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Autistic Adults face more conflict than just about any group of people. Our challenges with verbal and nonverbal communication, finding our social support networks, and the stigmas imposed by our disabilities can burn us out. If the conflicts we have with others doesn’t weigh us down, our interior conflict with ourselves most certainly will. Autistics need strategies for conflict resolution. Join my guest Dr. Devon Price and I to help us understand where our conflicts come from, and how we can work towards resolving them.
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September 17th, 2023
Welcome everyone to Today’s Autistic Moment: A Podcast for Autistic Adults by an Autistic Adult. My name is Philip King-Lowe. I am the owner, producer, and host; and I am an Autistic Adult. Thank you so much for listening.
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Thank you for joining me for this episode Conflict Resolution. Dr. Devon Price is my guest for this show.
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You are an Autistic Adult. Think for a few moments about the recent conflicts you have encountered. The conflict may have been a few seconds ago, a week ago, a month ago, or even years ago. Conflicts for Autistics can be like the classic Jenga game. Each conflict is only one block in a pile of many conflicts. They are all over the place in front of you. Each conflict brings with it a lot of possibilities as to how much they have hurt you. Some blocks represent your latest argument with an employer, past or present. Other blocks may represent the last conflict you had with your spouse. Other blocks could be your latest attempt to seek supports and how you were misunderstood or turned down. Each of these conflicts could be stacked one on top of another. Yet, if you start to stack the conflicts and you put one on that stack the wrong way, they all come crashing down to have you start over at square one. How do you resolve the conflicts?
Dr. Devon Price is a social psychologist, author, professor, and proud Autistic person. His research has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and the Journal of Positive Psychology. Devon’s writing has appeared in outlets such as Financial Times, HuffPost, Slate, Jacobin, Business Insider, LitHub, PBS and NPR. Devon lives in Chicago, where he serves as an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Following this first commercial break, Dr. Price will join me to talk about how ableism, masking, social threats, and some examples of conflicts that Autistics might find themselves in.
Commercial Break I
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Thank you for listening to Today’s Autistic Moment.
Dr. Devon Price. Welcome back to Today's Autistic Moment. I am so grateful for you to join us, especially as your school year has just begun. So welcome back to the show.
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, thank you so much for having me back.
You're welcome. Yeah. Well, today we're going to talk about a very important topic, which is conflict resolution. Wow, what a big one, a big one. You know what I mean? All very exciting. Yes. Autistics deal with conflict almost every minute of every day. Sometimes it's with others, and sometimes it's even with ourselves. So, we want to start by talking about this very important topic today. And so, you know, so here's my description of this are Autistic Adults face more conflict than just about any group of people, our challenges with verbal and nonverbal communication. Finding our social support networks that understand us and dealing daily with our disabilities can burn us out. Autistics need strategies for conflict resolution. So, let's start with my basic question, what important information do you feel that Autistic Adults or caregivers need to know about Conflict Resolution?
Dr. Devon Price
It's a big question. But I think a sensible place to start is to talk about how experience with ableism and masking and things like that leads many of us to be deeply, deeply conflict averse. We can be really afraid of people disliking us or disagreeing with us and perceiving that as a really intense social threat. And not inaccurately, I want to add, like, we are hyper vigilant about social threat, because we have been socially threatened in a very pervasive way. And that means that a lot of us do things like what Sam Dylan Finch calls the fawn response, you know, we fall over ourselves apologizing, trying to anticipate someone's needs. And that means that we can have a really difficult time confronting when we have had a boundary crossed by someone when we need to really proactively advocate for ourselves and say, What you did was not right, or I really disagree with this. And that's something that I think we all deserve to be able to have a space to work on. And to build out those skills. And certainly, anybody that kind of loves and supports us, I think needs to understand just how terrified many of us are with confrontation and how much it can take before we get to the point of voicing that something's not okay and needing a lot of security and distress tolerance and safety, I think, to be able to actually have those conversations in any kind of like, cogent way.
Yeah. Well, I think I think your point is very well taken that, as Autistic Adults, we are never short of a conflict. Like I say, either with a social communication or even with ourselves, because we've had a conflict that we can't resolve. So, we're in kind of an area of conflict with ourselves that we're finding difficult to, to, to confront. And so, you want to talk a little bit about some of that, please?
