The Five Neurodivergent Love Languages

I love this fun tweet on the five neurodivergent love languages from the always insightful Myth.

I’ll expand on each with selected quotes.

Update: Expanded Version Available

An expanded version of this piece with more quotes, images, and videos is available at Stimpunks Foundation, a non-profit serving neurodivergent and disabled people.

Stimpunks Foundation: Mutual Aid and Human-Centered Learning for Neurodivergent and Disabled Creators


SpIns and Infodumps

I don’t know who invented the phrase “special interest.” Probably some researcher. Autistic people don’t really love the term because the term “special” has become tied so closely with terms like “special needs,” which we resent.

Nevertheless, somewhere down the line “special interest,” commonly shortened to SpIn (“spin”), became the term for the characteristically-autistic tendency to develop an obsession with something specific and often obscure.

Some special interests are short lived, and some last the lifetime of the person; but, however long they last, they are intense, delightful, and a vital part of autistic culture.

So integral are special interests to autistic culture that autistic people will post about feeling depressed and unmotivated because they don’t have an active SpIn at the moment.

Having a special interest is like having a crush or being newly in love. It is consuming and delightful. We love to share our special interests and a common example of autistic empathy is encouraging others to talk in great detail- “infodump”- about their SpIns.

It is considered a sign of caring and friendship to encourage someone to talk to you about their SpIn- whether or not you actually share their interest- because nothing makes an autistic person happier than discussing, learning about, or sharing about, their SpIn.

It is also quite acceptable in autistic culture to “infodump” on a topic whenever it happens to come up. To autists (an insider short-hand for autistic people), the sharing of knowledge and information is always welcome.

Source: 7 Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture » NeuroClastic

Parallel Play

We enjoy parallel play and shared activities that don’t require continual conversation. When we talk, it gets deep quickly. We discuss what’s real, our struggles, fears, desires, obsessions. We appreciate a good infodump, and there’s no such thing as oversharing. We swap SAME stories — sharing a time when we felt similarly in our own life, not as a competition, but to reflect how well we are listening to each other.

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

I want to spend time in parallel existence with you; let’s be alone together.

Source: neurowonderful — neurowonderful: They’re here! Because you…

Related to parallel play is the ADHDer practice of body doubling.

But in the world of ADHD, a body double is someone who sits with a person with ADHD as he tackles tasks that might be difficult to complete alone.

Many people with ADHD find it easier to stay focused on housework, homework, bill paying, and other tasks when someone else is around to keep them company. The body double may just sit quietly. He may read, listen to music on headphones, or work on the task that the person with ADHD is working on. Hard work is simply more fun when someone else is nearby.

Source: Getting Stuff Done Is Easier with a Friend

But why does a body double work? There are a few possible explanations. The simplest is that the body double serves as a physical anchor for the distracted individual who feels more focused by the presence of another person in their space. The distracted person feels responsible to and for the body double. This perception translates as­-I can’t waste this gift of time.

Source: The Body Double: A Unique Tool for Getting Things Done | ADDA – Attention Deficit Disorder Association

Support Swapping

Neurodivergent people, working together, can fill the gaps in each other’s spiky profiles. Go team. Members of the Neurodiversity ERG at Automattic help each other out during synchronous, meatspace meetups, which can be very stressful.

Support swapping can happen during parallel play, making for a nice moment of converging love languages.

Please Crush My Soul Back Into My Body

A famous example of the common autistic preference for deep pressure input is Temple Grandin’s Squeeze Machine.

At age 18, I constructed the squeeze machine to help calm down the anxiety and panic attacks. Using the machine for 15 minutes would reduce my anxiety for up to 45-60 minutes (Grandin and Scariano 1986). The relaxing effect was maximized if the machine was used twice a day.

Gradually, my tolerance of being held by the squeeze machine grew. Knowing that I could initiate the pressure, and stop it if the stimulation became too intense, helped me to reduce the oversensitivity of my “nervous system.” A once overwhelming stimulus was now a pleasurable experience.

Using the machine enabled me to learn to tolerate being touched by another person. By age 25, I was able to relax in the machine without pulling away from it. It also made me feel less aggressive and less tense. Soon I noted a change in our cat’s reaction to me. The cat, who used to run away from me now would stay with me, because I had learned to caress him with a gentler touch. I had to be comforted myself before I could give comfort to the cat.

As my “nervous system” calmed down, I required less squeeze pressure to produce a comforting feeling. Gradually, I could reduce the pressure regulator setting from 80 to 60 psi.

Source: Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure in Patients with Autistic Disorder, College Students, and Animals

But I’m tortured because whilst I don’t want to make a scene or have strangers adding to the overload and overwhelm, I’m simultaneously desperate for someone to give me a massive, firm, bear-hug. To hide me, cocoon me, and shield me from the shock waves that travel from their universe into mine.

