Peace Amidst Fear

Peace Amidst Fear

Over the course of the summer, I’ve taken you through my understanding of anger. Quite personally I needed to write about it because it was pulsing through my veins. While I have an incredible amount of compassion, empathy, and a commitment to humanity, I am also a human. I cannot yet write fully about what caused this anger but I will tell you a broken system and injustice are involved.

As anger came to me I was overwhelmed by it. I knew that fear was a terrible driver (see blog) but I also knew my anger was real and there was no fear in my anger. It was raw rage. At first, I felt guilt and shame for the rage I felt. The only fear I had was not wanting to take it out on another. I am not perfect (to the woman at the 7th BMV I visited to get my adopted son his driving permit, I am sorry!). Anger pulsed through my veins and I did my best to not take it out on others. I was not my best self.

Dealing with Anger

When my anger spoke to me and said it would not go away I had to do something radical, something I’ve never done before; I sat with anger. Sitting with anger is incredibly uncomfortable. I’ve written to you about sitting with fear, hurt, and pain but never anger. The reason for this is that anger is an active emotion that needs an outlet and in our nervous system. Anger seeks a release. When we feel anger we want to get rid of it. We want to let it out! The problem with this is just as hate begets hate, anger begets anger. You cannot get away from anger by simply releasing it and by releasing it in its raw form you run the risk of hurting yourself or others. Personally, I become very upset if I hurt others or myself. I feel ashamed. 

Sitting with anger allowed me to finally be able to see what it was telling me. Instead of looking at anger as an uncomfortable emotion that needed to be released, I chose to look at my anger as a pissed-off friend.  I asked my anger, “what’s going on, what’s happening here?” When I lost my temper I quickly said sorry first to my own heart and then the person who received that anger. I don’t excuse the damaging behaviors of others and I certainly do not believe I have the right to damage another person.

As I sat with my anger I was able to see what was blocking my path, what was unjust, and what I could and could not control. What was out of my current control was, of course, the hardest to let go of. This leads me to write about peace amidst fear.

Anger & Fear

Personally, my tribe all knows about what I am fearful of and it’s a lot. Whenever I listen to Glennon Doyle talk about her struggle with anxiety from caring all the time I’m fist-pumping the air. At least half a dozen times a year I call my sister in a panic about something I’ve heard in the news. Mind you this is news someone else has reported to me because, for my mental health, I literally cannot read the news or stay on social media. Reading things like “girls in Africa have trouble going to school because of their menstrual cycle” (https://www.daysforgirls.org) or “the Native Americans are having a water crisis in our country” (https://www.navajowaterproject.org) just about break my soul in two. To me, worth is born the minute we take our first breath as humans, and when human rights are restricted and people are hurting, I hurt too.

I also know that so many of us are pretty well exhausted by the length of the pandemic, the wait for vaccinations for our young children, and hurt deeply by the divide amongst our country. It is a fearful time with no clear end in sight.

Reading through the works of spiritual teachers like Gabby Bernstein help me understand that peace is available to us all of the time. She and other teachers are not wrong in that peace does beat inside our hearts but there is a part of their teachings that I can’t get behind. It is taught that peace and a life of ease are the goals leaving so many feeling defeated and like they are not enough. Constantly trying to be a perfect yogi and find that place of zen as a way of life is not easy.

Learning from Anger 

What I have learned over this past year is that pain, grief, anxiety, anger, and fear are simply part of the human experience. These usually coined “negative” emotions are just as natural as joy, happiness, laughter, love, and peace. You cannot know the feeling of a joyful emotion without knowing the painful emotion; you would have no reference point.

Life is not about staying zen, it’s not about being peaceful, loving, warm, and kind all of the time. Life is about honoring your own worth, sharing the gifts you are born with, navigating the storms that may come your way, and knowing that peace is available amidst it all. Peace is not the end goal, peace is a kind teacher that tells us we have a space to land as we feel, learn, and navigate our lives. Peace quiets the noise around us to tell us what’s real–both inside of us and out in the world so we can walk in alignment with the truest form of ourselves. Peace is the friend offering a hand, a hug, and a hot cup of tea when the world is crashing down around you. Peace is the calm in the storm.

