Go to todaysautisticmoment.com for the transcripts.
Planning Neuro-Affirming Holiday Social Events is crucial for a positive experience for Neurodivergents. In a recent conversation, Mitchell Schaps from MNeurodivergent sat down with me to share some insights on creating inclusive events for Neurodivergents. Considering sensory needs by providing spaces for self-regulation including recharging empty social batteries are just some of the things Mitchell suggested. Listen to this episode to hear more of Mitchell's ideas.
--- Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/2daysautistic/support
A Written Document Transcript with a Font for Dyslexics is available. Tap or click on the link just below.
To read and follow the transcript from this page, scroll down from here.
Planning Neuro-Affirming Holiday Social Events
December 3rd, 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 very much for listening.
Today’s Autistic Moment is a member of The Autistic Podcasters Network.
Today’s Autistic Moment is a free podcast that puts Autistic Adults front and center, where our stories are always the headline.
This first segment of Today’s Autistic Moment is sponsored by The Autism Society of Minnesota: Minnesota’s First Autism Resource. For over 50 years The Autism Society of Minnesota has been honored to support Minnesota’s Autism Community. Visit them online at ausm.org.
Thank you for joining me for this episode Planning Neuro-Affirming Holiday Social Events. Mitchell Schaps is my guest for this show.
Please visit todaysautisticmoment.com where you can listen to the podcast, get transcripts, program updates, and read the guest bios pages. Please visit the Future Shows Page to read the titles, guests, and descriptions of all shows coming up through January 2024. The transcripts are sponsored by Minnesota Independence College & Community. The transcripts can be read and followed from the website. There is a link provided to get access to a document form of the transcript that you can print it, so it won’t use up the ink on your printer. The written document has a font that is accessible for dyslexics. While visiting the website, please consider supporting the work of Today’s Autistic Moment with a financial donation or purchase an item from the Logo Shop.
Please follow Today’s Autistic Moment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Want to chat with me and other listeners? Join Today’s Autistic Moment Community Group on Facebook. Please subscribe to the YouTube channel @todaysautisticmoment to watch any episode of Autistic Voices Roundtable Discussions.
Well, here we are at the last two episodes of Season 3 in 2023. As of the final episode on December 17th, the total number of episodes since January of 2021 will be 75. If you are a new listener, all shows are available for you to listen to anytime you want. Of the seventy-five shows that Today’s Autistic Moment has produced 67 of them featured actually Autistic Adults as the guests. Thirteen of my guests have been Non-Autistic Professionals who serve the Autistic Adult Community. When you make a donation and/or purchase an item from the logo shop, you become a part of the network that is moving this podcast forward. Over these past three years, Today’s Autistic Moment has been bringing together Autistic Adults from our many Intersectional Communities. Therefore, in season 4 in 2024 the jingle will be updated to “Explore, Engage, Empower: Today’s Autistic Moment-The Podcast for Intersectional Autistic Adult Communities.” There are many great shows being planned so keep listening to be a successful advocate for yourself and all of the communities that Autistic Adults are part of.
This year for the show that focuses on the holiday season, we want to talk about Planning Neuro-Affirming Holiday Social Events. Many of my guests have spoken about how many Autistic voices are being spoken over or silenced when decisions about what we need are made. The enormous misinformation that continues to be heard about Autistic people is so dismissive and invalidating. The great author Yenn Purkis wrote,
Autistic people should never have to squash ourselves down in order to be accepted by allistic society. We have the right to be unashamedly ourselves-it’s our world too after all.
Last April while I was at the Minnesota Autism Conference organized by The Autism Society of Minnesota, Mitchell Schaps visited my resource table to introduce himself and me to the organization called MNeurodivergent. For those who are not from Minnesota, MN are the initials for our state. So MNeurodivergent stands for Minnesota Neurodivergent. It is a lot of fun to try to say. MNeurodivergent is ground breaking because Neurodivergents are planning events for other Neurodivergents. MNeurodivergent began organizing in November 2022. MNeurodivergent has hosted picnics. Movie nights. Nights out for dinner or coffee. MNeurodivergent has hosted groups at the Minnesota State Fair. The Renaissance Festival. Museum visits and much more. What I really love about MNeurodivergent is it is a group of Neurodivergents who are taking the helm and preparing and planning events where Neurodivergents are treated with dignity and respect regardless of ability or preference. What a revolutionary idea!
