Mikhaela Ackerman is an autistic public speaker, writer, yoga instructor and advocate. She created a website to bring together a community of support for autistic people, their families and allies.
Your City, Country:
North Carolina, United States
Inspiration for Writing a Blog:
I was diagnosed with ASD at about five years old. I did not have language in my early childhood years. By the age of 5 I had about 10-15 words and no sentences. Eventually, I became verbal and it proved to be my strongest asset, even though language was extremely delayed. I followed my strength and went on to law school. I knew I wanted to use my voice and my law degree to help others who are autistic. I went to law school for that purpose, however did not fully know how I wanted to give back. I realized that the blog was a way I could do just that.
Giving advice on adult transitions, I help people entering their 20s or those who are still in childhood years with advice on transitions and better roadmaps than I had when I was their age. I hope to provide insights that can help both autistic people and their families so that society better understands our everyday experiences and ultimately becomes more accessible.
Intention or Mission of Your Blog:
Our mission is to provide strategies for autistic people through blogging, speaking engagements, and workshop events. It incorporates advice for autistic people and autism parents, families, and friends all in one platform. I share my experience as an autistic person and my mom contributes her experience as a parent, providing both perspectives in one space. My mother, Mary Lynn, and I work together to bring autism acceptance throughout the community through our team approach.
Topics you Write About:
Each week there is a “Take a Peek Inside” post for those who are not autistic looking to gain a better understanding and a “Monkey Bars” post giving real life advice and resources for those on the autism spectrum. Posts range from mental health topics, executive functioning strategies, and transition guides to adulthood. There are also many topics about childhood, such as self-injurious behavior, sensory overload, meltdowns, strategies for the classroom, and how to best support your autistic child.
A Memory and Proud Moment:
I would like to share why my posts are called “monkey bars.”
When I was in elementary school I stayed on the edge of the playground, I had no interest in socializing with other children. This was because the sensory overload was too much for me to handle. Because of these processing difficulties, I am unable to naturally pick up on non-verbal social nuances.
At the edge of the playground I could be in a meditative state and restore my energy. However, I always looked to the monkey bars. I wanted to be able to climb them like the other children but was too scared. I struggled with fine motor skills and a fear of heights. Every day after school my mom would come to the playground and help me learn how to climb the monkey bars.
One day, she finally let go of me.
I was terrified of falling. In that moment, the impossible happened: I climbed the monkey bars on my own. This was the turning point for me. I did not climb as high or as fast as the other children, but I had still succeeded, I climbed them on my own at my own pace.
Throughout my life there have been other situations like the monkey bars where I try something in my own time and take a leap. Sometimes I fall. When I do, I step back and think of how I can approach it in a different way that will allow me to succeed, or if there is another path that’s better suited to my unique set of strengths. Through the blog I address these monkey bars and hope to give people the tools to conquer their own challenges.
Your Top 3 Favorite Posts:
This post brings awareness in how autism continues throughout adulthood and how our needs change. While we may become better at social skills and independent living, autism does not simply vanish. This is one of my favorite posts because it is my own journey of realizing these very truths.
This is my own reflection of what helped me most as an autistic student throughout my school years. The post is close to my heart because I have been able to see the impact it has had on educators to help them to better understand their autistic students.
This is my personal journey to becoming a yoga instructor and how yoga has helped me with aspects of autism such as sensory overload and co-occurring conditions like temperature regulation and digestive issues. I love this post because I have been able to share yoga with other autistic people and see how much it helps them as well.
What People Will Take Away After Reading Your Blog:
I hope that people will be able to better understand their autistic loved ones and that those who are autistic find new confidence and resources to help them realize their individual strengths as well as ways to accommodate their weaknesses. Most of all, I hope people learn that our strengths and joy is what defines success, not societal expectations.
Now it’s time to share your geeky side with us…after all, we are ‘Geek’ Club Books!
Movie you could watch over and over: Lord of the Rings or Star Wars
Where would you live in Middle Earth: The Shire
Hidden Geekish Pleasure: Anime
More ways to connect with Mikhaela:
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