• Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum? The Answer Might Be Surprising…

    When I tell someone I’m autistic, there are usually three specific responses I get.

    “You can’t be autistic… You have [a family, a business, friends, etc.]”

    “Wow! You would never know you were autistic, great job hiding it!”

    Or, “We’re all on the autism spectrum somewhere!”

    …………But are we really?

    Are we all hanging out somewhere on the autism spectrum?

    I don’t really think so, but it’s a truly common belief, so today I want to address it and hopefully explain where the belief comes from and get to the truth.

    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?

    (Image description: Woman looking confused. Teal and coral text reads: Are all of us really on the autism spectrum? on a white background.)

    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?
    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?
    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?
    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?
    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?
    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?
    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?
    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?
    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?

    Are All of Us Really On the Autism Spectrum?

    Now before I dive in, I want you to know that if you’ve said “we’re all on the autism spectrum somewhere” before, this post isn’t about telling you that you’re bad or wrong.

    I totally understand where the belief comes from, AND I know that most people who say that are trying to connect with the autistic person they’re talking with and say that we’re the same.

    The sentiment here is great, there are just a few flaws. So with that said, let’s jump in!

    What Exactly Is The Autism Spectrum?

    To really understand whether or not we’re all on the autism spectrum somewhere, we have to understand what the autism spectrum really is.

    Here’s the fancy-schmancy version: Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder marked by impairments in the ability to communicate and interact socially and by the presence of repetitive behaviors or restricted interests.

    Here’s the version for humans: The Autism Spectrum is a broad spectrum of people who have significant struggles with communication and social interactions, and who tend to have repetitive behaviors and tend to fixate on a few specific interests.

    So here’s the deal. Lots of people struggle with social interactions or communication.

    Lots of people have repetitive behaviors or fixate on a few specific interests.

    But here’s the key. In the fancy version, they say “developmental disorder”, and in my human version I said “significant struggles”.

    Just having one or two autistic traits doesn’t make someone autistic, and doesn’t put them “on the autism spectrum”.

    To be autistic, you have to have the autistic traits to a level that it impacts your daily life.

    Now, that’s a little complicated so let me put it another way:

    I am currently pregnant with baby #6, and there are a lot of signs that come with that.

    Nausea, fatigue, hip and back pain, etc.

    Now, you might have nausea sometimes, or you might be struggling with fatigue, but that doesn’t mean you’re pregnant.

    We aren’t “all a little pregnant”, you’re either pregnant or you’re not pregnant.

    And either you’re autistic or you’re not autistic.

    The Truth… We’re All On the Neurodiversity Spectrum Somewhere

    Now I’m about to throw a curve ball at you…

    See, you now know that we aren’t all on the autism spectrum somewhere… But we ARE all on the neurodiversity spectrum somewhere.

    And you might be thinking… WOAH. Kaylene… Hold the phone…

    But don’t stress! This isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

    Basically, neurodiversity is the understanding that people have a wide range of different neurologies.

    Think about it… There are autistic people, people with ADHD, people with intellectual disabilities, neurotypical people, gifted people, and more.

    All of us are on the neurodiversity spectrum somewhere. But not all of us are autistic.

    If you loved this post, you might also enjoy…

    Why “Everyone Is Autistic These Days”

    5 Simple Reasons it Seems Like Everyone is Autistic Nowadays!

    Autism Misconceptions Even the Experts Believe

    Autism Misconceptions Even the Experts Believe #Autism #AutismParenting #Parenting #Autistic #ActuallyAutistic #AutismAwareness #AutismAcceptance

  • 5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis

    (Inside: Getting an autism diagnosis for your child can be overwhelming, so today I’m sharing 5 important steps to take after your child’s autism diagnosis!)

    I remember the day like it was yesterday.

    “Clearly your son meets all of the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

    I walked out of her office with an official autism diagnosis for my son, and a handful of booklets and pamphlets to read.

    Not to mention the recommendation for 20-40 hours of intensive therapies.

