Unintentional Abuse: Spookiest Part of being Autistic

This Halloween, many children will try to wear scary costumes like ghosts, goblins, or scarecrows. However, not even those bloody-faced Reaper costumes come close to the truly scary reality of the unintentional abuse of autistic people. Teachers, parents, and other people may mean well, but because most people have a poor understanding of autism, they look at the person through a neurotypical viewpoint, and they act on the assumption that the person is also looking at the world through a neurotypical viewpoint. I am talking about actions such as…

Forced eye contact

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There is a reason why autistic children (and adults) often don’t make eye contact. To most people, eye contact is normal, and not making eye contact may be taken as a sign that the person is hiding something. However, to the autistic, making eye contact is uncomfortable. I always found it odd that, while most animals consider eye contact to be an act, most humans consider NOT making eye contact to be an act of aggression. So naturally, neurotypicals will assume that an autistic person not making eye contact is just being an asshole. People will incessantly demand an autistic person to make eye contact, with seemingly little or no regard to how the other party is affected.

Making us “experience the world.” 

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Your brain probably filters out a lot of excess sensory information that mine doesn’t. I feel everything, see everything, hear everything, and smell everything. This is why, in schools, you may see headphones on autistic children. This is basically what the world sounds like to an autistic person:

The headphones help to block out noise that may otherwise bother them. To the layman, this seems like a superpower: your sensory system is keen. However, it tends to be a burden more than a blessing, especially when people are constantly trying to force you outside your comfort zone. Some autistic people, such as myself, enjoy traveling. Others, however, prefer to stay in the same place. It’s a matter of knowing your comfort zone, the one others are trying to push you out of because they think you need to be more “well-rounded.”

Touching without consent. 

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I think this is almost self-explanatory. Remember that bit in the last entry about how sensitive to stimuli autistic people are? About how we smell, hear, and see everything? Oh, and we feel everything, too. This is why parents might have a hard time getting their children into clothes. I often wear loose, baggy T-shirts about one or two sizes too large for me, and depending on the weather, I wear either athletic shorts or Yoga pants. This is because my skin is extra-sensitive, so I can’t wear tight clothing or stiff fabric. This is also the same reason why autistic people usually don’t like being touched. However, our society is rather touch-happy; friends will often give fist bumps or high fives, and couples like to hold hands. Before touching someone who you know is autistic (even if it’s just a high-five or punch of the shoulder) ask the person.

Patronizing us.

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Luckily, this doesn’t seem to happen too often, but it does occur, so I have to include it. I’m talking about things like teachers giving autistic students easier work so they don’t “strain their little autistic brains.” Something of this nature happened to a friend of mine a few years ago. I attended a program for students with psychological “disabilities” (mainly autism) teaching them successful career, college, and home management skills. One of my classmates was only in the program because his grandfather was a businessman who could pay for it. Usually, the school district pays for students to attend this program. However, in the case of my friend, his school district refused to pay for him to attend this program, instead trying to convince him to do something else, like pottery. Luckily, his grandfather had the money to pay the expenses.

Trying to “punish the autism” out of them. 

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Most of the pictures that I use for this blog are from other sources, but the picture above is my own. The worse thing you can do to an autistic child is try to “punish the autism” out of them by taking away a toy, yelling at them, or spanking them whenever they display “autistic” behavior. Not only does this not work, but you end up with a child who thinks that something is wrong with them. You are permanently damaging your child when you punish them for being autistic.

All of these actions might come from the right place, but the fact is that they are forms of abuse. Anyway, I hope you are enjoying your Halloween more than this cat:

Five Animals to Inspire You

Do you need a little inspiration today? I’ll admit that I’m pressed for time, so I’ll do a video-based blog today. (Credit goes to the original makers of the videos; I own none of them.)

