Monthly Archives: May 2017

“Call the doctor!” – Speaking to clinicians about Autism and mental illness

jeanettepurkis

I am at Melbourne airport, waiting for my delayed flight to leave for home. I just had to get a replacement boarding pass and handed it in to get a new one for the cancelled flight. The flight attendant said ‘Doctor Purkis?’ and I replied ‘Yes’ quite confidently – this fib was easier than explaining why I was incorrectly titled as a doctor.

The reason  for my undeserved Doctor-ing was that last night I spoke at a conference for paediatricians ad psychiatrists who work with people with ADHD and Autism. The events company organising the conference must have just thought all the speakers were doctors, hence the mix-up.

The presentation was one of the best talks I think I have done – not so much due to my delivery or even the content of my slides. The beauty of my talk yesterday was the audience of around 150 psychiatrists and…

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Self-Care is Resistance!!

Thirty Days of Autism

I have been thinking about the incredible endurance and perseverance of people who are fighting for human rights, for themselves and for others…

Activism is gruelling, slogging, hard work… and it is seemingly unending. It can be hard to step back and take a break and find space to be renewed (even a little) when you are committed to making change and there is so far to go… so much work to be done.

I get that it is hard to not be busy, because, I know for me at least, it feels like taking action is empowering. And, collectively, I believe we are going to make things better for people. Things will change.

I think too, it can be difficult to take a break or step back because that can feel like a lack of committment – and the dedicated activists I know are unendingly generous with what…

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Tolerance vs Acceptance

Accept : embrace

Erin Human

Tolerance vs Acceptance

definitions of Tolerance at left:

  • the capacity to endure pain or hardship
  • indulgence for practices different from or conflicting with one’s own
  • the allowable deviation from a standard
  • the capacity of a body to endure or become less responsive to a substance or insult, especially with repeated use or exposure
  • relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor

definitions of Acceptance at right:

  • the quality of being able to take or hold
  • the act of giving admittance or approval
  • the act of regarding something as proper, normal, or inevitable
  • the act of recognizing as true
  • the act of making a favorable response to
  • the act of assuming an obligation to
  • the state of being received willingly

Autism Acceptance
because tolerance is not enough

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‘Don’t assume I can’t do it!’ – Neurodiversity and competence

jeanettepurkis

I was at an event earlier in the year for which i was the keynote speaker. The MC introduced with the following: “And now Jeanette is going to give her little talk…” I was affronted. That little word ‘little’ carried with it paternalism and a good whiff of tokenism. I got the feeling the organisation wanted an Autistic speaker just so they could say they did. Maybe my diagnosis was more of a draw card than my actual presentation. I was so annoyed that I was determined to give as good a talk as I could. Needless to say I absolutely knocked it out of the park and the conference delegates all told me how wonderful my talk was. (‘Bring it on ableist MC boy!’ I thought to myself).

Sadly this experience is all too common. In my situation it didn’t have a lot of implications for me other than…

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I’m dismissed! Where invalidation comes from and what to do about it

Standing up for ourselves – and others…

jeanettepurkis

When I was about eleven I apprehensively went up to tell the teacher i was being bullied by some of the boys in my class: ‘Miss, the boys are chasing me and calling me names.” Miss thought for a fraction of a second and said ‘Just ignore it, And stay away from them’. ‘But they can find me!’ Miss went on to apparently more important things and I was all alone.

When I was 22, a skinny kid in hippie clothes with a faded streak of purple in my messy hair, I was in England with my parents. I was a visual artist at the time, and made the most incredible, soulful drawings. I went to a shop in the town where we were staying to buy some pastels and a can of spray fixative. I went up to pay for these things and the woman behind the counter looked…

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The problem with the Mask Analogy for Women with Autism

Seventh Voice

Digital art by Rik Oostenbroek

A mask is a false external covering.

It can be worn to conceal a person’s true identity for better or for worse.

The idea that Women with High Functioning Autism are not being adequately diagnosed, simply because they wear masks, also carries within it the ideation that all women with Autism intentionally try to conceal their true selves in order to ‘pass as normal’.

This in turn implies that all women with Autism willingly engage in the act of perpetrating some form of female deception which, in turn, somehow creates the inability of professionals to recognize them for who they are.

The idea that women are fiendish creatures, capable of deceiving men, is not a new one.

In fact, that particular idea is as old as humanity and has been used successfully over the course of history to deny women the same basic human rights and considerations as men.

Which…

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Strategies for Neurotypical People to Develop Empathy for Autistic People

The Enthusiastic Life

Historically, there has been much debate about the extent to which autistic individuals experience empathy. I am using the phrase “autistic individuals” rather than “individuals with autism,” per the recommendation from the Autism Self-Advocacy Network. Recent studies indicate that while autistics may experience and demonstrate empathy in different ways from neurotypicals, they do indeed experience it, sometimes to intense degrees. The debate is well summarized here.

Empathy image credit here

Throughout this discussion, I have observed a curious and glaring omission: what about how and whether neurotypicals empathize with autistics? One of the basic tenets of social skills is reciprocity, an attunement to the back and forth nature of social interactions. If we are examining how well autistics display empathy towards others (the majority of whom are neurotypical), it is only fair to ask how and whether neurotypicals are extending the same courtesy back

In my…

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