Autistic people don’t need shock aversives, we need vocal allies.

The government has one more chance to stop the torture this year — but they need pressuring, NOW.

Dec 21, 2022

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

There is a cruel practice happening to autistic and otherwise disabled humans in Massachusetts that the UN has very literally deemed torture, attempting to use painful electric shock devices in order to control their behavior. This week, Congress can stop this inhumane treatment by essentially re-including a ban in the end-of-year omnibus bill — but we need allies to put the pressure on them, now. There is no excuse for this kind of treatment, but theirs is claiming to prevent aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior, which has been found factually inaccurate and just makes no damn sense in the first place. Here’s the full scoop:

Being autistic means a lot of things. (A whole spectrum even.) But one thing that most autists have in common is that our differently-wired brains can get overwhelmed by stimuli typical brains handle just fine. It’s intensely unpleasant — for me, it’s akin to being strapped too-tightly to a rickety rollercoaster I really don’t want to be on while a bomb continuously explodes in my brain — so when that neurological overwhelm happens, there’s naturally a breaking point.

How that breaking point manifests will look different in different autists, but for some of us that overwhelm can lead to aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior. I am one.

After decades of dealing with sporadic but uncontrollable episodes, I’ve devised ways to help avoid them: now when I feel that warning of an oncoming meltdown (which, for me, used to usually end in self-harm) I know I need to get away from any surrounding people with as little interaction as possible, make the lighting soothing, take meds, put on lofi hip hop, get some therapy dog love, call my safe people, cry it out, and floor = good. If I still feel that overwhelming urge to tear at my skin, I try to discharge and interrupt the painfully overwhelming energy by scratching the side of my rough couch (it can take it), and/or screaming into pillows.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because something that sure fucking isn’t listed is someone remotely shocking my body without my consent. But that’s exactly what’s happening at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts, where they claim to prevent unwanted behaviors like the aforementioned self-harm in people with ‘developmental disabilities, emotional disorders, and autistic-like behaviors’ by essentially creating the harm themselves.

They use an extreme form of aversive therapy via a device called Graduated Electronic Decelerator (GED), which sends strong electric shocks throughout their bodies when they exhibit unwanted behavior — like autistic meltdowns, and the overwhelm behaviors that precede them. To give you an idea of just how strong the shocks are, JRC’s strongest device, the GED-4, a type of Electric Stimulation Device (ESD) that isn’t approved by the FDA, shocks patients at 90 mA: nine times higher than a cattle prod (10 mA), and a whopping 22.5 times stronger than an electric fence (4 mA). In 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture condemned the practice, saying it “violates the UN Convention Against Torture and other international standards.”

It’s been very officially, internationally, declared torture — yet it still continues in the United States. The fight to get these kinds of devices banned in the US has been going on for decades (known online as #StopTheShock), but so far lawmakers haven’t made it happen.

In recent developments, the FDA tried to ban ESDs at large in 2020 stating, “FDA has determined that these devices present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury,” specifying, “ESDs present a number of psychological risks including depression, PTSD, anxiety, fear, panic, substitution of other negative behaviors, worsening of underlying symptoms, and learned helplessness; and the devices present the physical risks of pain, skin burns, and tissue damage,” also stating, “ESDs have been associated with additional risks such as suicidality, chronic stress, acute stress disorder, neuropathy, withdrawal, nightmares, flashbacks of panic and rage, hypervigilance, insensitivity to fatigue or pain, changes in sleep patterns, loss of interest, difficulty concentrating, and injuries from falling.” (So…decidedly not preventing harm.)

And guess what? Taxpayers are paying for all this increased danger and harm, and it’s not cheap; according to tax documents, in 2020 the Judge Rotenberg Center was paid $84,108,326 in grants and funding by our government. That’s money that’s not going towards actually figuring out how to better help autists successfully find our place in society, and we’re really struggling.

ASAN is asking autistic and disability allies to call your members of Congresss and ask them to include a ban on electric shock torture in the omnibus bill, ASAN’s provided a script for the call with a Proxy system for those unable to phone due to disability. So easy, so quick.