5. Obese dog loses more than half his body weight. 

4. Kitten standing up to a dog

3. Wheelchair rabbit

2. Adorable dogs rescued

1. And finally, cats remind you that you’re allowed to say “no”

 

Summer 2016: Day Trip Photos

For this month’s post, I decided to take a break from autism anecdotes or random factoids, and instead show some of the amazing things that I saw during the summer, such as…

Baby gorilla (Bronx Zoo)

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Hogs (Bronx Zoo)

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Gorilla (Bronx Zoo)

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Sleepy Red Panda (Bronx Zoo)

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Bronx Zoo Birds

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bird-3

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Bronx Zoo Lemurs

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Bronx Zoo Crocodile

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Butterfly Garden Koi Pond-Bronx Zoo

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Bronx Zoo Reptiles

turtles

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National Aquarium Jellyfish

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Random lizards at the National Aquarium

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Mantis Shrimp at National Aquarium

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Scuba Diver at National Aquarium

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Poison dart frog at National Aquarium

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Baltimore Harbor

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I hope your summer was as sightly as mine!

 

Ten Youtube Videos that You Need to See (if you’re anything like me)

Usually, I use this blog to post either intellectual think-pieces about my interests (like autism) or just pictures, but for this month, I decided I’d take a break from those things and instead show my favorite Youtube videos, mostly ones that I find funny. I want to put it out there that I have a sometimes twisted and offbeat sense of humor; some of these videos may be corny or just silly to some people, but you’ll think they’re funny if you’re anything like me. Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these videos. Credit goes to their makers. Also, just a heads up: some of these have NSFW language or references. Here we go…

10. Weird Al Yankovic-Word Crimes

I enjoy all and any of Weird Al Yankovic’s music. He has brilliance and creativity when it comes to lyrics (if not necessarily tunes) and makes entire CDs full of parodies of the latest pop hits. In the summer of 2014, he came out with a new album, which included this song, a parody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. Here, Weird Al raps about something to which every writer and grammar nut can relate: the frustration of reading something written by a person who seems to have never learned the English language. Call me anal or stuck up, but a part of my soul dies every time someone uses “your” instead of “you’re” or says that they are “literally dying.” On that same note…

9. Grammar Lessons With Food from PleatedJeans

It’s worth subscribing to PleatedJeans. Internet comedy guru Jeff Wyaski is the man responsible for these hilarious videos, such as his grammar lessons with food. It seems that at least half of the internet has no concept of grammar, so for those people, his video is especially worth a look.

8. Barking Cat

As if we didn’t already have reason to think that cats have devious plans.

7. The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger 

The honey badger is a native of Africa, and it has the record as the most aggressive animal alive. They hunt venomous snakes and are known to rip open beehives to attain honey. Using actual clips from NatGeo Wild, this Youtuber narrates a video about the life of a honey badger, in a way that would make even the average 13-year-old (or rapper) want to watch nature documentaries. He eschews long, scientific terms in favor of cut-and-dry narration with a touch of profanity. If David Attenborough narrated Planet Earth like this, it would probably be much more popular.

6. Weather map goes crazy live on the air

Probably one of my favorite television bloopers of all time. Weather reporter Cory McCLoskey is bewildered to find the weather map misbehaving when he does reports for Fox 10, displaying extremely high temperatures of over 2,000 degrees in some places. He takes this opportunity to become a comedian and a weather reporter at the same time. However, this isn’t the only TV blooper that will appear on this list…

5. Naked Grandma! Family Feud 

You can see the look on Steve Harvey’s face when a contestant confidently and loudly yells out the first answer that comes to his mind when asked what a burglar would not want to see when breaking into a house. The best part of this is that he actually earned points for blurting out, “Naked grandma!” Although his answer was oddly specific, it still fit the profile of “gun/occupant.”

4. Dumb Family Feud Family

Two people are competing on an older episode of Family Feud. However, they don’t seem to quite understand the questions. I’ll leave the rest of it to the viewer and just say that Richard Dawson perfectly shamed the competitors for their dumb answers; if I gave any more explanation, it probably wouldn’t be as funny.

3. A Hog With Pizzazz – “South Park” Promo

This video is a promotion for the South Park episode, “Raising the Bar.” The episode pokes fun of the now-cancelled show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” In this clip, Honey Boo Boo goes to a pig ranch in order to pick out a pig heart. I personally think that you have to have seen the episode to appreciate this clip.

2. F*ck That: An Honest Meditation

 

As I mentioned in another article, meditation is an effective technique for managing stress an anxiety. However, meditating to this video will make you laugh so much that you won’t have anxiety anymore, at least for a couple of minutes. Either that or you won’t be able to meditate to something this funny.

