Discord Public Link

After several months of testing, we have now moved all of our online platforms to our Discord server.

Discord is a VoIP, instant messaging and digital distribution platform (basically every chatroom you’ve ever used but better). You can download it as an app on your phone or software for your computer. This is where we will be hosting our online community for the foreseeable future.

You can join the public channels without needing to be a Citizen of the Autistic Empire, but there are channels which are Citizen-only.

Public link: https://discord.gg/QtzKGbd

Book Review: Listening Well: The Art of Empathic Understanding by William R. Miller

In the preface of William R. Miller’s Listening Well: The Art of Empathic Understanding, Dr Miller writes that empathy is more than “just feeling with or for someone. It is the ability to perceive and communicate, accurately and sensitively.” This statement inform the tone of the book, detailing the specifics of active empathy and techniques for how to achieve and maintain reciprocal relationships through effective communication. Listening Well is about “instead of assuming that you know the meaning of what you think you heard, [developing] a more accurate understanding [to] prevent miscommunication. Empathic understanding can help to deepen personal relationships, alleviate conflict, communicate across differences, and promote positive change.” 

The significance of this book for autistic people is in the very acknowledgement that empathic listening skills do not come naturally to anyone. Neurotypical or neurodiverse, we are all in the same position. Dr Miller really tries to demystify the subject in a slim and easily written 103 pages, packing in all the latest findings from his long clinical career as a psychologist with exercises, diagrams and bullet points that keep the text from growing stale. Each chapter is anchored by a particular aspect of having a meaningful conversation – from asking questions, to reflecting, to closing a conversation with affirming the speaker.

Dr Miller also tackles “roadblocks” to empathic listening, and other potential barriers to making the other person feel heard. Throughout the book, it is emphasised that it’s not that any of these barriers are necessarily “wrong”, but that in the majority of cases, they will be inappropriate to the context. The cases in which it might be appropriate to, say, interrupt someone to tell them what to do, is not a subject for this primer.  Dr Miller also helpfully (certainly for us autistics) takes the time to explain the likely consequences of taking these techniques too literally: ask questions to establish the facts, but ask too many questions and the person you are listening to will feel like they are being interrogated. 

The language is simple and direct: there is little technical jargon and Dr Miller distills complicated concepts in an accessible way. If there is a criticism to be made, it is that all of the examples given assume a 1-2-1 setting and do not consider how these strategies might be applied in a small group. Although the empathy and compassion of the author shines through the text, it might have been worth exploring how these techniques would work in a non-controlled environment such as a party. However, the utility of this book in understanding the basics of meeting someone and having them walk away feeling like they were truly heard cannot be underestimated, and this is a solid contribution to Dr Miller’s legacy to his field. 

Dr. William R. Miller is Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, with over forty years of experience in teaching empathic understanding. His many books include Lovingkindness, Quantum Change, Motivational Interviewing, and Portals: Two Lives Intertwined by Adoption.

You can buy Listening Well: The Art of Empathic Understanding on Amazon UK here.

Podcast Interview: Cultural Bilingualism & The Autistic Empire

Autistic Empire founder and director Sarah McCulloch appeared on the Two Sides of the Spectrum, a podcast hosted by occupational therapist Meg Proctor to “explore research, amplify autistic voices, and change the way we think about autism in life and in occupational therapy practice”. #

Sarah talked about what she learned as an autistic OT and in particular her work in a special school for autistic children. She also got the opportunity to discuss the vision for the Autistic Empire, what we have learned so far, and some of the projects we are currently working on.

From Sarah: “Thanks very much to Meg for the opportunity to speak about our work to her audience, it was a great experience and I hope it benefits the professionals listening.”

Visit Meg’s website to show notes and more information here: https://www.learnplaythrive.com/podcast/episode/2496a7d9/cultural-bilingualism-and-the-autistic-empire-with-sarah-mcculloch

Play the episode embedded below (a full transcript is also available):

 

If you want more podcasts about autistic life experience, shout-out to Audible Autism, the Autistic Empire’s own autonomous podcast!

Autistic Pride flag design released free to use

Autistic Pride Day is a global event celebrated widely online and offline on or around June 18th every year. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, nearly all offline Autistic Pride events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

To look forward to the day we will be able to freely celebrate Autistic Pride without restrictions once more, the Autistic Empire has released a high-resolution, professionally designed, autistic pride flag under the Creative Commons licence permitting any use of this flag, including commercial use, as long as attribution is made to the Autistic Empire.

The infinity symbol represents neurodiversity, the rainbow represents the pride movement. Gold is used by autistic advocates as the chemical symbol for gold is Au (from the Latin aurum). Gold is promoted as an alternative to non-autistic-led groups designating colours such as blue as a symbol for autism.

Feel free to use the autistic pride flag to make flags, banners, badges, print it, redesign it, sell it – it’s yours, forever.

Autistic Pride Flag

 

For more information about licencing and the history of autistic pride, please see our Autistic Pride page.

A PSA from Audible Autism: Your Ideas Wanted!

Hi everyone,

this is a notice from your production team at Audible Autism, the autonomous podcast of the Autistic Empire. We are in the process of wrapping up our third season and started the planning for recording season 4.