Source: On meltdowns | The Misadventures of Mama Pineapple

“I found this cool rock/button/leaf/etc and thought you would like it”

This gets back to SpIns, both inviting people into yours and encouraging other’s. SpIns are a trove for unconventional gift giving.

Neurodivergent Languages and Teamwork

Infodumping, parallel play, support swapping, and “look, cool rock” are languages of teamwork and collaboration too, especially in distributed work cultures and “communication is oxygen” cultures. If only there were a distributed and work-appropriate equivalent for “Please Crush My Soul Back Into My Body”.

Support Myth

Myth’s “Ask an Autistic” YouTube series is an important part of our journey here at Stimpunks. We’re glad to support their work.

Need Support?

Neurodivergent? Disabled? Need support for your work? Check out Stimpunks.

Mutual Aid and Human-Centered Learning for Neurodivergent and Disabled Creators

Heard of Penguin Pebbling? Check out an updated version of The Five Neurodivergent Love Languages over at Stimpunks for a video explanation of penguin pebbling.

Header Art: Sphere of Humanity by Heike Blakley

“Sphere of Humanity: A Traverse Gift of Energetic Connectedness” by Heike Blakley

We’re Emptying the Pews of Toxic Christianity

I was frightened by the religious right in its triumphant phase. But it turns out that the movement is just as dangerous in decline. Maybe more so.

If they can’t own the country, they’re ready to defile it.

White evangelicals once saw themselves “as the owners of mainstream American culture and morality and values,” said Jones. Now they are just another subculture.

From this fact derives much of our country’s cultural conflict. It helps explain not just the rise of Donald Trump, but also the growth of QAnon and even the escalating conflagration over critical race theory. “It’s hard to overstate the strength of this feeling, among white evangelicals in particular, of America being a white Christian country,” said Jones. “This sense of ownership of America just runs so deep in white evangelical circles.” The feeling that it’s slipping away has created an atmosphere of rage, resentment and paranoia.

QAnon is essentially a millenarian movement, with Trump taking the place of Jesus. Adherents dream of the coming of what they call the storm, when the enemies of the MAGA movement will be rounded up and executed, and Trump restored to his rightful place of leadership.

“It’s not unlike a belief in the second coming of Christ,” said Jones. “That at some point God will reorder society and set things right. I think that when a community feels itself in crisis, it does become more susceptible to conspiracy theories and other things that tell them that what they’re experiencing is not ultimately what’s going to happen.”

But the idea that public schools are corrupting children by leading them away from a providential understanding of American history has deep roots in white evangelical culture. And it was the Christian right that pioneered the tactic of trying to take over school boards in response to teachings seen as morally objectionable, whether that meant sex education, “secular humanism” or evolution.

As Jones notes, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 after splitting with abolitionist Northern Baptists. He described it as a “remarkable arc”: a denomination founded on the defense of slavery “denouncing a critical read of history that might put a spotlight on that story.”

Source: Opinion | The Christian Right Is in Decline, and It’s Taking America With It – The New York Times

The backlash of decline underscores that decline. If there’s a good take to ongoing defilement, it’s that: We’re doing it! We’re emptying the pews of toxic Christianity.

Since 2006, white evangelical Protestants have experienced the most precipitous drop (of all groups) in affiliation, shrinking from 23% of Americans in 2006 to 14% in 2020.”

Source: The 2020 Census of American Religion – PRRI

These are our stories—of heartbreak and hope, terror and courage, rupture and reconciliation. We hope they’ll resonate with you in some way, whether you’re a believer, a former believer, or one of the increasing number of people raised without religion. Love it or hate it, America has begun to empty the pews. May this anthology help usher in a new sort of testimony.

Source: Stroop, Chrissy; O’Neal, Lauren. Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church (pp. 20-21). Epiphany Publishing. Kindle Edition.

#EmptyThePews points to the necessity of abandoning and confronting anti-democratic Christianity. Some religion embraces pluralism, but fundamentalism, in its intolerance, undermines pluralism, and white evangelical Protestantism is a variety of fundamentalism.

Source: If we want to save American democracy, we must have a very difficult conversation about evangelical Christianity | The Conversationalist

Previously on toxic Christianity,

Electrify Everything: Decarbonization Requires Electrification

Tackling climate change is a complicated undertaking, to say the least. But here’s a good rule of thumb for how to get started:

Electrify everything.

There’s increasing expert consensus: Decarbonization requires electrification.

Source: The key to tackling climate change: electrify everything – Vox

In January of 2020, before COVID lockdown, we signed on a solar plus battery system for our home. The logistics of lockdown slowed things, but by the summer we had a Generac PWRcell system installed on our house with a protected loads panel backing up critical circuits like the well pump.

Shortly after that, our gas riding mower broke down and needed a new engine. I decided it was time to electrify all the things.

Cut to almost a year later, and we have all EGO electric outdoor power equipment. We are expanding our PWRcell solar + battery to the max so we have true whole house backup with automatic failover and load shedding. We have a heat pump water heater and an induction cooktop on order to replace our aging and inefficient ones.

