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Showing posts from January, 2020

Which is it? The distinction between Stimming and Sensory Sensitivity

I want to talk for a moment about something that I think even the autism community is still starting to explore: the difference between stimming, and sensory sensitivity.

Stimming is a self-stimulatory behavior, performed in order to create a desired sensation.

Sensory Sensitivity is a heightened response to sensory input in the environment. Often, if a sensory sensitivity creates unpleasant feedback, we may perform an action in an attempt to alleviate the effects. This action may resemble a stim, but has the purpose of stopping a negative sensation, rather than creating a positive one.
Let's start with some examples:
Julie, age 15, is constantly touching, rubbing at, or picking at her face. Her rubbing will sometimes cause sores, and her picking will turn minor acne into open wounds. Her mother has tried to help her to redirect to a stim that won't hurt her; she worries that Julie will get infections in the wounds, and doesn't want her child to be in pain. Julie is unable to …

Yes, You Are Autistic.

What if I'm not REALLY autistic?

What if I'm just f***ed up, a failure, and I'm claiming the title "autistic" so that I can avoid facing that??

What if people only believe I'm autistic because I'm convincing them that I am???

These questions have been some of the hardest I've faced, and they're questions that are common among late-diagnosed and/or self-diagnosed autistics. People who are late-diagnosed with autism often express challenges feeling like a part of the autism community, which can cause quite a lot of distress. Often, the root of that anxiety is wondering whether we really are autistic.

This worry can come from many sources, but some are particularly common:

Family members and friends often question or dismiss the diagnosis. 
Autism is still largely misunderstood, and shrouded in stigma. Sometimes, family members and friends respond in a way that they think is reassuring, but which is instead deeply invalidating. "You don't look …

Empathy and Autism

Today, I sat down to write about relationship conflicts in autism, and I realized that there was a topic I had to address before even considering tackling social challenges: empathy. I can't emphasize enough how misunderstood the experience of empathy in autism spectrum conditions has become. Let's start by making one thing very clear:

People with autism can experience empathy.

I'll say it again. 
Autism does not equal a lack of empathy. 

If you're not sure you understood me, go back a few sentences and repeat until you're confident you understand. Seriously.

This isn't meant to be rude or harsh; it's just the most important lesson someone looking to become informed about autism can learn. And, sadly, even many clinicians don't seem to have been clued in yet. I'm not the only one who's been told by a doctor or psychologist, "You can't be on the spectrum, you seem to care about people!" I have friends who've sat through clinical p…

Religion on the Spectrum

Before I say a word on this topic, I want to specify that I do not speak for everyone on the spectrum. These are my personal perspectives, and while I hope that they'll provide insight for some, they're not intended to represent the views of anyone but myself.

Within the autism community -- as anywhere else -- I've seen a lot of polarized views on religion. When the topic comes up, there are more than enough comments condemning anyone willing to believe something unproven by logic; I've even seen comments stating that you can't be religious if you're "really autistic," because apparently the autistic preference for logic precludes the possibility of any of us ever believing in or engaging with anything unproven. At the other extreme, for some, religion can become a special interest. The latter was my experience, which had both pros and cons -- largely depending on how I approached it. I'd like to speak a little to the experience of religion on the…