On the ABLEISM of Participation Marks

I was recently involved in an online discussion that has me considering that the common practice or focus on participation is often stacked against people who might participate or engage differently.

When I encounter a situation where I am graded upon my participation, I generally receive exceptional marks because I am good at speaking and writing and comfortable with sharing in a group. I experience this as something I can most often do – in the moment, and in class, with little or no preparation. Also, engaging in this way actually assists me in learning and processing… so for me this has value.

It is not extra work or an additional assignment.

I basically have to just show up and do what works for me as a learner.

But what about the people who do not find participating in this way helpful to their process of learning or aligned with their way of interacting with others?

And what about the people we might have in our classes – for whom just showing up might at times be an issue of accessibility?

What do we read as a student’s commitment and participation (or perceived lack thereof) if their attendance is inconsistent, or if they are not comfortable or able to speak in front of or with others, or if they perhaps do not feel safe to share?

It is important to consider the ableism inherent in our conceptualization of participation, and ask, are we creating assignments of participatory accountability that are discriminatory to those who might engage with classmates or course materials differently?

It is unfair that when people do not participate in the traditional sense with ease or comfort, there is a tendency to layer on additional work or other processes of accountability.

And what about students who enroll in online or distributed learning programs for variety of reasons? Perhaps they find the classroom environment overwhelming. Perhaps they have limited personal resources that are drained away, due to fatigue, chronic pain, anxiety, trauma, or____ , and online curriculum offers them opportunity and access that allows them to focus on the curriculum and learning in a way that makes the most of their resources.

My experience with my son in distributed learning (distance education) programs, demonstrated that courses are often deliberately designed to reconcile a lack of class participation or face-to-face time with the teacher by increasing the amount of material to be covered. The instructors typically ensure accountability for this material with and increased number of assignments and written response requirements, with the result that online courses can often be more work and take more time than face-to-face classes.

But what if these students are enrolled in a distributed learning program because they need the accommodations and accessibility related to disability or… ??

And what if written expression is also difficult?

This is additionally unfair because students (like me) who can glide through with the existing measures do so with the privileged ease of participating or just showing up. I have noticed in my own classes that there is an ableist tendency for students and educators to be judgmental of those who don’t participate in traditionally defined ways. The inherent implication is that they are getting away with something, it is unfair, and their difference is some kind of an offence or manipulation that devalues the work and effort of those participating in commonly expected ways (though I have previously suggested that this is not actually work and may require little effort for some people).

So thus, I query, what is the value of measuring participation and who is it for?

Reframing Participation as Engagement

It is not reasonable that students are essentially being punished for not fitting into existing attitudes and values about participation. Perhaps we have defined participation too narrowly and too closely tied to traditional ideas about representing learning and understanding. I am curious about what might happen to our practice as educators (and as learners) if participation was reframed it as engagement with the topic or curriculum. And I am curious how we can represent or demonstrate engagement differently if we decline to add more writing or create additional social/speaking alternatives to somehow ‘prove’ or student participation.

If it is easy for me to demonstrate engagement, why should it be considered an injustice if we find an alternative that makes it easy for everyone?

Accessibility is not a pie to be shared.

It is not a threat to the privileged ease of my experience when things are made accessible for everyone.

Image: Photo of highway empty but for one vehicle far ahead, against a dramatic backdrop of the sun shining upon a beautiful cloudy horizon. To the right of the highway is smaller access road, with no vehicles upon it, and to the left are metal towers with powerlines. Text reads: “If it is easy for me to demonstrate engagement, why should it be considered an injustice if we find an alternative that makes it easy for everyone? Accessibility is not a pie to be shared. It is not a threat to the privileged ease of my experience when things are made accessible for everyone. ~ Leah Kelley”

It is interesting to consider and important to ask, ‘What are other ways we might explore engagement that do not increase written output or talking?’ 

