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.

Titrating the Whelm: Perceptual Capacity and Autistic Burnout

This piece on “Doing More by Doing Less: Reducing Autistic Burnout” in Psychology Today has several relatable paragraphs. I particularly like this on perceptual capacity and titrating our “whelm” levels:

The divergent ways in which we process the world around us can also leave us fatigued and sapped of energy, as autistic people have “higher perceptual capacity” than our neurotypical counterparts, meaning that we process greater volumes of information from our environment. Autistic people commonly use the concept of ‘spoon theory‘ to conceptualize this experience of having limited energy resources. Initially theorized in the context of chronic illness, spoon theory can be explained as every task and activity (enjoyable or otherwise) requiring a certain number of ‘spoons’. Most people start their day with such an abundance of spoons that they can do whatever they choose, and rarely run low. We autistic folk start with a limited number of spoons, and when those spoons run dangerously low, we need to step back, rest, engage in self-care, and wait for our spoons to replenish.

Before our diagnoses of autism, we focused intently on trying to do more: to match the pace of our non-autistic peers; to fulfill our professional and personal obligations to the highest standard; to emulate the busy, full life that seemed so effortless for others around us. We ignored the signs of autistic burnout and continued to push ourselves because we lacked the framework to understand our experiences and to realize why seemingly simple tasks like attending a social gathering could leave us exhausted, unable to complete even basic tasks of daily living for days afterward. Post-diagnosis, and following a deep and thorough reframing of our life narratives, we now actively focus on doing less, which has helped titrate our “whelm” levels and reduce the frequency and intensity of autistic burnout, thus allowing us to do more.


I’m still recovering from my last and biggest burnout. Forty sevens years of existence in an intense world mainlined through a terrifying perceptual capacity has thoroughly burnt me out. I’ve spent my life feeling like a raw and vulnerable sensory attack surface. For forty of those forty seven years of existence, I had no tools for titrating the whelm. I had no vocabulary for the most important things about myself. I ignored the signs and continued to push because I lacked the framework to understand my experiences.

I pushed. I camouflaged. I burnt out.

We have developed skills and strategies to withstand the sensory, social, and executive functioning demands of working in non-autistic spaces at non-autistic paces. We have taught ourselves this neurotypical syllabus of behaviors to get through the day appearing “just like everyone else”. However, the hidden flip side of this well-crafted camouflage is that we regularly fall in a heap, utterly exhausted, once we are safely behind closed doors. The extra cognitive load and personal resources it takes to camouflage should not be underestimated or dismissed; the cost of camouflaging is immense. Just because we have developed skills to appear non-autistic doesn’t mean it is in our best interests to do so.

A recent study found that women with higher scores on a measure of camouflaging also experienced greater mental health challenges, suicidal thoughts, and-perhaps paradoxically-challenges with daily functioning. More strikingly, autistic traits were not positively correlated with psychological distress, but efforts to camouflage these traits were. This indicates that it is not the experience of being autistic that creates distress, but the pressure to conform, keep pace with our neurotypical peers, and hide our true selves that causes psychological distress. There are countless narratives of autistic adults that describe the act of camouflaging leading to periods of autistic burnout, which often incorporate extreme exhaustion, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation, and are characterized by a drastic decline in capacity to function for days, months, or even years.

My drastic decline in capacity has lasted years. I went too long in ignorance. I now have the vocabulary and the framework to better titrate the whelm, thanks to other autistic people.

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