Welcome to Reframing Autism.
I probably should have written this post first, but it didn’t really occur to me that it might be helpful for you, my readers, to have an introductory paragraph or two (OK, so in all likelihood, more than two) about me, until someone asked ‘so, who are you?’. Good question.
But how to answer? What labels do I apply to myself to transmit to you — accurately and objectively if possible — the kinds of information that you might find interesting or helpful or (as the writer in me hopes) both?
First and foremost, I am a mother. And then a wife. That sounds like a terribly antiquated way to view myself, but my job as a Mum to my three, spectacular boys really is defining for me. When I think about myself, my family is foremost in my mind, so to me it is natural to go with the Mum and the wife first. And I should probably note from the outset that I don’t see such ‘defining’ labels as necessarily ‘confining’. I like definition and meaning, and I know that whilst I am more than ‘Mum’, I can’t not be ‘Mum’. It defines me, but it does not confine me.
And then… Autistic, I think. It’s who I am, an intrinsic and dominant thread of the tapestry that is my identity. I am a multiply neurodivergent writer, who is Autistic. So I am an Autistic Mum to three multiply neurodivergent sons, who are all Autistic too. Our family is a little microcosm of Neurodiversity Utopia: we accept, respect, and celebrate our neurodivergences, together and with deep love. A lot of my posts will reference my boys, but this blog is not about them. Their stories are not mine to tell. So you’re stuck with reading primarily about me, and my thoughts.
I’m a teacher. Well, not in the traditional sense. But I home-school my three boys because mainstream schooling failed them in ways that were basic and staggering and devastating. And because their mental health — and mine — depends on acceptance and respect, which seems in short supply in educational environments (at least near where I live). And because I want them to be happy and safe, and in school they were neither. And because — despite the fact that they can’t be easily judged by standardised testing, developmental markers, and academic norms — the way in which they see the world, and process information, and make connections, is so truly inspiring and amazing and unique, that I didn’t want them squashed into the four walls of a traditional curriculum that was neither relevant to their interests, nor meaningful to their experience of life.
I’m a professional. I write. I have a PhD. I have postgraduate qualifications specifically in Autism. I research, particularly within the Early Childhood Intervention space, but for the disability sector more broadly. So, I write academically. But I write like this too — for myself, and for you. I try to make a difference for our Autistic children and our Autistic community. I suppose that makes me an Advocate too.
I have other labels too. More subjective ones… or at least, less objective ones. Chocaholic. Passionate. Verbose (actually, that one’s pretty important for readers and you should probably know that brevity and succinctness are not my strengths if you’re reading my blog). Perfectionist. Organised. Hyper-emphathetic. Anxious. Arthritic. Clumsy. I love stim-dancing, reading (think Isobelle Carmody and Tolkien and le Guin), writing (fiction, non-fiction, academic, personal — words on paper or screen are magical to me), Medieval History (especially Old English and Old Norse literature), Autism, and earrings. I am eclectic (Guns N Roses plays through my headphones as often as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake), but I like predictability. I prioritise equity over equality, and I yearn for justice and authentic inclusion. For myself, and my boys, and our community.
And why this blog? I want you to come here and see Autism differently. Positively. With hope. And optimism. To see the joy, not just the challenges. To celebrate the potential. To see Autism how I see it… with acceptance, respect, and a deep appreciation for the beauty and happiness that is being Autistic.
So, welcome. Happy reading. Enjoy. Together, let’s eschew the pathology, the deficits, the exclusion, and Reframe Autism.