As I said in part 1 of this series, I have noticed as I go from one Autism support group to another that there is often a lack of understanding in the terminology surrounding Autism and neurodiversity. This is very important for one reason: Fights are constantly starting over miscommunications.

Because of that, I decided to create this series of Neurodivergent terms and their explanations to the Neurodivergent Survival Guide under the Me(ntal Health) category on the main menu. So, you can safely navigate the politics of Mental Health and Autism, both online and in the world, especially when it comes to parents who are trying to provide services for their children.

As with part 1, in part 2, I will be putting some of my opinion into these definitions but I will also try to be as unbiased as possible, so that you can make your own decisions.

NOTE: While the majority of these terms are not controversial, the highlighted definitions can be highly controversial and triggering. Use with an abundance of caution and kindness.

Let’s continue, after the jump.

Continue reading “NEURODIVERGENT GLOSSARY Part 2”

How We Talk To Each other

I have been on a horrible journey, my friends. I have been… to Twitter. As a neurodivergent person who has incredible anxiety around social situations, digital or otherwise, I had avoided Twitter, well, until today. So basically, for as long as it has existed. (There was about five seconds back in 2013 where I signed up for an account and then immediately left due to being uncomfortable with its interface- but I went back!)

In my want to help people, I thought I should really try and stretch my abilities and get on to to Twitter.

Oh… my… god…

My head is still pounding. I haven’t unfurled my brow for like 20 minutes. I’m listening to an ASMR stress relief video in hopes of EVER AGAIN releasing the muscles around my neck and shoulders.

You see, there is a war going on. And it’s just about everything, and everywhere, but especially in the autism community. It is rife with anger, pain, and miscommunication. I thought it was just the LGBT community that acts like this, but NO! The Autism community is just as a big of a clusterf*ck.

This is not advocacy. This is a cacophony. And worst of all, it’s just another form of assimilation. Both sides want all of you, or none of you. Moderate voices who just want to make things better for themselves or their loved ones are drowned out by the immense wave of politics and rhetoric.

Of course, I am not talking about all advocates, for either end of the “advocacy spectrum.” I still have my favorites, like the wonderful Sarah Turner aka Autistic Barbie or Dela with her Happy Hands comic, both very lovely and articulate women with strong voices. And for the other end of the spectrum, I have found my son’s “preschool” clinic, The Place, to still be a rational voice of support in the ABA field. Spectrum- Autism Research News, as well, has shown to be a good source of information thus far.

As I said before, in one of my previous posts, when I reasonably tried to talk to another mother about the good and the bad of ABA, I was jumped on by several autistic advocates. No matter what I said, they called me an ableist and a child abuser. It was beyond confrontational, and despite my repeated requests to respect my limits, they harassed me into a meltdown. This was not the first time I saw this going on, but it was the first time it happened to me.

While I have problems with ABA therapy and person-first culture, I still support rational conversations. And will continue to reach out to anyone who is brave enough to ask a genuine question on social media, with no judgement or anger. Because harassment does nothing accept shut down any prospect of diplomacy or collaboration.

For example, because of people like this, REAL advocacy groups like Autistic Women and Non-Binary Network get shut out and blocked when asking important questions. Like when this author tried to correct a factually inaccurate article in Autism Parenting Magazine. They just assumed she was one of “them” and immediately plugged their ears. Because they had learned to ignore Neurodivergent advocates.

In all these… blaring arguments… this blinding disorder… I really started to question what I could do as an advocate myself, against all this misinformation and vitriol. I found myself wanting to cover my ears like my son does, and then scream until it all stopped. Until it was finally silent.

But you can’t do that.

Because there are people that still need help.

I’ve lived a life as an autistic person in hiding. I’ve lived with ADHD, OCD, and severe anxiety. My life and my experience have value. My authority as a parent with a high support autistic child, has value. My first hand account of the difficulties experienced by children with Apraxia and other sensory communication disorders, has value.

So, I will probably wade back into the horrible land of Twitter from time to time. And I know that I will experience the harassment from both sides of the neurodivergent/autism divide. But I can take it.

(Well, my therapist, my meds, and I can take it, together, I hope.)

My point… Oh god, my point is so important on this one people. Stop arguing about us vs them. The world is not this binary. I know that person first vs identity first language, is important to many people. The argument of therapy vs abuse, is important to many people. Supports vs a cure, is important to many people. But there is so much more important work to be done!

There are children who are being forced to ingest bleach. There are insurance companies denying autistic people support and causing families to go bankrupt because of overwhelming costs. There are people being denied diagnoses because of outdated practices. And there are eloping children dying alone or abducted.

I’m not saying that your causes aren’t important. I’m asking for civility and a little bit of empathy.

Or is what they say about us true? Are we truly without empathy?

I don’t think so.

The Case for ABA

Why I put my son through a controversial, “damaging” therapy

TRIGGER WARNING: I talk about modern Applied Behavior Analysis and its practical applications in this post. But for those that experienced trauma from traditional ABA, there may be nothing practical about it, and should not read this.

Before I go any further, I want to make a statement about the abuse allegations against traditional Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, or ABA. I think they are absolutely true. It’s not really a question that the way that children were forced into a behavior that is unnatural for them was bad. That is a bad idea. I also think it is the worst application of ABA imaginable.

You see, the therapy itself, is not what is damaging. It is how it was, and in some places, is still, used. It is only a tool. It’s like a syringe. With the right content, it’s a life saver, with poison.. well, you’re done. (I know, I know, this is technically the kind of semantics the gun lobby uses. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But the gun sure does make it easier, right?)

So with that in mind… Why would I, a neurodivergent person, who believes in the autonomy of autistic people, put her son in ABA therapy?

Trust me, it’s not easy. Everyday I question if it is the right choice. And everyday I weigh the benefits over the consequences, and choose whether I want him to continue.

And before I go into my reasons, I would like to refer you to an autistic adult who actually went through ABA. His opinions and experience are EXACTLY the same as my own, but he has the legitimacy of having actually been through ABA therapy himself. And here is another account of an autistic man who went through traditional ABUSIVE therapy. His description of forced eye contact triggered real panic in me. His argument is very good, and makes it understandable why so many people are against ABA. And, lastly, here’s an unbiased account of the controversy from Spectrum News. OK.. Back to my post…

Again, why? Why would I do it? There are two reasons…

Continue reading “The Case for ABA”

Neurodivergent Survival Guide

I’m starting a new aspect of Holly Loves John, with the Neurodivergent Survival Guide. This will be a living document that records my tips and lessons on how to survive in the neurotypical world with a neurodivergent mind. Now, this is my neurodivergent mind, or more specifically, an autistic woman, with ADHD, OCD, RSD, Sensory Processing Issues, Anxiety, Bipolar, and Agoraphobia. There are many other aspects of neurodiversity that I have little to no experience with, so they will not be apart of this guide, just an FYI.

This week, I am starting with sensory issues, including Hyperosmia, Misophonia, and Photophobia.

It will be under the Me(ntal Health) menu option from now on as the “ND Survival Guide.”

Check it out! And happy reading!