A young boy writes a book called ‘The Autistic Turtle’ to help explain Autism to his friends.

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As an Autistic person and autism advocate, my biggest dream is that someday Autistic people will be accepted for who they are. Some people try to “normalize” us. No stimming, make eye contact, ignore the sensory stimuli, no meltdowns or shutdowns, push through things, etc. It can be hard for some neurotypicals to understand Autistic people. Our stimming might seem “weird” to them.

I myself struggle at times when people do not understand or accept me being Autistic. I have had times where I have been frustrated with my friends and family members. Sometimes I even get sad because I feel so alone.

So why is autism acceptance important? Autism acceptance is important because Autistic people often struggle with social skills, sensory issues, meltdowns/shutdowns, energy levels, anxiety, flexibility, and other things. We might suppress our stimming to “look” neurotypical; we might suppress flapping and rocking that could help us calm ourselves down or express ourselves.

It’s important for people to understand that eye contact can be hard, and that we experience sensory stimuli in a different way. It’s important for people to understand that meltdowns are not “tantrums,” and that when an Autistic person is experiencing a meltdown or shutdown, often the best thing for the individual is to have love and support during and after the meltdown or shutdown. It’s important for people to know we often need routines, and some of us experience a lot of anxiety. It’s important for people to understand that nonverbal Autistic people can have a lot to say, and just because they are nonverbal doesn’t mean they don’t understand things or want to communicate.

By suppressing all of our difficulties, we end up not being our “true” selves because of the fear of being judged or misunderstood. I wear a “mask” out in public places all the time because I fear being judged. If only I could take off my mask, so I can be my true Autistic self.

My biggest dream is for Autistic people to be accepted. One day I want to be able to stim freely and be myself. One day I want to be able to take off the mask. Let’s promote autism acceptance. We don’t just need autism awareness— we need acceptance. Let the Autistic voices be heard!

Follow this journey on Ausomely Autistic.

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I always try to understand my son Griffin and the unique and beautiful ways he views the world. I admire his passion and caring heart. He likes to collect things, like yogurt tops. He was starting to get quite a collection recently. He would rinse them and then put them in a cup, telling us he was going to use them for an art project. He’s also big on recycling, so I suggested that he start putting the tops in the recycling bin so they could be recycled into new tops. But I couldn’t help but wonder where the idea for his unique collection came from.

And then an idea hit me…

One night when we had some friends over, I looked up and saw this: my own unique collection of coffee canisters.

Collection of empty Folgers plastic coffee canisters on top of refrigerator

I had to laugh and realized that I had my own reasons for this collection. I wanted to share some of the ways I use these lovely canisters. As you will see I prefer Folgers Half-Caf canisters, but — you be you! — and use whatever canisters you like.

We recently had a leak in a sink. What to do? Use one of our nice bowls? Oh, hell no! Canister please!

Plastic Folgers coffee can underneath sink

What about a unique way to store toilet paper and keep thieves away. Canister please!

plastic Folgers coffee canister filled with toilet paper roll

A spoonful of sugar? How about a canister full of spoons! Canister please!

plastic Folgers coffee can filled with plastic spoons

Oh where, oh where do I put my wet umbrella? On the wood floor? No way! Canister please!

Umbrellas in a plastic Folgers coffee canister

Normally I wouldn’t put salt in my coffee but where does one put their sidewalk salt? Canister please!

plastic Folgers coffee canister filled with sidewalk salt

Well, I think this helps me understand where Griffin might get his unique collection ideas. Hopefully it gave you some ideas, too.

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On Wednesday, at a National Press Club Meeting, vaccine skeptic and chairman of the World Mercury Foundation Robert F. Kennedy Jr., announced he would give $100,000 to the first person who can prove vaccines are safe for children and pregnant women.

According to a statement from the World Mercury Project, Kennedy “will pay $100,000 to the first journalist, or other individual, who can find a peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrating that thimerosal is safe in the amounts contained in vaccines currently being administered to American children and pregnant women.”

