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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

Autism

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

A complicated love letter to music

Black and white side rear photo of a person’s face wearing earphones, hand moving towards ear.
Black and white side rear photo of a person’s face wearing earphones, hand moving towards ear.

This is a love letter. It’s also a story about depression and autism and music, but it’s still a love letter. Remember that as you are reading this. And if you know me or care about me a little, please know that I’m okay.

I am.

I’m not great, but I’m okay.

I’m never going to be great, and that’s also okay.

I don’t like binaries, but I’m guessing either you know what I mean when I say that music has saved my life, or you don’t. Not everyone has this kind of relationship to music. I guess other forms…


He is teaching me a remarkable lesson about survival during the pandemic

The sky over my house is gray. The continuous fires just over the mountain leave a thin layer of ash to sweep away in the mornings. Like just about everything else, the fires have been bad this year.

On my morning walks, my mask pulls double duty against the virus and the smoke. It’s hard, literally, to pause, take a deep breath, and appreciate the beauty of small moments. There don’t seem to be many small moments these days. They’ve all gone out with the cruel tide that’s been 2020.

It’s been a hard year for us. For all of…


This Is Us

After a childhood (and adulthood) spent wondering why I never quite fit in, I finally understand myself

Staring up at the Florida evergreens, warmed by streetlights against the background of a deep blue, light-polluted sky, I began to feel the calming of my nervous system. The speed of my rocking back and forth slowed, my muscles released some of their tension, and the echo of the word “different” dampened in volume so other words and thoughts could enter my mind. My friend Jas, sitting on the other side of the steps, sensed a change in my energy and asked if I was all right. …


This Is Us

It’s painful and exhausting to ‘mask’ Autism — but I have no other choice

Photo of a man with his eyes covered by flowers.
Photo of a man with his eyes covered by flowers.

Recently, I’ve become obsessed with the Instagram account MyAutisticPartner, which follows the lives of an allistic (that is, non-Autistic) man and his wife Boo, an Autistic nurse. It gives me a glimpse into a world I wish I could inhabit: a life where hiding my Autism isn’t necessary, because I am wholly understood, accepted, and loved, no matter how strange I am or how much support I require.

Boo’s husband runs the account for the most part, though Boo provides input on much of the content, consents to all the posts, and is more comfortable sharing photos of herself on…


This Is Us

In fact, we’ve got more than enough

I’m an autistic woman in my 30s. I’m introverted and a little awkward, but I do enjoy meeting new people and making new friends. However, I have this recurring experience in social settings that I find off-putting.

When I am in a room with a group of people who are neurotypical (that is, people with “typically developing” brains), I am often told that I don’t fit their image of what autism looks like. I am told that I seem too intelligent or too “high-functioning.” I am too verbal. My eye contact is too good. …


Humans 101

Our actions matter more than how we feel

A multiple exposure photo of a woman’s face that appears to be shattered.
A multiple exposure photo of a woman’s face that appears to be shattered.

I used to know this guy, Steven, who was very invested in thinking of himself as “an empath.” Actually, I’ve known a lot of people like that. I hang around artists, actors, and queer people who read a lot of self-help books; in those circles, identifying as an empath is common. But when I think about the misunderstood nature of empathy and the way it gets overhyped in our culture, Steven in particular always comes to mind.

Steven was a kindhearted, warm person with a rich social network. He was perceptive and fascinated by the inner lives of everyone around…


This Is Us

This moment is hard for everyone. For parents of special needs kids, it’s harder.

I was on a ship headed out of the Gulf after three months of grueling summertime naval interdiction operations when 9/11 happened. We were extended indefinitely. For months, I spent six out of every 18 hours driving a ship. The other 12 were spent managing an engineering division and trying to find a few hours to sleep. We had no idea how long we would be there. It ended up lasting three months longer than it was supposed to.

I went 103 days without stepping foot on land.

It sucked.

On my next deployment, my team was sent to a…


Mind Games

It’s hard being Autistic in a noisy and bright world

The lights in the courtyard are burning much brighter than before. Our building’s maintenance guy must have been told to switch them out. There have been problems with people smoking by the doors, leaving their cigarette butts in the grass overnight. Maybe the lights were changed in hopes of making the area less inviting to the smokers. The bulbs used to give off a soft yellow glow that the Venetian blinds of our bedroom could almost block out. But now the light is cold, clinical, and painful to take in. I only just noticed, but I’m furious about it already.


Not Another First Time Story

As an autistic kid in a small town, I creeped out my very first crush

“Whether a gesture is alarming or charming depends on how it’s received.” Ted Mosby delivered this sage advice in the last season of How I Met Your Mother, about 15 years too late by my timing. It’s known as the “Dobler/Dahmer theory”: The idea that any romantic gesture can be perceived as coming from a Dobler (as in, Lloyd, from Say Anything) or a Dahmer (the Milwaukee Monster).

There’s a fine line between those two, a tightrope I fell off long ago — the first time I fell in love.

Adolescence is a lonely place; it is emptier still in…


Other moms don’t want to hear about my children’s issues, and I struggle with their everyday complaints

The silence of my thoughts echoes through the walls at night when I’m trying to drift off to sleep. I think about all the things I should have done but did not do or simply forgot about. As the silence grows louder, I often find myself looking through other mothers’ lives on social media. I find their play dates, their Pinterest ideas, and their cute professional photos — but most of all I find their normalcy.

Oh, how I would kill for the normalcy of being an ordinary mother. I never asked to be a special needs mother; in fact…

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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