Here are a few ideas:

  • make a video montage that can be shared and is reflective of the concepts being learned…
  • craft a single tweet or social media status about something that resonates
  • choose a favourite quote from a reading and match it to an image to represent it or to create a metaphor
  • create a meme or a visual (or find a pre-existing one) that captures something of interest related to the topic
    • make notations (electronic or written) on a reading that illustrate engagement with the ideas and text – including questions, wonderings, and connections… (for instance actually handing in a single notated page from an assigned reading is powerful formative assessment and reveals much about how the student is processing and understanding the material)
  • create short (one minute or less) pre-recorded audio or video presentations related to concepts – and also allow presentations to be pre-recorded
    • pose a question so that others might respond – and perhaps moderate it online
    • suggesting a link for further reading from a blog or another relevant source
  • share a quote or image and a reflection on an article, reading, or related experience, by creating a postcard and having students share these electronically between classes. (Dr. Lynn Fels had students write a series of 7 reflective postcards throughout the Fall 2016 term in my Ed.D. program at Simon Fraser University. It built community and sensitivity to perspectives and experiences of other students that I might not have otherwise understood. This also allowed students to demonstrate engagement in an asynchronous time frame that worked for them.)
  • take a photo of visual notes and/or doodling or drawing while listening (I draw while I listen and as a Neurodivergent person it supports me in focusing and attending.)

As we examine ideas around accessibility and the ableism inherent in the way participation has been traditionally framed and graded, I expect we will come across other opportunities to creatively consider the representation and demonstration of student engagement.

If you have a additional suggestion, please feel welcome to add it to the comments below.

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2018)

Posted in ableism, acceptance, ADD/ADHD, Disability, Distributed Learning, Educator, privilege, Visual Notes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Counting… The Day of Mourning and the Disability Clothesline

By Emma Van der Klift

On March 1st of every year for the last three, a small group of activists – mostly activists with disabilities – have gathered together at Woodland’s Memorial Gardens in New Westminster, BC. The Gardens are situated on the former Woodlands institution grounds, and mark the burial place for disabled people who lived and died in that institution from the late 1800s until 1996, when it finally closed.

There is a monument in the Garden that serves as a sombre reminder of how the inmates of the institution lived their lives. It’s a window frame set on top of a concrete slab at the exact height of the windows in the institution. It’s called “A Window too High”, because all the windows at Woodlands were too high for anyone to see out of. There is a reflecting pool in front of the monument, and that’s where we gather.

It’s fitting that we should come together at this particular spot, because we are there to mourn the tragic murders of disabled children and adults at the hands of their caregivers and family members. This year we read the names of more than 700 people, spanning the years between 1981 and 2017, and ranging in age from merely days old to 99 years.

700 names. 700 lives that were taken by the very people charged to love and care for them.

Let that sink in…

What’s been hard for me is that for 3 years I’ve been sending invitations out, asking people who work in support agencies to join us to mourn these lives. This year our small but valiant group likewise posted fliers and called media outlets to let the public know what we were doing, and why. Although our little group was a bit bigger this year – about 30 of us – once again there were few non-disabled allies and no media in attendance.

We’re not sure why so few of the people who call themselves allies come. We’ve heard rumours that it’s too upsetting. I sometimes wonder if those who stay away understand that it’s even more upsetting for the disabled people who do come to the vigil to face this horror. After all, it’s disabled lives we’re mourning.

So this year, we reached out to a larger community of activists in hopes that we might broaden the conversation. This issue is global in scope, and many of us around the world are struggling to bring it to light. Two of those people, Samantha Connor from Perth, Australia, and Catherine Frazee from Halifax, Canada offered words that I was privileged to read aloud at the vigil.

We offer them here with the same hope – that we can begin a serious conversation that we believe we desperately need to be having. The first piece of writing comes from Samantha Connor, and the second (below the image) is from Catherine Frazee.

Thank you, Sam, thank you Catherine, and thank you Leah, for hosting this blog.
Sisters in solidarity.

Emma
~ March 2017

~

A long time ago, I started counting.

I wasn’t a disability activist then. I was interested in the correlation between hate crimes and societal attitudes and I’d noticed that people like me were often murdered, especially by family.

And then I started looking harder.

