The costs of being an Activist

When I first found out that I was Autistic, my life finally made sense. It was a sigh of relief. I didn’t know of the great change that the Neurodiversity movement has been striving for until I was able to join the conversation.

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

Whether it’s the blue divide, eugenics, harmful imagery, hate towards LGBTQ2+ individuals or a vast variety of other pertinent social issues, I am continually learning.

Some of these issues are very divisive. Throw religion in to the mix and it’s a whole other can of worms.

Sometimes i get so fired up and I feel compelled to create content about it. I hope that it’s something people want to read and share. Although, that’s not always my main motivation, I believe it helps me get out all the things that are bubbling up under the surface so I can rest a little bit easier, knowing i did something constructive with it.

From being targeted by friends-of-a-father-of-an-Autistic-child to an Autistic Christian content creator, to someone who alleges that I am creating content with hate directed at someone else (amongst many other examples), It hasn’t come with out its fair share of drama which I am not immune to. Yes, people do make critical and hateful comments towards me.

I don’t think anyone is immune, i think what varies is the way you handle it. Bullying is not something that’s new to me. I always stood for what I believed in. Seemingly having a non-conformist opinion (the contrary to what everyone else was thinking), I never went along with the general construct of society. I usually didn’t agree with my peers. I knew I stood out and that I was weird or different. My schoolmates didn’t hesitate to be cruel and unusual with telling me these things.

I cried a lot as a child, but as an adult – I have chosen to find different ways to handle things. My life experiences have paved the way for me and have created positive changes in my way of thinking. I am not saying that I always have the most optimal coping strategy; it’s flawed.

I do get angry sometimes. I choose to talk about my feelings with others so I can get an alternative point of view. I think it’s essential for me to form some well-rounded responses, even if they just live in my head and are never uttered aloud.

Negativity bias is also something I struggle with, thanks to years of emotional abuse during my most crucial brain development years. This is very evident when I get a flurry of positive responses and seemingly am only able to focus on the one or two negative ones I receive.

I need time to myself, self care and self reflections are things we shouldn’t ever deny ourselves. My blog was initially started as a passion project to portray how I felt about receiving my Autism diagnosis. I never thought that I would end up on various news outlets. I guess that is because I am so passionate. I put my whole heart in to everything I do and I believe I am here to create real change.

Being so lucky to find a generally accepting community of Neurodiverse friends around the world has been one of the greatest gifts that came along with my diagnosis. (I want to say that I don’t believe having a formal diagnosis should negate anyone from finding this community. It’s just how I personally needed the validation of a dx for my own reasons)

I have learned so much from them. Eve of International Badass Activists was one of the first people I ever had the pleasure of talking to. Her website was one of the first Autism activism sites I ever visited. I am so thankful to Eve’s strong voice. She inspires me and leads with strength.

I have no plans to stop. No one is going to force me in to silence. None of my Autistic friends and change-makers should be bullied in to silence.

I stand with them, beside them and for them. We will not shut up. We deserve to exist.

Why I am not okay with the puzzle piece for Autism: A response & counterthought

I posted this video to my youtube channel. I try hard to create a corresponding post so that it makes it a bit more sharable and I can add a bit more context.

Youtube decided to recommend this video to me:

I took it upon myself to make a response:

I felt it was incredibly necessary for me to explain what exactly is wrong with the video and why it’s so hateful. I also wanted to represent some of my #ActuallyAutistic friends and activists who are on the other side of “the blue divide” and explain that yes, there are other symbols out there that do represent us much better than the puzzle piece. Although my reach on youtube may be smaller, my voice is still loud and valid.

I have also covered this topic before on a few more blog posts.

Don’t tone police Autistics

As always, I want to put out a disclaimer:

These are MY PERSONAL VIEWS. These belong to me. Other Autistic folks may agree and some may disagree.

I wanted to talk about something that’s been really unnerving lately which is: Non Autistic Parents of Autistic Children sharing imagery and inspiration porn that is very harmful.

