Loving What You Hate and Hating What You Love

For an autistic person, pain can be disturbingly difficult to distinguish from pleasure.

Being Misunderstood

Looking back at my life, if I were to identify a common theme, it is feeling misunderstood. It sounds so much like a cliché, that many roll their eyes when hearing the phrase. “Everyone feels misunderstood,” they say. But what’s interesting is that those in my life who have said that, have gradually come to realize that it is true.

Shopping While Autistic

Have you ever seen a child having a breakdown in the middle of a grocery store? What’s your reaction to that child? Do you judge, or do you wonder what they’re experiencing? Well, I can give you an idea of what they might be going through.

The Sound Of Silence

I have recently come face-to-face with a fact about myself: I have a problem with silence. I’m not really sure why.

Figuring Out Friendship

Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship. What I understand about it, what I still don’t, and how the experience of friendship has always been different that it has been for others.

Navigating Grief and Loss as an Autistic Adult

It’s the holiday season...a time for reflection, togetherness, and joy, so they say. As I’ve written before, it hasn’t always been that way for me. This holiday season has been an especially difficult one. One of my best friends passed away over Thanksgiving weekend.

Supporting Sensory Issues: a Q&A With Lindsey Biel

Occupational therapist and author Lindsey Biel gives us insights from her clinical experiences working with individuals with sensory issues.

Catastrophic Encounters and Autistic Identity

How do you react, as a parent, when you have a child who faces judgement and danger, because of his or her racial and neurological differences? Here is one mother's perspective from activist, advocate, writer, and researcher Kerima Çevik.

It’s Not Mayberry

Years ago, when I was just out on my own, I had an experience that has deeply shaped how I view events like those in Ferguson, Missouri these past weeks. One which taught me a lot about how biases can shape perception, and how those perceptions can have devastating consequences in law enforcement.

Disability and the Sharing Economy

I admit, I’ve developed a fascination with what some have called “collaborative consumption,” exemplified in sites like Airbnb, Uber, and Taskrabbit. I see real possibilities in these technologies to make my life easier — but there are aspects of it that trouble me.

Barriers to Effective Medical Care for Autistic Adults

A recent visit to the hospital underlined for me the challenges of getting medical care when you're on the autism spectrum.

Discussing Evil: The Problem of “Us” and “Them”

"There's a pattern that has existed in my life for as long as I can remember. Not only do I do it, many other people that I know do it as well. I learn about some type of problem—a robbery, a shooting, a murder...I close my eyes for a moment, and then I brace myself as I await more information. And all the while one thought/prayer/chant/fear is running through my head..."

When You Can’t Remember & When You Can’t Forget

Recently, a segment of the news program 60 Minutes profiled individuals (such as actress Marilu Henner) who have HSAM, highly superior autobiographical memory. What I found most interesting in the story was their descriptions of how their condition affected them emotionally and socially. Some of it felt very familiar.

Using Structure To Help Autistic Kids Build Flexibility

A few weeks ago, during a weekly Twitter chat that I host about autism, a mother of an adult on the spectrum mentioned how, when her daughter was a child, structure had been crucial in helping her to learn flexibility. It sounds like an oxymoron, but I found it to be absolutely true in my life as well.

Autism and Exercise

I’ve spent years now trying to deconstruct why certain experiences and environments growing up affected me the way they did, pro and con. Activity came up again and again in those analyses, but I could never pinpoint exactly why. A recent blog post shed some light on why that is.

Acceptance, Empathy and Presuming Competence

When a child has a diagnosis or difference, it’s easy to get caught up in treatments and therapies to the exclusion of everything else. But my experience is the right attitude can have just as much impact. It shapes how you relate to the child, and how they relate to you. Most importantly, it shapes how they feel about themselves.

Early Memory and Autism

In a recent Psychology today post, Arthur J. Clark, Ed.D. asks “Why are early recollections sparse and prosaic?” This caught my attention, because my early memories are not sparse at all. Dr. Clark mentions that most people can recall only four or five memories which occurred prior to the age of seven. I came up with more than three times that in a matter of seconds.

Talking About Trauma Part 3

Earlier this year, a video clip went viral. Taken at Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas, it took on topics one wouldn't have expected for such a venue — domestic violence and trauma. And it touched a lot of hearts in the process.

Speech As Stim

The other day, I felt strange phenomenon come over me. Suddenly, I felt a need to speak another language: Spanish. Experiences just like this are not at all unusual for me, but the reason for them might be surprising.
Talking About Trauma Part 2

Talking About Trauma Part 2

They say that time heals all wounds – but does it? Does ignoring trauma, suppressing it, or distracting yourself from it really work? My experience suggests no – not without help.

Talking About Trauma Part 1

It’s a common thing among autism advocates to write about trauma, and ways that we can be sensitive to those who are struggling to deal with the aftermath of traumatic events. Frequently, I’ve found myself challenged by these posts, and I’ve had a hard time figuring out why. After spending some time thinking about this, I faced a memory that just wouldn’t go away.

Are Autistic People More Sensitive To Trauma, Or Less?

Can the sensitivity to certain stimuli in autism make us more prone to trauma? In my case, I can say it’s unequivocally true. However, I’ve also found the opposite to be true. So, what does that mean? Are autistic people more sensitive to trauma or less so?

The Importance of Learning to Say “No”

It’s crucially important that parents and caregivers learn to identify pain and discomfort, even if it’s expressed in an atypical fashion, and to support the right of the person in pain to express that pain.

911: An Autism Parable

The other night, I had a dream. I came home to my house to find the front door wide open. A half-drunk bottle of water stood on the floor in the doorway, and all the lights in the house blazed bright.

Learning In Unexpected Ways

I have had hearing loss for as long as I can remember. It’s something that’s “normal” for me – but every now and again, it impacts my life in a way that surprises me, peripherally or directly.

Language, Learning and the Essence of Experience

Albert Einstein once said, “Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.” I am often surprised by what I learn from experiences and how that learning varies from my own expectations.

How Inclusion Benefits Businesses

Can inclusion have a bottom-line impact for business? It's a question I think about a lot. I'm an advocate, but I also work in the business world. Can those two worlds meet? Can the business world create value for the community, in a way that also benefits the company? I've always hoped so, and thus I’m always alert for concrete examples in my daily life.

What Acceptance Means to Me

Since the 1970s, April has been known as Autism Awareness Month. Some groups are now saying that awareness isn't enough…that it needs to go further. That is why they are pushing for April to become known as Autism Acceptance Month.

New Research on Autism and Suicide

More than two years ago, when I wrote my post on Asperger's and suicide, I googled the terms "autism and suicide" and "Asperger's and suicide." I was appalled to find how few resources there were out there. They were sparse to the point of nonexistent. Now, that appears to be changing.

Visiting Sensory Shangri-La

In the autism community, we hear a lot about sensory aversions, and the overload that they can cause. In my last two posts, I talked about the way these experiences can have unexpected consequences, both in the classroom, and in the wider adult world. What we don’t often hear about is the flip side of this – when sensory experiences attract, rather than repel.