1. All Billy Mays Commercials played at once

I’m still trying to figure out why this is so funny, but I guess it’s a combination of two things: 1) At the beginning, all of them sound the same; he doesn’t even have any variation in his tone, and 2) After that, it’s complete anarchy. It almost feels like this video is trying to make me buy things, but even if you’re a soundly-minded person who rejects conspiracy theories, such as myself, you can’t help but wonder: how can we be 100% certain that all of these videos aren’t?

 

 

Six Weird Pets You Can Own (That Won’t Kill You)

Most of us realize that animals like tigers, chimpanzees, and crocodiles are not ideal house pets. If not, have a listen at this 911 call made by a chimpanzee owner after her pet savagely attacked and ripped off her friend’s face:

But not all “exotic pets” are dangerous. In fact, to me, there’s a fine line between an “exotic pet” and a “wild animal.” Are you looking for a safe pet, but don’t want to settle for an ordinary cat or dog? You’re in luck, because we live in a world where you can be the proud owner of a…

6. Ferret

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I will start this list on the less extreme end, beginning with a creature that is less “exotic” and more “huh, interesting.” Descended from the European polecat, this adorable weasel became the companion of every cool kid during the ’80s. Nowadays, they are so common that some may even argue that they no longer qualify as “exotic.” Many people are in love with these cute and inquisitive animals, but ferrets are not for everyone. They need at least four hours a day out of their cages, although ferrets love to sleep-up to twenty hours a day! This is because of the ferret’s high metabolism; they need to conserve energy. It’s best to give them about four small meals every day. They are known for carrying a musky odor, so are not necessarily a pet for the squeamish, or for someone with a sensitive nose. Like their wild weasel ancestors, ferrets have a gland around the anus that produces a foul odor, and although this gland can be removed, they will still produce a natural smell from glands on their heads, and from their waste products–especially if you don’t keep the environment clean! Bathing the animal to reduce the scent actually does more harm than good, stripping away the oils in the ferret’s coat and prompting the animal to produce more smell. In spite of this, ferrets are popular because of their playful, energetic nature that makes people laugh, and they can form close bonds with their owners. It’s worth mentioning that you should check your local laws before you decide to welcome a ferret into your home, because they are illegal in many states of the US, as well as in many cities, and in some places, it’s necessary to acquire a license before owning one. I will always recommend spaying and neutering your pets if you aren’t using them for breeding purposes, but spaying and neutering also helps reduce their odor. It’s extremely important to spay a female ferret unless you’re going to breed her. Ferrets are “induced ovulators,” meaning that if the female goes into heat, she will continue to produce hormones until she has mated. If these hormones are allowed to build up, they will essentially cause her to develop blood poisoning and die.

5. PotBelly Pig

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This pet has a lot to offer–besides helping you make your ham sandwich. Pigs are extremely smart; in fact, some say that they are even more trainable than dogs. They also have an excellent sense of smell and can be trained to sniff out drugs or explosives. Usually, if your pet has a pendulous belly and a back that curves inward, it means that your pet is overweight, but this is normal and healthy in a potbelly pig. However, they are prone to obesity, so you should research dietary needs before adopting one. You should give them fresh veggies, as well as food made specifically for pot-bellied pigs, rather than farm pig feed. This is because farm pig feed is manufactured to fatten up the animal, and is made for types of pigs that are typically much bigger than this breed. Farm pig feed will cause your pet to gain a lot of weight, which is unhealthy for them, paving the way for heart and joint problems. In fact, obese pigs are known to become blind, simply because of the fat folds that hang over their eyes. Pigs can be territorial, especially males. If you decide to keep your pig in the house with you, it’s a good idea to provide a pot of dirt and/or grass for them to satisfy their rooting instincts; otherwise, they may tear up your carpet! When taken outside, they’ll tear up and root in your lawn. If you still want to really bring home the bacon, it’s once again a good idea to check your laws before doing so. In many places, potbelly pigs are considered “livestock,” and you cannot own one unless your property is zoned as a farm. Some breeders are now selling what they claim to be a smaller breed of pig, often titled “micro pigs,” “mini pigs,” or “teacup pigs,” but these are usually regular potbelly pigs, often underfed to stunt their growth, and often bred from parents that are not yet fully grown. This allows the breeder to show potential customers inquiring about the animal’s adult size to show the customer parents that are not fully grown, and some people end up getting rid of their pets when they realize that the “mini” pig they paid thousands of dollars for grows into a king-sized potbelly.