Dr. Devon Price
Sure, yeah, the inner conflict piece, I'm glad you brought it up. Because I think most of us, we have our own kind of perceptions about the world, our own reactions to things. But then there's also running in parallel, this kind of simulation of, of social judgment, or this questioning, or just hyper kind of analysis of everything. So, any reaction that I have to something I'm also asking myself, is this a fair way to feel? Is this a fair way to think about something? Do I get to bring this up? And so, there's can be just so much inner turmoil and just thinking in every possible direction about how to interpret information or a situation or how somebody else behaved, that it can, it can really freeze us sometimes, or just be incredibly draining to process all of those considerations.
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, a lot of that, of course, is rejection dysphoria that we experience the amount of rejection we experience, you know, part of that conflict is Oh, had been rejected again, or have rejected myself before I'd begun to be accepted in some cases. But, again, these are not invalid feelings, because of how much of this we experience, like I say, sometimes on a daily basis. So, let's talk about some conflicts, examples of conflicts that a lot of us find ourselves in. And then let's talk a little bit about, you know, we've been talking a little bit about the barriers to those conflicts, but let's talk about a few conflicts that some of us might find ourselves in. And then let's talk a little bit through how best to resolve them. So go ahead.
Dr. Devon Price
Sure, yeah, I'll share an example that just happened to me and my partner this week. We were just spending time together, and they were talking to me. And they, they produce music. And so, they were kind of explaining to me something about how music production and releasing music works through various different production houses and labels and things like that. And after a while, they kind of stopped and were upset. And they said to me, you know, you're really not listening to me at all, it really doesn't seem like you care. And what was happening was that I was processing a lot of different information about how this whole system of music release works. And I was drawing parallels to it in my mind to how, as a writer, how book, publishing works, and I was just thinking really deeply, and not looking at them as they were talking. And, you know, they know, I'm Autistic. And they understand a lot of what that means. But that doesn't mean that they don't have their own insecurities around being heard and felt sometimes and their own baggage. So, in that moment, how I was processing reminded them of times when people haven't listened to them in the past, and they were really offended. And then of course, it really hurt me to have my way of processing being seen as some kind of offense when there, I can't change that. And that's because it's a relationship where we both were both neurodivergent in different ways. They're bipolar, I'm Autistic, we talked about these things before, it was what I would call kind of a productive conflict, where someone was able to say, My feelings are hurt. And I could say, I'm, you know, I don't want to make you feel that way. But also, this is how I process, and we could kind of talk through, you know, how to how to manage that and communicate about it differently in the future. That's a nice outcome. A lot of times, it does not go that way. I've had a lot of conflicts as an Autistic person, where just the way you process or the way you speak, you know, people think I'm sarcastic people think I'm not listening, people think I'm making fun of them, or that I think I'm smarter than them when it's just a neutral flat affect. So that's just one example of a type of conflict, I certainly come into a lot and that many of us do.
Yeah, well, a lot of the conflicts that I can think of is, when we're trying to ask for some kind of support, or supports, when we're trying to ask somebody for some help with something. They respond to us, like, you know, I'm not seeing what you're talking about, because we may not physically show what we're experiencing. And so they may be, they may minimalize it, or they may be dismissive of it. Conflicts can come in the form of the infamous, you know, you don't look Autistic. So, you must not be. I mean, there's, there's these conflicts with our identity, how we look how we sound how we're supposed to look, you know, these, these preconceived ideas of what people think Autism is supposed to look like. And, you know, these are some of the real this is the baggage I guess, if you will, that comes with, you know, being Autistic, you know, these barriers, these, these confrontations. A lot of this plays into this, don't you think?
Dr. Devon Price
Yes, most of us are really accustomed to having our very experience of reality contradicted by other people, right from the time we're very, you know, being told that like noise that's bothering us is something that no one else can hear. And then that our that our difficulties are not legitimate difficulties that we just need to try harder. That we just being difficult or stubborn. And I think that's part of what makes it so hard for us to handle or navigate conflict. Because, you know, we are not taken at our word for most of our lives about our own experiences and what we need and what's difficult for us.
