Knowing now…

It changed my perspective on the world. Reading that horrible book.

My reaction, the twitter threads, my review

Not only in the obvious way, in that I still feel like I waded through sewage to read it, and can’t quite get the stink off my soul.

But also in finding out how deeply caring the #actuallyautistic community is.

I sort of knew that, I mean, I’ve never met a more empathic group of people than autistics, (most of them, there’s bad apples everywhere, but by and large, autistics are wonderful people) but I’ve never been deeply involved in the community. Mostly because I only got my DX a couple of years ago.

I post on the #actuallyautistic hashtag when I remember to, but I’m ridiculously busy.

It feels like all of my time is taken up by being a mom of two, a spouse, a writer, an editor, a sensitivity reader, a reviewer, and a critique partner to several other authors as well as trying to be a good friend to the people I’m close to.

So the outpouring of appreciation and love from the autistic community and our allies has just amazed me.

I didn’t expect it.

I’m so grateful for it, because after reading that book? I really needed it.

Thank you, all of you, so much.

The faith I lost in a lot of NT people has been replaced by faith in all of us. Together, I really do think we can make our voices heard.

And for the sake of future generations of autistics, I think we have to.

I’ve been contacted privately by dozens of NTs who really do want to learn to do better.

So no. As tired as I am, I’m not shutting up and I’m not backing down.

It takes a lot to make me angry, long, long fuse, but I’m both angry and determined now.

My kids, all autistic kids, all autistics… we all deserve a better world than the one that lauds a book like To Siri with Love.

I have no idea how we’ll make that happen, but I think if we stand together, and we don’t let ourselves get too exhausted by it all, we can do it.

So, in all of this, do remember to take care of yourselves. I know the emotions are strong, they really, really, are, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Remember to rest, and care for yourselves.

Kae-

 

A reaction to reading TO SIRI WITH LOVE from an #actuallyautistic author.

You know. I started reading that horrific book as a bit of a whim, thinking it wouldn’t be that bad.

I’m the autistic mom of autistic kids, my husband is autistic, we value and appreciate our children and ourselves in pretty much every particular. Are there challenges? Absolutely. But they aren’t anything that neurotypicals don’t deal with, we just deal with them differently.

Usually by communication. We use text a lot with each other, because a lot of times it’s far easier to type or sign than it is to talk.

The point isn’t how we use adaptive technology to make our lives run smoothly, the point is that we communicate.

So I honestly, to the soul of me, didn’t understand how a mother could write and publish a book that would be anything except a joyful celebration of her child’s uniqueness.

I had hoped, foolishly, I guess, that the screenshots of the book I’d seen before reading it had somehow been… not so much taken out of context, but perhaps were just… I don’t even know, overblown maybe?

I didn’t understand how a mother could think those things about her brilliant child.

And never for a moment did I think, reading about Gus, that he’s anything less than brilliant.

He’s so smart I have a feeling he’s manipulating his mom because of how she so very clearly infantilizes him and shows overweening favoritism to his twin Henry, who is also autistic.

Though obviously, neither the author nor Henry know this. Henry shows all the markers of autism, he just presents differently.

We ALL present differently. Which is part of why autism is so hard for most people to recognize when they see it, and that absolutely includes so-called professionals (most of whom are neurotypical) in the field of diagnosis.

It’s a common reaction for autistics when we are abused by ABA practices (to learn to manipulate) especially if ABA therapies are impinged upon us by parents who believe the revolting bullshit that Auti$m $peaks tends to tout.

We learn to do everything in our power to protect ourselves, because we don’t have any choice.

This author… the things she does to both of her sons. It’s utterly appalling.

I can’t, even still, after reading that atrocity… I still can’t believe that a mother could write those things about her kids!

I can’t believe she’d share such personal things about her KNOWN autistic son, without his permission.

Without his knowledge.

Medical information, daydreams about having a ‘normal’ Gus… I just…

Reading that book broke something in me. It really did. It broke a faith I had that neurotypical society didn’t really hate me and the way I’m made.

And a couple of days after reading it and posting my review, I’m still shaken by it. I’m recovering, but it’ll take a week or more to regain my emotional equilibrium.

The outpouring of love and support I’ve received from the autistic community and a large number of neurotypical people have restored my faith in most of humanity.

“Autism parents”, however? They’re on my shit-list for life.

You can read my full review here, with links to the live-tweet threads I did as I broke it down, chapter by chapter.

If you want to know about the experience of being autistic, the hashtags #actuallyautistic and #askanautistic are far better resources than pretty much anything else I can think of.

