I feel like the more I blog, the more my blogs bleed together. They bleed into my creative writing, too; for example, the science fiction screenplay I’m writing for the NYC screenwriting challenge is a political commentary on “curing” autism spectrum and other fringe identities.
Participants keep the rights to everything created in the competition, so I will share the fruits of the experience this summer. I’m hoping, once all this bleeding together is said-and-done, the color that emerges is beautiful, vibrant, and more depicting of my identity than the masks I’ve been hiding behind, the rocks I’ve been living under;
While I’m consciously establishing my brand, my real goal is to establish myself. I’ve been confused what I think or feel or value for too long.
Value of Therapy Pets for Autistic People
One thing I’m certain that’s remained consistent in my autistic life—and I’m certain, will continue to remain consistent during my time as this collection of atoms, on this little blue dot—my absolute 💖🧡💛love for animals.💙💚💜
I know the societal standard is to value humans above our “lesser intelligent” mammalians, (which then rank above the other “lesser intelligent” life forms,) but I’ve never felt comfortable with that mental framework.
I used to hug trees in elementary school. (Reason #79 I was bullied.) One summer, when I found my friend torching ants with his magnifying glass, I took his weapon from him.
I catch spiders under drinking glasses, then slip paper under them, so I can lay them in the bushes outside. I can’t do this without my heart thudding out of my neck, but I do it anyway, because Charlotte’s Web.
I can’t understand cruelty. Why do children throw cats over fences?
Why do grown men breed betta fish, chickens, and dogs just to make them fight?
As much as I love my betta Maleficent’s spunky personality, she’s the product of humans selectively breeding for aggression; and why, of all things, would we want more aggression in our world?
Fortunately, I’ve got Maleficent’s back. All living creatures, and even complex objects with systems for operation, like cars, hold great value to me. I’ll teach her she’s worth more than her spunk.
When I eat a burger, (especially a lower-quality burger, like my McDonald’s road trip ritual,) (road trips are the only times I eat McDonald’s,) I think of Temple Grandin fixing the beef industry with her autistic superpowers.
When I garden, I talk to our plants.
I sing to our cats, fish, and birds as part of cohabitating with them. If they’re scratching furniture, I cat-proof the furniture with a blanket. If I need to nap a migraine, I seek out places where a cat’s already stretched out, and I cuddle with them there, rather than expecting them to find my lap.
In the process of always loving animals, they’ve in turn become a stable source of therapy for me. Their social rules are easy to follow, especially if you respect their individual choices. They listen if you need to talk, and they don’t need you to talk if you want to stay in your mind. When meditating, they gravitate around you in support. They greet you when you come home, and wish you a good day when you leave.
Complex Objects as Pre-AGI (Artificial General Intelligence); Pre-Transhumanism
Again, this sensitivity to the simplicity and warmth of the animal kingdom sometimes extends to complex objects, like the vehicles we drive. I’m fascinated by Tesla and Elon Musk because their cars are like the next step in artificial life.
My 2004 Lancer (Blue Yoshi), I purchased brand new, drove for 12 years, then mourned for days after it smoked and the tow truck took it away. Though my 2017 Versa (Duke Cranky, or DuCrae) has been the spotlight for some anxiety-inducing stories, it’s led to many beautiful memories as well, and I also consider it one of the complex structures of atoms that supports my everyday life.
As a child, when I watched my father working on his Volkswagen beetle, I marveled at how he reached his fingers inside the body of that artificial creature. He was like a surgeon covered in blood, returning to the apartment splattered in oil, the fluids of the future.
Today’s Autism Video
- Because dogs and cats communicate with us by observing our nonverbal and social-emotional behavior—and autistic people almost always have some form of communication issue—dogs and cats can act as bridges between the neurotypical world and autistic world, similar to how I use writing and reading to try to bridge gaps in my relationships and understand the world better;
- Golden retrievers and lab-retriever mixes seem to be popular as autistic service dogs because of their calmness;
- Therapy dogs can help reduce aggression in autistic children; I’m thinking this is because meltdowns and shutdowns are typically the result of anxiety attacks and sensory stimulation issues, and a dog will pick up on shifts in anxiety and stimulation prior to overload.
I personally am quite happy with my therapy cats, although cats are not accepted for that role as readily in our society. Phoebe, my bengal, and Philosopher Jones, my black cat, are especially in-tune with my emotions, and they’ve prevented (or lessened the impact of) countless autistic shutdowns.
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Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at Kourtnie.net or Wattpad.com/user/KourtnieNet.