Mitchell Schaps is here to talk about how holiday social events can be Neuro-Affirming.
After this first commercial break, we will give you some great tips of how to plan for Autistics to enjoy holiday social events that have been prepared from a Neuro-Affirming prospective.
Commercial Break I
Today’s Autistic Moment can be downloaded and heard on most podcast apps including Apple. Google Play. Breaker. Castbox. Overcast. iHeartRadio. Pocket Casts. RadioPublic. Spotify. TuneIn. Pandora. Amazon Music. Audible. Podcast Addict. Podcast Chaser. If you are looking for the transcripts, go to todaysautisticmoment.com, click on the episode you want to listen to and follow the directions to find the transcripts.
Thank you for listening to Today’s Autistic Moment.
Mitchell Schaps. Thank you for being on this episode of Today's Autistic Moment. Welcome to the show.
Glad to be here. Thank you for having me.
Well, Mitchell, I love that we're going to talk about this today, because I've been seeing your work with MNeurodivergent. And I'll give you some time at the end of the show to talk about what that is and what you all do. But we particularly want to talk about Planning Neuro-Affirming Social Events for the holidays. I've done a couple of shows over the past couple of years where we've talked about the sensory nightmares that are just all over the holidays and managing holiday stress. And some of that could be eliminated if only we help. You know, both for caregivers and Autistics with some ideas about how to plan Neuro-Affirming social events for the holidays. So, I'm gonna start with my first question. What important information do you feel Autistic Adults and our caregivers need to know about to help plan for Neuro-Affirming Social Events for the Holidays?
That's a great question. I think part, one of the first things you have to remember is that when you're planning a Neurodiversity Affirming party is you have to make sure that it's clear from the very first point that a person learns about your party that is going to be Neurodiversity Affirming. Because there ends up being so much fear that can come from somebody seeing an event and not knowing if that event that they even may want to just plan to go to if that events going to be affirming for them or not.
Yeah. So, what does a Neuro-Affirming event look like? Let's start with that. And then let's talk about some ways something, what it would look like for a holiday for holidays when, you know, like I say, there's smells, there's sounds, there's crowds, there's everything you can imagine. So how do we plan for a Neuro-Affirming social event? And then how do we do that specifically for the holidays? Go ahead.
Definitely. So, one of the first things that you did touch on is the most important is making sure that participants aren't going to have sensory overload. You want to make sure that this unfortunate problem that can sometimes happen, especially with holiday parties around Christmas is having too many holiday smells like having an overwhelming smell of pine, having overall smell overwhelming smell of something like cinnamon, or something similar to that, or also just making sure that your participants don't wear too much cologne or too much perfume, because that can be very triggering to those that have sensitivities to smells. Moving on from smells, you also make sure that something else that's a staple of holiday parties being holiday music is not played too loud. Because if you have music that's played too loud at a party, nobody can hear each other, which if the point of your party, like for many events at MNeurodivergent is for people to actually make connections with other people and actually be able to socialize effectively. If the music is too loud. They're never gonna be able to do that. But worse if the music is too loud, it can be just overwhelming in general for their senses, which then makes the entire experience unpleasant for them. But also, where I think it's very important to have a space at party. That's a cool off zone where people can get away from sounds and smells and people in general where if they do get overstimulated, they can then go to this zone to cool down, recharge themselves and then go back to the party when they feel like they are ready to.
