Abed’s Autistic Abandonment Experience Supercut

In this blog I will summarise selected episodes and then show and analyse scenes that depict common autistic experiences. My main focus will be on Abed’s fear of abandonment and his striving for relationships and, well, community.

Source: Abed’s Autistic Abandonment Experience Supercut – Wibbley-Wobbley Minds

This blog is wonderful. I’m crying. I am reminded how good it felt watching such fully-developed and compassionate representation. I’m also reminded of the intense feels as Abed processed trauma that hit close to my own experiences.

When I first watched the show, I was thrilled to have found autistic representation, that didn’t make me cringe or feel like I had to correct it all the time. But I soon found out that with accurate representation comes accurate depiction of trauma.

Source: Abed’s Autistic Abandonment Experience Supercut – Wibbley-Wobbley Minds

We dream of the accepting community, and Abed found one.

Community is magic.

Source: “Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the 21st Century

Via:

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.

Infodumping

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”.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines: A Heart-warming Raptor Bash for Neurodivergent Family

I was gonna put off watching “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” because I’m not in a mood for anything remotely apocalyptic, but then I saw this tweet from AutisticSciencePerson:

I could really use a dose of good autism representation after a terrible acceptance month, so I watched it, and then I re-watched it, and now I enthusiastically cosign.

Maybe someday we’ll get to where we can s/weird/neurodivergent/ in popular media and do so compassionately and authentically, laughing at the deficits of our spiky profiles while celebrating our strengths and whole selves.

Though we don’t get to hear the word autistic aloud, leaving the family’s neurodivergence to headcanon, there’s some great autism rep: stims, special interests, monotropism, hyperfocus, meltdowns, autistic empathy, and more.

I found the following scenes very relatable to neurodivergent family and life (mildly spoiler-ish):

“Hi. Would you like to talk to me about dinosaurs?”

“…we can make ten seconds of unobstructed family eye contact.” [straining]

“After all these years, I’m finally gonna meet my people.”

“These dinosaurs are inaccurate!”

“Check out this pencil topper.” [romantic music plays]

“What would a functional family do right now?”

“Mitchell family on three! Three.”

“Zebulon, scan those people for flaws.”

“Guys, can’t we all just be terrified together as a family.”

“We’re here because we don’t think like normal people.”

“The Mitchells have always been weird, and that’s what makes us great.”

“Don’t hide your feelings, man. That’s no way to live.”

“Just look for anyone who can’t keep it together.”

“They’re pretending to be capable.”

“What kind of maniac has one of those in his pockets at all times? This kind of maniac.”

“Rick, Rick. Let’s not re-litigate this.”

“Sometimes you have to listen to long monologues about Triceratops migration…”

“If this obstinate man could change his programming, we decided we could change ours.”

“I wonder if you could come over and talk about dinosaurs casually sometime!”

“Don’t let the world make you normal.”

“Good luck finding your people.”

“You guys are my people.”

“Raptor bash. For life.”

Source: The Mitchells vs. The Machines — Netflix

This movie is a heart-warming raptor bash for neurodivergent family. Watch it, and then watch it again to appreciate all the queer and neurodivergent touches.