When the whole world’s trying to eat you alive, take a jigsaw to the fangs. 

The line in the title above was pretty much my mantra for getting myself through college and much of my twenties. (I’m 32 now and still hold the phrase close to my heart.)

College was a very intense time for me, in part because I went to a writing-intensive college. I quickly discovered the only way I could effectively write good college level papers on class readings was a long-winded process indeed. I would have to copy the text by hand, then take handwritten notes from my copy, then handwrite a rough draft and finally find a computer lab with no one in it and make revisions as I typed. I had a few teachers who would accept handwritten work to save me time, but most did not. Many others did give me deadline flexibility. A few did not.

Also during my college years I took on a self-assigned journalism project. I spent a year and a half researching changes in the school’s advertising and values; along with interviewing students, professors, alumni and prospective students on the subject. After all of this I wrote a series of editorial articles that were published in the student newspaper.

I did all of this while being forced to maintain a 3.0 GPA or lose my scholarship funds. I did all of this while watching my grandparents descend into Alzheimers and my mom into a whiskey bottle. I did all of this while dealing with some pretty severe gaslighting from two folks I considered friends. (Though the rest of my friends from that tine have proven to be true and lasting friends.)

I graduated college in exactly four years. I’m still not sure how I pulled that off. What I am sure of is that a month after I graduated I landed in the ER with severely low sodium and potassium having been induced by sleep-deprivation, stress and drinking due to that stress.

This year makes ten years since that night in the hospital. Since then I’ve lost both parents. I have not coped well with that. I’ve never fully gotten over some of the specifics of the hospital experience. I worked successfully from 2007-2013 but have really struggled since.

In the last year I have faced homelessness of varying degrees. I was raped my second night on the streets. I am still not coping well with that. (Thankfully I am now in a safe place staying with friends.)

I am tired. And I think I need to write.

Hopeful & tired. 

I had a job interview today. The company is a mail order/online order business. The position would involve typing and backroom work. I would be off my feet for a part of the day and would spend the rest of the day doing the aspect of retail that I love (without having to deal with the aspects I hate most). The job pays decently well. I want the job; I need a job, period. 

So I played really hard at how I came off in the interview. I think it seemed to go well in terms of chance that I may be one of the people chosen to be hired. But by the end I was spent. On my way out I was supposed to sign out with the receptionist. I barely knew how to talk to her. 

As achy as I’ve been getting from all the walking I’ve had to do in my job searching, I was glad to have a long walk home today in a way. I was glad the bulk of the walk was a long country road with almost no houses or businesses on it. 

I put extra energy into this job interview. This is not to say I don’t usually put energy into a job interview; certainly I do. But it’s harder for me to get excited about, say, a job at fast food place than it is to get excited about keeping a stock room organized and handling damaged merchandise claims. The idea of getting to do this while not dealing with being on a sales floor sounds even better. 

Here’s hoping my energy expended pays off. 

Labels aren’t Just for Jars: Give Kids the Words to Understand their Lives (reblog)

Labels aren’t Just for Jars: Give Kids the Words to Understand their Lives (reblog)



Image Description: a hand places disability label cards onto illustrations of children. Still taken from video in post.

Yesterday, on Twitter someone shared this video and asked me for my thoughts.

Video description: A mostly unnarrated video in which a pair of hands puts labels on illustrated jars like jam, peaches, pickles etc. Then the hands start labelling drawings of children with intellectual disability, gifted, autism, learning disability, ADHD, Tourettes, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome. The video ends telling the viewer that labels are for jars.

I think talking about my feelings on this needs a wider audience than the one on one exchange I had on Twitter.

I actually completely disagree with the entire video. I think it is important to give children the words to understand and describe their own experiences and that it is also important to teach nondisabled children about disability in a normalized way. I…

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I Abused Children For A Living (reblog)

I Abused Children For A Living (reblog)

Diary Of A Birdmad girl

I abused children for a living. It didn’t look like abuse. It didn’t feel like abuse (at least not to me) but it was definitely abuse. I see that now. Back then, I actually thought I was helping those kids. In fact, it was and still is considered ‘therapy.’ And not just any therapy- the most sought-after autism therapy, often the ONLY therapy insurance will cover. To this day it’s lauded as the only “evidence-based treatment” for autism.

You see, I was an ABA therapist. My official title was ‘Behavior Technician’ which in itself is really telling. I was hired off the street with no background in child development, no knowledge of autism or ABA, and no experience working with children, let alone autistic children. I. Literally. Did. Not. Know. What. Autism. Is. And I wouldn’t find out what autism is in the years that I worked there either.