Yeah. I also like to think of things such as the scented candles for some can be very difficult. Some Autistics other Neurodivergents. The sound of bells can be a problem. You know, and also, like, for many Autistics, the scent of certain foods. The taste of certain foods. The textures of certain foods. There can also be, in some cases, a lot of traumatic triggering, that can go on from past triggers that may have occurred where somebody didn't, wasn't sensitive to whatever their sensory needs were. And, you know, I just had a great show earlier this month, about Overlapping Triggers and Soothers in Autistic Relationships, where you can have more than one Neurodivergent in the same place, and one triggers as the other one soothers. And vice versa. Especially if, say, you've got one who has ADHD, and another one who was Autistic, or someone who's dyslexic. They're gonna overlap a little bit. Um, but, um, you know, the thing is, is, is how to plan those events? Number one, be aware of those things, and number two, finding alternative ways that maybe we can decrease the I'm gonna say severity of situations like that, what do you think?
I agree, and you touched on a lot of things that I see my first life in general, even just with my wife, who's diagnosed Autistic ADHD, where she feels that she's very sensitive to sweet candles, that's one of her triggers. And that's something that we try to be very careful with when around the holidays. So, we don't end up having that be a situation that will cause any conflict with that. And you're right. I think the best way to defuse those situations is in general to kind of aim for the most firming and accessible as you can, where we reduce the most possible triggers in your planning that you can but also, as I mentioned before, creating a space where if people do get overwhelmed by something that you didn't quite account for, or if something happens outside of your plans, that they can then go to recharge, stim, and then when they're ready, return back to the party to the end to the other participants of the party.
Yeah. And here's the point that I really bring up every year that we start talking to holiday stuff, because people have the best intentions. But sometimes, Autistics get unintentionally harmed by certain decisions that are made, and to be sent. What I'm asking people to remember and be sensitive to that there are Autistics who don't like surprise gifts. And the reason being is because there's several reasons. Number one is, one can be if you give them something that is going to affect their sensory processing, they can't possibly appreciate it. Number two is the fact that a lot of us were honest to a fault. And if you give us something that we don't like, and you ask us, if we like it, chances are we're going to tell you no. And because we're people pleasers, we hate having to tell you that. But the thing is, is that if we don't really like something, we're going to tell you that so if you if you do have an Autistic who really doesn't like surprises, if you want to really give them a present that they will really appreciate. Ask them what they would like. And then be prepared to give that to them and let them know that's what they're getting. That actually will be a better surprise than opening up something that they can't stand, and they are just it breaks their heart to have to tell you the truth when you ask them, Do you like it? So, if you have an Autistic person in your life, who is like that, just ask them what they might like. And make it clear, okay, that's what we're getting you or you know, there are some Autistics who would prefer you're not giving them a gift, you know, they may prefer you, you know, get, just make their favorite comfort food on the holiday. Or, you know, give me a fidget. Sometimes if you buy them a fidget, they'll, they'll really, they'll really love it. But you need to be careful when making those decisions. Because boy, they can really, it can really be a heartbreaker on the holidays. And like I say we're people pleasers. So, we don't like having to tell some, sometimes we will tell someone the truth, whether we, whether we want them to hear it or not. So those are some points that I like to make, feel free to expound on any of that, if you like.
I am a very strong proponent of the Amazon wish list or have a Walmart wish list to the people that might want to give you a gift. Because you're right, it can be one of the more disappointing parts of the holidays, when like, you know, somebody has wanted to do what should be a great thing and wanting to give you a gift to show that like they care about you and that kind of thing. But then it ends up being a gift that you either don't need or just in general don't want. And you even though you don't want to disappoint the person, you want to advocate for yourself, and that it's something that you just do not need for do not want. And then you don't want to cause any sadness in that respect. Where that's where a wish list from different companies can really be helpful, because then you don't actually necessarily know what the person is going to get you. But since it's on a wish list for a company like Amazon, Walmart, or even just a list of potential gifts that you've sent people in a text message or similar, they know it's something that you want, or could be useful to you. But they're still surprised and that you don't in the end know for sure what you're going to get. Also, piece of that is that gifts don't have to be monetary, they don't have to be a physical thing, like it can sometimes be enough gift for the person just that you're willing to spend time with them. Or it can be some activity that you really enjoy doing with the person that you tell them, hey, here's a ticket that this event type or activity that I think would be really interesting and enjoyable for you. And then you have some previous experience from your time with them that you would know that it's something they would probably enjoy.
