Blogger Widgets Ender-Chan's Thoughts: August 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Alphabet of Things I Would Rather Be Called Than Smart

So I'm smart
And that's all I am to you?
I would rather be ambitious
Or beautiful than just plain smart.
How about saying that I'm
Even dependable would work.
Perhaps I am energetic.
The way my fleet fingers move across my flute
Evidences this. 
Should I just be grateful
That I am smart
Or be more hardcore?
Intuitive senses guide me
To be joyful
In all circumstances. 
My keen wit 
Only serves me so well.
I could be a leader
With a maidenly charm
And a nonconformist outlook.
Perhaps I am a little too optimistic.
I am precise in my work
And quirky when I create.
I am responsive to current events, but
Steadfast in what I believe.
Talented is only a measure of
What I can do,
But I would rather do
Than spend my life in a book.
My tendencies make me unique,
I do not live my life "normally".
My vivacious eyes
Are easily caught in wonder.
I am a wishfully thinking idealist.
Around new people, I can be xenodochial.
I plan to be youthful all my life
And zealous in every one of my passions.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

This is My Disability "Playlist" (What's Yours?)

1. "Jump"-Laura Shigihara
There is part of us that is still a frightened child: the part of us that still wants to hear the words "Everything will be okay", even when we don't know if we will indeed be okay. It is a daunting task to take initiative, especially when striving for an unknown outcome.

If we jump into the water, would we swim or would we drown? If we build a set of wings, then could we fly or just fall down? When you try to hit a milestone, you sometimes wonder if the arduous journey is for nothing or if you will waste your life having not tried at all. Jumping into a the unknown on a regular basis is commonplace in the disability community. Laura Shigihara's words mirror the intermingling of uncertainty and the underlying hope that give us the strength to swim and drown, to fly and fall. Hopefully, someone holds your hand (perhaps not literally) through it all.

2. Cube Land-Laura Shigihara
You're in a cube land digging with cold hands and using tools from doctors, therapists, yourself, and others trying to climb out of this mess you're in. Plagued by vulnerability and a lack of agency, your doors are open to whoever wants to break you. Thinking fast, you somehow last and make it through the rest of the day. You can't go back. You may not have a choice, but you fight the good fight and keep defending through the night because you're driven to survive.

Trying to slowly and tediously make progress towards a goal sometimes feels like punching a tree for wood: tedious, painful, and exhausting. Adjusting to your cube land is hard work. Rejection and failure close in like skeletons and zombies while the feeling of inadequacy taunts you like Herobrine appearing, then disappearing in flashes. You know you have to defeat Herobrine, but you're not sure how. You drive your sword through Herobrine to remove him, but you know he will come back to haunt you.

3. From the Ground Up-Laura Shigihara 
All skills are built from the ground up. Then, one day, the world crumbles around you. You take the hands of your team and help you build what you have lost--and more. You must reconstruct it--all from the ground up.

You work tirelessly although climbing's not your forte, wondering if you're there at your goal or if someone even cares. Still, the day goes on and the dragon is still on your tail. The notes from the doctors penetrate your stone walls and sends hordes of pain and guilt your way. You were not prepared for this, but you stand before the dragon.

4. Take Back the Night-TryHardNinja
As you wake from the initial shock, you discover that your kingdom has fallen. Secrets and the skeletons of your dreams wander through the ruins of what you thought would be the next Alexandria. Perhaps you feel like you're on the sidelines watching the bridge to freedom burn and break on its different sides. It's easier to run away, but, on that day, you decide it's time to cast the shadows out from sight. You make your final stand with a shouting cry.

Torch at the ready, you charge into the unknown. The ghosts of your dreams will come to light with time and force. I have spent my live wandering in the night, and perhaps you have too, but it's time to take it back.

5. Find the Pieces-TryHardNinja
Do you ever wish you could dig straight down and block it all away because the world is being particularly unfair to you? This song is about the hero of Take Back the Night finding his father after growing up and fighting an armies of Minecraft monsters. Everyone has someone they want to reach, but we might have to fight monsters, both theirs and our own, in order to reach them.

As you find the pieces of a relationship, self-discovery, or your passion, you continue to search for the pieces. You may never find all the pieces, but you search on and fight to meet others and know that you are not alone. After all, gray sunshine is still sunshine.

