Monday, September 26, 2022

A SERIES OF HUMBLE REQUESTS #2*: Please stop asking about our diagnosis.



Please stop asking about our diagnosis.

 

I received an autism diagnosis in my late 30s. It was a non-event. I literally don’t think I told anyone. 

I already knew I was Autistic. 

I was, at the time, being diagnosed and treated by a psychologist for CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder, stemming from long-term and varied trauma), and did not then (or ever) view my neurodivergence as something to “fix.” I was also going through a divorce, move, autoimmune disease diagnosis, and career change…as a single mom. So just getting through a day without a family disastrophe felt like a win.

As well, a professional diagnosis meant less to me than it might to others: Like many Autistic people, I tend to not respect authority or pay attention to hierarchy. This tendency has done wonders for my career!**

The diagnostic process my son went through with a pediatric neurologist around the same time was much more intensive. It was also way more important because, as an elementary school student, his specific diagnosis would impact his life immensely as far as school learning, social development, and more over the entire course of his education.

As it turned out, those school years required an enormous amount of advocacy on my part, during which I came upon many things (information, Autistic activists) that enabled and empowered me to think critically about the role the neurotypically-designed/-oriented world plays in the success—or lack thereof—of neurodivergent people in all their endeavors. 

The diagnostic process, for example, is fundamentally grounded in neuro-normalized values and skills; that is, the measures and tools used for evaluation are determined and shaped by neurotypical standards, which may not be shared, understood, or considered worth aspiring to by the neurodivergent human being evaluated. 

A diagnosis can thus be potentially demeaning and marginalizing, even as it may feel like a clarification or open certain otherwise-closed doors for the Autistic person. 

Such diagnoses are officially required for people to officially qualify for certain public/insurance/government/medical/employment/educational accommodations and/or services that exist to create equity

But the diagnostic process is often extremely grueling for the human being getting diagnosed, as it very much was for my son. Worse, those official designations typically require further evaluation and corroboration at designated intervals or during transitions (say, from the public school system to adulthood), so that the process is partially or fully duplicated, thereby repeatedly reinforcing differences and, at best, making the humans involved feel like laboratory specimens.

I was already cooked. I had seen and made sense of myself through the lens of autism for more than a decade already, proudly considering myself self-diagnosed all along. So I didn’t expect my autism diagnosis to change anything (I did hope my therapist could help me heal some of the devastating and debilitating effects of my PTSD). I also—thinking a full neuropsych evaluation was the only way to “legitimately” diagnose autism by NT standards—didn’t feel a need to share my “new” “status.”

For many, a diagnosis feels like a validation, a structure on which to rest big feelings. Armor, in a way. For others, though, it can be a burden. Something to hide—or avoid in the first place. For most of us, it’s a mixed thing, carrying as it does all the public and private positives and negatives of any label that represents difference. 

But, in contrast with the aforementioned exceptions—in which disclosure and “proof” are deemed necessary in order to receive equity-promoting services or accommodations—sharing a diagnosis (or lack thereof) is not a given or required part of the social sphere. It’s fundamentally a private matter.

Furthermore, asking us to explain, define, discuss, or defend our diagnosis (or, again, lack thereof) is just a step too far—unless we offer. 

So while curiosity and the desire to better understand a person or their neurology (or neurodivergence in general) may fuel your desire to ask about our diagnosis, that interest would be better spent in doing your own research and/or just practicing plain old acceptance

Trust me, if we want to share, we will. 

Here’s a handy list of reasons why asking about our diagnosis might feel upsetting, invasive, inappropriate, or offensive, even if your intentions are good:

1. Another person’s diagnosis is nunya. What’s nunya? Nunya business. I understand that I, as a “public figure” have some responsibility to share my diagnosis, but in my personal life? Not so much. And others not in my position have no obligation to disclose their diagnosis except where personally, professionally, medically, and/or educationally necessary.

2. People make assumptions about who people are, as well as what they need and are capable of, based on almost any diagnosis or label, but especially this one. For this and many other reasons, it should be up to us to choose disclosure—or not.