Right, exactly. You know, another thing too, is that one other thing that you can always do is if your Autistic loved one is being served well, by an organization that supports their needs a donation to that organization on their behalf might very well be just enough. You might find that, you know what, if your Autistic loved one or Neurodivergent loved one, take your pick of either or gets invited to something that is Neuro-Affirming, you might very well ask them, Can I come with you to see what a Neuro-Affirming event looks like? And then you can kind of get a feel for that. And I mean, if you're gonna go to something like that you need to go there with the intention of not judging anything based on your own standards, number one, and number two, be prepared to learn things that you'd probably never thought of. And, you know, because, you know, those things can be too. Um, let's, let's talk a little bit about the social demands, which can be a really difficult natter for a lot of us who are Autistic and Neurodivergent, because we talk a lot about sensory needs, but there's also the social demand that can be upon the holidays. You must go to this holiday family holiday party. You must be at this holiday dinner. You must go with us to this you know holiday service somewhere or whatever and the thing is, is that trapping I'm gonna say yes trapping an Autistic or someone into a social event that is not comfortable. Not even just not just uncomfortable, but quite frankly painful for them. Forcing them into that that place, and it is really something No you really should not do it. And so, let's talk a little bit about that to go ahead Mitchell.
I agree, um, as personally a person who parents divorced when I was a child, this is something that I did have to deal with, essentially, the majority of my life growing up where it was different holidays for different parents, where you have a choice, whether or not you would go to which holiday, you didn't always have choice of being around relatives to actually enjoy being around with or talking with people that actually get along with what you would want to, let's just be frank, where you're expected to hang around with people that if they were not your family, you would probably not hang around with. Right. That is something where it is unfortunate that that people do end up in those situations. And I think it is important than to then talk about how, if you're caught up in that situation, what's the best that you can do on your end to try to advocate for yourself, but then also, if you're somebody that would be potentially in a position where you could be putting other people into that position, at the very least making some considerations where you either try to make it as less than debit experience for the person as you can or just don't do it.
Right. The other alternative is, is for example, you might say, if you come to this party, or this event, and you can be there, say 5, 10 minutes, that's enough, you can come for the five and 10 minutes, and you're free to go. You might also consider something like asking, the folks who's place you might be going to, can we create a safe space for them to go where they can kind of be on their own, they can draw, they can, you know, be in the dark, or they can just fidget or whatever, and they're not going to bother us, you know, they're going to be safe. And just, if they want to go in there, they can go in there for as long as they like, or for as little time as they like, they don't have to be there, let's let them know. You know, help them find some spaces where they can go and just be themselves without having to worry about so much about how others are going to perceive them. Is that also a good idea?
Given also see, respect the person's agency, like if, if for persons at a party, especially if they're Autistic, and they are not enjoying something, don't force them to do it. Where you kind of have the thing of like, oh, go hug your relative or like, oh, even worse, like go give your relative a kiss because you haven't seen them in so long. Like you see that with like grandparents or like that works like or let them give you a kiss because you haven't seen them in a long time. It's appropriate in that good thing, but then they don't recognize the fact that the person who's Autistic, might, really not want to do that and might be trying to vocalize that. But you're telling them that they still have to, because it's a normal social interaction in the person's view. And that's why I think it's especially important to respect people's agency of their bodies, what they want to do, and don't force somebody to do something just because you think it's something that should be done at a party. Right. Yeah.
After this next commercial break, Mitchell and I will talk letting Neurodivergents plan your Holiday social events so that they are Neuro-Affirming, and what to do when you are at a place where someone at the party is not respecting you.
Commercial Break II
Holiday Logo Shop Sale
Give the gift of joy this holiday season with Today’s Autistic Moment! Our 16oz drinking cup and lapel pin, featuring the spirit of inclusion with our empowering logo make the perfect gifts. As a special holiday treat for our podcast listeners, we are offering 10% off the cost of each item. Offer cheers, spread love, warmth and understanding. Order now to make this season truly special!
Happy Holidays from Today’s Autistic Moment.
