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transautistwoman

What your Asperger’s / #ActuallyAutistic friend probably wants you to know

A Letter to the Parent or Carer of an Undiagnosed Autistic Girl

❤ How lovely! I feel this speaking, hopefully, to my parents, as I'm on the path toward a diagnosis right now (though I'm not little anymore o.0) and I hope this finds it's way to anyone who needs to hear it

The Misadventures of Mama Pineapple

[Trigger warning: mental illness]

Dear Parent/Carer,

I’m writing to you in my capacity both as the parent of a little girl awaiting assessment for autism, and as an adult autistic woman, and one who has spent most of her life, until the age of 36, undiagnosed.

I know you’ve been wondering about your girl. Perhaps someone has said something – a family member, perhaps; a friend; a teacher. Or, maybe, you’ve been thinking for quite some time that this little person might be a little…different. ‘Autism’ is the thing that’s been suggested. And you’re wondering.

Perhaps you’re wondering about the formal assessment process. Perhaps you’ve already begun to get things moving, or maybe you’re little further down the line, and it’s dawning on you that the whole thing is far more arduous than you’d ever imagined. I get that. Totally. My family is there too.

And so, you’re thinking you…

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The Gas-lighting of Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum

Seventh Voice

Artwork by Mirella Santana

Of all the traits attributed to Women on the Autism Spectrum, there remains one that not only continues to go unrecognized as a valid trait but has also suffered the fate of being reconstructed by professionals as a rationale for denying Women a diagnosis.

The trait I’m referring to is that of developing a strong sense of self-awareness.

In almost every description pertaining to the experiences of Women with Asperger’s Syndrome there is evidence of the development of an early, inexplicable sense of ‘otherness,’ to be found.

This sense of ‘otherness’ expands exponentially as girls grow older and develops into a keen sense of self-awareness.

Their strong sense of self-awareness in turn, increases their sensitivity toward any and all experiences that suggest or confirm their perceptions of themselves as different.

Undoubtedly, whilst at school, undiagnosed spectrum girls will find themselves showered, almost daily, with an endless array of situations that…

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What If the Tables were Turned

What if the world was full of autistics, and neurotypicals were the minority group?

Everyday Aspie

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 2.31.26 PM

What if The Tables were Turned . . .

What would it be like if autistics were the founders, owners, leaders, managers, and supervisors in most businesses in the world.

And we told the non-autistics that we would train them for bottom-level entry jobs but they could work their way up, maybe.

And we told the non-autistics we would provide specialized training just for them, so they might possibly succeed.

And we told them managerial positions were hard to come by because of certain character traits the non-autistics lacked.

And we told them that we decided to choose someone else for the job because they didn’t do well in the interview.

And we told them they needed more experience before we could hire them, even though we recognized no one else would likely give them the experience they needed, based on how poorly they presented themselves in our autistic world.

And we told them we…

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Closed Captioning Is Helpful… Until It’s Not

I figured out about two months ago that if I have the captions on when a movie or show is in English, it still helps me understand everything better. I’ve kept the captions on ever since.

I’m hopelessly addicted to Supernatural right now (no spoilers, I’m not even to the end of the 4th season *shhhhh*). It is the first show in English that I have watched extensively with captions, and I gotta say, the captions are driving me nuts.

Most of the time, they are helpful, but when they are wrong, they are making it more difficult to understand. If the captions don’t match what’s being said, I don’t understand what’s being said, and I don’t comprehend what I’m reading. They don’t match up and my head kinda freaks out for a moment. Or there will be actions being captioned that don’t actually happen. Side conversations, [dog barking], etc. That is very frustrating as well, because I get caught up in trying to understand why the captions say something is happening, but I don’t hear it happening. Is there something I’m missing?

Oh! No.

The captions are wrong.

Again.

It’s not advantageous to the experience to have fucked up captions, and even though the singular mistakes are small (usually) they are frustrating. I can’t imagine for someone who is deaf or who can’t process auditory input very well at all, how much harder it could be to know what’s going on. How many shows are like this? How many things are there where captions are screwed up? How much of a message is lost?

There have been a couple of times during the show where the captions on screen didn’t match the conversation. I had to go back and listen again, but I can do that. What if you don’t have an advantage? For me at least, unless I’m doing really, really badly, I can at least close my eyes and direct my listening to the source and focus all my attention on what’s being said and am generally able to understand it fine, and under normal circumstances, it doesn’t take me a whole lot longer to process everything that is said. The captions are helpful, they aren’t a necessity to me. I’m utilizing them because I found that they *generally* enhance my viewing experience and allow me to understand everything at a more consistent pace.