    While we were expecting the diagnosis, I remember feeling really overwhelmed with the weight of it all.

    And if you are one of the parents who was blindsided by your child’s autism diagnosis, I can only imagine how overwhelmed and stressed you might be.

    That’s why I’m writing this today.

    Because if your child was just diagnosed with autism, don’t think you have to do everything all at once.

    I’m going to walk you through 5 important steps to take after your child’s autism diagnosis, so you can just take it one step at a time.

    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis

    (Image description: Mom sits on her laptop in the background while her toddler son plays with a yellow car on a table next to some blocks. Teal and coral text reads “5 steps to take after an autism diagnosis” on a white background. White Autistic Mama infinity logo in the top right corner.)

    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis
    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis
    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis
    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis
    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis
    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis
    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis
    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis
    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child's Autism Diagnosis

    5 Important Steps to Take After Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis

    Now if you found this post and your child was just diagnosed, I want to say this first.

    Take a deep breath.

    I know it can be scary. I know it can be overwhelming.

    I know the doctor probably filled your head with a million scary things about what your child will or won’t be able to do.

    So let me just tell you, no one knows what your child’s future holds.

    Not the doctors, not the specialists, no one.

    Autism isn’t a big scary monster, and I promise it will be okay!

    Now with that said, let’s jump into the 5 important steps to take after your child’s autism diagnosis.

    #1 Take Time to Process

    Whether the diagnosis was expected or not, you should take time to really process what it means.

    What does autism mean to you?

    What fears do you have surrounding the diagnosis? What hopes do you have for your child?

    Remember that your child’s diagnosis doesn’t change who they are. They’re the same child they were before a doctor told you they are autistic.

    So take whatever time you need to process this news, and get to the point where you can say “my child is autistic” without a shake in your voice.

    And while I think it’s important to take time to process a diagnosis before moving forward, I also want to point out that I don’t think parents of autistic children need to grieve.

    #2 Find a Tribe that Fits Your Values

    Okay, I know this might sound kind of cheesey, but I fully believe that every parent needs a tribe. And that need only intensifies when your child gets an autism diagnosis.

    There are going to be hard days, and days where you feel like you’re about to absolutely lose it.

    Those days you need a solid tribe to fall back on.

    But you can’t just search “autism group” on Facebook and find a solid tribe. You need to find an autism tribe that fits your values.

    When I tried to join autism groups, I quickly learned that I didn’t fit in.

    Those parents thought their kids were broken. They were posting about “grieving”. They were asking advice on intensive behavioral therapies.

    And I’m not about that… At all.

    I couldn’t find an autism tribe that fit my values… Understanding, accepting, and embracing autism. So I made a new one.

    In my community, the focus is put on learning from autistic adults and creating an accepting society where autistic kids and adults are free to be themselves.

    If that sounds like your kind of place, join Embracing Autism here!

    #3 Talk to Your Child About Autism

    Okay, at this point, you’ve processed your own feelings about your child’s autism diagnosis.

    You’ve also connected with an autism tribe that fits your values (and hopefully is helping you see the positives about autism).

    Now, you are in a much better place to be able to talk to your child about autism.

    Whether your child was diagnosed at 2 or at 12, now is a perfect time to start teaching them about their autistic brain!

    Some parents think they should avoid talking to their kids about a diagnosis because they don’t want their kids to feel “weird” or like there’s something “wrong with them”.

    But here’s the thing: your child is already going to feel those things from society, whether you teach them about their neurology or not.

    When you proactively teach them about their autism, you get the ability to frame the way they see autism and make sure they know it’s a positive part of who they are!

    If you’re looking for a fun way to show your child the positive things about their autistic brain, check out these Autism Affirmation Cards for Kids!

    #4 Educate Family and Friends As Needed

    Okay, I included this step hesitantly because there is a lot of potential for this to go wrong.

    You may want to share your child’s diagnosis with certain friends and family, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about how to educate your friends and family.

