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.

“Autistic people have significant barriers to accessing safety.”

Hyper-plasticity predisposes us to have strong associative reactions to trauma. Our threat-response learning system is turned to high alert. The flip side of this hyper-plasticity is that we also adapt quickly to environments that are truly safe for our nervous system.

The stereotypes of meltdowns and self-harm in autism come from the fact that we frequently have stress responses to things that others do not perceive as distressing. Because our unique safety needs are not widely understood, growing up with extensive trauma has become our default.

Because of our different bio-social responses to stimulus, autistic people have significant barriers to accessing safety.

Source: Discovering a Trauma-Informed Positive Autistic Identity | by Trauma Geek | Medium

“Autistic people have significant barriers to accessing safety.”

“We also adapt quickly to environments that are truly safe for our nervous system.”

That really resonates and calls to mind this passage of mine from “Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism”:

Since reading NeuroTribes, I think of psychologically & sensory safe spaces suited to zone work as “Cavendish bubbles” and “Cavendish space”, after Henry Cavendish, the wizard of Clapham Common and discoverer of hydrogen. The privileges of nobility afforded room for his differences, allowing him the space and opportunity to become “one of the first true scientists in the modern sense.”

Let’s build psychologically safe homes of opportunity without the requirement of nobility or privilege. Replace the trappings of the compliance classroom with student-created context, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and BYOC (Bring/Build Your Own Comfort). Let’s hit thrift stores, buy lumber, apply some hacker ethos, and turn the compliance classroom into something psychologically safe and comfortable to a team of young minds engaged in passion-based learning. Inform spaces with neurodiversity and the social model of disability so that they welcome and include all minds and bodies. Provide quiet spaces for high memory state zone work where students can escape sensory overwhelm, slip into flow states, and enjoy a maker’s schedule. Provide social spaces for collaboration and camaraderie. Create cave, campfire, and watering hole zones. Develop neurological curb cuts. Fill our classrooms with choice and comfort, instructional tolerance, continuous connectivity, and assistive technology.

In other words, make space for Cavendish. Make spaces for both collaboration and deep work.

Source: Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism

There isn’t much psychological or sensory safety to be found in schools or workplaces. I spent a lifetime trying and ended up helping start a fully distributed company built on written communication so I could work from home in a sensory space and communication culture curated to my needs.

Create Cavendish space in our schools and workplaces. Create safety accessible to autistic people. Neurological pluralism makes for good, universal design.

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