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

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
A work in progress
Another incomplete project

I am intermittence
And this is a beautiful thing

Leah Kelley,
March 2017

Image: Photo of sky and mountains and rising moon in tones of blue with a silhouette 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 mountains. 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.



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!


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.

In this house we do ACCEPTANCE

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.


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

Behavior Plan For Parents of Newly Diagnosed Autistic Children

Behavior Plan For Parents of Newly Diagnosed Autistic Children:
  by Lei Wiley-Mydske

Your feelings about autism are constructed by living in a world that fears and stigmatizes disabled lives.  Your distress about an autism diagnosis are most certainly because of these unhealthy messages.  Please remember that your behavior in regards to your child’s diagnosis is a choice.  Signing this behavior plan means that you will always put the dignity, autonomy, and love for your child above buying into the dominant narrative of tragedy or the belief that autism is something that the Autistic person is doing to you.

  • I promise to never use my child’s most vulnerable moments for sympathy or to “raise awareness”.   I recognize that I am my child’s safety net against an often hostile world.  When I feel like sharing, I will ask myself if this is something that I would want others to share about me.
  • I will never blame autism when I have a hard time parenting my child.  Parenting is stressful at times, but rewarding as well.  This is true for ANY child and I will recognize this.
  • I will prioritize the voices of Autistic people over the “experts” as I recognize that Autistic people are the ultimate experts on their own lives.
  • I will throw out the myth of a “developmental window” and acknowledge that my child will grow and learn in their own time, in their own way with my love, guidance and nurturing.
  • I will never apologize for my child being openly Autistic.
  • I will look at every therapy offered to my child with a critical eye.  I will ask myself what is the desired outcome?  Is it supportive or is it attempting to change my child’s neurology? I will never force my child into therapies that vow indistinguishability or that seek to “fix” or promise a non-Autistic version of my child.
  • I will embrace the neurodiversity paradigm and celebrate my child as a beautiful part of the wide and diverse spectrum of humanity.
  • I will learn about the social model of disability and confront ableism when I see it.  I will learn about the disability and autistic rights movements and use my privilege to further the cause.
  • I will learn about Autistic culture and find Autistic friends, not just for my child but for me as well. I will  promote acceptance and lead by my example.
  • I will learn about identity first language and show my child that I am proud of their Autistic identity.
  • I will NEVER say that I love my child but not their autism.  I will recognize that autism is an integral part of who they are and shapes how they view, process and experience this world. I will love every part of my child.  I will never teach them shame  or internalized ableism.
  • I will presume that my child is competent and understands more than may be apparent. I understand that communication is more than speech and I will support my child’s communication in any form. *
  • I will never fight autism, but I sure as hell will fight for my child’s right to be exactly who they are in this world.
  • I will recognize that I am only human and I will make mistakes along the way.  I will forgive myself and do better.

Image: Green background with dark text that reads: Behavior Plan for Parents of Newly Diagnosed Autistic Kids https://goo.gl/WPpnrp autistictimestwo.blogspot.com

 For a printable version of this Behavior Plan, click here.

Image of printable version of this Behavior Plan – by Lei Wiley-Mydske ( https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6Y4b9-mOvynb01yclh4bWZKWjA/view )

This article is shared here with the permission of the author, Lei Wiley-Mydske, and was originally published at We Always Liked Picasso Anyway. Please check out the other amazing posts there, and if you are in a position to do so, please consider contributing to support Lei’s amazing work at the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Lending Library (which you can read about here).

Thank you, Lei ❤️


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, acceptance, Autism, Autistic, Diagnosis, neurodivergent | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Love more loudly…

Wednesday morning after the US election my sister, Michelle, shared:
“What I will tell my children this morning…?  It’s not enough to be kind and believe in the good. We must love more loudly. We must make inclusion thunder. We must speak up! Show up! And scream for what is right. Silence is the enemy!!!!”

And now I am wondering about what we need to show our children…

What if they see us taking action?
What might they tell their children someday of our actions today??

I hope that my children will see that I am gutted…

That they will see me wipe my tears…

And in the midst of a mind reeling and wondering at how this can even be…
they will see me take a deep breath, square my shoulders, dig deep for the strength to continue to stand up for what I believe.

There is work to be done… far more than I had imagined.

