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erin nolon
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I’ve got to say people, I’m pretty sick and tired of hearing how parents of people with autism are the real victims of autism. I mean, really? Are you kidding me? I’m not saying it is a cakewalk, or that you don’t suffer, but can you honestly tell me that you truly believe that you suffer worse than the person with the autism?

I get that there are downsides, I really do. Many of these parents don’t get to hold their child all the time, if at all, or otherwise show affection through touch. Many of these parents either cannot or have difficulty with communicating with their child. But can you honestly say that not being able to touch or hold one person normally is somehow harder than not being able to be held or touched in normal ways by anyone? Can you really say that having trouble communicating with one person is somehow harder than having trouble communicating with the entire world? Because I have pretty high functioning autism, and it still sucks big time for me. The more upset I am, the less likely I am to be able to receive a hug to comfort me. Not just from one person, from anyone. Trying to communicate with anyone is a chore. It has gotten easier over the years, but I constantly feel like I am translating into your way of communicating. Simple ideas are easy enough to translate, but complex ones are maddeningly difficult.

I get that not being able to touch or communicate with your child is very difficult and makes you feel alienated and distanced from your child, but that child (even as an adult) has to feel alienated and distanced from the entire world. Even when you are high functioning enough to “pass” the idea of a normal friendship or relationship is a joke. You can have a successful one, but not a normal one, because you can’t be touched, receive affection, or communicate the way “normal” people do. There will be miscommunications, arguments, and awkward moments, and a lot of people will decide that you are just not worth the extra effort.

What is truly upsetting though is the recent increase in complaints by parents that they are the real victim because they can’t leave their house because of their autistic child. I can certainly understand why that would be difficult because going anywhere is really difficult for me, but when I read the reasons why these parents say they can’t leave the house with their kid, all I see are comments that show that the parents are part of the problem. They complain that they can’t get their kid to stop stimming in public and that it is humiliating. They complain that they can’t prevent meltdowns and that they get looks and comments about their child’s behavior so they can’t possibly take their child out of the house. To make matters worse, the autism rights groups all decide that the best way to help the autistic individuals is to support this message.

The message does not help autistic people, it hurts them. Your shame over your child’s stimming is downright wrong. Stimming is used to cope or to express emotion. Maybe instead of trying to stop it, you should join in. Flap your arms/hands with them. Show them that you, too, are happy. Show them that you see how stressed they are. Show them that you are willing to communicate in their language for once. As long as the stimming behavior is not a harmful one, it is no more wrong than laughing or smiling or sighing. “Normal” “healthy” americans drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes to cope with a difficult social situation (like a work party) and you seriously find it shameful that your kid flaps their arms a bit?

The message on meltdowns is not helpful either. We are supposed to be the ones without empathy, and you are the one who cannot get their head out of your ass long enough to realize that the meltdown isn’t about you. It isn’t happening to manipulate, punish, or embarrass you. It is happening because in your child’s mind, something awful is happening. When your child is melting down in a crowded, bright, noisy area it is because their head is so overwhelmed with sensory overload that it feels like a million people are screaming in their brain and like everything is on fire inside. When your child is melting down because you announced a change in their routine to do something fun and you are acting completely calm and acting like everything is ok, it seems to them that you are the crazy one. It feels like you are all on a plane that is crashing out of the sky and you are sitting there suggesting everyone chill and play go fish, because what a nice day everyone is having. So you focusing on how the meltdown is affecting you is just downright selfish, because your child’s world is crashing down around them. Next time, instead of trying to convince them to calm down, that everything is alright, or that they are embarrassing everyone, try empathizing with them. Try telling them that you understand that everything seems really bad and that they are hurting. Ask them how you can help. If they can give an answer and it is something that won’t harm anyone and is feasible, just do it. Don’t judge how weird it is, or how strange it looks, or try and normalize them. Just help them.

What you all seem to fail to realize is that you sit there, saying autistic people can’t empathize and that we don’t care because you don’t see any behaviors or communication that suggests empathy or caring. At the same time though, we wonder why you have no empathy and why you don’t care. Normal people and autistic people communicate how we feel differently, and we show that we care differently, but that doesn’t mean that either group fails to have empathy or to care. It simply means that both groups keep missing the message that someone isn’t feeling good, and that even when it is recognized both groups show the empathy and care in different ways.

So next time you feel like you are the victim of someone else's autism, please. Stop for a moment, put yourself in their shoes and their mind, and think about just how much worse it is for them. Next time you think someone with autism is doing something just to hurt you, look for another explanation. Next time you think that they don’t care, question if they haven’t noticed and remember how many times you have likely failed to notice and care too. Because you aren’t perfect either, and while we may not be completely fluent in your way of communicating, most of you haven’t even tried to communicate our way. 

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So cute!

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Murphy's law loves to throw everything at you at once, and unfortunately on top of moving and medical costs that my wife and I are facing right now, our dog has to go through surgery for a pretty serious knee injury, which had probably started forming already when we adopted her early this year. We're having trouble getting the money together for all of it, and anything anyone can spare to help pay for Blossom's surgery would help a ton.

#shelterdog   #furbaby  

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Dwelling on the past, rather than just remembering, is not a way forward, and neither is making blanket statements about blame. I signed the petition not because I think she is an inherently bad person, but because I do not believe that someone who understands so little about humanity, society, and how to enact change, is an appropriate person to be teaching sociology or any related field.