Yeah. And it's so difficult sometimes just to get people to take us seriously when we're explaining who we are. I think Yenn Purkis has written that, you know, "Neurodivergents are the experts at neurodivergent experience." But our experiences are often again dismissed or minimalized. Because we don't think or respond or speak, like a neurotypical culture does. And so, a lot of what we experience from conflict, again, is from, from those who don't, don't take time to hear our experience and take that seriously.
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, and it can really fray our sense of self and our own self-perception, something like, you know, this is an experience I had, I think a lot of Autistic people had young, having a parent said, you know, don't use that tone of voice with me, I can tell you're making fun of me, or you're trying to be difficult with me. And maybe we've just said something completely flat and neutral. And we're being told in that moment that somebody on the outside of us knows us better than we know ourselves that they know, there's some negative intention behind what we're doing. And it really gets to you, it really makes me makes you question yourself, I thought I was a worse person than I actually am for many years, because people were projecting this like malevolent intent on to everything I did. And I thought, gosh, they must be right.
Yeah, and I know exactly what you mean. I mean, my father assumed for many years that I was just lazy, because I stayed at home watching TV all the time, I didn't go out ride the bikes with the other boys in the town, or I wasn't interested in athletics or anything like that. I mean, he made certain presumptions upon me. I had one teacher who predestined my future by suggesting that I wasn't college material. This was in fifth grade, because I was constantly daydreaming because I'm also ADHD. I mean, we have a lot. So, you know, and we have that constant, you know, you know, assuming that our behavior is just a matter of choice, not a matter of our identity. And so, they're just presuming that we know better. We're just not we're just choosing not to act that way. You know, we all get that. I think I think it's fair to say that all of us are most of us are constantly being told, why haven't you grown up by now?
Dr. Devon Price
Yes, you know, we're very infantilized
Very much so. Yeah.
After this next commercial break, Devon Price will talk about how conflict resolution can look very different for each Autistic individual. Devon will also talk about resolution through conflicts with people who are just not going to see things our way.
Commercial Break II
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So, let's talk about conflict resolution itself. Can you give us what's the definition give us, or your definition of what conflict resolution is, what and what that looks like to you?
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, this comes at a good time, because right now, I'm working on a new book that is all about interpersonal self-advocacy tools for Autistic people. Because what that looks like for us can often look really different from what other people are taught as the normal way to, to manage your relationships and to, you know, be assertive and all those things. And I think for me, and it's also something I get a lot of questions about from a lot of readers who want to, they've maybe started unmasking and they know who they are now, but they don't know how to get their parents to understand it, or their loved ones or their boss or whatever their school. I think, for me, thinking about Autistic conflict resolution. That is when an Autistic person really feels empowered and safe enough to articulate their experience of the world and reality, even when it's in contradiction or disagreement with somebody else's experience or perception. And both parties are able to actually take some information from each other, and respect one another and arrive at some kind of compromise or some kind of mutual understanding that is, again, really rooted in in belief that the other person is the expert on their experience. And I think that's what's really important for that definition for me is that we can't really go into effective conflict necessarily, with someone who won't hear us who won't admit that they've ever been wrong. Who isn't open to learning more about what Autism is, you know, we should we have to navigate around those kinds of relationships because lots of people like that exist. But that kind of conflict is not easily resolved, because it's really a two-way street of both parties trying to understand each other or at least respect that the other person has an interiority that isn't our interiority.
And I take it that conflict resolution is part of, like I say, the other individual, probably, of the non-autistic individual, probably won't necessarily see things from our perspective. But they may have arrived at a place where they're willing to respect that we understand ourselves better than we do, the better than they do, and that they're willing to work with us where we're at, rather than insisting we be somewhere else. Give me your thoughts on that.
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, absolutely. I think there's a healthy humility, that comes with conflict resolution in an Autistic, allistic, dyad or relationship. Sometimes, you might still, you know, if you're the non-autistic person, you might still have lingering feelings or reactions that you have to recognize or unfair, or that you have some more growing to do. One example that comes to mind, that I've heard from sometimes are parents who are not autistic, who have Autistic kids who say, you know, I just really wish my, my son or daughter would hug me and say that they love me and show affection in these ways that I expected when I had children that they would do. Now, I understand that for this particular kid, you know, you know, they're not physically expressive in that way, but they show love in other ways. And I might still have my own hard feelings about that, I might still have things that I want, but I can still treat that as a private matter that I need to work on and not an actual defect in my kid. Like, I think that's a win, I've seen and heard that happen. I think that's, you know, beautiful conflict resolution, where the non-autistic person is actually doing the work. You know, there's a lot of work you have to do on yourself when somebody who's disabled is in conflict with you and is saying, Hey, you're not, you're not behaving in a way that lines up with my accessibility needs right now. And resolving that means engaging in some growth.