In 2003, a pair of serial killers from South Australia were jailed for committing eleven murders. And nobody commented on the fact that more than half of the victims were disabled men, chosen because nobody would ever miss them.

Once I started looking, I found more and more names. Autistic children who were stabbed and suffocated and starved by their parents. Disabled women and men who died in hospitals and institutions at the hands of those charged to care for them. Hate crimes and neglect and deaths painted as administrative error.

Scores of them and after a while, the words started leaping off the page at me and making patterns.

Of the filicides, all of the mothers walked free from court. The voices of others invariably cried for forgiveness and the cessation of ‘judgement’, no matter what the parents’ circumstances or level of support. The dead child was reduced to the concept of burden, the parent elevated to the status of martyr and both effectively erased the child’s identity and diminished an atrocity.

Of the hate crimes, disability was rarely painted as a cause. Sometimes there would be commentary about someone being ‘vulnerable’, but even when a person was attacked and murdered as a consequence of hatred based on disability, it was never reported that way. And those cases rarely make it to the Coroners courts – they’re not a ‘death in care’ but a ‘random assault’ in their eyes.

And then there was the neglect, disabled people and children and elders, lying in their own shit or covered in pressure sores and although the courts were a little tougher on their family members, you wondered what those people had gone through before they’d died. Murder at the hands of someone you love is a peculiar kind of torture.

A year later, I set up the Disability Clothesline. Some other disabled women in New Zealand had started a Clothesline over there – disabled women and men paint their stories of abuse and violence onto teeshirts and we hang them in public places. The white shirts are for the people who have died. I paint the white shirts, one by one. Just their names and places and dates of death. The hardest ones to paint are the small ones, sized like the child or infant who has been murdered – sometimes the shirts are so small that it is difficult to fit all the words on.

We hang them out to symbolise ‘hanging out our dirty washing’ – nobody ever talks about disability violence. Our logo is an upturned black triangle and a clothesline wraps around it. In Nazi Germany, half a million disabled children and adults were systematically murdered and they wore this symbol. Nobody talked about them, either.

It isn’t easy to count our people. The Coroners are often our biographers, but we rely on also newspaper articles, casual mentions, friendly journalists. We use their stories like the weapons they could not use to defend themselves. Two years ago, there was an inquiry into violence against disabled Australians and six disabled women, including myself, dressed in black and told the stories of forty of our dead. As we called their names and told their story, we laid a long stemmed white rose in front of us on the table at the Senate. The Senators listened intently, with tears streaming down their faces. We left the roses there. And when they handed down their report, months later, they each wore a white, dried rose pinned to their jackets.

It is wearing, this work. We are all tired of being the teachable moments in the lives of the ignorant and we are tired of defending our worth. There’s an intensely personal element – when someone devalues the life of a murdered child or adult, they’re simultaneously devaluing us. Hard, then, not to wade in and defend our worth and the worth of our brothers and sisters, over and over.

But what spurs us on is the sure knowledge that unless we do this work, disabled children and adults will continue to die. We need to keep reclaiming our people and calling their names and casting sunlight into those dark places where we have been shut out or shut in for so long. This is work that we can only do together and work that we can only do as a community.

We stand and sit with you in solidarity from across the world.

With you, we reclaim our people and call their names.

 Samantha Connor

Image: Emma and H in front of the at the Disability Day of Mourning Vigil. Emma is reading Samantha’s words, and lighted by H’s flashlight.

~

Today we cradle candles in our trembling hands and we remember. We speak the names of those felled by a callous violence, a violence that far too often cloaks itself in rhetorics of care. We speak their names to honour their humanity, and we pay respect to their humanity by our refusal to turn away from the ugly truth of their murder.

Today we hold the immense weight of remembrance. By acts of will and imagination, we summon forth the human stories of lives that mattered, lives entitled to so much more. We offer remembrance as a shield from oblivion. Although it breaks our hearts, we are determined to remember.

“Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.” These are the words of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Today, let us make them our words. Today we reject despair, and so much more. Today we reject indifference, ambivalence and empty reassurance. We stand together in our condemnation of all crimes of hate and predatory violence, and we call out the blinkered bias of a justice system that fails to reckon with the impact of such crime on disabled lives.

