Friday, December 31, 2021

Have Faith In Your Children With Intellectual Disabilities

Ivanova Smith, a Lavtian American person with short brown hair and glasses, out in the community at a restaurant table with two drinks with lemon slices and straws in them.
Ivanova Smith, out in the community
[image: Ivanova Smith, a Lavtian American person with short
brown hair and glasses, at a restaurant table with two glasses
with brown beverages, lemon slices, and straws in them.]
The October 2021 meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) featured some remarkable comments from its autistic members, including Sam Crane, Lindsey Nebeker, and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu—as well as public comments from ASAN's Julia Bascom and our own editor Shannon Rosa, about the rights and needs of autistic people with intellectual and mental health disabilities. The transcript of the meeting was published only recently, and the entire document is worth your attention.

Even so, we'd like to draw your attention to the comments of Ivanova Smith, an autistic advocate with intellectual disability who is the parent of two small children as well as a a newly seated member of the IACC. Ivanova is passionate about the rights of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) to grow up and participate in their communities—and is a forceful, living example of how people with ID can thrive, given the right supports and understanding. 

We are grateful to Ivan for giving us permission to share their comments here. And we hope you carry the urgency and optimism of their message into the new year.

----


This is Ivanova Smith. I just want to say I was institutionalized for five and a half years of my life. I was nonspeaking. I did not understand many things. I did not understand even my own name. 

It was not until I was started to be taught things and that people really did one-on-one support with me that I started to learn things, and I started to gain abilities in being able to be in my community. It is because people did not think that I could learn. 

This idea that people with intellectual disabilities cannot learn is a very dangerous idea and it leads to us being harmed. I think it is important to autistics with intellectual disabilities that we get the support to learn. And we need to get teachers equipped. 

We need to help parents teach their children that we grow just like anyone else. We should be given a chance and the dignity of risk to learn how to swim, to learn how to cross the street. If we need support, if we need one-on-one support to cross the street, we should be given that support to cross the street. We shouldn’t be shut away in an institution just because we are struggling to learn something. 

I struggled to read, and the school said you will never learn how to read. But my mother, she said no, I will not believe that and my mother sat in the hallway with me every day in the school and taught me to read, to use sign language, to use visuals. She used a different method that the teachers did not use. I learned how to read. It made it so I could have access to academic courses. 

But that is not fair [that] people who can’t learn to read to not be given that access, and to be denied that access to have to fight to be able to have access that anybody else wants. It is not right. Just because of an IQ score, we need to stop that and we need to look at people as human beings who want to learn and we need to make sure that everyone has the right to learn and that we all have the right to grow up. 

We are not mentally children. Autistics with intellectual disabilities are not mentally children. We grow up just like everyone else, and we need to learn how to be safe and we need to learn what – if we want to have one of these devices, the GPS [tracking] devices, we should be taught informed consent. We should be told about what the device does and what we want it to do and what we do not want it to do.

And if we want to go explore a community, we should just have somebody help us and support us in the community to explore. If I want to go on a walk near a river, but I need support, have somebody go with me and help me explore. 

Do not just take away that right for me to explore. That is sad. That does not help an autistic person feel like they are valuable or allowed in their community. We should all be allowed in our community. If we need extra support for that then we should be given it because that is our constitutional right. Thank you.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

HEARD: Supporting Black-Led, Disabled-Led, Cross-Disability Justice

The HEARD logo, with aqua-colored hands signing the letters "HEARD" against a white background. Superimposed on the hands are black block letters spelling "HEARD". A white scale symbolizing justice is superimposed on the "A" in the center.
[image: The HEARD logo, with aqua-colored hands signing the letters "HEARD" against a white background. Superimposed on the hands are black block letters spelling "HEARD". A white scale symbolizing justice is superimposed on the "A" in the center.]

Kerima Çevik

I have spent a good part of my life concerned about autistic adults who are survivors of catastrophic encounters with our criminal justice system. People like Arnaldo Rios Soto, Neli Latson, and Darius McCollum. Neli Latson is finally free but paid a bitter cost for the crime of sitting in front of his local library. Deaf and disabled folks trapped within systems they should not have been part of in the first place have few options and precious little help unless their stories become part of our news cycle. 
 
