January 13, 2017

Home Speech Therapy Exercises

Using my Repeat, Simplify and Wait process helps give children the time, tools and confidence to practice speaking.

If your child has Childhood Apraxia of Speech, these tips are really helpful. Combine oral language with sign, prompts and Pictos to reinforce and encourage. Always do it in a spirit of learning and fun.

Don't forget to give lots of praise for any speech attempt!

Let me know how it works out for you and feel free to ask me any questions!

Fidget Cube Unboxing

two boxed fidget cubes. Image from onequartermama.ca
Two white fidget cube boxes side by side

Hey everyone! I bought two fidget cubes to have me and the Little Man try them out. I didn't give him his yet, but I made a little unboxing video so you can see all the features and decide for yourself if you want one! 

one half unboxed grey fidget cube. Image from onequartermama.ca
Grey and black fidget cube sitting in bottom half of opened box

 Watch my video to see it in action!

November 08, 2016

The 2016 Au-Some Conference

I laughed, I cried, I spoke, I stimmed...I attended what I hope will be an annual conference organized by Autism Canada and Every1Games, the Au-Some Conference.

Months in the making, it was amazing working with other autistic adults to plan and make it happen. We had conference calls that left me with a great sense of community, and email exchanges where we were able to respectfully share our opinions on everything from the cost, format, location, vendors, speakers, food, and t-shirt design. Throughout it all, we had the support of Autism Canada, who brought us all together. Planning and discussions were broken up into easy chunks, so the process did not seem overwhelming. Sub-committees were created to have people focused on certain parts of planning as well. This took a great load off my shoulders since I still work full-time. However, our input as being the authorities on the autistic experience were always taken into account and respected.

A big thank you to everyone who took part in the t-shirt fundraiser (which I'm wearing in the video) or contributed to Autism Canada during the campaign. It paid for my airfare and hotel to attend the conference, so I really appreciate that.

I am also grateful for the many new connections I made at this year's conference, as well as seeing many people from last year's conference. When I say I laughed and cried, I really mean it. There's a wonderful sense of community and belonging being able to be with people who really understand you - your tribe. Even without knowing every person there, I know I can be myself and I enjoy seeing other autistics comfortable and in their element.

So without further ado, here is the video of my talk at the conference. Not the best presentation, in my mind, as I had a cold and hadn't practiced my speech at all (oops!). But my words were well thought out and that's what matters. So look past the way it was delivered and listen to what I have to say. I hope it inspires and encourages you!

Kelly Johnson (2016) Autism at Work from Autism Canada on Vimeo.


June 26, 2016

It's Not My Party

The Tiny Man's court date for his adoption (all this legal stuff!) is coming up right before a long weekend, so I was thinking of having an adoption party. After all, we never had a baby shower or even a "Sprinkle". The speed of how he came to be in my arms one winter day really left us no time for such things.

With the warmer weather, I thought it would be nice to celebrate our new family and mark the day the papers are signed; the I's dotted and the T's crossed. Then I started reading about Adoption Day celebrations and "Gotcha Days". Then I started reading what adoptees had to say...

If you stop to think about it, "gotcha!" doesn't have the most positive connotations. It sounds like a game of tag and I tricked someone. Or I stole him away from someone else. Certainly, our "gotcha" day is someone else's horrible day of loss. My son might not like this idea, and he's allowed to not like it.

In reality, we became a family the day I brought him into our home. We kept to ourselves those first early months and kept things low-key for all our benefit. I had tears of sadness and joy. Similarly, with any other "celebration" concerning adoption, he gets to take the lead. He gets to decide how or if he wants to mark these days.

So even though us parents certainly felt a moment of relief, and maybe even wanted to mark the occasion, it's not our day. It's his. It's not about me. It's all about him. It's not my party, and he can cry if he wants to. Or not. When he's old enough he'll get to chose.

June 13, 2016

The Au-Some Conference

ASD Canada Conference Logo 2016 Au-Some Conference

Join Autism Canada and Every1 Games at the Au-Some Conference in Hamilton, ON, this Au-gust 20th, 2016.


Because I'm speaking. But also because it will be at least as fun as the last Every1Games Unconference I attended last year.

Registration is open right now and limited to 100 attendees. On the registration page, you can also make a donation towards the conference, which will help an Autistic person attend, or help pay for my trip out there.

Let me know if you'll be there! If you can't make it, all talks will be recorded and put on the website after, so you don't have to worry about missing out on everything. 

April 04, 2016

Advisory and Anthologies - I've Been Busy

Late last year, I joined the advisory committee at Autism Canada. It's really great of them to include #ActuallyAutistic people, but also it's been great making connections across the country. We're in the process of planning a conference - there will be three: one in the Maritimes, one central and one in BC. I'm on the planning committee for the central one, which will take place in Hamilton, ON in August.
I'll get you more details closer to the date.

I have to decide soon if I'm going to speak at it. I'm feeling a little nervous and haven't written anything yet.

The other exciting thing that is happening is the anthology I contributed to, All the Weight of Our Dreams, should be coming out at the end of the month. You can check the site for updates. Also, please buy a copy! :)

I've also been asked to write for another anthology, so I better get cracking on that one because the deadline is also in August.

It feels good to be doing things I hope will make the future easier for autistic people, as well as building community. There are few things better than finding your tribe. 

April 03, 2016

What April Does to #ActuallyAutistic People

We're only a few days into the month of April but already Autistic people are running for the hills. It starts with the dread during the final weeks of March. We know what is going to happen.

April is Autism Awareness Month, with April 2nd being the official UN Autism Acceptance Day. Or Awareness. I'm no longer even sure myself. Depending on who you talk to, you're supposed to either accept or be aware (beware?) of Autistics.

Of course, added to all this is Autism $peaks and their Light It Up Blue. Because blue is for boys and females are never autistic!

In response, a lot of Actually Autistic people started #RedInstead. There's also Light It Up Gold, by the Autistic Union (Au, for gold, get it!?)

So there's just a whole lot of posts and memes going around (oops, I'm in the mix as well!), a lot of opinions on which colours should be lit up, a lot of arguing, a lot of blatant ableism, a lot of hurt feelings, friendships lost, energy wasted and on and on and on.

It seems my Actually Autistic friends fall into one of two categories: 1) they either post CONSTANTLY about which side you should be on and if you wear the wrong colour, they'll hate you forever; or 2) go into hiding for the month of April to preserve their sanity.

There's no right or wrong way. Everyone has to do what is best for them, but it does kinda suck for me because I want my friends back - both types, the vocal ones and the quiet ones. Both are hurting. Some express it outwardly and some keep it inside, but April is a tough month. Either way, we're getting hurt because we know there is so much work to do to change attitudes and we are bombarded by messages.

Please understand while many of us are proud of our neurology, proud to be Autistic, and even proud to have your support, this month can be overwhelming and we might be tired of hearing any more about it. Some of us are also without the friendship of the people who understand us best during this time, and that's not always easy to handle either.

Hoping for a day where this month does more to help us than harm us.