3. Autism, while framed as a medical condition by some (please see the next post in this series, coming in October 2022), is actually an identity for many. You don’t ask me to prove I’m a yogi or a writer or a mom or queer or politically progressive…Why would you ask me about the corroborating details of my neurology? 

4. Not everybody can afford, access, or handle (emotionally, sensorially, physically, psychologically…) the diagnostic process. 

5. Putting a lot of weight into diagnosis amplifies and perpetuates the disease model of autism (again, please stay tuned for the third post in this series). Also, although it may have its uses, the word “diagnosis” itself (especially when used in interpersonal interactions) can make it seem as if there’s something “wrong” with us.

6. Self-diagnosis is largely affirmed and respected among Autistic people. Insisting on a professional gatekeeper’s opinion diminishes this neurodivergent community’s authority, as well as the validity of personal insight. 

7. Asking about our diagnosis can feel othering. This is especially hard because many of us already feel like we are on the wrong planet. 

8. Corollary to the statement “We are all a little autistic” is the accusation or “compliment” (from this Autistic’s perspective, both angles are equally messed up) “You don’t seem [look, act…] Autistic.” Biologically born female Autistics are underdiagnosed, and often experience and express their neurodivergence very differently from the common stereotypes of the “typical” Autistic person. Furthermore, all biologically born Autistic females—along with biologically born male, trans, nonbinary, and, in short, all Autistic people—are unique human beings, and therefore may or may not represent your vision of autism. That doesn’t give you the right to explore, never mind question, their identity and/or diagnosis. 

Now, if you want to ask us—person-to-person—who we are and what we care about as a fellow human being in this challenging, beautiful, crazy, neurotypically-oriented world, go for it. 

Thank you!!!!

Love,

Full Spectrum Mama

 

Labels: diagnosis, stereotype, labeling, awareness, acceptance, biologically born female Autistic, Autistic, #ActuallyAutistic, neurodiversity, privacy, curiosity, burden, chocolate,

 

* A SERIES OF HUMBLE REQUESTS:

After my book came out and I began to be a bit more in the public eye, I realized there were three recurring issues I wanted to address in this safe space so that I could refer people to my opinion on the topic without having to go into it on the spot. Like many Autistic people (and others, too, I am sure), I have a hard time thinking AND feeling AND speaking at the same time. 

There are certain questions and uses of language put forth mainly by neurotypical people—in my experience, not just via media outlets, but also audiences and, actually, friends—that the vast majority of neurodivergent people find extremely offensive even when they are not meant to be hurtful. In this series of three posts, I’m going to focus on three of these: saying “Everyone is a little Autistic,” asking about our diagnosis, and referring to autism as a disease, or similar. 

My book with Jenna Gensic, The #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Advocacy, is full of positive, proactive ideas, but sometimes I do get frustrated—and this blog has been known to contain a vent or two. Jenna and I used to feel really anxious, and sometimes defensive, when people would call us out on mistakes we’d made (with language, assumptions, etc.), but we eventually came to genuinely see such interactions as learning opportunities. Now we explain—in our books and to our audiences, as I am doing here, now, at Full Spectrum Mama—that we are always discovering how to communicate and act in more uplifting ways. 

While first writing this series of posts, I was going to call it “Stop it!” And please do stop, if you are doing any of these three things. But I took some deep breaths and changed my wording to be a bit friendlier, in hopes that lots of people will take in this guidance as helpful and heartfelt, as it was intended. After all, we are here together on this planet to learn and grow!

The above is the second in this series.

** Irony. 


 

Monday, August 15, 2022

A SERIES OF HUMBLE REQUESTS #1*: Please stop saying “Everyone is a little Autistic.”


Please Stop Saying “Everyone Is a Little Autistic.”

 

Autism is an expression of the way human brains can grow. 

While the medicalization and professional gatekeeping around autism pose challenges and injustices of their own, they have resulted in a definitive description of this particular form of neurodivergence.  

