Less Waste 2019: Wasting Brainspace aka App review: Any.do

Due to things like executive dysfunction, it seems I have the memory of a sieve. I try to keep track of what I need to do, buy, write etc as storing it in my head means other things get forgotten. So many lists in my brain taking up space. I had been using a Bullet Journal for this, but I often forgot to write things down and wanted to be able to set reminders.

And so, I’ve just downloaded the Any.do app. So far so good. You can write down tasks, set reminders for them, tick them off when you’re done. There’s also a section for shopping lists, so one more list taken care of. Seems I really shouldn’t try to function without an actual shopping list written down and not just in my head. The app has a calendar too. You can set tasks for today, tomorrow, next week etc and also a more fanciful “someday”.

Just started using it today and already I really like it. And now to check off the “blog” task on today’s list!

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Less Waste 2019: Wasting Space

Apparently Marie Kondo has a series on Netflix where she shows her methods of decluttering and tidying up. I read her books a few years ago, and tried The KonMari Method. I started off well, getting rid of a lot of my clothes, as well as baby clothes and baby stuff in general. Never really got into the hang of all the folding though. I just don’t have the executive function for that. Actually, I don’t think her method is all that friendly for disabled people, as it can lead to a lot of overwhelm. And so I stopped, though I still try to abide by the guiding principals of only holding onto stuff that brings you joy.

But, since decluttering is all the rage, I thought I’d try and reduce all the clutter that’s wasting space in our home. But how? I’ve written before about how much I love Rachel Hoffman’s Unfuck Your Habitat book and app. And I decided I’d declutter for twenty minutes at a time, as she recommends. But I felt I needed more specific guidance on what to declutter each day. I came across the Declutter 365Challenge which provides a calendar of a “decluttering Challenge” every day for a year. The challenge recommends spending 15 minutes in each area a day, but I’m going to do 20 to better fit in with the Unfuck Your Habitat App’s timer.

As I’ve missed the beginning of this challenge, on days that I’m able, I’m going to try to catch up by doing two challenges on some days. Plus as it’s a US based website there are some areas I can skip eg Laundry Room and Basement. (Aside: I miss the laundry room and basement we had when I lived in Boston twenty years ago. Especially the laundry room. Here our washing machine is in the kitchen, as is common in Ireland. In Turkey washing machines are in bathrooms. I love how where the washing machine is located can tell you a lot about a culture. )

Anyway, I’ll be starting this challenge on Monday, as I like to start new things on Mondays. I’ll keep you updated as I go along and hopefully it will work out better than my previous attempts.

When Autism Parents “Vent”

Eve Rieland is autistic and has a blog. A lot of it consists of screenshots of people acting like dicks towards autistic people. Her latest one, which you can read here has caused something of a shitstorm.

Basically, there is a closed Facebook group called “The UGLY side of severe autism”. The parents who post there often write really nasty stuff about their autistic offspring (a lot of whom are adults it seems). For example, one parent endorsed putting hot sauce on the lips of autistic people having meltdowns.

So many people who saw Eve’s screenshots wrote in support of the Autism parents! Though none of the supporters are autistic though, I think. They made a few points that I would like to address.

First of all were the comments saying “posting screenshots of things posted in a private group is wrong”. Sorry, but NOTHING shared on the internet is private. No matter the platform. I’ve learnt this the hard way. You should never write anything online that you want to keep completely private. Even PMs (private messages) may not be as private as you think as the other person can take screenshots. If you really want to talk to someone privately, you should talk to them either in person or on the phone. Because recording phone calls or face to face conversations may not be legal or if they are it is a lot of bother so unlikely.

Second line of attack was “these people (who share screenshots eg Eve) lied to join this group”. That is not true. Apparently at the time (they have become more closed now) joining was by open invite. Anyone could join, no questions asked. So no need to lie. Though lying to infiltrate abusive groups in order to expose abuse is a good thing. People using quack treatments such as MMS (bleach) have been exposed in this manner.

The most prevalent comment seems to be “these people are just looking for support”. Not true. If they wanted support they could have phrased things differently. No, they just want to “vent” aka whinge about and write hateful things about autistic people. If you read all the screenshots you can see the pattern. One person writes hate speech against their autistic offspring. And others then join in with their own tales of woe. It is an echo chamber. The only people who try to stem this negatively and offer actual support and solutions are autistic people who have joined the group. And they are inevitably banned.

A lot of these autistics have children who may be labeled with “severe autism”. But they are accused of being “in the wrong group”. Just because they don’t publicly go on about their children doesn’t mean they don’t experience the same things. They just have more respect. And so are accused of not having “severely” autistic, or any, children.

Once Eve wrote her blog post and word got out, these Autism Parents went on the attack. This took many forms.

Some questioned her diagnosis (PSA don’t ever do this) as apparently standing up for oppressed and abused people is not an autistic trait or something. Some resorted to calling her names and sending her vile messages. But then it took a more sinister form…

They started leaving bad reviews on the Facebook page of a charity that Eve was on the Board of (Resources for Independence Central Valley). They made threats against the charity. A charity that helps autistic and disabled people to live independently. They very thing they claim to want for their own children. Eve eventually decided to resign from the board of the charity.

They also threatened legal action against Eve. On what grounds, I don’t actually know. Again, anything shared on Facebook, even in a closed group, is shared publicly. So I’m not aware of any laws she may have broken. But angry people on the back foot always seem to resort to threats of legal action.

Eve is a genuine badass. She works hard to advocate for autistic and disabled people. And she is a lot braver than I ever will be, stepping into the snake pit that these groups so often are. She needs and deserves our support. Together we can show these parents for what they are.

I will leave you with a screenshot of a post she wrote in the aftermath of all of this. I hope to write an image description as soon as I can, but that may be a while as it’s rather long.

Edit: Picture description now follows thanks to a kind autistic person who sent me one. Gestures like this are why I love the autistic community so much.

[Black text on white cell phone screenshot reading:

“Oh, the hate mail is thick today. Good, pay attention:

I wear the shoes of the disabled,  often unable to communicate with language, and needing an incredible amount of care. 

I wear the shoes of a[sic] autistic person who was abused severely by caregivers: physically, emotionally, financially, sexually, and more.

I wear the shoes of the abused, vulnerable, and  totally dependent person when the caregiver was “venting” and getting all the sympathy points …

I wear the shoes while hearing my caregiver “vent” how much work it was to care for me.  Me:  The burden. The disabled. The problem.

This caregiver got something from that exchange … and the others too. I don’t understand why their “vent” sessions became what felt like a pleasurable past-time for them. 

I know the abuse I suffered.  I know what it’s like to be without words, cared for in public and in the eyes of others.  And punished, starved, and more for my disabilities in private. 

Filicide and abuse is so real. The acceptance of it towards autistic people is horrific. It doesn’t start with the headlines in the news. It starts here … and it must be stopped.

There’s a difference between support groups and echo chambers justifying abuse. 

I wear the shoes.”]

Less Waste 2019

Rather than have a plethora of unrelated New Years Resolutions, I’ve decided to go for a theme. And that theme is to work on reducing Waste.

I could have aimed for #ZeroWaste but that’s unrealistic. Less is doable.

And by Waste I don’t mean just packaging or single use plastic. I mean a whole host of things.

Wasting resources.

Wasting time.

Wasting money.

Wasting food.

Wasting energy.

Wasting opportunities.

Wasting pool membership.

Wasting friendships.

Wasting my life.

Who knows how well I will do but at least I’ll give it a go.

In any case, I hope you all have a Happy New Year and may 2019 be a better year for all of us.

Christmas Day 2018

Caught in the crossfires of feuding families,

Unchristian priests and

Threatening neighbours,

I try to walk it off,

Shake it off.

At least it isn’t raining

And you can always count on the birds.

This Christmas is unlike any Christmas Past.

And hopefully any Christmas Yet To Come.

Anxiety Challenge Aborted….due to anxiety.

So, I’ve been trying to do this Anxiety Challenge as a way to reduce some of the anxiety in my life. And I’ve been falling behind, failing to do The Things. And that’s been adding to the anxiety in my life, rather than reducing it.

And so, rather than trying to keep doing it, I’m going to do something I don’t do often enough. That is, I’m cutting my losses and giving up. For now at least.

I think part of the problem is, it’s not my list. A lot of the stuff, just doesn’t work for me. And yet I feel pressure to at least try it one more time, just in case. And when I get stressed out just thinking about it….well, it’s doing more harm than good.

I think in the New Year I may come up with my own list of things to do to reduce anxiety. But I won’t attempt to do them in any order or as part of a Challenge.

My life has enough Challenges without my having to add any more!

When Aspies conform to stereotype…

Recently I encountered two autistic people, in the flesh as opposed to online, who shared such similar traits that I want to comment on them. Although my sample size is small, I have read similar accounts in several places. In fact, they appear as “textbook” examples. Their traits literally appear in textbooks about Asperger Syndrome written by NT “experts”.

I’m just going to list them here, in no particular order. And to add that although my view is that although these “Stereotypical Aspies” may, in my opinion, actually be in the minority, they do exist. I’m a bit torn how to treat them actually. I want to respect their neurotype and way of communicating, but I also am wary of condoning their actions when/if they harm others. In person, I find myself just smiling and nodding while trying to escape from the conversation.

So, here are the traits these two individuals share:

  • Are cisgender, heterosexual males.
  • Are white.
  • Tend to dominate the conversation.
  • Use the word Aspergers a lot.
  • Don’t approve of “PC” language.
  • Tend to mansplain.
  • Don’t seem to realise their listeners are getting bored.
  • Don’t really listen to what others are saying.
  • Talk as if they are authorities on autism, to an audience of other autistics.
  • Did I mention they dominate the conversation? Seriously though, nobody else can get a word in. Though one of them did pause for a minute when given a not-so-subtle reminder by their girlfriend.
  • Appear to be Aspie Supremacists even if they aren’t.

Obviously, a lot of autistics share some of those traits. But this exact configuration is The Stereotypical Aspie. (Though these two individuals both had children and autistic partners so not conforming 100% to the stereotype I guess.) They are why the myths and stereotypes exist. People see them as representing all autistics.

Personally I don’t like the vibes they give off. They make me want to run and hide. But at the same time, they do seem to genuinely want to help others. And they both support Neurodiversity in their own ways. They are just as much a part of the autistic community as I am. After all, I don’t have to like every autistic person for them to be valid!