We cannot stop pain, thus fear exists. We cannot also not stop love, thus peace exists. The goal is not perfect peace. The goal is radical self-love regardless of what is crashing around the shores of life.

Walk gently with your lives, my darlings. Do not get lost in the waves. Place your hand on your heart, listen to peace beating against your hand, and know all is well.

Xoxo,

Jessie

ASD & Double Empathy (Part 2)

ASD & Double Empathy (Part 2)

What is double empathy and how does it relate to ASD? Click here for Part 1.

Double Empathy & Current Thinking About ASD

The double empathy problem stands at odds with several widely adopted ideas about people with autism, namely that their social difficulties are inherent. For example, one of the main diagnostic criteria for autism, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is “persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts.” Similarly, the social motivation theory of autism holds that people with autism have a diminished drive for social interaction.

But the Double Empathy theory isn’t necessarily incompatible with the old ideas. Instead, the theory highlights the importance of examining both sides of social interactions instead of focusing solely on the ways people with autism diverge from the perceived norm.

Is ASD Research Changing in Light of the Double Empathy Problem?

Some modern ASD research is changing due to Double Empathy. For instance, scientists are rethinking how they examine social skills, calling for a revamp of autism studies to gauge the strengths, rather than the limits, of ASD communication. Researchers are also finding ways to probe the dynamics of social interactions instead of studying the isolated behavior of people lying in a brain scanner or sitting at a computer.

In addition, researchers who study predictive coding — the way people form internal models of the external world — are exploring how a mismatch in people’s predictions could hinder their interactions. For example, if a person with autism has expectations about how a conversation might unfold diverge from a neurotypical person’s, their interaction may falter.

Not everyone is convinced, or even aware, of the Double Empathy theory. Some questions at the core of the theory remain unanswered. For example, researchers are still figuring out why communication is smoother when people with autism interact with one another than it is when they engage with neurotypical people. And much of the existing evidence for the theory rests on anecdotal reports and small studies.

Are There Any Implications for ASD Treatment from Double Empathy?

In addition to suggesting new research angles, the double empathy problem may help explain why some autism assessments and treatments fall short. For example, standard measures of social abilities don’t seem to predict how people with autism fare in actual social interactions.

Therapies designed to teach people with autism normative social skills are not all that effective in helping them navigate real-life situations, such as forging friendships, studies suggest. Evaluating social situations surrounding people with autism and finding ways to facilitate their unique communication styles may be a more useful approach, he says.

Similarly, the double empathy problem underscores the importance of training programs — say, for doctors or law enforcement professionals — that help neurotypical people interact appropriately with people with autism. Being routinely misperceived can lead those with ASD to loneliness and feelings of isolation. And attempts to conform to social norms by suppressing who you are can be exhausting, many experts say.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment with ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Sources

Double Empathy Explained, spectrumnews.org

Peace Amidst Fear

You Are Not Made to Burn

Over the course of the past several months, I’ve filled my audible account with one healing book after another. If you scroll through it you’ll see writers who supported me as I emotionally held my own heart through the grief and reality I was facing. I hope someday my writing and work can do the same for others.

There are so many inspirational and wise writers, yet one book, Whole Again, by Jackson Mackenzie, gave me a piece of wisdom that helped me understand and unpack much of the shame, guilt, anger, and rage I was feeling. I’d like to share because perhaps the wisdom I learned from Jackson will poke a hole of light in the darknesses another sister or brother is walking.

Whole Again & Judgment

The self-judgment and high expectations I impose on myself have been lifelong struggles. Throughout the years, when something is not working, my first response is to go inward and see what I can change. I also look outward to research because I love knowledge and research. I was learning (still learning) to put down my tendency to inflict self-judgment but when I was facing a divorce I couldn’t resist. I was analyzing my own behavior to try and see what, if anything, I had done so incredibly wrong to have lived through domestic abuse.

To the other victims or survivors out there this one’s for you.