4. Savannah cat

The Savannah cat is registered as a cat breed, but there’s a catch: it’s part wild. The Savannah is an inter-species hybrid created by crossing a domestic cat with an African Serval. Despite this, it is very loyal and loving toward its owner–some would even compare this cat to a dog! Certain places have outlawed Savannah cats for fear of them escaping, hunting prey, and causing problems with ecology. In lieu of a picture, I have provided a video that provides much useful information about the Savannah cat. It is a clip about Savannahs from the Animal Planet show, Cats 101.

3. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

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A lot of people will probably feel creeped out by the idea of owning a pet cockroach. After all, when the little buggers show up in our houses, we spray Raid at them and try to swat them with newspapers. However, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are a different species of cockroach than the pest ones we find in our houses (usually German, American, smokybrown, Oriental, or brown-banded cockroaches.) They’re prolific breeders, so it’s best to have just one. This is the only type of cockroach that can hiss, and it’s native to (surprise!) Madagascar. This is a good pet for children because they are hardy and easy to care for; plus, they don’t bite or sting, and they are incapable of flight.

2. Fennec fox

fennec fox

Pictured above is a pet Fennec fox sitting on a couch. Most species of foxes make bad pets; they are nippy, defensive, wild, instinctively spray urine, and carry a musky smell that will make your house uninhabitable. The Fennec fox, however, is the exception. Hailing from the Sonoran Desert and in some parts of North Africa, the Fennec fox has a beige coat to help it blend into its sandy habitat. Their comically large ears actually serve a practical purpose: they help the animal’s body dissipate heat, which is useful in the hot deserts to which they are endemic. Fennec foxes will also produce an odor, especially when stressed, but the smell is no worse than that of a ferret. Fennec foxes are also very tameable and adapt well to domestic life. Once again, it’s a good idea to check local laws before setting your heart on one, because some areas make them illegal, in part because they are escape artists that can cause ecological problems if they get loose. For this reason, you should watch doors and windows if you have a fennec fox, and not let them run loose outside.

1. Skunk 

skunk and dog

Yes, believe it or not, it’s possible to live with a skunk as a best friend, without having to wear a clothespin on your nose all the time. I was able to find this cute picture of a skunk and a dog enjoying some cuddle time. Skunks aren’t legal in many areas, and are not generally recommended for inexperienced pet owners, as they can be obstinate, their inquisitive nature means that they can easily get stuck in places, and they have dietary needs of fresh veggies with specialized skunk feed. Nonetheless, if they’re tamed and acquired from a young age, skunks can become affectionate and bond with their owners. In the wild, skunks release their infamous smell when they feel threatened; the smell comes from a liquid solution stored in two glands located around the anus. In pet skunks, these glands are usually removed so that the skunks no longer have this odor. Skunks are responsible for more cases of rabies than most other animals; this is part of the reason why they are only legal in seventeen states. Pet skunks cannot ever be released into the wild, because they don’t have their main defense mechanism anymore. They can live for over ten years and are nocturnal, so they’ll sleep while you work, and just be getting up when you come home, unless you work the night shift. They are interesting pets as long as you can care for them.

 

Please remember that all of these animals, like all pets, have certain requirements and are not cute playthings to own until the novelty wears off. Every pet is a friend to be cared for through its entire life.

Children’s Television Shows Portraying Autism in an Accurate and Non-ableist Manner

Austrian physician Hans Asperger, known for his early studies on autism, once said, “Not everything that steps out of line, and thus ‘abnormal,’ must necessarily be ‘inferior.'” Hans Asperger was far ahead of his day, and even ahead of today.

Hans Asperger

The majority of today’s society has yet to adopt his ideals regarding autism. However, we are ever-so-slowly coming around, and this is becoming apparent even in children’s television. Even television writers are trying to curb the bullying and abuse commonly faced by autistic children, and perhaps the most obvious (but not the only) solution is to teach neurotypical children about what autism really is, and to preach tolerance and acceptance. At the same time, it is important for autistic children to understand themselves, and to learn that they are fine the way they are, in lieu of instilling a sense of inferiority and shame. Near the end of the year 2015, Sesame Street introduced its first autistic character, Julia.