I think what I want to talk about right now on is when there's conflict for the Autistic, because of intersectionality. Because we know that for LGBTQ people and Autistics, there's going to be that intersection between the conflict because of our sexual orientation and/or gender identity. There's going to be that conflict because of race, and Autistic. There's going to be those issues because of our, say, our learning capabilities, I guess, if I don't know if that's the right word or not. There's going to be though those questions again about our abilities versus what we can do versus what we shouldn't do. I think it's a good idea right now to talk about those conflicts that are intersecting, and how we, as Autistics, we will struggle with that. And let's talk about what that can be like and some ideas about how to work with that to go ahead.
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, it's a great question. Because as much as Autistic people, we are so intimately familiar with being misunderstood, with people expecting us to communicate in a particular way, and how damaging that is. Sometimes we still reproduce those same norms along some other axis of oppression. So, for example, I've sometimes seen white Autistic people say things like, oh, you know, Autistic people can't be racist, we can't be biased because we're so rational, we're so objective. And that's obviously wrong, right? We are. Yeah, we're, we're human beings who can be racist, and we can engage in something like tone policing, for example, you know, we can be guilty if we're white Autistic people are telling a black Autistic person that they're, you know, being too aggressive or being too hostile when, how they're communicating, when that's something that we've heard as autistic people all the time. And yeah, we ought to know better, but we have to do that kind of work. So that's, that's something that I've certainly seen, you know, if somebody is both Autistic and marginalized in some other way, there's multiple different ways in which people can see them in a really uncharitable light, and they have to really fight to just be trusted and taken on good faith. So, I think that's a really, really common source of conflict for us both within and outside of our community.
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think we I think the Autistic community in general tends to embrace diversity. Probably better than most communities, but we do have our own systemic racism within our own Autistic communities. We do have issues with gender. Although I, over the past few months, I become more deeply convicted that Autistics in general are gender nonconforming, and that sort of thing, because I think I may have gotten that from your book. But you know, you know, when we don't fit the ideal of a man, an Autistic man being masculine, or an Autistic woman being, you know, totally feminine, and then there's the nonbinary of not being either on, you know, and we do know that there are people who feel that, that the diagnostic process is very racial, you know, that sort of thing. So, feel free to add to some of that as far as conflicts and then, in the self-advocacy part, we're going to talk about some resolution strategies. So go ahead.
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, it's another way in which we just simply by being ourselves are seen as in conflict with the world or in conflict with what society demands of us. We’re nonconforming in so many different ways. And both because of nonconformity, and disability, it's just harder for us to be what society says a man or a woman is supposed to be. And so, people, you know, lots of Autistic women get in trouble socially, for not putting effort supposedly, into their grooming in the way that society demands. And it might be because, you know, wearing a bra is super sensory torture or wearing makeup is sensory torture. Or it might be because they question the fact that people need to wear those things at all and say, This doesn't make sense to me, this is unjust, and I'm not going to do it. And I think that's true. And we see that for all different kinds of marginalized Autistics who really, question you know, why do I need to be in the closet about this? Why do I need to watch my tone? Why do I need to straighten my hair? All of these things. And unfortunately, it means sometimes we also get attacked by members of our own identity categories, or our own groups for not being a good example of that group and not being respectful. So, there's a lot of layers to it.
Yeah, pretty much so. Well, as I am instigated, I want us to move into the part about self-advocacy. And this is where I think we want to really focus on the resolution strategy. So, what, what steps should Autistic Adults and our supporters take to advocate for our needs, with conflict resolution strategy? So, let's talk about some resolution strategies. And I think it's important here to start with the point of self-care, we need to do some very good self-care when we're in a conflict to work towards the resolution. Let's start with a self-care. And then let's work into the resolution piece if you will. Go ahead.
