A (somewhat) brief history of autism’s most controversial archetype
The Autism Mom is an infamous villain in the autistic community. We love to make fun of her, to write angry think pieces about her, to fight her on Twitter.
We are outraged that she wants to cure or fix her children, that she supports Autism Speaks, that she blames autism on vaccines and tells us how to refer to ourselves.
Some Autism Moms support abusive therapies and fringe, dangerous treatments. Some Autism Moms are murderers.
It’s upsetting, but I also understand that no Autism Mom is an island. So I…
Warning: Content addresses substance abuse.
“How do you not identify with the bipolar narrative?” a friend joked, responding to a meme I’d posted about my two moods.
Of course, this was a false binary for comedic effect. I have more than two moods, I just tend to feel everything intensely. I’ve been this way since I can remember. “Stop being so dramatic” and “you’re too sensitive” were the looped tracks in the album of my childhood.
I started drinking at 15 because “I felt too much” and I “didn’t want to feel it anymore” (basically direct quotes from my journal)…
CW: discussion of suicide
Sometimes it feels inevitable with a brain like mine, stuck on a loop of worry and terrified of everything. Standing in line at the grocery store and hearing it all at once. But I have always been a great problem solver. When I realized I could give this sensitive brain a liquid buffer, that it was as easy as pouring it over ice and choking it back, I thought I’d found quite a practical solution.
You call it “substance abuse”, I call it my best educated guess.
And it started tasting better, the more I drank…
The first time I went to a nightclub in Miami, I was fascinated.
Here was this entire underworld of debauchery set to heavy bass, the kind that gets up in your rib cage and rattles all your insides. The songs all flowed into each other, pulling along a room roiling with bodies, all beholden to the beat. The DJ conducted an entire crowd full of strangers in the dark by turning a few nobs and pressing the right buttons.
People were meeting, and flirting, and touching, and it looked like chaos but upon closer observation, there was a sort of…
Research keeps finding more similarities.
“How do you know if you’re ADHD or autistic?”
I get questions like this in my DM’s a lot. They are also questions I am trying to not worry about so much anymore, because I think the premise of these questions is flawed.
They are based on the assumption that these are concrete, biological conditions with a rigid set of symptoms that can be accurately differentiated, but they’re not.
Diagnosis is still completely based on observable behavior, which makes it more of a narrative process than a biological one. You don’t get diagnosed with a…
Why does ADHD have a heritability of 74%? Why would “disorders” like autism be inherited across generations if they didn’t somehow benefit our survival?
The human brain was not simply created; it developed over millions of years in a symphony of chaos. I try to view much of human nature through a wider evolutionary lens, and in reading about the genetic basis of things like ADHD and autism, I couldn’t help but wonder what evolutionary theory had to say.
Many people assume evolution to be a sentient kind of process, as in, giraffes needed to reach the leaves in tall…
There’s a new pathological term picking up speed in the ADHD community: Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. It describes that feeling we are all familiar with, the intense pain of criticism, both real and perceived, and the tendency to avoid situations in which we might experience it.
It’s not in the DSM yet, but many people are advocating that it should be. When I first read about it, I was comforted. I thought, YES, wow, a name for The Thing! This is why I’m like this!
But as I’ve begun to read about the ADHD industry more critically, I’m starting to wonder…
Two years ago, I had a mental health crisis. I had been depressed for a year, I had no idea why, and no matter what I did, it was only getting worse.
When I began to reckon with my deteriorating mental health, I realized that I needed to embrace my sexuality and gender. I could not see a world where I would be able to mentally heal while still harboring immense shame about my queerness.
I decided to go back to the beginning, and address the things I had been running from. …
I spent a lot of time in chatrooms as a kid. As soon as we got a computer in the mid-90’s, I was obsessed with it. There were whole entire worlds in that box, and I could sit at the screen for hours exploring them. Typing what I wanted to say felt easier than speaking — a messy process ripe with accidents and missed opportunities for me.
I never felt like I could express what I wanted to with my mouth, because I got too overwhelmed by emotion and action. …
Writer + Digital Artist | Neurodiversity, queerness, mental health, and memes | they/them