When the #Autistic medical model has gone the way of the dinosaurs…

dialog between mother and autistic daughter explaining the old medical model of autism

Fantastic post from Luke Beardon.

HELLO MUMMY – A (FICTITIOUS) CONVERSATION FROM THE FUTURE

Girl: Hello Mummy.

Mother: Hello Darling.

Girl: Mummy, I want to ask you some questions.

Mother: Ok – fire away!

[Pause]
[Pause]

Girl: Fire away?

Mother: Sorry Darling, silly Mummy. I meant please do ask your questions.

Read the full (most excellent) post here.


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Let’s have some fun! #Autism and #Menopause :)

women walking along a lake in front of a sand dune balancing pots on their heads
Women walking along a lake in front of a sand dune balancing pots on their heads

Okay, I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking: Autism and Menopause! Where’s the fun in that?!

But bear with me… If you’re a geeky-nerdy type like me, learning all about the inner workings of one of the most misunderstood situations on the planet and figuring out how to work effectively with it to make your life that much better is an appealing prospect.

The thing is, you’re not alone.

Every seven seconds, one of America’s 76 million baby boomers turns 50.

Every day, about 5,000 American women enter menopause.

Until 2020, approximately 2 million women will reach menopause each year. Half of all post-menopausal women will be in Asia.

That’s a lot of us — and since I’m a woman, and I’ve gone through menopause myself (10 years “ahead of schedule”, thank heavens!) — I’ve got a few things to say about this.

Especially since it really affected — and was affected by — my autistic temperament.

It really, truly did. And if I’d know certain things ahead of time, I might have handled things very differently. And my experience might not have been so awful.

The thing that always amazes me about the social conversations we do / don’t have about menopause, is that it’s incredibly common and perfectly natural. And yet, it’s treated like some dread condition that needs to be either ignored completely or eradicated with some combination of meds. Hm. Sounds a bit like autism, to me, actually. So, we autistic women get a “two-for-one deal” on our situation. We get double the excitement, but nowhere near twice the support.

We’re lucky if we get any support at all.

I know I didn’t. At least, not much. My partner went through menopause before me, so I had an up-close-and-personal chance to see how it affects others. Panic attacks. Wild mood swings. Intense anxiety. Explosions! Not much to look forward to, right? But I also have to consider that her situation was unique — she was going through major changes around her parents passing away, family dramas, work problems, and so forth. I didn’t have those, when I was going through the Change. I had my own set of issues — Autism being front-and-center.

So, for me, the experience was different. But equally intense.

Oh, if I’d known then what I know now… I can honestly and truly say that I would have handled things very differently.

What’s done is done, and I can’t change my own situation. But I can certainly speak up about my experience, in hopes of other Autistic women benefiting from my experience. Like Autism, every woman’s experience of menopause is different. That goes without saying. But the qualities of our experiences (outside the specific details) can be very similar, and that’s where I want to focus.

Because heaven knows we need support. It’s challenging enough dealing with the world when you’re Autistic or menopausal. But when you’re both… woo hoo!

Oddly (or perhaps predictably) the mainstream hasn’t devoted a whole lot of resources to exploring this intersection of issues. Older women — especially Autistic women — don’t seem to be high on anybody’s list of priorities. Much more interesting to study Autistic children, teenage boys, or grown men. There’s more money in that, quite frankly. But where the mainstream fails, we can step up and help ourselves. There’s this thing called the internet, and it’s chock full of all kinds of goodies that we can mix-n-match and augment ourselves, to serve our own needs.

‘Cause who knows our needs better than we? Not a soul.

candle burning in the darkness

So, here goes… I’ll be posting more in the coming days and weeks. I’ll also be publishing additional tools and information over at Auptima Press, especially in conjunction with menopause support resources we’re developing over there.

I can either curse the darkness surrounding women + Autism + menopause… or I can light a candle. I’d much rather do something about it.

 


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Slowwww start to the year

snow monkey sitting in waterUsually, I’m “up to speed” by the 2nd week in January. In the past, I’ve been energized by New Year’s resolutions and the feeling that I have a new lease on life. But not this year. It’s different, now, and I’m not all that invigorated by brand new plans for 2018 that are supposed to fix everything that was wrong with 2017.

Basically, my plans are the same as 2017 – just a continuation with some completion of projects and ongoing progress on the agenda. Whether or not it will “fix” anything, is anybody’s guess, but at least some stuff will get done, and I can get them off my list.

But even though my plans are pretty clear and my path is well-defined, I’m really having to push myself to get going. I can do it. I do do it. I’m a grown-up, and I know that’s what it takes to make progress at times. But this year, I feel like one of those snow monkeys who just wants to sit around in a hot springs while the snow falls all around.

If only I could.

The thing is, I really do have a lot I need to accomplish, this year. Projects I’ve been trying to get done, are finally going to get done, and that’s something to look forward to. But there’s a lot to do, with many little details to get worked out. So — much as I’d like to — I can’t just take myself out of “the flow” and camp out in a pool of warm mineral water.

It’s a goal for future years, but not this year.

