Auditory Discrimination



    Why I Write: National Coming Out Day-later

    October 13, 2016

    (So, yesterday the 11th was National Coming Out Day, and I thought I’d write a post, but I didn’t get to it…so, today it is…I would also like to preface everything by saying that my ability to be an out autistic and asexual is based on quite a bit of privilege and luck. Coming out isn’t the safest choice for everyone and in fact can be dangerous as all hell on both fronts, and thus this isn’t me saying that everyone should come out nor implying that I’m braver for being able to do so…there you go, enjoy the show)

    Profile picture I created that has an asexual overlay

    Profile picture I created that has an asexual overlay

    “Open up your eyes, take a look at me
    Get the picture fixed in your memory
    I’m driven by the rythm like the beat of a heart
    And I won’t stop until I start
    To stand out

    Some people settle for the typical thing
    Livin’ all their lives waitin’ in the wings
    It ain’t a question of ‘if’, just a matter of time
    Before I move to the front of the line

    And once you’re watchin’ ev’ry move that I make
    Ya gotta believe that I got what it takes

    To stand out
    Above the crowd
    Even if I gotta shout out loud
    ‘Til mine is the only face you see
    Gonna stand out ’til you notice me”

    Stand Out, Jonathon Young (cover)

    So, to be quite honest, this post is as much explaining to myself why I do this, why I write and am out as both autistic and asexual (I don’t experience sexual attraction-information here) lithromantic (definition of this variant here), as to everyone else. Recently my piece on Autism Speaks, You See a Puzzle Piece, was shared by The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (one of the biggest autism pages, mentioned in Neurotribes which I reviewed here, they shared the review as well). While most of the responses were positive, some were…invalidating, which is really hard with the extreme emotions that come with being autistic (see Emotionless? If only… for my response to the “autistics don’t feel anything” stereotype…there are times I wish it was the case). The Guide did do its best to shield me by taking those comments down, but it did dent me for a bit.

    However, a combination of this song and that day got me thinking about why I stand out, even with the pain that often comes with it.

    Part of it, a rather large part, is the simple fact that I can. I went to a school for autistics called Anova, and it helped me out extremely with my difficulties (in Why I choose the term Autistic (instead of Aspie) I talk more about me pre-Anova and post-Anova), and its size also created a climate that was ace (asexual)-friendly. From what I’ve heard from the community, many aces go through high school with their friends talking about girls/guys in ways that they can’t relate, and find themselves feeling broken or somesuch. Thanks to the issues with the diagnostic criteria, Anova was mostly boys and most of us (including myself) were nerds. There wasn’t that type of conversation, so I didn’t suffer through the similar alienation that many others do. I have never been made to feel ashamed about my identity and the area around me has consistently provided enough support to be comfortable as who I am. Anova also grounded me in my autistic identity in a way that has enabled me to use it to be a writer and activist.

    But that’s obviously not the whole thing, as I had fellow graduates, none of them taking the same path.

    I guess that my goal is to stand out because as both an autistic and an ace, quite often “mine is the only face you see.” Aces and autistics are hardly common, and there is a lot of stigma attached to both differences, asexuality often being erased or dismissed (or asked if we’re plants because asexual reproduction puns are of course things that we haven’t heard before [we have]) and autism associated with everything mentioned in We Are Not. Being such a visible ace autistic is in itself a defiant statement, rebelling against stigma and erasure by daring to be proud of my existence and opening myself to the world. People are going to know who I am, what I am, simply because I’ve found myself to be a bit hard to ignore. I have made it such an obvious part of my identity and encourage people to ask me questions so people can see me, not just the narrative that they’re told.

    I also stand out because I tried fitting in when I was younger and it…really didn’t work. I don’t settle for the (neuro)typical thing because the times I shut my identity down were downright miserable and embracing the totality of what I am has been the only reason I’m alive.

    But I think that the most important reason that I’m out on the stage instead of spending my life waiting in the wings is to show others that it is possible, that they don’t need to be ashamed of who they are. The display is for those who are still in the closet, letting them know that they aren’t alone and that they don’t need to feel shame for their identity. Education is nice, but if I manage to make one person, just one, realize that who they are isn’t a problem like everyone in the world might seem to be telling them, then that makes a difference worth all the hurt that may happen. I make my pride in my neurology/sexuality obvious because I want others to know that they can be proud too, even if they can’t come out themselves.

    This life isn’t for everyone, but I will say that standing out and being noticed has been something that has helped me a lot. If it doesn’t make you unsafe and you have the spoons to do so, I’d recommend this owning of your identity and thus using your voice to shout out loud be a beacon of possible acceptance for your kin. Gods know that any new voices in the fight for acceptance are always needed.

