with Autism. It seems there may be many contributing factors but my money is on genetics for most cases. Human brains are changing at a rapid rate, trying to keep up with the quickly changing world around us.

My brain is at ease with nature in the fresh air. The artificial world is unpleasant to me. Is this something primitive left over in my genetics, or am I a canary in the coal mine? Science may tell us some day.

Most upsetting are the people who want to cure and prevent Autism. I fear this could be a big problem for humanity if they succeed. All of the different brain types and thinkers make the world a better, more progressive, and interesting place.

I hate that this issue is tearing people apart. People get so heated and angry when someone disagrees with them on this topic, they say nasty things with little regard for the other person. It is nasty it is ugly and we really need to stop.

Stop telling Autistic people they are unwanted by society. That is what you are telling us when you say you want a cure for Autism or want to prevent Autistic people from being born. You are saying that being dead is better than being Autistic and I disagree.

I know you can’t reason with or speak to these people. They are close minded and the frustration, like Facebook, is a waste of my time – so I log back off and return to a happier place (my own blog).

The day this went live on Twitter someone took offense to my blog. Its crazy. You can not please everyone and my OCD would make sure I NEVER hit publish if I tried.

Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Me, so bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Wild child, who can’t sit still, full of joy bouncing off the walls. Yes you are strange, but please don’t fear your uniqueness. Be you, don’t grow bitter.Stay strange and amazing.

You have so much potential. Yes, your mother is right you are smart. Stop believing when people tell you otherwise.

It’s okay that you don’t need people. That makes you independent NOT defective. You are not cold and robotic you are calm and logical. Yes you do things differently but some day this will be your strength.

The people who picked on you never made it far in life. It was them not you who had the problem. Bullies are insecure and often suffer on the inside, lashing out to make themselves feel bigger. Don’t be like them. Stay kind.

Silly girl, who talks to the animals and trees. Never stop. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. You are perfect just the way you are.

 

With deepest love,

-Me

Standardized Testing Isn’t Totally Useless, but It Does Miss the Point | Scott Barry Kaufman – Big Think

This video from Big Think has some great points. I have never felt like the public school system was fair to me and the way I needed to learn in my own way.

Teachers wanted me to sit still and my peers bullied me. I have always loved learning but I HATED school. Something is wrong with that picture.

The world needs different types of minds, all minds, different perspectives. They are all valuable.

I can take no credit for Big Think‘s video below. Please check them out for more content.

I Love to Hate You – Autism & Socks

Socks.

It is more of a Sensory Processing Disorder problem than an Autism problem, but maybe it’s an Autism problem because we don’t explain the discomfort to the people around us.

We don’t know you don’t feel the same way we do about socks. We think that our behavior should be self explanatory because socks just suck that much. I have very early memories regarding the unpleasantness of socks. They felt like fiberglass burning into my ankles and the seam was a large lizard wiggling around on my toes.

When I was a baby my mother liked to dress me in socks with lace trim. I hated lace more than anything. Thinking about those socks makes me itch. Nothing could ever make them feel right. Looking around me everyone had socks. I thought you all were crazy. Why on earth would anyone put up with this much pain?

My mother said it was to protect my shoes, because shoes are expensive. It was a logical enough explanation, but as I got older I remember rubbing my feet and ankles raw by pawing at my socks.

Wet socks and wet clothing have always been impossible for me. My mother once asked me to put on wet socks. I can’t remember very clearly what happened after she asked that question (perhaps I had a meltdown) but I feel like the situation ended with vomit.

As I got older I started picking my own socks at the store. Ankle socks with no seam in the toe were my favorite when I could find them on sale. I had expensive taste in socks. If I could not find socks without a seam, I prefer ankle socks with a seam on top but they have to be soft.

I tried wearing shoes without socks, most of the time I ended up with blisters on my tinder feet.My balance is not the best and I am a bit of a klutz. I imagine my feet take quite a beating when not protected by socks.

Flats were great until my feet began to sweat. Pools of sweat feel like oceans in my shoes – it is ALMOST as bad as wet socks.

I try to stock up when I find a type of sock that I like. If a company changes their socks it will take me a while to get used to them.

Nothing is more annoying than a sock problem. The distraction is so intense it becomes hard to think about anything else without stimming. Maybe that is why I went barefooted so much as a child. I loved the feel of warm dry grass and hot asphalt on my feet.

I don’t run around with my shoes off any more. Now that I’ve found socks that feel nice I prefer not to feel small things under my feet. (As an adult, at 125 lbs, your feet hurt more when stepping on objects than they did when you only were closer to 60lbs.)

Even now there are some sensory days that I just can’t handle socks. If that happens I don’t wear them. It’s that easy. It is not fair that I put myself through the torture.

Itchy socks take away my valuable spoons. I need those they are mine!

I’ve been wearing socks for over 30 years now. It has taken me a long time to go from hating socks to loving socks.

