Saturday, June 18, 2016

Happy #AutisticPrideDay 2016!

Today is our day, everyone - let's celebrate the amazing people that we are!

For more on Autistic Pride Day, check out my friend Alyssa's post on it here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hey, Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation: I'm Not A Monster

Somehow or other - maybe I signed some petition a long time ago - I got on the mailing list of an organization called the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (not to be confused with asdfmovie). Every so often, they send me envelopes hoping I'll give them money even though since I'm an autistic person they should be giving me money. In general, I rarely have money to give at the moment since I'm job-hunting right now, but I'd much rather give my hard-earned cash to ASAN or the Autism Women's Network, organizations that I know are looking out for me and people like me.

Today I got a letter from ASDF trying to get me to give them money again, and this one actually made me angry.

Oh, yeah, this is promising. Calling me my parents' worst nightmare. Great way to start this one off.

So already irritated, I opened the envelope...

I'm so dreaded, you guys. I'm a national emergency. I'm a monster, ooooooh.

Here's the deal: yes, families with individuals on the spectrum absolutely need and deserve financial support to help their family members survive in a world that's not designed for them. We all could use some help with that. Services are definitely needed for both autistic children and autistic adults. But worded like this? This makes autism sound like some sort of death sentence. You know what actually could be a death sentence? Not vaccinating your children. Yes, autistic people - myself included! - and their families can use extra financial support since we often require special services to ensure that we can make it in this world that clearly was made for people who aren't autistic. However, scare tactics aren't the best way to accomplish that. My existence is not a tragedy to exploit. Neither are the existences of all of my fellow autistic people. If people were willing to take a few minutes to listen to us, they'd realize we're not that different from them. We generally want the same thing as they do - to be treated decently and respectfully.

So don't be afraid to donate to help families and individuals with autism - both children and adults need services and support! However, any organization that portrays autism as some sort of menace or an epidemic is likely misguided at best and deliberately using scare tactics at worst. (In fact, autism isn't even an epidemic - we've just expanded the diagnostic criteria and understand the signs more. I myself wasn't diagnosed until I was 20.) For organizations that you can support instead knowing that your money will directly help autistic people, check my resources page out here.

Initially, I went to recycle the letter I got since I obviously had no reason to keep the vile thing around. But then I had a better idea...

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pet Therapy For Mental Health: Murphy Is A Movie Star!

Murphy and I made the big-time!

Well, not really, but my friend, documentarian, and fellow Aspie Alyssa Huber featured us in her latest video on her blog. It's all about the therapeutic relationships autistic folks have with their pets, and given Murphy's importance to me when she put out a call for stories I jumped right in! You can see Alyssa's blog post here, and her video is below.

Trigger warning for extremely cute footage of Murphy as a baby.

This cat is the best cat I've ever had the fortune to share my home with, all 22.2 pounds of him. Love you, Murph.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Stuck In A Holding Pattern

It's been a bit since I've written a blog post here, mostly because I've still been struggling with my fear of being unable to survive as an adult on my own due to my lack of a job and nothing new has happened. I signed up today as a protege in SAA's mentoring program in the hopes that I would be able to find a mentor who can guide me as I begin my career in the archival field and help me network better, which of course brings up that old concern of mine again - when, if at all, do I tell this person I'm autistic and need a little extra assistance with certain (generally social) things?

It's times like these that I feel like I don't have control of my life yet, especially as people around me - my graduate school colleagues - are finding jobs and settling in and doing wonderfully. Nothing has materialized for me yet, and as such I'm inclined to feel helpless and pathetic, things I logically know I'm not. I'm not jealous of my friends - I'm very happy for them - but when everyone is getting jobs except me, it does make me wonder if I'm even supposed to have one in the first place.

I'm well aware that success takes time to achieve, and I've never stopped working hard my entire life. However, struggling to find any form of employment in my field when everyone else I know in my field is happily working is definitely disheartening, and so I've noticed that I've gotten quieter on social media and less expressive in general. I'm not entirely certain that I'll fully be myself again until I have a job, regardless of whether or not it's in my field. Somehow or other, working has become tied to my self-worth.

I'm not giving up yet, that's for sure, but it's definitely the hardest challenge I've faced since 2009 and I'm not entirely certain as to how to fully handle this. I don't want to cry myself to sleep every night, but I don't want to ignore how I'm feeling, either - I definitely need to release emotion in some way or another and ensure that I don't bottle it up like I've tended to do throughout my life. I've been drawing a lot more in the past few weeks, at least, which is a good sign all around for my emotional well-being.

I just wish I wasn't stuck in this seemingly perpetual holding pattern. I've been ready to take off for ages now.