As an Autistic person myself, I feel as though attempting to bridge the gap with Autistic parents is a very important stepping stone to creating unity and setting their Autistic child up for success in the future. Assisting them with the tools needed to make sure that hateful imagery, improper terminology and ableism is eliminated. However, when Parents of Autistic children and their friends chime in and belittle, berate and negate the work of an Autistic person, this is moving backwards.

A few days ago I saw this image come up on my facebook feed. I was dumbstruck.

It got widely shared by this father who I believed I was friends with and he tagged his wife and said his child would love it. I pointed out 2 very prevalent things that are troublesome:

  1. The puzzle piece is a symbol of hate 
  2. Autism, or being Autistic IS a disability however–there’s nothing wrong with that.

I even linked an article and mentioned how I create content on the subject. Two friends of this father chimed in and essentially told me that just because I create content and cite sources, doesn’t mean that it’s true and that I should allow this father to be happy. I explained how I want their child to be set up for success in the future and that I am only trying to be an ally. I wanted to provide information as to how these things were harmful and that speaking over an Autistic person when they are trying to HELP truly doesn’t help anyone at all. I also mentioned that, at it’s core, it is incredibly ableist and problematic. 

No one defended me. None of my Autistic friends were able to even come and assist. Although the facebook post was public, the comments were not open to everyone. Eventually I gave up and I deleted this father from my friends list. He had ample opportunities to take this as a learning opportunity and chose not to. He also did not hold me in any kind of regard because if he did, he would not have allowed me to get attacked the way I did. I can only hope that his child gets the kind of support that he needs because if how I was treated was any kind of indication, I have a reason to be worried. 

If you are a parent of an Autistic child and you are looking for help, here’s what I can suggest:

Do not take content creator Daniel Jones of The Aspie World as fact. He creates sensationalized content that is, at the source, his income. He very rarely (if ever) cites sources for the material he creates and is not an ally to the rest of the Autistic community. I have even been sworn at by his content manager before and I have created 2 react videos. Please DO NOT utilize his advice to assist your child.

Reach out to Autistic adults – the ones that have your child’s best interest at heart. We can be the best resources available as we have lived this. Also, I do not create content for money. I do this from my heart because this truly gives me purpose in my life. 

Do not negate Autistic voices. Allow yourself the opportunity to learn from us. We are the best allies for your children and, for the most part, we want to impart our wisdom and create change. If anything, we want to help. Obviously i’m not speaking for everyone.

I hope this shed a little bit of insight on some of the struggles we face on a daily basis. It’s truly not easy but by listening to Autistic people and truly taking in the things we say is a great step to unity, change and acceptance for all.

Van Dusen Festival of Lights

Firstly I wanted to thank Van Dusen for giving me the chance to bring my entire family! We had a blast.

If you’re in or around Vancouver, BC and you want to do something joyful for the holiday season, look no further than the Festival of Lights! With over one million lights decorating 15 acres, the scenery is sure to dazzle even the smallest of humans! With free rides on the carousel (my niece went on like 8 times!), a dancing light show, photos with Santa, food trucks and much much more – you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun! We did.

Don’t forget to share your images with the hashtag #vandusenFOL – Learn more about the event at: vandusenfestivaloflights.ca 

I’m not an easy person to date.

I’m just going to preface this with a disclaimer: These views are my own and do not reflect the Autistic community as a whole. I am a singular person. I also want to make it very clear that I am not a professional and this post should not be viewed as professional advice.

Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

I was 23. I had just moved from a small town back to the city where I was born. I was staying on a friends couch. I was bright eyed, super ambitious and ready to make a name for myself with my art. I’ve always been really active online and I took a chance one day and met someone. That changed the course of my life in a drastic and dramatic way.

Eight years. That was the amount of time I spent with this person. You grow a lot in that span of time. I thought I knew what I wanted. Clearly, that wasn’t the case. I had absolutely no idea.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was putting a label on a relationship with someone I had just met. We started dating from the moment we met. We were not even apart from each other. I didn’t even have a chance to get to know him.