In his book, Whole Again, Jackson recalls a child being punched, kicked, and hit by a school bully. The child who is being hit screams out, lashes out, fights back, and then goes home and thinks “what type of person am I to hit another?” The child hurting them is not having that dialogue with themselves; they are still stuck in taking their anger out on others. This was a game-changing piece for me.

Self-Judgment and You

You see I am not a child being bullied but I have lived through some very unkind relationships. In these relationships when anger, guilt, shame, and the like were taken out on me I was often not very graceful about when I responded. I think many of you have seen the video where I stormed the football field in my new town because my son was facing bullying. I exploded and to this day am a person that perhaps makes that football team uncomfortable. For a long while, I judged myself for that explosion. Now I give myself grace. My son did not deserve to be faced with racism, and my response was valid regardless of its own lack of grace. 

Not giving myself grace is also true looking back at my own behavior when I was being abused. This may be true of your behavior if you were or are being abused. My darling loves, when someone is punching you (literally or figuratively) you cannot judge yourself for how you respond. If a person is tied to the stake and fire is sizzling at their feet would you ask them not to scream? No, you are not made to burn and you will scream to the skies. 

Self-Judgment & Parenthood

Shifting gears I often hear parents asking if they are good enough in the early days of parenthood. Glennon Doyle reinforces that even by asking that question you are in fact a good parent because people who are not good parents never even consider the question. I have a tattoo (one of many) of the word enough on my right wrist to remind me of this. I am enough. And it is enough. 

If we look at this example and apply it to unhealthy relationships and social encounters where you are asking yourself, “was I kind enough,” “did I mess it up again?” Just by asking those questions, you are announcing to yourself that you are a good person. People who are hurting other people are not asking themselves these questions. I hope someday they will but time and fate decide that not me.

I have personally spent a lifetime criticizing my own behavior to make sure that I’m showing up as my best self, that criticism has taken me nowhere but to stress. That criticism was a detour over witnessing what was really happening; abuse. If you are there, wondering what you are doing wrong because of how another person is treating you the answer is this; not a goddamn thing. 

Don’t Criticize Yourself When You Think You May Be in an Abusive Situation

If you are in the middle of abuse you might still be screaming at the stake. Scream. It’s OK. I know it hurts. But after you scream, gather the strength you need to gain the knowledge, boundaries, and self-love to stay off the stake. You are not responsible for how others treat you, you are responsible for how you treat yourself. 

Choose kindness, choose respect, and tell those harming you to leave. If they return, let it be with kindness and in their time, not yours. You might think you are losing everything but baby, you are gaining your life.

Xoxo,

Jessie

ASD & Double Empathy (Part 2)

ASD & Double Empathy (Part 1)

What is double empathy and how does it relate to ASD?

The basis of the Double Empathy Theory is that a mismatch between two people can lead to faulty communication. This disconnect can occur at many levels, from conversation styles to how people see the world. The greater the disconnect, the more difficulty the two people will have interacting.

In the case of autism, a communication gap between people with and without the condition may occur not only because people with autism have trouble understanding neurotypical people but also because neurotypical people have trouble understanding them. 

The problem, the theory posits, is mutual. For example, difficulty in reading the other person’s facial expressions may stunt conversations between people with autism and neurotypical people.

Double Empathy Origins

This conception of social issues in autism as a two-way street is decades old. Some ASD activists have argued for years that ASD modes of communication conflict with neurotypical ones.

The term ‘double empathy problem’ was first used in a 2012 paper by Damian Milton, a University of Kent lecturer. The idea offered a way to reframe the long-held notion that individuals on the spectrum have impaired theory of mind — the ability to infer the intentions or feelings of others — to include potential misunderstanding by neurotypical people.

Support for Double Empathy

Instead of focusing on how people with autism perform in social situations, new studies probe how neurotypical people perform when interacting with people with autism. The results hint that neurotypical people’s blind spots contribute to a communication gap. 

In one study, neurotypical people had trouble deciphering the mental states people with autism portrayed through animations. Another study showed that neurotypical individuals struggle to accurately interpret the facial indicators of people with autism.

Neurotypical people may also make snap judgments of people with autism that prevent, curtail, or sour interactions between the two. For example, neurotypical people may be prone to having negative first impressions of people with autism without knowing their diagnosis — rating them less approachable and more awkward than neurotypical people.