And what has been revealed about the level of hate and oppression that is centred – not merely at the margins, as we hope/expect – well it is shocking and shakes me to my core.

Those of us who are social justice activists trust that we make a difference. We understand the work is endless… and we know this. But this… this is a waking up: a horrific realization that we have much more work to do than we ever could have imagined.

I am scared for the world.

I am terrified for my friends.

There is work to do… and so the activist in me will lean in to the fear.

I am sad and scared – but I recognize my privilege and I am committed to keeping my shit together so I can use that privilege and leverage it.

Perhaps my son will lean over, curious to see the messages I am sending to my friends close across the border and far away, and glimpse snippets of my words. Perhaps my son will ask me what I am doing and I will read aloud to him bits of my messages.

“I am checking in… sending you my love and care and best thoughts.
I recognize my privilege, and that it has just been revealed to me how much I perhaps did not see. That a stance of this much hate shocks me so, tells me I have been insulated and protected by my position.”

We need our children to be able to look to us as examples of how to stand up against bigotry and hate, and we need to show them that we are all in this together.

They need to know of unity by our action –  not by our willingness to acquiesce but rather by our commitment to stand against oppression. We need to show them how to be there for others because ending oppression is a collective responsibility and it affects us all.

And yes… the reality is that I am uncertain what to do – so I am reaching out with messages to people I care about so that they feel that connection and care…
I don’t really know what else to do right now… aside from that and making a commitment to continue to work together with people to make things better…

“Checking in and sending love…
I wish I had better words…
I am so sorry…
I appreciate that you are in the world…”

I am declaring my commitment to continue to work together with others to fight oppression…

“Checking in… letting you know I care…
This is terrifying… and it makes sense to be afraid…
I am here… and I am ashamed that I didn’t understand how mainstream hate was… and I understand that this is pretty revealing of my privilege…”

And now… those of us with the privilege of safety and security that we get by being white, or cisgendered, or straight, or university educated, or employed, or housing-secure, or not-disabled, or male, or… ??? – we need to step up and speak up and give our children the courage to do so as well.

Action, reaching out, holding tight to what we believe because lives depend upon it; this is what hope looks like…

Our children need us to teach them how to stand up to hate…
And how to love more loudly…

Michelle's quote

Image: Background photo of water and islands in the distance all in shades of blue. Black text reads: “It’s not enough to be kind and believe in the good. We must love more loudly. We must make inclusion thunder. We must speak up! Show up! And scream for what is right. Silence is the enemy!!!!” Watermarked Thirty Days of Autism: Leah Kelley


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, (2016)

Posted in ableism, acceptance, Activist, Collective Responsibility, inclusion, privilege, Silence, social justice | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Autistics Present: A Symposium on Autistic Culture, Identity and Transition

Sooooo… I have registered to attend  Autistics Present: A Symposium on Autistic Culture, Identity, and Transition (High School, College & Career) on October 22, 2016: an exciting conference being organized and hosted by Bellevue College’s Autism Spectrum Navigators, a program of the Disability Resource Center, in partnership with the Autism Women’s Network.

Autistics Present Conference Flyer (Text linked here: http://www.bellevuecollege.edu/autismspectrumnavigators/autism-conference/ )

Image: Autistics Present Conference Flyer (Text linked here: http://www.bellevuecollege.edu/autismspectrumnavigators/autism-conference/ )

I am so excited about this conference – and I love that it is actually one at which I am NOT able to participate as a presenter. This is a reclamation of space and an important and political act of decolonization of Autistic voice. I need to be there to support this – to witness – to be along side as a co-conspirator and as a privileged professional/parent who can too often be (mis)granted ‘expert’ status on the experience of being Autistic – a Neurodivergence I do not share. This is a chance to show up – and be quiet – and support the amplification of the people with the lived experience and acknowledge that they are experts in their own lives.

I asked Sara Sanders Gardner, the Director of the Bellevue College Autism Spectrum Navigators Program, if she could answer a few questions about the conference:

To begin can you introduce yourself and share what is important to know about you?

I’m Sara Sanders Gardner – I was diagnosed as autistic fourteen years ago at age 41. Learning that I was autistic came as a great relief to me, as suddenly so many things made sense and I started to understand myself for the first time.

Is there anything else that is important we know about you?