So, one of the things I think we should talk about is that something that MNeurodivergent does. We're seeing the Autism Mentorship Program here in Minnesota doing. If you want to make events that are Neuro-Affirming for Autistics, and other Neurodivergents, let them be part of planning your events. You know, we're now moving past the idea oh, the, the neurotypicals will make the plans and then the Autistics and Neurodivergents will just follow suite. What we're going to talk about what we're talking about here, is actually saying, okay, the Autistic is part of the play plays a role in the planning. What do you say about that?
This is something that MNeurodivergent takes to the core of our very being as being a nonprofit, from a mission statement of being an organization buy and for Neurodivergent people and to the running of all of our events. Because you're right, it is all too commonly, I think, a mistake that organizations do, where they try to make choices for how to run events, or how to develop therapies or how to develop supports, that don't actually have an Autistic voice at the table. And that can be an incredible disservice. Because there's only so good of information you can get secondhand from people were the best resource for information how to make an event for people who are Autistic, is by getting it firsthand from people who live that experience.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, maybe you let the Autistic be involved, like if they're, they have problems with things like, you know, candle wax, and that sort of thing. Maybe let them be involved in helping to create some paper candles that you can just at least you can put those on a wall, and, you know, they're still candles, they're just not lit. You know, there's every reason to believe that the Autistic person in your life knows what their Autistic needs are and can definitely be part of your planning. Right?
I agree 100%. And if anything, a person whose Autistic can in a way be your canary in the coal mine. They can be somebody whereas you're working out details of your party, you could just say to this person that you have that’s Autistic in your life, and to say to them, so wanted to do so and so what do you think about it? And if the person who's I just think they know and your life says that it might be a problem, that is a very strong sign that if it's a problem not to see that if it's a problem with them, it might be a problem with all people who are Autistic, but if it's a problem with one person with Autistic, you know, it's a potential problem. And that's something to look out for, for your future planning.
Yeah, and to ask them, What supports do you need? And, you know, maybe give us some give us, you know, give some input as to working those supports into what we're planning. So that that event supports you. I think one of the things a lot of Autistics feel like when, you know, at holiday events and others like it is their supports aren't there because no one really bothered to take the time to work with them to, to create those supports to put those supports into what you're what you're doing, right?
I agree 100% And, and a large part of that is that if you're not a person who's Autistic, there's a lot of things that you might be overlooking that might affect a person who is Neurodivergent. For example, let's say you're trying to pick a location for a party where you as maybe your person is neurotypical that has a car so for you might be picking and place that's let's say on the outskirts of your town but then person whose Neurodivergent might not have a vehicle they might have to rely on public transit might not be able to afford the trip there and then you have an issue where people who are Autistic might not even be will make it to your party or you might be having situation where this is unfortunately problem that tends to happen sometimes the holidays is people decide that, hey, this is the holidays. Let's make the fancy food. Where the fancy food might run a foul with people who might be more sensory selective with their tastes and food, and that sort of thing where you might be trying to make your party fancy, but you might not be considering the food choices you're making, might be discouraging people who are Autistic to actually eat the food that you're having at the party.
Yeah, and then one solution, like what we're talking about is okay, The Autistic has the foods you want to serve are not going to work. So, let the Autistic help plan the menu.
I'm going to skip right to our discussion about what steps should Autistic Adults in our supporters take to advocate for our needs here? And this is where we're going to remind everybody that Autistic Adults are adults. Which means they have their own agents, they have their own agencies, you know, they have their own anonymity, and that anonymity needs to be respected. I've had a show in September with Dr. Devon Price, where we talked about Conflict Resolution. And he would say, I know he would say that, you know, if you're at a dinner table and someone is talking mean, or disrespectful to you, it is absolutely appropriate for you to get up and leave the dinner table. You do not you do not you should not have to, nor do you have to sit there and let somebody misuse you. You know, it is okay to leave something and go somewhere else. And, you know, since you're an adult, you know, you have the right and reason to do good by your good do good to yourself in that situation. And contrary to what some may tell you, no you do not have to make an apology for being rude because the person who is putting you in that position is the one being rude, not you. So please feel free to talk more about that or any other thoughts you might have about some of that. Go ahead.
