Queen of the Antivaxxers on Your TV – What Do You Do?


Now, I must admit something: I did go and watch The Masked Singer. Yes, the one with Jenny McCarthy as a judge. No, I do not think she’s the brightest crayon in the box. She did not even get the unmasked person right. I only wanted to see what the Twitter-fueled craziness was about. Honestly, it did involve me a little, but it did not seem too engaging. Honestly, I only enjoyed the Monster and the Peacock. Ask me privately if you want to continue further. I’m at cambriaj1977@hotmail.com if you’re interested. 

But this brings up a key issue for us autistic people in general: people will disagree with us, even in the face of cold hard facts. It’s kind of like flat earthers’ stubbornness into seeing whether the earth is flat or round, even though they accept the fact that Mars is round, because they see it with their own eyes. They will always have an answer for whatever facts you can have. For instance, the sun, according to them, is about the same size as the moon. Also, Antarctica is a wall that surrounds the earth. Why am I sputtering this nonsense? To remind you that ignorance is a choice, and some people will put their fingers in their ears and scream “LA LA LA LA LA….” to avoid being wrong and found out. 

This is very sad to say, but sometimes, you, the autistic in the know, must smile and grit your teeth, knowing that there are people who think things different from you. That does not make them right and you wrong. When the facts are revealed, they will get their just desserts.

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Christmas Prep Part 4: Christmas Dinner Shopping

Well, this is mostly a report for what I did yesterday morning: Christmas dinner shopping. This year, we’re having prime rib. We’re also having rice, vegetables and rolls. (Honestly, I’m tempted to try Yorkshire Pudding if we have everything, and the recipe goes right.) I know for a fact that many of us autistics are not called on to make Christmas Dinner, and that’s okay. I’m putting a no pressure vibe into the day; my mother and me, laid-back and easy. Besides, just about everything in the dinner is easy, even cooking the Prime Rib. (Honestly, it is.)

Maybe that’s not the whole story. I was very nervous about cooking the Prime Rib, especially since I have failed by making it too rare before.
I looked up the recipes long before I even got the rib, looked them up just after I got the roast, and I was looking them up a few minutes before writing. I get very nervous, but I soon realize it’s much easier than my mind is making it. I guess I get anxiety, and need to calm down. 

But back to the big shopping trip. Of course, we got some other things too. We do need to eat between Christmas and New Year’s Day. (We had most of that dinner already bought, too.) Besides, once Christmas Dinner is done, we’ll be alright. There really is little to it.  

I’m not trying to be arrogant. The dinners we make are very simple, including for Christmas. I’ve looked at the cooking instructions for the most complicated things, and they’re entirely doable.

I guess the point of this is, make it as easy as possible. If you’re up to the challenge of making a Charles Dickens style Christmas, by all means, go for it. I think most of us, however, are not up to the task, autistic or neurotypical.

What Kind of Christmas Movie is This?


WARNING: Spoilers for a movie from 1985 

Well, the big news is that Christmas movies are on, but I’m going to focus on one movie that came out in 1985. It’s a small movie, and not getting a lot of good press on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s called One Magic Christmas. The big thing is, this movie deals with a lot of sadness. The central family has fallen on hard times, and the mother does not see what there is to celebrate.  

The trouble with the movie starts on Christmas Eve. There is a bank robbery, and the dad is murdered. Then the robber gets into the car with the two children inside. There is a chase, and the car falls over a bridge into a river, with no survivors.  

At this point, my mother and I are both wondering, “What kind of Christmas movie is this?” Not realizing, of course, that It’s a Wonderful Life deals with the even more un-Christmassy subject of suicide. I think sad things have their place in the Christmas movie. Fortunately, Christmas magic is on hand to save the family, even the dad. (This is where the spoilers end, people. I’m not giving it away for you.)  

Maybe I’m missing the point. I’ve seen Christmas magic do crazy things, even bring people together. I guess shocking content is nothing new. It’s just not given a real chance on most Christmas movies. One Magic Christmas deals with more real-life situations than most of these movies, which deal with fairly rich people. This one deals with the lower middle class.  