I wanted to be part of any effort to help them. So a few months ago, I joined the board of HEARD, a Black-led and disabled-led, cross-disability abolitionist organization. With practically no funding, HEARD has been doing vital work that no one else does.
  • HEARD advocates directly for incarcerated Deaf and disabled people and is often the only source of culturally and linguistically relevant services for Deaf people in prisons at all.
  • They also educate much larger, better-funded organizations and 
  • Facilitate communication between them and Deaf-disabled incarcerated people, which has led to a number of important and successful class-action lawsuits that never would have been brought otherwise.
  • They also fight hard against wrongful convictions and 
  • Use whatever tools they can to bring folks homeand 
  • Then to support them and their families once they do come home.
  • One of the exciting new programs HEARD is developing is a comprehensive healing justice reentry program for deaf/disabled people. It is a program that is trauma-informed and culturally/linguistically appropriate.  It includes training mental health providers on how to work effectively with formerly incarcerated people, providing social support, lending out tech and providing access to the internet, and helping people become peer educators, community interpreters, and facilitators.
Moreover, HEARD is addressing the reality that most political education resources are not accessible for people who are Deaf or who carry intellectual or developmental disability labels. HEARD has been changing that, developing resources about prison abolition by and for deaf/disabled people.

As you plan your end-of-year giving, I hope that you will give as generously as you can to HEARD. I don't think HEARD has gotten anywhere near enough recognition or funding for its work, and it's incredible how much it has done nonetheless--I have no doubt with more resources it will have even more of an impact. With our help, it could reach so many more deaf and disabled people in prison or returning home. I have a personal goal of raising at least $5,000 for HEARD by the end of the year and plan to give $1000 myself. Whether or not you can give, I hope you will also follow HEARD on social media and signal-boost their work.

Thank you, stay safe and healthy throughout this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Circular Reasoning and The Question of Profound Quadrilaterality:

A Statement on the Nature of Shapes by an Autistic Adult.

Bev Harp
www.facebook.com/squawkers.mccaw

Click image to enlarge

An infographic titled Circular reasoning and the question of profound quadrilaterality. A statement on the nature of shapes by an autistic adult.  Image of blue (regular) rectangle. Subtitle: This is a quadrilateral. Text: It is called a quadrilateral because it has four sides. That is all that's required. This one also happens to be a rectangle. Four sides = quadrilateral + 4 right angles = rectangle.  Title: These are also quadrilaterals. Images of a parallelogram, square, and trapezoid with definitions. Parallelogram: four sides = quadrilateral + opposite sides parallel. Square: four sides = quadrilateral + 4 equal sides and 4 right angles = square. Trapezoid: four sides = quadrilateral + 2 sides parallel = trapezoid.  Subtitle: Quadrilaterals. Images of parallelogram, rectangle, trapezoid, and square. Text: Each of these shapes is a quadrilateral. No one shape here is more quadrilateral than the others. Meeting other conditions does not change the shape's quadrilateralness.  No subtitle. You might think that the square better captures the essence of quadrilaterality than the trapezoid. You might even think of the square as "profoundly quadrilateral." But you would be wrong.  Subtitle: There is a group of shapes who would like to change the definition of quadrilateral. Image of 5 circles and a trapezoid. One circle is saying, "That one isn't even rectangular!" The trapezoid is thinking, "Circular logic?"  Subtitle: This rectangle represents an autistic person. Text: A person is called autistic when they have social/communication differences and a need for sameness or repetition to a degree that affects major life activities. Image of a rectangle with the word "autistic."  Subtitle: These quadrilaterals also represent autistic people. Image shows a parallelogram, square and trapezoid. The parallelogram says "autistic + ADHD + anxiety + gastrointestinal disorder. The square says "autistic + intellectual disability + epilepsy. The trapezoid says "autistic + depression + PTSD. Text: Each person has co-occurring conditions. These vary from one autistic person to another. The co-occurring conditions are not part of the definition of autism. They cannot make a person more or less autistic.  Subtitle: Did you know? Text: Accurate definitions and logic are access needs for many of us. I would be very happy to stop arguing about the definition of autism, but I cannot until my access needs are met. Think of it as an accommodation if you must.  Disabled people deserve access to the supports they need, whether due to autism or to co-occurring conditions. But squares are not more quadrilateral than trapezoids. There is no such thing as "profound autism."