My intense interest in learning about autism led me to my current work! When I lived in Southern California, I worked with families of autistic children who were my son’s age – teaching parenting classes, running support groups, and advocating at IEP meetings. When we moved to Seattle for my son to attend college, I was drawn to a pilot program at Bellevue College that was looking into how to best serve autistic students. When the pilot program was over, they retained me to develop and direct what is now the Autism Spectrum Navigators program, serving over 100 students!

The Autistics Present Symposium is a spectacular and ground-breaking concept – one that I have heard people speak of as a longed-for possibility – but you have made it happen.  Do you remember the moment you decided to undertake this project? Can you share what first sparked the idea for the conference and what makes this so important?

It came out of my desire for there to be a conference that was uplifting and positive in its representation of autistic people. I love to learn about autism, and want to stay current in the field, however, whenever I attend a typical autism conference, I come away drained and feeling down because of the microaggressions that are spoken against autistic people, and because of the focus on ‘helping autistic people “fit in”. In addition, I wanted to provide a conference for professionals, educators, and others to learn from the actual autism experts – autistic people themselves. I think we’ve accomplished that with this conference lineup of speakers!

Is there anything else you would like to say or that you think is important to add?

Yes! Although I get “credit” for designing and developing the Autism Spectrum Navigators program, I couldn’t have done it without the influence of autistic people from across the world. They, along with our students, inform my thinking and decision-making regarding program protocols. When the program first started, I had quite a bit of internalized ableism, and through the years, I’ve been able to move further and further away from ableism, to the benefit of the program and our students, due to the leadership and activism of my autistic peers. Autistic community is so important, and we need access to it – another reason for this conference, and for the ASN program!

I appreciate Sara sharing here and also for her work and vision in making the Autistics Present Symposium a reality. There are still a few days left to register for spectacular and unusually inexpensive conference (the deadline is October 17th) and you can do so here: http://www.bellevuecollege.edu/aut…/conference-registration/

And seriously, check out the impressive lineup of speakers:


Image: Autistics Present: Speakers poster (Text available here: http://www.bellevuecollege.edu/autismspectrumnavigators/conference-schedule/ )

Another thing that thrills me… like seriously gives me goosebumps… is that my son, H, and Emma Van der Klift are the co-presenters of “The Right to be Autistic: Reframing Autism as Neurodivergence.”

My heart soars! ❤️


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, (2016)

Posted in Autism, Autistic, Autistics Present Conference | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hell’s Gate and The Pumpkin Toss

Last night, on the night before Thanksgiving, we carved pumpkins. Yes, you heard that right!

Image: A jack o'lantern carved by H.

Image: A jack o’lantern carved by H.

And today we travelled up the Fraser Canyon with our good friends – five of us in all.  We each had a pumpkin, that would serve as our ticket for the Hell’s Gate Airtram that stretches across the narrowest most treacherous part of the rocky canyon, through which the Fraser River has carved its path.

And if that is not cool enough – on this day each year – you are allowed to toss the pumpkin from the tram and watch it smash on the rocks below…

It is ridiculous… and spectacular… and amazing!

The arms and bodies of 4 warmly clothed people holding carved pumpkins.

Image: The arms and bodies of four warmly clothed people holding carved pumpkins.

Image: H holding his pumpkin in a parkinglot.

Image: H holding his pumpkin.


We weren’t the only ones travelling with pumpkins, though we agreed that this biker’s pumpkin was definitely the most terrifying of the lot.

A motorcyclist holing a frowning pumpkin with a shock of unruly yellowish hair. He told me it was "Donald Trumpkin"

A motorcyclist holding a frowning pumpkin with a shock of unruly yellowish hair. He told me it was “Donald Trumpkin”


The lure was irresistible…
And I took about a billion photos… and a rather shaky video.
I will let them tell the story…

Image: H in the airtram - preparing to toss his pumpkin.

Image: H in the airtram – preparing to toss his pumpkin.

Image: H and K looking out at the view from the airtram.



Image: The Hell’s Gate Airtram with pumpkins being tossed out.


Image: H and friends walking toward the interpretation area on a wooden deck surrounded by trees.


Image: H and K in front of the Hell’s Gate sign.