Freezes, floods, and heat waves have impacted the Texas power grid since we started our electrification efforts. The moral imperative we felt to electrify was fortified by a desire for reliable power.

I’m a fan of what Rewiring America is doing. Saul Griffith and company were a big influence on our decision to electrify everything, go solar, and go heat pump. I was happy to see the Biden administration highlight the Rewiring Communities report.

No strategy presents greater opportunities on these fronts than electrification —i.e., replacing those household machines and appliances currently contributing to emissions with modern electric versions running on clean electricity. Not only can electric machines dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions, but they are actually superior products for most homes, particularly as evidence mounts that the burning of fossil fuels in homes is a major contributor to, among other things, childhood asthma and other harmful conditions. Electrification also offers a unique opportunity for significant household energy bill savings and local job creation. Indeed, more than 65 million American households would be “in the money” on their energy bills today, saving over $27 billion a year in aggregate, if they were using modern electric appliances instead of space and water heaters powered by oil, propane, and electric resistance.

Technically speaking, electrification is the replacement of machines currently powered by fossil fuels with functionally equivalent machines powered by clean electricity. As a practical matter, it means encouraging Americans to buy an EV rather than a gas car the next time they are in the market for wheels. It means incentives to install electric heat pumps rather than fossil-powered furnaces and hot water heaters when those machines stop working and to replace stoves when the time comes with induction cooktops. It also means aggressively installing rooftop solar and other clean energy sources. Electrification, in short, is a broad vision in which the main source of energy throughout the economy is electricity.

Source: Rewiring Communities Report: A Plan to Accelerate Climate Action and Environmental Justice By Investing in Household Electrification at the Local Level — Rewiring America

This is the decade to electrify the built environment.” Here are selected quotes and resources advocating toward that end:

Looking at it this way, we see a no–regrets pathway that is most easily summarized as electrify everything … now.

At the highest level, and at the risk of repeating myself, any realistic plan toward total decarbonization is simple: electrify everything. When we replace everything in our lives with electricity, cars will be zippier, the air in our cities, suburbs, and homes will be cleaner, our appliances will be better, the streets will be quieter, and our carbon–consciences will be clear.

We have the technology we need, today, to solve climate change. And when we electrify everything, as we’ll soon show, we will eliminate more than half the energy we think we need!

Source: Handbook — Rewiring America

It is possible with the technology we have now to electrify our households. We can decarbonize our driving with electric cars, and charge them cleanly with solar on our rooftops and renewable electricity from the grid. Where most homes now burn methane in the kitchen to run the stove, we can switch to electric induction for cooking — which is cleaner, often faster, and healthier, since unlike ”natural” gas, it doesn’t release toxic fumes. We can use electric water heaters, or better still, heat pump hot water heaters that more efficiently provide us with hot showers and warm water. A heat pump, potentially with energy storage cheaply attached, can replace our furnace or other heating systems with electricity. We can buy electric clothes dryers to replace natural gas ones. To make this all work, we need to install a bigger load center, wire in electric car chargers, and attach a battery capable of running the loads in the house for a half day or so. Together these things electrify our households.

Electrification is the only viable pathway to decarbonizing a household.

Source: Household Savings Report — Rewiring America

DERs are a utility-scale renewable accelerant.

Source: Rooftop solar and home batteries make a clean grid vastly more affordable – Volts

…investing more into local solar will deliver more public benefits than investing in utility-scale projects. And even more surprisingly, he says that building rooftop solar and distributed storage systems will actually result in more utility-scale solar as well, plus bring greater societal benefits such as more jobs, increased economic development, increased resilience, and more equitable access to the benefits of renewables.

Source: [Episode #146] – Why Local Solar Costs Less

It is now widely agreed among energy wonks that the fastest, cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to, as I like to put it, electrify everything. That means cleaning up the electricity system while shifting other energy uses — especially transportation and buildings — off of fossil fuels, onto electricity.

When it comes to electrification, one technology in particular sits at the nexus, helping to decarbonize the electricity system, vehicles, and buildings all at once. I’m speaking, of course, of the humble solar photovoltaic panel, a technology that has defied predictions for decades, getting cheaper and cheaper, spreading faster and faster.

Source: Volts podcast: Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich on the promise of electrification – Volts

It’s all gonna change this decade.

This is our decade to decarbonize.

This decade is going to be about electrifying many things in your home.

Source: Volts podcast: Saul Griffith and Arch Rao on electrifying your house – Volts

This is the decade to electrify the built environment, especially our homes, so that every time we cook, take a shower, or heat our living spaces we are not inadvertently fueling our fossil dependence.

Source: Our decade to decarbonize — Span | A Smarter Electric Panel

Inverting the usual logic of grid planning, he suggests that more active participation by customers and distributed energy resources can help improve both grid resilience and reliability, while democratizing grid power and grid governance.

Source: Episode #150: Resilient and Reliable Power – The Energy Transition Show