In his book “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak,” Kennedy argued that thimerosal – a mercury-based preservative added to vaccines, which has been reduced or removed from most vaccines used today – causes autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserts, “there is no link between vaccines and autism”; the research that originally suggested there may be a link has been repeatedly disproven, and the doctor who authored the study, Andrew Wakefield, has his medical license rescinded.

The CDC has maintained that there is no connection between thimerosal and autism spectrum disorder. Since 2003, there have been nine CDC-related studies, all of which have determined no link between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism.

According to the CDC, thimerosal was “removed or reduced to trace amounts in all childhood vaccines except for some flu vaccines” between 1999 and 2001. The thimerosal was removed was a precaution, a way to limit children’s exposure to mercury. Now, in 2017, the only childhood vaccines that contain thimerosal are flu shots packaged in multi-dose vials. Thimerosal-free shots are also available.

Last month, Kennedy made headlines after he said Donald Trump had tapped him to head a new vaccine safety commission. Following Kennedy’s statement, more than 350 medical and professional health organizations co-authored a letter to Trump with evidence of the safety of vaccines, stating “Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives.”

Photo credit: Daniel Schwen

I was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum when I was 15 years old. Back then, meltdowns were common for me. Even now, meltdowns can be hard for me to handle. What may have helped when I was a child doesn’t help as much as an adult. But over the years, I’ve learned what has helped the most and why.

When I was a child, I didn’t know what to do with myself when I was having a meltdown. I just knew I was upset. So the first thing I needed help with was finding the coping skills that worked best for me. This included strategies such as wearing headphones to block out overstimulating noises, stimming — a form of repetitive movement to self-soothe — in a safe way, and focusing on my breathing.

Once people helped me to come up with these ideas, I had the strategies. The issue is that during a meltdown, I can’t think straight. So I would forget to use those coping skills right away. This meant I needed help in a different way. I needed people to gently remind me to use the coping techniques. There were times I felt so upset, I couldn’t stop thinking about the issue that caused the meltdown in the first place. It helped when people reminded me of the situation once I’d calmed down a bit so we could work on solving the problem again. In fact, this is still something I need to be reminded of occasionally.

As I got older, I started to recognize on my own when I was beginning to have a meltdown. This takes a lot of self-awareness, which came with maturity for me. At this point, it helped to have a codeword or a phrase to say to others when I needed a break to prevent it. (Just make sure the people who need to know about it are aware.) Eventually, my parents and even close friends were able to figure out when I needed a break without me saying a word.

In the end, if I do happen to have a meltdown, the most important thing you can do to help me is be patient. Understand I’m not trying to be difficult. Once I’ve learned to use my coping skills, allow me the time and space to use them. And once I’ve calmed down, we can work on solving whatever issue caused the meltdown in the first place.

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Thinkstock image via PhenomArtlover

What Helps Me During a Meltdown as Someone on the Autism Spectrum

I’ll be going out on a date soon. I really dislike dating because it generally feels like an interview. I feel like I must make eye contact, be “bubbly,” ask a lot of intriguing questions, and more. I wish dating could be skipped altogether and that one and another could just automatically be part of each other’s routines as if they had been for years. Who am I kidding, though? There are some things set up by society that must be endured.

I met this person online and he already knows I’m autistic. You see, recently, I decided to state clearly on my online profile that I have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Why? Well, it may give a potential neurotypical partner a chance to do a little research on the topic. Or, it may even attract other autistic people. ASD impacts every part of my being. If someone has an issue with that, I’d rather they not “apply.”

So, will I have to make constant eye contact when I meet this potential partner? I shouldn’t have to because many people with ASD have issues with eye contact (I am one of them), and hopefully he has done a little research or already knows that. Will I have to be “bubbly”? No, I shouldn’t have to because I am not that kind of person. I have a flatter affect and may not fit the stereotype of a neurotypical female… because I’m not. I have my own personality and way of expressing myself.

I’m so glad I decided to state the status of my neurotype online. It means I can be myself and not worry about “faking it until I’m making it.” That’s not for me, and never will be.

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Thinkstock image by gpointstudio

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