Autism is officially defined as a “disorder” (lots more on this language in the third post in this series!) involving two key developmental differences, one broadly involving social communication and the other encompassing repetitive and/or intensive behaviors and/or foci, as well as sensory differences. 

EVERY Autistic person—whatever their support needs, how they refer to themselves, etc., etc.—shares these two neurological traits to a certain degree. And if you don’t? You’re not Autistic.

Sure, you may well be neurodivergent in some other way, and perhaps you’d like to explore that possibility on your own or consult with a professional. Or you may be neurotypical. We are all growing and learning about ourselves and others, so investigating aspects of language and neurology as part of that journey can be helpful for everyone.  

And there certainly is a spectrum of ways of being human, with some of us a little more awkward or smooth, quirky or conventional, obsessive or detached, introverted or extroverted, and so on. But that proves we are indeed “all on the human spectrum,” not that “we are all on the autism spectrum.” 

I’m willing to bet the majority of Autistic people have heard someone (usually, more than one someone) say a variation of this phrase. 

One reason it stinks when we hear those words is that we also often hear people referring to autism in pejorative or discriminatory ways. So it’s like you want to be in this club when it suits you, but otherwise, no thanks…If that’s the case, are you really uplifting and including Autistic people? 

Another reason is that some people will find ways to write you off because of your neurology—which would not be the case if we actually were “all on the spectrum,” right? They’ll say (or think) “Oh, they’re just saying that because they don’t get it,” or “You’re being black and white again.” These kinds of judgements allow people to devalue or dismiss your opinion as inferior to theirs (or to the mainstream viewpoint). 

Trust me, even as someone with a fancy doctorate and extensive experience teaching ethics and philosophy I still get this, even from people who are close to me. And it hurts. 

On a very basic level, if your lived experience doesn’t entail these kinds of discriminations, stating that you are/everyone is “a little Autistic” is…not helpful. 

Giving us a list of all the “weird” stuff you do (much of which typically has nothing to do with autism) to “demonstrate” your “autism”…also not helpful. 

By the way, everyone is “a little weird.” This one likes peanut butter-cheese-kimchi sandwiches; that one loves listening to Kenny G or enjoys doing interpretive dance. Some people don’t like puppies (???). Some don’t like people (more understandable). Others genuinely believe they have been injected with alien DNA. But I digress.

I’m sure many Autistic people could add to my reasons for why this phrase is problematic, but I’m going to add just one more here: Autistic people were not put on this earth to explain and define autism to others, never mind offer their “autism credentials” to every person who doesn’t know what autism entails. The latter is particularly arduous for those of us who, whether by choice or trauma, have become more adept at masking. 

I’ve taken on an “explainer” role in my blog and books in part because of my frustration over misperceptions and ignorance around neurodiversity, but even I get tired of having this role imposed on me. In brief, a diagnosis—whether via a professional evaluation or a serious, informed, deeply considered self-diagnosis (I’ll cover this topic in the second post in this series)—is probably the best way to tell if you are #ActuallyAutistic. 

I do not know why people feel compelled to tell me they are/everybody is “a little” Autistic when they are not. Are they trying to be inclusive? Kind? Are they actually ignorant? Dismissive of the very real challenges of being Autistic in a neurotypical world? Another motivation? 

Someone I was discussing this with suggested many people are eager to be exceptional in some way. So it’s also potentially part of a…special snowflake competition? 

I don’t know. 

And, to be honest, it’s exhausting to have to consider intent every time someone says something along these lines. Especially—and factually, literally—since it’s nonsense. We are not “all on the spectrum.” 

Now, obviously, neurotypical people are not monolithic. They are as different from each other as they might be from any Autistic person. What they are not…is Autistic.

And so, dear readers, if you have innocently used this phrase and/or others like it, please reconsider next time—and don’t. We know you aren’t trying to be upsetting, but…

Here’s a quick list (you know I love my lists) why we’d like you to abstain:

1. Saying “Everyone is a little Autistic” is factually incorrect.

2. It silences and diminishes the real lived experiences of Autistic people.

3. It ignores the social, professional, political, and other discriminations and personal challenges Autistic people must contend with daily that non-Autistic people do not endure.

