Election Day Is Tomorrow…

…And we’re political, already! We missed you, Jon…

Aww… I missed you guys, too. I just wanted to check in and give an update on where my head is at the moment.

Spoiler Alert: This post might get a bit heavy…

A number of… situations, I’ll call them… are affecting me recently. For starters… Okay, you know what? I’ll ease you all into this. Let’s start with the least complex and build from there.

Election Day

After I processed the 2016 Presidential Election, I had posted on this very blog, an appeal for readers to, at the very least, attempt to get to know members of opposing political parties and, at bare minimum, try to understand why they felt the way they felt about their stances on important issues affecting Americans. From the events that have transpired since then, it appears my words had fallen on deaf ears.

We’re more polarized than ever before. My calls for unity are not to imply I at any point approve of any of the egregious attitudes the current administration has displayed over the past almost-two years. My words are to insinuate that domestic affairs facing vulnerable American citizens are not going to improve if we’re all too busy in-fighting to improve them.

In American society, citizens used to come together and discuss issues civilly and make minor concessions and compromises with each other, even though they may not entirely agree with each other on every issue. Although this meant that nobody got absolutely everything they wanted out of the solution they would then enact, it would provide a starting point to build upon and improve from over later incarnations of said solution.

Every man for himself

At some point–I can’t necessarily say it started with Donald Trump, but I have noticed this has become the relative norm at an alarming pace since he announced his Presidential campaign in late 2015–members of society stopped caring about what is needed for a healthy society to function, instead focusing on their own finances. Where the collective focus was once the benefit of the greater good of the people (in general), that focus has now shifted to an “every man for himself” scenario.

Education

When students owe $1.5 trillion in student loans and don’t even have $1,000 in the bank each month with which to repay them, and the Secretary of Education cuts all programs designed to help these students be able to repay these loans without overextending their budgets… Is this really the society we want for our future? We’re willing to keep voting for the people who would give billions in tax breaks to corporations who don’t use it to expand the job market, but we as a society deem this acceptable?

Healthcare

Say what you will about the Affordable Care Act of 2009 (ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare), but that law gave the option of health care to millions of disabled patients who had been previously disqualified from having insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cancer, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc. The key take-away from this is people were previously disqualified from having insurance because they held a diagnosis for a condition they had no control over having, but the ACA made them eligible for the insurance they needed to pay for the life-saving medical treatments they needed for the first time in their lives.

Then came the current administration… For the first time since it’s enactment, the ACA had not enough defenders in the government to stave off repeal. When Donald Trump’s administration released the revised list of what it considered a pre-existing condition, it had included sexual assault–a criminal act involuntarily forced upon the victim–on the list. To this day, the administration has re-asserted its intentions to repeal protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Obviously, you’re interested in ASD if you’re reading this; you are reading this on a blog devoted to an autist’s life on the spectrum as written by said autist (Autist, aspergian, spectrumite… Whatever gets you through this post…). Chances are, then, you either know or love somebody with ASD who will be impacted by such a repeal or know of somebody with ASD who will be impacted by such a repeal. …And they will be impacted by such a repeal. …And at a prevalence rate of 1-in-59, you probably do know or know of somebody with ASD who will be impacted.

Vote. Period.

What I’m trying to get at here, is vote. I’m not going to try to tell you who to vote for and how to vote, but I am going to tell you to vote. Period. Vote like you have children whose futures depend on the choices you make now. Vote like you have people who are counting on you to make the choices you feel deep in your heart are the best choices you can make in their best interest. Ten years from now, will you honestly be able to tell them you did everything you can to give them the best life you honestly could? How about twenty years from now? Thirty?

Vote because you can make a difference. If nobody voted, nothing would change. By not voting, you are guaranteeing that nothing will change. If you do vote, you have a 50% chance that the person you voted for will win and make the changes you want him or her to make. Isn’t that worth trying? Have we given up on each other as a society that much that we don’t even want to try to make life better in the future? And this is only one issue weighing on me, lately…

Thirty… 3. 0. …

This month will mark my 30th birthday–or as I like to call it, becoming six five-year-olds in the same adult body–and I generally get emotional at this time of year as I reflect on my life. This year is different for me for the obvious reasons.

Barren promised lands

If I had been fully employed by SAP’s Autism at Work program from the very beginning–as opposed to being brought on as an intern whose contract timed out after 21 months–I’d have had my first promotion right about now. Things worked out differently, as they had, and that’s not the case. I’m having a hard time in my mind reconciling with that. It’s just something I have to learn to emotionally accept… however much it still hurts and feels unjust in mind is just the way the situation is.

I had so many goals for myself by the time I turned 30, many of which I am not going to be able to accomplish in 18 days. I wanted to be employed–and appreciated in my work–with something tangible to show for it by now. That never happened. At least not with the being employed with something tangible to show for it by now part. I’m on the cusp of 30, and my resume is a small list of internships that ultimately led to more unemployment.

