Arts and Crafts: For Whom The Bell Tolls

Image Description: a title-post picture with the words Arts and Crafts written in the centre of the picture in rainbow word-art with a clip-art picture of a red rose in each of the corners.
Image Description: a title-post picture with the words Arts and Crafts written in the centre of the picture in rainbow word-art with a clip-art picture of a red rose in each of the corners.

Articles to read before I begin:
~Neurowonderful: Ask an Autistic #6 – What’s Wrong With Autism Speaks? by Amythest Schaber
~Autism Women’s Network: Is Autism Speaks a Hate Group? by Amy Sequenzia
~The Caffeinated Autistic: Why I am Against Autism Speaks (and you should be, too)
~My Autistic Point of View: April is Autism Awareness Month, Autism Acceptance and #RedInstead

One of the problems with working in Retail is that you quickly lose your faith in humanity, especially when you see people do questionable stuff in the name of profit. Take hot-cross buns, as far as I’m concerned, supermarkets and bakeries shouldn’t be selling them until at least March. But on January 1st, year after year, the supermarket I work at has hot-cross buns ready to go at 06:00 am when the store opens.

The first day of the year, the Christmas season has only just finished and yet, the desire to shove Easter in our faces is clearly a temptation some corporations clearly can’t resist. Now, you could blame the customer for buying in the product, after all no one is forcing them to buy hot-cross buns on January 1st, but my experience with customer service has taught me that convenience is the key.

Unless the customer has come in for a specific item for a specific purpose, if the product isn’t there on the shelf, the majority of customers won’t bother, they only want the item because it’s right there. This is why, in my personal view, I feel that boycotting a product because the company displays unethical behaviour doesn’t achieve much in the long term.

Sure, it makes me feel better not to purchase items from Nestle (reasons why here) or Lindt (reasons why here). But the reality is that I know that by the end of the Easter period all those chocolate bunnies and chickens are going to be sold and consumed, and there’s not much I can do to stop them.

I understand that boycotting and choosing to abstain from certain companies and items is the only form of protest some people can participate in, this isn’t a judgement of that, I just dislike grappling with the feeling that I should be doing more.

Eventually, I got an idea, what if I could combine Neurodivergent traits like crafting and hoarding with those little bells that accessorise the chocolate Lindt rabbits and chickens and use them as part of a beaded lanyard? Behold!

Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of black elastic, with four different types of beads (hourglass, pearl, acrylic, transparent) displayed in nine colour-variations of beads (light pink, dark pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and purple), with a pink-glittery-star-bead as a stopper at the end.
Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of black elastic, with four different types of beads (hourglass, pearl, acrylic, transparent) displayed in nine colour-variations of beads (light pink, dark pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and purple), with a pink-glittery-star-bead as a stopper at the end.

Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of lavender coloured elastic with with four different types of beads (acrylic, transparent, pearl, hourglass) displayed in variations of purple with a transparent-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter in between each group of beads, with a transparent-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter as a stopper at the end.
Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of lavender coloured elastic with with four different types of beads (acrylic, transparent, pearl, hourglass) displayed in variations of purple with a transparent-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter in between each group of beads, with a transparent-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter as a stopper at the end.

Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of robin's egg blue coloured elastic with with five different types of beads (acrylic, transparent, pearl, glittery, hourglass) displayed in variations of light blue with a blue-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter in between each group of beads, with a blue-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter as a stopper at the end.
Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of robin’s egg blue coloured elastic with with five different types of beads (acrylic, transparent, pearl, glittery, hourglass) displayed in variations of light blue with a blue-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter in between each group of beads, with a blue-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter as a stopper at the end.

Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of pink coloured elastic with with five different types of beads (acrylic, transparent, hourglass, glittery, pearl) displayed in variations of light pink and dark pink with a pink-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter in between each group of beads, with a pink-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter as a stopper at the end.
Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of pink coloured elastic with with five different types of beads (acrylic, transparent, hourglass, glittery, pearl) displayed in variations of light pink and dark pink with a pink-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter in between each group of beads, with a pink-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter as a stopper at the end.

Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of black rat-tail cord with eight pearl beads (pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and purple), a transparent-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter, another group of eight pearl beads (pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and purple), a transparent-glittery-star-bead with gold glitter, another group of eight pearl beads (pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and purple), with a pink-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter as a stopper at the end.
Image Description: from right to left, a chrome key-ring and lobster-claw clasp, attached to the key-ring is small gold-coloured bell. Also attached to the key ring is a long beaded lanyard made of black rat-tail cord with eight pearl beads (pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and purple), a transparent-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter, another group of eight pearl beads (pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and purple), a transparent-glittery-star-bead with gold glitter, another group of eight pearl beads (pink, red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and purple), with a pink-glittery-star-bead with silver glitter as a stopper at the end.