We resist the fiction of isolated, singular, aberrant death, and shine a glaring light upon the patterns of ableist disregard that rob us of dignity and welcome. We call out the ventriloquy of compassion invoked to soften the edges of a culture of cold neglect.

We will counter the fervour of exclusion and abuse with a mighty solidarity.

Today we will be seen and heard. Today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow after tomorrow, we will be fearless and outspoken in our opposition to the ideologies and public practices that systematically erase and excuse harms inflicted against our disabled brothers and sisters.

Today we renew our pledge of duty to comrades whose cries are no longer heard. I am honoured to stand with you in that enduring pledge.

Catherine Frazee, February 28, 2017

~

Emma Van der Klift is an Autistic writer, artist, educator, and activist. Find more of her work at these related links at Broadreach Training:
Being Autistic: An Interview with Emma Van der Klift
Conversations that Matter

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2017-18)

Posted in ableism, Activist, ASAN, Disability Day of Mourning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Toward the River: A Poem of Hope

Toward the River…

Toward the River
I saw the bird-tipped tree
written strong
against the smoke-faded
hills and sky
Living paintbrushes
witnessing
entwined as silhouette
amidst destruction
desolation
resting there
holding space
and promise
for tomorrow

Leah Kelley
February 23, 2018

Image: Square black and white photo of trees with no leaves – and birds silhouetted on the ends of the branches. Text of poem (above) is overlaid with a misty blue background.

I began this poem in August 2017, as we drove along the smokey Thompson River in the fire ravaged interior of British Columbia. I kept those few scribbled lines on a scrap of paper, and finally came back to the image of the bird-tipped tree this past while. It is connected now to other things I am witnessing, and in part written in homage to those who push back against oppression, in solidarity with their vision and enduring commitment to work for justice in our world.

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2018)

 

Posted in Activist, poem, poetry, social justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Electronic Resources: Arizona TASH 2018

Links to information, visuals, and other resources:

Hierarchy of Language Prompts

When – not if

Communication ‘The Tone Hierarchy’

Limit Setting

In this House

Conference Support Cards

Friendship and Relationships:

You, yes you, need autistic friends: A guest post by Neurodivergent K

On Assigning Friendship

Self Understanding:

Yours, Mine and Ours: autism, self-advocacy, and setting limits

The pathologization of interest and curiosity

Therapy Defined: Self-Regulation

Self-understanding, Self-determination, Advocacy, and Activism:

The Teacher’s Kid – It’s not what you think…

Proud to be Myself: An Autistic Person on Garry’s Mod

H on Acceptance, Love and Self-Care: #AutismPositivity2015

Blacksmith at the Forge + The Music of Invention

Advocating: Love not Fear!

The link between self-understanding and self-advocacy

Disability Day of Mourning: The Loss of Innocence


Communication and Welcoming Dissent

Welcoming Dissent… Self-advocacy, the communication hierarchy, and rethinking tone

Welcoming Your Dissent: A Poem

Periods of Consolidation

Whisper Me Mom

Some of My Favourite Resources:

The Neurodivergent Narwhals: Lei Wiley-Mydske

Conversations that Matter: Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift

The Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library

Ask an Autistic on Youtube (NeuroWonderful)

Autistic Families International

NeurodiveCast: The Neurodiversity Podcast by Alex Kronstein


Blogs that are MUST READS and Excellent Resources:

Neurocosmopolitanism

Eccentricities & Introspection

Radical Neurodivergence Speaking

Yes, That Too

Amy Sequenzia

Giraffe Party

Love Explosions

Michelle Sutton Writes

Different Kinds of Normal

Amazing Adventures Parenting Autistic Children

Respectfully Connected

30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley

Autism Women’s Network

We Are Like Your Child

We Always Liked Picasso Anyway

Who Needs Normalcy?

