Sunday, May 12, 2019


          




  I am 46, and I am Canadian, born and living in Ontario.


            I have been many things over the years:
                        - Food service in Hospitals
                        - Cashier
                        - Parent to two autistic kids (D-19 & S-22)
                        - Foster Parent to special needs infants
                        - Nanny
                        - Daycare Owner & Carer
                        - Education Assistant, Autism Speciality
I am currently on Disability supports (ODSP), and trying to finish a degree at Ryerson University, at the School of Disability Studies.  Our current government cut grants for low income (definition of disabled incomes) students this year, so my education is ‘on hold’.

I love the ‘helping professions’ as my ^ list suggests.
I am very patient and I love to teach.
I am very good at being an EA. 
Unfortunately, school boards do not support autistic employees very well; I burnt out as an EA in 3.5 years, despite asking for supports. 
Which is why I entered Disability Studies @ Ryerson.
My hope was to get a degree that would allow me to work towards establishing better disability employment policy in Ontario & Canada.

 Something someone might be surprised to know about me is that
      I can be very social under the right circumstances, and in the right environment.
Many people think me ‘reserved’ as a 1st impression, and they stop being interested in finding out who I really am. 
I have had 40 years of struggle with social interaction. 
I am very anxious and need to take time to assess and ‘feel out’ new people and new situations.  I don’t want to make mistakes, I’m very allergic to social faux pas.

Anyone who has had such a long history of social faux pas, and social anxiety, that an undiagnosed Aspies does, would not be surprised. 
My whole life before dx was one of constant judgement and recrimination from people who saw me as broken, lazy, a whiner, liar, etc.
Forty years of that takes a toll, and makes you careful about trusting new people. 
Neurotypicals lie constantly, with white lies and social posturing, and that’s very hard to negotiate as an autistic person.  It takes time to work out whether a new person is genuine or fake or trustworthy.  That’s the reservation.

In my opinion some of my biggest accomplishments are
    raising happy, healthy autistic kids to adulthood, despite being judged, being gaslit, & being threatened by people who assumed they knew better than me, particularly my abusive x-husband and his family.  I divorced when my kids were young, before the dx of any of us.
My kids were dx’d later, my son at 10 years, then my daughter at 9 years. 
I wasn’t dx’d until almost a decade after them.

My ability to understand my kids from infancy, and my willingness to defend them (based on my own similar experiences as a child), kept them from experiencing as much harsh judgement for their differences and challenges.
Even when I couldn’t ‘accurately’ label their challenges in the medical-diagnostic sense, I could stand up and say,


“My child is being bullied, and it isn’t their fault.  They are being targeted by the children who claim that my child hurt them. 
What did those children do to my child to drive my child to that behaviour?
Where was the teacher in the 10-30 minutes before my child ‘acted out’?  Because my child will always back away from confrontation, back and back and back, until they are cornered or they get away.  If they have been cornered and are being assaulted (verbally, physically, emotionally), they have a right to fight back.  My child never starts these things, but if desperate enough, my child will defend themselves, As They Should.”


By reframing the narrative, I forced Teachers, Principals, and the parents of the bullies to address the real problem:
Poorly educated/parented kids will target children who are different, and the poorly educated adults around them often support the bullies and victim blame the victim.
Not my kids, not on my watch.

I wish those who are Neurotypicals would understand about autism is
            That we are not broken NTs. 
We are Autistic, and our ways of learning, expressing emotions, and coping with life are valid.  Our differences are strengths, if society lets them be strengths.  Yes, autistic childhood can be difficult, but forcing NT behaviour on us is not the solution.  Creating autism friendly environments for home, school and work means that we can participate fully in life, and do so competently.

There are other ways of training life & learning skills that do not compromise personal autonomy the way ABA and other compliance training systems do.  Consent and personal autonomy, the right to say “NO”, when we are in pain, struggling with learning, or when our ways of being are not being respected is very important.


            I was dx’d at 40 years old. 
What they meant for me was self acceptance and a vocabulary to explain myself to others.  It meant that when I went back to college at 40, I got supports and accommodations for the 1st time in my life.  I graduated with honours because my learning needs were supported, after a lifetime of failure and being blamed as lazy:

                        “You’re smart.  You aren’t living up to your potential!”

(If I had 10 cents for every time I heard that before dx, I’d be a millionaire.)

However, that support did not transfer to the workplace.  So, despite loving my EA work, I burnt out in 3.5 years; my physical and mental health deteriorated until I ended up on disability support (ODSP). 
I am grateful that I qualified for ODSP, and it took a lot of time and help from my GP to get it because the paperwork is designed to make it very hard to successfully apply.
I am slowly recovering my health now that I am not working in a toxic environment anymore.
I decided that a degree in Disability Studies would lead to a career in shaping Disability Policy, to work to support all the disabled citizens of Ontario & Canada to maintain employment.
Unfortunately, the current Provincial Government has axed the grants that allowed me to go to university.  They are now gutting ODSP, and my family is being impacted.
It’s very depressing.

Mental Health in Ontario and Canada is not properly addressed or funded to start with, and whatever therapies and services are available, are tailored to NT neurology.  I have been sent for all sorts of therapies and groups over the years and very little that was, and is, available works for me. 
Why?  Because I’m not NT.
Autistic social anxiety, or autistic depression, come from very different experiences and from autistic neurology.
NT treatments and solutions often don’t work for autistics.


 My whole extended family got a diagnosis when my 1st child was dx’d.  


All his life, people had been saying that ‘he is just like you’, but with my family learning about ASD, they began to see that it wasn’t just me and my kids, its the whole
e
xtended family. 

I’m the only one of my generation with an ASD dx, but plenty others of my generation and of my parents’ generation have social anxiety dx’s. 
Plenty of us are ‘weird’ or ‘eccentric’ or ‘funny-peculiar’. :)

I love my dx. 
I love having a vocabulary to express myself with, and to share my experiences
through. 
I love not being ‘wrong’ or ‘broken’ or ‘bad’ or ‘lazy’;


I am autistic, and I recognise my strengths and work with them, whilst balancing my weaknesses; there’s no shame in being me anymore.




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