Dr. Devon Price
Sure. Yeah. And I think even within the resolution piece, we can kind of talk maybe about interpersonal conflict, and then also maybe kind of institutional conflict, like not getting accommodations and things like that, that's fine. That's fine. But yeah, um, the self-care piece, I think, is really important. Because again, we, we question ourselves so much. So, to even be able to engage in conflict, we have to be rooted somehow, in a sense of stability, some, potentially some ability to check our reality and get it affirmed by someone else that we're not "crazy" and that we are, you know, we have every right to need what we need and to see things, how we see them. So, I think, certainly for me in managing conflict, and for many of us, an important part of it is getting some space down regulating your distress, because when you're in conflict, it really feels like an imminent danger. So doing whatever kind of grounding or stress regulation helps get your body out of fight or flight, and then also getting to strategize and find affirmation from other Autistic people or other neurodivergent people, sharing what happened with someone and being able to hear them say, No, you're not being unreasonable for making a request or you're not, you know, being too sensitive by having your feelings hurt. Most of us question our reality so much that we need, I think, some affirmation that we are, we are actually perceiving things accurately and that we have a right also to our own subjective inner experience. So that's certainly a really big piece of it for many of us.
Yeah. And, you know, we really do need to spend some time validating our own feelings. I know there's a tendency as you say, for us to you know, don't think that there is something wrong with when there isn't. And so, the important thing is, is in self-care to spend some time validating ourselves and seeking those who validate us. You know, no, you're not, you're not off-center keel, because you're upset, you have a right to be upset because you've been involved in a, in a in a conflict that may have been a job termination. It may have been a relationship has broken up, it may be that someone has spoken against, you know, made some remark about how you look how you sound. You know, what you're maybe how you're stimming, yes, those things are extremely painful. And you need to give yourself some time to, you know, yes, it hurts, and you need people to validate your hurt. So, it's important that you seek out the people who can affirm you who can say yes, yes. You know, I understand what you're going through. And yes, you have a right to feel that way. Go ahead.
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah. And sometimes we also need a lot of time to even figure out how we're feeling about something. I don't always necessarily know when a boundary of mine has been crossed, until I really take a few days to kind of sit and think about it and journal about it, maybe talk to someone, and maybe then I can actually kind of initiate a healthy conflict about it and say, and tell someone, you know, hey, what you said a couple of days ago, that wasn't a right. And there's this expectation in neurotypical society that you just respond to things immediately that you have the witty, you know, assertive rhetoric in the moment. And we can't always do that, and we shouldn't demand ourselves to. So, we need a lot of time to recover from the hurt. And sometimes we need a lot of time to even really recognizing and honor that the hurt even happened for many of us.
Yeah, and I'm saying this because of Minnesota has a reputation a true reputation that Minnesota likes to use passive aggression to take care of conflict, conflicts, that sort of thing. You know, you'll ask somebody out, you know, Were you upset with me? Of course, they'll say no, say that sort of thing. So, you know, I mean, don't be afraid to confront it, say, Yes, you, you appear to be to me. So, you know, be prepared for that. Now, let's, you know, again, you can continue talking about self-care. But let's also talk about some resolution strategies that we might use. Go ahead, start talking about that.
Dr. Devon Price
Sure. Yeah. So, I think it's naturally flows from what we were just talking about that, because of how we process and just needing a lot of time to make sense of things and to recheck our reality. One way that conflict resolution looks for many of us is bringing up a problem later on, after it's happened. And recognizing that we have the right to do that, and that there's nothing inappropriate about doing that. I'm Midwesterners. So, there's definitely some similar social norms at work there where, you know, sometimes you're seen as the person who's ruining Thanksgiving, by telling someone not to be racist at the dinner table, right? Or like you're ruining Christmas, by not showing up to an event where a relative who's been abusive to you is present or something like that. There's this idea that if you're not smoothing over conflict, you're a problem. And that's unacceptable. And, and there's a lot we have to do to unlearn that, many of us. So, bringing something up is not ruining anything. The person who crosses your boundaries was the person who ruined anything and you're, you're doing a great job by bringing it up. It's okay to bring things up after the fact. It's okay, if you can only initiate a tough conversation in writing, or via email, or AAC or some other communication device. We get a lot of shame and stigma for not using our words. And some of us obviously, are completely nonverbal. Some of us only become we some of us only lose speech during really emotionally charged situations. That is all fine. I have some close friends of mine who are Autistic who, in their relationships, they can only talk about hard things by sitting down and writing out a letter and giving it to their spouse. And, you know, they've had partners in the past who thought that that was cold or manipulative, they had all these negative impressions of it. And it's you're communicating, you know, and you're and you're putting in the care and the time, you need to do it in a way that that you're capable of. There's nothing wrong with that. So, I think that's a really important piece of conflict resolution is being able to believe that you have the right to bring up your concerns in whatever method is accessible to you. And to have that really taken in good faith by the recipient.
