Friday, July 22, 2016

Reasons Why I'm a Spiritual Person

content/trigger warning: lengthy discussion of religion and spirituality, brief mention of a suicide attempt

I'm a spiritual person, but I wasn't always that way.  Here's what changed me:

My mother's a very spiritual woman.  She raised me to be Christian and has always talked to me about God and related subjects. (She even put "I Love Jesus" barrettes in my hair.)  My mom bought me two children's Bibles - a small one when I was really little, and a bigger one when I was a little older - but I didn't read them much.  I guess I had so much going on at the time I didn't even bother to read them very often.

My mom and I didn't go to church because she worked on Sundays, but she talked about Heaven and hell and how Jesus loves all the little children and things like that.

I think my mother got her spiritual guidance from my grandmother.  Now she and her family were always going to church - if you were in that household, you went to church!  My mother didn't go to church growing up, but my grandmother, who is her mother, taught her about God.

I've just started a close relationship with God myself.  When I was going through a lot of stuff, I thought God didn't love me.  I thought He didn't love me because I was queer and trans.  I thought I was going through all that stuff because I was LGBTQ, and this was my punishment for it.  Now I realize that God loves me just as I am, and He has never left my side.

A couple of months ago, I attempted suicide.  I was just so overwhelmed with everything that I couldn't take it anymore.  Well, I had to go to the psych ward of the hospital for a week.  While I was there, I prayed, read Joyce Meyer affirmations and sang spiritual songs to keep myself occupied.

When I got out of the hospital, I felt this strange feeling of joy.  Not just because I was out of the hospital, but because I realized that I had survived - I survived all that pain and turmoil of depression, and I was now stronger than ever!

Recently, a friend said that she didn't want to be friends anymore.  I was pretty sad about that, but I just tell myself over and over again that she was never my friend to begin with.  A true friend is forever and is out looking for my best interests - and that friend is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Today, I go to a Metropolitan Community Church.  It's excellent - the people there are very nice and it's very welcoming.

I still have bad days sometimes, but when I fall, I know that God will be there to catch me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Overcoming internalized Ableism

content/trigger warning: lengthy discussion of internalized ableism, ABA, suicdial ideation

I've been through a lot in my short 25 years.  I was bullied, ridiculed, excluded, and made to feel like I was inferior to others.

When I was diagnosed as Autistic at age 3, I was immediately placed in special education, and that''s where my nightmare began.

I was also subject to ABA-like therapies.  I was told not to hum, repeat phrases as part of my echolalia, or stim, among other things.

I tried really hard to fit in with my peers because I was ashamed of being autistic.  I was ashamed of being who I was.

It really took a toll on me.  I tried to commit suicide twice - once when I was 21 and again just a few months ago.

After my second suicide attempt, I had to be hospitalized.  While I was there, I prayed, sang inspirational songs and read Joyce Meyer devotionals.

I started to grow stronger in my Christian faith, and not I realize that all the ableism I internalized over the years is the devil's lies to try and bring me down.

Today, my self-esteem is much higher than it was before,  I'm grateful for the Lord for saving me.  If I didn't have him, I don't know what I'd do.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Parents, Please Stop Posting Details of your Child's Meltdowns on Social Media

content/trigger warning: meltdowns, ableism, invasion of privacy

Few things make me more angry than "Autism parents" posting details of their children's meltdowns on social media, whether it's posting a video on YouTube, or posting a detail of it on their blogs.  It's wrong.

Why is it wrong?  Well for one thing, it's an invasion of your child's privacy.  Posting details of your child's meltdown is humiliating to them, and robs them of their dignity.  You wouldn't want someone recording a video of your worst moment, now, would you?  Well, don't do that to your child.

Plus, once something's posted on the Internet, it stays there forever.  Even if you take it down, someone will find it and re-post it.

And another thing: your child's going to find the video or blog post you shared, and thy're going to feel ashamed, guilty and they're going to be very mad at you for it.  Suppose you're trying to get your child into a certain school.  If they see the video or blog post, the school may not want to accept the student.  Or if your child was applying for a job: if a potential employer were to see the post, they might not want to hire the child.  You may not realize it, but you're putting your child's future in jeopardy.

Bottom line: it's not right to post your child's most vulnerable moments on social media because it will hurt them in the long run.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Stimming 101

What is stimming?

Well, for Autistic people, stimming is a way to regulate our emotions.  Some example of stimming include body-rocking, hand-flapping, jumping, and leg-bouncing, just to name a few.

Why do people stim?

Autistic people stim for a variety of reasons.  Some, like I said, do it to calm or to regulate themselves.  Others do it simply because they're happy or excited.  Others do it because they're stressed out and need to chill.

Who else stims?

Many people with AD(H)D or Sensory Processing Disorder also stim.

If someone around me is stimming, how do I react?

Just let them do their thing.  Do not tell them to stop rocking, flapping, jumping, etc. because you think it's inappropriate or embarrassing.  Those could be potential triggers right there for an Autistic person because many of us have had our stims repressed - we've been through harmful therapies such as applied behavioral analysis, where we've been taught not to stim.

Do Autistic people use objects to stim?

Absolutely!  We use things like stim toys or fidgets to play with.  Others may chew gum (I highly recommend Hubba Bubba Max - it blows great bubbles!)  Stimtastic has a plethora of stim toys, fidgets and chewable jewelry for all you stimming needs - and it's run by an Autistic person, and 10% of their proceeds go back to the Autistic community!

Welp, that's about it.  Thanks for reading.  Toodles!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

So, What's Wrong with Autism Speaks?

Autism Speaks is probably the most notorious and the most prominent Autism "charity".  It has a lot of celebrity endorsements, but does that make them a good organization to support?  Not necessarily.