Julia, new Sesame Street character with autism.

Julia, new Sesame Street character with autism.

She appears in this book titled “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3.”

http://autism.sesamestreet.org/storybook-we-are-amazing/

It doesn’t represent all autistic children, but it’s impossible to do so with just one character, and it’s a step in the right direction. This character is not stigmatizingly innacurate, like many other autistic characters portrayed in the media.

Along with the character Julia, Sesame Street released a song about how all children are “amazing.” Hearing this, I really wish that this existed when I was a child growing up and watching Sesame Street.

However, Sesame Street is not the only children’s television show to portray autism in recent years.

Arthur is a kid’ cartoon about a group of anthropomorphic animal children attending school and living lives with their animal parents similar to how human children live. In 2010, Arthur introduced Carl, a rabbit with Asperger’s Syndrome.

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He first appears in the episide “When Carl Met George.” In it, George, a moose, explains how he first met his friend Carl. At first, George finds Carl to be strange, and Carl’s mother reveals that he has Asperger’s Syndrome. George seeks advice to understand Asperger’s Syndrome, and after hearing about it, understands Carl a little more. From here, they become good friends.

A clip from this episode explains Asperger’s Syndrome in a perfect, flawless manner that child viewers can understand:

Thanks to educational efforts (some in part by the media) the flower of autism acceptance is finally blooming.

 

“You Say…”An Autistic Pride Day Back-and-Forth

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You say that I need to be cured. I can’t help but wonder how something that’s such a big part of who I am is seen as a disease in need of a cure.

You say that I’m diseased and unhealthy. I challenge you to a foot race through the hiking trail.

You say that you don’t hate me; you just hate my autism. I inquire, “Do you not realize that autism is a part of who I am, rather than an entity I own, or an entity that owns me?”

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You say that I need to stop being so sensitive. I remind you that my senses and feelings are fine-tuned, and if yours were as fine-tuned as mine, you wouldn’t be able to help being sensitive.

You say that I don’t look autistic. I explain that autism doesn’t have a distinct look, and it can wear many faces.

You say that the bullying I faced in childhood was good for me. I show you the scars on my heart, some of which are still bleeding, and I ask, “How is this doing me any good?”

You say that when I’m having a meltdown, I’m being naughty. I tell you that I’m curious as to why a behavior that I can’t control is viewed as bad behavior in need of discipline.

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You say that I’m incapable of being a working member of civilization. I list the things I’ve already accomplished in 21 years of life: winning a scholarship for my writing in the school newsletter, making it into the Vet Tech program at my college, and I volunteer at my local animal shelter.

You say that I lack empathy. Must it be pointed out that if you have these ableist views, and are willing to spit them right into the face of an autist, then are you not the one who lacks empathy?

You say that I should listen to autism experts. I let you know that I’m one of the real experts on autism, and politely ask you to listen to me.

You say that I can’t advocate for myself because my “disability” renders me incapable of doing so. I ask, “Am I not advocating for myself right now?”

Happy Autistic Pride Day! 

Ways to Heal from Trauma, Stress, and Abuse

Trauma and abuse are unfortunately common events. For today’s post, I decided to share some wisdom that I have acquired over the years. I myself am still healing, and it may take me many years to fully heal, but these techniques have helped me. I’ll admit that I wrote this post specifically for a friend of mine who is going through difficult times right now, but these techniques may prove useful for you as well. Many people faced with trauma either become addicts (which doesn’t solve the problem, and only creates another one) while others become violent. There are, however, healthy ways to heal from trauma and abuse:

Meditation. 

In lieu of a picture, for comedic purposes, I decided to link this funny meditation video: (contains NSFW language, just a heads up)

When I first started seeing a therapist, she taught me a breathing/meditation exercise that I now practice for five minutes every day. Here’s what you do: set an alarm for five minutes. Put your hand or arm over your abdomen. For those five minutes, breathe with your diaphragm, rather than with your chest. If you feel your stomach swelling with each breath, you’re doing it right. As you inhale, count to five. As you exhale, count to eight. Try to focus on your breathing and counting. Inevitably, other thoughts will come into your head. When you see that happening, remind yourself to focus on your breathing, but DON’T restart the countdown. Another thing you should know: some peoples’ eyes tear up when they meditate. Do not be alarmed. This is most likely your body getting rid of stress hormones, like cortisol, which is a good thing. I always feel refreshed after a meditation session.