Yeah. And I would like to emphasize that, contrary to how people may respond to you, it is absolutely appropriate that if you have a relative or an in law, or even somebody, you consider a friend who is consistently in conflict with you, you have every right to distance yourself from that person. There is nothing that says you must, you know, consistently put yourself in the path of someone who doesn't respect you. And I happen to think that's completely not true, I happen to be somebody who has a problem, when somebody puts me in a corner, where I have to make a decision, or, you know, you know, or I have to give in to their demands in order to get or to, you know, whatever, my response usually to that is, I am therefore, removing myself from the conversation period. Because I am not going to be boxed in or put into a corner, because that is a very sensory sensitive place for me. Um, and, you know, and so, and sometimes that can be, you know, whatever your boundary is with, with consent, for example, for me, one of the issues of consent, I want to be able to give consent, if somebody wants to take a photograph me. I don't want somebody to just assume it's okay for them to do that. Takes a snapshot, and I'm just supposed to accept that. No, I don't accept that anymore. If you want to take a picture of me, I want somebody to ask me. And so, you know, I was in a conflict with somebody who insisted, and I said, No, I do not have to give you that permission. And if you're going to insist that I do that, then I'm getting out of this conversation, period. It is okay to be able to do that. And, you know, a lot, you know, sometimes, unfortunately, resolving that conflict, may have to mean that you no longer engage in a relationship with that person. And you know, for that you need to do some conflict resolution for yourself. If this person is not respecting you, you don't owe that person anything to stay, you know, to put yourself in that person, persons paths path, what do you think?
Dr. Devon Price
Absolutely. My friend Kelly Lenza, they write on, on medium about a lot of fat liberation, self-advocacy, and medical self-advocacy. And they're also Autistic. And they have an article on Medium called, you can leave the appointment, that is all about how if you have a doctor that's insisting on weighing you or is trying to recommend weight loss to you, when you've made it very clear, you are not interested in hearing about that. Sometimes you have to just leave the appointment, you just have to walk out into the parking lot and, you know, maybe have a panic attack and cry because you've gone through a really difficult unfair thing. But sometimes conflict resolution and self-advocacy means removing yourself from the area where your boundaries are being tested. Leaving a family gathering hanging up the phone, it all comes down to have you given the person an opportunity, if you have a reason to trust them, given them a chance to earn your trust and to show respect. And if they haven't respected your boundary, then you are the one that enforces the boundary by your by removing yourself from that situation. And I think that also includes things like because this is hard for many Autistic people to internalize, I found just because somebody asks you a question doesn't mean you have to answer it. We tend to be pretty honest, pretty candid people. And sometimes we deserve to take a moment and say, do I actually want to trust this person with this information? Or am I actually comfortable talking about this thing? And it's fine to say I'm not comfortable. Or the writer Nicole Cliff, who's an advice columnist, who's Autistic, one of her little scripts is if somebody asks you something really rude to just go, I can't believe you are like, You must be so embarrassed. You just ask that or something like that. That kind of just redirect the conversation. Because yeah, it's a tough thing for us to learn because I think we give so much over to other people.
After this final commercial break, Devon and I will conclude our conversation by talking about resolving conflicts we may find ourselves in with other Autistics. Immediately following that Today’s Autistic Community Bulletin Board.