I agree. Um, that is one of the things that especially I feel does come up with holiday parties with family. But it's something that comes up with holiday parties with friends that comes up at any event with friends. And that's that the truth in general that everyone deserves to be comfortable at an event that you're hosting. If somebody is being made uncomfortable by something that a person is saying, or something of similar effect that someone is doing, no one has any requirement to take abuse. If you feel uncomfortable, you can remove yourself from situation or, frankly, you can tell the person that they are pushing your boundaries. That they are being rude. And that doesn't matter if the person is a friend, it doesn't matter if the family or if it's a complete stranger, you need to be able to advocate for yourself with your needs, and what is reasonable and respectable to you. You're never under an obligation no matter where you are to be uncomfortable. And that's where this is the nuclear option. But if you are at a party, whether it be a family party, a party being put on by friends, or organization or anything, you can leave.
Yeah, yeah, you can leave and you, if you feel the need to give an explanation, give one if you don't, then you don't have to, maybe you can call them back later say, Hey, I left because this person was saying a bunch of things, you know, and you know, all of us, Autistics are used to hearing people say, Oh, it wasn't that serious, or you took it too personally. And quite frankly, you have to say, Yes, I took it personally, because it was personal for me. What you said was something that was very rude, what you said to me about taking that too seriously, I'm going to take it too seriously. Because quite frankly, I find that offensive. And you know, as I say, you know, you do not need to apologize for things like that. But you, you know, again, you have the right to decide for yourself, this situation is not right for me. And you have the right to say you know what I need to leave. This can be a little bit more difficult for some Autistics, especially if they're lacking a way of getting transportation. So that can be that can be very difficult. But yeah, I don't know, I don't maybe we can talk about what might be a solution for something like that. You need to get other someplace. But your ability to, to transport is a little bit more limited. What do you think about things like that, Mitchell?
I think one thing that is incredibly helpful in situations like that is to have an advocate with you at the party. To have somebody with you, that you can trust that if you are in an uncomfortable situation where you feel that you need, if you're someone who doesn't have, let's say access to a vehicle yourself, having somebody there with you, who is an advocate for you who mentally either has a vehicle that can drive you and can get you out of that situation, or an emergency situation where you don't have an advocate with you that could get you out of the situation. One thing that's become really nice nowadays is that we do have services like Lyft or Uber, to get you out of situation as long as you have the money to pay for a ride. Or hopefully you're in a location that might be semi transit accessible, where even if you have to walk somewhat of a distance from your current location, you could hopefully get access to transit, then get yourself back home.
Yeah, yeah. And here's something that you might try to do if you if you have access to some money for transportation. Or if you know, if you know you that you're going to go to an event where you might need to get out of there and you think you're going to need transportation, because there might not be somebody there who can advocate for or with you, you know, put some money in your pocket and keep it handy. And then just you know, use that money to help you get out of there for at that particular point in time. Do what you got to do for yourself. But, you know, most importantly, just as you were just saying, you need to take care of yourself and you know, I hope that everybody would have a good advocate with them. But in the event that you don't you still owe it to yourself to get out of a situation like that and get to somewhere where you feel safe. You know, I think that's very important.
After this final commercial break, Mitchell will explain more about what MNeurodivergent does. Immediately following that, Today’s Autistic Community Bulletin Board.
Commercial Break III
Season 3 will conclude with Angela (AJ) Locashino on December 17th as we will talk about Autistic Professionals Supporting the Autistic Community. Throughout the years, we have enjoyed hearing from so many Autistics who are professionals with services that support the Autistic Community. Angela (AJ) will be here to talk about the important work that many Autistic Professionals are doing to support the Autistic Community.
Season 4 of Today’s Autistic Moment will begin on January 7th, 2024, with Daren Howard from The Autism Society of Minnesota to talk about Details and Practices for Autistic Adults to be Employed. On January 21st, Eric Ringgenberg from The Autism Society of Minnesota will join me for the episode Emergency Preparedness Planning for Autistic Adults. Precious Lesley will be back in February to talk about Education & Health Care Disparities for Black Autistics.