Again, the only defense the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) has for being the only place still using these inhumane devices is claiming the GED (a type of ESD) helps prevent aforedescribed self-injurious-behavior (SIB) as well as aggression (AG) and that they have the most difficult cases in that regard. However, the FDA’s 2020 inspection found otherwise, “25,000 is a reliable, conservative estimate for the number of the more extreme cases of SIB and AB in the United States. We have no evidence establishing that, of those, JRC receives the most extreme or refractory cases,” additionally stating, “JRC has not established that its residents on whom ESDs are used are refractory to other treatments, and the evidence shows that state-of-the-art alternatives have generally been successful even for the most difficult cases.”

It makes no sense. They have no excuse.

You’d think that’d be it, medieval torture treatment over, but not in our legal system. Efforts by JRC lobbyists resulted in the ban getting struck down on technical grounds in July of 2021, with new disheartening developments this fall. On September 28th, The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (a valued resource in the autist community), reported, “The bipartisan effort to #StopTheShock was included in the House version of the FDASLA Act, and was added to the Senate bill following a committee hearing. But yesterday, Congressional leadership announced that the final bill would be a ‘clean’ bill that drops many important provisions, including the ban.”

Fortunately, there’s another chance, this month: the end-of-the-year omnibus bill. And you can help.

ASAN is asking autistic and disability allies to call your members of Congress and ask them to include a ban on electric shock torture in the omnibus bill, ASAN’s provided a script for the call with a Proxy system for those unable to phone due to disability. So easy, so quick.

Please call as soon as possible and once you’ve engaged, please encourage others to do so as well by sharing advocacy info using #StopTheShock. I’ve truly only touched on the harms caused by the Judge Rotenberg Center. It‘s terrifying that this is legal in my country and horrific that they continue to stay in business (let alone receive millions in government funding). They need to be completely shut down, it’s criminal that it hasn’t happened already, but the very least the government can do is re-include the ban on the use of electric shock for behavior modification in the omnibus bill.

Autistic people don’t need shock aversives, we need vocal allies. Thank you for supporting us by calling your congress members today to demand that these devices are banned.

Underneath It All: Peeling Back Societal Bullsh*t to Reveal a More Whole You

A month to shake off the societal madness, find the mental peace beneath it, and try on new ways of living. 

My bookbaby, Underneath It All: Peeling Back Societal Bullsh*t to Reveal a More Whole You, is a 3-part book dedicated to helping people in modern society shake off harmful conditioning that narrows the way we see one another, ourselves, and the point of this whole living thing. It aims to open up potentiality for authentic expression, living more consciously, and having more fun whilst doing so.

  • Part I defines and details Societal Bullshit, also helping you to identify what it means to you personally and how you’re affected by it, using tales from my very-lived life to illustrate examples of the negative effects it can have on people, as well as plentiful research to expand and back up my points.
  • Part II will teach you to calm your mind so you can watch it for thoughts of toxic society ick—I promise it’s in there, we’re literally trained for it—by challenging you to a 30-day meditation challenge, slowly increasing your time as you go, and offering various styles so you can find something that works for your needs and preferences.
  • Part III will help expand your boundaries by challenging you to complete 20 out of 30 (quick) Adventures: you’ll be doing random acts of kindness, fessing up your truth, making stuff, and generally connecting to life in real and refreshing ways; accompanied by four inspiring stories of lives lived with bold authenticity. Parts II and III include space to write thoughts, draw impressions, or paste pics/mementos.

Together, it’s an average of 20 minutes a day or so, longer if you get creative with it. The world is a strange and disorienting place, but the one-month growth project that is Underneath It All will help you to better orient yourself within it by teaching you to examine how societal bullshit’s crept into your mind and providing guidance and (often fun) strategies to get centered in your actual you, your whole you.

By the end of the month, you’ll feel like your perspective on life has gone through a refreshing cleanse, and so has your mind—which is really your home, if you think about it. (And the lease is for the rest of your life…)

I just got started seeking representation, so stay tuned, friends. ❤

Brené Brown’s 6 ‘Empathy Misses’ + Why They’re Important

Disability has taught me a whole lot about these not-comforting-yet-still-ubiquitous moves.

Aug 9, 2021

Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

Ahhh, the empathy miss — that crucial moment when someone’s having a hard time and you really want to say the right thing, but after you speak there’s just a painfully awkward pause…you’ve stepped in it, and made things worse.

Or the reverse, you’re having a hell of a time and express that fact, and someone says something with the best of intentions — but rather than comfort their words leave you feeling invalidated, misunderstood, and worse than before you reached out.

As a society, we really aren’t great at holding emotional space for one another.