Commercial Break III
On October 1st, Dr. Nick Walker the author of Neuroqueer Heresies: Notes on the Neurodiversity Paradigm, Autistic Empowerment, and Postnormal Possibilities, joins me for Neuroqueering: Time for Action. According to Dr. Walker, Neuroqueer is a verb that urges us to make the decision that Autistics and other Neurodivergents will accept ourselves for who we are and not try to fit in with what the world determines is a “normal brain” vs. a “different brain.” Dr. Walker will bring her perspective to the conversations about Neurodiversity, sexual orientation and gender identity that will challenge us to rethink about how we understand and act.
Pete Wharmby will join me on October 15th for An Untypical Worldview. Pete’s latest book Untypical: How the World Isn’t Built for Autistic People and What We Should All Do About It. Listen to this quote from Pete’s book. “Imagine a world where people can say ‘Oh, do you mind if we don’t shake hands? I’m Autistic, you see,’ and be acknowledged and treated as an equal.” What are some other ways that an untypical world would look like? Join Pete Wharmby and I as we talk about his book and ideas.
On November 5th, Ashlyn Baker will be my guest to talk about Overlapping Triggers and Soothers in Autistic Relationships. Each Autistic individual has their own sensory profile. When different Autistics are in the same space, their sensory triggers and soothers will overlap. This scenario is very common for Autistic parents with Autistic children, or Autistic spouses or roommates, or coworkers. How do Autistics negotiate our triggers and soothers? What are some strategies we might need? Ashlyn Baker is a mental health professional and owner of the podcast, I Married Your Therapist. Ashlyn’s expertise is talking about Autistic relationships. Join us for this great show.
Check out the Future Shows page on todaysautisticmoment.com for all shows coming up through November.
Do you have any topic ideas for future episodes of Today’s Autistic Moment? Go to the Contact Us page on todaysautisticmoment.com and submit your topic suggestions. Go to the page for Be My Guest to submit a Guest Intake Form if you would like to be a guest.
Thank you for listening to Today’s Autistic Moment.
Maybe you've already answered this. But let's say, I have someone in my audience who has just gone through a conflict of some kind. And they're feeling like they're defeated. You know, they may have been harassed or just, again, not taken seriously. But what might be some other advice you might give?
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, I think a lot of times we feel defeated if we in a conflict didn't quite get the outcome that we wanted. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we've done anything wrong or that we failed. So, if we assert ourselves, and the person we're asserting ourselves to, doesn't hear us doesn't change their behavior doesn't show us respect. We can walk away feeling like oh, I should have said something more persuasive, I should have been stronger in my convinced convictions, I failed, I folded. And that's often where we feel really defeated. And I think it's really important to, you know, take a moment, and sit with those feelings. But to draw a distinction between what we're doing and the outcome and what we're doing and what we have control over and what another person is in control over. So, you can't persuade a person who is unpersuadable. You can't get an apology from someone who has never admitted fault before. You can't change some change someone who doesn't want to change. And so, you don't deserve to beat yourself up for that. And you can still take pride in having done what you could to honor yourself, even if they're immovable.
I have one final thing to talk about. Because this is also something that can be extremely difficult. What about when we find ourselves in conflict with another Autistic person? I have found myself in those places. And you know, quite frankly, sometimes you do have to deal with another Autistic person you're in a conflict with. And wow, that can be really difficult because you feel like, I don't want to, I know what it is to go through what this person is going through. But I don't think I can meet them where they need me. And we might feel guilty about backing away from that relationship. I know I've gone through that two times. But let's conclude this by talking just a little bit about being in conflict with other Autistics and some ideas about resolving them, go ahead.