4. It places a burden on Autistic people to clarify definitions and emphasize their own differences.

Thank you so much!!!!

Love,

Full Spectrum Mama 

 

* A SERIES OF HUMBLE REQUESTS:

After my book came out and I began to be a bit more in the public eye, I realized there were three recurring issues I wanted to address in this safe space so that I could refer people to my opinion on the topic without having to go into it on the spot. Like many Autistic people (and others, too, I am sure), I have a hard time thinking AND feeling AND speaking at the same time. 

There are certain questions and uses of language put forth mainly by neurotypical people—in my experience, not just via media outlets, but also audiences and, actually, friends—that the vast majority of neurodivergent people find extremely offensive even when they are not meant to be hurtful. In this series of three posts, I’m going to focus on three of these: saying “Everyone is a little Autistic,” asking about our diagnosis, and referring to autism as a disease, or similar. 

My book with Jenna Gensic, The #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Advocacy, is full of positive, proactive ideas, but sometimes I do get frustrated—and this blog has been known to contain a vent or two. Jenna and I used to feel really anxious, and sometimes defensive, when people would call us out on mistakes we’d made (with language, assumptions, etc.), but we eventually came to genuinely see such interactions as learning opportunities. Now we explain—in our books and to our audiences, as I am doing here, now, at Full Spectrum Mama—that we are always discovering how to communicate and act in more uplifting ways. 

While first writing this series of posts, I was going to call it “Stop it!” And please do stop, if you are doing any of these three things. But I took some deep breaths and changed my wording to be a bit friendlier, in hopes that lots of people will take in this guidance as helpful and heartfelt, as it was intended. After all, we are here together on this planet to learn and grow!

The above is the first in this series.

 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

BOOOOOOOOOOK!

Dear Persons,

 

I hope this finds you cozy and well despite these challenging times.


As Madeline, Judy, Celeste, and I convened for the first time 10 years ago (this month!) to discuss our initial writing group submissions, we could not have imagined what we would all go through in the following decade—or the world we would live in today.

 

Nor would I have dared to dream that the wee blog I began that day would grow to have hundreds of thousands of readers interested in neurodiversity...and ultimately result in a book collaboration that means the world to me. 

 

I'm over the moon to let you know that my first book with Jenna Gensic, The #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Advocacy: Step-by-Step Advice on How to Ally and Speak Up with Autistic People and the Autism Community, is available for pre-order here

 

Please stay tuned for more release information and reach out (my email is jineffable@gmail.com) if you'd like to help spread this book's message. We believe this text will serve Autistic people themselves, as well as families, educators, therapists, caregivers, friends, partners, employers, and anyone else who'd like to know more about Autistic perspectives.

 

In addition, we've begun work on our second book, The #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Teen and Young Adult Advocacy and Activism: Step-by-Step Advice for Autistic Youth and Those Who Care About Them. 

 

We're asking all interested Autistic teens and young adults to fill out our survey. Here are the links if you fit this demographic or know anybody who does (please only fill out one version):

 

SHORT survey: https://forms.gle/qKRmuAVsCCwEAF4A9

LONG survey, for people who really like writing: https://forms.gle/FYhmxMmvoYWpcX1e7

 

Thank you so much for being a part of this journey to spread inclusion and awareness!


Love,

Full Spectrum Mama

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Advocacy by Jenna Gensic

The #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Advocacy

by Jenna Gensic

Giveaway ends April 30, 2022.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

HOUSEKEEPING (Big news and a SURVEY!!!!)

Dear Persons,

I hope this post finds you well.

 

And it may not have found you as it usually would, as the app that sent out my posts to subscribers stopped working with Blogger. If you’re here and would like to be notified of future posts, try the new subscribe button at upper right. I don’t know how these functions work, but I didn’t understand the old one either. I’m just hoping it will work for you! With almost 300K readers, FSM has been a success beyond my wildest dreams, at least in the connection department (still waiting for the enormous financial windfall so typical of personal blogs about family and differences…). 