Image description: An infographic titled Circular reasoning and the question of profound quadrilaterality. A statement on the nature of shapes by an autistic adult.

Image of blue (regular) rectangle. Subtitle: This is a quadrilateral. Text: It is called a quadrilateral because it has four sides. That is all that's required. This one also happens to be a rectangle. Four sides = quadrilateral + 4 right angles = rectangle.

Title: These are also quadrilaterals. Images of a parallelogram, square, and trapezoid with definitions. Parallelogram: four sides = quadrilateral + opposite sides parallel. Square: four sides = quadrilateral + 4 equal sides and 4 right angles = square. Trapezoid: four sides = quadrilateral + 2 sides parallel = trapezoid.

Subtitle: Quadrilaterals. Images of parallelogram, rectangle, trapezoid, and square. Text: Each of these shapes is a quadrilateral. No one shape here is more quadrilateral than the others. Meeting other conditions does not change the shape's quadrilateralness.

No subtitle. You might think that the square better captures the essence of quadrilaterality than the trapezoid. You might even think of the square as "profoundly quadrilateral." But you would be wrong.

Subtitle: There is a group of shapes who would like to change the definition of quadrilateral. Image of 5 circles and a trapezoid. One circle is saying, "That one isn't even rectangular!" The trapezoid is thinking, "Circular logic?"

Subtitle: This rectangle represents an autistic person. Text: A person is called autistic when they have social/communication differences and a need for sameness or repetition to a degree that affects major life activities. Image of a rectangle with the word "autistic."

Subtitle: These quadrilaterals also represent autistic people. Image shows a parallelogram, square and trapezoid. The parallelogram says "autistic + ADHD + anxiety + gastrointestinal disorder. The square says "autistic + intellectual disability + epilepsy. The trapezoid says "autistic + depression + PTSD. Text: Each person has co-occurring conditions. These vary from one autistic person to another. The co-occurring conditions are not part of the definition of autism. They cannot make a person more or less autistic.

Subtitle: Did you know? Text: Accurate definitions and logic are access needs for many of us. I would be very happy to stop arguing about the definition of autism, but I cannot until my access needs are met. Think of it as an accommodation if you must.

Disabled people deserve access to the supports they need, whether due to autism or to co-occurring conditions. But squares are not more quadrilateral than trapezoids. There is no such thing as "profound autism."

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Creating a "Profound Autism" Category Is Segregation, Not Progress

Shannon Rosa
twitter.com/shannonrosa

White dude seen from behind while hiking at Vasquez Rocks, home of the Gorn.
Photo courtesy the author
[image: White dude seen from behind while hiking at
California's Vasquez Rocks, famed for being the home of the Gorn
.]
All parents of autistic children struggle to give our children the lives they deserve, but we struggle in different ways because our children’s support needs vary so widely. I understand this complexity at a deeply personal level, as my autistic son requires full-time care—and I also get it professionally, as an editor and community manager at Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, where a dizzying range of autistic experiences passes through our forums. Among other learned truisms, I can tell you that the recently proposed term “profound autism” is not very useful to parents like me, or autistic people like my son. What parents of high-support autistic kids like me need instead is more awareness of and connection with the other communities who understand our kids’ high-support traits, like the disability and non-speaking communities—in addition to the wider autistic community.

It’s not surprising that parents are seeking to segregate their high-support autistic children. Parents like me often aren’t given good information about the disability diversity within the autism community, or how to support our autistic children who have speech or intellectual disabilities on top of their autism. Instead of feeling supported by the autism community, we often feel isolated when our autistic kids are all lumped together—even though our kids’ autism-only disabilities, like a need for consistency and sensory sensitivities, are indeed very similar. We often find ourselves looking at the general autism community, and getting frustrated because it includes and is led by people we perceive as having lower support needs than our own children (even though since every autistic person qualifies as disabled, every autistic person needs some kind of support and accommodations—and this is true even if a person is able to talk, go to a mainstream school, or work in a regular job). We might falsely believe that inclusive autism spaces can’t possibly serve us. 