Animals. 

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Pets are the best companions. They love you no matter what, and they don’t judge. Some animals are even trained specifically for use in therapy. However, please remember that animals are living things that need time and care. Before you get a pet, do your research on different types of animals. Some animals are higher maintenance than others. As for me, I have an adorable rabbit named Hippie who always seems to know when I’m unhappy. She lets me know she’s there for me by sitting by my side, snuggling me and giving me “bunny kisses.”

Get out there and go to places that are fun. 

Meuterei

They say travel broadens oneself. Even if you don’t have the money to fly Transatlantic or take a cruise to the Caribbean, there are still affordable things you can do, such as joining a club where you can meet people with a similar interest. Do you enjoy going to amusement parks? What about a cross-country road trip? Are there any movies out that you want to see? It’ll feel good just to treat yourself to one trip to the mall or to a local flea market. Volunteering or donating to charity can help you feel better about yourself. There is likely at least one park or hiking trail through which you can take a walk and look at nature. You may feel like isolating yourself, but you should surround yourself with good people. Look online and you may find local festivals in your area, such as the 2016 Waterfest at Scotland Run Park in Clayton, NJ: http://events.funnewjersey.com/en/events/56e98352bd460/water-fest

 

Express yourself. 

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This one doesn’t need much of an explanation. Art, cooking, writing, comedy, music, or perhaps even game-design are excellent outlets for stress. Similarly, you could try…

Coloring. 

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Adult coloring books are all the rage right now, in part due to the therapeutic effects of coloring. These include mandalas, inspirational quotes, animals, or my personal favorite, which is pictured above: swearing coloring books.

Therapy. 

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It can be nice just to be able to vent to someone, and you’ll probably get good advice–much better advice than you’ll get simply from reading some random person’s blog post.

Take care of yourself. 

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Your physical and psychological well-being are tightly wound. If you take care of yourself physically, you’ll probably feel better mentally. It could be tempting to reach for a cookie when you’re stressed, but eating a healthy diet may help you with anxiety or depression. Exercise is a proven way to help ease depression. When you exercise, your brain releases dopamine and endorphins. Chances are that when you think of exercise, you think of a long and gruelling run, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Find a sport that you enjoy, like dancing, rock climbing, martial arts, or even just hiking. Taking care of yourself is also a great way to let yourself know that “you matter.” Oftentimes, we become martyrs and spend so much time helping others that we neglect to take care of ourselves, and we forget that we too matter.

Smile and say nice things to yourself. 

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It may sound corny, but if you smile at yourself in a mirror, that can make you feel better. Let me ask you a question: how often do you say mean things to yourself, things like “I’m worthless, stupid, ugly, etc.?” Now, how often do you say such mean things to other people, like friends? Remember that you too are a person deserving respect. List all of your positive attributes. Write a nice letter to yourself. Another technique you could try is to write down all of the negative things you constantly think about yourself, then crumble the paper, tear it, throw it away, or simply burn it. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, change it and say something positive instead. For example, if you start thinking, “I’m ugly and stupid,” think, “I’m kind, wise, and my beauty shines in a unique way.”

Don’t race it. 

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Healing takes years, and there will be times when you relapse. When you do, remind yourself that it’s part of the healing process. Don’t rush it, and don’t compare your progress to that of someone else. Praise yourself for even the littlest progress that you make. Think of your healing as a journey rather than a destination.

Top Ten Most Amazing Rabbit Breeds

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like rabbits. What’s not to love about their fuzzy, round bodies, comically long ears, and ever-twitching noses? Well, maybe they aren’t very popular with farmers or gardeners, but those are wild rabbits we’re talking about. Domestic rabbits could not survive in the wild; they have been bred to be virtually reliant on humans. Another interesting characteristic of rabbits is that they have been used for a variety of purposes, including food, fur, experimentation, and companionship. As a result, they have been selectively bred to the point where there are multiple breeds, not unlike what you see in dogs and cats. Also, like dogs and cats, rabbits can crossbreed to make “mongrels,” which may be more common. It can be hard to find purebred rabbits. As a general rule, rabbits of a certain breed are likely to conform to characteristics of the breed, but please keep in mind that they all have different personalities.

