Looking Back? I’d Rather Look Forward.

It’s almost 2018. While people are looking back, I’m looking forward.I’d rather look forward. It’s a shame that I have very little good to look back on. Congress and the President care little about non-millionaire people. There’s crippling debt. There’s crippling racism. My family will not get back together in the near future. And Judith Newman and Donald Trump put their fingers in their ears and scream “LA LA LA LA LA….” when hearing autistic people, because they do not agree with them.

My main question is: When did willful ignorance become a virtue?

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How Christmas Went This Year

After a day of rest, I have enough energy to talk about how I dealt with Christmas.

I don’t really have any more tips, other than know your autistic relative.

Christmas Eve was basically spending an evening at my cousin’s place for food, family and fun. The funny thing is, it was almost entirely about vegetable casseroles, almost all of which I like very much. Off topic, it’s funny how I have come to like vegetables as an adult, even after thinking I would never like them as a child. Somehow, trying new things and culinary adventure came to include veggies in adulthood. Sometimes, one just needs to bite the bullet and try it. There’s no shortcuts to that one. We also got games, good family talking and even some quiet times, too. It was great. I was disappointed in one factor, though; I wanted to talk to the parents of an autistic relative of mine. He’s a young boy, but I would like to have a talk with his parents, you know, to provide some perspective. But they were not there. I was not exactly going to grill them or provide lectures, but it helps when you’re not alone in a family, as I have so often felt.

Christmas Day was a little different. We invited a couple who had just gotten together, but the man in the two was a friend, so it was alright. Much of the food was on my shoulders, but it was very easy. We had Prime Rib, steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, rolls and a salad, plus cheesecake for dessert. It’s not easy to screw up Prime Rib. Twenty minutes at a high temperature and then 25 minutes per pound. It was done within three hours, resting included. That was the hardest part of the meal. I mean, rice pilaf is very easy from the boxes, and I’ve done rolls many times for Thanksgiving. So, easy meal, good food, good friends, and an overall nice time. It started to get very cold when the day was done, so we had to get them home early. We had a nice time, with blocks of quiet book ending the day. Could not have asked for more.  

Ableism in Action: “To Siri With Love”

WARNING: Mentions of medical abuse, ableism, and prejudice

*****

I was certain I had nothing to say about a book I never read. The book “To Siri with Love” seems to me biased and anti-autistic, with some thoughts about forced sterilization and not being able to picture having sex without the Benny Hill soundtrack in the mother’s head, for example.

Well, here’s a few statements I jotted down in my journal. Take a look, judge if you must:

*****

Just wondering: how much ableism is “To Siri With Love”? A whole bathtub of ableism, as I have heard. My mother recently told me not to read negative things about autism; trouble is, “To Siri With Love” is one of those things. Saying your son can’t have sex in your head without the Benny Hill soundtrack, that’s ableism. Saying you want to sterilize him by force, that’s ableism. Saying no woman will want him, that’s ableism.

I haven’t talked about it before, because I haven’t read the book. I don’t think I’ll be able to in the near future, unless I rent it electronically. I have a strange feeling that I will be triggered like I used to be in the days of living with my sisters.

I tried to get the book “To Siri With Love” through the library. It was not there. I hear you can only buy it through Amazon. And you can only review it if you can buy it through Amazon. I wanted to come to the book with an open mind, but its mind is so closed that I feel I have to protect myself from Judith Newman.

*****

Unfortunately, I have not read the book, as I have stated before, but it seems the book was not written for me, as Judith Newman actually states. See, I am autistic. I am also a woman who wants to work with autistic people. So, Judith Newman says this book is written for me. Which one is it, Judith? Am I good enough for you or not?

Forgive me, it is a bit rambling, but I am certain the hatred toward people like me will increase based upon “To Siri With Love.”

*****

Here’s the lowdown: I wanted to approach “To Siri with Love” with an open mind, but the author has approached autistic people, including me, with a closed mind. And how am I supposed to respond to that?

Main Things About Holidays/Christmas – Get Ready for More Real Talk!

  1. Stresses of AnticipationNow, the stress of anticipating gifts is one of the main stresses of the Holidays, if you get presents. This often led to what my mother would say, “fighting like this one always fights, crying like this one always cries, and being Cami (me) like I was always being Cami.” In other words, you have to let off steam somehow, or you’ll get some poor behaviors out of your kids.
  2. Sensory Issues Regarding DecorationsHere’s an example of a sensory issue: there was a string of bell-ringing soldiers which would ring Christmas Carols from outside. Now, I never told my mother this, but I hated those bell-ringing soldiers. Not her fault, though. I am pretty sure that I heard those bells three times louder than my neurotypical family members.  There is also a flip side example I can recall: I loved Douglas Fir Trees. They made the perfect Christmas tree, as far as I was concerned. I would run my hands through the branches to stim. One year I did this, I ended up breaking out in hives. From that year on, I had limited access to the Christmas tree. Sometimes, I would have to wear gloves to help put on the ornaments. As an adult with her own views and choices, my mother and I decided to give reusable Christmas Trees a try. So far, the two trees we kept were wonderful, but don’t believe them when they say that fake trees don’t shed. I can point out a place I need to vacuum right now.
  3. Routines Messed Up – Many autistic people find comfort in their routines. It is often quite scary when they are disrupted or upset. Much of this is not an issue in my life, but the issue pops up in very many people’s lives during the Holidays. It seems that if we work around these routines, we may get to be able to attend that party or accept people coming to our house after all. Another tip: we need periods of rest between our social endeavors.
  4. Christmas Shopping AKA “AAAAAAUGH!!!”I myself went to two Walmart stores and a Kroger (local grocery chain store) on a recent Sunday (December 3). I literally needed a two-day break to sleep it off. It used up my energy, used up my social resources and was a true exercise in patience. Maybe avoid Christmas Shopping during busy hours, perhaps? I’m sure there are less busy hours.  