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Living the ‘lie’ (reblog)

Living the ‘lie’ (reblog)

the silent wave

I’ve written a lot before about acting and masking.  For the cheap seats, it’s a prevalent theme throughout the Asperger’s/autism spectrum community.

The way I see it, “masking” is the idea of putting on a proverbial mask, one that covers up your true personality, your true self, etc.  In essence, hiding who you truly are.  “Acting”, on the other hand, is related, but different; one either adopts the characteristics or even persona of another, or perhaps constructs a new persona altogether.

I’ve acted and masked all my life, from my second year of kindergarten onward (yep, you read that right; I spent two years in kindergarten.  Long story.  Not due to intellectual or cognitive impairment).  Acting and masking are survival traits of sorts for me.  I couldn’t have “functioned” in this world without them.  Masks and acting roles construct a hologram of me that is deemed acceptable by my peers.

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Put a hug in your pocket. 

Usually when I write about grandparents, it will be my mom’s parents who I refer to as mamaw and pop. This post, however, is about my dad’s parents who I refer to as granny and papa.

Papa died when I was in kindergarten, so I don’t remember him all that well, but my parents always told me a story. Before papa died, when we would go to their house to visit, he had a small decorative pair of gold metal shoes he would give me to play with. Apparently I would take these in another room and become engrossed with them for the duration of the visit. When we would go to leave I would never hug granny. I would hug papa twice and tell him to put the other one in his pocket to give to her later. 

As I was growing up granny was often a source of hurt for me. She showed me routinely my cousins were more important to her than I was. For example she would invite my mom and I to get pizza with her and my cousins. Every time she would ask which toppings I wanted. And then every time she would state that my cousins wanted sausage so we would be getting that instead. 

One memory that stands out is from when I was maybe about 14. She wanted to take me shopping for my birthday that year, and I knew what I wanted so I told her we should go to Border’s bookstore. We did and I picked out the Kalevala (ancient Finnish epic poem). She bought it for me. In the car on the way back she asked what it was and I told her. She started saying, “Finland?! That’s an odd thing to be interested in!”

Basically she always left me feeling second rate and sometimes belittled. We wouldn’t really bond at all until after she had a stroke, consequently developing aphasia. When she had the stroke we went to the hospital to see her before she “woke up”. When it was my turn to visit with her, I said, “Granny, even though you can’t talk, I know you can hear me and I love you.”

Months later after she had gotten through speech therapy to help her with the aphasia, she told me she had heard everyone that day. She said how much my words meant to her, as everyone else had prefaced what they told her with “even though you can’t hear me”. She also revealed she had been terrified because she wanted to pray but didn’t have words. I told her she had prayed with her heart and that God speaks the language of the heart. She wanted me to write this on a piece of paper for her, so I did. 

She seemed to treat me with greater respect from there. So the last few years of her life, visiting with her was more pleasant. I just wish it hadn’t taken those circumstances for her not to write me off as something of a black sheep grandchild. 

Dandelion greens.

The majority of 2016 for me was marked by significant housing instability, up to and including a stint living in the woods. 

Since having these experiences in a state where EBT (food stamps) can be very difficult to attain/maintain if unemployed, I have become interested by unconventional means of nutrition. By this I mean, ways to ensure receiving nutrition even in a time of having no funds or transportation. 

In this research I have learned of dandelion greens. Read more here: The Health Benefits of Eating Dandelion Greens.

Here is a highlight, regarding nutritional content:

Dandelion greens compare favorably in nutritional content to other commonly consumed green vegetables, providing four times as much calcium, 1.5 times as much vitamin A and 7.5 times as much vitamin K as broccoli. This leafy green vegetable also contains twice as much iron and three times as much riboflavin as spinach, and, while spinach provides no vitamin E or carotenoids, dandelion greens boast 17 percent of the daily adult dose of vitamin E and 13,610 international units, or IUs, of lutein and zeaxanthin per 3.5-ounce serving. However, dandelion greens are lower in vitamin C and folate than either spinach or broccoli.

The double-edged sword of labels in the autistic world (reblog)

I dream of a world in which to say that one is Aspergian/autistic conjures up accurate imagery.

I long for a place and time in which someone can disclose their status and be met with acceptance, support, or even a neutral indifference.

I’d like to build a society in which the use of the “autistic” term does not ignite fear and apprehension.

I would love to see a culture in which to tell someone you’re on the spectrum doesn’t change the other person’s perception of you or how they treat you.  A world in which to say you’re autistic isn’t followed by being treated with skepticism or talked down to.

Source: The double-edged sword of labels in the autistic world