So while I’m aware this might be a bad idea, if I had to pick one, I’d probably pick the last one. I love pearl beads and rainbows and that covers both. It also might not be obvious from the picture but the pearl rainbow lanyard is slightly shorter than the other ones, which I’ll admit are ridiculously long. I bought the black rat-tail cord off Ebay, I paid AU $2.00 in shipping fees (the seller is UK-based), but I honestly didn’t care. I’ve noticed the black rat-tail cord is thinner than the black rat-tail cord Kim obtained for me from Lincraft, but I felt this worked for me, the hot-pink wrap-tail cord I bought is too thick for me to use with my current collection of beads, which is super frustrating.

So what do readers think? Are the bells a good addition? Or just another one of my shitty ideas? I would offer to sell these and donate the profits to AWN or ASAN, but seeing as my Diverse Books Giveaway didn’t really take off (who had thought it would be difficult to tempt Australian and New Zealand book bloggers with free stuff?), I’m beginning to think I’m not as persuasive as I thought. Let me know what you think in the comments section down below.

The Dysfunction Junction ~ An Introduction

Image Description: a large cluster of smiley faces in the centre of the picture. In the background are words like breath, here & now, accept, track, sense repeatedly printed in the background over and over again.
Image Description: a large cluster of smiley faces in the centre of the picture. In the background are words like breath, here & now, accept, track, sense repeatedly printed in the background over and over again.

Welcome to The Dysfunction Junction, a series of blog-posts I am going to write as I try to figure out whether or not I have ADHD or if I am just Weird. Now, I know some people will object to my use of the term Weird, but as I have spent my entire life being made to feel Less because I am Different, I think at this stage I’m entitled to reclaim Weird and Crazy if it so pleases me. Especially since every time I try to figure out what that precise Difference is exactly, I have been (and continue to be) denied access to a label and a diagnosis, and therefore to services that could potentially help me handle my Dysfunction.

Instead, I am left with labels like Weird, Crazy, Freak and Broken by default. But I am not Broken, I am not Less, and recently Kim gave me another word, a glorious inclusive word that matches me, and that word was Neurodivergent. It was in a Tumblr post, but unfortunately, I cannot find the direct quote (I have been looking through Stim Toy posts trying to find it) so I will be paraphrasing here, but it was essentially along the lines of:

“From what you’ve told me about your experiences in general and your experiences with mental health, you’re not Neurotypical, you definitely sound Neurodivergent, and you’re welcome to play in our sand box.”

It will sound silly, but I almost began crying when I read Kim’s response, I was so happy not just because of Kim’s acceptance but for the underlying message of “it’s okay, I see you, and you don’t have to pretend to be normal.” Because for most of my life I have been trying and mostly failing to adhere to the role of “Normal Person” without a script. I am not “normal” or Neurotypical, I never will be, so naturally I keep failing and beating myself up about it (if everyone else can do it, why can’t I?), although my failures as an adult are small and possibly dismissive in comparison to the failures I committed as a child and teenager. I have learned how to blend or appear “normal enough” by rote, not because it comes naturally to me, socialising and interacting with other people is hard work for me.

I am trying to change my current situation by pursuing an Adult Diagnosis of ADHD, but until I get a Yay or a Nay, I’m kind of stuck in this state of Purgatory. I can’t move forward with possible treatment (more on this in a later post) and I can’t go back to pretending I don’t have a problem. I recognise I have a problem, some of my closest friends and family are willing to recognise I have a problem, but because in the past certain doctors have refused to recognise I have a problem, I can’t get the appropriate help I need now without a diagnosis.

These posts are not to function as a self-hosted Pity Party, but rather to act as a guide for other people who might be considering the same type of options as I am. But as I live in Australia, I have limited access of Australian doctors qualified to assess Adults with ADHD, and the Australian Medicare System also limits me, my approach will be primarily Australian-orientated (just in case that wasn’t obvious).

But I would also like to mention up front that the diagnostic criterion for an Adult with ADHD is similar to an Adult with Autism or Adults belonging to the Autism Spectrum. While I don’t think I have Autism, I can’t deny the possibility that I could be Autistic instead of having ADHD, although I think it’s unlikely. There is also the possibility of having both ADHD and Autism, although I think this also unlikely, if I had both, surely someone would have noticed or said something before now (maybe? I think? At this point I really don’t know anymore), however, having said that, I have often found resources or articles for people with Autism to be helpful for me.