Also, when parents believe “profound” autism is a separate condition, their children’s illnesses, or common co-occurring conditions like migraines or Tourettes or anxiety can get overlooked, unaddressed, or written off as “behavior” or just “severe autism.” The parents get frustrated when approaches like Applied Behavioral Analysis, which ignores autistic needs in favor of conditioning “normal” behaviors, backfires. And because of the relentless negativity, fearmongering, and pseudoscience that seeps into media coverage of autism, “profound” autism communities are also often magnets for parents whose goal is to cure or treat autism, instead of understanding how to support an autistic child—especially if that child has other disabilities. And then when “nothing worked” because all of those parents' kids are "still autistic," and everyone is angry and feeling hopeless, the parents are left claiming that "no one" is addressing their “profoundly autistic” children’s support needs, so they need to create a separate category.

But if the parents of “profound” autistic kids would connect with all the communities that include their kids, like the disability and communication communities in addition to inclusive autism communities, they’d be so much better off. The non-autism disability communities, specifically, tend to be more oriented towards problem-solving for their kids’ rights and accommodations and medical needs. They get equally angry about the lack of support resources because there ARE a lack of support resources. But they also tend to view adults who share their children’s disabilities, and the value of their shared, lived experiences as the valuable resources they are, instead of rejecting crucial allies and supports.

Why is it so hard for parents of autistic children to understand which resources they need? One roadblock is a society that tends to view autism and disability as scary bad things, and see disabled people like our children as burdens. In addition, most mainstream autism resources were developed by professionals who haven’t gotten over the idea that disability is bad, or who aren't part of the autistic or disability community, and who didn't consult autistic people—so those resources tend to center on how to make autistic people easier for non-autistic people to live with, instead of focusing on autistic people's happiness and well-being. And since a family is usually only as happy as its least happy member, and since most families are not given information about helping autistic people be happy, this means too many families with autistic members are not happy ones.  

Parents who aren't themselves autistic or disabled and who rely on these mainstream autism resources may therefore have no guidance for viewing their children positively. They may not see their kids as who they are, but rather as what they aren’t. They won't have the lived context to teach their children self-acceptance or self-advocacy, which means their kids may not learn that they deserve and have the right to whatever accommodations they need. Again, these will not be happy families.

But if parents get their information about parenting autistic kids from the autistic community, they will find people who think that their kids are awesome, and deserve to be happy, and want their parents to feel the same way. The parents will learn about autism from people who had autistic childhoods. They can find out that the way their autistic child socializes is perfectly normal—for an autistic person—and that many social communication difficulties go both ways. They find out that the child's strong interests  can bring them deep joy, their repetitive movements can bring them peace, and their insistence on sameness can help them cope with an unpredictable world. They find out that things that non-autistic people consider "no big deal" are actually a very big deal for autistic people, like noises and flickering lights and consistency and processing delays and surprises. They learn to respect and work with the autistic child's communication style, especially if the child uses echolalia, scripting, or alternative communication methods like typing or iPad apps. They will find out that autistic people consider ABA therapy a form of torture, and that at the same time some types of speech therapy and occupational therapy can be crucial. 

When parents get information about their kids’ disabilities from the disability community, they will find people who think that their kids are awesome, and want their parents to feel the same way. They can also help parents understand that meaningful inclusion in school matters more than token mainstreaming without supports, that interdependence and being able to make choices matter more than becoming completely independent, and that being part of a community means increased personal safety while segregated living means increased personal peril.

If parents rely purely on the "profound" autism community, they are unlikely to find the resources their children need. So we need to spread the word that parents can get additional guidance from disability-centric organizations that also welcome autistic people, like Little Lobbyists, which focuses on children with complex medical disabilities; The ARC, which focuses on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or CommunicationFirst, which focuses on people with communication disabilities—in addition to autistic-led orgs like The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, which advocates for autistic people of all abilities, and your autistic and non-autistic friends here at TPGA—all parents of high-support autistic children who are now taller than their mothers.

When parents find actually useful resources, the families and their children can be much happier. This doesn't guarantee that everything will be fixed! But that is because our society does not yet provide the benefits and resources to support autistic children and families properly, and also because parenting is hard, and because all children have the potential to require more supports than their parents had ever imagined—regardless of whether they are disabled. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

An Autistic Passion for Fashion

Emma Seely-Katz
humanrepeller.com

I was diagnosed with Autism fairly late, at age 22. None of my loved ones were surprised. One thing that might have tipped them off is my longtime obsession with fashion and clothing, which I realized belatedly could fit into the paradigm of “special interest.” When I thought about it that way, it became apparent that being Autistic can give one a unique and valuable way of approaching fashion that I think deserves more exploration.