    See, if you just call up your mom and say “Guess what? Timmy is autistic” she will have so many thoughts about what autism is or isn’t that you’ll have to deal with.

    This could vary from her being dismissive and saying “Timmy can’t be autistic, he can talk” or saying something insensitive and ableist like “I always knew there was something wrong with him”.

    Now imagine those responses times 100 and coming at you from everyone. I mean that girl you went to high school with to your Great Aunt Mildred.

    Exhausting, right?

    So I would *highly* encourage you to only share your child’s diagnosis with those who need to know, at least at first.

    Typically this will look like any friends or family members that are regularly around your kids or do any childcare for you, plus any friends or family members that are a safe place for you to vent or process your feelings.

    That one cousin who you’re pretty sure is going to rant about vaccines? Feel free to skip telling her. You officially have permission!

    NINJA TIP: When you’re telling your friends and family I also encourage you to share your perspective first.

    “Hey, Mom, we just learned that Timmy is autistic, and we’re really excited to have the diagnosis because it helps us understand more about how his brain works and he’s getting access to more supports that he needs. We’re also really excited that his team is on board with us to celebrate his neurology, since we don’t see autism as a bad thing at all.”

    That way, your friends and family already know your position and are more likely to mirror those thoughts back.

    #5 Remember This is a Good Thing

    If you’ve made it this far, you already understand this, but I’m going to remind you anyways.

    Remember that this autism diagnosis is a good thing.

    Your child is exactly the same today as they were the day before you learned that they’re autistic.

    An autism diagnosis doesn’t tell you what your child will or won’t be able to do in the future, it just gives you a clearer picture of the way their brain works.

    You can better support your child and better advocate for them.

    You can help them understand how and why their brain works differently, and how to best use their autistic brain to live their best life.

    You are connected with a thriving community of autistic adults who are continually fighting and advocating for your child and all autistic children.

    An autism diagnosis is a really good thing.

    And I pinky promise, you and your autistic child are going to be just fine!

    If you loved this post, you might also enjoy…

    25 Awesome Things About Autism

    25 Awesome Things About Autism. Check out the things that make autism awesome! #Autism #AutismAcceptance #ActuallyAutistic #AutismMom

    5 Ways to Connect with Your Autistic Child When You Feel Overwhelmed

    5 Ways to Connect With Your Autistic Child When You're Feeling Overwhelmed #Parenting #Autism #ActuallyAutistic #PositiveParenting #Overwhelmed #TiredMom #SelfCare #Momlife #ParentingTips #Autistic #AutismMom

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  • What to Do Instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day

    (Inside: Light it Up Blue is harmful, so I’m sharing 5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day this year!)

    All April long I post and post and post about why you shouldn’t Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day.

    I share about why you shouldn’t support Autism Speaks and how problematic their campaigns are.

    But I realized today that I didn’t have a solid post to share what you should be doing.

    Sure, we now know how problematic it is to light it up blue, but that doesn’t mean we should just ignore Autism Acceptance Month and Autism Acceptance Day.

    So today I’m sharing 5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day.

    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day

    (Image description: Multicolored blocks spelling “autism” on a wood background. Coral and teal text reads: 5 Things You Can Do Instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day” on a white background. Image of a boy making a silly face wearing a red shirt on a white background. White Autistic Mama infinity logo in the top left corner.)

    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day
    5 things you can do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day

    What to Do Instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day

    Now before I jump in, I am not suggesting that every non-autistic person should do all of these things for Autism Acceptance Day, but I’m trying to come up with a list so that you can choose what works for you.

    I’d also highly recommend that you ask any autistic people in your life what they would prefer you do, or what would make them feel supported, accepted, and loved.

    Every autistic person is different, so they may have ideas not on this list that are great to try!

    #1 Go #RedInstead

    In 2015, some autistic advocates came up with the #RedInstead movement to fight back against Light it Up Blue.

    The #RedInstead movement fights directly against Autism Speaks by reminding the world there should be nothing about us, without us.

