Saturday, January 28, 2023

Can Autistics Be Druids?

Religion, Autism, and a heavy dash of Ableism

When it comes to the discussion of religion and Autism, one is still met with a mixed bag of ideas for there are some non-Autistic people who are ableist and hold tight to the belief that if someone is Autistic, whether they be speaking or nonspeaking that they, due to their Autism, will not be able to fully engage with any sort of religious or spiritual thinking, but in fact this preconception is wholly false.  To help counteract such false narratives, faith communities have been starting to work more with Autistic self-advocates to aid in adding our voices to the conversation, listening to us, and fully taking our Autistic life experiences into account which in turn furthers the cause for Autism Acceptance.  There was a time when no one cared about including us, it is promising that more and more faith traditions are now listening to self-advocates and working hard to include us.

We are everywhere, maybe even closer than you think

I am acquainted with Autistics both speaking and nonspeaking across many religious paths who are deeply involved in their faiths from rabbis to Catholic priests to Buddhists to fellow pagans of varied stripes to etc.  I believe that it is because of our Autism that we are able to fully delve into our chosen practices and that our Autism helps to further our connections to said paths.  Like with communicating thought, some Autistics will thrive when introduced to Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) whether that be an iPad, a letter board, etc. to help them to engage with others, especially when they are nonspeaking or partially nonspeaking; working with us to accommodate our needs helps us to better engage in our chosen faith communities and society as a whole.  Speech and language are two different things, one may not have the ability of verbal speech, but that does not mean that one also lacks the understanding and use of language; just because someone does not use verbal speech does not mean that they have nothing to say.  In its simplest terms we humans crave communication.  When it comes to interacting with us, one does not need to be an “Autism expert”, but instead just be someone who is ready to listen to us on our own terms however we communicate.  

Living in a non-Autistic world sometimes involves a bit of creativity

We Autistics live in a world not designed for us; we therefore, when help isn’t readily available, must sometimes figure out things for ourselves.  Some of us have become quite adept at discovering workarounds that help us to take part in society whether that be a nonspeaking Autistic adding cuss words to their AAC because they wish to fully express themself or a nonspeaking Autistic pagan adding pagan terms to their AAC in order to fully engage with others when taking part in rituals because most AAC apps are designed by Christians and don’t include pagan terms or me a speaking Autistic Druid doing outside research to replace included course material that proved to be overstimulating.  Overstimulation can be caused by too much visual, auditory, etc. input that an Autistic brain due to its inability to filter things finds wholly overwhelming and leads to meltdowns; in short we Autistics do what we need to, to engage on our terms in our own way, in order to take part in our chosen communities. 

Ableism exists and is even internalized, what is Ableism? 

Shortly after I began my OBOD studies a fellow Autistic on social media posed the question, could someone be Autistic and a Druid, in short Can Autistics be Druids?; a definite sign of internalized ableism.  Ableism is a type of prejudice and discrimination, in short it is the belief that a disabled person due to their disability can not do what “able-bodied” people can; which in turn may cause a disabled person to second-guess themself.  This query has stuck with me, resurfacing now and again ever begging to be addressed.  As I have already stated we Autistics can truly be members of any faith community if we are able to engage on our terms in whatever capacity we are able, we may need accommodations like for example having things verbally expressed to us also put down in writing which in turn aids in our comprehension due to our inability to mentally filter things like verbal instructions, etc.; having our needs both recognized and accommodated is invaluable.  In short my answer to their query was a resounding YES.  I believe that due to our Autism we Autistics can definitely be Druids. 

It’s all about the visuals, magic within

Most Autistics are visual thinkers, as in we tend to see images in our minds more than we see words, this is an asset to Druidry, therefore such things as guided meditations and the like become multi-layered technicolor experiences for me; I have seen, felt, tasted, and even smelled things described in meditations; these same sorts of tangible experiences also occur whenever I go on my own meditative journeys, for me these encounters are second nature, not something I have had to practice, they just are.  I have connected deeply with trees, the seasons, etc. within the inner world and have received and sent healing to others and to the world itself during meditation.  

