I didn’t find out about this until Friday night and would have liked to write a post. I have plenty I want to say. But between trying to get some assignments done on Saturday (college class) and becoming socially exhausted today, I didn’t. There are so many wonderful people who did, though, and I’d like to honor their efforts and spread their words further. Be aware that there may be trigger warnings on some of the posts. Please click on the picture or follow the link to Autistics Speaking Day. I’m going to enjoy coming back to it again and again until I’ve read them all. My goal now is to have something ready for next year!
The following post is a very articulate and thoughtful breakdown of Sesame Street’s new Autistic character and their website pages of “resources”. I have watched the videos and agree with Erin. The ableist language makes my stomach churn. (Autistic people are not magical. We’re just people.) And the person first language hits me every time it’s used.
Are there good things? Some. It’s nice they’re making an effort to educate children/people about autism. As an autistic adult I still clearly remember difficult aspects of my childhood and the struggles I had. Many of those struggles are still present in my life. I liked the parts where autistic traits were presented as just that – traits. Parts of personality. Things a person likes or doesn’t. Things to be accepted as normal and a part of that person. These might be different than neurotypical people, but they shouldn’t be considered wrong. Something to be corrected or fixed.
But the “parent support” videos are sickening and the lack of actually autistic voices troubling. These might as well have been videos about people’s pets – how to care and train and interact with them. And there are still too many things definitely WRONG. Like making your child make eye contact. Forcing your child to endure socially expected activities like birthday parties.
Why is it SO important for a child to blow out a candle? I can tell you why she never wanted to do it. Because it’s not important and has no meaning for her. Why make such a big deal about it? Will it alter her life if she doesn’t blow out candles on her birthday? Does she really have to endure parties if it makes her so uncomfortable? Is your desire for cultural “normality” more important than her physical and psychological well-being? Arg. I detested birthday parties (ANY parties). They were noisy and confusing and ultimately overwhelming. They still are. My parents invited neighborhood kids when I was four and I sat on the other side of the room watching them. She never did it again unless I asked for it. Instead of forcing that on me every year, we celebrated quietly doing something I wanted to do. They didn’t know I was autistic, but they were at least more sensitive to my needs and limits than whatever societal norms were. I’m SO thankful for that.
Anyway, Erin’s post is a much more articulate analysis of the Sesame Street “resources” than I could do.
Everyone might be tired of hearing about Sesame Street’s new autistic muppet by the time I post this, but before I wrote up a full review I had to make my way through all of the materials at the “Sesame Street and Autism” site. I watched all of the videos, either when the kids weren’t around or with headphones while they were otherwise occupied, because I wanted to screen them first before I let them view of it – and, yes, it is weird to have to screen Sesame Street, of all things, for harmful messaging, but such is the state of the mainstream dialogue on autism that I knew there were likely to be some things I would not want my kids to see or hear. And there were.
What is Sesame Street and Autism?
First, a brief explanation of what Sesame Street and Autism is and isn’t. There’s been…
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Again, I regret not posting here more often. I have so much I want to say but have felt mostly overwhelmed lately and unable to focus on posting, between one thing and another, and working to get my novels finished. A friend posted this on Facebook, and it’s brilliant, so I’d like to share it with you. It’s meaning is clear and goes so far beyond a difference of race or skin color.
Explaining HOW I feel is often as hard as explaining WHY I feel that way. A lot of the time I just don’t know. Sometimes it just takes too much emotional energy to try to figure it out and I have to block it out. When I was a child, I’d dissolve into tears, apparently for no reason, often in a corner, trying not to bother anyone, not wanting to be noticed. Everyone said I was “sensitive.” They mostly said I was” too sensitive.” So as I grew, became a teen, I learned to hold it in. Instead of tears, I’d shut down, block the world out. And that’s when I became aware of depression.
This is a great blog post by Beautiful Random Dark Thoughts of a Female Aspie and describes those feelings exactly.
The trouble with autism/aspergers is that often we struggle to recognize emotions, often we outwardly display common signs, and will even wonder aloud, “why is everything so irritating? Why am I so on edge? I don’t know why I feel so irritable about everything, I can’t pinpoint a reason why, I have no patience for anything.” Not realizing the power of the emotional storm surging underneath. We become more aspie in a way, displaying flat emotional reactions, and even a perceived general disinterest in others, or even a feigned interest because that is all we ‘can’ do in that moment because anything else will send us over the edge. Stress, even over little things that may seem like nothing, is enough to shut us down completely. Verbally silent and unresponsive, it takes every effort just to mutter the words, “I can’t right now.” Feeling exhausted, yet charged with emotions, every…
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I really like this poster so I’m sharing. I was (and am) all of these things, except the last. Home (until I married) was always a refuge. I saw this poster first on Facebook, but borrowed it from The Hidden Village of Aspergers. An autistic mom named L. Style created it. Thanks L!
Excellent post on some of the issues to be aware of with autistic girls approaching puberty. I could have related to all these things (and still do to many of them). I wish I’d understood myself better (my autism) and understood that the fact that I seemed to have so much more trouble and confusion than others around me seemed to have, especially where relationships (boys) were concerned.
This was originally posted at a group blog that I’m part of: We Are Like Your Child. It primarily addresses parents of young autistics, but I’m reposting here because I thought other autistic adults might have helpful tips to add or their own wishlist of things they’d known about puberty.
One request: if you talk about anything traumatic, please reference it obliquely. There are some younger readers here now and I could see others finding this post in a search for autism and puberty or adolescence.
When it came to puberty, my parents did what many parents in the seventies did: they gave me a book about puberty written especially for girls. It was a slim cranberry hardback with an ambiguous title like “Everything is Changing.”
I was a voracious reader, so I would curl up in my beanbag and scour the pages for clues to the mysterious…
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It’s great that this is finally becoming recognized, but they’re still not quite getting it: “…but boys are more than four times as likely to be affected.” No, no, no. Diagnosed, not “affected.”
By Maureen Salamon
WEDNESDAY, May 13, 2015 (HealthDay News) — While girls are far less likely than boys to be diagnosed with autism, girls with the developmental disorder show more impairments compared to their healthy female peers than comparable sets of boys do, new research suggests.
Scientists from the University of California Davis MIND Institute contend that girls with autism may suffer from greater social deficits than boys with the condition, which is characterized by problems with emotional and communication skills.
“Many of the studies looking for behavioral differences in autism have only compared boys and girls with autism and not to their typically developing counterparts,” said study author Christine Wu Nordahl, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
“So when we tried this approach, we were surprised because the findings were quite striking. In almost every measure, the girls with autism very consistently and significantly [scored]…
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