Baby steps, progress is progress no matter how long it takes.

When People Say Children With Autism Are Products of ‘Bad Parenting’ – Kerry Magro on The Mighty

This one gets me.

Autism is a measurable neurological difference in brain development. Brain scans reveal that Autistic brains are physically different and react to external stimulus in different ways than “normal brains”. These differences are visible in behaviors from early childhood. (Mine were VERY visible from the beginning.)

Autism also seems to be genetic. Looking at my parents, grandparents, aunts, and cousins – I have NO doubt that this is true. I know this now, but I did not always think this way.

Maybe it was my Autistic perspective, but my family was fairly strict with manners and public behavior.

I could be wild like the Tasmanian Devil but I knew when to turn it off. I learned NOT to have outburst in stores and could hold myself together until I was alone or in the bathroom.

From my point of view, working SO hard to behave, other kids who could not hold it together looked like brats.

I know because I WAS this child in my teen years. I did not make my mother’s life easy, but she loved me and accepted me. That is what I needed more than anything.

We did not know I was Autistic and my own mother OFTEN called me a brat, spoiled, and other names. She did the best she could. It was all just a misunderstanding.

My mother did the best she could raising me. She worked hard, long, hours. We argued, but she loved me unconditionally. I am the result of amazing parenting.

Saying I am the result of bad parenting is just another insult – telling me I am defective and broken. Stop telling us that there is something wrong with us. We are different and that’s okay.

Kerry Magro is an AMAZING voice in the Autism community. He is helping to change the way the world sees Autism and Autistic people. Kerry had the following to say in a recent post on The Mighty.

I can take NO credit for anything below. Please check out Kerry Magro and read the full article here on The Mighty.

It’s ridiculous to think “bad parenting” is a cause of autism. That should be the end of the conversation right there. But I do usually follow up these conversations after sharing about my personal experiences by saying the following:

“By being a champion to your child on the autism spectrum, you can make a difference in their lives.”

By showing your child unconditional love, learning more about autism and providing them with supports whenever possible, you can do wonderful things for your child. Advocate for them, and whenever someone says autism is “caused” by bad parenting, make sure to educate those around you about the harm of these misconceptions. And the next time that happens, you can use this quote from one of our leading autism advocates, Dr. Temple Grandin“Autism is a neurological disorder. It’s not caused by bad parenting.”

Please read the full article here.

How ‘Autism Warrior Parents’ Harm Autistic Kids – How Cure Culture Hurts

The other day I commented on one of those “Child Cured by Autism” posts on Facebook. What on earth was I thinking? The sharks appeared.

Disbelievers and angry parents who HATE Autistic aduts with the “high functioning” / Asperger’slabel. These people can not stand to see us grouped in with their children.

Things get ugly fast and I remove myself from the toxicity.

I see them on Facebook and hide them from my news feed. Memes by Autism Moms talking about how difficult being a parent of an Autistic child is. I get it parenting an Autistic child is hard – but so is parenting a typical child.

My biggest issues with these posts that these parents make the children feel like a burden they focus on the problems these parents have and are negative. Why can’t we focus on the positive parts of this child?

Focusing on someone’s deficits and shortcomings and telling them that they are defective or broken is NEVER okay – especially for a developing child.

Telling the world of your child’s “faults” via the internet is cruel.

Eventually, when your child is old enough they may desire to start speaking for themselves. This is a personal choice and should be respected.

When and if the time is right, I hope they DO grow to self advocate – we need more Aspies sharing in this world.

Adults usedto talk for me when I was a child. I believed everything they said about me – that I was stupid, rude, strange.

My parents spoke for me, often inaccurately but I never corrected them. I have never been very good at explaining my inner workings out loud.

Children should never have to grow up feeling like they are not good enough the way they are.

Autism Awareness month happens every year, but we don’t need awareness we need acceptance. We need love and understanding.

Like a flower, when nurtured, Autistic children will grow and bloom. Please don’t pour poison on your flowers.

I can take NO credit for the text below. Please check out the full article by Shannon Des Roches Rosa  HERE on The Establishment.

Autism Warrior Parents (AWPs) insist on supporting their autistic kids either by trying to cure them, or by imposing non-autistic-oriented goals on them—rather than by trying to understand how their kids are wired, and how that wiring affects their life experience. Ironically, an AWP’s choices not only interfere with their own kid’s happiness and security, but contribute to social biases that prevent autistic people of all ages from getting the supports they need. Worst of all, by publicly rejecting their own children’s autism and agency, and by tending to hog the autism spotlight, AWPs are partially responsible for the public’s tendency to sympathize with parents rather than autistic kids —which, at its most extreme, can mean excusing parents and caretakers who murder their autistic charges.

But parents who learn how to spot and sidestep AWP mindsets can make their autistic child’s life (as well as their own) so, so much easier.