Dystopian prognosis

All I have to show for my efforts over the past 10 years are two degrees (a bachelor’s and a master’s), a failed wedding engagement, and thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt. This is not the life I’d imagined for myself by 30. I don’t even get called in for job interviews, which doesn’t really surprise me given my lackluster ability to get a job offer in the past.

It’s not even a lack of effort on my part. Nobody ever calls me back, and there’s no contact information available for me to contact the hiring recruiter. As time goes by, it becomes harder and harder to explain to my family why I’m still unemployed. The current statistics, which suggest 86% of autists are underemployed or unemployed, don’t help my ability to find work either, but that’s little consolation at a time when the economy is supposed to be exploding with new job opportunities on the market.

Bringing It In for a Landing

This has been an exceptionally long post, even for me. I just wanted to check in and let you know where my mind is at, emotionally. If you’ve read all the way to the end of this post, I appreciate you taking the time to do so. As much as I wish my life had more… fulfillment… in it, this is what my life is at the moment. There’s not much more I can do to change my situation that I haven’t already tried.

No matter what happens tomorrow, I wish all of you the best, as I would hope you all are doing the best you can with what you have. May you find peace with yourself, within yourself, and I’ll try to do the same. Life’s a journey; enjoy it while it lasts, I suppose?

I’m So Excited to Post This, I Don’t Even Have a Title Picked Out Yet…

Okay, so maybe some of you have seen my recent string of tweets alluding to this post. If you haven’t, get on that. This is important. Also, just to provide a quick unrelated update on that WEGO Health Awards nomination, I was not a finalist, but I appreciate the endorsements I received. It means the world to me to have your support on that.

…But’s that’s not why I’ve assembled the Avengers here today.

Yeah… Sorry, Cap… Didn’t mean that literally…

Okay, so remember when I started the Writing Studies program and joked about it being “17th grade?”

Here, we go… What’s he up to, THIS time?

Get ready for this announcement…

I’m officially enrolled in evening classes to study toward my Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University!

That’s nice, Sweetie… Wait! What?!

Oh, yeah! The semester started back on August 27. I should receive my Doctorate of Education in May 2022, only a full 15 years since receiving my high school diploma.

But… WHY? Why now, at the very least…

You see, the day I graduated with my Master’s degree, my mother turned to me and banned me from getting a Doctorate right away… at least until I could pay down some of the student loans I had incurred from my previous educational experiences.

I have been waiting four years to make this post. The least everyone can do is be happy for me…

We are! We definitely are!* We’re just curious what your intentions are with such a program.

*Jon hopes this part is accurate. He’s gotten too excited about good news before…

I know some of you are probably wondering what my intentions are with such a program.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about what my role is in the ASD and Neurodiverse communities at large. What can I do now to make life better for these communities later? How can I achieve my goals while helping others achieve theirs? What’s my part in all this?

I know after working in a corporate environment like SAP, I want to do more good by helping more than just the bottom line. I want my ability to advocate to mean something by the end of my time on Earth.

That’s why I’m saying this here and now:

While going for my doctorate will provide me with a few extra letters at the end of my name and take my education about as far as it can possibly go, this is about more than just me.

This is about us. This is about my role in an expanding, related set of communities interacting with one another.

Why study for an Ed.D.?

Because it can take my advocacy to all new heights I’ve never imagined.

Why now?

Because the longer I wait to do it, the less of an impact I can make on neurodiverse communities.

There’s no better time than right now to get out there and do what we can for each other… All of us. Together as a single web of communities.

The way I see it, we have two options:

  1. Continue to fall off the cliff and pray for miracles that aren’t going to come without people like us stepping up.
  2. Do something – anything within our power – to improve the lives of the neurodiverse.

I hope if you’re like me, you’ll choose the latter of the two options.


In the meantime, I’ve started watching Atypical Season 2. I’m about halfway through the second season, and I have to say, I’m very impressed by the effort Robia Rashid and crew have put into addressing constructive feedback from Season 1.

So, rest assured, I am working toward that particular episode of The Role Star.


While everyone waits for my Atypical review, I’m also working on a webcomic about life on the Autistic Spectrum. Announcing:

Coming Soon!

The Jack of all Tirades:

Jon lays out how he sees his life as an autistic adult in no uncertain terms.

Be sure to catch the webcomic as it debuts later this year.


Okay, I have to save some news for later posts, but I promise I’ll be back. I just can’t promise how soon.

Until then,

May you find peace with yourselves, within yourselves.

Rock on!

Quick Pseudo-Update:

I’m going to have a much longer update out soon… I hope.

In the meantime, please take the time to read this VERY important shameless self-plug:

I’ve been nominated for the WEGO Health Awards for Hilarious Patient Leader!