6. "No one is Alone"-Anna Kendrick and James Corden
The disability blogger community is my favorite Internet community for this reason: No one is alone. Most of the people I meet do not have their mother to guide them; they are on their own. They do things, fight things, and defy conventions in ways other people frown upon. Sometimes, even the most experienced, the most intelligent, the most revered bloggers feel they've lost their way. This community is one of few places where community and learning know no bounds. 

Where else do a high school student, a public speaker, a doctor, and a parent find solidarity with each other? Such a thing is not likely; I am infinitely grateful for it. The giants in your life can be good; it is up to you to own them. Just remember that someone is by your side no matter who they are.

7. "Fight Song"-Rachel Platten
A small boat on the ocean can send big waves into motion. A single word can make a heart open; likewise, one match can make an explosion. Perhaps all those things you didn't say are like wrecking balls inside your brain. Scream them loud tonight; you never know who will hear your voice this time.

It took me 13 years to claim my life, so it's not too late for you. Play your fight song loud and clear. Let every note flow through your veins as though music is your blood. Channel that strength into your passion, your purpose, your raison d'ĂȘtre. Everyone has one. Yours might not be the same as others, but that is okay.

8. Overcomer-Mandisa
You either embrace your status as an overcomer or, if you're like me, you're sick of defying the odds. Either way, you're an overcomer. Stay in the fight 'till the final round. You might be down for a moment, feeling like it's hopeless, but that's when God reminds you that you are an overcomer.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" is attributed to many people, but it means the same no matter who said it. No life is without struggle. Everyone is an overcomer in some way or another. You might feel slighted because someone is complaining about something you so desperately want. Do not neglect these feelings. Address them and go on with your life.

9.  Beautiful-Christina Aguilera 
With the advent of anonymity via the Internet, hurtful words are tossed about haphazardly in today's society. They are the kamikaze winds that bring us down, but can't quite seem to keep us down for long. We are beautiful no matter what they say; words can't keep us down. I listen to this song when words--or numbers--are bringing me down.

Comments like "I wish I were smart/talented like you" or "You're so lucky to be smart/talented" drive my self-esteem into the ground, especially on the days when I don't feel smart/talented. I have strong compulsions that make me feel like I have to be the best, the first, or step higher on the pyramid of intelligence in some way. A 99% on a test might be a triumph for you, but I would scold myself on how I could have scored a 100% if only I studied more thoroughly or ate a better breakfast. I am not some GPA or IQ that you want. If I am solely defined by my intelligence, then it denies every other attribute I have.

10. "Everything's Alright"-Laura Shigihara
With short steps and deep breaths through life, you tell yourself "Everything is alright". Perhaps, even with your chin up, you can't step into the spotlight. Your emotions and words may have a wide rift between them. Looking out, you see your loved ones say "I'm sad" somehow without any words. You might stand there searching for an answer. However, I assure you, that when this world is no more and the moon is all we'll see, I'll ask you to fly away with me.

 This playlist is not meant to be listened to in any particular order, but it has a song for every moment. We jump in to our cube land, build our lives from the ground up, take back the night, try to find the pieces, remind each other that no one is alone, play our fight songs, are overcomers (some for survival, some by choice), are beautiful in every single way, and tell each other that everything's alright all in one day. I tried to select a song for every moment, for the highs and the lows, when we live in castles that become boxes that we have to move, for the uncertain moments when we jump into the water, the days when we need encouragement or want to exhort another person.

And Now: An Echolaliac Poem Featuring Lyrics From These Songs

For Every Moment

Could we fly or just fall down?
I've made the choice to stay.
I don't even mind leaving it behind.
So fight the past, take back the night
When I find the pieces.
You decide, but you are not alone
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me.
You're not going under
So don't you bring me down today.
If you're with me, then everything's alright.

Is there any song that you feel can be added to the playlist or pattern that you noticed about the songs? Do you feel that my choices reflect my personality in some way? Comment below!

If you want to make something like this, link back to me and let me know! It can be any number of songs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fine, Take It.

This post is intended to give you insight into my personality and who I am. Everything I say is up for discussion and debate.