    If you can, shout out loud to our allies and enemies and let them see you. It’s not always painless but the potential to actually change things makes it all worth it.

    You Might Also Like

  • Keep Ian Walsh/Reynard Winters housed through his illness-please help (updates linked in bottom)

    September 2, 2016


    Reynard is a good friend of mine who is going through extreme hell. He has severe Hepatitis C which is killing him, along with unknown blood and neurological disorders, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, mild cognitive impairment, and suspected temporal lobe epilepsy which he’ll be in the hospital for from September 26th to the 30th.
    In addition to all of this, he’s also completely broke and is going to be evicted, which not only would leave him homeless but also make it so he won’t be able to keep his therapy animal (in the pictures) and also won’t be able to get the meds for his Hepatitis C, which will kill him.
    His move out date is technically October 1st but he would need to get his stuff out the day before going into the hospital. His roommate just changed the date to September 7th. More info is in the updates linked below.
    The money will be used to rent a room and provide for his basic needs, along with make it so he can take care of his therapy animal.
    Any amount will help, please, please help my friend.

    Updates here:

    You Might Also Like

  • Welcome to a new friend

    August 22, 2016


    “See my friend as he’s swimming along
    A Real Big Fish in a tiny pond
    He waves hello as he’s singing his song
    My friend
    I love my friend
    (We love him!)”

    My Friend, Suburban Legends

    I would like to welcome an excellent and wonderful person to our blog, Marco Arturo (the link is to his Facebook page). My most recent article (though it’s been awhile), We Are Not, was dedicated to him and about him, but for those who haven’t read it, Marco is a twelve year old autistic genius from Mexico who made this wonderful video shredding the anti-vaxxers who say vaccines cause autism (watch the whole thing), and, despite literally having 20,000 people harass him and 2,000 death threats (did I mention he’s twelve?) from anti-vaxxers, has continued to fight ignorance on topics of all sorts (as all sorts of ignorant people find his page…he even dealt with a flat earther once, which was fun [I helped]…he also made this video on the importance of snakes and why we fear them but shouldn’t kill them). His determination to fight against ignorance amazes me, and so growing to be good friends with him and being able to welcome him to Never Less Than Everything has been a truly great honor. I know that his future will be bright, and joining paths with him has been something I treasure.

    Please join me in welcoming this young hero, and also please follow his personal blog at Universal Understanding (yes, those are quotes that people have said about him in the picture, I’m glad he’s able to be snarky about it).

    -Laoch Onórach

    You Might Also Like

  • Bias and The Hemispheres

    June 16, 2016
    left and right brain functions concept, analytical vs creativity

    Most of us, at one time or another, have been introduced to the idea of the left brain / right brain theory that says that the left brain pilots your creative thinking  and your right brain pilots your analytical thinking. This idea is a sort of literal look at how the hemispheres of the brain work and draws on studies conducted using an EEG (electroencephalogram, a test used to detect electrical activity in the brain) to monitor the areas of the brain that light up during certain activities. Researchers might, for instance, take a group of people connect them to the EEG and then have them watch a heart warming family film. As pleasurable images cause the brain to light on the left side, they draw the conclusion that positive emotion is a left brain function. The same group, when asked to watch a slasher film full of distressing images, show activity on the right side and so negative emotion becomes a right brain function.  While it is important to remember that while the largest measurable activity might have taken place in a specific location and so designated left or right brain accordingly, the brain is a dynamic organ with activity throughout. There is also the problem of the limits of our technology and rudimentary understanding of the way the brain actually works. So while we attribute left and right, it’s important to keep those factors in mind.

    As I move into a discussion of the pre-frontal cortex and emotions and sensory input it is important to talk about the hemispheres and also to return to the amygdala and look again at its functions. Imagine if you will a large network of computer cables running this way and that, all coming together at a single central power strip where they are plugged in. Along these cords are messages from the body’s various sensory systems: the skin, eyes, ears, nose etc. Once they connect to the power strip it connects to everything else, the whole house, to control the body’s responses and keep the systems safe and running at optimal performance. That central hub of information, the “power strip” in this example, is the amygdala.

    It is something of a misnomer that the amygdala is directly related only the to emotion of fear, though it has that reputation. The amygdala relates to the whole panorama of human emotion. However, since the body can put off pleasurable activities, like food and sex, for an indefinite amount of time but must respond to danger immediately, fear is an easy response to study. Within studies of human emotion then, there is a natural negative bias since negative emotions are more viable to survival and so more research has been conducted on them. Since sensory and emotional triggers directly affect decision-making, it is important to keep these biases in mind as we continue to look at the brain, autism and behavior.

    You Might Also Like