August 24, 2020

Looking through notes from a few years ago, I’m amazed by how much my ideas have shifted – especially on the topic of bravery.

I used to spend a lot of energy attempting to be brave in uncomfortable situations, to push through anxiety, to do hard things. I saw that as a kind of self-empowerment, …

August 11, 2020

I’ve learned that “How are you?” is usually meant as a greeting, not a question. But if I give a trite answer, and the person responds by repeating the question a second time – slower, with emphasis – then I know it’s truly a question.

That’s when it gets complicated.

Many autistic people experience “alexithymia,” …

August 10, 2020

I’m terrified of improvisation, so I often spend more time preparing for things than actually doing them. It feels like building a staircase into the sky – I could attempt to fly, but falling is so painful that it isn’t worth the risk.

As a teacher assistant, I sometimes have to substitute for absent teachers. …

August 8, 2020

Musicals feel like heaven to me, because they portray a world that solves some specifically autistic problems.

For example, I’m not great at reading between the lines to figure out a person’s true intentions. Musicals solve this through solo songs that reveal exactly what the character is thinking and feeling.

Also, the real world has …

June 23, 2020

When I’m holding a thought in my mind, and I’m about to act on it soon, the place where it lives is called “working memory.”

For me, it’s a very small place. My working memory can hold one or two thoughts with intense focus and attention, but if I try to hold three or four …

August 11, 2019

Writing clarifies my thoughts. Talking feels messier.

When I’m drafting a post, I often ramble a bit before stumbling on the main idea. Then I delete the first half of the draft, move the last sentence to the beginning, make some final adjustments, and post it. I usually continue to tweak it even after it’s …

August 9, 2019

“Are you okay?”

Whenever a stranger asks me this, my brain silently says, “No, I’m not. You’ve caught me in a startled state, only halfway recovered from an overwhelming moment. I’m trying to regain my sense of balance, as if I was spinning and suddenly stopped. Finding words right now feels like dizzily trying to …

July 27, 2019

“Just pick up the phone, it’s so much more efficient!”

It’s true that phone calls are more efficient if you’re measuring from start time to finish time, since most people don’t reply immediately to email. But if you’re measuring by overall time spent, then phone calls take longer for me because of all the steps …

July 21, 2019

I think that all summer camps should have a designated “un-camp” zone, where any camper may go at any time.

So, what would that look like?

Camp is a boisterous crowd, where kids are bombarded by noise and water activities. Un-camp would be away from the action, maybe a sunny clearing in the woods.

Camp …

June 23, 2019

I once read a blog post by a mom who was mourning her son’s autism. One of her main complaints was that all he wanted to do all day was stare out the window at trees.

Upon reading that, my reaction was to applaud the kid’s aesthetic taste, approve of how he spends his time, …