#PrayforOrlando

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[image description: White text on a black background.  The bottom of the image shows a hashtag saying #PrayForOrlando.  Pictured on the black background are individual hearts in the colors of the Gay Pride flag.  From left to right: Red, yellow, green, blue, purple.  The red heart is broken in two down the middle, to signify the heartbreak of our great city as a result of the mass shooting that occurred in the early hours of June 12th]

I am a lifelong resident of Central Florida.  I currently live only 3 miles away from the house I grew up in.  Orlando may not house my zipcode, but it is my home.

I am gay.

I don’t know that I’ve ever written out those words before, so I’m going to stand up and say it louder.

I. AM. GAY.

The horrific tragedy that happened in my hometown just over 15 hours ago was supposed to be something that makes us afraid, that makes us isolate ourselves.  It was probably, according to some reports, a disgusting response to someone witnessing love between two men.

But instead it’s done something else.  It’s made me stronger.  It’s made me see that there are people in my community, many of whom are simply allies, who are coming together with us and standing with us.

I can no longer remain apathetic or silent about who I am.

I am proud to be Autistic and disabled.

I am also proud to be gay.

 

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[image description: Tweet by Ze-Hulk @awhooker  “If your compassion for the queer ppl murdered in Orlando includes “I don’t agree with homosexuality, but this is terrible,” fuck off forever.  6/12/16, 1:40PM.  57 Tweets, 85 Likes.]

But we can’t just let the standing up and being proud fall on the shoulders of the queer community.  The above tweet is something that kept tapping at my subconscious since about 9:00 this morning, as people began to pour out their support.

If your support is to get brownie points or to look like you’re compassionate, I don’t want it.

If yesterday, you argued against gay marriage or bathroom bills or protection of LGBT+ people at work, I don’t want your support.

If you accuse us of shoving our lifestyles in your face when so many of us work so hard to hide who we are for fear of retribution and fear for our safety, I don’t want your support today.

Conditional support is not support.  Support because we’re human beings without recognizing the parts of us that make us who we are – that isn’t real support.

I live in a city and a country where I don’t have legal protection against being fired from my job for who I love.

I live in a place where gay men cannot donate their blood because of a fear dating back two decades.

I live in a place where I thought it was safe for me to hold hands with a potential girlfriend.   Now I don’t feel so safe anymore.

If you think this is to do with religion, STOP.  This is to do with anti-LGBT+ bigotry.  I don’t care about the fact that maybe this poor excuse for a human being had extremist leanings and maybe, possibly, had ties to ISIS (this is not a verified fact; stop spreading it). I care that people have anti-LGBT bigotry in their hearts.

Hate can be cloaked in claims of love.  Claims that you “love the sinner but hate the sin”, claims that you of course accept your kid, but that’s “despite being gay”.

A homophobe is a homophobe is a homophobe.

(I don’t like the word homophobe, because it’s cloaked in ableism, but that’s a story for another day).

If you’re going to support us, support us always.  Not just when it’s convenient or popular or you can pat yourself on the back for doing so.

I didn’t come out to my family until I was in my 30s.  I stayed in a marriage to a man where I was unhappy for over a decade.  A really big part of that is knowing that it wasn’t safe to come out.  It’s only now, living on my own, parenting my kids on my own, providing for myself, that I feel safe enough to write these words.

Let’s make the world a better place, yeah?

A side note that I must mention – The Pulse nightclub is a place that caters to a very diverse group of people, and last night was Latin night.  Let us not erase the race of many of the victims and survivors, nor let us forget that it wasn’t only gay folks there.  All people who are part of the acronym (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc) were welcome and a variety of people were present last night.  Please let’s not forget this.


Some of you might want to know how you can help, so I’ve compiled a list of resources.

The Zebra Coalition is a place specifically for LGBT+ youth and young adults.  They offer a variety of resources, but definitely will be helping with counseling and other services in the near future.

The LGBT Center of Central Florida (Usually referred to as The Center Orlando) is an education, advocacy and support center for the GLBT community.  They are offering counseling and asking for donations.

OneBlood needs O+ and O- blood, and AB platelets.  You can go online to schedule an appointment as they are at capacity today, 6/12/16.  They are following FDA guidelines, unfortunately, so gay men (and also trans women because of the way that this is worded) are excluded from donating.

Equality Florida has set up a GoFundMe for the victims.

You can donate to Orlando hospitals through the Orlando Health Foundation.

The Orlando Youth Alliance provides services to LGBT+ youth.

 

 

 

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Autscriptic

Oh my gosh, this is the best thing I’ve ever read on unpacking the “you don’t look autistic” BS.