Check out the Future Shows page on todaysautisticmoment.com for all shows coming up through January 2024.
Do you have any topic ideas for future shows 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.
Well, Mitchell, before we conclude this interview, I want to talk a little bit about what MNeurodivergent does. I want to say it's been a pleasure to get to know you over these past several months and to be acquainted with MNeurodivergent. I actually went to your annual picnic back in September, it was very lovely, very well done. And I do see all the stuff that comes through for the movies you go to and the events you go to. But talk a little bit more about what MNeurodivergent is doing and the success that you're seeing, and maybe what your I mean, another thing you might kind of talk about is the progress that you may have seen, where you're offering those Neuro-Affirming events, like what we're talking about, you know, have you seen a transformation within the Neurodivergent communities that that, that participate with you talk about all of that. And please take your time. Go ahead.
Definitely. Well, MNeurodivergent is it's we are a recent 501 C three nonprofit that just formed in November of last year. And our mission statement is, we are group by and for neurodivergent people. Our mission is to reduce isolation by creating welcoming spaces that support neurodiverse people to make meaningful connections with others. What that essentially goes to in practice and purpose is we are an organization that runs social events for Neurodivergent Minnesotans where the hosts of the events are all Neurodivergent. And all of the attendees are Neurodivergent. What that means is that when you come to one of our events, you never have to worry about social judgment, you never have to worry about masking. And you can do whatever you need to do when you come to one of our events, to feel comfortable, whether that be stimming, etc. We always strive to welcome any and all of those that are Neurodivergent. We do unfortunately have to set some limitations on that for where we try to make sure that people don't discuss topics that might be offensive or similar at our events. But as far as the progress that we have seen, since we formed in November of 2022, on our Meetup and our Facebook. Our Meetup group has grown to from zero to 780 people, and our Facebook has grown from zero to 550. And roughly a year or so just in the scope of people that we've reached and found out about the organization. That's roughly over 1200 people that have now become exposed to knowing that there's an organization out there that they could potentially find friends through the real impact. And what keeps me going in this goal of trying to reach every Neurodivergent person, essentially Minnesota to try to help them find friends, because there's such a need out there for people to have friendship in their lives, especially if they're Neurodivergent. Because it can be so difficult for people who are Neurodivergent to find friends in general, is when people show up to an event. And they tell me that they've never been at an event where they feel like they feel at our events before. Where they feel the lack of judgment where they feel that they can be themselves. And the thing that ends up being the most enriching to me is when people tell me, I met a friend through your event. When they tell me that our goal within events exceeded and that they have found somebody that they can consider a friend and that they are able to hang out with outside of our events and just in their daily lives.
Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's so great. I'm so glad that that sort of thing is around. Um, you recently led a skillshop at AuSM about speed friending. Tell us a little bit about what speed friending is and how that's worked to help make Neurodivergents make social connections. Tell us a little bit about how that works.
I'm glad you asked. Well, I don't know that we necessarily invented this idea. We've definitely been one of the group's been popularizing it in the state. What speed friending essentially is, is it takes the format that's been established for a long time for speed dating and turned it into a way to meet people for platonic friendships. Where the structure of the event is essentially geared to make it so that you can meet a large number of people in a short period of time and be able to gauge through that event whether or not you potentially want to be friends with them after the event. The way that this event usually works is we'll have one side of a row of tables, or one group people will sit, and they'll open up are on the other side of the table will be another group of people sitting. Where one side of this table will rotate, where people will continually move down the table after talking to the people across them for around five minutes. And what's really nice with that is that five minutes is not you know for a long period of time. It's not an overly short period of time. And it kind of gives you a decent gauge of what the person is about and what not, you'd want to be friends with them. But along those same lines, if you're talking to the person, and you do just not in general vibe with the person, you only have to talk to them for five minutes, and they can move on to the next person. So, makes it a little bit of less painful situation, that case that does happen and kind of makes it just by nature of the event, kind of just the way that works. And no one ends up being offended in that case, because it's just how you're going through talking to people. And one thing that we do that I think is special to how we do it is we give people a set of potential questions that they can ask the other person across from them. If when they're talking to a person during the conversation if they get stuck, and just run out of things to talk about the consult this sheet of questions, which have has a range of topics from what are you interested in? What How did you grow up that kind of thing, where hopefully, you'd be able to find some like connection from those topics. And then after all these cycles have gone through, and you've talked to everybody, we give people a matching sheet, which tells that tells us who they can potentially want to be friends with. And if we find through these matching sheets that people have matched in that they would potentially want to be friends with each other. We then collect a phone number and email are similar. And we tell the two people, Hey, so and so wouldn’t be interested in potentially being friends with you. And then they don't have to deal with the ambiguity of did the person like me, were reviving? What do we want to be friends? And they actually have a definitive answer at the end of the night. Whether or not that person could be a potential friend for them.