 

Abusers

Content Warning: Domestic abuse.

 

Abusers love to victim blame. It’s always there, if you look for it.

“You pushed me into it.”

“It’s YOUR fault I hurt you.”

“You MADE me lose my temper.”

Sometimes the littlest thing can trigger me. I got triggered tonight, and it brought so many things back to me.

Things I really don’t want to think about.

But they’re still there, still part of me.

I’m constantly saying ‘Sorry doesn’t fix it.”

It doesn’t. You can say you’re sorry as much as you want, and sure, it’s nice to hear, but… it never fixes it. That’s harmless enough if you left the toothpaste cap off, but when it comes to harm? Hurting someone else physically or emotionally?

Yeah… nope.

Once abuse, especially repetitive abuse has happened to someone… well, I guess we can heal, but that damage is and will always be a scar we carry.

The Japanese have a tradition that I’ve always loved, that of ‘healing’ pottery with gold, silver or platinum.

It’s called Kintsugi, and I’ve always adored the concept.

But gold won’t heal my scars. It won’t heal the scars of any Domestic Violence survivor.

And reading about a DV victim tonight… one who couldn’t get away made me so sad. The constant judgment calls about ‘well why didn’t she just leave?’ That followed it…

Yeah. It hurt.

Look, sometimes, you CAN’T leave. you CAN’T get out.

If you’ve got small kids, sometimes the ONLY choice is to stay in a bad situation, because leaving and taking the kids with you? That would put you all in a WORSE situation.

Stay with someone who only hurts someone once a year or so… OR take the kids to a shelter and hope like hell you can manage to feed all of you?

If you can’t… what, you starve?

I don’t envy people in those boats. I really don’t.

Because an abuser will ALWAYS justify their actions. They will ALWAYS put the blame on someone else.

Because it’s never THEIR fault. It’s never THEIR responsibility to do better, be better.

Always. It’s rather one of the hallmarks of the breed.

I wish so much for everyone in that situation to be safe, and loved, and able to leave and still remain safe and loved.

I wish everyone who has experienced Domestic Abuse could find peace, and independence from their abusers.

Because it’s nigh impossible for a person with kids to make it on their own these days (props to every single parent out there, I have no idea how you do it.)

The other thing that I and many DV victims/survivors do?

We learn to rationalize the abuser’s behavior.

We learn to THINK that… maybe if *I* hadn’t done *X* my abuser wouldn’t have turned on me.

But they would’ve. Eventually.

They always do.

 

 

Musings on Coffee Shops

It’s Monday, which means blog share day through the ‘verse, and the only things I have to talk about are my weekend experience and the sensitivity read I just sent off back to the author.

Since I CAN’T talk about the sense read, (and omg, I want to SCREAM from the rooftops about how good the book is, seriously), I’ll talk about my weekend instead.

There’s a TON of writing advice out there, if you look for it. My best advice to everyone trying this thing for the first time is to find what works best for YOU. Then trust it.

So.

Writers.

Coffee shops.

Nano.

Write-ins.

They’re a thing, right?

Not for me they aren’t.

I figured I’d try. I did volunteer (perhaps unwisely, because I’m very much an ONLINE sort of person and not an IN-PERSON sort of person) to be Municipal Liason for nanowrimo for our local region.

I so far, have actually enjoyed the experience? But I don’t know if I’m doing a good enough job as far as the ‘get-together with people’ part.

Because it REALLY doesn’t work for me.

I had a feeling it wouldn’t, I mean, I’m old enough and I’ve been writing long enough (30 years now, and wow does that make me feel old) to know myself and how I write best.

So when others in our local area asked if I’d be fine with them planning write-ins, since I wasn’t quite measuring up there, I leapt at the chance to.

I even went, and yes, I kept an open mind.

Even though my heart felt like a jackrabbit sounding alarm in my chest as I made my way there.

And I wasn’t sure if I could make myself go inside.

I did it though. I went inside, and even though I couldn’t find a seat that let me have my back to the wall (which helps me in so many ways) I stayed for 2.5 hours.

I got 290 words of crap written.

The noise was too much, and I didn’t feel safe using my headphones with my back to the room. I ended up playing with my fidget spinner and chattering much more than writing. I was not a benefit to the writers around me, I don’t think.

It was very nice to briefly meet other writers, especially local ones. It was nice to meet my dear friend, and to see another friend I rarely get a chance to see in person because of life.

But I won’t be doing it again, the write-in thing. I do much better when I’m in an environment that allows for sensory control and calm pacing.

I know what works best for me to write, and that’s being in my cozy den of a nest, in my home, with my music blaring in my ears and my favorite snacks to hand.