Are Social Difficulties a Core Trait of ASD?

Yes, plenty of evidence shows that people with autism differ from neurotypical people. Social interaction difficulties across several domains, such as facial expressions, speech patterns, and eye gaze (though the last notion may be shaky) have been observed and studied.

However, many other studies show that people with autism have social and communication issues that are not evident when they interact with other people with autism. For example, in the game of “telephone,” in which a message is relayed in whispers from one person to the next, chains of eight people with autism maintain the fidelity of the message just as well as sets of eight neurotypical people do. It’s only in mixed groups of people with autism and neurotypical people that the message quickly degrades.

There are other signs that people on the spectrum connect well with one another. People with autism report feeling more comfortable with other people with autism than with neurotypical people. Many adolescents with autism prefer to interact with ASD peers over neurotypical ones. And people with autism often build a greater sense of rapport and share more about themselves when conversing with others on the spectrum. 

One reason for this pattern may be that people with autism are less concerned with typical social norms, such as conversational reciprocity, and so don’t mind as much when these rules are not followed.

The principle of social compatibility may extend beyond autism diagnoses to autism traits. For example, the more similar two neurotypical people rate themselves on an autism trait assessment, the closer they rate their friendship.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment with ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Sources

Double Empathy Explained, spectrumnews.org

Autism Resources

Autism Resources

We know that finding good resources to help understand and learn about autism can be hard to find. There aren’t a lot of comprehensive resources on the internet, which can make it difficult to get information without consulting a professional. But what if you want to do a bit of research before contacting a therapist, doctor, or other Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) professional?

Thankfully there are some great resources available on the web if you know where to look. We put together a list of some of the best ASD resources on the web so you can start your research by going to the site with the best information for your specific needs.

Each of the following resources will be classified by a category to make it easier for you to find what you need. The ASD categories we will be using are general information, screening & testing, pediatric ASD resources, teen ASD resources, and important links.

We will provide information and brief summaries on each resource so you’ll have an idea of what information the site provides before going in. Feel free to skip to the category you are looking for information on; this article doesn’t necessarily need to be read from start to finish. That being said, the general information links are great resources for most ASD-related topics and questions.

General ASD Resources

These resources provide general ASD information and can be thought of as overviews. The sites in this section will focus on ASD as a whole; symptoms, when to test, where to go, options, FAQs, and other broad ASD-related information.

CDC ASD Information

CDC ASD Information & Resources 

The CDC ASD is probably the best place to start for general information and answers to your questions. The information provided by the CDC is one of the most comprehensive ASD resources on the internet. 

Topics the CDC provides information on include:

  • What is ASD?
  • ASD screening & diagnosis
  • Treatments
  • Research & tracking
  • Data & statistics
  • ASD-related articles
  • Materials & multimedia
  • Community reports

There is information on just about every general ASD-related topic available on the CDC website. Starting your journey here will give you a great general overview about what ASD is and what you can do to help.

Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks Website

Autism Speaks has some great information on what ASD is and provides resources & articles on many broad topics. The CDC provides a link to the Autism Speaks website, as it goes more in-depth on more specific ASD topics like finding therapy or treatment in your area, associated symptoms, screening, and fundraising.

Autism Speaks has been the target of some criticism due to their former goal of ‘curing’ autism. Their focus has shifted over the years, however, and their website remains a great resource for getting information and promoting awareness about ASD.

ASD Screening & Testing Resources

Screening & testing is the most important step in diagnosing ASD. The resources in this section provide lists, links, and more that can help you find ASD screening and testing in your area. The first section, CDC screening & diagnosis, goes over what to expect and how to prepare for an ASD screening.

CDC Autism Screening & Testing

CDC ASD Screening & Testing

The CDC page on ASD screening & testing is the best place to learn about general practices and procedures. The information provided by the CDC on this page is a generalized overview, but it has enough information to get you started on where to look and what to look for.

The Autism Community in Action Finding a Doctor

TACA Finding an ASD Doctor

This link starts with a more in-depth look at what to expect during ASD screening & testing followed by several links to help find a doctor in your area. The focus of this page is providing information that will help you get the treatment you are looking for.

