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.

The Neurodivergent Experience in Josephmooon’s “So Far So Good”

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

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.

The album “So Far So Good” will be available on streaming platforms on Oct 1. Preview and pre-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. I share lyrics from each song and relate them to my own, and the broader, neurodivergent experience using selected quotes from community writing.

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”.