I do have to admit that the salted caramel coffee at Coffee Culture Cafe in London Ontario was absolutely fantastic.

I might go back and get more, next time I’m downtown.

 

NaNoWriMo 2017, Let’s Do This!

Okay. So.

Everyone has to find their own method for writing novels. Shhh. I’m serious! Pipe down!

There is a metric TON of ‘writing advice’ out there but there isn’t a skeleton key or a magical panacea that is going to help YOU get YOUR novel written.

‘Cause that’s on you. You’re the one who has to BICHOK it (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard)

And it’s HARD. Give yourself a pat on the back for even trying!

I figured I’d outline my methodology and the tools I use, so that if any of them can be of help to you, you can steal’em.

First things first. I rarely wait until exactly midnight on nano eve. I know, I know. But I try to make sure I sleep during dark hours during nano. I have insomnia, so on the nights when I’m likely to sleep, I try to make that happen. You need to be aware as you’re going through nano, especially if this is your first one, that if you want to ‘win’ you’ll have to write, a LOT. That means it’s really easy to neglect your health. Drink water! Take your vitamins! Try to be aware of that thing called sleep as well as that thing called writing.

One of the things me starting a day or so ahead of time gives me is a bit of a cushion. Usually by the time nano rolls around ‘officially’ I have a word count cushion of between 6 and 20K. This year, I started with 17k, most of that was actually cut from the end of the first book in this series and will be part of the second act of this second book, because it fit better in the timeline.

It equals out, because my goal for nano is never the 50k. It’s always the first draft of a full novel, and my novels range between 80 and 145k. This year, I’m shooting for 100k.

Nano is me lighting a fire under my butt to help myself remember how much I really do love fast drafting (and I adore it. It’s wonderful.)

Now, to the tools and techniques.

I outline ahead of time. It was a hard-won skill for me because, at heart, I’m a pantser. I learned in nano 2015 (when I drafted what became Ilavani) that in order to write that fast, you NEED to let go of ye’old editor brain and just WRITE.

Having a skeleton outline helps me do that. (It also saves my butt on revising and editing, too, which helps, a lot.) I focus on making it pretty AFTERWARDS.

I use Scapple to outline. It’s free-form, so you can use the Three Act Structure or the 8 point story arc or whatever version of outlining works for you. You can do a free trial of it, it’s made by the same peeps who make scrivener.

You Don’t Have To Outline. 

But it works for me.

Secondly, I use word count goals, I write in Scrivener (you can get a free trial of that too). Under the PROJECT tab, click PROJECT TARGET. It’ll let you customize it to how long your books should be and how many words you should shoot for per day. (NaNo suggests you shoot for 1667 words per day.)

I use AeonTimeline for keeping track of what is supposed to be happening when, and making sure that X event happens before Y and Z comes after both. Downloading the software automatically gives you a free trial. It has a bit of a steep learning curve, but there’re videos on youtube to help you out.

I utterly love the word counting function on Nano. I found Pacemaker to be quite helpful when NaNo isn’t available for tracking purposes.

Don’t forget that I have a resources page here on my site, some of the weird stuff I link there may be of help.

Now, go out and write some words!

 

 

Asexual Identity and the Power of Fiction

Growing up, after I learned to read (I’m dyslexic, in a time when it wasn’t recognized or treated) I was always the kid with their nose stuck in a book.

Books were a way for me to live lives that weren’t as abused as mine was. They were places I could escape to when life, as it often proved, hurt too much.

That hasn’t really changed.

But when I think back to the youth I was, and what words I needed to be reading then… how much they would’ve helped me…

How having words to describe my ME, back then… would’ve saved me so much pain, it makes me wish, fleetingly, that I actually had the skill to write YA. (I don’t, we’re not really in much danger of that, writing for kids has to be the hardest type of writing there is.)

But that’s truly beside the point. Having words like asexual, demisexual, autochorisexual, aromantic, bisexual, pansexual… all of the queer words I needed then in the fiction I was able to access at the time. It would’ve been so world changing for me.

Never forget that kids (many young adults read up, I know I certainly did) learn from our fictional words and worlds. We need the words on the page and we need them by own voice authors so that we can get the full spectrum of aromanticism and asexual identity on the page for people to read.

People who. like me, needed it when they were younger, and maybe even people like me at 39, who’d never heard of the term ace or asexual or demisexual… we need these words on the page and we need publishing to give us books WITH these words.

A while ago, I wrote this letter to my younger self. If I could send it back through the years, so many choices I made back then would’ve been made differently.


