Disability acceptance for partners

Anonymous said to :

Hi, my boyfriend is autistic on the Aspergers spectrum and I don’t know what to do when he’s overloaded. I just really want to help him calm down again.

Is there any advice you can give me?

realsocialskills said:

There’s a lot of things that could be going on. I don’t know you or your boyfriend, so I can’t really tell you much that’s specific to your situation.

I think it’s possible that you may be taking too much responsibility for your boyfriend’s overload. If so, it would be better for both of you if you let it go a bit.

There’s a narrative in the media that’s common, and destructive, that goes like this:

  • Disabled person (usually a man) can’t function
  • He meets an amazing person (usually a woman), and they get involved romantically
  • Through the transformative power of love, he is healed
  • Then either he stops being disabled or his attitude changes in a way that means disability no longer matters in any significant way

Sometimes this goes along with another trope, “the only disability in life is a bad attitude”.

  • People who buy into that trope believe that disability only matters if they let it matter.
  • And they disability can be ~overcome~ by positive thinking and not being bitter.

For disabled people, this narrative pressures us to pretend that disability doesn’t matter. Or to make it stop mattering through sheer force of will. For people who love us, it creates pressure to fix everything and make disability irrelevant through the power of love and support. In real life, neither of those things work.

In real life, disability matters no matter what people think about it and no matter how much others love them. Having a good attitude can make life better; it can’t make disability irrelevant. Love can make life better; it can’t make disability irrelevant either. Disability goes deep, and it affects a lot of areas of life. And sometimes things are hard.

Part of being a good partner to an autistic person is accepting that autism is going to matter. No matter how wonderful you are, you’re not going to be able to stop autism from mattering.

I don’t know what’s going on with your boyfriend and his overload. I do know that, for many autistic people, overload is an inevitable fact of life. Sometimes, it’s the price of admission for doing certain things we care about. Overload is not always something you can prevent or fix. Sometimes the decisions get complicated.

Your boyfriend is the one who is responsible for figuring out how he wants to approach overload. He is the one who needs to decide which risks are worth taking, which are worth avoiding, and how he wants to handle it when he is overloaded. You can’t protect him from this.

You might be able to help with some of it some of the time. Many autistic people like certain kinds of support in dealing with overload, for instance:

  • Having someone else pay attention to signs of imminent overload and point them out
  • Being reminded that leaving is an option
  • Being reminded that it’s ok to be autistic in public and that they can stay if they want
  • Help leaving an overloading place
  • Being left alone and having someone else run interference to keep other people from trying to intervene
  • Having a stim toy handed to them
  • Knowing that people they’re with aren’t going to try to stop the overload and will leave them alone
  • Water
  • Help finding a quiet place to go
  • Being able to hold someone’s hand
  • And any number of other things

Note that many of these things are mutually exclusive. Autistic people have wildly different needs and preferences around handling overload. I don’t know what your boyfriend needs or wants; that’s for him to determine.

The only way to find out what your boyfriend wants you to do when he gets overloaded is to ask him, and to listen to what he says.

  • It’s worth having this conversation when he’s not overloaded and is able to communicate readily.
  • It’s also important to listen to what he says when he’s overloaded, even if it contradicts what he’s said before (unless he told you beforehand not to)
  • The question shouldn’t be “How can I calm you down?”, because that might not be possible or something he wants.
  • The question should be something like “When we’re together and you get overloaded, how do you want me to react?”
  • It’s ok if he doesn’t want to have an intimate discussion about overload, and it’s ok if he doesn’t want your help.
  • But you do need to know what he wants you to do in that situation, and so it’s ok and important to ask.

tl;dr Autism acceptance is important for partners of autistic people too. You can’t fix everything or make autism stop mattering. Sometimes things are going to be hard for us no matter what you do. Whether we want help, and the kind of help we want, varies from person to person. If you want to know, it’s important to ask.

when a seder is overloading

thelimpingdoctor replied to your post: Passover asks?

How do you deal with sensory overload in a situation where you can’t leave?

realsocialskills said:

Based on context, I think you’re probably asking about being overloaded at a large noisy seder.

There might be more options for leaving and taking a break than you might realize. I’m going to discuss those, then some thoughts on how to deal with it if leaving isn’t an option. 