Musings of an Aspie

Boycott Autism Speaks

Small, But Kinda Mighty

Chavisory’s Notebook

Intersected

The Autism Wars

Tiny Grace Notes

Unstrange Mind

Emma’s Hope Book

Ollibean

A Quiet Week in The House

Autistic Hoya

Just Stimming

Neurowonderful

Autisticook

Caffeinated Autistic

Real Social Skills

Autism Or Something Like It

Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library

ACAT: Ala Costa Adult Transition Program

Paula C Durbin Westby

Invisible Strings 

Everyone Communicates

Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)

Diary of a Mom

Autistikids

Autism & Neurodiversity in the Classroom

Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance (PACLA) on FB

 

Independent Presses to Support:

Reclamation Press

Antonomous Press

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2018)

Posted in Arizona TASH, Autism, Autistic, Neurodiversity, TASH | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When Someone Drinks your Mountain Dew: A Video Short by H

I came home after a long day at work yesterday and H was so excited to show me this video he made, and he has given me permission to share it here. It is only 6 seconds long – but it is adorable. H explained that if you listen, sometimes the claymation penguin known as Pingu sounds like he is saying things. I think H is right… And c’mon – it’s Pingu – need I say more??

It is completely ridiculous in the best way and it makes me happy to share H’s wonderful sense of humour. ❤ I hope it maybe makes you smile as well…

Video Description: This short shows a little penguin (Pingu) waddling over to a can of Mountain Dew (H edited the soda into the film) making cute humming noises and it kinda sounds like he says “My Mountain Dew.”  He approaches the soda, looks surprised, and then flips forward to look back through his own legs at some other penguins. Text reads: “Who the hell drank my Mountain Dew”🐧

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30 Days of Autism
is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2018)

Posted in Autism, B films, making movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fabulous Fringes: A Short Film by Alex Kronstein

 I don’t know if you have had the opportunity to check out the work of Alex Kronstein, the ever-wonderful curator, creator, and host of the The NeurodiveCast.   Alex’s podcasts offer an alternative way to access information from a wide range of blogs related to Neurodiversity organized on a particular topic/theme.

Alex has created this beautiful short film based upon the poem Fabulous Fringes.

It is spectacular and I am so very honoured!!

 

This poem was written in response to being described as a radical fringe element… Bring it!!

Fabulous Fringes

I love the edges of things
places of intersectionality
where ideas meet
thinking is broadened
perspectives are shared

there is beauty in the edges
the fabulous fringes
that decorate our interactions
and build understanding

L. Kelley
January, 2014

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30 Days of Autism
is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014 -18)

Posted in Alex Kronstein, Autism, NeurodiveCast, perspective of others, poem, poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Neurotypical Wife: Welcome to Las Vegas

I was reading another hilarious post by The Neurotypical Wife and I requested, Please – oh please – do you think it might be possible that this could be made available in a graphic or a letter that I could print out to share with other family members who are struggling to adjust to this unplanned journey with Neurotypicality?

In spite of how stressed and busy she is, she came through, and suggested I post it here so that others could also benefit from access to this inspiring story.

❤️ Thank you, NTWife. You truly are an angel!

The Neurotypical Wife: Welcome to Las Vegas – Satirical #FlipTheScript text is framed in sea-foamish aqua blue with mid-century style starburst images. Link to PDF for full text: https://30daysofautism.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/ntwife-welcome-to-vegas.pdf 

 

Please check out more fabulous #flipthescript satirical perspectives and posts at The Neurotypical Wife on Facebook.

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2018)

Posted in ableism, acceptance, Autism, Autistic, Journey, Neurodiversity, Neurotypical, satire, The Neurotypical Wife | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Teacher’s Kid – It’s not what you think…

I had the opportunity this evening to enter into a discussion with a colleague: a fellow teacher who is also the parent of a five-year-old Autistic son.

So as we talked this man commented, “It is great that you are a teacher – I’ll bet you’ve been able to be a great advocate for your son within the school system. Our kids are fortunate.”

And I suppose this is true in many respects: my understanding of the system has supported us in navigating it in varying degrees and I recognize that it has been an advantage.

But… the thing is… that is not actually how I responded.

