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some people do displays of caring like displays of dominance.

some people want so badly to help you they will help you whether you want it or not, they will poke and sniff around you for problems so they can help you, they will ask you too many questions but if you don’t want to answer a question they will take that as a sign of upset which means the thing they asked you the question about is a problem and so they will pounce on the opportunity to help you, they will invent problems you don’t actually have or cause you problems so they can help you, you find yourself afraid to express any negative emotion or any neutrality or weirdness they might take as a negative emotion around them because they would just love to help you with it, you find yourself afraid to say no to them because they will dig for the reason you said no and then help you with it, they will talk melodramatically about how they want to helllllllp you but they don’t know how to helllllllp you and (horror of horrors, a combined insult and threat about how you are unsalvagable or they might have to put you in a institution/more therapy/ect) they’re not sure they can helllllllp you, they will kneel down and look at your face and ask “how can I help?” and when you tell them the truth- fuck off- they will endeavor to help you with your anger.

you don’t listen with your toes


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when I was younger I had an argument with one of my therapists

“you listen with your whole body” she told us

“no, you only listen with your ears. ears are the only part of your body that hear things”

“no, you listen with your whole body! for example, you listen to my face with your eyes”

“no, I look at your face with my eyes. eyes cannot hear”

my therapist turned her back to me and started waving her body around. “am I listening to you?” she asked

“yes.” I said. I knew if said no I might as well be swearing in blood that I would sit still for the rest of my life

“no, I am not listening to you!” said the therapist. that was becoming evident. the therapist turned around and faced me, put her hands in her lap, and looked at my face. “am I listening to you now?”

“maybe” I said

“yes, I am! I am listening to you with my whole body! you listen with your whole body, not just with your ears!”

I thought for a moment. “… you don’t listen with your toes.”

“yes, you do!” said my therapist. and that was how I learned that if your toes are not pointed at the person you are listening to you cannot hear what they are saying, a fact which, I have discovered, is not true.

The way you play is not wrong


It is okay to play by lining up toys.

It is okay to play with things that people think are too young or too old for your age.

It is okay to play by running and spinning and flapping and jerking your body.

It is okay to play pretend games other people don’t like.

It is okay to play by pantomiming and talking to yourself.

It is okay to sit on the ground and play with rocks.

It is okay to play by arranging your toys in the same way over and over.

It is okay to play out the same scenario over and over.

It is okay to play by naming rocks and making a list of the names.

It is okay to play by talking to your toys and your invisible friends when people think you are too old for that.

It is okay to play alone.

It is okay to play games and sports you are bad at, and it is okay to be bad at them.

It is okay to invent your own version of a sport.

It is okay to play with water.

It is okay to spend recess or free time doing math or making lists or reading a book.

The way you play is okay. The way you play is wonderful. The way you play is not wrong.

“just focus on recovery and nothing else until you get better”


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“just focus on recovery and nothing else until you get better” is HORRIBLE advice for some people, especially people who aren’t going to get better. “just focus on the basics. don’t do art projects/scientific research/throw parties until you can consistently eat three meals and shower every day.” can be really awful advice and it isn’t necessarily going to help you get better. devoting all your time to the thing you are worst at can just make you more depressed and unhappy and self hating.

some people will NEVER be able to manage basic self-care. no matter what type of therapy or pills or effort they put into it. or other people may find they can bathe themselves regularly, ect, if that’s all they focus on, but they’d rather have the energy to write music. some people might find they can do self-care with the help of pills, but the side effects aren’t worth it.

(I think part of the big focus on bathing as part of recovery is because bathing is good for you and part of it is because bathing makes you look normal and you don’t gross the normal people out.)

“focus on nothing but recovery until you recover” is also part of “be normal or be nothing at all”. you can be sick for the rest of your life and still have a life. people who cannot say, shower, can still accomplish things. and you don’t have to earn the right to write books by acting like a human first.

People act like mental illness is both an illness and a choice


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– if it’s an illness then you have no valid reason to want any part of it

– you have no valid reason to want any part of what they deem ill

– and when they try to change the things you feel and think and do they are not changing you but turning you into who you actually are

– and if you disagree with them about who you actually are it’s just the illness speaking

– and when they try to change the things you feel and think and do without your consent they are not hurting you but saving you

– and if they try to change how you feel and what you think about them and what they are doing to you it is treatment

– doctors know more than patients about illness and this is an illness of what you feel and think and do so the doctors know more about what you feel and think and do than you do, they decide which of the things you feel and think and do are valid

– and if it is, like they say, an illness like cancer or diabetes, it is scary and severe and serious, so they will try to fix it by any means necessary

– but it’s also a choice. so it’s okay to try and get you to decide to stop being mentally ill in any way possible

– including punishing you and hurting you

– but punishing you and hurting you will help you stop being sick so it’s not punishment, but treatment, it’s not hurting you, but helping you

– there are limits to how far it is ethical to go when you are hurting someone to get them to do what you say. there are not limits to how far it is ethical to go when you are helping someone to get them to do what you say, because help is by definition good

