Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interview with Gary- Autism Acceptance

Interview with Gary:
My name is Gary.  I am a middle age male of East Asian descent.  I live on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada with my cat and work in the printing industry.

What is your life like as an Autistic person?
I often feel different from others, including my friends and relatives. It’s like being a square peg in a world of round holes.  A world I find overwhelming much of the time. I find it exhausting trying to pass as neural-typical in order to fit in. That is why it was a big relief to know that I am not the only one. It’s as if there is suddenly this big community of individuals who I share a common bond with. 
What is the most difficult thing about being Autistic?
For me the difficulties of being Autistic are being misunderstood by others and judged because of things I have difficulty controlling and that are hard to explain. Because I seem so “high functioning”, it’s hard for others to believe I have problems. It’s frustrating when there isn’t much in the way of support available for adults on the spectrum. Growing up I was a magnet for bullies, as well as constantly criticized by my parents for being dumb and stupid (as well as looking weird because of my stimming) because of their lack of understanding of Autism.
What is the most joyful, fun, exciting thing about being Autistic? 
On the other hand, there are many positive aspects of being Autistic. For example, I am not a slave to fads and fashion or trying to have as much material wealth as possible. I value honesty and find joy in the simplest things (patterns and textures in nature, things that move by themselves, reflections of light on shiny objects, SpongeBob).  I am knowledgeable in the subjects of my obsessive interests and have a desire to help others on the spectrum.
How has the Autism Acceptance Day/Month effort over the past four years affected you personally?
To me, Autism Acceptance Day/Month means being proud of my differences despite what others might think. Also, it means joining with others to fight against stereotypes and negative portrayals in the media. To change attitudes in society and to try to make life easier for the younger generation of Autistics in a world not design with us in mind.
What is one thing about acceptance that would make a difference in the world?

Acceptance would lead to real understanding and accommodations that allow Autistic individuals to function and thrive in society in all parts of the world.

I would like to add that because we live in a world unfriendly to Autistics, parents should give as much support and unconditional love to their Autistic children as possible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Autism Acceptance: Tone it Down Taupe Sponsors iPad Giveaway in April

I will be on Autism Women's Network Blogtalk Radio on March 29 at 10 am PST, 11 am MST, 12 noon CST and 1 pm EST.

Autism Acceptance Day and Month, 2014 Facebook Event

Autism Acceptance Day and Month continue in our fourth year. Interviews with Autistic people about Autism ACCEPTANCE will continue over the year. This resource of interviews will add to the growing body of accepting views of autism.

I will publish Autism Acceptance Day and Month events and activities that are sponsored and promoted by Autistics and allies and that are primarily Autistic-led. Some events and activities have stared using the word "acceptance" but have little Autistic input, payments to non-Autistics but not to Autistics, "treatments" and that sort of thing. Those can feel free to do what they want; they just won't appear here.

Autism Acceptance Day. Image by Amy Gould Caraballo, 2011

International Autism Acceptance Decade 2010-2020: Moving beyond Awareness. Image by Landon Bryce, 2013

Last year's FB link is here:

Tone It Down Taupe -The iPad mini scholarship is on! Details below…

Tone it Down Taupe is sponsoring this fantastic gift giveaway for two deserving Autistic adults for April’s Autism Acceptance Month celebration. TiDT’s initiative is to put a halt to the fear from myths and stereotypes which are perpetuated about Autistic people. TaiDT says, “Tone it down. Tone down the fear rhetoric. Tone down the alarmism. It is not necessary to light anything blue to show support and love for an autistic individual.”

Tone it Down Taupe Sponsors iPad Giveaway in April- Radio Show with AWN Blogtalk Radio

During the month of April 2014, any donations I receive will be given to Tone it Down Taupe to help purchase another iPad, to be given to an Autistic adult. Tone it Down Taupe is doing iPad and Android mini scholarships. You can donate directly to them or send it to my other blog (paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog) and ALL the donations will be given to Tone It Down Taupe. If you designate your donation as a gift, more of the donation will go directly to the recipient:

This makes so much more sense than blue lightbulbs:

Light It Up Blue! Burn Money for Autism! 

Interview with Kelly J.- Autism Acceptance

This interview is with Kelly J., who is 33. Kelly's site is here: 
Kelly, thank you for interviewing with me.

I only got a diagnosis last year , but I know I've been living my whole life feeling like the odd one out. I blamed myself for what I thought were failings as a person. Now I know it's not because I'm a bad person, but because my brain is just different, not wrong. I was also diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at the same time. My mother is in denial (about both me and my son), but I feel very liberated and am learning a lot more about myself. Diagnosis and acceptance are a wonderful gift.

What is your life like as an Autistic person?

I notice it every day, even if it's not a daily struggle. I have a lot of sensory issues and anxiety. If I do not take care of myself (set boundaries, eat well, sleep well) I can spiral into a meltdown, clinical depression and anxiety attacks. I have more recently become more gentle with myself. I can feel pressure/anxiety building and calm myself down to an extent. I listen to my body more and take steps to eliminate or avoid triggers. I find it much easier to say no or leave situations that make me uncomfortable now. At the same time, I also have some renewed energy to try more things and not be so scared.

Otherwise, I maintain a marriage, own a house and keep a full time job. I'm in a very understanding workplace (I recently disclosed my diagnosis) and it's the longest I've stayed at full time employment without any leaves of absence.

What is the most difficult [you can have more than one!] about being Autistic, for you?

Being misunderstood. Being seen as anti-social, smug or aloof. I've worked very hard to not come off as a know-it-all (I know for sure I used to) and I've toned down my sarcasm. Social situations are just the worst! I'm good one-on-one with people, maybe even a group of four, but after that, it's just horrid. I hate having to say, "no thanks, I don't drink. No, I really need to leave now and get to bed." People really don't understand the fall-out of not taking my limits seriously.

What is the most joyful, fun, exciting thing about being Autistic?

My sense of humour - I laugh easily and like to make others laugh. Some people say I'm "child-like" and they like that youthfulness. I enjoy silly little things. I feel music intensely. I feel physical sensations intensely. I wouldn't want to give those things up and be dulled to the world.
I'm also hypergraphic and love writing and languages. I see patterns in shapes/numbers/words and that eye for detail helps me in my work.

How has the Autism Acceptance Day/Month effort over the past three years affected you personally? If you were not aware of it until recently, what meaning does Autism Acceptance Day/Month have to you now?

It means the difference between "awareness" and "acceptance." We don't need more awareness - everyone knows about autism now. But do they really understand it? With understanding, acceptance can come and that only comes from having an open mind. The more of us who come forward, the more we cannot be ignored. And the full spectrum of the rainbow can be seen - all of us, different and beautiful, with our talents and our limits.

What is one thing about acceptance that would make a difference in the world?

It means I hope for a day where I won't have to explain myself so much. Where people won't stare at, be mean to or be afraid of people who are different. I already have enough discrimination in my life: I'm female, mostly androgynous and a person of colour. I don't need to be judged for my brain as well. One day all of those things won't matter. That's my hope.

Do you have children or other family members who are Autistic?

My four year old son was diagnosed at two and a half. He was also diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. I believe if it weren't for that, the autism part wouldn't be a big deal. I see a lot of myself as a child in him. The difference is I accept him for how he is, rather than the abuse my parents engaged in trying to change me. He is a cheeky and happy guy. He sings and dances a lot. He has made me laugh or smile every single day of his life. He is extremely intelligent, like an old soul. We need to talk through everything we're doing because he seems to be prone to anxiety like I am, but I find him really easy to take care of otherwise. He's a really good kid - I lucked out!
I believe my father was autistic also, now looking back. He understood me well, even though he didn't always accept me. He died when my son was 16.5 months old and before that, neither of them could really talk, but they just adored each other. I think my dad knew, and by the time he was dying had become more accepting.