Some options for taking breaks:

Helping in the kitchen

  • At seders, there are often (not always) things going on in the kitchen that people would welcome help with
  • If you find doing stuff in the kitchen less overloading than being at the table, excusing yourself to go help might be a socially acceptable way to take a break
  • Some examples of things people might welcome help with:
  • Cutting vegetables
  • Serving soup
  • Bringing out other things 
  • Washing dishes

Playing with the kids:

  • At a lot of seders, there are little kids who kind of run in and out
  • If these are kids you know, or they’re related to you, it may be socially acceptable for you to take breaks and play with the kids
  • This depends on the culture of your family or community; it’s fairly common for it to be socially acceptable, but it’s not universal

Pretending you have to go to the bathroom:

  • At a long seder, most people will excuse themselves to use the bathroom at least once
  • If you take a break for about that amount of time, that’s what people will assume you were doing
  • (You can also actually go to the bathroom even if you don’t need to use it - bathrooms can sometimes be a good place to take a break from sensory overload since people will usually leave you alone for a few minutes if you’re in the bathroom)

Options if you can’t take breaks or taking breaks doesn’t help enough:

Get oriented:

  • Sometimes sensory overload is caused as much by disorientation as by sensations
  • One way to become more oriented is to think through in advance what’s likely to happen
  • If you feel like stuff is more predictable, it’s likely to be less overwhelming and sensory stuff might be easier to manage
  • If this is a seder you’ve been to before, it might help think about what usually happens. Who will be there? How do they usually act? Who will ask the four questions?
  • It also might be a good idea to look through the hagaddah. Here’s one online.
  • If you’re feeling overloaded during the seder, it’s worth considering the possibility that you have become disoriented
  • If you look through the haggadah, figure out where you are in the seder, and how much is left, it might help you to become more oriented and less overloaded
  • It may also help to use a visual schedule, which shows you at a glance what to expect and in what order. Here’s one you can print, organized by cup.

Using solid objects to ground yourself:

  • If you’ve become really overloaded or disoriented, sometimes grabbing hold of something solid can help a lot
  • If you’re at a seder, the most readily available solid thing is likely to be the table
  • If there’s someone present you trust who is ok with it, holding someone’s hand can help a lot too in ramping down overload

Sit in a less overloading place in the room:

  • Sitting on the edge of the room is likely to be less overloading than sitting in the middle
  • Sitting on the end or near the end of a table is likely to be less overloading than sitting between several people
  • Sitting near the door is likely to be less overloading (especially if you get overloaded from feeling trapped)
  • If there are florescent lights in the room, it helps to pay attention to whether one of them is flickering
  • If you’re already overwhelmed going into the room, you might not notice right away, even though it will bother you later. If flickering lights bother you, it’s worth making a point of checking to see if the light is flickering when you decide where to sit
  • If the room is likely to be very loud, you might be more comfortable if you use ear plugs. You can get disposable ones for cheap at a pharmacy


  • Some people can stop overload by moving in certain ways
  • Most people can at least mitigate it a little
  • Rocking back and forth can help a lot (and it’s not that weird in a lot of Jewish settings, particularly if there are a lot of religious people present.)
  • If you have stim toys that usually work for you, it might be a good idea to bring them
  • If you’re worried about stigma, it might work better to use different things
  • (That said, if a room is crowded and noisy and overloading, it’s very likely that no one is actually looking at you)
  • If you wear rings or bracelets, you can play with them
  • You can also play with the silverware if the seder isn’t extremely formal. You probably won’t be the only one.
  • You can also stim with the haggadah. (by holding it in your hands, flipping the pages, looking through it, or even reading it.)
  • If you have a water bottle with a stem you can chew the stem
  • (You can also eat stuff as a way of getting to chew to reduce overload. If you do that with stuff like celery rather than stuff like chicken it’s less likely to make you uncomfortably full)
  • You might be able to bring seder-themed stim toys to use, particularly if you bring enough to share. (For instance, if you bring out plastic frogs for the ten plagues, probably no one will think twice about you continuing to play with them)

Participating actively also might help to handle overload:

  • Sometimes it can be less overloading to participate in something than to be passively present while something is happening
  • This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true for a lot of people
  • For instance, if people are singing loud songs and it’s overloading, you might be more physically comfortable if you sing the songs too
  • (This doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for some people)
  • If it’s a big seder and people are going on and on and you’re overloaded, ignoring what’s going on and reading the haggadah might work. (In that setting, you’re probably not going to be the only one doing that.)
  • Asking questions and arguing might be less overloading than being in the room while other people are doing that

Talking to people might also be an option:

tl;dr Passover seders can be really overloading. Scroll up for some ideas about how to deal with that.