We have some ideas and some guests already signed up, but if you have any ideas or topics you would like to be covered on an autistic-led podcast about autistic life, or you are an autistic person who would like to appear on our podcast, please drop us a line at team@audibleautism.com, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks, and a happy new year, stay safe,

The Audible Autism Team

Check out our latest episodes here:

Autistic Empire at the Autistic Pride Online Celebration 2020

Speech by Sarah McCulloch of the Autistic Empire during the London Autistic Pride slot of the Autistic Pride Online Celebration 2020. Many thanks to the organisers of the celebration and of the London slot for giving us the opportunity to speak.

See our BLM statement.

The Zoom background is a cityscape of London by black autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire, who is based here. You can check out his work and purchase here: https://www.stephenwiltshire.co.uk/

Natalie Joelle – Poetry Readings for Autistic Pride 2020

Natalie Joelle is a transdisciplinary researcher, creative practitioner, and activist at Birkbeck, University of London, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Fund for Women Graduates. Her critical and creative publications can be found as part of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, the Routledge Environmental Humanities Series, Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature, The Goose and Plumwood Mountain. Further information about her work is available at www.gleaning.info.

Natalie recited the following poems at the Autistic Pride Online Celebration on the 20th June, 2020, and has given permission for them to be shared below. 

 

ASP, or, Autistic Spectrum Pleasures

 

May I love the textures

May I love the patterns

May I love the vibrations

 

May I speak my mind

May I be heard in kind

May I not need to communicate

 

May I have time alone

May I turn off my phone

May I have the key to the quiet room

 

Please

 

May I turn the lights down

May I sit down

May I have this seat

 

May I have more time to eat

May I have something spicy

 

May I be safe to play

May I throw my personal alarm away

 

May I change this world

May I rock your world

May I stim with your head

 

May I interrupt your clock

May I taste your

May I hyperfocus on this specific


 

come AS you are

no sweet aspersions

shall the heavens

let fall

 

melting it down

and Zoming out

diversely or savagely

unmanning the mannerly

with my unruly speech

raising my rip-

raised micro-soft

hand raising it

and putting it down

 

in Piccadilly Circus

to my fiery juggler

they’re guarding

their jugulars

and do I oppress

to liberate this

 

so oppress this I

limiting what I

express sit for a

minute’s selective

muting in the encrypteric

closing down

not coming out

cancelling my noise and

zoning out

 

in Monty Python’s Flying Circus

nt the right room

for as argument

from too many screens

to alexithyme

losing the language

of my dreams

 

oh break my heart

for I cannot hold

my tongue

and my tongue

cannot hold my heart

in this room

 

ah Greta Thunb

this world is not ready

for some of us

yet

 

oh let

aspersions sweet

heaven shall fall

 

 

Black Lives Matter

 

On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minnesota, United States. His death has sparked demonstrations around the world, protesting against police brutality and institutional racism against black people. We have seen several counter-arguments made that we think have undermined that important message. The Autistic Empire therefore republished a Medium post, All Lives Matter?, in full across all of our social media to provide some context for people who genuinely believe All Lives Matter is a more inclusive term than Black Lives Matter.

This article was not written for autistic people per se, but we have seen a number of autistic people who have misunderstood the social context of Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter and said things that have received angry, hurt responses and do not understand why. This article tries to explain the social context with step-by-step explanations, multiple analogies, statistics, and cartoons

You are invited to share this article in whatever format would be most useful. Full links are below.

The Autistic Empire is an international group of autistic people who come from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds. We explicitly put diversity at the heart of all that we think about. Our founders were black, white and Jewish. When we were first discussing what we wanted the Empire to look like, it was not even a question that we would be anti-racist. We spent hours testing the skin tone of the hands in our logo so they could be read as the widest possible range of ethnicities (we hit on apricot). We wrote into our branding policy that the skin tone could be altered to something culturally appropriate for any regional or Black and Minority Ethnic events, even though we have never held one. We added Palestine to our drop-down menus even though PayPal does not recognise Palestine as a state and we will have to process payments manually if any autistic Palestinian does wish to join us. We do not wait for someone to feel excluded before we take action.

But we have very limited resources and we need the solidarity of others to make this work. In the two years that we have been in existence as an organisation, we have tried over and over again to reach out to black groups, black autistic people, and to talk to other autistic communities about black issues. We have been hindered by a lack of infrastructure and lack of understanding of autistic people, black narratives, and the specific needs of black autistic people. We have had black Citizens represent the Empire at events where they were made to feel uncomfortable as the only non-white person present. We have had black people working with us victimised by micro-aggressions at autistic events. It has been very frustrating.

The George Floyd protests and the racist reaction to them has been distressing for many of us to witness. The article below is part of our effort to express solidarity with people who will continue to experience racism and prejudice after the last protester goes home. The truly global phenomenon and sheer intensity of these protests have prompted many conversations within both autistic and non-autistic groups and communities about inclusion. We hope that these conversations will create a sustained effort to develop infrastructure that make it easier for us all to breathe. Black lives matter.

With thanks to Alex Mason for taking the time to write the original post and giving permission to share it.

Medium.com post: https://medium.com/@jxelam/532e5061b928

Tweetstorm on Twitter: https://twitter.com/autistic_empire/status/1268817189978726400

Facebook post (in full below): https://www.facebook.com/autisticempire/posts/826723351068928

[On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minnesota, United States. His death has sparked…

Posted by Autistic Empire on Friday, 5 June 2020