More Thanksgiving Tips; Plus, How it Really Works

Here comes Thanksgiving. Strangely enough, it’s going to be an easier time than in years past. Funny thing, I actually do the cooking. That alone puts me on a stress level that may be higher than many autistic people – and I said maybe, mind you. The thing is, a person who has done the main Thanksgiving cooking for, say, eight times in their life might be able to recall how it is done. It’s not that bad, considering we’re having a quiet Thanksgiving Day. However, I’ve been through bustling, huge Thanksgiving Days, too. I’ve got a few last-minute tips to give for the day. 

  1. Setup, setup, setup. This kind of runs into the next tip, but involving some sort of planning and maybe practice is necessary. I am currently sitting next to an empty dish arrangement I made for the dinner setup. I’m in charge of Thanksgiving, but setup and practice may be necessary.
  2. Have the person get involved, when appropriate. I may have been delayed in some things when it came to social interaction and executive function, but I was fine in other things, like getting the finger veggies out (we always have pickles and olives at our table). Can they handle setting a table for the occasion? Go ahead and let them help out. Someday, you may have someone who can take over more major duties, or even the whole thing altogether. Give it time and patience.
  3. Have an Chill Out Space. This is not a traditional Safe Space, as marginalized groups prescribe. A Chill Out Space is actually a space away from the festivities the person can escape to, when, say, things get too loud, or, someone decides to discuss politics. It can be as simple as the child’s room. It is simply a place where the person can rest their senses and their interactions.
  4. The Girl Scouts Are Right. I learned early on that it was customary to give hugs to greet people in my family. I adjusted sooner than many like me. However, I don’t recommend a suffocating hug for someone who is, say, a little more delicate in the touch arena. Don’t push it if the person is not up for it.
  5. Have a Quiet Moment Immediately Before the Meal. In praying families, this seems to be built into the meal through prayer. A quiet moment helps center not just the autistic person, but most everybody.
  6. You Know Your Autistic Person….If You Listen and Accept Them. You know how much your child can take of Thanksgiving. If they need to eat in their Chill Out Space, go ahead and let them. It does not matter what your fickle relatives say; have they actually gotten to know the person?  

Helping out an autistic person during Thanksgiving requires actually getting to know them, beyond perceived stereotypes, beyond disappointments, and all the way in acceptance. Unfortunately, many autistic persons’ caretakers are often unwilling to get there. This may or may not be the case with you, but acceptance of current reality is required for all these tips to actually work.  

Oaks and Reeds; an Explanation of #MasculinitySoFragile

Why do we say “Masculinity So Fragile?” Well, for starters, it is extremely rigid, like the oak.  

You can only wear certain colors, or you’ll be feminine. 

You can only show anger or lust, or you’ll be feminine.  

You can only be emotional for certain things (like sports), if at all, or you’ll be feminine. 

You can only like certain activities, or you’ll be feminine.  

It seems to me that masculinity follows an extremely rigid set of rules. It is so rigid, that it is like a tiny island of dry land, surrounded by the oceanic waters of dreaded femininity. It is also reminiscent of an Aesop’s fable, The Oak and the Reeds. Masculinity is the rigid oak, while femininity is the seemingly weak reeds. Sure, you can be proud, rigid and inflexible, but a sad fact is, men die sooner. Life expectancies for men are shorter than those for women around the world. It is an inescapable fact. How do you argue your way out of that one? How does being the rigid, proud oak help you in a great hurricane, when the mighty winds finally topple you? The reeds of femininity bend to the winds of the hurricane, and they are not hurt. They live longer. As a matter of fact, I am currently caring for my mother, who has outlived my father for a good ten years. I am not ashamed of this. I am not here to put down masculinity; I am here to expand it. I am here to expand its flexibility and its ability to bend like a reed in order to survive the hurricanes of life. 

Real Thanksgiving Talk, Part 2 – Planning and Shopping, and the Thankful Part

How is my Thanksgiving prep going? Pretty good. We have planned the menu and we will be shopping for it soon. You kind of have to do the fresh things, like turkey and fresh vegetables, a week before, so you can get it all properly. I must admit, I need help to do the Thanksgiving dinner the way we had it in the past, but I’ve got that too. I have done a Thanksgiving dinner before – several times. I also have the mind behind the Thanksgiving dinner – my mother.  

It’s not all bragging. It’s careful planning and timing, something I still struggle with. We have our traditions for after Thanksgiving, too. It’s called “Staying Home and Putting up Christmas Decorations.” But I digress. There’s not really much to the Thanksgiving thing. To me, it’s mostly being thankful for what you have, and dinner.  

I am thankful I have a mother who accepts me the way I am. I have a warm home with love and good furniture. I am thankful I have clothes to wear. I am thankful I can express myself in the blog I have. I am thankful I can clean the clothes I wear whenever I can, thankful for a washer/dryer combo in my house. I am thankful I have a dog that looks at me like I’m the best thing that ever happened. I am thankful that I can say I have basic needs covered. Many people around the world and near me do not have even this.