For someone with heightened sensitivity, clothing and accessories can make or break an entire day out. Not only do things like texture and fit have the potential to trigger or soothe, clothes and accessories can be chosen for their visually or kinetically stimulating properties, their ability to store necessary items close at hand, their ability to address light, sound, or scent sensitivities… The potential to use dressing to create a tiny bubble of comfort, like a suit of armor, is so exciting to me and I believe it can manifest in an interesting and unique sartorial sensibility. 

Autism is a highly relational state of being—interactions with other people can be daunting as someone with a different way of processing sensory input, but they provide me with, and then give me the opportunity to test out, tools I can use to expand my conception of the world. Fashion is a similarly relational endeavor, and I find it helpful to approach it as another tool with which I can mediate my experience of being alive. I use it not only to soothe myself but also to convey to others who I am and what is important to me. 

The following are some suggestions for clothes, accessories, and miscellaneous accoutrements that might be good fits for those with Autistic or other hypersensitivities. I am nonbinary and wear clothes designed for all genders, so this guide is designed from that perspective. I try to include some pieces that are financially accessible in my guides, but they are all just style suggestions and can easily be riffed upon at a thrift store! If you enjoy this article, you can check out more at humanrepeller.com where I’ve written posts on how to dress like specific anime characters, utilitarian clothing, first date outfits, and more.


TUBE TOP

Model wearing a dark gray long sleeved tube neck top and matching pants.
[image: Model wearing a dark gray long-sleeved
tube neck top and matching pants.]

For people who want the look of a high-necked top without the constriction around the neck of a typical turtleneck, this top would be perfect! Black Crane uses high-quality fabrics and this top will certainly treat your skin well. 

EARTHWORM SHIRT

Short-sleeved red plaid button-up shirt with multiple front pockets showed containing itmes like digging spades, pencils, and a small spray bottle.
[image: Short-sleeved red plaid button-up shirt with multiple front pockets
containing items like digging spades, pencils, and a small spray bottle.]

This 100% cotton shirt won’t irritate sensitive skin but will provide a truly awe-inspiring amount of storage spaces to keep things close at hand to keep tics and triggers at bay. I always need lip balm, chewing gum, a pen, and a glasses wipe within reach or I can plan on having a miserable day, and this sturdy, reinforced shirt won’t let me lose any of them through a frayed hole.

LAKE SHIRT

Gray button-up long sleeved shirt with long neck flaps tied in front of the model's throat.
[image: Black button-up long sleeved shirt with long neck flaps
tied in front of the model's throat.]

This shirt is made of soft, lightweight cotton voile, can be tied and untied in times of stress (it looks great both ways), and is black so stains are less of a concern, which is a huge point in my book when I’m considering a dress shirt. The unique silhouette will be an instant conversation starter and indicates an interest in fashion that could lead to some incredible talks with new acquaintances! 

CLOUD COAT

[image: Photo of a model wearing a black quilted cloud coat.]

This iridescent coat is made from beetled linen, a special treatment that makes the fabric more durable and water-resistant, great for those of us (myself definitely included) who hate the feeling of wet skin and want a light but striking layer to keep us dry. The sleeves can be cinched with ties or left to hang loose depending on what feels better to you.

EMERGENCY SLEEP HOODIE

[image: Model, seen from the back, wearing a black hoodie with a small
matching pillow attached to their shoulders by three metal carabiners.]

This hoodie displays a sense of both levity and pragmatism–the decoration on the back detaches into a pillow that would be a boon on flights, train rides, or waits at the DMV, and can also be used as a bag if you have spare carabiners or a cord to attach to the three included carabiners. A huge preventative measure for Autism freakouts is to never be caught off-guard without necessary supplies, and with this hoodie, you won’t!

MOSAIC COLLAR SWEATSHIRT

[image: Black long-sleeved sweatshirt with
rainbow mosaic piecework around the neck.]

This sweatshirt is made of unbeatably cozy 100% cotton fleece and its unique mosaic pattern provides a ton of visual interest to the default sweatsuit that I often retreat to in need of comfort and range of motion in my outfit.

ORANGE BEAN

Orange L.L. Bean coat with brown collar and cuffs, with multiple colored patches sewn on the center front.
[image: Orange L.L. Bean coat with brown collar and cuffs,
with multiple colored patches sewn on the center front.]