I might have caught him off-guard when I said, “No… my son has benefitted much more from my being a Social Justice Activist. Teacher-smeacher! It is ACTIVISM that has made the difference. Our Autistic, Neurodivergent, and otherwise disabled children need us to show them how to be activists so that they can advocate for themselves.”

I hadn’t really considered it before… but as I listened to my own words I knew they held truth for me…

As educators and parents we are positioned to model radical acceptance and to ensure the space and pace for children with disabilities to know and understand and feel pride in who they are. When they know themselves deeply and with respect – it is then that they can reject the message that they must conform to be okay, accepted, valued, or to belong.

H turned 19 today… and I am looking forward with excitement and pride at this fabulous Autistic and otherwise Neurodivergent man who now towers above me.

And too… I cannot help but look back and see that raising my son to feel comfortable with who he is and to understand that he can push back against injustice and discrimination and ableism is one of the most powerful things I have offered as a parent.

As H ‘s childhood recedes, to be honest – I am a little surprised that I feel no sadness or melancholy as I think back upon this journey.

But it is hard to feel anything like melancholy when I observe this spectacular human’s sense of self that makes him comfortable in advocating for what he might need – or not need – or need in a different way. Along with this confidence, he has developed a sensitivity to extend his understanding beyond himself. He understands that he experiences both privilege and oppression and how his experience of being disabled intersects with the lives and stories of other people who face discrimination or exclusion or injustice. I see him pushing back against oppression – even when it is not about him.  It is beautiful…

Looking forward…

Next steps…

Image of H and Craig sillouetted at the Othello Tunnels – in a similar position as the avatar and header image for 30DoA. Blue text reads: “Our Autistic, Neurodivergent, and other disabled children need us to show them how to be activists so that they can advocate for themselves.”

 

Posted in Activist, Advocacy, Autism, childhood, Disability, Educator, neurodivergent, Parent, prejudice, Teacher | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

In this house – and outside too!

In this house we do acceptance ❤️
… and we do acceptance outdoors as well!!

I have had numerous requests to create an alternative version of the “In this House” image, so that it works for those who related to and loved the message of acceptance, but are more connected and rejuvenated by being in the woods or wilderness or just generally outside.
Here it is!
Yay!!

Image : Text in a variety of font styles and sizes reads: “In this house we do parallel play – We give each other space – We have time to delve into our own interests – We unashamedly spend a tonne of time outdoors – We stim like it’s nobody’s business (’cause it aint) – We love each other for our authentic selves – Because in this house we do acceptance!!” (Watermarked: Thirty Days of Autism: Leah Kelley)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, you are welcome to print the jpeg image from this post (with attribution) for personal or professional use in home/office/classroom. ❤️

    or…   even better…

You can support the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library and get this image on a thing, if you so desire, as it will very soon be added here: https://www.redbubble.com/people/ewautismlibrary/works/25918833-in-this-house-by-leah-kelley?asc=u&ref=recent-owner


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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2017)

Posted in acceptance, Autism, Autistic, neurodivergent, Neurodiversity, stim | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I am intermittence…

A frizzy-headed person wearing a wolf suit is standing in a pencil sketched boat (based on a drawing by Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are"). Text on the boat reads "Whose story is this anyway..." and "LEAH".

I feel the coming and going of my capacities and resources. I am intermittence. I would like to be more at ease with this and trust to the natural process and rhythm of the tidal bits of me. I want to trust to my self-understanding and attunement. I want to – but there is this voice that comes with/to me at these times, and though I try to set my sail to not be caught up in that wind, I am drawn in by its siren song.  The well-worn tune plays and re-plays singing me to the rocky shore to crash upon the rocks of that which I fear I cannot do: I am clearly not enough.

