Tuesday, March 21, 2017

World Down Syndrome Day 2017

Today is World Down Syndrome Day, and at this point, I have to say I cannot help but remember my good friend, year-long roommate, and friend and "disability brother" Tyler Weekly. I would have a photo collage of all our selfies and pictures from our trip to Florida together if not for technological issues, but I will have it, and I will say that I (and all our number of great mutual friends) remember all that he is-the guy who I go to see movies where works at AMC in Olathe ...and can get me in-and then teases me when I cry during Passengers, how we spend nights watching plays at Starlight Theater where he is an usher captain, how he will spend the night while we watch The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, and I will read him some of the books of Buddhist legends and folk tales I have and share with him stories from the autistic people, get to see him at the Spring Down Syndrome prom every year, who I saw Dr. Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Moana, The Accountant, Sing, The Great Will, The Lego Batman Movie, and Hidden Figures-for which I still have all the ticket stubs, and how he will always dream big, challenge me to go on with whatever I am doing, and, above all, remind me of why I love life so much. Seeing him will make me so glad that all the progress for people with Down syndrome that has happened and all that is in the process of happening, as well as that with autistic people and those with other disabilities.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Past 2016 For Me

My year in brief, not withstanding the 2016 presidential election: starting to write for the first time in years and create dozens ideas my own for new novels, graphic novels, short stories, and fairy tales, most of them involving autistic and disabled characters, and, unlike with most stories portraying characters with said abilities, have well-rounded characters, distinct motivations and personas, and so on, who are not the only one if their kind in a world where autistics flat-out look like oddities, and even have their distinct cultural identity of their own autistic brethren, even to the point where neurotypicals actually begin to look like oddities. Like Shakespeare, Homer, and the Brothers Grimm, my stories do tend to be somewhat retellings of disability stories-from video games, artwork, internet memes, history, mythology, adaptations of classic stories, and even bits and pieces of old novels here and there from Neuroatypical authors-but with imagination, descriptive powers, imagery, and drawing from experiences that I happy to possess. This is the year also where I received A's in two of my graduate Disability Studies classes at UMKC, the other class from 2015 being one where I got a B, which brings my UMKC GPA to roughly 3.7. I have also started the process creating a distinct on-line video game involving people with disabilities that should appeal to a wide range of on-line gamers, and gotten some career breaks in UMKC's new Disability Propel program, the Missouri Developmental Disability Council, UMKC's Facing Project, writing disability-related articles, and so on. In addition, I have become more positive about finding romantic relationships, and made incredible headway in doing so (young disabled activist/scholar's lives can be incredibly lonely sometimes), gotten together more often with some of my close friends from over the years, seen former teachers and influences; finished over ten books I had gotten it was reading and over seventy graphic novels from other authors; worked thirty-two to forty hour work weeks most weeks depending on my course load; made over two hundred discarded produce bags worth of plarn with my own two hands and scissors; made several new environmentally repurposed crafts, drawings, and over a dozen new watercolors with my art teacher, Donna; and meet others with genuine interest and support of autistic and Neuroatypical people from around the country and around the world through close friends of mine. I was also wise enough to gently leave a former friend who I learned was talking about me behind my back and even went on long, unending rants at me on my own personal posts, that are no longer on those threads; and I happened to lose my cat Peter, who was nineteen, had arthritis, mostly blind and deaf, losing control of his bodily functions, and gave me so much love and support over the past years. Through all these things that I have said, I continue to be inspired by the stories others have told me, including fictional ones, and tell mine in the hopes you all will realize the power your own have. I have also happened to uncover more plots and devices affecting autistic people from self-aggrandizing groups and people who I have dealt with before as far back as Warrensburg and JCCC as recently as my lunch break yesterday afternoon.

My New Year's Resolution: hold close to the people who best understand me and support me, judging for myself who those people are, and learn to quit going out of my way to accomodate those who cannot understand me or accommodate me as well, kindly yet firmly if I can, whether they be family, friends, or caring individuals, I will know when the time comes; not bother when one cannot understand why I am the way I am or do things my way, not to keep being the one to pay each and every time they make the same mistake. History has taught me how a smaller, not larger number of people have changed the course of the world for the better, and when it comes to friends and allies, it IS QUALITY, not quantity that matters, never mind money, influence, or political backing. I know there are others who do not want to see me suffer, but they can stubborn and obtuse also, and I refuse to be weighed down by them any longer.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