10. Dutch

Dutch-Rabbit-Breed

Smaller rabbit breeds are generally more skittish and less cuddly than larger breeds, but the gentle little Dutch is an exception. They are not only popular, but very recognizable by their distinct color patterning of white with colored patches on the head and rump, most commonly black but sometimes with brown, gray, gold, chinchilla (a shiny gray color) or tortoise (black and orange.) They are probably one of the best breeds for a house with children, but probably not really young children, as they may rough-house with the rabbit and not know how to handle it.

9. Netherland Dwarf

Netherland Dwarf

Some could say that the Netherland Dwarf is the Chihuahua of the rabbit world. This is the smallest rabbit breed, and a popular one due to their cuteness. Netherland Dwarves need more space than their size might suggest, because it is an active breed that enjoys exercise and doesn’t appreciate being confined to little cages all day. This relatively new breed did not appear until the 20th Century, and was created by crossbreeding Polish rabbits (another diminutive breed) with wild rabbits that were even smaller than the Polish, because apparently someone wanted to make a tiny animal even tinier. Because of their wild rabbit genetics, the first Netherland Dwarves were too distrusting of humans to make ideal house pets. However, selective breeding has curbed this, but the breed retains the aforementioned energetic nature.

8. Angora

There is a point where a rabbit starts looking less like a rabbit and more like a living, overgrown cotton ball. The Angora passes this point, and there are multiple types of Angora rabbits, but they are all so fuzzy that I put them into one entry. They were originally bred for fur, and they produce generous amounts of it. Grooming an Angora is obviously quite a task; even more so when you consider that rabbits frequently groom themselves, but don’t regurgitate hair like cats. Hair can cause blockages in the GI tract and possibly result in death. Regular grooming and a high-fiber diet can help mitigate this risk, but a high-fiber diet is important to any rabbit. English Angora rabbits are the fuzziest of the fuzzy, with so much fur that sometimes you cannot see their eyes. French Angoras have a thick undercoat and lack the wool on their paws and faces. Giant Angoras are the largest of the four ARBA Angora breeds. Finally, the Satin Angora is the result of a cross between a Satin rabbit (see next) and a French Angora, to create satiny fur in large amounts.

7. Jersey Wooly

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Being from New Jersey, I of course had to include this breed. The Jersey Wooly is the result of crossbreeding a French Angora with a Netherland Dwarf, giving the rabbit the general body shape and famous hairstyle of the French Angora, but closer to the size of the Netherland Dwarf. This is an affectionate breed, although some prefer to be cuddled, and others like to move about.

6. Belgian Hare

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The name “Belgian Hare” is a bit of a misnomer. The Belgian Hare is in fact a breed of domestic rabbit, not a hare. The terms “rabbit” and “hare” are often used interchangeably, even though each word referrs to a different animal. Hares are usually larger; their feet and ears tend to be longer. Hares bear young that have fur and are able to see. Newborn baby rabbits, by contrast, are blind, bald, and helpless. Belgian Hares were bred to look more like hares. Like the Netherland Dwarf, they came about due to crossbreeding between wild and domestic rabbits. This breed may have some care requirements that differ from that of other rabbit breeds; consequently, they are a breed for the dedicated. Belgian Hares have a high metabolic rate and are considered one of the most active rabbit breeds.

5. Himalayan

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I had to include this breed because I have a friend who has one. Himalayans are the ancestor of the somewhat similar-looking Californian, except that it is a lot more slender, since the Himalayan was never intended to be a meat rabbit, while the Californian was. They are mostly white, with colored “points” on their extremities. Himalayans are known for their exceptionally calm nature and are a great breed for beginning rabbit owners.

4. Flemish Giant

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Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, there is nothing wrong with your computer screen, the picture above is not photoshopped, and you don’t need to put down the wineglass. Flemish Giants are often incorrectly labeled as the largest breed. Although ARBA doesn’t recognize any breeds larger than the Flemish Giant, the Continental Giant is technically the largest breed. Nonetheless, a Flemish Giant can be as big as a Shetland Sheepdog, as demonstrated by this picture. They were first bred for meat and fur (big bunnies mean that they provide more of both.) The Flemish Giant is a laid-back breed that enjoys attention and is not particularly active. One major drawback to this breed is its fairly short lifespan of about seven years, in comparison to the ten-year lifespan of the average rabbit.