Yeah, that sounds wonderful. Just to let my audience know, there is going to be a show sometime in 2024, about Autistics meeting new people, for the first time. I'm going to do one about that, because we know how that first time is so complicated. So, we're going to give you some ideas about maybe how you can do that. And also recognize the challenges that can come with that. But that's a that's a great, great tool. I'm so glad you shared that with me. Mitchell, if some last one of the last questions is, have you had any contact with people from outside Minnesota? Who have been interested in what you're doing and want to know how to do it, too? Have you found any of that coming through?
We haven't yet, but if anybody is listening to this podcast that is outside of the state of Minnesota and would like to have any recommendations or tips for how to replicate what we've been doing here in the state, feel free to reach out to me through Facebook, Meet Up or through my email for the organization or just email@example.com .
Yeah, that sounds great. Yeah. Well, Mitchell, thank you so much for being on today. This has been a great conversation. And like I said, I've been so pleased to get to know you over these past few months and to watch and see what's going on. So, thank you so much for coming on.
Thanks so much. And it's been great to meet you. And I've watched a few of your previous podcasts. You're doing great work. And I've seen on our Facebook, where you're where your podcasts get posted that you're getting some great reactions from our people that are part of our community as well. And I wish you all the best success in the upcoming year for your podcast.
Thank you so much.
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 December 5th and December 19th. 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 December 18th, 10am-12pm. Classes are free of charge, but you must register to attend.
On December 7th, beginning at 9am to 12pm, The Autism Society of Minnesota will host a virtual workshop about Gestalt Language Processing (GLP). Marge Blanc, who is the presenter, will help you outline the six stages of Gestalt Language Processing (GLP) compared to the stages of Analytical Language Development (ALD).
On December 12th beginning at 7-8:30pm, Jillian Nelson will present a skillshop at The Autism Society of Minnesota entitled, Minnesota Service Navigation. Learn what services are available and which ones may work best for you and your loved ones. Services vary on an individual and family basis. Jillian can walk you through what the process is like and how to find out what someone qualifies for in the State of Minnesota.
The Winter Autism Certification Classes at The Autism Society of Minnesota will be held on January 13th and 20th at 9:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 4:00pm, and on January 27th at 9:00am to 12:00pm. Register today.
Go to ausm.org to get more information about these and other social and educational events at The Autism Society of Minnesota.
MNeurodivergent is a social club rooted in a vision of bringing Neurodivergent Minnesotans together to build meaningful connections. Its core principle is to foster an environment where all are treated with dignity and respect regardless of ability or preferences. Go to the bulletin board at todaysautisticmoment.com and click on the Meet Up link to become a member and attend their events.
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 Support 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.
Today’s Autistic Moment is here because of the generosity of supporters and sponsors. Please join the supporters by clicking on Support Today’s Autistic Moment on todaysautisticmoment.com. If you work for a company and/or organization that supports Autistic Adults and the movement for Neurodiversity, I would love to have you sponsor ads on the show.
If you would like to sponsor an ad and/or have questions about Today’s Autistic Moment, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for listening to Today’s Autistic Moment: A Podcast for Autistic Adults by An Autistic Adult.
May you have an Autistically Amazing day.