    To participate, you can wear red, encourage others you know to wear red with you, and post to social media with the #RedInstead hashtag.

    You can read all about the #RedInstead movement here.

    #2 Light it Up Gold

    Another movement that fights against Light it Up Blue is the Light it Up Gold movement.

    This movement stems from Âû, which many autistics use to identify themselves as autistics.

    Au is the chemical symbol for gold, hence, Light it Up Gold.

    The Light it Up Gold movement is characterized by a golden infinity symbol.

    You can read more about the Light it Up Gold movement here. 

    #3 Share Autistic Voices

    During the entire month of April, but especially for Autism Acceptance Day, it is great for you to post about autism acceptance.

    What’s even better is if you can use your social media presence to amplify the voices of autistics.

    When you read a post written by an autistic writer, hit the share button.

    When you watch a video with an autistic person, hit the share button.

    When you share an autistic person with your friends and family, people who may never hear from autistics get the opportunity to hear us and learn.

    #4 Speak Out When You Can

    Let me tell you, every autistic person you know is likely exhausted through the entire month of April.

    It’s a month where we should be accepted, but so often we spend the month arguing and fighting just to be heard.

    As an example, I once fought with five different people in one day about my right to exist.

    Because of this, autistics face serious burnout throughout April, and you can help with that.

    Every time you speak out, it means an autistic person doesn’t have to.

    If your child’s school is planning to have kids wear blue, send an email explaining why it’s problematic.

    If you see someone posting about researching for a cure, comment and tell them why the autistic community doesn’t want a cure.

    If you see someone share a video of an autistic child melting down, point out how disrespectful that is because the child deserves their privacy.

    Use your energy to speak out when you can.

    #5 Do Something to Help Autistics

    Okay, you might have read this post and thought… “Kaylene, we’re reading this post so you tell us HOW to help autistics…” but stick with me.

    This step is one of the most powerful you can take, but it is also one of the hardest.

    Step out of your comfort zone and do something specific for the autistic people in your life.

    Invite the autistic child in your child’s class over for a sensory-friendly playdate.

    Text your autistic friend and see if they’re doing okay this month.

    Donate to the ASAN or AWN.

    Donate a neurodiversity positive picture book to your child’s classroom.

    Spend your energy doing something that positively impacts the autistics in your life, trust me, it will be appreciated.

    So the next time you share a post about why Light it Up Blue is problematic and someone says “well what should I do instead?” you have 5 solid things to do instead of Light it Up Blue for Autism Acceptance Day.

    If you loved this you might also enjoy…

    5 Shocking Reasons Not to Light it Up Blue

    5 Shocking Reasons Not to Light it Up Blue

    4 Reasons I Do Not Support Autism Speaks

    These 4 simple reasons I don't support autism speaks are a must read for all autism mamas!

  • Four Powerful Words to Remember When Your Autistic Child Targets You

    I catch a fist flying towards me just in time to miss the headbutt that’s aimed squarely at my chin.

    I take deep breaths to keep from screaming out while I calmly put pressure on his head, hoping it will be enough input to keep him from throwing his head again.

    I’m His Safe Place.

    I wonder to myself if it’s going to be five minutes, fifteen minutes, or several hours.

    I think about how many hours there are until my husband gets off work.

    I think about the homeschool lessons I’m not available for and the fact that I need to nurse the baby and a million other things while I dodge punches and kicks.

    Four Powerful Words to Remember When Your Autistic Child Targets You

    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.

    (Image description: Mom holds and hugs her son. Teal and coral text reads: “4 Powerful Words to Remember When Your Autistic Child Targets You” on a white background. White Autistic Mama infinity logo in top left corner.)

    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    I am often the target of my autistic son's rage, but I want all parents to remember these four powerful words when their autistic child targets them.
    Four Powerful Words for Autism Moms to Remember #Autism #AutismMom #Autistic #Meltdown #SensoryMeltdown #Sensory #Parenting #AutismParenting #MomTips

    Autism meltdowns are no joke, friends.