Headphones to reduce noise?




said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the…

buckybits said

I often “hear my own blood” in my ears when I’m sick or have a headache. Most closed-ear headphones replicate this feeling immediately and rather painfully, so I normally stick with earbuds that aren’t those silicon sealing types, or open-ear headphones that have their drivers close to my ear canal. Over-the ear clip-on style are pretty awesome, but earbuds keep wind and similar noises out better.



warning for anyone with a panic disorder or aversion to loud or startling noises

people may not warn you of this but if you ever get an MRI, there are a lot of very loud and sudden sounds that accompany it.

you can listen to a quieter version of them here so you can know in advance what it will be like

please spread this around, nobody told me about it ahead of time and it was not a good experience.

theojoiegrise said:

I second this. Mine was part of a study about autism, so they did warn me and give me earplugs to wear AND earphones to block the sound (it was still really annoying but I could stand it.) If you have one scheduled it might be good to ask the staff to have that.


Headphones to reduce noise?



said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the noisiness of the group. They…

wyntreblossom199-autismblog said:



Headphones to reduce noise?




said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the noisiness of…

wolfesbrain said:

If price is an issue, you can also look for “noise-isolating” or “noise-blocking” kit. Noise canceling is (if I’m understanding things correctly) supposed to be an active process of taking in sound and putting out sound waves that’re equal and opposite so that they cancel out.

Noise-isolating/blocking is usually passive and works as it sounds, by blocking sound from entering the ear.

As for brand reccs, I have a bad habit of pushing Skullcandy brand gear. They’re well-built, reasonably priced, and of high enough quality that someone who’s not an audiophile won’t complain. Plus, they’ve got an awesome warranty. Manaufacturers defects equal replacement no questions asked, if you destroy them accidentally, they’ll give you a credit for 50% of the current MSRP of the broken device towards the purchase of a new one.

ways some people use headphones to reduce overload from noise

kiwisson replied to your post “Headphones to reduce noise?”:
no particular brand recs (my favorite pair are cheap generic) but in general - try a music store or similar? see if you can try the headphones on before purchasing? i find padding that fits AROUND the ear is comfier than ON the ear.
insomniacafeisnotunique replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_13?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ear+defenders&sprefix=ear+defenders%2Caps%2C200 Not sure whether it’s these you’re looking for, but I have ear defenders like the ones on Amazon, and they’re good.
zwartezwaluw replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
I have a Bose Quietcomfort 15. It is really comfortable and light and it works really well. It is 300 dollars/euro’s though… You can get them online or at an high end electronics store.
einhornglitzenkampf replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
I use some £20 over the head Sony headphones and play white noise into them. I also use them to listen to music on long journeys so they have at least 3hrs comfy wear in them.
zandraart replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
i have adhd and using bose’ noise cancelling headphones, even when not plugged into music, really helps me focus and recenter! :)
quietgames replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
I use musician’s earplugs, because they’re more discrete and I can use them comfortably for longer periods of time than earmuffs (2-3 hours). They’re really good for reducing background noise, especially in crowded places.

justlittlescumbags replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
i know some people who are sound sensitive who use headphones that are i think made for use at shooting ranges. similar ones come up if you just google “shooting headphones.” i don’t use them myself however so can’t recommend any certain brand.
occoris replied to your post“Headphones to reduce noise?”
I have a Bluetooth collar with earbuds that I use for this sometimes- even just the slight muffling of noise helps a lot lot

Headphones to reduce noise?



 said to :

A friend of mine recently lent me her noise-canceling earmuffs that she uses for the firing range at a party, and I found them super helpful for avoiding getting overwhelmed by the noisiness of the group. They were only comfortable to wear for about 45 minutes-an hour, though. Do you or any of your followers have any advice on how to find similar earmuffs/headphones that would be comfortable for long wear on a very large adult head?

realsocialskills said:

I don’t know, but I bet a lot of people who read this do.