– punishment is help. you should not resent help. they will help you not resent help by punishing you for resenting punishment. they will call it a different word than “punishment”

– and if it is, like they say, an illness like cancer or diabetes, it is scary and severe and serious, so they will try to help you by any means necessary, they will try to fix you by any means necessary, they will try to punish you by any means necessary, punishment is help because it will help convince you to stop being ill

you have to be consistent with these kids


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people always say autistic people think in black and white, but then they *teach* us in black and white. good girl, bad girl. good (normal) behavior, bad (abnormal) behavior. you have to be consistent with these kids

my therapist gave me a feelings chart and when I circled more than one told me to choose one feeling. in social skills group, they were always asking questions like, “is talking about airplanes expected or unexpected behavior?” and “it depends” was not the right answer- talking about airplanes is unexpected, inappropriate, abnormal, bad behavior (at least when you are one of Those Kids. when you like things too much you aren’t allowed to like things anymore)

here is your behavior chart, you either get a sticker or you don’t. here is your anger scale, you aren’t allowed to say you don’t know. we need an answer that fits into a graph because we are graphing your anger. here is a social story where everything is so simplified it resembles real life about as much as stick figures resemble people. here are your right and wrong answers and you play, move, think wrong

special educators are some of the most rigid people I’ve met. you have to follow the program. it has to fit on this chart. you have to be consistent with these kids

My Autistic Language, Part 1: Language Is Physical


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Language comes both more and less naturally to me than to other people. I think for most people, words are symbols that convey sensation and emotion; for me, the words are sensation and emotion itself. Words have never felt like they were meant to be abstract; words have always been part of my body; and when I spend too much time in balloons full of abstract language I disconnect from my physical being.

Words don’t have meanings, they are meaning.

Or sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they are symbols; they are stick figures instead of people. Sometimes they are like shoe sizes, where an eight has no reason to be an eight and words have no reason to mean what they do but a cat has a reason to be a cat so I’d rather sit with the cat. Sometimes words are an endless chain of dominoes, falling.

For me, language is about rhythm as much as it is about meaning- but, there is meaning in rhythm. There is motion in language. Language is motion. Rhythm is meaning. It is what echoes you back to yourself; how could it not be?

Abusive Therapy Resources


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Imagine there was a cure for autism


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People who didn’t want the cure would be deemed incompetent and forced to take it. Parents who didn’t cure their children would be accused of child neglect.

The only autistic people left in the world would be self-diagnosed people who had to keep it a secret. They would be so lonely.

Cured autistic people would have only vague and confused memories of what they were before.

I have a little trouble putting things together


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She was trying to hand the cup of money to me! Either the lady who had been upset about something earlier or the lady who had tried to hug me for some reason was trying to hand a cup of money to me.

Did she want me to hold it while she used the bathroom? Was she trying to give me a gift? Why would someone put money in a coffee cup?

“Pass it to the person next to you.” she said, in a tone of voice that told me I should know this already. I passed it to the person next to me.

The person next to me put something in it. Probably money, because that was what was already in it. Was I supposed to have put money in it? It didn’t matter, because I didn’t have any money.


“Are you going to buy food?” my mother asked before I entered the open mic.

“No.” I said. I wasn’t going to buy food; I was heading straight to the open mic.

Days later, in another café, I put money in a tip jar. It occurred to me that at the open mic, I had seen someone put money in a tip jar. I realized that the open mic had been held in a café. I decided next time I would buy food.

Next time, I walked into the open mic and sat down in a chair. I thought: I am going to buy food. I thought for a while about buying food. I couldn’t remember how I was supposed to do it. I thought asking someone near me “How do you buy food?” or “Will you help me buy food?” would make people see me as stupid and probably greedy. Then I realized I didn’t have any money. The open mic was starting.


The time after that, I remembered to bring money so I could buy food. But I couldn’t remember how to buy food. Through three poems, I wondered how to buy food. I noticed that people buying food moved around the counter in a way profoundly different than people usually move around a food counter. I decided there were probably other food buying rules I didn’t understand, even if I could remember how buying food usually worked. Between two poems, I ran up and put the money in the tip jar.


At the end of the open mic, they passed a hat full of money. I heard someone saying they were passing the hat for the venue. I knew the venue was the café but I still wasn’t sure what that meant. Did it mean they were going to put the stuff in the hat in the tip jar? In that case, was it okay that I didn’t have money with me because I had put it all in the tip jar? I knew I was supposed to put money in the hat because I remembered scenes in books. I reached down for my backpack, which might have money in it. Then I realized it was on my lap. Then I realized it wasn’t on my lap, my coat was on my lap and I hadn’t brought my backpack.

I realized that the hat was like the cup, and that meant they were probably going to pass something again next time. I realized that the hat was like the cup, and that meant that if I didn’t have money, I was supposed to pass it to the person next to me. But people were milling around, and I could not tell who was next to me, and I knew from how loud it was that if I asked someone I would not understand their answer. I didn’t know what else to do, so I got up and ran out the door.