 

Lots of other news in Full Spectrum Land. I do hope to have some new substantive posts in the coming months but for now:

 

1.     My first book about neurodiversity is coming out on 2/21/2022. Written in collaboration with Jenna Gensic of the Learn From Autistics blogThe #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Advocacy: Step-by-step advice on how to ally and speak up with Autistic individuals and the autism community integrates more than a hundred interviews with Autistic people to offer guidance to anyone looking to thoughtfully, respectfully, effectively self-advocate, or advocate/ally with Autistic people. 

 

Both Temple Grandin and John Elder Robison have already endorsed the book!!!! I’m over the moon. I’ll get a link up here when it’s available for advance purchase. You’ll also be able to contact the publishers for review copies. WOOT.

 

 

2.     We’ve begun work in earnest on BOOK TWO!!!! This book will cover many of the same advocacy themes but from a teen and young adult perspective, with a special focus on BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other intersectional perspectives. 

 

To that end, we are looking for Autistic teens and young adults to fill out our survey, so that we can include the broadest range of voices possible. By the way, we consider self-diagnosis completely valid. If you or anyone you know fits the demographic (that is, ANY Autistic teen or young adult), please click ****here****. 


Feel free to forward this survey link to anyone who might be interested. Please also note that the survey is long. Take your time, use the save/cut-and-paste options if helpful, and absolutely feel free to skip questions that don’t interest or relate to you. The ONLY required question is contact info.

 

Our survey was designed and is being disseminated with the brilliant and powerful young folks at Detester Magazine

 

Here are some links to find out more about it:

 

·      Instagram survey post 

 

·      Instagram podcast post 

 

·      Facebook survey post

 

·      Facebook podcast post 

 

Thanks and love,

Full Spectrum Mama

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

APOCALYPSE TEAM


Dedicated to TC and RS—hearts of gold. Thank you.  And for EBB and XBB, always. 


Dear Persons,

I don’t know why you’re here. Maybe you’re Autistic, or have a neurodivergent child, loved one, family member, student, client, partner…


I do know almost all of us—whatever our neurology—are barely keeping things together in the mental health department, however close we might be to a “jab.”


I know my family is on edge. My partner is older and I have autoimmune diseases. My children have seen me laid low for months by a random virus. I know my kids and I carry this information inside as we watch the COVID numbers and hear about how certain health- and age-related factors increase risk, especially as news of variants calls immunization into question. 


And all kids think their parents are old, anyway, right? And even if not, they’re worried about their grandparents dying. Or afraid their parents may lose their jobs. Or anxious about never being able to be a carefree kid again.  


The other day one of my most solidly NT friends texted me about how obsessed she is with getting vaccinated. 


“You’re so picky,” I told her.  “All neurotic, like, ‘not wanting to die.’ And so spoiled with your wanting to ‘go places’ and ‘have a life.’” 


The thing is, while we are all struggling, many adults are at least able to articulate how challenging this year-plus has been. 


For children, teens, and young adults, the experience is both unprecedented and confusing. However much we try to get things out in the open in our families, it takes more wisdom and self-knowledge than most young people have to process this mess. 


I personally believe simply staying alive this year to be a major accomplishment for anyone. Congratulations, dear reader!


Add in an element of neurodivergence and things can get pretty durn complicated. 


Many of us deal with prosopagnosia or challenges with social cues. If neurotypical people are having a hard time doing so, how on earth do we recognize people or read social cues when people are wearing masks? 


How do we continue to make progress in our social fluency with little or no opportunity to do so? 


How do we avoid falling into a digital-only world? What if that feels safer and easier than the “real” world, especially now?? 


And what if we never fully re-emerge/merge with F2F reality? 


Sound familiar? In my family and my friends’ families, Autistic and other neurodivergent young people are spending almost all of their time online, terrifying their parents and abdicating their school responsibilities while soothing themselves. 


