I mentioned in a previous blogpost that I spent a year living in a haunted house, a topic that simultaneously came up in one of my friend Ethan’s film reviews. It was a little disconcerting to see such a difficult, conflicting experience described from someone else’s perspective, but it did give me the motivation to actually write up the story for myself. To describe my former residence as a “haunted house” is an inaccurate (though fun) description. There were no literal skeletons emerging from closets or boggarts causing bumps in the night, and to this day, I can’t confirm that either of my housemates shared my experience during the year we spent in this building, though I know they weren’t comfortable in that house either. It would be more accurate to say I experienced a haunting. I’m not sure I believe that ghosts as supernatural entities, lost souls, or memories imprinted on an environment or object exist, but hauntings are a very real psychological, emotional, and physical experience.
In my last post, I talked a little about how important self-stimulative behaviour or “stimming” is to autistic people. As I mentioned, I am not allowed to stim at my desk at work. One thing I’ve learned: my hands are not made to be idle. I am a natural fidget, always typing, or knitting, or scribbling out notes. I am not inclined to sit still. When I was younger, this came out in flicking through books as the teacher talked, or typing at least partially for the sensation of impact on my hungry fingertips. At university, I channelled this into knitting, baffling my indulgent lecturers with my ability to produce notes while knitting. One of my favourite stims is my spinning wheel, which combines the visual, mechanical aspects of stim videos with a constant, repetitive, rhythmic movement of my hands and feet. The sense of contentment it gives me is difficult to describe, the relief of stretching out sore muscles combined with the hypnotic, out-of-time sense of being totally absorbed in a good book, a moment when my dyspraxic, uncoordinated body is in sync with my brain. My ideal working environment would be one where my constant need for motion went unnoticed. On a good day, the effort of staying still takes up an unnecessary amount of my brainpower, but is otherwise harmless. I do not like to talk about what happens on Bad Days, but following my previous post on accessibility in the workplace, I feel that talking about bad days when I can’t stim is a necessity.
(Content warning: discussions of self-harm, harmful stimming, and internalised ableism below)
As part of keeping this blog updated, I’m trying to stay up to date with the latest in autism research and news, as you may have noticed from my post on the current conflict between ASAN, Autism Speaks, and Sesame Street. This morning, I found a really interesting study published on Spectrum on the potential nature and origins of sensory overloads, which are a very common experience for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders or sensory processing issues, so I thought I’d discuss the study and its implications for the theory of neurodiversity here!
About two years ago, Sesame Street introduced Julia, its first character with autism, the frankly adorable puppet featured in the clip above, to some pretty thrilled responses from the autistic community and our families. Though I didn’t really watch Sesame Street as a child, it was pretty exciting to see traits I recognise in myself replicated in a way that is accessible and understandable to small children! Recently, Julia featured in a short public service announcement that caused a substantial amount of controversy: Sesame Street’s former partner in the autistic community, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (or ASAN), dropped its partnership with the show as a result, and Sesame Street announced a new partnership with Autism Speaks, a change in direction which sparked something of a riot in the autistic community. Why are so many autistic adults up in arms about a change in partners for a children’s show? Well, let’s compare ASAN and Autism Speaks, and examine who each of them are really speaking for…
I am a little embarrassed that it’s been over a year since my last post to this blog, but I am going to chalk my absence up to Intensive Research. By which I mean, I moved into a haunted house, found a job, got a girlfriend (<3), got fired, found a new job, moved house again, and finally attained Permanent Employment. Life experience basically counts as Blogging Research, right? So, to celebrate nearly two years as a Working Adult With A Job, this time I am going to talk about autism and the workplace!
This blogpost may be a little long, and a little different. I thought I’d try out something different in style, so it’ll be interesting (and helpful) to hear what you all think.
There is a reason that I write so much about fairies, shapeshifters, and monsters, that my description of my field of study is “the history of things that aren’t real”. It’s the same reason that I wear dresses and skirts, that you’ll rarely see me outside the house without a full face of make-up: I remember the first time I was called a monster.
[TW for bullying and violence against women beneath the cut]
Did any of you really think you’d get away with only one musical blogpost? Thought not! My last blogpost on mermaids throughout history and Melusinian narratives exists at least in part to provide some context for this one: I am obsessed with Melusinian narratives, to the point where I named this blog after them. Melusinian narratives are, in essence, stories about a supernatural being who wants to live in the human world, the most famous pop-culture example being our girl Ariel.