Why not bridge the gap, friendships can also be found beyond humankind

We Autistics tend to connect more easily with animals, plants, etc. than we do with people; I have longtime tree friends and plant friends, as well as animal friends.  Am not saying that we do not connect with human friends, but many of us find that animals and other living things outside of our own species are much easier to connect with because they bear no subtext and their affection, etc. is easily seen; to be a human friend of an Autistic person is a special connection.  Throughout my life I have struggled to make human friends, but the ones that I have made and have lasted are the most treasured.  It is truly not about the quantity of friends one has, but instead all about the quality of the friendship.  To be a friend of the animal, the plant, and the tree realms is a sacred and life-changing thing, it is special and something that others strive for that comes easily to me.  To be a Druid is to make deep connections with beings of the other realms and to work alongside them to make a better world, so to already have made such bonds is definitely an asset.  Through my studies my various friendships have only grown deeper and I am richer for it.

Grounding is essential best not to be set adrift

Autistics thrive best with routines, when our routines are disrupted we flounder, our world becomes uncontrollable, etc. routines help us to find grounding in the otherwise chaotic non-Autistic world in which we live, therefore it is no surprise that my Druidry is part of my daily life with time specifically allotted for study, meditation, etc. which sometimes, ok more often than not, turns into longer sessions as I perseverate, perseveration can have both good and bad outcomes; when it comes to a favorite subject one can delve deeper and delight in new discoveries, but if it is instead a worry it can be bad and prove quite awful leading to catastrophizing, etc.; thankfully when it comes to my Druidry it is indeed a positive delight. Being Autistic and also ADHD I find such daily structure to be invaluable and therefore have further deepened my understanding of myself, the world around me, etc.  There is great importance in having a daily practice, it helps one to remember that the spiritual and the everyday are interconnected.  My Druidry is a lived embodied faith practice that like my Autism colors my world.

When it comes to movement anything goes

Autistics are definitely known for our movement; we flap, rock, stroke things, etc. you get the idea.  When it comes to movement in Druidry it is quite natural for me, although due to my physical disabilities movements can vary day to day, I have therefore made adaptations to prescribed poses, etc. and in turn I have put my own spin, sometimes a literal spin, on things.  I do not always walk my circle, but instead gesticulate my peace to each quarter from a seated place in its center and that is ok, there is no shame in not being able to do something just exactly as an exercise prescribes, it is Awen, inspiration, that helps me to find alternatives to movements and I feel just as enriched as ever.  There are times when I am having a great leg day and I move and dance magic into being, other times I do so while seated, but as I have said both are just as enriching.  Whilst out for a walk an ogham may surface in my mind and I chant its name as my feet beat out the rhythm.

Music and song can be found everywhere

In terms of vocalizing and music, we Autistics all make noise and sing whether it be considered speech or not.  In Druidry even the simplest of tones has power for in each plant, tree, rock, mountain, etc. there is vibration and energy, this energy, Nwyfre, flows through all things and enriches us all.  Within the inner world I have heard phrases and tones that have added to my chanting and personal healing practice and have even used the same music to send healing to others and to the world.  As we know, chanting is a repetitive form of vocalizing, it is something that I find very spiritual and aids in the deepening of my connections.  Chanting is for me akin to stimming, to stim is to move in a repetitive way, to repeat a phrase/song/tone over and over, etc.  Stimming comes in many forms, it is a way that we Autistics show how we are feeling whether it be joy, distress, etc. it is a natural part of who we are and how we interact with the world.  

Autistics are only one thread in Druidry’s magical tapestry

I close by reiterating that we Autistics, whether we be speaking or nonspeaking, can definitely be Druids if we have curiosity, an eagerness to deepen our connections, and a desire to reverently make a better world.  To be a Druid is to live in interconnectedness with Nature and She with us, a partnership for the good of all, we Autistics might not connect with others in what non-Autistic people may dub “normal interactions”, etc. but our connections are not any less important.  Thank you.  :)

Thursday, March 31, 2022

A drop of Autistic realness. Welcome back.