The TACA Finding a Doctor page does a great job of explaining what you should look for and what to avoid when selecting an ASD doctor. Further information includes how to avoid getting stuck with unpaid costs from your insurance company and resources to help with this.

This is a fantastic resource if you are unfamiliar with billing practices related to ASD therapy or treatment. The links provided to find a doctor or, specifically, a functional medicine doctor can also help you to start your journey on the right path.

Pediatric ASD Resources

Autism therapy is commonly associated with children, as early childhood is the best time to diagnose and start treatment for ASD. Many of the ASD resources available on the internet focus primarily on childhood ASD and available treatments. We wanted to share a few of the more comprehensive options available if you are starting your search for pediatric ASD information.

Healthline Autism Doctors

Healthline Doctors Who Specialize in Autism

This short article contains a list of all the questions you should ask your child’s doctor about ASD and related treatments. The article gives a list of screenings & tests your doctor may use to determine if ASD is a concern.

While this article is short it is still a fantastic resource for parents who want to know more about how doctors diagnose ASD. The questions and lists provided in this article will help you prepare for what to ask your doctor and what you should expect during an ASD screening.

Verywell Health Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians

Verywell Health Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians Article

Like the Healthline link above, the Verywell Health Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians article provides a short but informative look into ASD pediatricians.

Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians (DBPs) are board-accredited pediatricians that have specialty training and certification that can help diagnose ASD. DBPs are some of the most experienced pediatricians when it comes to diagnosing and developing a treatment plan for ASD.

This article does a great job outlining the differences between a DBP and a traditional pediatrician, as well as where to find a trusted DBP in your area.

Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: ASD

AAP Identification, Evaluation, & Management of Children with ASD

This is a dense article written by several doctors for a medical journal. This bold warning is not meant to turn you away from this resource–just that it is a lot of information on one page.

Written in 2020, this AAP journal provides a comprehensive look into what ASD is, how it is identified & evaluated, and how to manage it. The information provided goes over many topics and is a great modern look into how doctors look at ASD and how they recommend managing it.

This journal can be downloaded as a PDF for easier reading, as the journal itself may be hard to navigate on a mobile phone.

Recommended reading if you really want to get insight into current medical information on ASD.

Teen ASD Resources

Information on ASD in teens and young adults can be more difficult to find than its pediatric counterpart. The two links in this section represent great places to start if you are looking for ASD information focused specifically on teens and/or young adults.

CDC ASD in Teens and Young Adults

CDC Teens & Young Adults with ASD

The shortest of our CDC links, this page is a brief overview of ASD in teens and young adults. Information on this page includes the difficulties teens and young adults with ASD may encounter and how to help. There are several links to help you get started on finding help and other resources for teen & young adult ASD.

SAP Counseling for Teens and Young Adults with ASD

SAP Teens & Young Adults with ASD

We wanted to include this counseling resource for teens and young adults with ASD. Teens and young adults have different things to worry about than children and this article takes an in-depth look at counseling and therapy. Teens and young adults with ASD may have difficulties adapting socially and this article gives information, options, and resources to help with this.

ASD Resource Links

The last section of this article will provide several large lists of ASD resources. These links will provide you with a great list of resources to get you started on finding the ASD information you are looking for.

CDC ASD Links

CDC ASD Links & Resources

This list from the CDC provides links to some important ASD resources on the web. The links lead to sites that talk about everything from diagnosis to finding treatment in your area. Each link has a description explaining what the linked site specializes in.

Reading Rockets Top Autism Organizations & Resources

Reading Rockets Top ASD Resources

This is a great list of ASD resources from a site focused primarily on encouraging children to read. The links on the Reading Rockets list include general information, articles for professionals, and financial aid information. A great resource from an unexpected source; all the links have descriptions about what they are about.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

The information provided above is subject to change and the links are not owned by or associated with Instructional ABA consultants. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the above links, please let us know! Likewise, if you have any great ASD resources that we are missing, send them our way–we want to provide information and starting points for everyone who needs help with ASD.

If you have questions regarding autism treatment with ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.