PLEASE read and share and take this to heart. And the next time you think about saying “you don’t look autistic”, please reconsider. Consider how much effort “passing” takes.

— The Caffeinated Autistic

 

 

You don’t look autistic. Yes I do. You don’t act autistic though. Yes I do. Yeah, but you’re not like “properly” autistic. Yes I am. You can make eye contact. Yes I ca…

Source: Autscriptic

Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism, But That’s Not the Point | The Scientific Parent

http://thescientificparent.org/vaccines-dont-cause-autism-but-thats-not-the-point/

Vaccines don’t cause autism, that’s true, but what’s the underlying concern about autism. Why is it something to be afraid of?

It wasn’t until I was driving home from class one day and was listening to C-SPAN radio. I was in my mid-20s and living in Washington, DC. This would seem weird anywhere else in America, but in DC it’s perfectly normal. The panel discussion being broadcast was teens and adults with autism and how federal funding could better support them. As the show closed, the moderator asked if anyone on the panel felt a vaccine had caused their autism.

Silence.

One teen panelist spoke up, “no, but it hurts that you would ask that question.”

The moderator’s tone softened, he apologized and asked why. I’m going to paraphrase the boy’s response because it has been several years and for the life of me I have not been able to find a transcript of this event anywhere, which has driven me to madness. If anyone from C-SPAN reads this and knows the talk I’m referring to, please send me a transcript! The panelist’s response was incredibly moving and I wish I could give him credit for it and do his response justice.

As I recall his response was, “because it makes me feel like I’m damaged or broken, when I’m not. I was born this way. My brain just works differently than most other people’s. When people talk about vaccines and autism it makes me feel like I’m not a person but a ‘bad result.’ It reminds me that no one wants a kid like me and parents will risk their kid’s lives and everyone else’s just to make sure their kid doesn’t turn out like me.”

Blogging Against Disablism: Sometimes it’s subtle….

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[image description: Box that reads “Blogging Against Disablism”.  Box is lined in black with multi-colored tiles with various “person” symbols in a variety of colors.  The person symbol most closely resembles that of the man in the symbol for “men’s restroom”.  The only exception is that the third image down and second to the left is the symbol for a wheelchair or the standard “disabled” placard symbol.]

Today is May 1st, and it’s Blogging Against Disablism day.  For those of you unaware, in the UK, what we know as ableism (or discrimination against a disabled person) is often called disablism.  You can learn a little bit about what this day is about by going here. 

So I’ve started a few posts on this before, but have never really hit publish.  I’ve been thinking about how sometimes it’s not the big horrific gestures of discrimination against disabled people that are the most prevalent.  Yes, we will often react in shock or horror at the horrendous things that abled people do to disabled people.  And we should! These things are horrible.  Making a disabled person crawl off a plane because of lack of accommodations is horrible.  It’s disturbing.  We should be disturbed.

Today, though, I’m going to talk about how sometimes it’s the subtle things, the things that people just don’t think about if they’re not disabled that are sometimes the most troubling.  These are the things that just slip people’s minds, or they’re not aware, or it just doesn’t come up because they don’t realize or they don’t know.  Or they “forget”.

I am in a choir right now.  It’s part of a larger arts organization that has various components – music, theater, dance, etc.  They even have a choir just for people who are in the early stages of dementia.  It’s a decent organization, and a huge part is service to the community. The founder and head of the organization has told us that he’s focused on making everything accessible to everyone, and I don’t doubt his intent.  Honestly, I think he is just completely clueless (though it is of course possible that he’s all talk and no action).

The price of being in this choir is $100 per season (there’s a fall and a spring season, and the summer session is $60 per choir).  That is inaccessible to a lot of people, disabled and not, but especially disabled people who tend to be unemployed and underemployed.

The director does video announcements.  They are not captioned.

I have been on stage now six times, and next week it will be eight times.  I have seen wheelchair accessible seating.  I have never seen an ASL interpreter.

I have yet to be in a show or see a show which didn’t use some form of flashing lights.  Epileptic patrons exist.

I attended a show in a new (to me) place that I’d not been before.  I was directed by someone in a very dark environment, and when I misunderstood the directions because low light + hearing/auditory issues + directional fail as a result of executive functioning issues maybe (or maybe dyspraxia related), a man yelled at me.  I later learned he was the producer of the show.  It was humiliating.

We have performed for a local recreational center for developmentally disabled teenagers and young adults, and one of the regulars has expressed interest in joining us.  He’s been met with a pat on the head and a “ha, how cute” and for a long time I didn’t understand what was so “adorable” about a 20-21 year old wanting to join a choir.  It isn’t wrong.  It isn’t funny.  He is more than qualified because this choir isn’t an audition choir.  But it’s because he’s autistic.  Cool.  So am I.  I know I “pass” better.  That’s a privilege in that my membership in this choir doesn’t get questioned, but his does.