I'm not recommending dropping $2K on this jacket (though if you have that kind of money, by all means!), but I think it’s great inspiration for an even cooler look: Thrift an old jacket (L.L. Bean coats like this one are dime a dozen at thrift stores) and go crazy sewing on patches that make you happy or send messages about yourself that you don’t want to have to verbalize! This patch shop is a great place to start.

TERRY CLASSIC SWEATPANT

Bottom half of a model wearing light blue mostly traditional design sweatpants.
[image: Bottom half of a model wearing light blue
mostly traditional design sweatpants.]

These are the comfiest, best-fitting sweats I’ve found thus far in my extensive travels across the sweatpant matrix, and can be matched to Richer Poorer’s sweatshirts for an easy, cohesive look for the days when you just need to feel like you never really had to get out of bed.

TERRY TROUSER

Lower half of a model wearing tailored dark blue sweatpants. Their hands are in their pockets and they are wearing a long-sleeved gray sweatshirt and white converse shoes with black laces.
[image: Lower half of a model wearing tailored dark blue sweatpants.
Their hands are in their pockets and they are wearing a long-sleeved gray
sweatshirt and white converse shoes with black laces.]

Another Richer Poorer pick, these pants have the same incredible comfort with a more tailored look—I would even dare to wear these into the office!


Brown and gray cargo pants that convert into shorts.
[image: Brown and gray cargo pants that convert into shorts.]

Temperature changes are a huge trigger for me, so I love convertible clothing. These pants look slick and have a built-in belt and ankle cinches for a perfect, not too-tight or too-loose fit, and zip off into a just-as-good-looking pair of shorts. These would be excellent for hiking or biking or just one of those days that starts at 60 degrees and ends up at 80!

CONVERTIBLE DOUBLE KNEE PANTS

Brown pants with multiple pockets down the front of both legs.
[image: Brown pants with multiple pockets down the front of both legs.]

Another transcendent storage solution, I own a pair of these pants and they were worth every penny. The possibilities for storage space and for mixing and matching (the pocket panels are removable and interchangeable with the other colors of the pants) are immense and exciting. The pants are a bit heavy, which I find comforting but is something to consider if hefty fabrics bother you. 

ULTRA STRETCH COMFORT PANTS

Photo of a Black model, from the shoulders down, wearing a red jacket and khaki stretchy pants.
[image: Photo of a model, from the shoulders down,
wearing a red jacket and khaki stretchy pants.]

There are many days when looking “put-together,” especially for work, is a huge weight on my mind and comes into conflict with my comfort and ability to move freely. Uniqlo has a great selection of pants that smooth out this conflict, including this pair!


[image: Model from the shoulders down, wearing a baggy white top, with their hands in the pockets of baggy dark gray pants.
[image: Model from the shoulders down, wearing a baggy white top,
with their hands in the pockets of baggy dark gray pants.]

I have struggled with body dysmorphia, compounded by Autism, creating a hyperawareness of my body and how it fits into clothes, and sometimes I just want to throw on a huge, baggy sack and be done with it all. These pants allow for this sensation while still looking cool as hell. They are marketed as genderless and would look great on people of any stature.

ACCORDION PLEATED SKIRT

Person wearing a gray long plaid accordion pleated skirt and black Oxford shoes, from the side, with one foot slightly raised in front of them.
[image: Person wearing a gray long plaid accordion pleated skirt and
black Oxford shoes, from the side, with one foot slightly raised in front of them.]

This skirt is made of rayon, meaning it won’t hold wrinkles–one less garment to agonize over leaving crumpled on the ground for a day or two. Its fun, sharp texture is invigorating to the touch and to the eye, and the length is perfect for showing off epic shoes or socks. 

BRUISED HOODIE DRESS

Model wearing a hoodie dress in thin fuzzy horizontal stripes of green and orange.
[image: Model wearing a hoodie dress in
thin fuzzy horizontal stripes of green and orange.]

This dress is an easy choice for days where coordinating a top and bottom sets you off on a mental rampage through a closet of clothing that doesn’t quite fit the bill. Its colors are unique and beautifully integrated, and the hood is perfect for temperate but windy days when a jacket or hat is not in order but you want to protect your hairstyle.