Image: A view across the canyon where a trainis visible on the tracks. The red engine says

Image: A view across the rocky canyon with a treed mountainside above. A train is visible on the tracks with a red engine that reads ‘Canadian Pacific’


Image: H and K walking along railway tracks lined by forest and mountains. The are exploring and H is foraging/hoping to find some bits of metal for blacksmithing.


Image: The target on the ground below the airtram covered in smashed pumpkins.

And finally, here is a rather poor quality video of the pumpkin toss. I must warn that it is jarring and possibly seizure inducing in the random movements of my camera. Yikes! I will try to get better at this in the future.

❤️ I am so grateful for these people and their friendship!
It was a ridiculously fun and spectacular day!


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, (2016)

Posted in Activist, Autism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You, yes you, need Autistic friends

The following is a guest post by of  Radical Neurodivergence Speaking

Intended audience: parents of Autistic kids. Though obviously everyone needs Autistic friends.

So your child was just diagnosed with autism. Breathe. Breathe deeper. Relax. It’ll all be ok. But you have some work to do.

The first thing you need to do isn’t find therapists. It isn’t commiserate with other parents. It isn’t become an AAC expert (though all of these things have their place!). It’s something not in the autism introduction packet: you need to connect on a human level with adults like your child. You need to go make some Autistic friends.

I don’t mean a mentoring relationship, though those are extremely important and I am a big fan of mentoring (and mentoring your child & being friends with you are not mutually exclusive). I definitely don’t mean “translate my child to me” (which is not a friend thing particularly). I mean find local Autistic adults with whom you have common interests and connect as equal human adult people.

There are a whole lot of reasons this is the best thing you can do for your child:

First, and possibly most importantly but mileage varies: your child is noticing things. If you go through a mourning phase, or a difficult adjustment phase, your child will notice and possibly blame himself. Your child may not have the vocabulary for it, but at some point he will figure out that he isn’t the son you planned for and dreamed of, and he might blame himself for that. We figure it out when we’re a disappointment, even if you do your best to hide that you’re having a hard time. Many Autistic children get in our heads, accurately or not, that our parents only tolerate us because they’re stuck with us.

Your child needs to see you choosing to be around people whose minds work like his. It’s much harder to think your parents hate you and hate your brain when they seek out the company of people who think like you. Seeing the adults who are dearest to you–and like all children, Autistic youth default to loving their parents–seeing them find someone who reminds you of you? That’s supremely important. Do not underestimate the effect this can have, just knowing that your parents would choose to be around you even if they weren’t “stuck” with you.

Another reason: many disabled children never meet an adult with their disability. You might be surprised, and a bit saddened, at the conclusions we come to. Some folks come to the vague idea that we’ll outgrow our disabilities (and when there’s no sign of that, we’re reminded that we’re disappointing, because you can bet we’re getting that message from someone in our lives). Or, I have friends who concluded that their disabilities were fatal. That’s a recipe for severe anxiety, thinking that you’re dying but you feel fine and no one has felt the need to talk to you about your inevitable demise. We need adults like us; this anxiety is completely unnecessary.

Your child also needs role models. She may not be able to fill your shoes, or Uncle Bob’s or Auntie Bev’s or her teacher’s or those of any adult in her immediate sphere. But my shoes may fit, or those of another adult Autistic. All children need people in their lives who they can realistically emulate, & Autistic children are no different. I was pretty young when I knew the adult-woman things being modeled for me were just not going to happen ever–and alternatives were never presented. I was surrounded by folks who were similar to each other and not much at all like me. This is stressful. Making your own make is hard, and it’s harder when everything you do is wrong (the premise of somewhere between many and most autism therapies, and a message also sent by peers, random strangers in the store, other adults, etc). Once again, anxiety. It’s easier to believe you aren’t Doing It Wrong when you know happy adults who took similar trails. Knowing options for the future? Seeing unconventional but fulfilling adulthoods? So important.

If you have culturally connected Autistic friends, your child also will have a head start on a connection to the community. As he grows older, he will have a life apart from your family. This is a good thing and an essential part of growing up. The Autistic community is his birthright. We as a general rule (can’t speak for everyone) welcome friendly parents, but your child is one of us. It’s wonderful but also overwhelming and scary to discover a place where you’re “normal” when you’ve never been, especially all alone. Even good overwhelm is unpleasant when it gets too big. You can make this less of a shock by having Autistic friends. “I’m not alone” doesn’t have to be an adulthood revelation; it can be a given. Your child deserves to grow up knowing that he isn’t alone, that there’s a whole community that will embrace him because he’s one of ours. The gift of growing up with this knowledge? I cannot imagine it having anything but good effects.