International United Nations Peoples with Disabilities Day

Today is the United Nations International Peoples with Disabilities Day. I can only back and think of all that has taken place in my life over the years. I realize that I wish for a world where the norm across people of all abilities is to respect people with disabilities twenty-four/seven/three hundred sixty-five, no holidays, no breaks, no vacations, nothing-without neurotypical temporarily able-bodied people feeding their need to be part of the solution without taking ch...arge of their actions or still seeing themselves as the center of this world. Non-disabled people certainly dominate this world in numbers, and socio-economically, but they claim no patent to being a norm, and I genuinely believe that the age of NT/TAB people is ending, if it even took place once, and the age of people of all abilities is unveiling itself. I believe no action is a mistake when its harmful implications have been demonstrated to its maker, and EVERY person who would give their most genuine needs to conduct themselves in everything regarding disabled people upright consistently with no reward, and I do NOT think I am asking too much. Disrepsecting our differences is disrespecting us, all of us, whether you mean to or not.

And to NT/TAB supporters of Donald Trump, I aks this. On behalf disabled people: if you ever want us to be there in your life, think of the man you have supported, think of what he want cause, mocking a reporter with a disability in such a way that you cannot turn away-that is beside the point ultimately-we will ask, when anything and everything related to Trump's irreparably retrograde and old world view of disabled people has been unleashed on us, where were you? Where were you when this absolutely 1952 thinker on disabled people was placed in charge of our affairs? I believe in second chances and I believe in ways to work things out, but if you ever think any of us aught to help you when you need us, we can ask you whether or not you were there for us. If not, we can ask you when we do not choose to help you, how are you any better then your idea of ourselves. And anyone there for us conditionally is not someone I feel compelled to help. If you cannot care about EVERY disabled person who is important to me, you cannot care about me. So we can ask you one day, where were you? Food for thought. You genuinely never know when you might need someone in your life.

Monday, July 11, 2016

My New Year's Resolution: The Second Three Months

This post is a little late, but having watched how much I have kept my New Year's Resolution for the first three months of this year, I also have taken note of how I have kept it in the next three weeks (April through June).  So far I noticed I have: 

-worked at least ten full-time work weeks
-finished two more books and got farther along on seven
-finished reading seventeen* more graphic novels and started on another one
-came up with two new "Autistic Fairy Tales" and five new novel ideas
-worked on all my fairy tales and at least eight different novel ideas
-wrote another poem and started on another one
-started working on the last few posts of The Autistic Mule (formerly Ben's Blog) for the first time this year
-drew nine more pictures
-finished four more watercolor drawings**
-made seven more receipt coasters, as well as a vase and my Autistic Pride rainbow infinity from receipts
-made at least 100 produce bags and 100 grocery bags into plarn
-saw my friend Jack twice, my friend Tyler three times, and my friend Erin once
-passed my Spring 2016 Disability Studies class with an A***
-gone all of April without wearing blue in defiance of the April "Light It Up Blue" campaign by groups like Autism Speaks, who depict autism like a car wreck and do not provide autism services.

Thus far, I would say I have stuck to my resolution pretty well.

*originally sixteen
**added fifteen minutes after publishing this post
***added nine days after original publication

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Some Reflections on the 81 Birthday of the Dalai Lama

Today is the eighty-first birthday of the fourteenth Dalai Lama, the pope-like figure to many of my fellow Buddhists. I have always admired his equanimity and compassionate demeanor while he has lost his country, home, loved ones, and everything while the Chinese station troops in his native Tibet, drain its resources, set up missiles, overwhelm with Chinese immigrants, and impose abortions and sterilizations on its women-in contrast to Westerners living relatively comfortab...le lives fighting each other on-line, and demanding safe spaces and trigger warnings whenever they are presented with views they disagree with when they are college students expected to take part in intellectual discourse, but judge based on a person's number of followers on social media. I think I will forever admire this man as a model to Buddhist practitioners everywhere long after he is gone from this earth, happy that, after that time, he will (according to Tibetan Buddhist belief) be reborn as the next Dalai Lama from a series of reincarnations going back to Tibetan Buddhist saint Chenrizig. Namaste.
Photo from United Nation's for a Free Tibet (UK)'s Facebook page