    They can be scary, painful, and overwhelming. Even more so for the autistic person who is experiencing the meltdown.

    Sometimes as parents we feel like they’re our fault.

    Sometimes we feel like we walk on eggshells waiting for the next one to begin.

    Sometimes we feel like we’re just done.

    We just need to remember these four powerful words.

    I’m His Safe Place.

    My son has recently become more aggressive.

    I’ve hesitated to share it on the blog, and I’m still nervous to hit publish.

    I have simply decided that it is extremely important for other mothers to know that they are not alone, and this is not your fault.

    See, my son is aggressive towards me, primarily.

    He doesn’t hit Chris. He doesn’t hit his biological dad. Until very recently he didn’t hit his siblings.

    9 times out of 10, A-Man’s aggression is targeted at me.

    (Related: How to tell a sensory meltdown from a tantrum)

    I’m His Safe Place.

    Sometimes it really gets to me that my son targets me with such rage.

    Why doesn’t he hit anyone else? What did I do to him?

    Many times I’ve said “he hates me” through tears after a difficult meltdown.

    “He just hates me”.

    He doesn’t target me because he hates me.

    He doesn’t have meltdowns coming home to my house because I’m a terrible mother.

    Four Powerful Words for Autism Moms to Remember

    He does it because I’m his safe place.

    I’m not saying that Chris isn’t safe, or that my ex-husband isn’t safe. But I’m A-Man’s safe place.

    I’m the person who is always there. I am the person who kisses boo-boos, who tucks him in, and who gets his cereal.

    I’m the one he knows will love him at his worst, so he gives me his worst.

    He gives me the headbutts, the punches, the kicks and the bites.

    He gives me the screaming, the flailing, the crying, and the frustration.

    He saves it for me. He does his best to keep it together for strangers, for his dads, and everyone else, but with me, he can stop working so hard.

    And you know what? I think I can take it.

    (Related: The vital steps to take after a meltdown that you’re probably not doing)

    Because I’m His Safe Place.

    I will take the punches, the screaming, and the headbutts. Because I also get the smiles, the stims, and the joy.

    I will take the frustration, the crying, and the kicks. Because I also get the songs, the laughter, and the silliness.

    I will be his safe place because he is my safe place.

    I will be his safe place because he needs me to be.

    I will be his safe place because he is my son, and I am his mom.

    I’m his safe place.

    If you’ve been looking for a group where you can work towards understanding, accepting, and embracing your child’s (or your own!) autism with other parents and self-advocates on the same journey as you, you’ve found your place.

    I don’t promise to know all the answers (or even half of them) but I do promise to be there to support you in your journey, whichever side of the divide you’re on.

    Together we can celebrate successes, support each other on hard days, and step closer towards truly embracing autism each and every day.

    Click the image below and tell me a bit more about yourself to join the Embracing Autism group to finally feel like you fit in an autism support group!

    You can also watch my live about why autistic children tend to behave for everyone else and then fall apart with one person (often their mom) here!

    If you loved this post, you might also enjoy…

    5 Calming Strategies for Autism Meltdowns

    5 Calming Strategies for Autism Meltdowns

    When the Doctor Said His Autism Was Just My Parenting

    When the Doctor Said His Autism Was Just My Parenting

     

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    Fruitcake wypas wafer bear claw marzipan. Marzipan toffee muffin caramels. Topping sweet roll muffin carrot cake lollipop applicake liquorice gummi bears dessert. Gummi bears bear claw topping chocolate muffin. I love biscuit wypas. I love candy I love caramels lemon drops wafer pie. Halvah cotton candy chocolate croissant chocolate bar.

    Cake icing sugar plum muffin brownie I love caramels. Candy canes chocolate bar powder jelly tart gummies applicake candy. Pudding croissant sweet roll pie pudding cake I love. I love ice cream sweet roll bonbon tart powder dragée. Brownie macaroon chocolate faworki dragée I love icing halvah.