Read the full article here.

#SheCantBeAutistic

A powerful hashtag (#SheCantBeAutistic) has been blowing up on Twitter this month bringing attention to an issue that I’ve been talking about a lot recently.

I was not diagnosed until I was 30 years old because people thought #SheCantBeAutistic.

They were wrong. I am Autistic and I spent too many years waiting to find that out.

Below are just a few of the reasons that I “can’t be Autistic”.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she has a great job.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she pays her bills on time.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she works full time.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she has a husband.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she has pets.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she is too smart.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she wears makeup.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she bathes.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she is very talkative.

#SheCantBeAutistic – her imagination is rally good.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she has feelings.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she knows how to read and write.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she is successful in life.

#SheCantBeAutistic – she seems happy and warm.

Anonymously Autistic – One of Many Invisible Women on The Spectrum

I am one of many anonymous invisible Autistic women. We are invisible or anonymous for many reasons.

Some of us are anonymous because we fear the world is not ready to change the way it sees Autistic people. There is something wrong with the world when a common response to an Autistic person trying to come out is “You’re nothing like Rain Man!”

Of course I most of us are not like a fictional movie character. Most of us are unique individuals. That is like me comparing all Neurotypicals to the cast of Beverly Hills 90210. Not all NT’s are hyper social just like not all Aspies are like Raymond Babbitt.

Some of us are anonymous because we like our privacy. We may tell our closest friends and relatives but find it hard to talk about our Autism with people we are not close to. Those of us who choose to remain anonymous are lucky.

There is one group of anonymous invisible  Autistic women that I am particularly worried about. It is a group that the world ignores, because many people still don’t know to look for them.

I was once one of these women. I am Anonymously Autistic now because I was missed and dismissed by doctors over and over again.

Growing up I was one of many invisible girls on the Autism spectrum. I felt strange, inadequate, and out of place.

My great grandmother died when I was in the fourth grade. I remember feeling defective because my sadness did not come out in me like it did in the people around me. I wanted to feel sad, and even though I might be sad, but could not act sad.

What was wrong with me? I felt defective and for the first time I questioned my own sanity. I was in firth grade wondering if my lack of expression meant that I was doomed to grow up into a psychopath.

This thought worried me for a long time and messed with my head quite a bit. If only I had known back then that I was Autistic. Maybe I would have known that inappropriate affect was normal for kids like me.

I didn’t find out about my Autism until much later in life, when I was almost thirty and my coping strategies no longer kept up with the demands of holding an adult job.

It was as if everything broke. Like a train off the rails, I was moving too fast and not respecting the boundaries that I didn’t know I had.  If I had known about my Autism I might not have made an ass of myself at so many networking events.

I didn’t know about my Autism. It was invisible until I heard the words of another amazing Autistic woman speaking about the way her mind worked. Temple Grandin is my hero because her words woke me up.

I always knew I was different, but now I have a better understanding of those differences. Knowing your weaknesses allows you to strengthen them and I am my own biggest project.

Temple was the spark that burned my invisibility cloak exposing me to the world of Autism and eventually lead to me bringing my world to this blog.

I’m no Temple Grandin but I am going to keep writing about Autism until we are no longer invisible. I may need a new laptop though – the letters are wearing off my keyboard already. 😉

 

 

 

Letter to Toni Braxton Regarding Diezel’s Autism Status — The Liberal Aspie

Autism is NOT a disease that can be cure it is a way of thinking and experiencing the world. One does not simply git rid of Sensory Processing Disorder or change the wiring of their brains.

It is mentally damaging to make Aspies learn to blend in like neurotypical kids because it implies that they way they were born was not good enough.

WHY can’t he just be a wonderful Autistic boy? Why does he have to be “normal”. Poor kid is going to have self esteem issues in the future.

Dear Toni Braxton, Recently, you have announced in an interview with Access Hollywood that your youngest son, Diezel, “is no longer autistic,” giving credit to Suzanne Wright–in light of her death from pancreatic cancer–for his ability to “overcome his diagnosis.” I’m sorry to have to say this as a fan of your music, but… [. . .]

To say that your son is “showing no signs of autism” is to say that he has been taught to mask every trait that comprises his neurology in order to pass as a normal, average person. In other words, you and the therapists Wright referred him to have taught him that being autistic is frowned upon by society–and it shouldn’t be. Diezel may be a social butterfly now thanks to the speech and language therapy he received in school, assuming he wasn’t referred to a therapist outside of an academic facility, but that does not stipulate that he’s transformed into a neurotypical person.
Oh, and the “my son Diezel suffered from autism” line? The word “suffered” should only apply to cancer patients, NEVER autistic kids. God only gifted Diezel with the ability to think differently from everyone else.

Read full articel via Letter to Toni Braxton Regarding Diezel’s Autism Status — The Liberal Aspie