And what does the mother in the movie have to celebrate? Lots of things! Maybe that’s the point of the craziness.  

An Open Letter to the Newly Minted Parent of the Autistic Child


Dear Parent of the Autistic Child, 

I know you are somewhat scared for your son. What will he be able to do in his life? Will he need constant care? Will he be able to take care of himself? Is there hope for him? Autism is a big pill to swallow. But there is hope, and there is hope for your child. 

I need to tell you a few things about myself. I am an autistic adult. Which means, I was one of those autistic kids. It’s not that hard a jump to make. I have held down a job for six years. I currently take care of my mother full time, and maintain a small home. I talk like a non-autistic. I even do the cooking at home, too. It’s a little hard for me to make friends, but I would not judge your son by my yardstick.  

I’m not exactly sure if you have a proper yardstick to measure your son’s abilities by. Nobody really knows the potential a person has, even an autistic one.  

I have a few things for you to consider. 

  1. I believe in vaccines. I believe vaccines did not cause your child’s autism. I don’t know where you stand on this issue. Many people do believe this, though, even many celebrities. This fear has caused many outbreaks of once-eradicated diseases. Be careful who you trust. 
  2. Autistic Adults are not morons. Actually, most autistic adults have a perspective that many parents of autistic children do not consider: the perspective of the autistic person themselves. Who better to help a person with a trait or condition that someone with the same trait or condition who has been down the road a bit? There is a reason certain conditions run in families! 
  3. Be Wary of Applied Behavior Analysis claims. Applied Behavior Analysis – ABA – was formulated to make the autistic child “indistinguishable from their peers,” or to make them seem non-autistic again. The truth is, your child is not a potential non-autistic. They were always autistic. They were born that way. I was born that way. Be careful how ABA is taught to your child. He might be taught how to behave in public, but make the boy non-autistic again? Not going to happen.  
  4. Listen to your child. Every bit of behavior is communication. They may experience the world in a completely different way from you, due to sensory processing issues. Almost all autistics have them. If he starts to stim, then consider the surroundings. Is he uncomfortable?  
  5. Do not be afraid of stimming. Stimming is a comfort behavior. As long as he is not hurting himself or anyone else, self-comfort is a good thing. If his stim is harmful, I would suggest getting a small toy or game to stim with. Any autistic adult can have a suggestion that helps.
  6. Delays in growth are not denials. I was older than five when I finally asked my first question. I was delayed in almost everything social and acceptable throughout my childhood and early adulthood. But keep going. Most of us autistic people are verbal by adulthood. Many of us work jobs.  
  7. When he gets a Special Interest, let him study it. It might be something like buses or trains, or airplanes…it might even drive you and yours crazy. But hang in there. He might be going toward his ultimate career choice in the end, and he’ll possibly outdo others in the field. Is his special interest the airplane? He might be a pilot or mechanic. Is it music? A great musician. You never know.
  8. Be Wary of Autism Speaks and Other Cure Crusaders. The  notion of cure in autistic circles is akin to eradication of autistic people themselves. They see autistic people as a big scourge that must be destroyed. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. My email is: cambriaj1977@hotmail.com.  

With Warmest Regards,

Cambria Jenkins

The “Happy Pills” Myth


WHY do people think antidepressants will make you into someone like, I don’t know, Dee Dee from “Dexter’s Laboratory”? It does not make sense to me at all. Do they really think a small chemical reaction can change a personality that much?  

I’ve been taking an antidepressant for years. I can tell you that I am not a prancing unicorn type that smiles weirdly in all the photos, even when it’s inappropriate.  

Here’s a short dossier about me before I had antidepressants: I liked theater, I have a lot of black in my closet, and I like rock and some metal, like Pearl Jam and Bon Jovi. (Just before I was prescribed them the first time, I started losing interest in theater, and I was not getting the cool pleasure out of the music I liked.) Here I am after taking an antidepressant for years: I still like theater, I still wear a lot of black, and I still like rock and metal. So, do you think my personality was changed that much? Come on. I may have a brighter outlook on life, but not all the time. I can still get depressed – though the medicine I take is another weapon to tame that depression.  