Luckily, a sociology researcher and famed storyteller named Brené Brown has been researching topics in this arena for well over a decade.

She’s covered many relevant ideas in this area, but one of the most helpful is probably her list of empathy misses from the book Dare to Lead.

Brené Brown and Empathy

These are common well-intentioned behaviors displayed in emotional times of need that completely miss the mark, leaving the already upset person feeling more so.

While I’ve certainly been on the side of empathy miss, as everyone has, I’ve also dealt with being on the diminished end recurrently since invisible illness and problematic Autism traits have taken over my life.

People genuinely seem to want to say things to make me feel better, but they’ll wind up invalidating my experience or changing the topic altogether; leaving me feeling not only still alone with the issue, but also feeling like I’ve erred by even bringing it up.

And these are mostly kind, truly well-intentioned, people; and this happens to all kinds of Neurodiverse and/or disabled people.

They are trying — we all are trying — but we lack tools. This stuff just wasn’t included in our social conditioning. (And in some cases, there were toxins in its place.)Brené Brown’s 6 Empathy Misses

Photo by Marc Kleen on Unsplash

The concept of empathy is often described as a quality that people simply possess, or not, but while some folks do seem to have a particular knack for effectively understanding others’ feelings — Brown says empathy is also something we can work to become more effective at.

When dealing with nebulous and subjective issues, it’s often best to look at the failed attempts — or, what not to do. In this spirit, I’d like to present the 6 Empathy Misses identified by this sociologist who’s dedicated her life to helping us live with more heart.

This work branched out from her interest in human shame, with these being common unhelpful reactions after someone’s divulged an err. The list is from Dare to Lead, with explanation text from the book’s study guide, followed by my brief take:

Empathy Miss #1: Sympathy vs. Empathy

The friend who responds with sympathy (“I feel so sorry for you”) rather than empathy (“I get it, I feel with you”)

When faced with an immediate internal reaction of “sucks to be you,” the most caring words are often something like, “That sounds really hard, need to vent?”

Empathy Miss #2: The Gasp and Awe

The friend who hears your story and feels shame on your behalf.

Have you ever confided in someone, sharing a mistake you’re processing — and instead of empathizing, as you might expect a friend to do, they act horrified and judgy?

Yeah, everyone else too. Let’s start trying to remember our own f*ck-ups before condemning those who trust us with their struggles.

Empathy Miss #3: The Mighty Fall

The friend who sees you as perfect. They are so let down by your imperfections and disappointed in you (“I just never expected that from you. I didn’t think you would ever be someone who didn’t do well. What happened?”)

The thing about pedestals is that they’re really easy to fall off of — plus, you know, they’re complete and utter bullshit. No one is perfect. That’s not even a thing. When we expect people to be better than human, we lose our humanity.

Empathy Miss #4The Block and Tackle

The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that they criticize you (“What happened?! What were you thinking?”)

Otherwise known as, “How to get people to never trust you again,” this deflective move helps those scared of feels to avoid their own self-reflection — and it’s really freakin’ common. We live in a really judgy society and that kind of persistent energy can lead to folks becoming really defensive, which often turns into lashing out with condemnation.

I’ve (slowly) learned that compassion is the way out of judgment. When I’m hurt and my mind gets hardened over the WTF-ness of someone’s behavior, I do my best to imagine there’s a reason I’m not aware of before doing anything about it. It’s hard, but it’s important to remember that perspective really is everything.

Empathy Miss #5: The Boots and Shovel

The friend who is all about making it better and, out of their own discomfort, refuses to acknowledge that you can actually make terrible choices (“You’re exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad. You rock. You’re perfect. Everyone loves you”). They are trying so hard to make you feel better that they’re unable to connect with your emotions.

This is another popular one. When feeling shame, and wanting to talk about the mistake — something that can lead to not making the err again, as the mind’s verbally articulated why it’s a nope — but someone just won’t believe you, it’s invalidating at best; and, at worse, it enables problematic behaviors.

Empathy Miss #6: If You Think That’s Bad…

The friend who confuses “connection” with the opportunity to one-up you. (“That’s nothing. Listen to what happened to me one time!”)

This one’s another one that often happens with truly good intentions, wanting to help the other person see that things could be worse; but it’s actually invalidating, and leaves the hurting person still alone in the issue they were hoping to talk to someone about.