And I know this is not only happening to kids with differences. In fact, I personally know of three neurotypical young people (some of whom were even able to initially do well with remote learning) who have basically given up on school this year. Two of these kids are seniors who were able to rally for two pandemic semesters and just couldn’t do it for a third. 


How common is this? One of these kids has the same name as my son, so I’m thinking…ya. 


Will the colleges they were accepted into last fall agree to ignore their school refusal?


And these kids are arguably the lucky ones, however much their “failures” may reflect underlying stressors. What about the ones overtly living in despair? Heavy depression? Crippling anxiety? 


I’m actually not sure whether my son’s school refusal arises from pandemic-related depression or anxiety, because, like me, he has a hard time knowing exactly how he feels, especially when overwhelmed. Many people with neurological and other differences experience varying degrees of alexithymia, a condition defined by issues with identifying, expressing, describing, and/or connecting with our emotions or those of others. 


This is such a pervasive part of my life that it was only by watching how my neurotypical daughter came to apprehend the world that I even realized it was possible to be so immediately savvy about internal states as they relate to ourselves, the external environment, and other people. Unless I’m in a very, very simple situation, I need a loooooong time and lots of processing (writing, thinking) to know the why and what of my emotions and body states. 


That’s not to say we don’t have feelings! It’s more like some of us (me, my son) are not, in the moment, quite sure why we have (lately, often huge) feelings in our bodies and minds, or what those sensations mean. Finding ways to deal with this can be hard, even for adults. 


My main coping mechanism for this facet of my brain is to keep a ridiculous amount of lists, on paper and in my head. Regular lists, such as to-do lists, but also lists of what is going on that’s hard, or things to look forward to, to counter the challenges. 


It’s a little harder, though, to keep comprehensive, reliable lists with all of the instability and uncertainty wrought by the last year’s political maelstrom and global pandemic chaos.


I was recently zoom-talking with someone about her application to graduate school for a part-time counseling program that will take about five years to complete. 


“That’s great because people are still going to be figuring out how they feel about this year even by the time you get through grad school,” I said. 


Silence…“You think?”


Well, yes, I do. 


I certainly don’t know how I feel about it now. We are all trying to figure this out together, and it’s so intense. So overwhelming. How do we even begin to make sense of stuff we never could have imagined just over a year ago?


A few months ago, I wrote my son’s professors at the wonderful university where he’s had what might very conservatively be referred to as a “challenging” first year to explain some of what he seems to be going through. 


I told them how when he first got home for winter break, I asked my son whether he and other students were experiencing anxiety and other issues because of the pandemic and politics this year. A classic "under-exaggerator," he admitted that students were in general quite worried. He said he'd even assembled his own "apocalypse team." I asked if he was joking and he said, "Kinda." 


I shared that, as a former professor, I have many friends who are in secondary education and they’ve told me that the anxiety level of students is almost unbearable. Like the school my son attends, these schools have taken steps to assuage and address students' concerns during this unprecedented time. Some have even suspended grades in the face of severe mental health challenges in the student body linked to the pandemic et al.


Many, many students’ academic and social situations have deteriorated over this period, not to mention the growing financial and family stressors many of them must be facing.  


On a purely academic level, how well are our students learning? How much of a toll are zoom classes taking on their neurology, their energy, going on three semesters now? Students who need hands-on instruction, who learn through their bodies and senses, who need to see things side by side or interact face to face, are just a few subgroups suffering and losing out. 


I know for a fact if my son could have had in-person help with certain things, not to mention consistently, casually connected and engaged with his teachers and others—and thereby gotten invested in tactile and personal learning, developed some real-world accountability—it would have made a world of difference. 


Of course schools and educators are doing their very best in this context, and it’s taxing to their systems too. But children and young people are being expected to learn in new and untested ways while coping with an underlying dread on a level we’ve rarely if ever seen before. 


When will we be able to truly fathom the full impact of this year-plus? 