Someone in my French class took the seat that I had been assigned. She told me to move because I was in her seat, to which I responded "Check the chart." Again, this girl insisted that the seat was hers. With absolute certainty, she had taken my assigned seat. I arrived to the class before her; after I settled, I, after a minor escalation in temper, let her have it. Fine. Take it. I don't like you anyway. I thought. The day resumed as normal.

I don't know why she took my seat. Other than this one incident, I know nothing of her character. Perhaps she misread the seating chart or was misplaced from several other seats and frustrated about that. Maybe she thinks nothing of displacing a fellow student, but the incident shook me to my core. Everywhere I go, I find a place only to be usurped. All of my friends have other friends and favor them over me. While I am content to be alone, I do not like to be rejected or ignored. I have the right to refuse social contact and I have the right to accept it.

Whether or not this girl intended to send me a message by taking my seat I do not know. I go about my life with a "writer personality." Every life event has some sort of symbolism or foreshadowing that is applicable to the future. This moment in French class reminded me of years of exclusion, misplacement, and being the friend that someone makes, but sets to the side after a while. I may think too much about life's minutia, but I cannot simply "get over" something the way others do.

In true supine-melancholic fashion, I internalize everything that anyone says to or about me and take it to heart rather than retort. Then, I reflect on the meaning of the event and what it means for the future rather than what I could have done. I plan to be civil to her in the future. An isolated incident is only that and, since I know nothing else of her character, will let history (and God) judge her rather than me.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

All On the First Day

Being twice exceptional comes with a lot of uncertainty; the first day is more than just the first day for this girl. She has to fight and prove that there's more to her than Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD, and verbal giftedness. It's hard for others to believe that the girl who marches on the field with pride is the same girl with her hands in her pockets staring down at the floor because she got left out in a social situation. The student you see skyrocketing through English is the student that forgets her homework frequently. She is frustrated, exhausted, and misunderstood from battling something others don't understand. Though her whole life is ahead of her, these four years will determine her fate. She needs help to stay with the crowd even though she already has an edge against the competition.

I am that girl. I have chosen to do difficult things because I know I am capable of doing them. If I fail, that's the way it's got to be. It's okay if I don't figure everything out overnight because it is impossible to figure everything out. I am a living oxymoron, but there's more to me than what you see. That I have to prove every single day of my life; there are so many instances I defied the odds that I'm now sick of defying the odds. This is the life I have chosen and the path I have taken. It is s rocky uphill path inclined towards the edge of a cliff and hiking on is the choice I will make day in and day out. 

I have wasted my life telling myself that I can't do something or that it's too late for me to learn how. Now, I recant all of those things I said and I will try to be everything I can be. If I want to start skateboarding at the age of 15, so be it. It will be painful. I might cry in agony when I wipe out and possibly break a bone or two. I am not afraid of pain, but I am afraid of failure. This is why I am selective about the battles I fight.

Playing flute in seventh grade was the best decision I made. I could have gone about my life without having taken up an instrument, but playing the flute allowed me to experience something I never have before. Marching band is an integral part of who I am and it made me a better person. Not playing the flute could have saved me a lot of frustration, but the sound from it is well worth the effort. The first push off the ground as I start skateboarding will be like the first note on my flute.

I am daring, ambitious, absentminded, idealistic, eccentric, quirky, determined, expressive, verbose, musical, creative, strong, persistent a hopeless romantic, and twice exceptional. I will try to be everything that I can be and prove that there's more to me than what you see. 

I'll live my life
All on the first day.

To further understand the context of the post, I urge you to click the video above.

Finish This Sentence in Your Blog (Or the Comment Section)
[This song] by [this artist] reflects my life experiences because...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I was Forced to Become Right-Handed

I have seen a fellow autistic blogger liken Lovaas-style ABA to being forced to change your dominant hand or dye your hair a different color. Being told "Quiet hands" over and over again reinforces a lack of autonomy. This is a problem for autistic people who are already vulnerable to mistreatment due to communication difficulties. Many of these people report having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of what they have endured. The change I endured was more subconscious, more subtle. You would have never known I had to endure it if I didn't state it outright.

I was forced to become right-handed. 

You read that correctly. In ancient times, left-handed people sometimes had their hands broken in order to force them into right-handedness. I don't know if my parents knew the therapist would train me out of my original handedness, but they knew it was being done and didn't bother to voice their concerns (if changing my handedness was of any concern to them).