BOILER SUIT

Model from the shoulders down, wearing a navy blue one-piece long sleeved boiler jumpsuit.
[image: Model from the shoulders down, wearing a
navy blue one-piece long sleeved boiler jumpsuit.]

Another great choice for when selecting both top AND bottom is just too much, this incredibly affordable boiler suit will only look cooler with wear and tear.

RUBBER GARDENING BOOT

A pair of black ankle-height rubber gardening boots.
[image: A pair of black ankle-height rubber gardening boots.]

Wet feet are a personal dimension of Hell to me, and these rubber boots would shield me from it without compromising the unimpeachability of my outfit.

BONDI SR

A white lace-up tennis shoe with an extra-supportive sole.
[image: A white lace-up tennis shoe with an extra-supportive sole.]

I injured an ankle several years ago, leading to a cascade of pain up and down my body every time I walked for three damn years before I discovered Hoka Bondis. They genuinely changed my life, and this iteration is in the mail to me as I type. With water resistance, slip-resistant soles, and no mesh, these are perfect winter sneakers, but I suspect I’ll be wearing them year-round. Anything that decreases my pain also decreases my Autistic distress, as the two are deeply interconnected for me.

RECYCLED EAR FLAP CAP

An olive green felt cap with adjustable ear flaps.
[image: An olive green felt cap with adjustable ear flaps.]

This cap is cozy, adjustable, will shield your eyes from overstimulating sunlight, and has a fold-down flap that will keep your ears warm AND do a bit to muffle loud noises (or signal that you’d rather not be talked to right now). 

PLAID FLEECE BONNET

Model wearing a blue plaid contemporary fleece bonnet that ties under the chin.
[image: Model wearing a blue plaid contemporary fleece bonnet that ties under the chin.]

Another cap that will serve many of the same purposes as the one above in a completely different aesthetic sensibility, with the added bonus of keeping your neck warm. 

CARPET HEAD COVER

A model wearing a thick knitted cap that covers the ears, neck, and  part of the chest.
[image: A model wearing a thick knitted cap that covers
the ears, neck, and  part of the chest.]

The most heavy-duty warm of all the head coverings I’ve recommended, this unique piece will keep you feeling safe and swathed when you are out in the cold.

KNOTS BANDANA

A square blue bandanna with white drawings of various functional knots.
[image: A square blue bandanna with white drawings of various functional knots.]

Check out all the bandanas this site has to offer and you might find one that satisfies a hyperfixation of yours, whether that’s wildlife, maps, fishing, or snakes! This knot bandana is hanging above my bed right now but it also looks great tied around your neck or head and will quickly convey your interests to anyone who might catch a glimpse. 

LEATHER ID WALLET NECKLACE/CROSSBODY

Model from the shoulders down wearing a pale brown crossbody leather wallet necklace.
[image: Model from the shoulders down wearing a
pale brown crossbody leather wallet necklace.]

This handy little thing is the antidote to feeling suffocated by belongings: simply slip your important cards into the pouch, clip on your keys, and get the heck out the door!

ITA FANNY PACK

Black fanny pack with a clear plastic window on the front that is protecting and displaying a number of enamel pins, including ones of Winnie the Pooh and Mickey & Minnie Mouse kissing.
[image: Black fanny pack with a clear plastic window on the front that is
protecting and displaying a number of enamel pins, including ones of
Winnie the Pooh, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse kissing.]

One of my recent hyperfixations was pin collecting, and if you’re into that too, having a subtle but handy ITA bag to safely display them in saves a lot of headache worrying about them falling off and makes you easily identifiable to other people with similar obsessions, perhaps fellow Autists who are now your new friends! All because of a fanny pack! See, fashion is powerful. 

SONY WH1000XM3 NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES

White Sony noise-canceling headphones.
[image: White Sony noise-canceling headphones.]

These headphones have been reviewed as comfortable for long-haul wears, great at noise canceling, and easy to use, minus any wire tangling or snagging that comes with non-Bluetooth headsets. I like the silver colorway a lot, but the black is slightly cheaper! 

I hope a few of these garments were invigorating or inspiring to you, and would love to hear how Autism has facilitated or hindered your fashion sense! DM me on Instagram @humanrepeller or head over to humanrepeller.com to see more of my articles on the various facets of fashion I am into. 

<3 HR