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Autistic Pride Day 2016

Today is the 12th annual Autistic Pride Day, celebrated June 18th by Autistics around the world. I created this rainbow infinity symbol out of 140 receipts, hanging above a window in my bedroom, that I pick up at work all the time, in honor of the logo of the creators of APD, the UK-based group Aspies for Freedom (Aspie-slang term for person with Asperger syndrome). This is the first Autistic Pride Day that I have celebrated at home alone, rather than in Leadville, Colorado like the last two years, and working from 1-9:30, but that does not make this day any less special to me, which is why I made this piece. I would also like to wish a happy Autistic Pride Day (what is left of it) to my fellow autistics and their families and service providers in Warrensburg, Missouri, the town of my alma matter-understanding how difficult it is with lack of services and ignorance in rural areas for Autistics, particularly women. Know you are never alone and your fellow Autistics are out there ready to embrace you. And also a happy Autistic Pride Day to Johnson County Community College's thriving autistic community, who, being a part of I feel really shaped me into who I am today. Walk with pride.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My First Year Back at Home

It has been exactly one year (and six days) since I left the University of Central Missouri and the town of Warrensburg after graduating with a bachelor's degree while leading aand blazing a trail for people starting social network for autistics, promoting and supporting autistic culture and autism acceptance in a town where the people had never heard of neurodiversity, Autism Acceptance Month, or Light It Up Gold, and left behind the wisdom I gained from Johnson County Community College on leading a collegiate autistic community to several influential staff, students, and Warrensburg residents in the name of the Autistic Culture, while the UCM and Warrensburg have seen an increase in autistic students and families with autistic children moving to the town. After that I started a two year Disability Studies certificate program at UMKC, while dealing with a huge void of leaving behind such an incredible chapter of my life. However, over the last few days, I have looked at how I have spent my time in the year and six days since I have left and came back home and realized since that time I have:

-gotten halfway through my Disability Studies program
-worked nearly forty forty hour work weeks
-got my first car
-signed up for a health care plan and found a primary care physician in my area
-got together with Tyler and Jack three times, Tyler twice, Jack once, my friend Erin three times, and my friend Nick from high school once
-ditched a former friend who constantly talked down to me, belittled my accomplishments, kept accusing me of being all about myself, and scathing me with five page long Facebook comments, and messaged me until 1:30 in the morning.
-spoke in front of two groups of campers at Camp Encourage for autistic youth this summer
-got involved in the Arc of Douglass County/Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas
-went all of April (Autism Acceptance Month) not wearing the color blue for the first time because of the color's use in April to promote medically modeled autism organizations that pay so much to executives and genetic testing and so little to autism services and have almost no autistic leadership, while posting selfies of my doing so everyday
-finished reading nine different books, as well as two Platte and Munk Co. books on different cultures, and started on at least fourteen other books
-read forty-one graphic novels and started two other ones
-drew over thirty pictures and did seven paintings and eleven watercolor drawings in my art class
-made about one hundred forty-seven coasters from receipts, ten bottle cap signs, four or five tambourines from bottle caps, a picture from bottle caps, a bottle cap cross, bottle cap fish, three toilet paper roll wall pieces, a sign made from straws, a wallet made from a book dust jacket, a mandala (meditative image) from plastic bags, started on a heart wall piece made from straws, and worked on a belt made from plastic bag yarn (plarn)
-made one thousand produce bags into plarn for a blanket for a homeless individual, twenty produce bags into plarn for a friend of mine, and over several hundred grocery bags into plarn
-sold two sets of receipt coasters and one bottle cap wall fish
-came up with nine new ideas for novels and three autistic fairy tales
-wrote sixteen new poems, one new song, seventeen blogposts and started writing at least nine of the ideas I have for novels, my three fairy tales, nine other poems, one blogpost, one song, three other books, and two other snippets of writing I couldn't fit into any other project of mine
-worked on my novels all but three days for the last four months
-went one time, when I had the time, to one of the meetings of the autistic student organization I started at JCCC
-fed Peter and scooped his litter box almost everyday for the last eight months, mowed the lawn in the summers, emptied and reloaded the dishwasher nearly every week
-disovered how teaching disability history in school could help future parents of disabled children to know what resources exist for their children and that modifying our television viewing habits could someday lead us to have politicians who have the experience and understanding to do more for their disabled citizens, as well as the fact that there are even people in the autistic culture who can make a business of helping autistic people with their troubles, and as such, do not want the autistic people to rise above their troubles, as that would mean these people would lose their livelihood.

Not only this, but I managed to do it while having an old woman crash into me while making a left turn, on-line mobs of cyber trolls, and getting fleebites from a colony that launched in my bedroom. Looking back, I truly believe that I have really managed to adjust well to this new chapter of my life. I have left a great one behind, after finishing another great chapter, and am ready for many more that await me.