Like the title suggests, i’m not an easy person to date. I also didn’t get my Autism diagnosis until a month before I turned 29. This is relevant because some of my behaviour throughout the relationship–where I was made to feel like I was difficult or acting out, ended up being directly attributed to things like meltdowns, shutdowns and sensory overload.

Patience is a true virtue. However, there’s a fine line between dating someone and feeling like you have to babysit them. I wouldn’t want to put someone through that again.

That’s not to say there were situations I was put in that didn’t make me feel uncomfortable and any relationship is a 2-way street.

There were instances where I was left feeling wholly uncomfortable and in massive amounts of distress. I had to deal with things like anti-semitism, being in a car with my partner and not being told where we were going or what we were doing, having my messages online sifted through, being made to feel like the things that were important to me were irrelevant, having my birthday ignored, having to owe money for things like rides from point a to point b, bargaining, having my cultural background ignored– I even overheard a conversation about how I didn’t want children, the list honestly goes on.

No one should have to be subjected to those kind of things. Listening to your partners wants, needs and desires is imperative. Again, this goes both ways.

I am the kind of person who needs structure. I need full disclosure. I need plans. I need to know what’s going on. I should never have to play a guessing game with someone who responds with ‘maybe’ or ‘I don’t know’. I’m not sure how I was able to play along for any length of time. Exhausting, emotionally draining and frustrating are only some of the key words used to describe it.

Not to mention exasperating. I’m truly learning about myself, WHO I AM and what my goals are.

Should I have to continue to defend myself for simply being? Should I have to put myself in situations that I made very clear I do not want to be in? No. Never. There’s no excuse for this.

This year has been incredible in terms of the things I accomplished and believe it or not, i’m proud.

I just want to continue on and keep going. I am prideful and I am strong.

P.S: A video WILL happen on this subject but I have lost my voice.

Multiple things to discuss!

I created a new video on a couple things that I felt needed to be addressed:

My facebook page, facebook.com/madebyautistics was hacked. My one other admin and two mods have been removed. Facebook is being useless so I had to rebrand entirely and create a new page over at facebook.com/madebyautisticsgroup.

I was featured on CITR’s ALL ACCESS PASS. You can listen to me here: https://www.citr.ca/radio/all-access-pass/episode/20191030/ My Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture speech is at the 34:00 mark and my interview from the PosAbilities Inclusion Art Show is at the 16:15 mark.

These have been added to my shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/retrophiliac

In addition to the four plaques that have been happened, there’s also all my holiday cards too. These are just a few examples:

Thanks to my Kickstarter backers who made these cards a reality, I was able to pack up all these cards and they will be getting distributed between 3 cat welfare organizations. They will then be able to sell and/or use the cards and keep the profits. I also am thankful that it will be an opportunity for more cat lovers to see my work.

Welllll that was a lot to cover.

Thanks for reading!

The Blue Divide

I firmly believe you can not attempt to “reclaim” images that are triggering to others.

Furthermore, I am a brash and outspoken individual that doesn’t have a reputation to tarnish and therefore I do not back down or mince words when it comes to calling out something that I think is grossly offensive.

I’ve seen this a few times now, people claiming to use an image first and then continuing to use said image with the negative impact and triggering effect already in place from it being used for years by another corporation, company, organization or entity.

I’ve written about related things in “An Autistics Guide To Corporate Social Responsibility” which provides a great resource for those who might want more information on how to create a favourable campaign while being considerate of Autistics.

With all of that being said, there is a DEFINITE divide in the “community”, I created this image, youtube video and podcast about it. I hope you have a chance to check it all out below.

There’s lots of links in the youtube description as well. Just click the video.

Thanks for reading, watching and listening!

My New Room!

Settling in to my new room has been something new. It’s definitely awesome to be able to decorate a space JUST how I like it!

I was lucky enough to partner with Mira Bed and they were so kind to send me their mattress.

 It’s so comfortable and was the easiest to set up. It’s affordable, made in Canada and perfect for a good nights rest!

