April 23, 2021

Processing speed is different from processing ability.

Sometimes, when a person realizes I have poor processing speed, they automatically assume I have poor processing ability. Their tone becomes more singsongy, their vocabulary more childlike, and their expressions more performative – thinking this makes it easier for me to understand.

It’s like they’ve never considered the …

April 22, 2021

Tonight, I reread a novel from my childhood. It was published 25 years ago, and I read it soon after, but only once. Tonight was my second reading.

I had completely forgotten that it contains an autistic character.

Unless I’m forgetting other examples too, this was probably my first encounter with autism in literature. And …

April 18, 2021

Kids who ask, “Is there any homework tonight?” are not usually trying to create extra work for their classmates, or earn praise from their teacher.

More likely, they’re trying to protect themselves from the shame and consequences of having missed an instruction. I know, because I’ve been that kid.

Ironically, the shame that we’re trying …

April 15, 2021

What’s your default response to danger: Fight, flight, freeze, or fawn?

I’m totally fawn. I’m so fawn, I should live in a forest. Which would fit my aesthetic, incidentally – but that’s beside the point.

The point is, I’m a people-pleaser. My brain tells me that the best way to keep people from getting angry, …

April 15, 2021

There are no rules. Seriously. There are only “IF + THEN” patterns to notice.

I think a big way that neurotypicals can help autistics is by gently pointing out patterns that we miss.

Like, IF we talk at length about our interests, THEN some people might believe we don’t care about theirs.

Like, IF we …

April 11, 2021

The next time a child disobeys or ignores you, consider this: They may not be able, at that moment, to do what you’ve asked.

Yes, even if they’ve done it before.

If you knew, without a doubt, that the demand was too big for them to handle, what would you do differently? Perhaps offer assistance, …

April 7, 2021

We need to talk about the myth of the pandemic lifestyle.

Last year, I somehow got the impression that most people, with the exception of essential workers, were baking bread, bingeing shows, organizing closets, and lounging around.

The sound: quiet. The setting: safe. The vibe: peaceful. Just them and their house, spending some long-neglected quality …

February 5, 2021

Is it a good idea to use rewards as motivation? I’m not a huge fan, since I feel that the possibility of a reward can take focus off the real, inherent value of an action. But overall, my feelings about rewards are pretty neutral – depending on how they’re used.

Sometimes rewards are used in …

January 28, 2021

Among all the features of autism, “cognitive overload” is the hardest for me to describe. Here’s why.

There are two ways for me to write about how something feels. Either I catch it in the moment, whipping out my phone to type a play-by-play, or I replay it later in my imagination, observing and describing …

January 27, 2021

There’s a short film called “The Silent Child,” which is not about autism. It’s about a deaf girl, and an aide who introduces her to sign language.

Ultimately, it’s about a fruitless attempt to convince hearing parents that their daughter needs a language of her own.

I relate to the aide. From the very first …