For me and many other LGBT individuals with autism, the internet has been a socialising goldmine, filling in the gap left by our inability to engage with other LGBT spaces. Online, tone of voice and nonverbal facial expressions are removed as factors from understanding conversational intent, with words alone explaining intent. Social media allows me to socialise with other LGBT people, regardless of their location, while controlling my sensory information. I can listen to my own music on loop, eat my texture-limited foods, in comfortable clothing, under a weighted blanket, in my own home while making a new friend who communicates by saying the words they mean directly.
Source: Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman
Bring the backchannel forward. Written communication is the great social equalizer.
Hannah Gadsby on social anxiety, social exhaustion, routine, masking, autism and gender norms, being perceived as angry, getting feedback, observing patterns, competition, autistic stereotypes, processing time, autistic appreciation of comedy, diagnosis and misdiagnosis, functioning labels, toxic masculinity, thinking in terms of neurobiology instead of gender, eugenics, patriarchal devices, storytelling, comedy and trauma, neurodivergence in comedy, cruelty in comedy, fitting in, shame, failure and success, and religion.
You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes : Hannah Gadsby
What is yourself? It’s a way of being in the world that doesn’t feel exhausting.
None of those jokes about women’s bodies give any room for women to experience their own body.
The high rate of anxiety disorders among people on the autism spectrum may be due in part to the issues that people with autism spectrum conditions have to contend with in being part of the ‘neurotypical’ world. On a daily basis, autistic people have to make sense of a world that is extremely hard to decipher, deal with sensory overload (and worry about potential sensory overload), and navigate an often hostile and incomprehensible social world. All of these experiences can contribute significantly to a person’s anxiety levels. In addition, the autistic traits of perfectionism, preference for structure/routine and repetitive behaviours can all add to the levels of anxiety.
In trying to make sense of the world, people with autism often want to imagine the outcomes of events or situations that involve them. This may start from the position of trying to make the world less stressful by creating a picture or map of the future so that change or new experiences don’t seem quite so daunting.
Source: Purkis, Yenn; Goodall, Emma; Nugent, Jane. The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum (pp. 44-45). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Or by creating lists. Lots of lists.
“Race does not exist outside of ability and ability does not exist outside of race” (Annamma et al., 2013, p. 6). This insight is powerfully confirmed by the experiences of the Black middle-class parents and their children in our research. LD categories, such as autism and dyslexia, are mostly treated in contemporary England as a property right for the benefit of White middle-class students—a property right to which our Black interviewees’ social class profile does not grant access. Even armed with the supposedly “scientific” warrant of a formal assessment (a certification meant to credentialize and medicalize the “condition”), Black middle-class parents’ claims were rejected. Within an educational competition where particular LD dis/ability labels can become a valuable asset, therefore, this asset is denied to the Black parents and their children. Their greater social class capital is rejected, their claims denied, and their motives questioned. In contrast, however, schools seem content to mobilize certain dis/ability labels, especially negative behavioral categories, in all too familiar ways against the parents and their children—a finding that relates to a further DisCrit tenet:
- DisCrit emphasizes the social constructions of race and ability and yet recognizes the material and psychological impacts of being labeled as raced or dis/abled, which sets one outside of the western cultural norms. (p. 11)
At the particular nexus of identities and locations (England in the early 21st century, wherein Black racial identity, middle-class social status, and a range of dis/ability labels collide) the outcomes follow a pattern that privileges White supremacy and the racial status quo. Although a dis/ability label might be a useful resource (providing additional resources or supports), it is generally denied by White power holders. Yet, dis/ability labels that serve to exclude, stigmatize, and control (emotional or behavioral disabilities) are applied without regard to national guidelines or formal procedures.
Source: DisCrit—Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education (Disability, Culture, and Equity Series) (p. 50). Teachers College Press. Kindle Edition.
I’m leaning heavily on playlist making as a coping mechanism right now. Here’s my “Chronic Neurodivergent Depressed Queer Punk” playlist of mental health related punk and punk-adjacent songs.
Themes/CW: suicidal ideation, addiction, mania, depression, dysphoria, chronic illness, anxiety, overwhelm, panic, meltdown, masking, burnout, OCD, ADHD, ADD, SPD, bipolar, autism
My issues with processing empathy meant that I was absorbing all of my clients’ emotions and carrying them around with me almost constantly.
Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (p. 166)
I absorb the emotional weather and have difficulty doing customer support because I burnout from the flood of empathy.
Not only do autistics not categorically lack empathy, many of us are hyper-empathetic.
Masking can leave a person with less energy to handle other aspects of their day, from performing basic housework to processing thoughts and feelings. This, in turn, can lead to meltdowns and burnout. Something as simple as trying not to play with my hair or keeping my legs still while sitting in public can leave me depleted after a few hours.
Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (p. 147)
I must pull my hair, scratch my scalp, and bounce my legs to regulate.
Autistic Burnout: The Cost of Masking and Passing – Ryan Boren
I called it autistic burnout, a term I learned not from professionals but from my fellow autistics trying to illuminate the gaps in the autistic experience that the so-called experts on us were either missing or ignoring. It describes a fairly common phenomenon that autistic adults were noticing in their lives. When faced with periods of major change, we can see a sizeable shift in our autistic traits. Causes of autistic burnout can include forcing yourself to pass as neurotypical, major stress or upheaval, sensory or emotional overload and illness. Symptoms can include a decrease in motivation, loss of executive function, selective mutism, problems maintaining social skills, memory loss, lethargy and decreased tolerance for sensory or emotional sensitivity. Basically, we hit a point where we can no longer manage our issues or keep up appearances in the same way that we have been and we end up feeling and/or looking “more autistic” as a result.
I’d been lurking on the periphery of autistic burnout for years, shaking off mild periods of confusion and exhaustion like a fighter moderately rocked by a strike. In the spring of 2015, I got knocked the fuck out. In my case, I think it was just a culmination of my entire life up until that point. Digging out from the catastrophic meltdown that had forced my diagnosis was very much a two steps forward, one and five-sixths steps back scenario. I was making progress, but I was tired. At least subconsciously, I was starting to realize that some of the coping mechanisms I was currently employing might not be long-term solutions.
Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (p. 165-166)
“Knocked the fuck out” by autistic burnout. Been there. Still recovering.
Autistic Burnout: The Cost of Masking and Passing – Ryan Boren
On autistics and the hurtful fuckery of anti-vaxxers:
No one should have to see themselves used as a boogeyman in an evidence-free conspiracy theory that leads to increasingly frequent public health scares. But I’m hard-pressed to think of a population less equipped to handle being dragged into such an absurd and dangerous mess than autistic people. And yet here we are.
Imagine that you have a neurodevelopmental disability that gives you some challenges with social skills and possibly the occasional rigid adherence to things like truth and fairness. Chances are good that you’ve been explicitly and implicitly told that you are pedantic, rude, blunt and not considerate enough of others’ points of views for your whole life.
Now picture this: You are told that people are dying because spoiled rich assholes are afraid to vaccinate their kids because a discredited former doctor—who either buys children’s blood at birthday parties or at least thinks it’s appropriate to joke about buying kids’ blood for research purposes—told them that the autism fairy will visit their kids if they get them vaccinated. Because, well, when it comes down to it, they’d much rather risk having a dead child than offspring who are anything like you.
Now imagine trying to employ all of those social skills that might not come naturally to you in order to fake some semblance of politeness and tolerance in the face of that incredibly wrong and hurtful fuckery.
Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (pp. 151-153)