The Best of April (A.K.A. Autism's Hellmouth Month)

Everyone who has anything to do with autism activism or other kinds of associated consciousness-raising tends to get steamrolled by April. Not only during the month itself, but in the weeks leading up to Everything Autism-And-April-Related. It certainly doesn't leave much space for personal journaling, and it's exhausting -- especially for people who don't have a whole lot of spoons (Disability community vernacular for available energy units), to begin with.

HowEVER: Much goodness happened this month, in case you missed it:

Steve Silberman gave the UN's World Autism Awareness Day opening keynote (video, TED provided a transcript.) An excerpt:
"Talking about autism as a common form of disability that deserves lifelong support and accommodations is very different from the ways the subject is usually discussed. Typically, autism is framed as a something new and fearful under the sun, a historical aberration, the unique disorder of our uniquely disordered modern world. But the comprehensive examination of autism’s history I undertook in NeuroTribes reveals that people on the spectrum have been part of the fabric of the human community for a very long time."

[video description: White man with salt-and-pepper hair and glasses sitting at a desk at the
United Nations, behind a digital placard reading "Steve Silberman," reading aloud
about the necessity of autism acceptance.]

Other Excellent Autism-y Things That Happened This April:
And at TPGA, we observed Autism Acceptance Month by "featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives." Here's who wrote what:

Leo sitting in a chair as he pleases, damn it.
[image: White teenager with short brown hair
sitting in a car's front passenger seat
with his legs crossed and folded.]
  1. Mandy Klein talked about how it feels when one's ability to function fluctuates, but is not recognized or accommodated.
  2. Sara Luterman described the "frequent adjustments" that are necessary for her to be properly accommodated at her workplace
  3. Kathryn Hedges wrote about how noisy environments can disrupt her ability to process and function
  4. Henny Kupferstein talked about how her own autistic insights helped her guide her friend Ethan into creating videos that demonstrate his autistic perspectives, as well as accommodations that work for him.
  5. M. Kelter emphasized why listening -- really listening -- to autistic people about their experiences is a crucial accommodation, even when it's a work in progress. 
  6. We interviewed author Corinne Duyvis about her new science fiction novel On The Edge of Gone, in which a biracial, autistic, cat-loving teen girl is forced to fight for the accommodations she needs during a post-comet strike apocalypse.
  7. Queerability founder Kris Guin let us feature their poem about embracing acceptance, the spectrums of intersectionality, and rejecting shame.
  8. Aiyana Bailin described how small accommodations changes, specifically choices regarding chairs, can have "huge results." 
  9. Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone mused on getting comfortable with asking for crucial accommodations -- and setting one's own boundaries about those supports.
  10. Mel Baggs took on the assumption that all kids should be able to work and play in groups -- and that kids who can't cope with group scenarios are just being difficult.
  11. Autisticmotherland opined on what professionals need to know about supporting -- and diagnosing -- autistic parents of autistic children. 
  12. Tito Martin-Nemtin talked about the difference his noise-canceling headphones make in his ability to simply be in the outside world, without being completely overwhelmed. 
  13. Christine Langager described the frustration of often being excluded from autistic and autism-and-parenting communities when by definition one belongs to both.
  14. Sara M. Acevedo discussed how her well being depends significantly on not being exposed to scented products, yet how infrequently those accessibility rights and accommodation needs are taken seriously, viewed respectfully -- or met.   
  15. John Elder Robison talked about why accommodation is important, yet may not be enough to help autistic people like him with co-occuring conditions such as anxiety. 
  16. Emily Paige Ballou, Olley Edwards, Patricia George, Christine Langager, and Siobhan Travers (Nez Perce) highlighted the under-recognition of autistic girls, the long- and short-term effects of going without supports and accommodations, and what autistic girls and actually need to succeed and be happy. 
  17. Carly Jones (Olley Edwards) outlined her "Top five understandings previous Autistic generations did not have, that the next Autistic generation must have as standard."
  18. Amanda Forest Vivian talked about why, no, she really can't use a phone -- and how reluctant other people can be to respect and accommodate her on this matter.
  19. Kate emphasized why autism researchers need to better understand and accommodate autistic people, if they want more autistic participants in their studies.
  20. And Finn Gardiner talks about being the "truest, best self" he can be, tackling the "politics of shame head-on," and recognizing "that I could live with my autistic, black, queer, trans self without guilt just for being alive.
[image: selfie of three white females making goofy faces.]
On the personal journaling side, April was action-packed (this is a euphemism. I'm f***ing exhausted). The kids, of course, had asynchronous Spring Breaks. But at least the girls' break coincided. So we three XXs took a road trip to attend a admitted students orientation, and confirm that yes, Iz really does want to go to a college in a different state -- which I am still processing. Here we three are, blocking Mt. Shasta and its eponymous, not-totally-drained (first time in so many years), lake.

On our way, we drove through Ashland, Oregon with the intention of cheerfully harassing local anti-vaxxers -- but for some reason they weren't wearing signage, so we didn't know who they were and had to instead put our energies into a local scrumptious Indian buffet. We also listened to All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, which as unabashed nerdlings, they loved (note to other parents: there are a few sexy sex scenes, and lots of salty language). Though Iz asked for occasional breaks to listen to podcasts about cyber security, how political caucuses work, and the very real corporate and bureaucratic conspiracies behind lead poisoning, because that's the kind of stuff she wants to study next year.

Leo's spring break was just me and him, running around to his favorite regional aquariums, and then down to his grandmother's place in San Diego. You wouldn't catch me in this chilly water, but he got to be beachside four times in two days, and was never less than delighted.

Leo at Windansea Beach
[image: white teenager wading into the surf.]
Anyhow. Goodbye, April. I am glad you only happen once each year, as much adventuring as we all had. I would be perfectly happy to nap through May.

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