People who use earmuffs or headphones to avoid auditory overload - which kind do you use? What’s the most comfortable? And where can you buy them?

actualtsoni said:

i find earmuffs to be uncomfortable in general, triggering a lot of my sensory overload triggers anyways. trade off auditory overload for tactile overload, not exactly what i wanna do.

so i went with headphones instead. bose noise-cancelling headphones are designed to be comfortable and cancel noise pretty well, but theyre definitely not strong enough for very noisy situations. for those i usually have to play enya through the headphones instead, which has saved me from quite a few overload situations, especially in places like my school cafeteria. the combination of music and noise cancellation has helped me, personally, but i know its different for everyone.

plus no one really questions you wearing bose headphones everywhere. theyre pretty nice headphones, so why wouldnt you? they can be expensive, but definitely not as expensive as beats. not sure if lower-quality headphones would also do the trick, but i went as high as my budget would allow and have never regretted it, theyve become essential in my life since. couldnt live without them.

you can get them at best buy and look for labels that describe them as noise cancelling, or if you can, ask one of the people there that youre looking for headphones with good sound quality and noise cancellation. theyll try to sell you beats, so you have to say something like “i don’t care about brand recognition” or “i don’t need beats, just good headphones.” you’ll be paying for the brand, and you only want to be paying for the noise cancellation.

Facebook overload

Hey there. I have ADHD, and at times my sensory processing isn’t exactly up to par. My school’s department uses a Facebook account to update the students on important events. There are alternative ways (email, website), but they are often less updated. I don’t have a Facebook account- I tried years ago and it was too much stimulation to take. Is there anyone well versed in Facebook that can provide a guide to create a Facebook account that provides the least amount of stimulation as possible?
realsocialskills said:
I think probably the best thing would be to make a Facebook account that you only use to follow event notifications.
  • If you don’t friend anyone or join other groups, then you won’t end up with a big overwhelming news feed.
  • It might be better to use a fake name and picture so that people don’t find you and friend you and expect you to pay attention to them.
  • If you do need to use your real name and friend people back, you can hide them in your news feed and unsubscribe to notifications from them.
  • You can set it so that you get notifications in your email about group activity, and then you won’t have to log in very often

If the problem is that the website is too overloading rather than that there is too much information, you might try using the mobile version.

  • The iPhone/iPad app is more streamlined and less visually noisy than the desktop version
  • If you go to m.facebook.com instead of www.facebook.com, you get a very simplified mobile version of the site even on a desktop computer. Some people find that easier to manage.

Do any of y'all have suggestions?

Shopping for clothes

anonymous asked:
Hello, thank you for running this blog. I was wondering if you have any ideas on how to make shopping for clothes less overwhelming? I almost never buy new clothes until mine are full of holes because of a few reasons, but mostly because I get stressed out in clothing stores and even while shopping online because of how many things there are. Thank you!

realsocialskills said:

Most stores that sell clothing are also very overloading on a number of levels

  • It might be helpful to listen to music on headphones while you shop
  • Pay attention to which stores are more overloading, and try to shop at the ones that are easier to deal with
  • When you get overloaded or overwhelmed, it can be really helpful to stop and hold onto something solid (eg: a clothing rack, a shopping cart) for a couple of minutes until you feel more grounded

It might be helpful to have someone shop with you:

  • Some people get distracted and overloaded alone, but not with other people
  • Sometimes another person can help you narrow down decisions
  • Sometimes another person can notice signs of overload and help you come out of it
  • Sometimes just having someone else there can make it easier to have perspective
  • This doesn’t work for everyone, and for some people having someone else can make it worse. But it works really well for some people

When you find something you like, buy more than one of it

  • Then when it wears out or is in the wash or whatever, you’ll still have one
  • If you want one, you probably want more than one
  • Clothing is easier when a lot of it is the same
  • If you are a woman and will be socially penalized for wearing the same shirts style all the time, you can sometimes fix this by having a lot of scarves and wearing a different one every day.