Subtle ableism also comes in at work.  It comes in the form of an administrator reorganizing certain things in my workspace at the busiest time in my day.

It comes in the form of a teacher talking about autism as if she knows anything about it, and promoting ideas of what caused such an “epidemic” instead of being kind and compassionate, knowing at least three of her students are autistic (and in earshot). I know that has to do with the presumption of incompetence as well as the lack of understanding of how diagnosis has changed throughout the years.

It comes in the form of not being told the rules and then being scolded for breaking them.  It comes in the form of being expected to just go with the flow when administration expects me to be in three places at once.

It comes in the form of trying to avoid a meltdown and being dismissed and then actually having a meltdown because of lack of accommodations.

It comes in the form of trying to make the decision between looking incompetent because you don’t disclose your disabilities or being given a pitying look or treated like a child when you do disclose your disability.

It’s asking for things to be written down and still receiving only verbal instructions.

It’s asking for things to be done the same way every day, and the anxiety that comes when things aren’t done the way you’ve repeatedly asked them to be done.  /Stop rearranging my workplace!/

It’s every presumably passive aggressive action that you’re hoping isn’t an indication that you’re doing a terrible job.

It’s no one being direct with you.  It’s the complete lack of communication of anything important.

It’s the fear that they’ll find some ridiculous reason to fire you, so you can’t really fight against the inherent ableism that you’re being fired for being disabled.

 

Then again, maybe it isn’t all that subtle.

Hiding

This is beautiful and amazing and I relate to so much of this. It’s so so risky to put any of yourself out there, and yet we keep doing so. Bless you, Erin. This is an awesome post.

Erin Human

When I was 11, I had a crush on a boy who was a year younger, a boy from my church, and we also went to school together. Liking a boy in a lower grade than oneself was a thing that was simply not done, and so I concealed our puppy love, until it came out, as such things always do. My friends at the time both teased me for going out with a fifth grader, and embarked on a mission to flirt and lure him away from me. They had me coming and going, mortified, jealous, and exposed.

But that’s only kid stuff. Not like the time in college when I broke out of my usual mode of strict privacy in an attempt to bond with some girlfriends, trying to copy the way they forged their social bonds, by participating in a frank sexual conversation. And then one of them…

View original post 1,174 more words

Routines

So one thing you should know about me as an Autistic person, and this might apply to others, but I don’t know that it’s totally widespread among the Autistic population, is that I am pretty tied to my routines. They’re essential to how I function in the workplace, and they’re essential to how I function at home  (the latter helps my kids, too – knowing what to expect on a day to day basis is important to them, too).  I don’t do well when they’re interrupted.

I work a really good job for me.  I’m the cook at a local preschool (that provides childcare and education to kids from 6 weeks old to 5 years old).  It is a far cry from my last job, which was very social intensive, and could vary quite a bit.  There were ways of doing things, but if something came up (like a bus full of high school athletes pulled into our parking lot, for example), we had to roll with the punches, as it were. But now, I spend a lot of time in my own space away from people, and a lot of my work is solitary.  I’m very set in my routines.  I’ve been there for just over two months and I have my own way of doing things and in my own order.

But as I cannot stay for 10 hours a day, and as we have an inspection coming up soon, they sent me someone to help with the order today, and to help go through what I need to focus on for the inspection.

This is good! But this is also bad.

It’s good because yes, I need the help in order to get everything in order, because this is the first corporate inspection I’ve had, and I need to know what to expect.

It’s bad because my brain is going “holy crap I don’t know what to do here because I have this way of doing things and now you’re moving stuff around and what if I can’t find things? And ack, why are you moving that around? It’s been there since the first day I worked here, and why are you doing that?”

Breathe.

I’m grateful for the help, I am.  I am just having such a hard time getting my brain to cooperate and believe that this is 100% a good thing.

Next time, I wish I had some notice.  Or I wish she would have come to me when it was spring break (like I had asked) when I could have stayed for longer because I had paid for childcare for the entire week, from 6am-630pm if I had wanted to stay that long.

But this interrupting me at 9:45 am, and again at 1pm, and moving things around and now I don’t have places for things I did have places for before? I don’t know.  I’m frustrated.

And it’s easy to go “@#$%# neurotypicals!”

But I know it’s not her fault.  It’s not even the office’s fault. It’s just that I need to be more explicit about accommodations and what I need.  It means that I need to say “you need to write down what you want me to do with these things” instead of them sending someone in to help.

Tomorrow is another day.  The order is put away, so hopefully she’ll just have some notes and I’ll get everything in order.