Also, we’re awesome. Autistic people are loyal and hilarious, among other things. We’re good friends. We might provide insight to things about your kid that you never thought of, completely on accident. Your way of looking at the world may accidentally clarify things for us, too. But in my experience, Autistic people are the funniest people on earth, and the most dedicated to making sense and to fixing things that are not right (admittedly, my sample might be skewed, but I also have a very large sample size). That’s how the people I hang out with roll. Making friends with us isn’t just good for your child. We’re good for you, too, and you can be good for us. A true friendship is a mutually beneficial relationship. We have a lot to offer each other.

So breathe, put down the pamphlets about all the different therapies, breathe again, and look in your networks for some Autistic connection. It’ll make your life, your child’s life, and some local Autistic’s life, better.


Thank you, K, for your permission to share this important post.
I have the best friends.

Also – I am pretty sure that my son knows that a good many of the people I love most in this world are Autistic.

"Cosplay Stargazers" Image: H looking downwards, dressed in vintage wool trenchcoat, Dr Who scarf and owl hat and K standing behind, mostly hidden by darkness and a hooded cape over a red/orange jacket. K appears to be holding a wooden staff. The background is night black with lighting from below.

“Cosplay Stargazers”
Image: H looking downwards, dressed in vintage wool trench coat, Dr Who scarf, and owl hat.  K is standing slightly behind, mostly hidden by darkness and a hooded cape over a red/orange jacket. K is holding what appears to be a wooden staff, but is actually a telescope. The background is night black with lighting shining from below.


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, (2016)

Posted in acceptance, Activist, Autism, Autistic, neurodivergent, relationships | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

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

I got home late from work today, lugging my books and bags and laptop and some likely-less-that-healthy Chinese food for H and me to have for an easy dinner, as Craig had a gig.

H greeted me at the door to help me with my bags and he was standing tall with pride as he excitedly told me, “Mom, I was an advocate for myself and for Autism today. I advocated on Garry’s Mod [an online sandbox PC game] and they listened to me. I am really proud of myself!”

I asked H if he would like to tell his story and post it on the blog, and without hesitation he agreed, “Yes, I want people to know about this and I think what I did was really ballsy, but I think other people can do this too.”

Here is H’s story:

Today I was playing Garry’s Mod and I joined this server and it looked quite promising at first, but when I scrolled through jobs I saw that one of the jobs was ‘Autistic Person’. When I looked at the description I was really offended, because it said “you listen to Drake and cry yourself to sleep and have random autistic outbursts.” I thought it was really ableist, so I then called for an admin. I told the admin that I found that is offensive and that I myself am Autistic, and that I am an advocate for Autistic people. I was asking them if they could remove that from the server. And then two other admins got involved. We had a small meeting. I told them being Autistic is something you are born with, like your sexuality… like if you are straight or gay. And I told them about ASAN and that I present at conferences and they listened to me.

I feel really good about myself. They said they will try to get it off the server, and I will be checking in a few days to see if they did anything about it.

Apparently some of the admins are Autistic, and they didn’t really find it offensive the way I did, because I guess they’ve grown used to it.

I am trying to build up understanding about Autism in the world and spread the word that Autism is not a disease and it doesn’t need a cure.

Just be yourself.

I am proud to be myself.

H - Proud

Image: Side view of H wearing a vintage wool trench coat and his Dr. Who scarf. looking out across the Fraser River at sunset. The light is highlighting the side of his face , and the water looks like liquid gold. Text reads: “I am trying to build up understanding about Autism in the world and spread the word that Autism is not a disease and it doesn’t need a cure. Just be yourself. I am proud to be myself. ” H [Watermarked: Thirty Days of Autism: Leah Kelley]

And a final note of gratitude from Craig and me: We are thankful to have amazing Autistic, Neurodivergent, and otherwise disabled friends in our lives. If it takes a community to raise a child – this one is raising up a fine young man!