What about if it’s something you need?

Good enough dialog where the actors screw up a few times isn’t acceptable as an end result, so why are good enough captions where it doesn’t match up with what’s going on acceptable?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s written about this, and I’m sure there are far more comprehensive overviews, breakdowns and ways to fix it, but this is new to me. I’ve opened up my eyes, so to speak, by accident, but nonetheless. I’m left with one question currently.

What.

The.

Fuck?

Safety Nets 

How do you have a safety net when it doesn’t even exist in the first place? A personal story on autism and mental health.

Autism and expectations

When I first got my diagnosis of autism, I was assured by the experts that nothing was different. I was still the same me that had walked through the door.

And I agreed.

When I told family about my diagnosis, I told them it didn’t change anything, I was still me.

And they agreed,

When I told friends about my diagnosis, I said, “None of this fundamentally changes who I am”.

And they agreed.

Off we all wandered in our own directions, happy that I was still me, they were still them, and the world wasn’t fundamentally different.

I was yet to find one of the most profound differences being autistic made to my life. I speak a lot about how Autism is the key to understanding myself, about its positives, about the wonderful life-experience being so involved with my senses gives me.

But lurking in the background is something…

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Advice for counselors / therapists / professionals working with Asperger’s / autistic people

High function, low function. Four short stories of four different girls.

“Katy, you know what I love about asking you about something?” Mark asked.

“What do you love about asking me about something?” Katy asked. She put her hair behind her ear once again. It wouldn’t stay out of her face, that was probably the tenth time since they left the school, and they’d just barely made it to the sidewalk.

“When I ask you something, I know the answer is going to be right. Like, I know you’ve done so much research on it. I know you’ve exhausted every avenue you have. You don’t just stop at the first answer. You don’t even stop at the 100th, and you aren’t willing to answer if you don’t know. You just say you don’t know. It’s really cool. Plus, you can explain it really well.” He said.

Katy started rubbing her thumb against her fingers. She was never really sure how to take compliments. “Um… Thanks?” She smiled awkwardly, looking at his hair.

Mark laughed. “You’re welcome.”

They stared at each other for a moment, then continued walking. It was silent for a while. Katy never really did well with small talk, so conversation was kind of an all or nothing deal.

………………………………………………..

Lily had been rocking back and forth now for… how long? She doesn’t even know. It was still light out when it started. Nobody has been home for three days. Her back hurt from her legs being drawn up for so long. Her shoulders seared from holding onto her legs. Each time she rocked forward or backward, she could feel her back muscles burn.

It’s been hours.

She’s screaming in her head, but the words don’t escape her mouth. She opens it and nothing comes out. Nothing, nothing, nothing! The screams in her head are nearly incomprehensible now, it’s just too much. She had been crying for a long time earlier, but the tears couldn’t even come now. Every once in a while she was able to get out a hum, or something, anything vocal, but she couldn’t talk. Not even basic words. She tried listening to the t.v. when she could still move, but the words made no sense. She heard them, and she knew that she knew them, but they didn’t make any sense, she couldn’t understand them or what they meant. It was only more frustrating.
She had no way of reaching out to anyone, but the idea that someone might come home and see her this way was even more terrifying.

………………………………………………..

“W, w, w, w, wh, wh, what do you think we should d, d, d, do for dinner?” Corinna asked. Conversation was so embarrassing and slow when she struggled with her words.

“I, I, I, I, I…” Corinna’s mom waited as her daughter continued to repeat the word. “I, I, I, I…” Corinna shut her mouth, finally realizing that she was stuck, and hummed, frustrated. “soft tacos sound g, good.” she said quietly, sounding defeated. She got so mad at herself when her words didn’t work.

………………………………………………..

The stage fright was terrifying, but the shows were so exhilarating! Luckily, when you actually get up on stage, those lights are so bright you can’t really see anything. Steph was happy about that. She wasn’t sure if she could do shows otherwise, but man… People loved her music! It was amazing to see a whole sea of people just waving back and forth, up and down, moving to the music, feeling it to the core of their very soul.

She would be exhausted after the shows, but for that one beautiful moment, during the show, and then talking to all the people after, it was the wildest thing! She couldn’t believe all the conversations, and all the compliments, that she had received in the shows that she had done.

It was really cool to hear the other musicians as well. It was an intense, but satisfying atmosphere. At the end of the show, she always hoped that there would be another one, but for now, it was her, on stage. Her music, the center of attention, and it was such a beautiful thing.

All four of these women are me. I have been told what Katy was told. I’ve spent hours isolated, alone and scared just like Lily. I feel Corinna’s pain daily as I struggle through conversation, and Steph’s experience on the stage and in the venues are my own.

Functioning labels are frustrating and not helpful.

“Low functioning” autists have a voice. They are also very worth listening to, and to label them as low functioning throws them under the bus. Allistics don’t listen to anyone who is “low functioning” because they’ve deemed them not capable of reliable or functional thought. It’s bullshit.

“High functioning” autists and aspies like myself end up getting thrown under the bus because we are deemed “too normal” for help. We’re told, by allistics, that we don’t have the same problems, and that we aren’t “autistic enough”. You know what? I’m 28 years old, and I’m JUST LEARNING that I am indeed on the autistic spectrum. Why?
Because I functioned too well for allistic society.

I mean sure, I’ve never held down a job for more than a year and some change (usually much, much less).

Sure, I’ve never been able to make it through school.

Sure, I don’t have very many friends.

Sure, I’ve had communication problems throughout my life.

Sure, I’ve always been different.

Sure, I spend hours upon hours alone, breaking down, not knowing why (until now) sometimes unable to speak, sometimes unable to understand speech, and not being able to do anything about it.

But hey, I’ve managed to function well enough to have a formidable capacity for words, be “really smart” and make it on my own (with children) well enough to not be a complete and total desolate wreck, or dead. So I should be good right?

And because of this high function / low function dichotomy that allistics put on us, I haven’t ever had help until now, and from what I’ve been reading, I’m going to be having a hell of a time now even, because I’m labelled “high functioning”.

Look, from so, so, so, so many people in the autistic community to everyone who is allistic, please stop. You are hurting us by giving us functioning labels, you aren’t helping. Do Lily or Corinna seem “high functioning”? Do Katy and Steph seem “low functioning”? And yet they are all me.

Stop with the functioning labels.

Thank you for reading sunshines and have a beautiful day.

Stop trying to erase labels – here’s why

Labels divide us. Why can’t we all just be human?

I’ve seen that come more often from straight, cisgender people, but I have seen it from just about every walk of life. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this statement, and I disagree with it on a fundamental level.

It starts with this preconceived notion that labels are bad, then ends it with trying to utilize one particular label as the only thing we should claim. This makes the whole statement inherently flawed and contradictory. If labels divide us, why would we claim the label human? Why would you say labels are bad, and then ask us to use another label?

Can labels divide us? Absolutely. I would be lying if I said anything otherwise, but do you know what else they do?
Define us
Bring meaning for us
Bring us together
Help us understand both inwardly and outwardly
Identify us, personally and socially

The concept of labels has no inherent morality. It’s nothing more than a tool. Like all tools, how it is used will create it’s moral significance.

I think labels are fantastic and fascinating things that makes understanding a person more obtainable. I also think it’s a really bad idea to make labels the only tool you use to try and understand yourself and others, and can end up dividing people through lack of understanding.

Tricky, right?

We often pigeonhole people based on their labels. Notice, that is an action someone does, not the label itself. Also notice why.

Assumption!

That’s where the lack of understanding comes in, see, we forget too often that a label is used to understand a particular subject in a broad sense. When we forget this, it leads us to believe that we know what the label means on an individual level.

You have to remember, labels are a beginning of an understanding, not an end. Here’s an example.

What are some ways that I would define myself?

I am queer, trans, autistic, female, human
I live with disability, mental illness, relatives
I am a humanist, gamer, musician, riot

I proudly own my labels, and I have many, many others I use for myself. They have allowed me to find and come together with other people who can understand my existence on different fundamental levels. I would not have found these people without my labels to understand certain things.
These same labels have lost me friends, gotten me beat, made my life more difficult, and made me the butt end of a lot more hate.
These same labels have helped me grow by finding people with other labels that aren’t mine and trying to understand the world through their eyes.

For you though, my question is this. When you see those labels,

Do you know me?

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