For one thing, Autism Speaks uses fearful, hateful and dehumanizing rhetoric to try and get people to donate to their organization.  They've compared being diagnosed with Autism to being struck by lightning, being diagnosed with cancer and AIDS among other things.  They believe that a person is better off dead than being Autistic.  Perhaps their most infamous PSA is I Am Autism in which they say that Autism breaks up marriages, causes embarrassment and shame to families and prevents your child from making friends - all of which is most certainly not true.

Plus, Autism Speaks has very little actual Autistic representation in their leadership positions.  Only 2 out of 31 people on their Board of Directors are Autistic, while 12 of those 31 members are from major corporations, such as Viacom, CBS, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, etc.  If you're going to have an Autism organization, the vast majority of your board members have to be Autistic.  It's as simple as that - and they have to be from more diverse backgrounds, with different races, genders, sexualities, etc.

Only about 4% of Autism Speaks' funds goes to their "Family Service" grants, which is designed to help Autistic people and their families.  In 2014, Autism Speaks' budget comprised of 35% of research funds (and most of that research was for prevention and cures for Autism, not actually helping Autistic people.), while 33% of that money went to media, "awareness" campaigns and lobbying, 23% of those funds came from fundraising, 5% went to management, while an abysmal 4% went to "Family Services".

If you really want to support Autistic people, here are some better alternatives:

Autistic Self Advocacy Network - run entirely by and for Autistics, ASAN does advocacy and policy work to ensure that Autistic people can life their life to the fullest.

Autism Women's Network - aims to help Autistic women and girls.  It is trans and nonbinary-inclusive, too.

Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) - empowers self-advocates with disabilities, as the website implies.

And if there's any other helpful organizations/charities I missed, let me know in the comments.


Boycott Autism Speaks

Before You Donate to Autism Speaks, Consider the Facts (PDF)

Nothing About Us Without Us!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The World Isn't Made For People Like Me

content/trigger warning: survivor's guilt, suicidal ideation/attempts, a long rant, transphobia, ableism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, racism, mention of low self-esteem, mention of early intervention/ABA

I'm a queer, trans, neurodivergent person of color.  Let that run past your account where you have four odds stacked against you, being marginalized for all these things.

I've struggled with depression and low self-esteem most of my life.  I never felt like I was good enough because of my race, because of my neurodivergence, and because of me being queer and trans.

I've also battled with suicidal thoughts and even attempted it twice.  I was just so overwhelmed with everything that I couldn't take it anymore.

Let's start with the race thing.  When I was little, I wanted the White Barbie dolls instead of the Black ones.  They just seemed prettier to me.  Plus, I was jealous that White people had this long, beautiful straight hair, and here I was with this curly, nappy cotton-ball hair.  So in middle school, I opted to get my hair pressed when I went to the hairdresser.  Also, in middle school, I had trouble finding cosmetics that would compliment my brown complexion, Especially blushes.  Most of them were either too light or didn't show up at all on my skin.  The whole thing was just frustrating.

And about being Autistic and mentally ill, it's hard.  There are so many people who don't understand me, or my neurology.  When I was younger, I was subject to early intervention shortly after my Autism diagnosis, which involved the grueling applied behavioral analysis, aka ABA.  All it really did for me was give me shitty PTSD, and it led me to believe that I had to be like everyone else to be considered worthy.  So from at an early age, I tried to fit in with everyone else, but it just made me depressed in the end.  My depression got so bad that I thought about suicide many times and attempted it twice, as I said earlier.

And being LGBTQ, yeah, that has its challenges too.  I knew I was queer since I was 12 years old, but I didn't realize I was transgender until I got to my twenties.  I felt a lot of shame for being queer and trans because other people thought that it was a sin, so I thought I was going to hell for liking other women and being trans.  I spent years trying convince myself that I was a cis girl.  I tried my best adapting to she/her pronouns, but it just didn't feel right.  Plus, I thought about buying a Playgirl magazine to try and curb my desires for other women, and increase my desires for men, but what stopped me is the fact that I hate looking at naked men.

All these things led be to believe that the world wasn't made for me, and that I don't belong in this world. But that's not true -  those are all lies that the devil tries to instill in us.  I'm a Christian, and I believe that there are good spirits, and that there are evil spirits.

These days, I embrace who I am, by wearing Afrocentric styles such as locs.  I am a proud queer and trans person - I go to LGBTQ events and socialize with LGBTQ people.  And I'm involved in Autism activism - I'm the chapter leader of Autistic Self Advocacy Network's DC chapter.

I think we all should embrace our differences.  They're what make us unique.

Thanks for reading.  Bye!

Monday, June 13, 2016

My Thoughts on the Shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando

content/trigger warning: gun violence, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, Islamophobia

Early this morning, a shooting took place at Pulse nightclub, a gay club in Orlando, Florida.  fifty people were killed and fifty-three others were wounded in the shooting.  The shooter pledged to ISIS before the shooting.  Apparently, he had something against LGBTQ people - he was disgusted after seeing a same-sex couple kissing.

My heart aches right now.  It seems as if the anti-LGBTQ sentiment is only growing stronger - numerous anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced into legislation - many have already passed.  Violence against LGBTQ people - especially transgender women of color - is on the rise.  and many faiths are speaking out against the queer community.  We need to stand strong and let them know that we're not going to tolerate this.

The Bible says, "Love your neighbor as yourself."  But that's not what we're doing.  There's too much hate in the world.  We need more love.

Love.  That's the whole story.

If only Jesus came back to comfort us.  Then everything would be all better.

Keep in mind that the religion of Islam is not to blame for this horrendous act of violence.  There are good and bad people of all kinds of faiths.  So it's unfair to single out just one religion for their actions.

That's all I have to say for now.  Stay strong, stay in prayer and keep your head up.