That’s Not What You Said; That’s Not What I Meant

A couple has a fight. That fight sounds a bit like this.  “You said you were going to call the delivery company today,” says Sherry to John. Feeling accused, John defends himself, “Everything else is packed and labeled. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Sherry responds, “Okay, but, why didn’t you call the moving company?” John becomes […]

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COVID-19 Exposes Ableist Assumptions of Autistic Social Interaction

Many seem to think autistics are innately built or born for handling COVID-19’s regimen of sheltering in place and social distancing. There is this semi-truthful, semi-tongue-in-check notion that autistics must be fine, even thriving, right now. The absence of social interaction in “the world” is their default, so hunkering down is as natural as breathing.  […]

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Safe Distance on the Neurohighway: Personal Space in Relationships

Personal space is typically defined in terms of physical space. Specifically, the area immediately surrounding a person. The size and permeability of this buffer varies per person - per nonautistic person. Personal space is typically defined by the needs and responses of nonautistics.  Autistics tend to need more personal space than nonautistics. They need more […]

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Navigating Neurohighways: A Road Atlas for Exploring Autistic/Neurotypical Relationships

Most autistics find themselves in some kind of relationship with nonautistics, whether by design or by circumstance. Both sides can like, love, laugh, and loathe engaging with a partner whose organic wiring is different from their native wiring. It’s not wrong, flawed, correctable, or chideworthy; though, it might be confusing, frustrating, and maddening. It is […]

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Parenting What Matters to Your Autistic Child

As a parent, you always hope that the things you teach your child will be meaningful when they are older; that they will look back on their childhood and appreciate the time you spent together and the lessons you taught them. But as a parent, it can be very difficult to sort the wheat from […]

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COVID-19 Survival Kit for Autistics: 19 Tips to Maintain Your Mental and Physical Health

Autistics have waited for this moment their entire lives: Prescribed social distancing. The time has finally come! It just took an international pandemic for society to reevaluate the necessity of social interaction, redefine the rules governing face-to-face communication, and frown upon unnecessary and optional interaction. Goodbye to the dirty, suspicious, judgmental looks for failing to […]

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The Other Hidden Curriculum: Practical Strategies for Nonautistics Interacting with Autistics

The hidden curriculum refers to the unarticulated and unacknowledged rules, values, and behaviors people learn just by participating in society. Much has been made of the importance of teaching the hidden curriculum to autistic people, due to their challenges understanding nonverbal cues. Without such direct instruction, autistics would purportedly commit errors that nonautistics deem “obvious”, […]

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Worth it at Any Age: Professional and Personal Perspectives on the Benefits of Autism Diagnosis in Adulthood

Almost weekly, I receive at least one email from an adult who suspects he or she might be autistic. The events that have preceded sending the email, though initially unknown to me, punctuate a deeply personal, often circuitous and doubt-filled odyssey of self-discovery. My inbox and doorstep can be pit stops or extended stays in […]

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Rejecting the Mask, Accepting the Autistic Self

Autistics are talking more and more openly about the masking they engage in to navigate their daily domination by neurotypicals. Neurotypical reactions to the “reveal” of autistic masking fall on a continuum from guilt to sorrow to a sincere desire to help. “Take off the mask,” neurotypicals blithely urge. It is a nice sentiment, after […]

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Autistic is Not a Slur (And Other Things Autistics Want You to Know)

If you are not autistic, you know nothing that autistics want and need you to know. This list is supposed to help you, nonautistic. Want more? Search #ActuallyAutistic on Twitter.  Most autistics dislike what’s called Person First Language. They prefer Identity First Language and refer to themselves as autistic people, not as people with autism, […]

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“My Learner Profile” for Autistic College Students

I use this document with clients in college to help them examine their needs in the classroom. Additionally, I encourage clients to use this as a personal and practical introduction to their instructors, either in person or via email. I suggest that clients include only the information they feel comfortable sharing and to complete independently or […]

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Mistakes by Autistics: Portals of Discovery, or Disaster?

“A man's mistakes are his portals of discovery.” With this statement, James Joyce presciently captured a now well-accepted self help axiom that positions mistakes as positive, beneficial, and character-building. Mistakes are made in moments of stress, strife, inexperience, and ambiguity, when the demands of a situation bettered a person’s ability. But, in this manner, mistakes […]

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Think Autistics Lack Empathy? Typical, Neurotypical

“Often, empathy is absent.” Almost every autistic person alive has contradicted or negated this claim in some way, shape, or form. And, yet, neurotypicals have not fully realized their folly, choosing instead to argue amongst themselves about the meaning of empathy or the extent to which empathy presents in autistic people. Their error is not […]

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Saying It and Meaning It: Autistics Versus Neurotypicals
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To Grieve Autism or Not To Grieve Autism…May Not Be the Actual Question

Grief is the acute and complex pain that accompanies loss. Grief follows the loss of something loved or valued, including a person or relationship, a companion animal or life-long dream, a job or other significant life role, or possessions of remarkable emotional meaning. Grief is a hurt that cannot be fixed by someone glibly suggesting […]

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The Ugliness Behind the Mask

Many women on the spectrum mask during social interactions in order to survive. As the name indicates, masking is a hidden process that must happen internally. If it does not, then it has failed. From the outside looking in, it presents as benign coping mechanisms, like taking a deep breath, biting nails, or fidgeting with […]

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Communicating with Autistics for Dummies: Tips for the Neurotypical
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What the RBF?

Back in May 2013, Broken People uploaded a parody PSA titled “Bitchy Resting Face” (BRF) on funnyordie.com. BRF “sufferers” displayed an angry, annoyed, irritated, bothered or contemptuous facial expression when relaxed, resting, or not expressing any particular emotion. BRF sufferers were asking for understanding (more on “why” later). After a small permutation from BRF to […]

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Neurotypical Privilege & Autistic Drain

One of the most difficult concepts to properly explain to neurotypicals is how the events of the day — any routine, mundane day — greatly drain and debilitate the autistic. Neurotypicals have a basic understand that certain aspects of life — social and sensory in particular — present ongoing challenges. But, the more one understands […]

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Self Diag-KNOW-sis in Autistic Women

Admit it. You have done it. You have googled a medical symptom (“blotchy red thing near my navel”) and panicked slightly as a rare and highly serious condition (“Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome”) populated in the possible explanations. As you read about treatment options and success rates, you come across the sage recommendation to seek out […]

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An Obit: Asperger’s Disorder (1994-2013)

Asperger’s Disorder, a lovable, socially awkward and at times misunderstood part of the autism spectrum, died in May 2013 due to complications related to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Asperger’s endured a prolonged battle with ivory-tower hypocrisy and finally succumbed to the paranoid fears of misdiagnosis-motivated endemics and the resultant […]

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