Dearest Kae,

You won’t believe this, but I’m sending you this letter from the future. I need to tell you some very important things. Things I wish I’d known when I was you.

Right now, you are surrounded by people who are doing terrible things, trying to convince you to do things you will regret even when you reach as old as forty.

I know, you’re sixteen, you probably think forty is ancient. It’s a long time to carry a regret, I can tell you that much.

There is a word for why you’ve never understood wanting to have sex and relationships like everyone around you is so very convinced you should.

Three, actually.

Demisexuality means that you must have an emotional attachment to someone before you can enjoy sex or a relationship with them. You may not even feel physical desire without emotional connection. You don’t feel that with him, you know you don’t. You will regret letting him pressure you into things you don’t want to do.

Gray aromanticism and autochorisexuality are the words describing how romance doesn’t make sense to you outside of books. That too, is something you’ll regret pressing on with until it happens naturally.

All three are forms of asexuality, and being asexual is not a curse. Above all, you need to know you aren’t broken.

And it’s truly okay for you to say no until you meet someone who you do feel romantically inclined for. It happens when you’re twenty. Sex will be all the more worth waiting for, if you do.

I promise.

It’s not the same for people like you are, like me, as it is for many people, and I wouldn’t suggest this to someone who actually wanted to have sex. For someone who wanted to, I’d suggest they get education and protection and enjoy themselves. But you and I both know that you don’t really want to go there.

I know, from the advantage of age, how much you’ll regret it, and that it isn’t worth it.

Unfortunately, the books you read don’t have the experience or the words for you to learn. I wish, with all my heart, that you did. It’s 2017 now, and I’m writing from a time period when we’re finally seeing these words and these experiences on the page.

Giving in to the kind of pressure you’re under, it will not make you happy. I know that, because I am you.

What will make you happier is concentrating on your studies so that you can have your pick of Universities to go to. Whole new worlds open up to you in University. You’ll be shocked at how many friends you end up making. At the wonderful doors that open to you.

I needed to share my hard-won words with you. I wish I’d known them when I was your age. I would’ve made many different decisions.

Chosen other paths.

Words are important.

There is so much more. Remember, never stop writing, no matter what. Oh! Before I forget, you’re pansexual and pagan, too. From my vantage point, you’ve written several beautiful books, have a beloved husband of 19 years and two wonderful kids.

Told you I had some things to tell you.

Kaelan

 

 

Atypical

I’m apparently a masochist. (Why, yes, I actually did know that.) Because I just tried to watch the Netflix show Atypical.

I’m autistic, so are my kids.

My choosing to watch that show may possibly have been one of the most painful things I’ve ever inflicted upon myself (and considering I’m a recovered cutter, that’s rather saying a LOT.)

Breaking down the thought process that led me to that… I was annoyed that a show I liked (Musketeers shhhh, it was trash, but it was fun trash w/hot people in cool clothes and it didn’t irritate me too badly) had wrapped at three seasons.

AND I heard today that Atypical got renewed.

AND I saw some ppl in a facebook group I’m part of lauding what a wonderful show it was and how glad they were that it was renewed.

AND I’m sick with something flu-like and I can’t sleep.

AND I’m rather massively and perpetually annoyed at Netflix for constantly canceling diverse shows I adore. (Musketeers was a BBC and/or creator decision, not Netflix, SENSE8, Marco Polo and The Get Down was Netflix and I’m still sore about that.)

I still pay for the service for two reasons, 1) My kids like the cartoons and it’s better than letting them watch youtube vids when I need 30 seconds of peace. 2) I’m waiting on the Sense8 series finale.

Frankly? After that? If Netflix doesn’t clean up their game I’m out. It feels like they’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick, then when they find something that people love (like any of the above mentioned shows) they pull it for whatever reasons they have. I’m betting on cis-allo-het-white supremacy by the people who run the joint, but hey. I’m annoyed at Netflix.

The first episode of Atypical (all I managed to get through) lasted 40 minutes. I did a thread on it for my twitter peeps.

It felt like a lot longer, and I think it took me three hours to get through with the number of comments I had about it. I will NOT be going back. I have no idea how any autist managed to get through it, though I’m pretty sure several have.

I’m left with the feeling that if that’s what most neurotypical peeps think of us? There’s no way on the goddesses green earth that you’ll ever understand us.

Because you don’t even try.

A mutual on twitter who is also autistic reached out and shared their threads, in case you’d like to see someone else’s opinion. Share with authors permission.

April is MUCH stronger than I am. I don’t even want to watch it for the coded autistic sister.

A general opinion thread on the show