I Appreciate Your Patience

I have a very hard time deciding on items in the store, and if I feel hurried, it becomes much more difficult. There are no words, just a little bit of whining and a repetitively flapping right hand. I even feel rude in that moment, but any extra input makes the decision process much harder, and stopping to respond appropriately will make the whole thing crumble. Sometimes you can hear the work it takes to turn a question into my answer. Friend: Lydia, do you like this song? Me: Do you like this song?… do I… I Do…  Like…  This…. Song. … [Read more...]

Why Mentoring is Magic

Growing up, I was involved various groups and activities, such as dance, Girl Scouts, school musicals, color guard, and church groups… in other words, I did what most kids around me did. But I was never quite part of the group. I would get overwhelmed and step out to get a break from the noise level and social interactions. I could never follow the loud, fast jokes and conversations. It was hard to tell a joke from a sign that someone was angry at me, even if I didn't know why they would be. There were some groups that flat out bullied me … [Read more...]

How to Be a Friend

Friendships have been one of the most challenging things for me to understand. It was a long and sometimes awful journey, and there were times I had no friends at all. Thankfully, it turns out that I bumped into some pretty fantastic people as I was wandering around trying to find mine, and they decided to show me out of the woods or walk with me until we could find our way out together. We tossed the compass when we realized that our friendships were our own. Instead of trying to follow the rules, we do things our way: Say what you … [Read more...]

Don’t Read My Mind…Ask Instead!

When it comes to understanding autism, why not ask someone autistic about it? Enjoy this month's essay by Lydia Wayman. When you meet someone who rocks and squeals but does not speak, what's your first thought? Is it, "Oh, okay, I guess this person is not able to speak, so I'm going to do my best to find a way to communicate. Or is it, "Oh, that poor soul.  I bet he doesn't even know what's happening. I'll ask his nearby parent if he's difficult to manage at home," because surely he doesn’t understand what you're saying. When most … [Read more...]

“Look Up!” But You Won’t Find Me There

Is there harm in too much technology? Are we losing our connection to each other? This month Lydia Wayman, Autistic Speaks, wants you to know that technology IS her connection.  I was on a site that strongly believes in the harm inherent in technology, especially for kids. Kids have ADHD, developmental delay, poor motor skills, and green fur growing from their ears, all because of technology overuse.  And there are articles and studies and sneaky photos of kids and teens glued to their screens while at a restaurant with family! They would … [Read more...]

Happiness, Comfort, Love – Why Autistic Routines Are Important

This month Lydia Wayman, Autistic Speaks, writes about autistic routines and how her mother meets her where she is in her world instead of trying to change her. She's never felt more loved.  There are a lot of people who are admirably good at following my train of thought (or pretending they do until they are outed when I ask a question and find out they have NO idea what's going on), but my mom is the best. She knows that when I'm on a rampage about obscure topics, "mmhm" will not suffice when I ask what she thinks because "what do you … [Read more...]

Autistic Detail: The Other Person First

This month Lydia Wayman, Autistic Speaks, writes about her extreme autistic detail and how facts, for her, are easy, comfortable and exciting. "You're thinking way too hard about this!" "Oh my goodness, it really isn't that big of a deal." "Come on, close enough is good enough." I think what people fail to realize is that, for me, extreme detail, precision, and in-depth analysis is interesting and even exciting. My favorite artsy endeavors involve hundreds of colors of embroidery thread, the tiniest weave of needlepoint fabric, and a … [Read more...]

“Well, I Think You’re Ridiculous!”
Autistic Speaks on Autism Friendships

This month Lydia Wayman, Autistic Speaks, writes about autism friendships and ponders why society can't grasp the idea of an equal friendship between two people who aren't 'equal.' A very good friend of mine was in the hospital in December, and part of what she was dealing with involved a lot of pain. It was pain that the doctors had said she "should not have" because there was "no reason," and this went on for a week before they found the cause, one which causes excruciating pain. Their family is one of faith, and so I had been asking … [Read more...]

The Mechanics of Communication

When you see a car outside the window, and you want to tell your friend, who is in the room, what color it is, you open your mouth and say, "Sam, there's a blue car outside!"  When your brain and your mouth are connected in a neurotypical way, this happens without any careful thought, force, or frustration. You think and you speak, almost in the same instant.  I'm autistic, but I am (mostly) very verbal, so I do know how that seamless process feels. But… knowing how smoothly it can happen also means that I am very aware of how difficult it is … [Read more...]

Presuming Paradox

The phrase "presume competence" is taking hold throughout the autism community, and this is a wonderful thing indeed. We−autistic kids and adults−face challenges in learning new skills, demonstrating what we do know, and maintaining our self-regulation in the big, bright, bold outside world. Oftentimes, our minds and bodies don't relate to one another like they do for the NT cohort of the population. And, be honest−we're all a little self-centered. When we see someone engaging in what is, to us, a strange behavior, we look at that action with … [Read more...]