I need you to go to THIS LINK and click on the ENDORSE button in order to send me to the finals. This is really important to me.

Thank you, if you did it! If you didn’t, was it the lack of new episodes of The Aspie Dialogues Show? Because that’s coming back in the near future. So, maybe you might want to click that ENDORSE button, after all… Just sayin’…

The longer update will have to wait until after my sister moves to Cincinnati this weekend. We’re looking after my toddler-aged niece this weekend while they get ready for the move… And their two cats… And our two cats… And I have a virus at the moment… And I’m slightly tired… Just like you guys are of this joke running too long…

My niece is stirring in her crib. Gotta go…

When Does Empathy Border on the Pathological?

When last I wrote on the blog, I mentioned there might be a couple months without content due to the process of moving. Well, now I’m knee-deep in the process of putting stuff away in my new home.

I’m so excited, I could just scream…

So during a recent, much-needed therapy session, I revealed an aspect of myself that leads into today’s Million-Dollar Question:

When does empathy border on the pathological?


For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a quirk about my imagination that I’ve never told anybody about before said therapy session, which I personally feel borders on that fine line between demonstrating empathy and some sort of twisted pathology.

Now to note what my therapist said, she feels that it demonstrates a form of empathic thinking, but it still bothers me that my imagination runs in this direction.

Hold up, Jon! What direction where? What exactly do you imagine about other people? Do we even want to know? Is it THAT kind of thing?

Relax, it’s nothing like THAT. For as long as I can remember, I could see a happy stranger… it could be a random person on the street or a person in a commercial… Whoever it is, this person is happy… But for some sick, demented reason, my mind’s eye goes out of its way to attempt to imagine what this person is like when he or she is angry or otherwise upset.

That’s where I feel it becomes pathological. It’s one thing to see a celebrity and wonder what his or her daily life is like, but it’s completely different, and I’d go as far as to say unnecessary, to imagine a random stranger getting upset.

Even after my therapist did her best to convince me that it’s just my mind trying to understand others’ emotions better, I’m not entirely convinced that it’s not a pathological behavior. So, I’m opening the conversation to you guys.

What’s your spin on this?


PSA: Words Defy Me…

Now I know how Mom felt when I was 15; I’m stunned speechless. But, because a former Scientologist saw the Tide Pod Challenge (DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN THAT, BY THE WAY) and said, “Hold my beer,” I don’t have that option anymore.

Apparently, some desperate parents out there have decided that The Great Schism of Autism is not worth resolving. This, dear readers, is why we cannot have nice things.

*sigh* Introducing… the new “PSA” category for The Aspie Dialogues blog posts.

I’ll cut to the end and show how I got there. Here goes…

PLEASE! DO NOT… I REPEAT…. DO NOT FORCE YOUR NEURODIVERSE CHILD TO CONSUME BLEACH AS A “MIRACLE CURE FOR AUTISM.”

You think I’m making this up. I can see the looks on your faces.

Jon, that’s horrifying! Who would ever…

Desperate parents trying to ‘cure’ autism by giving children bleach …

Parents are making their children drink bleach to ‘cure’ them of autism

Oh. Wow. I… Wow.

Stop the planet; I want to get off! Just drop me off at the nearest sun. I’ll take it from there.

Even IFLScience picked up the story:

Parents Are Forcing Children To Drink Bleach To “Cure” Autism …

I know IFLScience isn’t exactly the most credible source on the internet, but when they pick up a story like this, I listen.

The Autism Wikia page on the subject

Dear lord! There’s even one of those, too?!

I’m afraid it’s that much of a problem in the community.  Just read this excerpt from the Autism Wikia page:

Parents are urged not to use bleach on their children. Autism is better than death. As autism is lifelong, and parents should instead focus on therapies that will help their individual child grow into a happy, healthy autistic adult.

Let me highlight the most important sentence of that paragraph for you, in case you need to save it for later:

Autism is better than death.

One more time:

AUTISM IS BETTER THAN DEATH.

I used to think this was common sense, but apparently, the internet applies its logic wherever and whenever it wants.

So, thank you, Church of Scientology. It wasn’t enough you had to blur the lines between religion and hoax, now it seems you’ve moved onto more relevant lines to blur. Lines like health, science, and hoax should never be blurred. EVER. This is how we end up in situations like The Great Schism of Autism, in the first place.

When a Wikia page feels the to clarify that any atypical condition of life is better than death, that’s a huge problem. It’s one that requires our immediate attention to rectify NOW.

So, hold MY beer before I throw it at the next NT I see within range.

A picture is worth 1,000 words…

OH! And in case I didn’t make myself clear before, stop giving your kids bleach drinks and enemas. Kthxbye!

This has been an Aspie Dialogues Public Service Announcement.