I have been sleeping so amazingly well and the foam is super dense and really takes any of the stress off my joints which I find happens to me a lot on spring mattresses. It was delivered quick, came in a box and was very easy to unroll and set up.

Until October 31st use code OCTOBER70 to get 70 dollars off!

Update

My speech on September 28th went particularly well and I wanted to share it with all of you:

My kickstarter ended and right now it’s in the stage of collecting payment. Once I get the cards and fulfill the orders, I will be donating some to various animal welfare organizations to help raise money for them. I will also be listing some on etsy as well! I’m so pleased that the kickstarter was such a success.

I didn’t have the opportunity to protest Autism Speaks Canada, but I am hoping I can be there next year. I always talk about how they continue to silence Autistic voices, so it wasn’t a surprise when I went on twitter today to see that I was blocked.

I was talking about the Inclusion Art Show and that’s happening this Thursday. If you’re local to Vancouver, i’d love to see you there.

I have plenty more I want to write about but it’s late (or early?) and I can’t formulate anything else at this time.

Thanks for reading!

You know what’s more important than selling art?

Being myself and having the freedom to do so without people attacking me for it.

The last couple of days have been rough. The images above continued to spark a firestorm of negativity against me. I have been getting criticized from all angles. I have been told that I shouldn’t be mixing business and politics by a couple of people.

It’s funny, I suppose they’ve never read this blog. I’ve been very honest about how I feel about things. I’ve spoken out against issues plaguing the LGBTQ communities when it came to the former director of AutismBC. Why did I do it? I firmly believe that LGBTQ rights are human rights and that someone who is supposed to be representing Autistic people shouldn’t be speaking out against young children learning about sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s not okay. We’re supposed to be creating safe spaces for youth. I knew for a very long time about myself that I didn’t identify as feeling female (or feeling male) and i’ve recently come out as non binary which has been very freeing but also has opened me up to a whole lot of hate from people.

I guess i’ve been bullied for the majority of my life and i’ve touched on that in previous blog posts.

So i’m DEFINITELY for LGBTQ rights. That’s one thing people gave me hell about.

The second thing is my support for Greta Thunberg who speaks about the fact that she is Autistic (but has been formally diagnosed under the umbrella of Aspergers) and how powerful, inspiring and amazing she is! That alone had climate-change deniers and trump supporters coming after me. I can’t believe how many people are bullying a young person with such a fierce nature to create change in this world. They make comments like “She’s a sick girl” or “She needs to go back to school” which I think is just backwards. They talk about her [neurodiversity] like she’s sick, unwell, needs healing or is severely disabled. It breaks my heart–especially as someone who is passionate about creating change, albeit not at the same level that she’s been able to achieve and i’m focused on different topics.

The third and final thing that people were getting upset with me about is the fact that I am pro-choice. I firmly believe in “my body, my choice”. I am not going to decide what other people do with their bodies! That’s none of my business. I have written two articles about being childfree and how I believe in overpopulation, that we’re destroying our planet (so you can see why I support Greta so much!) and that I never, ever want to have kids. I am sure I have some kind of gender dysphoria and if something were to ever grow inside of me and take over my body, I would be in a much deeper depression than I already am dealing with. I’m still thinking about getting my tubes tied but not everyone has (or wants) that option. I don’t need political figures deciding what is happening in my uterus. That’s just not okay.

I count my lucky stars that I am a Canadian and I have the rights that I do because I am truly privileged to live here.

So, back to the title of this article:

I’d rather be able to express myself freely than make another CENT off of my artwork. I am not compromising who I am and I shouldn’t have to be subjected to people freaking out at me if they don’t agree with me. I believe in LGBTQ rights, I believe in climate change, I am pro-choice and I am non binary.

“Don’t mix politics with business” someone said.

You know what I say?

Say that to Trump.

Say that to Chic-fil-a.

Don’t say that to me.

(I would like to properly attribute these images to their sources but I am unable to find them through google image search. If you know the creators, please let me know so I can properly credit them. Thanks!)