Notice brands you like

  • If you like a particular brand, it’s likely that you’ll keep liking stuff from that brand even as they change it
  • The same brands are usually in the same places in the store
  • And if not, you can look for them on purpose instead of being completely overwhelmed by all the options

Different kinds of stores are different, and some might be more or less overloading:

  • For instance, The Burlington Coat Factory has racks where all the skirts in a particular range of sizes are. And then you can flip through.
  • Most other stores have racks with one particular thing in several different sizes, organized by designer and loosely organized be levels of fanciness
  • Depending on how you think, one or the other style of store might be dramatically easier for you to deal with
  • For instance, if I know that I want a shirt, I usually find it easier to go to a store that has all the shirts in my size in one place.
  • If I need various different pieces of clothing, I often find it easier to go to a store that’s organized by brand, so I can get various things in a brand I know I like

Some stores have people who can help you shop

  • This seems like it is probably helpful to some people, but as of yet, I am not one of those people, so I can’t tell you much about it
  • I am hoping other people will have more of a sense of how this can be helpful

Do any of y'all have suggestions about making clothes shopping manageable? 


Social skills for autonomous people: maaoh: the-real-seebs: realsocialskills: Anonymous asked: Is it wrong…




Is it wrong for me, as a neurotypical person (AFAIK, there have been hints that I might have something undiagnosed), to use terminology coigned by atypical people? The way f’example stimming and…

Sensory overload also happens for me with PTSD. When I was at Sheppard Pratt, my psychiatrist said it’s something she sees a lot in trauma patients.




Is it wrong for me, as a neurotypical person (AFAIK, there have been hints that I might have something undiagnosed), to use terminology coigned by atypical people? The way f’example stimming and overloading have been explained to me describe things that I do and the reasons behind them really well, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to call them that.
Most people who stim a lot and get overloaded a lot are autistic. Most. Not all. Some people with ADHD also experiencing stimming and overload. So do some neurotypical blind people. So do other folks.
Overload and stimming are words that describe particular experiences, not a particular diagnosis. If you have those experiences, it’s ok to use the words.

Or if you are referring to them in other people who have them. I really don’t want people thinking that they can’t refer to me as overloaded just because they don’t experience overload. Or that they can’t refer to “stimming”. Basically, they’re words. The words exist to refer to things. They aren’t “slurs”. It isn’t “reclamatory usage” which has to be under special restrictions to keep bigots from using the words too.

Note, BTW, that there’s a lot of overlap between “some autistic people…” and ADHD, and “some ADHD people…” and autism, possibly because they have high comorbidity and people don’t always get diagnosed with everything they might possibly have.

I am 90% sure it’s also possible to induce sensory overload on neurotypical people, it’s just NT people have a higher threshold. I don’t remember where I heard it from but I could have sworn there was some scientific experiment where they were testing the senses and ended up overloading the NT people involved and it was a universally awful experience.

My guess (correct me if I’m wrong on this) is that nearly everyone stims to some degree (it’s just called “fidgeting” at low-key levels) and could experience overload at the right conditions. Just with some differently wired brains stimming is more frequent and intense, and the threshold for sensory overload is lower. Which would explain why there are people like me and presumably op who have a number of “autistic traits” but do not fit the ASD diagnosis. 

All of this. 

Is it wrong for me, as a neurotypical person (AFAIK, there have been hints that I might have something undiagnosed), to use terminology coigned by atypical people? The way f'example stimming and overloading have been explained to me describe things that I do and the reasons behind them really well, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to call them that.
realsocialskills answered:
Most people who stim a lot and get overloaded a lot are autistic. Most. Not all. Some people with ADHD also experiencing stimming and overload. So do some neurotypical blind people. So do other folks.
Overload and stimming are words that describe particular experiences, not a particular diagnosis.
If you have those experiences, it’s ok to use the words.

Another thing about rocking

Rocking can make things bearable that aren’t otherwise.

There is the rock for when it’s scary. Or overloading. That helps. It does.

And sometimes, rocking makes it possible to stay in situations and have interactions that would otherwise be impossible.

If you get overloaded and you don’t rock, it might be time you tried.