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, I've definitely experienced that, too, I've definitely seen it play out. I feel like it can often be kind of a spiral effect, where we're both really activated by each other's stress. And, you know, we're both having social kind of threat, or like our attachment systems are kind of activated, and we're trying to be understood, you know, generally we're, we're very intentional and concerned about being properly understood. And so those two things can just really be an endless spiral effect of just constant reply and response and measurement, if we're not careful, so I and I've been through that many times. So, I think one of the first steps when you recognize yourself coming into conflict with another Autistic person, and you're both getting activated, is finding some space and some room to breathe, can really make a big difference. When you're in a state of feeling activated and threatened, you might say things that you think are going to placate the situation. Or you might explain how you're feeling a lot in a ton of detail, because you want to be understood, but that might stress the person out further, there's just all these ways in which we can set each other off and freak each other out. And so, finding a little space to yourself, ending the conversation temporarily. Even if that means for a couple of days to gather your thoughts can be really, really helpful. I find that when I'm in conflict, especially with a fellow Autistic person, but also in general, I can always think clearly about how I really feel and separate my thoughts from the other person's feelings. In the heat of the moment. I just need a couple of days to calm down and to see, okay, a little bit less passionately, what is important here to handle and what's important to convey? So, some of that is the same distress tolerance stuff that we've talked about, but I think it hurts in a whole different way because we don't want to fail members of our community. And we think that we should be able to understand each other because we have so many struggles in common. So, I think it is good to move with grace with each other as much as we can. But that doesn't mean that we owe everything that we possibly have and can give to another person, we have to really look after our own regulation first. So that then we can make a decision about here's how I can show up for this person. And sometimes that means grieving what you can't do, too, I think, and finding space for that. Because it is really hard to let a fellow Autistic person down or to feel like we're letting somebody down.
Well, Dr. Devon Price, it is always a pleasure to have you on the show because your information is so robust, I would say and, and so, so well-articulated. And so, it is my pleasure to have you back on the show today. And like I say, I know you're starting a new semester, a new school year, so I wish you all the best with that.
Dr. Devon Price
Yeah, thank you so much. Yeah, I really enjoy getting to talk about some of these deeper gradients of the Autistic experience. So yeah, definitely, definitely back on.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Today’s Autistic Community Bulletin Board
All of these events with their links can be found at todaysautisticmoment.com/bulletinboard
Join The Autism Society of Minnesota for their Adult Coffee Club. The next Coffee Clubs will be on Tuesday nights from 5pm to 7pm at Dogwood Coffee in St. Paul on September 26th, October 10th, October 24th, and November 21st. Coffee Club meetings will be at the Milkweed Café in Minneapolis on September 18th, October 16th, and November 13th from 5pm to 7pm. Please RSVP at ausm.org.
Understanding Autism virtual classes will be offered by The Autism Society of Minnesota. These classes are perfect for Autistic individuals, caregivers, those who want to understand the basics of Autism and support Autistic people. Classes will be on October 23rd, 6-8pm and December 18th, 10am-12pm. Classes are free of charge, but you must register to attend.
Register today to attend the Autistic Community Summit on October 14th beginning at 9am to 4pm at the Lionsgate Academy in Shoreview, Minnesota. There will be a full hybrid of in person and virtual options, integrated social opportunities, half hour and full hour breakout sessions, and discussion groups. The cost to attend is $35.00 per person and scholarships are available. Click on the link to register on the bulletin board page for todaysautisticmoment.com or go to ausm.org.
Go to ausm.org to download the 2023-2024 Education Catalog with the details of all the educational and social opportunities offered by The Autism Society of Minnesota.
MN MNeurodivergent is a Minnesota organization that offers social events for Neurodivergents. Join them on Friday, September 22nd at Leaning Tower of Pizza in Minneapolis at 5pm. The Second Annual MNeurodivergent Neurodiverse Picnic and Potluck will be on Sunday, September 24th at 11am at Wabun Picnic Area in Minneapolis. Join them on Saturday, September 30th at 8am at the Burnsville Transit Station Bay A to go to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Go to the bulletin board at todaysautisticmoment.com and click on the Meet Up link to become a member and attend their events.
You are invited to Minnesota Independence College & Communities’ 6th Annual Independence 5K Run/1 Mile Walk on Sunday, October 1st at Donaldson Park in Richfield, Minnesota. Check in/Registration will be at 9:00am. The race/walk will begin at 10:00am. Go to miccommunity.org for more information.
Matthew the #ActuallyAutistic Coach has room in his Finding Your Autistic Self Group Coaching Groups. In the groups, participants learn about unmasking strategies, coping tools, burnout & post-burnout support and much more. Go to autisticcoach.com and click on Autism Groups for more information. While visiting Matthew’s website, be sure to check out the Free Autistic Discussion Circles for Autistics of various age groups, careers, students, and ethnic groups.
Today’s Autistic Moment is sponsored in part by Looking Forward Life Coaching. Looking Forward turns stumbling blocks into stepping stones towards success. Go to lookingforwardlc.org for more information.
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