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

https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/chronic-neurodivergent-depressed-queer-punk/pl.u-yZyVVjZtYzXDqW

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.

See also:

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.

See also:

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.

See also:

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)

Sarah Kurchak on a dilemma many autistic people have experienced when sharing their diagnosis:

Where I saw the first irrefutable proof of myself, though, so many others saw a referendum.

I spent twenty-seven years trying to convince people that I was normal enough to accept, or at least leave alone, and no one ever fully bought it. When I finally knew why that experiment was such an ongoing failure, though, few believed that either. I was using it as an excuse. I was exaggerating. I was faking. I was not as autistic as someone else someone knew and was, therefore, not really autistic.

These comparisons only ever go in one direction. No one has ever said to me, “Temple Grandin is a successful scientist, writer and public speaker, and you have the career of a mildly plucky freelancer half your age. You can’t possibly be autistic.” I suspect that this is because no one is genuinely trying to weigh what they know about me against a set of diagnostic criteria, or fit me into their greater understanding of autistics in the world. What people are really doing when they’re trying to determine if I’m really autistic is figuring out if I make them uncomfortable or sad enough to count. If I show any coping skills, any empathy, any likability, any fun—essentially any humanity—I complicate the narrative too much and usually end up ignored.

This separation between real autistics and people who are “just quirky,” “just awkward” or “almost too high-functioning to count” is a mental dance that non-autistics have to do whenever they’re confronted with a 3-D autistic human being in the flesh. Otherwise everything they’ve ever thought, everything they’ve ever been told about us, starts to seem a little monstrous.

Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (pp. 4-5)

Solve for the Infinity

Selections from “Thriving at Work While Autistic, Introverted, Shy, and Otherwise Different: Part 3” on intersectionality, equality, equity, and autism at work:

Abundantly confident people who are energized by competition and enjoy a bit of a fight (typically men, extroverts, and those without conditions associated with higher physiological reaction to stress) may feel that all others should be happy to play by their rules. And if some are not, then these others are flawed, and perhaps even inferior.

Equality is not equity. The most well-intentioned mono-focus equality programs, such as gender-based, assume homogeneity within the group – but groups are not homogeneous, and the most privileged in the group benefit the most. White women benefit more than women of color. Affluent women benefit more than poor women. Those without disabilities benefit more than those with disabilities.

When the system is blind to intersectionality, those with multiple intersectional backgrounds get squashed by that seemingly unbiased system.

And the most insidious thing about systemic discrimination is the built-in gaslighting mechanism.

The system makes you think it’s your fault.

Except, autism is not a problem. It’s a solution. When there are too many variables to solve for, it makes sense to solve for the infinity – the symbol of both the infinite number of possible intersectionalities and autism acceptance.

There is rarely a need for special mechanisms for each intersectional identity. The same practices that would allow my autistic self thrive would allow every other aspect of me to thrive. Transparency, psychological safety, consideration of human differences in legitimate options for work organization, scientifically-developed job descriptions, the inclusion of a wider variety of voices – the same practices would make work better for all people. The same practices will make organizations more productive. When there are too many variables to solve for, solve for the infinity – for the infinite number of all possible intersectionalities, by embedding foundational principles of justice for all into systems and processes.

Source: Thriving at Work While Autistic, Introverted, Shy, and Otherwise Different: Part 3

See also:

On the Edge of Gone: Page-turning #OwnVoices Autism Rep

On the Edge of Gone is an engaging page turner with great autism rep.

I updated “Design is Tested at the Edges: Intersectionality, The Social Model of Disability, and Design for Real Life” with selections from “Black Autistics Exist: An Argument for Intersectional Disability Justice | South Seattle Emerald”.

The term intersectionality is used more broadly today to describe the cumulative effect within one’s lived experience of being in the world with two or more socially constructed identities; and the world’s perception, storying, and interaction with them.

The crux of intersectionality as a philosophy is that it does not allow for socially constructed identities to occur discreetly in the sociopolitical and sociocultural sphere. When someone like me walks into the room, I don’t have the opportunity to negotiate with others which of my identities they intend to hyperfocus on or criticize. I am a package deal. We all are. This is what I feel is so important when advocating for affirmation of intersectional autism. Just as we seek to discuss misogynoir, we need to bring in the complexity of these sorts of social dynamics into the autistic experience. Intersectionality can serve as a silencer of autism if the other seeks to home in on some other stereotype or archetype they find more threatening or – said with disgust – fascinating.

Autism doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and neither do any aspects of our intersectionality. They all happen at once, in the moment, and influence our being in the world, and how the world is with us at all times.

Intersectionality is not only arguing for factualizing these marginalized identities as inextricably intertwined, but also acknowledging that their accumulative interactions are absolutely inseparable.

It is unjust to only think of intersectionality as a crossroads of one dependent and independent variable. Instead, we must grow to see intersectional disability as a radial: multiple streams of energy coalescing at one central point of consciousness and lived experience.

Source: Black Autistics Exist: An Argument for Intersectional Disability Justice | South Seattle Emerald