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, (2016)

Posted in ableism, advocate, ASAN, Autism, Autistic, Disability, neurodivergent, TASH | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Holding Space as Acceptance, Love, and Self-care: One year later…

I haven’t written as much on my blog in this last year. I have been busy writing – just not so much in this place. I have been working to shake up my little corner of academia, but sometimes I am perhaps the one being shaken. Small steps… and all that…

This weekend I began the third term of my EdD Program at Simon Fraser University, and I have been quiet about that here, but I am thinking now it may be relevant to share. The work I am doing is a part of my honouring of my father and holding space for him in a way I have come to understand as a kind of legacy. I am grateful to him for cultivating my belief in lofty goals.

I wrote the post below one year ago today… and it somehow seemed right to share it once again 🐞


I think about self-care rather often it seems… though I’ll admit that if I were to define self-care as I thing I do, I don’t actually engage in it quite as regularly as I contemplate it…

I think though, in my typical-atypical-fashion, I might like to twist this topic a bit and try to think about it and explore self-care from another angle.

Perhaps self-care is not just about a thing we do – but it is also very much about the thing(s) we do not do – or do later – or do with support – or do differently… and the ability to do this (or to not) is intrinsically connected with love and acceptance.

Perhaps it is also connected to holding space… for ourselves and for others.

I love the metaphor of holding space. To be honest, I am somewhat mesmerized by what I see in the richness of possibility that exists in the multiple interpretations of this concept.

I am so powerfully drawn to the liminality that I can get quite lost in existential meanderings when I contemplate the idea(s) of holding space…

I suppose… H and I have been indirectly talking about holding space for others as we are processing the loss of my father, who died in early March. The past few months have been a time of intense loss filled with powerful emotions – but as our family is moving forward, I have been considering how we might honour this space that was filled by my father.

I have two other posts on my blog that are about my father (aka Papa). Interestingly, one is about acceptance and love, and the other is about limit setting, so I suppose it is natural for me to be considering him when I am writing of Acceptance, Love, and Self-care.

I think I miss my father so much in part because I miss being wrapped in that feeling of acceptance.  I feel badly for my children that the strength of his acceptance and love is now missing for them… and… I feel badly for myself.

But I am finding my way… and I am seeing how connected acceptance and love are to self-care… and how Papa shared that as such a gift for others in the way he also held space for others.

Holding space is a way of demonstrating acceptance and love – and it is crucial to building a positive sense of self, and self-understanding that is partnered with feeling deserving of self-care.

When we demonstrate that we value other people, they can more fully appreciate, understand, and value who they are… and then they are supported in extending care to themselves and beyond.

Perhaps this is the opposite of shame…

I think perhaps for me one of the most profound things has come to me in my efforts to support H. When we knew things weren’t going well for my father, H was in tears and said, “You know I am really going to miss Papa. You know there’s going to be a hole in my life – there’s going to be an empty space…”And it was one of those moments when I paused… thinking please let the words come to me.

And I paused another beat…

And then I responded, “You know, H, you’re right – there is going to be a space there – a space where Papa was and now he wont be there – and that is going to leave an empty place in our lives and in our hearts.

But there is something about that space that is important. We have an opportunity to consider that spot – that place he held… and now it’s empty…

We get to decide what to put there.
And part of that is choosing something that will be honouring of Papa.
And when we put our energy into that place I think in that way he lives on.

If we do something that would make him proud or that would make the world a better place, then we use that energy that would have been there – and we make it into something that is good.

I think that is what a legacy is…”

When I think about my father, I am reminded of so many things, but I am perhaps most moved by the way he was deeply, deeply accepting of people… and welcomed us all to the table, or the comfy chair in his study – to just sit quietly, or to bounce around ideas or possibilities, or to argue the finer points of philosophy or politics or the education system… or to get a kick in the butt …or to just get some much-needed words of gentle guidance and encouragement.

He was someone who was completely willing to entertain lofty goals and outrageous dreams… and then help lay down a plan to make the almost impossible a reality.

I choose my steps and move forward in a way that I hope is honouring of my father… now the tables have turned and we are holding space for him.

Bedtime Chat and Cuddles with my Father

Recently I have been talking to H about holding space in another way…

(Complete post: https://30daysofautism.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/holding-space-as-acceptance-love-and-self-care-autismpositivity2015/ )


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 (2015/16)


Posted in acceptance, Autism, Autistic, Death, letting go, Love and Self-Care | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment