Month

February 2014

My place on the spectrum

I am not autistic. That’s a statement that would never be questioned by anyone. I simply, would not qualify for a diagnosis of autism.

However.

I firmly, truly, in my core, believe in what so many of us think and know: that autism is a spectrum. And it includes neurotypicals. NTs and autistics are not fundamentally different – they just fall on different parts of the spectrum. 

So, if it’s a spectrum – that means that at some point there’s a midline, right? A midline where one thing becomes the other. Where Neutorypical meets Autistic. And that’s near where I fall. I am not autistic. But I am close enough to that midline to GET that other side of the spectrum. 

I believe that’s why I love working with autistic kids. I believe that’s why I understand them. I believe that’s why they understand me. I believe that’s why sometimes I intuitively just KNOW why they do or say something. 

I believe that I’m lucky to land on the spectrum where I do. I believe that I get the benefits of both the NT and the autistic aspects. I believe that despite not being autistic, I can firmly consider myself an understander, and an ally, because I Get It.

I believe that I’m lucky.

I believe in Autism Awesomeness.

“Biggest Loser” rant.

Is anyone else sick of the latest news from “The Biggest Loser”? 

I’m not even going to bother posting links to the articles because there are a million tweets, facebook posts, tabloid articles, interviews, and magazine articles about it. Do a Google search and you’ll have enough to keep you busy for days.

The gist? A woman named Rachel was crowned “winner” of this season, for losing the most weight. But, people have a lot to say. The gist of the comments being that she lost too much weight, that she looks unhealthy, that she shouldn’t have lost as much as she did, that she now has an eating disorder, etc. etc. The list goes on and on.

And what’s the problem with this all? She went on a show to lose weight (which I won’t comment on) and is being criticized for doing exactly what she had signed up to do. The goal of the show (I think) is to lose the most weight. So, she did it. Regardless of whether or not she lost too much, the point is that it’s very confusing. To her, to viewers, to everyone. It teaches that nobody is ever satisfied. You weigh too much and you’re criticized. You way too little and you’re criticized. 

Tabloids are now ripping her apart, throwing “eating disorder” and “anorexic” around. And this is what makes me want to scream. Magazines have a field day over posting pictures of who is fat, who weighs too much, who could “stand to hit the gym.” So celebrities listen. And lose the weight. And then magazines turn right around and post pictures of their ribs, who “needs a cookie”, who is “unhealthy.” THERE IS NO WAY TO WIN. It’s a constant battle with the ultimate lesson being, you can’t ever be happy with yourself. There is always something you must change.

I am not someone who believes that eating disorders and body image issues are caused 100% from the media. I strongly believe in a genetic component and a neural wiring towards anxiety and obsession and things of the like. But do I believe that the media exacerbates it? You better believe it. Do I think that it makes a difference for a child to be in the checkout line at Stop and Shop and see one magazine with headlines about how “fat” people are, and then one saying how “disgustingly thing” they are? Absolutely.

I wish I had a solution or a word of wisdom. But for now? Just a rant.

Slaberty

I can’t stop thinking about an encounter I had with one of my students last week. In the spirit of extreme anonymity and privacy, all I will tell you is that he’s an adorable little elementary schooler, with a sensitive soul and wisdom beyond his years.

He walked into my office and announced, “You know what I was thinking about?”

“What?” I asked.

“My old school was like slaberty.”

“Slavery?” I questioned.

“Yeah.” 

“What do you mean?”

“Well. You know how the blacks and the whites were all people but they were still treated differently cuz people didn’t realize that they should be treated equally? Well my school was like that. Like, I was a student! Just like everyone else! But since I was in the [name of special ed program] program, other kids didn’t realize that! They treated me differently. Like at recess? They wouldn’t play with me! They ran away from me because I was in the [special ed] program. Just like the whites felt about the blacks! It wasn’t fair! It made me feel stupid and dumb. I was a student just like them!” He was animated, pacing around my tiny office as he talked.

“Wow. I like that comparison. I don’t like how you were treated, but I like how you are thinking about it.” I told him.

He smiled. “Yeah. You know what? Teachers care about me here. I never, EVER thought that teachers could care about kids!”

And then I fought back tears.

The Great Big Reveal

Okay. This is it. The Really Big Post that I’ve been dreaming/stressing/thinking about for almost 3 years now. 

The funny part is that it’s probably not that Big for anyone else except for me. So many people blog, I’m hardly unique here. (Can you tell that I’m trying to reassure myself?)

Anyway. Last weekend I very nervously told my fiance about this blog. He was excited, he’s been encouraging me to blog for years (not knowing that I was actually doing it), and I told him how nervous I was that he wouldn’t like it, that nobody would like it, etc. He very realistically, and gently, reminded me that I’m not a writer. Which was actually really comforting – if people don’t like what I write, that’s okay, because my job in life is not to write, it’s not to use correct grammar or perfectly articulate thoughts that people want to hear. I’m not a journalist, so the standards I set for myself can be fairly low. He asked if he could read it, and I said yes, and being the wonderfully patient person he is, he didn’t say another word about it for 24 hours. (I am much less patient than that, and if roles were reversed, I probably would’ve bugged him immediately until he gave me the link) A day later I emailed him the link to the blog, and….that was that. I felt like that was the first Big thing I had to do. 

And now? It’s time to share it more. Little by little.

Here’s what I’ve decided (honestly, despite my fears that nobody will like it, these are my Truths that I really do believe, in my core):

  • I will be okay if people don’t like what I write. When it comes down to it, I write for me, and I write for people who want to read what I write. If someone doesn’t want to read it, then….they shouldn’t read it. And that’s fine.
  • I will be okay if I don’t stick to my dream of writing all the time and constantly giving people new posts to read. I don’t want to this become a chore or something I dread. If people like what I’m reading, they’ll stick around, whenever it is that I happen to share something.
  • I will be okay if people disagree. I have opinions, and because of that, I have two choices. I can hide what I think and how I feel, thereby “playing it safe,” and also thereby trapping my essence inside of myself – or, I can say how I think and how I feel, set my thoughts free, and let them float to wherever they may land.

Other things I’ve decided: I’m not ready to fully introduce myself yet. Soon. And, I’m still a little too scared to post this on Facebook for every single person I’m friends with to see. I want to keep building it up small…so, next step is going to be posting the link on Twitter, which seems much less scary to me. Then an email to some friends and family. And then maybe Facebook. Or maybe not.

Okay. Here we go.

Publish Post.

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