Because now that January is here, it seems like everything around me has taken off at top speed. The last 10 days feel like the longest month, and I’ve been scrambling to keep up. Work has been extremely busy, and things at home have been picking up speed. There are health problems with friends. Changes to insurance coverage, that I have to track down and keep on top of (so I don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for a medication that should cost 5x less). There’s lots of personal drama. Tears. Anger. Mortality. Asking “Why?” And more.

Oy. I could seriously use a break from all the carryover drama plus from last year the brand new drama for 2018. I really could.

Anyway, my life is mine to do with as I please, and with each passing year, I’m more interested in doing something substantive with it. I’ve always been interested in doing that — motivated… driven, even. It’s just that now I actually have a much better idea about how to help it all happen. It’s one of those weird autistic things, where I’m clueless for decades, then all of a sudden — SHAZAM!I get it, and I can suddenly move forward in leaps and bounds.

I’m “funny” that way.

But that gives me hope in a roundabout way. Because if I can flounder and struggle for oh, so many years… and then suddenly — woo hoo!  the path opens up for me in some ways — that means that it can open up for me in others, at any given point in time. And being clueless and stumbling around right now, doesn’t mean I’ll be stumbling around forever in a clueless fog.

Which is, for me (not speaking for anyone else), why suicide is never a viable choice. Because I never know just when things will suddenly open up for me, and stuff that used to be so awful and unbearable aren’t even “blips” on my proverbial radar. Things can turn around for me, just like that, so that’s the state of mind/body/spirit/logistics that I have to hold out for. It gives me something to look forward to, that’s for sure.

So, yeah. My life is there for me to do as I please. It’s not always pleasant, and it’s often pretty painful, to be honest. But I persevere. I hang in there. And ultimately, (many) things turn around. That’s what I’m hanging onto right now, as I lumber through the first weeks of the year like a hibernating bear waddling through the narrow aisles of an antiques store. Maybe some of the stuff I bump into is valuable, maybe it isn’t. Maybe some of the stuff I knock off the shelves is priceless, maybe it isn’t. A lot of that’s in the eye of the beholder, so I can’t get too worked up over things I mess up or break.

I do that. It’s a skill.

But enough about me. I have to go get some work done. It’ll all get done, one way or another, and a lot of it won’t be very enjoyable. But eventually the situation will change, and I’ll move on to something else. One thing at a time, one step at a time, just taking it as it comes, and doing my best under the circumstances… which is pretty danged good, considering how bad / blah / disconnected I’ve been feeling, lately.

It’s all an evolving process. That’s for sure.


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And now I get to go outside

I’ve been stuck inside for the last couple days. Work has been really busy, and I haven’t had the time to just get outside in the snow and enjoy myself. But today is Saturday, and that means the day is my own.

For some reason, I really love winter. No, I know the reason. I love the cold, I love the snow, I love the feeling of getting out in the bitter cold and moving around and getting warm. I also love how movement feels when it’s cold outside. The extremes between the frigid temperatures and my warm interior is very pleasing.

So, enough talking. It’s time to get outside.


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An interesting start to the new year

road with yellow stripes and trees with snow along the sidesUsually, when the new year comes around, I feel an immediate change in my mood. The last year is behind me, and the potential of the new year is ahead. This year, though, as soon as the date changed over to 2018, I had this abrupt sense of reality. It felt like all of the intentions and all of the resolutions of yesteryear were to no avail, and all the positive thinking in the world was not going to get me where I need to go.

It’s been a bit of a downer, in a way, but on the other hand, I think this is probably one of the most promising changeovers I’ve ever experienced. Because while lacking a buoyant sense of optimism feel strange and out of place, the feeling of stark realism give me more hope for my actual future.

I have a lot to do this year. I have a lot of important decisions to make, and I have a lot of momentous steps ahead of me. My writing has shifted to a more intentional direction, with the emphasis on hard work and personal responsibility, and worrying less about what others are doing, than what I’m up to. And my overall worldview has shifted from one that was punctuated with spurts of wishful thinking and visualization interspersing long periods of frittering away my precious time… to dealing with reality as it is, and taking steps to substantively alter it in the direction I desire.

When I think of all the time I spent in the past, just thinking about how I wanted things to be, instead of actually doing something concrete about it, I cringe. Because for all of its ability to make me feel differently, visualization doesn’t help at all if I don’t combine it with actual work. And it’s the work that I’m focused on for this year.

So, I have no over-arching resolutions for this year, no list of things I’d like to do, dreams, visions, big picture blueprints from my future success. What I have now – and this is much more hopeful – is a long list of things I know I need to do, in the order that I need to do them, and a structure to my life that will allow me to actually get them done.

So while this new year maybe a little little more muted than years gone by, it’s probably one of the most hopeful ones I’ve had. A life well-lived takes a lot of work. And I’m worker, so that is definitely in my favor. Rather than hoping, wishing, praying, and visualizing for a changed life, I’m just getting down to the business of doing what needs to be done, and slogging through the boring, challenging, frustrating, demoralizing stuff that inevitably comes with any kind of substantial change.

It’s a new year, and I have a new outlook. It’s the best one I can possibly imagine for myself.


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