Words & Banter

This Month … It’s Time To Look At Autism Differently

Photo by mevans on iStock
A year ago, we wrote about autism, including our thoughts on disabilities (or what Black refers to as “DIFF-abilities”). But we’ve always felt strongly about treating people with respect and a desire to better understand their individual situations rather than making assumptions. Autism is a spectrum disorder, and each person has different strengths and challenges. But can’t that be said of all of us?

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


I think you mean DIFF-abilities.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


I know that you completely changed my way of thinking, not only about Natasha but about the concept of "disabilities" full stop. It opened my eyes – and my brain – about how just because someone has challenges or limited abilities in some areas, that doesn't mean they don't have different gifts and strengths in other areas.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Exactly. Although autism is a "spectrum condition" meaning it affects people differently and to varying degrees, it is a complex developmental disorder that can affect a person's social skills, and ability to communicate and interact with others. However, autistic people usually possess some extremely valuable traits that are rare in non-autistic people.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


Which is why it frustrates me that so many people feel like those with disabilities, excuse me DIFF-abilities, are "lesser" people. When Natasha was diagnosed, she was in her teens and already had a very strong personality (no doubt inherited from you) and, luckily, seemed to have an innate understanding that she was just different, not better, not worse, than others. I guess one of the biggest challenges is to get others to see things with the same mindset.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


We are a story-telling society, and there are countless stories of people with DIFF-abilities, including those with autism, that are eye-opening and more powerful than anything we could ever say.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


Funny you say that, as I was curious to learn more about autism and found some inspiring quotes (including a wonderful Tom Hanks clip) that not only gave me great insight but made me smile. One of my favorites was how Paul Collins, an author and parent of an autistic child, said, "Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." That's such a great way to describe not only those with autism but any disability.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Well, technically, it will fit, but it requires that the diameter of the circle be larger than the diagonal of the square. Basic geometry. But, I understand Paul Collin's point.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io


Talk about DIFF-abilities! Couldn't you just agree with me?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


The thought never crossed my mind.
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock

Are you taking the Dry January challenge and not having any alcohol for the month? Or, maybe you plan to drink less (but not nothing), which makes it Damp January. Or, maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. (If so, there’s still time to start!)

Well, nothing much has changed from our approach to Dry January last year, except the one who had started drinking more last year is continuing the trend …



red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK , started Dry January , where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
Keep Reading ...Show less

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

It’s January, and everyone’s probably tired of reading about New Year’s resolutions.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Not me. Since I never make them, I never feel the need to read about them.

red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Of course, you don’t. So, what should we write about?

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

How about that we celebrate some of our favorite things in January?

So many “National Days” in January are fun (we’ve written about them over the years) and remind us of some of our favorite things. (Can you pick which are Red’s favorite holidays and which are Black’s?) And whether or not you make resolutions, it’s always important to have a sense of humor and enjoy the simpler things in life …

Answer: Red’s favorites are Bagels, Popcorn, and Hugging. Black’s are Clean Desk, Bagels, and Backward.

Wishing you Happy 2024 – with new beginnings and much more!