The day I sent that email to my son’s teachers, our nation's capitol was under siege from armed lunatics. We were in the car en route to a family hike up a local mountain when we first heard the news.


During said hike, my son would not take his mask off, even when there was no one around. I asked him why. 


"Mom, if I ever am in danger and can't breathe, this will help train me for that," he said. Apocalypse preparation again? Check. 


I'd never heard my laid-back son say anything in this vein. 


A few minutes later, I asked my very sensible, ultra-neurotypical daughter if that sounded like the way her peers think right now. She said, "Trump was elected right when my friends and I were beginning to think about politics. Being scared and everything being crazy is just normal for us." 


Even early on in this pandemic, it struck me very deeply that while many students are building resilience and so on, many, many are facing setbacks with grave, lifelong consequences. 


Now, a few months into the new year, my son’s school has already experienced a major surge, enacted a 10-day lockdown (which, while inevitable and the right thing to do, did not contribute to academic success and/or mental wellness for some, to say the least), moved many classes to remote, and considered closing down. 


Over this period, my son went from enthusiastic and invested in making the second pandemic semester of his freshman year better than the difficult first one to…completely disengaged. He’s found his own way to take care of himself in the melee, and it doesn’t involve a lot of homework. Compared to the devastated states some young people are in, I’m calling that at least a partial pandemic win. 


It’s hard to gain traction when immersed in uncertainty. Some kids, teens, and young adults, typically neurotypical ones, have the skills to adapt or thrive no matter what. But plenty of others don’t. 


Well into our third semester of this pandemic, even many of the young people who were able to rally for the first and second semesters are losing steam.


In fact, the damage this unstable and frankly dangerous situation has done to my son in his first year of college is immeasurable and will be reverberating throughout his life. I hope with all my heart he can recover and find his way again as the world settles.


I hope the same for the millions of other youth who’ve fallen behind academically, felt isolated, become depressed, faced increasing anxiety, and more over this terrible stretch of time.


The wisdom, compassion, and support of adults, especially parents and educators, have never been more crucial for our youth. WE have to rise to this occasion to be their Apocalypse Teams. 


As for the rest, honestly, my theory is that this pandemic year should just be a write off.


Let’s not hold anyone back a year if they want to move forward or kick them out if they haven’t performed up to snuff. Alternatively, let them start the same year over if that’s what they want. 


Let’s put healing and emotional wellness before academic judgment and “success.” I’m saying this as a lifelong teacher, and as a friend of many educators and mental health professionals. As a parent. 


Let’s get kids the help they need without penalizing them for not being able to adeptly navigate a year in which grown as$ adults couldn’t figure out a dang thing.


Love,

Full Spectrum Mama


P.S. VERY EXCITING NEWS: In the next year or so, my co-author Jenna Gensic and I will have a book coming out from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Our tentative title is The #ActuallyAutistic Guide to Advocacy: Step-by-step advice on how to ally and speak up with Autistic individuals and the autism community.


P.P.S. You know it’s been a rough road when even compiling the LABELS for a post is traumatic. Yikes. 



Monday, December 21, 2020

A WINTER PRAYER 2020



Dear Persons, Dear Universe,

Please take 2020 away.

No, really.

Yeah, we who are reading/writing/praying/complaining are glad to still be alive, yep. Thank you for that. THANK YOU! 

Sooooooo glad...Butno. 

True, we've gained "resilience" and "cozy time at home," but we have also gained "weight," and "climbing the walls," and "possibly not doing so well with remote learning/work."

We feel heartbroken, battered, exhausted, paralyzed. Many of us, perhaps especially those who live with extraordinary challenges (whether medically fragile, living in poverty, disabled, Black in the United States, and/or...), have been stretched almost beyond our capacities this year; some haven't made it. 

And so we ask with all our hearts, with much love and many thanks, simply for a New New Year.

Full Spectrum Mama

P.S. Please consider, beloved Universe, all prior Winter Prayers (2018 and 2017) to be still in pray.