The world will not end because today, my routine was interrupted.  I will adapt, and I’ve told myself the truth – “you’ve dealt with worse.”

It’s April again, and I want to tell you a story…

 

Today is World Autism Day, and for us Autistic people, it’s Autism Acceptance Day.  That means that many of us are using hashtags like #redinstead (which used to be #walkinred – I used both) and #toneitdowntaupe.

redinstead shoes

[image description: a photograph feature a person wearing a pair of red Converse-like shoes and a pair of blue jeans.  A tan patterned rug is shown underneath the person’s feet]

It’s been about four years since I first started blogging about autism, and I’ve noticed some interesting things.

Facebook has this app where it will show you what you were doing or posting on the same day a year, two years, etc. ago.  It’s sometimes fun to go back and see what you were doing on those days.  It’s sometimes heartbreaking when you see photos of people who aren’t in your life anymore.  It’s sometimes interesting to see how far you’ve come.

The past four years, my timeline has been filled with posts from Tone it Down Taupe and Walk in Red.  I have some fantastic activist friends who have shared a bunch of things with me, and whose posts I have shared on my page.

But I didn’t always know what I know now.  I’ve had Facebook for much longer than four years.  So looking back on some of those days is distressing.  One year, I lit it up blue.  I don’t think I knew back then that it was to do with Autism Speaks.  I definitely knew by that time that Autism Speaks was no good, but I didn’t realize that Light it Up Blue was basically supporting Autism Speaks.

I’ve learned a lot since then, thanks to a lot of reading (I was always good at that) and some patient people who got me to see that “uh, no, this is not quite as good as you think it is, and here’s why”.

It’s part of why I’ve begun in the past year or so to at least attempt to gently, kindly educate when I can, when it is possible and it’s clear the person is at least trying .  I’m not perfect.  I sometimes lash out when people use really awful language to discuss things that are pretty much absolutes (like, YES! All autistic people deserve dignity and to not have their care needs blasted all over the internet by their parents and caretakers).  I have certain triggers, and I’m sorry, but I have a hard time taking you seriously if you refuse to read the information I provided (or at least start a Google search on the topic and read a tiny bit before demanding that I educate you).  But I am trying, a lot more than I was in the past.

I remember what it was like to be ignorant.  When my daughter was diagnosed definitively at age 3, the first resource that the doctors pointed me to was Autism Speaks.  I wrinkled my nose at some of what I read, and I decided that Google was a better idea, because I was not liking some of the language that I encountered.  Comments about grief upon obtaining a diagnosis were so jarring to me because I knew something was different from the time my daughter was 14 months old.  A diagnosis was confirmation of what I already knew to be true, not a surprise or a shock or something that was causing me grief  What a foreign concept.

Luckily, I never got too far into Autism Speaks. I didn’t jump on the cure train, that’s for sure.  I wanted my kids to have the best life possible, and I knew that began not with therapies to change who they were, but with educational tools to help them learn in the way that was most comfortable for them.  Eventually, all of this acceptance and understanding and learning about my kids and how their brain worked made me realize that oh, I wasn’t so normal after all, and oh, they’re taking after me .  That journey of self discovery is something I’ll talk about another time, but it began when I was 27 and ended definitively with my own diagnosis when I was 30, which was nearly five years ago.  Once I realized that I was a lot more like my kids than I was like the neurotypical people I knew, autism stopped being this bogeyman and I realized that no, not all parents know their kids and their triggers as instinctively as I did.

For instance, I hated Walmart for all of its sensory obnoxiousness, and my kids did too.  I figured this out fairly quickly and we did some online ordering, some shopping in other stores.  I knew that the lights and the noise and smells bothered them, because they bothered me.  I could see them react in the same way I was.  I had just had 25+ years of being told that I was overreacting and finding ways of mitigating the pain of sensory overload, so I got us all out of there fairly quickly.

It still took a couple of years after figuring out that I might be Autistic for me to say that out loud, for me to identify that outside of my personal blog (not this one), and it still wasn’t until this year that I was fully confident of being “out” about being Autistic with everyone I encounter on a daily basis.

So having said that, I’m trying to be kind to those I meet.  I’m trying to help form this bridge of knowledge between those whose kids have just been diagnosed and activists (both autistic and not) who have been in the trenches for decades.

April is a hard month for a lot of us.  We can’t go outside without encountering something related to Autism Speaks and lighting it up blue.  So please, be kind, think about what you’re posting and whether an Autistic person would be helped or hurt by it, and please at least start looking up information on a topic before you demand that an Autistic person educate you about it.

Please feel free to connect with me on my facebook page here. You can also message me there.