As an EMT, I find it highly disturbing that health care providers in the Ebola-stricken countries are having to treat patients with so little protective gear that they often do not even have gloves. There is a great person in the Reston, VA area who is trying to help solve the glove problem. Please consider helping. You can donate as easily as going to amazon and purchasing one of the products that they desperately need.

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I'm playing Word Search. Can you beat my high score?

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Dear Congress,
I’m only 20 years old, so most of my memories are of the post 9/11, highly partisan world. I’m used to every issue being divided mostly on party lines and every fight being solved only after everyone has acted like a petulant child that is having their nails pulled out. What I am not used to is seeing a Congress that, even after the nail pulling, cannot seem to come to an agreement. Every year that I have paid attention to politics, it has only been at the last minute that a deal has come around, and the last few years only a temporary deal at that, but this year you can not even do that much for us. This year, you have failed at one of your most basic duties.

The duty of which I speak is the one to pass a budget that includes budget cuts and revenue increases so that we can continue to pay our bills and work like any country should. There should not be hostages and “pork” like the ending, delaying of, or any change to, Obamacare. If the funding for it was part of the budget in general, then I would be a little more understanding towards wanting to look at it, at least for a more long-term budget, but as it stands what you are doing is unacceptable. I am not saying that Obamacare is perfect and does not need any work done, because that would be a lie. Any new policy, law, or program needs adjustments to make it better and more functional, and Obamacare is certainly not the exception, but deciding that because you don’t have the votes to get rid of it that you will simply hold the American people and the budget hostage is simply unacceptable. 

My husband is not a federal employee, nor is he any longer part of the military. He works for a company that works for NASA on a contract. He, however, is just as affected by this as any federal employee is. He is being told that there will be no work for him and that as long as there is a shutdown, he will not have a job. To top it all off, because he is in the private sector, he is banned by his employment contract from working in the same “general field” that he is working for this company in, so even if there was an open job, he could not take it. Living in Northern Virginia, I can only assume that there are at least a thousand other people within five miles of us in the same situation: being told that you won’t have work or pay for an unspecified period of time.

Even our military friends are facing this very real possibility. They serve the country and have signed a blank check payable up to the amount of their lives, and many face deployment or already deployed, yet they are facing also having to worry about how to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. Yes, there is a bill that has gone through the House and is in the hands of the Senate that would make sure the military still got paid, but let us be honest. This is not because you care oh so much about the troops. It is because you depend on them for getting into office and because you know that if the military was forced to work unpaid for an extended period of time, they would march on Washington and lock you all in a room until you came out with a real budget that actually lasts an entire year and properly balances the budget, with both budget cuts and revenue increases. To be perfectly honest, this very thing is what makes me feel that the Senate should reject the bill funding the military. Even if they get paid the lower ranks will grumble, if only because most of them depend on a second income from a spouse, but the higher ranking officers will only speak up if everyone is being denied pay. 

Many of us not receiving a paycheck will find a way to pay bills, at least for a while, but each week of pay we miss is more likely to go towards covering the basics and less likely to go towards a big holiday season. You say that defunding Obamacare is just too important to Americans and to Small businesses, but I ask you this: are the small businesses, or even the large ones that you get so much of your money from, going to accept another lagging holiday season? Thanksgiving to New Years is where a lot of businesses make a good percentage of their income. This is the time of the year that even the poorest families find a little extra to spend, and most middle class families find a few thousand to spend. If you make people miss a week or more of pay, they are going to have less to put into the economy at this time. This means more unemployment, small businesses collapsing, and large businesses getting upset at unpleasant revenue projections. That is not even beginning to touch on how our debtors will feel when our economy starts going downhill again. 

So I ask you this Congress: will you stay working until this dilemma is solved and we are once again a functioning country, or will you fail the American people? Obamacare needs some work, but it needs to wait until we are paying our bills and paying our people. Please pass a clean budget and do what you were voted in to do. We did not vote you in simply to play partisan games. We voted you in to take care of the needs of the people, and our first need is to have an operational government.

A Concerned Citizen

I would just like to make a note on today's Supreme Court rulings. They had two very difficult, very controversial cases to decide on. They could have waved these decisions off and said that they simply shouldn't have taken the cases in the first place. They could have also picked very extreme positions on the case and held to them, ignoring what is right for the country. Instead, they found a measure of compromise that allowed for what is essentially a bipartisan decision.

While I am sure that there are people that are going to say that no compromise happened and that Gay Rights Activists got everything that they wanted, that is simply not true. 

In the Defense of Marriage Act case, the more liberal members of the Court could have insisted on focusing entirely on the equal rights side of things and then the court would have likely never come to an adequate decision and could have just thrown the case back to the lower courts, saying they never should have taken it in the first place. Instead, they also looked at State's rights and this made it possible for a more conservative Justice, in this case Justice Kennedy, to join them in their decision.

Similarly, in the Proposition 8 case, compromise was made. I am sure that many of the more liberal Justices wanted to simply state that once such an important right is given, it can not be taken away. Instead, they looked at a simpler issue that even one of the most conservative Justices in the Court could agree on. That once the State decided to stop defending the Proposition, the private groups had no right to take it up. By focusing on the State's right to either defend or abandon this issue, even Justice Scalia was able to agree to the decision to make Same-Sex marriage legal in California once again.

Perhaps after today's rulings, a few members of Congress will wake up and see that compromise is not a failure, but simply a part of bipartisan movement. Bipartisanship and Compromise allowed two major decisions to be made in a way that made both sides at least somewhat content today. Let's see if Congress can take a hint.
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