For several years, autism organizations led by non-autistic parents and professionals have focused on Autism Awareness in the month of April.
Autistic people have pushed back on the Awareness campaigns (and their usual pathologizing, othering frameworks) by asking for less talk of awareness and more acceptance for autistic people of all ages.
This year I was inspired to flip the old script with a new kind of Awareness campaign:
This April is Ableism Awareness Month
Join me in the coming weeks as I roll out some basic information and awareness of this epidemic of ableism, including examples and symptoms, treatments and alternatives, and more.
Part 1: What is ableism?
Part 2: How many people are affected by ableism?
Part 3: What causes ableism?
Part 4: Is there a cure for ableism?
Part 5: Ableism Therapies
Ableism Awareness Wrapup Post
I came up with “Tendril Theory” when someone in a support group asked for a good way to explain executive function, specifically the challenge of being interrupted or having to switch tasks suddenly, to a neurotypical person. The image and words came to me all at once. It took me a few weeks to sit down and draw it.
I think the reason this resonates with so many people is that a lot of different kinds of brains work in a similar way – not only for autistic people, but also people with ADHD, and neurotypical introverts. So if this doesn’t describe you, it probably describes someone you know.
*Image is a comic titled “Why it’s hard to switch tasks (Let’s call it Tendril Theory).” Simple line drawings illustrate the following text:
When I’m focused on something / My mind sends out a million tendrils of thought / Expands into all of the thoughts & feelings / When I need to switch tasks / I must retract all of the tendrils of my mind / This takes some time / Eventually I can shift to the new task / But when I am interrupted or must switch abruptly / It feels like all of the tendrils are being ripped out / That’s why I don’t react well / Please just give me time / To switch tasks when I’m ready.