Continued from Part 1
There was joy in that realization and also sadness. My diagnosis came too late to help me in my role as a mother when my daughter was young, a role that I often struggled with. Many aspects of being autistic can make the child-rearing years of motherhood challenging.
Babies have round-the-clock needs. They’re stressful, messy, unpredictable and demanding. Basically they are everything that an autistic person finds hard to cope with. Gone was my precious alone time. Gone were my carefully crafted routines. Even my body was no longer my own, transformed first by pregnancy then by postpartum hormones and breastfeeding.
I was completely unprepared for how hard motherhood would be. Unaware that I was autistic, I often felt like a bad mom. What kind of mother breaks down sobbing uncontrollably and bangs her head against the dining room wall? Certainly none that I was aware of at the time.
Perhaps knowing why I was having so many meltdowns–or even having a proper word for the those scary sobbing, headbanging episodes–would have made the early days of motherhood easier. Perhaps knowing that I have a social communication impairment would have pushed me to understand why it’s important for a mother to frequently say “I love you” to her child. Continue reading At the Intersection of Gender and Autism – Part 2
Note: This is my contribution to the Ultraviolet Voices anthology. It’s nearly 5000 words long, so I’m going to serialize it here over the next 3 weeks.
At five, I wanted to be a boy. I don’t know what I thought being a boy meant. Maybe I thought it meant playing outside in the summer, shirtless and barefoot. Maybe I thought it meant not wearing dresses.
Dresses were all scratchy lace trim and tight elastic sleeves. Stiff patent leather shoes pinched my sensitive feet. Perfume tickled my nose. Tights made my legs itch and had maddening seams at the toes.
Too young to understand sensory sensitivities, I followed my instincts. While other girls favored frilly clothes, I gravitated toward the soft comfort of cotton shirts and worn corduroys.
Somehow, comfort got mixed up with gender in my head. For decades, “dressing like a girl” meant being uncomfortable. And so began a lifelong tension between being female and being autistic.
For a lengthy stretch of adulthood, I had an entire section of my closet that could best be described as aspirational. Pants suits. Dressy blouses. Pumps and sandals. Skirts, bought and worn once for a special occasion. Dresses, bought and worn never, before being spirited off to the thrift store.
I preferred ripped jeans and running shoes, hoodies and baggy t-shirts. Comfortable and comforting, just as they had been in childhood.
Continue reading At the Intersection of Gender and Autism – Part I
When I was researching language pragmatics for my recent echolalia and scripting post, I came across an IEP goal bank. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these terms, IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan, which is a personalized document that describes an educational program designed to meet the needs of a child who is enrolled in special education. It includes, among other things, information about current performance, annual goals, services, accommodations, and progress.
Presumably to make these unwieldy documents easier to create, there are databases (goal banks) of scripted goals and objectives (sub-tasks of goals). One can search the goal bank for items that can be inserted into a child’s IEP with a small amount of customization. Of course, I couldn’t resist digging through the databases to see what types of goals autistic children are being asked to meet.
It quickly became obvious to me that I, as a 45-year-old autistic adult, could not consistently meet many of the social and communication goals and objectives that autistic elementary school students are expected to achieve. As I kept digging, patterns began to emerge. Continue reading Unreasonable Goals
It’s been a year since I’ve done a giveaway and to make up for that long gap (and to celebrate the launch of Stimtastic) I’ve decided to give away a whole bunch of things this time.
First, the rules:
- To enter, do at least one of the following:
- Leave a comment on this post
- Reblog the Tumblr post announcing the giveaway
- Like or comment on the Facebook page status announcing the giveaway
- Maximum of 3 entries per person (1 for a comment here, 1 for a reblog on Tumblr, 1 for a comment/like on the Facebook status)
- The giveaway is open to everyone (over 18 or under 18 with parental permission), including those outside the US.
- Giveaway ends Monday, November 24th at 11:59 p.m. EST
- 10 winners will be chosen at random on November 25th. The first winner chosen will get first pick of the items. The second winner can choose from the remaining items and so on. The tenth winner will receive the remaining item.
WINNER: Cecily Shaw 1. 2 Spinner Rings: Arrow and Infinity (your choice of size 6,7,8,9 or 10)
WINNER: Pam Fikter 2. Chewable jewelry necklace and bracelet set #1 (your choice of colors):
WINNER: Daniel Obejas 3. Set of 5 Building Block Highlighters
WINNER: Gallonjug 4. Set of 3 Stim Toys
WINNER: A. M. 5. “Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate” Book (Your choice of Paperback or Kindle version)
WINNER: xkrisxcross 6. Thinking Putty (Choice of Blue, Green or Lilac) and Gel Ball
WINNER: Leah Kelley 7. Bike Chain Bracelet (Blue/Silver or Black/Silver)
WINNER: BLUE 8. Chewable jewelry necklace and bracelet set #2 (your choice of colors):
WINNER: toxiccanary 9. Dog Fidget Necklace and Paracord Keychain (Your Choice of 4 Colors)
WINNER: Mae 10. “I Think I Might Be Autistic” (Your choice of Paperback or Kindle version)
Also, this will be the last substantial post about Stimtastic here so if you’d like to get notifications of giveaways, contests, etc. in the future, please go ahead and follow the Stimtastic Blog, Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.
This is my first attempt at writing a post using voice recognition software. For the past week I’ve been “training” Dragon Naturally Speaking. Or maybe Dragon has been training me.
You would think that voice-recognition software would be as simple as speaking (although that statement in itself may be an oxymoron for many of us). But the software is sophisticated enough that there’s a fairly steep learning curve–both in learning the commands and in learning to “write” by speaking. So far, I’ve primarily been using it for work tasks, which are straightforward and often scripted in nature.
Curiously, I’m finding that voice-recognition software makes the writing process both faster and slower. Faster, because my typing and in particular my ability to spell is hampering my writing considerably. Slower, because before dictating each sentence I have to pause and compose the words in my mind in a way that is very different from typing.
There’s always been something about typing that has felt like a direct connection between my brain and the words. Now, something is short-circuiting that connection. I’ve reached a tipping point where the effort to put the words into speech in order to create text is less than the effort required to type those same words. And this new process–both the relative ease and the slowness of it–has me thinking a lot about things like mindfulness and intentionality. Continue reading Mindfulness in Miniature