Concerning Autism and ADHD support groups, there is a lot of focus on international organisations like The National Society of Autism (located in the UK) and Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) (which is predominantly located in the USA). I’m sure both these groups do amazing things for Neurodivergent people in their respective counties, but their helpfulness is limited in international situations like mine.

Amaze (formerly known as Autism Victoria) doesn’t get nearly the same amount of attention as GRASP or The National Society of Autism, although Amaze does produce a magazine The Spectrum (if anyone is interested in contributing to it). I have found that Wrong Planet and Autism Women’s Network are more internationally friendly or more internationally appropriate.

On the ADHD front, I found valuable articles and resources at ADDitude Magazine, but for something more Australian orientated, I have also found this website Every Day with ADHD which has resources for parents and children for different states in Australia but also in New Zealand.

While I’ve been able to find Australian support groups and online support groups for transgender people (this post has a list of resources), I haven’t been able to find an organisation or support group for transgender people who also have Autism or ADHD. If anyone knows about transgender-focused support groups for Autism or ADHD, please leave me a link in the comment section, I would be happy to add the link/s into the post.

The key objective here is to help and to inform, so at this point I want to add the obvious disclaimer that I am not a qualified or experienced medical professional. I cannot and will not offer a diagnosis for Autism or ADHD, however, I will add resource links at the bottom of the page, and what you do with them is completely up to you. If someone out there stumbles across my blog and finds this helpful, then great, otherwise this is just going to be me ranting about how messed up the Australian Medicare System is and just how lacking the Mental Health services available in Australia are.

Links:
~ADDitude Magazine – Home

~ADDitude Magazine – Self-tests and Quizzes

~ADDitude Magazine: The Truth About ADHD in Women

~Decades of failing to recognize ADHD in girls has created a “lost generation” of women by Jenny Anderson

~ADD on my mind: diagnosing attention deficit disorder in adults by Yasmin Noone

~So Much Stranger, So Much Darker, So Much Madder, So Much Better: Autism with a side of ADHD

~The link between autism and trans identity By Bryony White

~Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)

~Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, LGBT Groups Release Statement on Needs of Trans Autistic People

~The Chameleons: women with autism | The Feed SBS (YouTube Video)

~Different As Pie: So You Think You Have Asperger Syndrome? (Youtube Video)

~Musings of an Aspie: Aspie Tests

~Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate: A User Guide to an Asperger Life by Cynthia Kim

~Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone

~Bitter Autistic (Tumblr): a collection of quizzes and other tools to help with self diagnosis as well as tips and tricks for ADHD

~Bitter Autistic (Tumblr): NOT SO COMMONLY TALKED ABOUT/ATYPICAL AUTISM TRAITS

NaNoWriMo 2015: Success or Failure?

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On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?
Probably a 5, I’m a little meh about the whole thing to be honest, I should have taken a day out to properly plan my novel, I was meant to write a basic outline but I got busy and procrastinated about it (did I mention this project is highly personal and anxious for me?). I made the word count of over 50 000, somehow lost two thousand words in the process, but it doesn’t feel like a victory to me as the manuscript is only half way finished. I’m right smack dab in the middle.

Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)
An interesting question because the reason I created my character James (a white cis-gendered male character with Autism – I know, I’m really pushing the literary boundaries with that one) as a response to The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time and House Rules and to the depiction of Autism in mainstream media. While I do not have autism myself; I have a partner, friends and family members that do have Autism. However, I understand that just because I’ve researched Autism and have personal experiences of people with Autism doesn’t qualify me the right to take up the mantle of ambassador. After all, one of my best friend’s from secondary college who has Autism and goes to regular support group meetings has told me that there are people in his support group that do act similar to Sheldon Cooper. My problem is that the Sheldon Cooper representation is the only form of Autistic representation available and my friends and my partner don’t fall into that very narrow stereotype. Then there’s the fact there is little to no representation of women or female presenting people with Autism. I have only just recently discovered Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate: A User Guide to an Asperger Life by Cynthia Kim , who wasn’t diagnosed with Autism until she was in her forties, just think about that for a moment, she spent a large chunk of her life not knowing she had Autism (which is considered a disability). This might not sound like big deal to some people, but in Australia if a child isn’t diagnosed with Autism by the age of four, they’re unable to apply for counselling/support, benefits or funding that would help the child and the parents. This wouldn’t be a problem if Doctors were more willing to accept the fact that Autism manifests differently in girls than it does in boys. Sorry, I’ve turned this into a rant.

Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?
I’m much better working under pressure with deadlines and accountability

How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.
I’ll print out a document, chapter by chapter and go through it with a read pen, then make corrections onto paper. However I’m trying to reduce the number of trees I murder so I’ll be trying a different method of making a duplicate of the word document and use track changes.

What aspect of your story needs the most work?
Descriptions, my setting is Kirkby Stephen, renown for its walking trails and beautiful landscapes, so I’ve got that to look forward to (that’s sarcasm there as I’m terrible at descriptions)

What aspect of your story did you love the most?
The dialogue, I’m hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed writing the first scene where James is introduced to his future step-dad and interrogate him about being a member of the IRA and whether or not he has an STI (there’s some context missing here but it’s worth it).

Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?
Justine and Rosemary are good so far, but I think Olivia and James need a little more work. I added a whole lot of side-characters I didn’t realise I would need, for example James’s siblings were not that detailed when I started out but now they’re rather distinctive. I also invented an entire sub-plot based around James’ brother Mac, which I wasn’t expecting.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
Probably all of the above to be honest. I’d like to finish the novel first, edit it at least once myself before sending it off to an editing friend. However, while I like the idea of sending off query letters to publishers, the self-publishing path is the more likely option.

Share a favourite snippet!
“While we wait for Màthair, I will ask you questions and you will answer them,” said the boy.
Robert raised an eyebrow at him, but shrugged, he couldn’t see the harm in it, he had only good intentions towards Joanna, “Aye, fire away,” he said. The boy gave him that skeptical look again and sat down, opening the manila fold and taking out a map of Northern Ireland, the thickness of the manila folder making him apprehensive. What kind of questions did this kid have in mind?
“Màthair said you were from Northern Ireland,” he said, he handed over the map and a pen, “indicate where exactly,”
“Me ma and da had a small farm out in Crumlin, it’s about half an hour away from Belfast,” said Robert, he made an x mark next to Crumlin on the map and gave it back.
The boy nodded and made some notes on his notepad, “What kind of farm was it?”
“Wheat mostly, though we did have cows, pigs, chickens and a couple of goats,” said Robert, thinking back on it, his parents must have been insane, all those animals coupled with seven kids, he didn’t know how they did it.
“Sounds like fun,” said the boy, though his expression remained impassive.
“Aye, but running a farm is a lot of hard work,” said Robert, “and when you’re growing crops, you’re at the mercy of the weather,”
“Noted,” said the boy, “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Irish Republican Army?”
“No,” said Robert, trying to remember that he was the adult here and Joanna would not look kindly on him yelling at her kid.
“Have any of your immediate family members been members of the Irish Republican Army?”
“No, my family are not members of the IRA,” said Robert.
“How many sexual partners have you had?” asked the boy.
“What?” asked Robert, feeling alarmed.
“I said how many sexual partners have you have you had?” asked the boy.
“Four or five,” said Robert, crossing his arms against his chest, he didn’t like where this was going.
The boy picked up his blue notepad, “Can’t remember how many sexual partners he has had,” he then puts it down and drags the manila folder towards him, “When was the last time you were tested for sexual transmitted diseases? Do you currently already have a sexually transmitted disease?”
“Whoa, hold on there laddie,” said Robert raising his hands, “What’s this got to do with-?”
“It has everything to do with my Màthair,” said the boy sighing, he opened up the manila folder and handed over a picture “Has your penis ever looked like this?” he asked.
“What?” Asked Robert, then he looked down at the picture. It was a naked dick with blistering welts all over it, “Gaaah,” said Robert and dropped the picture in revulsion.
“Well, has it?” asked the boy, he seemed very serious about this.
“No,” said Robert, “what is that?” he asked, though a part of him did not want to know.
“Genital warts, also known as herpes,” said the boy, writing in his notepad, “What about this one? Has it ever looked like this?” he handed over another picture and of course Robert took it. This time is was a dick with red welts with pus coming out of them.
“Sweet baby Jesus,” said Robert, “Where are you getting these from?”
“I printed them out at the library,” said the boy, “Is that a yes to syphilis?” he asked.
“No, I’ve never had syphilis,” said Robert.
“You appear to be telling the truth, however some STDS don’t have any outward symptoms; you’ll need to take an STD test, just in case” said the boy, nodding resolutely, “I will need to see the test results,”
“Sure, fine, just put the dick pics away,” said Robert.

What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?
I’d like to have Pushing Boundaries and Wrongful Assumptions written, edited and ready for publishing, Which means I need to back into the habit of writing regularly.

Links:
~Pacemaker: A Simple Flexible Planner for Writers & Students

~Musings of an AspieWhen Being a Good Girl is Bad for you

~Not just a boy thing: how doctors are letting down girls with autism by Amelia Hill

~The Autism Project: Mothers with ASD ask why scientists are missing girls

~Autism Women’s Network

~The changing face of “nerds” (and autism) in popular culture By Noel Murray