It's been a while since last I wrote anything here, so I have decided to put fingers to keyboard and wish my fellow Autistics peace of mind this April on this last day of March, as we all know April is a sort of hell for Autistic people where instead of people signal boosting our voices they instead drown us out in a sea of "Autism Awareness" and puzzle pieces. April was renamed and reclaimed Autism Acceptance Month years ago by us and many of us fought long and hard for this to be so, especially me, but still non-Autistic people who are truly not our allies in any way, shape, or form continue to support the hate-monger of a "supposed" charity "in support" of Autistics, Aut$peaks, which has been proven time and time again from their financials to you name it that they would rather we not exist further emphasized by their tone policing us at every turn and attempting to silence our voices. I close by urging you to NOT Light it Up Blue this April, but instead if you truly want to support Autistic people please Wear Red Instead and string rainbow fairy lights in celebration of Autism Acceptance Day and Autism Acceptance Month, also donate to Autistic run organizations like Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN) ( and buy from Autistic creators. Thank you. ☮️🐳

Friday, November 10, 2017

Wishes on the wind.

Ever since I was very little people have said that I make mountains out of molehills, as an adult one even told me that I made my own mountains, when I was little phrases such as these made no sense to me, but as I grew older I came to learn that it meant that in addition to problems that life had in store for me that I too added to my struggles.  When things are unknown to me my mind goes to what I call the Bad Place.  I catastrophize the worst outcomes there, never are the outcomes of a positive conclusion, the more time given between outcomes the worse things become in my mind.   Over the years I have made friends only to have them vanish without a word or trace after years, they just stopped being in contact with me, I still have no idea why.  This does not stop me from remembering them which in turn causes me to type off missives sent out to the four winds wishing them well and hoping that they will soon be in touch, sometimes I fill them in on my life, but mostly send them wishes of good will and hopes that they reply.  Years go by, some even decades, and still I tear up when I think of them and then I write.  Some people say, when will I learn, but this hope hiding beneath the tears is what sustains me, even if in my darkest hours in quiet night it is long forgotten.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Autistic Pride Day to all my fellow Autistic people across the world! You are not broken, you are amazing!  Today is the day to celebrate our Autistic differences, embrace them! 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Inclusion during Autism Acceptance Month

During this Autism Acceptance Month let us not forget to welcome the formally diagnosed, the self-diagnosed, those who are questioning, or those that we might guess to also be on the Spectrum through our own observations.  Autistic-radar is a thing!  Let us extend the hand of friendship as it were: (please remember that there are those who do not wish to be touched unexpectedly so treat this as a figurative statement), to the out-casts, the lonely people, etc.  There is a vibrant support community of like-minded souls, whether you be out or still in closet as it were, on social media that is available for you to find and suggest that others seek out too.   

I have heard for years that online friends were not true friends, only those you know in the flesh are, but I beg to differ for many Autistics we are more at home online than our non-Autistic counterparts due to the fact that there is no need to attempt to decipher body language, tone of voice, etc. in order to communicate, there written word reigns supreme.  I have been chatting with people online since 1998 and have never looked back, I feel more at home there than anywhere else. 
I have never been one to talk about girlie things like fashion, hair, nails, celebrity crushes, etc. I cannot understand such interest/cannot relate, I on the other hand crave chats about nature, animals, politics, movies, tv shows, and books, the latter few tend to be of the sci-fi fantasy genres respectively.  Have always been more myself and more accepted talking with guys; they always are interested in such cool things.  Groups I tend to frequent are majority male, for me this is preferable.  I too have been an outcast sometimes even in groups that I have created, it is hard for me to get to know people/read people; unless things are blatant I miss things entirely.  I have trouble entering conversations even in a group of people I am familiar with if I come upon them already conversing, I do not know how to enter in their conversation, I tend to hang around the periphery and then just disappear.   
Many on the Autistic Spectrum struggle to read people and situations, subtleties are lost on us. This month above all others please try to welcome someone into your social group or gathering or online chat and be blatant about your desire for them to join you - someone who moves and acts like you do it will be appreciated.  Make a new friend, share a smile, include someone new, everyone appreciates being part of something bigger than themselves. 
In closing, please remember that Autism Acceptance is more than just you accepting your own Autism or that of your child, but more so as society as a whole accepting Autistic people stims and all on our terms, together we can make a better a more inclusive world for all.
Happy Autism Acceptance Month to one and all.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