3. Rex

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Rex rabbits are known for their plush coats, and if their average maximum weight of ten pounds sounds like too much for you, there is a smaller breed, the Mini Rex, that has the same type of coat. Both breeds are affectionate, although the Standard may be more affectionate than the Mini, which tends to be more active.

2. English Lop

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The Lop breeds are easy to identify by their ears that flop downwards. The English Lop is considered the first lop-eared breed, and boy are their ears long. Unfortunately, they are prone to ear infections because of this, and may injure themselves by standing on their own ears. Temperament-wise, they are described as “placid.” These kind rabbits don’t move around much and may be reluctant to exercise.

1. Harlequin 

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Alright, I’ll admit that I’m biased, and that I put this breed at #1 because I have a Harlequin mix named Hippie, who is my best friend. Harlequin rabbits are hard to miss: they are a showy breed from France known for the distinct color splashes in their fur. They come in two color types: Japanese and Magpie. Japanese Harlequins have splashes of orange with patches of black, blue, chocolate, or lilac. Magpies are the same, but with white in place of orange. The breed’s appearance matches its personality: they are goofy, clownish, and playful. They are great at making their owners laugh, or cheering their owners up after a bad day.

Remember: like any pet, rabbits have certain care requirements, and research should always be done before adopting one.

Autism Acceptance Day: Screw Blue

As an autistic person, I refuse to support “Autism Awareness” or “Light It Up Blue.” Some people will disagree with me on this. I may anger a few people by saying that I don’t consider myself diseased, nor do I want to be “cured” of something by which I identify, something that makes me, well, me. The fact that I think differently doesn’t mean that my thoughts are “broken” or any less valid than those of anyone else.

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First off, “awareness” is a term attached to anything in the human body or psyche that needs to be disposed of. My “meow” is just that…a meow, not a bark that needs some tweaking. To begin with, I wasn’t broken. However, we often break people while trying to fix our intact comrades. Every day, I still struggle with the bullying and abuse from my past. At this point, many readers are probably thinking, “So just get over it and stop being a baby.” What you may not realize is that once a person goes through something traumatic, it can change the structure of the brain. It takes years to unlearn such childhood lessons as “your opinion doesn’t matter” and “you should apologize for wasting space that could go to people who actually deserve to live.” These lessons are ingrained in my psyche; they continuously echo in my head like a line from a bad pop song. Since I was taught such lessons, I learned that there is intrinsically nothing wrong with me; that I’m not wasting oxygen and water. I have realized that it’s okay to be autistic. However, the self-aware portion of me is in a constant battle with a more primal slice of my brain that insists that I’m no use to anyone. The good news is that it does get better. The bad news is that it took thousands of dollars worth of therapy and a considerable amount of wisdom acquired over the years to patch up some old wounds that may never fully heal and still sometimes bleed. All I have is proverbial gauze, along with an ibuprofen that takes the edge off the pain. Nonetheless, there is a significant difference between who I am now and who I was seven years ago. Meditation and anti-anxiety techniques are quite handy. The heart of the problem is that other autistics are not as lucky as I was, and many end up becoming hopeless in a world that tries to eradicate all things different.

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This is why it disgusts me that the puzzle piece is used as the symbol for autism. Using the puzzle piece to represent us is dehumanizing; it’s implying that something about us needs to be fixed or put back together. It symbolizes the belief that we are less than whole. This perpetrates a slew of stigmatizing myths about autistic people–that we’re “annoying,” “stupid,” or worse, that we “lack empathy.”

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Another reason why I don’t accept the “light it up blue” idea is that it’s promoted by the organization Autism Speaks, who push for a cure for autism. This organization is infamous for its greed; much of their money does not go toward research. Worse yet, they had the nerve to release a documentary where a mother admitted that she seriously thought of driving her daughter over a bridge when the child was diagnosed with autism…and the only reason why she didn’t was because her neurotypical child was waiting for her at home. This woman admitted it while her child was in the room with her.

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So, I ask the world one small favor: instead of lighting it up blue, support Autism Acceptance by walking in red.

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