I did not have my left hand broken, amputated, or deformed in any way. It is intact and within a "normal" range of function. Instead, the change came on without physical pain, but with a subconscious reminder of my lack of power. The therapist made me catch a ball with my right hand instead of my left. Eventually, the change became ingrained so deeply my right hand acquired dominance. I was made to do something unnatural so many times it became a habit, and thus, "natural". I didn't scream, cry, or try to resist because I didn't know any better (I was very young at the time, probably 4 or 5 years.). In fact, I maintained the face of being a good little girl so well that the reality of the situation was invisible to untrained eyes.

The analogy above is my literal, bare-bones reality. My current right-handedness will forever serve as a reminder of what other autistic people were (and are) forced to endure. If you are deciding on therapies for an autistic person, who will you listen to? Will you choose to listen to (most likely) neurotypical "experts" trying to sell a method or the autistic people who have experienced these therapies for themselves?

  • Some therapies are called ABA when they are nothing like what I have described. 
  • This is not the same as offering an alternative to a harmful behavior. 
  • Forcing someone out of what is natural for them, regardless of how natural or unnatural it is to you, is not to be done.
    • If they don't appear to have any adverse reactions, it is still wrong, so stop.
    • Cognitive abilities, age, race, size, and functioning level do not matter. If you are forcing someone to be someone they are not in any way, then stop.
  • The illusion of happiness or immediate gratification from these ABA therapies is not true happiness. Sure, the person might enjoy the reward while it lasts, but this has nothing to do with their overview of themselves.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Why the Lack of 2e Bloggers?

I was looking for twice-exceptional self advocates hoping I could promote a #actually2e tag like the #actuallyautistic tag. I found no such people. The only bloggers I found were parents when I searched "twice exceptional bloggers". I'm sure that there are some twice exceptional bloggers out there, but no one seems to want to identify with the 2e label. Maybe I've haven't looked hard enough, but why haven't I found anybody?

The 2e label can help to make sense of the asynchronous mess inside of your head. It did with me. I knew I was smart all along, but not gifted. This label explains words and music come easily to me, but numbers and executive functioning don't. I've placed everywhere on a bell curve in the most random places. Visual puzzles were 75% for me; matrices were 15%. Math tests were abhorrent; verbal tests brought me joy.

If you're 2e, own the label and speak out. This particular breed of mind is baffling as it is, so your experiences can help someone. No two twice exceptional people are alike, so add diversity to the #actually2e tag so it's not just me.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ask a 2e (#Actually2e)

Image Description: A 2 constructed from interlocking blocks with a capital blue E in a sketch font next to it on a white background
I want to start a hashtag trend similar to #actuallyautistic. I want to show that being 2e is not the end of the world or a fault. "Exceptional" means "unusual, not typical" and "unusually good, outstanding." Twice-exceptional self advocates, this is your chance to shine! Shed light on the topic. Describe your experiences. Vent about ignorant teachers. Share tips, tricks, and lifehacks. Spread awareness of twice-exceptionality all over Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Digg, Instagram, Hulu, Vimeo, DailyMotion, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and all other forms of social media. There's also an Ask a 2e blog part. This is when you let people ask your questions about being 2e and answer them in a subsequent post. Be sure to link back in the next post!

How to Join the Movement
Make a post tagged #Actually2e and post about your 2e experiences! I know you're lurking out there, so stop lurking and get in the light where people can see you! *friendly shove*

What if I'm Not 2e?
Don't worry! You can still join the movement by liking, commenting, sharing, re-tweeting, and otherwise making sure people see the #Actually2e movement. 

Got any questions about the 2e experience? Comment below and I'll answer them!

But, as with anything, there's caveats and stipulations.
  • I will not mention my family members by name, if at all.
  • Questions fall under my comment policy.
  • All profanity will be deleted. 
  • If you are an anonymous commenter, I will credit you as "Anonymous" during question credits unless you state otherwise.
  • My answers are from my perspective as a self advocate. I apologize in advance for any biased answers.
  • I am not responsible for injuries or losses resulting from my advice.
So go ahead, ask away! There's more harm in withholding curiosity than there is in expressing it.

Image Credit: Mermaids and Mermen