In praise of disability activism.

Many of us in the disability community take part in some sort of activism whether it be solely online or in-person or a combination of the two.  I applaud all of our efforts.  It really comes down to our level of comfort dealing with people en masse, a.k.a. the number of spoons we have available to us on any given day.  Many of us have comorbidities that impact our choices for activism, but that does not mean that the choice we make to take part and express ourselves should be deemed any less important than others are.  I for one feel more at home online and have been known to take part in many different protests via twitter and blog posts over the years.  Online activists/protesters do not have to hear verbal shouts of derision or face any form of physical violence in-person, that is not to say that one does not encounter violence of another sort where people feel more free to show disdain and spout vile hateful ableist rhetoric online, whatever comes into their minds all the while cowardly hiding behind the safety of their computer screens. Cyber-bullying is just as invasive and in many cases even more so than in-person bullying because when one is home and alone one can still be targeted and harassed no matter the distance away the “attacker” is in the physical world. Such attacks cause just as much PTSD as their in-person physical ones, but in many cases the pain and harm they cause is even deeper.  I do not like to invite such attacks so do not engage with individuals one on one online as others in my community to do on a regular basis, I could not take the self-hate and internalized ableism that would be a result of such attacks from awful people trolling the net for the sole purpose of creating havoc and leaving harm in their wake. Face it people many of these perpetrators spew their vitriol for their sheer entertainment and when we take the bait we are playing right into their hands. 

I in turn use general political, etc. hashtags and take part in #cripthevote or just speak my mind in my own personal twitter and also sign online petitions.  Those who do not engage others in-person but find it makes it easier to express yourselves online do not think that this diminishes the value of your activism; we too are fighting to make the world a better place for disabled people.  I applaud Autistics who do engage one on one ,on a regular basis, you are brave beyond any measure I can express because time and time again you go to battle with these trolls, lick your virtual wounds and there you are again back in the fray fighting another day.  Many of those who do go toe to toe with such hateful trolls find strength in the community and the fact that we do support their efforts knowing full well our own limitations and lack of spoons to do it ourselves, but as they say someone has too.  I applaud the TRUE Autistic warriors taking on non-Autistic trolls online who only like to bait and taunt us for their own enjoyment and care nothing of learning the truth about what life is like for #ActuallyAutistic people.  I thank you for your fighting.  Stand strong against adversity, with every demon vanquished another arrives in your path, let them not get you down, keep fighting, but also remember to look out for number 1 as they say, safe-care and knowing ones limits is paramount.  Also do not forget to ask for help and advice when you need it, others may be able to shoulder some of the burden when you are out of spoons. Don’t let anyone diminish your efforts with hate-speech. Fight the good fight.

In solidarity. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Action Alert! Invisible disabilities under fire!

In the last day or so, a discovery was shared on social media that a company in Colorado was issued the trademarked phrase: "invisible disabilities", the disability community is up in arms about it.  Invisible disabilities are a part of our identities and not something that should be branded as a consumer good.

I urge you to contact your congressman and senators.  I just telephoned my mine to bring the following issue to their attention: the phrase "invisible disabilities" has been trademark by Invisible Disabilities Association - US Trademark Registration No. 4315808, in April 2013.

Please contact your congressman and senators at: U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.