In these times I am two…

Bisected by ableism…

I was writing about this recently – and about how I still am learning that this ebb and flow is natural for me. My way of being is not broken and I can reject the ableist messages that I have internalized around this. Though, I’ll admit I find that easier to say and to write about than to actually do…

I am intermittence
The coming and going
Of focus and attention
Of movement
Of pain
I am dichotomy

I am two
bisected by ableism
Where I live
Silently

Secretly
In stops and starts
Where the sticky glue of passing privilege
Creates the illusion of continuity
Hides the inconsistency

I am riding the wave
With unpredictable bursts of doing and not
It is the undoing of me

I am undone
Unfinished
A work in progress
Another incomplete project
Transient

I am intermittence
And this is a beautiful thing

Leah Kelley,
March 2017

Image: Photo of sky and mountans and rising moon in tones of blue with a sillouette of overhanging branches in the right foreground. A pencil sketched boat (based on a drawing by Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”) is sailing across the mountans. A frizzy-headed person wearing a wolf suit is in the boat. Text on the boat reads “Whose story is this anyway…” and “LEAH”. Text of the poem “I am Intermittence” (above) is overlaid in white font.

 

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2017)

Posted in ableism, ADD/ADHD, Disability, Disclosure, executive function, neurodivergent, Neurodiversity, poem, poetry, privilege | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Self-Care is Resistance!!

I have been thinking about the incredible endurance and perseverance of people who are fighting for human rights, for themselves and for others…

Activism is gruelling, slogging, hard work… and it is seemingly unending. It can be hard to step back and take a break and find space to be renewed (even a little) when you are committed to making change and there is so far to go… so much work to be done.

I get that it is hard to not be busy, because, I know for me at least, it feels like taking action is empowering. And, collectively, I believe we are going to make things better for people. Things will change.

I think too, it can be difficult to take a break or step back because that can feel like a lack of committment – and the dedicated activists I know are unendingly generous with what they offer of themselves.

I know I find that my busyness is a way of me being sorta okay in a world full of things with which I am absolutely not okay. It is a way to keep going and to resist…

But this is a long haul thing… and I noticing that I am not taking care of myself. And I think this is in part because when things are tough my tendency is to respond with “that means there is work to be done’ and then work alongside others to try to make a difference. However, lately, it feels like everything has intensified, because I seems cannot look away from the things I find horrific, and I absolutely do not want to be quiet or complicit, or to respond (or not respond) in ways that normalize the denial of human rights for other people.

I am struggling with this…  and working to understand how to find a balance so that I am not neglecting myself and so I can sustain pushing back against injustice over time. I am not quite there – but I think I might be moving in a good direction in reminding myself that self-care, too, is resistance!

Okay… I gotta go write a poem and do some art and daydream about unicorns now!!!

This “Self-care is Resistance!” Neurodivergent Narwhal image was created for this post by Lei Wiley-Mydske. You are welcome to print this spectacular colouring page (with attribution). How perfect is that!?!

Please note: The wonderful Neurodivergent Narwhal art and images in this post were provided by the ever-talented and creative Lei Wiley-Mydske and have been used with permission. I appreciate Lei and the amazing work she does with the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Library, and with AWN (Autism Women’s Network), Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance, and her blog, Autistic Times Two.

Lei also has a wonderful Red Bubble Store where you can get t-shirts and mugs and stickers and tonnes of other good things with narwhals and other cool art on them!! Eeeeeee!

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2017)

Posted in #NeurodivergentNarwhals, acceptance, Activist, Collective Responsibility, letting go, limits, Love and Self-Care, social justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In this house…

In this house we do acceptance ❤️
April 2017… Bring it!

Image : Text in a variety of font styles and sizes reads: “In this house we do parallel play – We give each other space – We have time to delve into our own interests – We unashamedly spend a tonne of time online – We stim like it’s nobody’s business (’cause it aint) – We love each other for our authentic selves – Because in this house we do acceptance!!” (Watermarked: Thirty Days of Autism: Leah Kelley)

 

 

 

Update: #IveBeenRedbubbled Eeeeee!

Check this out: you can support the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library and get this image on a thing if you so desire…

Here is the link: https://www.redbubble.com/people/ewautismlibrary/works/25918833-in-this-house-by-leah-kelley?asc=u&ref=recent-owner

You are also welcome to print the jpeg image from this post (with attribution) for personal or professional use in home/office/classroom. ❤️

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2017)

Posted in acceptance, Autism, Autistic, neurodivergent, Neurodiversity, stim | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments