My Kid Released a Rock Album About Autistic Life

Our own Ronan released an album. Ronan is lyricist for Josephmooon. You can read the story of their distributed collaboration on their blog:

Here’s the story.

Early in 2020, as a pandemic encouraged people around the world to “stay home,” Josephmooon was created as a stage name and music project for the lyrics by Ronan Boren.

Ronan is autistic, and his imagination is vast, as revealed in the songs featured on the debut josephmooon album, “So Far So Good,” released on October 1, 2021, on all digital download and streaming platforms.

The lyrics are Ronan’s, edited and set to music by his music teacher, Bill Paige. The recordings were created at Rocky Head Studios in Hua Hin, Thailand, where Bill currently lives. Joining the Josephmooon team to make the music are the studio proprietors – Ronnie Nice, 17 years old, who has framed the songs with a fresh but familiar rock aesthetic, playing guitars, bass, drums, and producing. He has been taught well by his father, Ian Nice, a respected U.K. studio musician and solo artist who has recorded his own version of the Josephmooon song, “Every Right Now.”

Source: Josephmooon – “So Far So Good”

These songs resonate with my autistic, bipolar, and disabled life. I’m super excited to add them to my favorite playlist, Chronic Neurodivergent Depressed Queer Punk: Punk Rock, the Social Model of Disability, and the Dream of the Accepting Community, where they will become part of my everyday coping.

Listen for free on the Josephmooon website, purchase in their shop, listen on Spotify, listen on Apple Music, and order on iTunes.

Listen now, and then read ‘The Neurodivergent Experience in Josephmooon’s “So Far So Good”‘ over at Stimpunks for my interpretation of these songs and how they resonate with my life as a neurodivergent and physically disabled person. They cover such ground as intense interests, insomnia, rumination, and spoon theory. I share lyrics from each song and relate them to my own, and the broader, neurodivergent experience using selected quotes from community writing. Excerpts:

Floats Boat

One of The Five Neurodivergent Love Languages is listening to someone infodump. “Floats Boat” is an invitation to infodump about your SpIns.

“Floats Boat” offers a “sign of caring and friendship to encourage someone to talk to you about their SpIn.” It also offers subversion.

One Word

“One Word” reminds me of a high school crush I could never talk to because of the tidal immensity of exposure anxiety and rejection sensitive dysphoriaand the resulting situational mutism in their presence.

Long Ago

Rejection sensitivity and exposure anxiety generate a lot of regrets and rumination on those regrets. My regrets come as flashbacks that travel in an instant from the long ago to “right now right now don’t you know.”

“Long Ago” captures my yearning to unhook from rumination on what can’t be changed and live in the present. “Now is now and not forever.”

Up All Night

Insomnia is a research priority for autistic communities. At Stimpunks, we keep the hour-of-the-wolf.

Out of Tune

Feeling out of tune with myself and the world has been a fixture of my autistic, bipolar life. “Out of Tune” resonates broadly across neurodivergent experience. It makes me cry.

It concludes hopefully, though.

Captolea

I could interpret this as being about depression and reactivity, but I’ll let it stand as a good old-fashioned outlaw murder ballad.

Busybodies

“Busybodies” reminds me of the “Make it Stop” campaign.

In the video, an autistic student navigates a gauntlet of questions and sensory overwhelm.

There are entire industries of Busybodies pathologizing neurodivergent life, applying bad framing, asking the wrong questions, and “talking trash about me and probably about you too”.

High in the Sky

I love that second verse. It’s a flash of the autistic sense of justice. I often want to disassociate from a bomb dropping world that is way too intense.

Avoiding meltdown and burnout requires managing sensory diet, and sometimes that means retreating into your head and heading High Up in the Sky, detaching from an intense world designed against you.

Cost Time

“Cost Time” speaks directly to chronic spoonie life. Spoon theory is a popular metaphor for energy expenditure in the disability community.

Reusable Money

“Reusable Money” is a rollicking fantasy about having as much money as you can spend and traveling the world.

Beneath that, though, I feel the weight of our journey fighting for scraps in systems designed on “artificial economies of scarcity“.

Check For

I’ll reach for a neurodiversity angle by saying: I would not belong in the Stone Age either. I need my computer. It connects me with other cloudy ice folks who “help me sing my song”.

So Far So Good

Here at Stimpunks, we live in a Cavendish bubble of respite that is designed by neurodivergents, for neurodivergents.

We’ve been living So Far So Good within a remit of inclusion, access, and constancy.

But wolves are at the door in this world of time.

Lost In Translation: Ways in Which Neurodivergent and Neurotypical Social Languages Differ

We the neurodivergent are genetically different. We experience the world through a hypersensitive nervous system which informs every aspect of our thinking, our behavior, and our social values.

The dominant social group labels our way of being in the world as disordered because they don’t understand us. Even though they don’t understand, the dominant culture controls the narrative about our differences.

Society believes the experts who are not part of our culture, who see brokenness where there is order. We gradually start to believe the myths ourselves and lose all sense of self-esteem. We come to hate ourselves for being different.

They have largely not tried to understand the biological mechanisms that create our experience of self. Instead they have tried every means possible to force us to act neurotypical.

Some of us can pretend to be neurotypical, for a while, at great cost to our health and happiness, but we cannot change our neurotype. We are neurodivergent.

Our behavior and social values are different because the way we think is different. The way we think is different because our moment-to-moment experience of the world is different.

In this article, I’ll explain the key ways in which neurotypical and neurodivergent people misunderstand each other.

Source: Lost in Translation: The Social Language Theory of Neurodivergence | by Trauma Geek | Medium

This is a great piece of research-storytelling from the intersections of neurobiology and sociology. I highly relate to all of it. Here are the 8 key ways that are covered:

  1. Emotions
  2. Empathy
  3. Nonverbal Communication and Body Cues
  4. Words Mean Things
  5. Social Rules
  6. A Different Value System
  7. Skills and Abilities
  8. Reactions to Stress, Pain, and Overwhelm

Read the whole thing, and follow the thoughtfully curated links.

Check out Trauma Geek for more great articles, including one on “Discovering a Trauma-Informed Positive Autistic Identity”.

Previously,

Autigender and Neuroqueer: Two Words on the Relationship Between Autism and Gender That Fit Me

These words about two words helped me figure myself out more. Passing them along.

Autigender is not explicitly saying that “My gender is autism” – it’s not about saying you are a boy, girl, enby, autism, whatever. It’s about your relationship with your gender.

Specifically, gender is a social construct. The primary deficit of autism includes difficulties interpreting and understanding social constructions. This means that we have a disability that inherently makes understanding gender part of our disability.

Because of this, we can have exceptionally complicated and unique understanding of what gender is, how it affects us, and how we express gender.

Autigender is a word that describes this unique, complicated relationship. So when a person is saying that they are autigender, what they are saying is more or less that their understanding of gender is fundamentally altered by their autism.

Because autigender describes the relationship with gender, an autigender person’s gender can be, well anything. Boy. Girl. Enby. Cis. Trans. Anything. Agender. Gender Nope.

So what about a person who says they are autigender, and that IS their gender? Well, I think this still describes the relationship with their gender – Specifically in this case, their autism affects their understanding to such a degree that they just can’tbe any more descriptive with regards to gender. That leaves the only word they have – autigender.

Source: Candidly Autistic — What exactly is autigender? I’ve seen it used a…

“Autigender” is a term that some autistic people use to describe their relationship with gender. Specifically, it means that they feel that their autism affects the way they perceive and feel about gender.

Unfortunately, a lot of people interpret this as meaning that people think “autism” is their gender, which results in a lot of rage-filled posts on social media about how your gender cannot be a disability. Because, of course, it can’t. Autism is a neurotype, not a gender.

But this is a complete misunderstanding of the term.

No one who calls themselves “autigender” is going to write “autism” next to the word “gender” on a questionnaire.

The fact is that autism is a neurotype that specifically affects our perceptions and understanding of social conventions, norms, etiquette and mores.

Nor does it affect every autistic person the same way. One person may pick up on social norms easily but may struggle with small talk while another remains oblivious to social norms but can banter easily with strangers in line at the checkout.

It’s well documented that there is a significantly higher rate of gay, bi, trans, ace, and gender-queer people in the autistic community compared to the non-autistic community. What researchers haven’t figured out yet though is whether autism is in some way related to gender and sexual orientation or whether autistic people are just less brain-washed by society into following heteronormative stereotypes.

In other words, are there really more gay/trans/queer/ace autistic people, or do they just figure it out/come out of the closet more readily than non-autistic people?

We don’t know yet.

What we do know is that there are some people who feel that their ability to think of themselves as a particular gender is affected by their autism. This feeling is shared by enough autistic people that they have dubbed themselves “autigender.”

I don’t call myself autigender, but I get it. Gender is confusing to me, too.

I don’t feel offended by the idea of autigender. But some people really do. They feel it insults other non-binary and genderqueer people, that it mocks and makes light of their relationship with their gender. Autistic community leaders try to remind people that if you don’t like the term, you don’t have to use it.

But if it gives some people a feeling of belonging and helps them describe what must be a very complicated emotional response, then you should support them and let them call it what they want.

If someone feels their autism is affecting how they perceive their gender, let them call themselves autigender.

Considering how many LGBTQA+ autistic folk there are, I think there’s something in that one way or another.

Source: 7 Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture » NeuroClastic

So what does it mean to neuroqueer, as a verb? What are the various practices that fall within the definition of neuroqueering?

  1. Being neurodivergent and approaching one’s neurodivergence as a form of queerness (e.g., by understanding and approaching neurodivergence in ways that are inspired by, or similar to, the ways in which queerness is understood and approached in Queer Theory, Gender Studies, and/or queer activism).
  2. Being both neurodivergent and queer, with some degree of conscious awareness and/or active exploration around how these two aspects of one’s identity intersect and interact.
  3. Being neurodivergent and actively choosing to embody and express one’s neurodivergence (or refusing to suppress one’s embodiment and expression of neurodivergence) in ways that “queer” one’s performance of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, occupation, and/or other aspects of one’s identity.
  4. Engaging in the “queering” of one’s own neurocognitive processes (and one’s outward embodiment and expression of those processes) by intentionally altering them in ways that create significant and lasting increase in one’s divergence from dominant neurological, cognitive, and behavioral norms.

Source: Neuroqueer: An Introduction

I didn’t have the vocabulary for what I felt back in Southern Baptist Texas in the 1970s and 80s, but I was uncomfortable with and resistant to gender norms as a kid. They felt: silly, arbitrary, oppressive, confining, unnecessary, counter-productive, irrational. They did not make sense. They did not fit.

A small, shareable anecdote of the ways norms went against my grind, from a lifetime collection:

I didn’t openly express myself in dress much—I was deathly afraid of being noticed and totally unsure about what I felt—but I would splash some color in. I opted for a pink tinted coating on a new pair of eyeglasses once. Kids at school gave me grief, but I liked them and came to wear them as a defiant badge and also a sort of shield. My father had the coating removed.

Several burnouts and a retirement later, I have zero capacity for masking, for attenuating myself to the sensibilities of surrounding bigots and bullies. I enjoy my pink and my flower print Thai fisherman pants and wistfully wishing I could dial my gender to my pansexual, polyamorous, genderpunk, genderqueer mood.

Autigender and neuroqueer are the best fits I’ve found after a lifetime of seeking. Perhaps a term that fits even better will emerge. Perhaps it’s already out there for me to discover. I’ll keep reading other queer autistics as we help each other figure ourselves out.

Previously,