I can even draw on other people’s experiences I come across on social media and say, definitively, that those who take their antidepressants properly do not have their personalities changed.  

So, what do antidepressants actually do?  

I’d like to describe depression this way: ever listen to a song played too slow? It sounds just terrible. I have accidentally had the displeasure of hearing this. You might be able to come across this if you have a vinyl record player. Anyway, a depressed brain kind of works like that. Even getting out of bed can be a major achievement under this strain. Basically, an antidepressant helps give the record player “juice” to play the record at normal speed and give you the song you deserve to hear.  

Anyway, I hope this helps to dispel the “Happy Pills” myth. Because antidepressants are not happy pills. Happy pills do not exist.

Did you hear about the mental health clinic in the Walmart?


Don’t expect a punchline. I think it’s wonderful. 

While I know most people are expecting a punchline to a joke, I think the area in Texas (a rural one) needed a clinic, no matter where it popped up. People in rural areas do not get a lot of mental health care, much less the quality health care many get in the cities. For me personally, therapy is out of reach financially due to copays – and I live in a suburb of Lexington, Kentucky.  

But back to why therapy at Walmart is wonderful. Sure, stigma might make it necessary for a secret entrance, but to have the clinic there where there would be none is a step up. Hopefully, it normalizes mental health care and reduces stigma. That there is stigma to mental health care is the biggest aid that the Walmart location can hopefully provide. Besides, why not learn if there is a reason you’re acting that way (and you know what it is), and get some help for it?  

I tend to question harmful social norms, like mental health stigma. Maybe it’s due to me being me, but I find if something is harmful, it needs to end. I hope Walmart can normalize therapy and getting help. It needs to happen.

Autism Thanksgiving Prep Helps, Part 2: Early Prep

Please forgive me…I’ve been trying to process all the happenings in California, which is now Fire Country. I’ve been numb from all the climate change denial, the fake compassion, and inability to learn. (We all know who this is about.) Please, support legitimate causes surrounding California.  

Now that the California Public Servant Announcement is done, let’s get to…. 

Autism Thanksgiving Prep Helps, Part 2: Early Prep 

If you have not been reading lately, just know that this year, as in years before, I am in charge of Thanksgiving cooking – with help in the timing department from Mom, of course. Fortunately, most of the dishes are baked in the last hour, so that makes things a little easier. I only have to cook mashed potatoes, bowtie noodles and gravy on the stove. Everything else is baked/roasted.  

I already have the turkey in the refrigerator, and have had it there for a few days, because we got a large one. Strangely enough, I have encountered a small mass of ice in the cavity every time I have cooked turkey before, no matter how long I have set it out – not up to a week before, though. Anyway, the turkey has always been a success, so there’s really little to worry about there. Just so you know, we do NOT stuff the turkey with stuffing prior to baking; we need room for our aromatics. Besides, we have a bunch of turkey stock and broth formulas on hand for our stuffing and other dishes. Of course, we roll out enough food to feed an army, or feed us for a weekend.  

Much of this stage of prep involves deciding how and in what to serve our dinner. A quick hack for this: Use sticky notes to label the dishes, so you’ll be ready when the food is ready to be served up. And don’t move the notes around! You could lose them.  

Why am I prattling on and on about Thanksgiving food prep? It helps me deal with the holiday, of course. It helps center my mind and body for the upcoming task. Besides, most people think that because of my autism, I would not be able to do Thanksgiving cooking. Well, boo on them. I’ve done Thanksgiving cooking for years. I’m thankful for the ability to do it.  

Anyway, involving the autistic person in the process, and explaining it clearly to them every step of the way, is key to helping them deal with the holiday. Remember, think of things from their point of view: many of these Thanksgiving dinners involve strange foods, strange practices, and even people who are not normally there for a lot of the year. To an autistic person, this amount of upset can be overwhelming. Have empathy. (Funny I need to say “Have empathy” to people who think I can’t have empathy. Ironic? Maybe.) Explain this clearly and physically age-appropriately. They can understand more than you think.  

Also, a pro tip: Pull the turkey into the fridge TODAY, if you haven’t already. Even those small turkeys that weigh maybe four to six pounds some people are fond of need at least two days to thaw.