Empathy Miss #7I Can Fix That!

The friend who immediately jumps to problem-solving rather than just being with you in your experience.

Most of us struggle with this one, especially if friends often come to us for help solving problems. One helpful empathic reply is to acknowledge the feelings and ask, “What does support look like?” This gives the person in struggle the opportunity to say, “Just listening helps” or “Can you help me figure this out?”

I’ve got nothing to add here, such wise words.

And a recap from the Daring Greatly study guide:
  • Be kind.
  • Be curious.
  • You don’t need to fix it or make people feel better. Connecting and listening is powerful.
  • Try to understand how the person is feeling (not how you might feel in the same situation).
  • Help people know that they are not alone in their feelings. Even if you’ve never had that experience, you might know the feeling.
  • Let people know that you are grateful they shared with you.
  • Allowing opportunities for second chances. When we miss the opportunity to show empathy or when we would like the opportunity to do it better, we can say, “I’d like to circle back.” In this context, circling back means practicing empathy by trying again.
Photo by Andrew Thornebrooke on Unsplash

Autistic Adults and Autistic Parents Need To Come Together

There’s a knowledge gap, and it needs to be filled.

August 21, 2022

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

There’s a divide of understanding within the autistic community, one that can get quite contentious online: autistic adults and parents of autistic children. I think a root of the problem is society telling parents they’re responsible for raising kids in a manner conducive to doing things in neurotypical ways, the “normal” way, and parents at large face a lot of homogenized expectations and judgment for noncompliance.

But when a child has different neurological wiring, a different neurotype, normal expectations and activities can actually overwhelm their nervous system, making it even more difficult to do things like process language and verbalize. And autists are expected just act like we’re not experiencing this kind of agitating or even painful neurological overwhelm when we are, something that leads to all kinds of trouble, like autistic meltdowns, which are terrifying. During meltdowns, sometimes it truly feels like my brain is going to catch on fire from all the misfiring and pressure, then finally just explode.

They. HURT. And we don’t choose them. And we don’t get to decide when they end.

These kinds of internal autistic experiences have been treated as if they’re irrelevant, as if autists just have behavioral issues and need to learn how to “act normal,” something that makes us even more vulnerable, and we’re already unnecessarily dying decades before our peers.

Bridging the knowledge gaps between us and allistic (not-autistic) folks needs to happen and it won’t without help from parents of autistic children — the hard truth is that you’re the ones society listens to, not us, and we’re dying from the societal apathy. We need parent allies to really listen and to help our voices be heard.

Here are 10 takes on this gap from other autistic adults, starting with a couple of autists who are also parents of autistic kiddos:

  1. “I fall into both of these categories. I wish that there was more understanding of the different communication styles rather than people jumping down each other’s throats all of the time. I wish that functioning labels would be done away with and that the parents would stop speaking for us and listen to us instead.” A.M.
  2. “I am autistic and so are my children. I’d like parents of autistics to understand that they need to pay attention to what is going on and how their child is interpreting the experiences around them. As much as they can at least. They can’t understand truly but they can watch out for say, how a child might be handling someone having a crush on them or trying to interact with them in some intimate way. 
    .
    And then they need to not approach their autistic kid with morals and judgments the kid may very well not understand. I was raised in the church and things just never made sense, yet when my parents would address whatever the issue was, they’d do it through the filter of something that already didn’t logically make sense to me. Your kid won’t understand what you want or mean if you aren’t speaking a language they understand. They may have to set aside what they think they ‘know’ and approach things differently, potentially without some things (like religion) being the primary measuring stick of a moral code.” S.L.
  3. “That when they talk bad about my autism, they are talking bad about me personally, because I don’t see myself as separate from my autism.” A.F.
  4. “That [autistic adults] often do really understand what it’s like to be an autistic child and we can help them if they listen to us. We can provide insight from an autistic perspective that they may not even consider as a possibility. Yes, parents often do know best, but when your child has a different neurology than you, why not ask the people who share that neurology for help? After all, we want what’s absolutely best for our future neuro-kin generation and will fiercely do whatever it takes to protect them. […]
    .
    Saying things like “my child is more severe than you are” or “you can’t speak for my child because you’re not the same” isn’t helpful. We understand their experience even if it’s not the same as ours. And if you’re saying that me (a mostly speaking autistic person) isn’t the same as your nonspeaking autistic, you’re right. I don’t know that experience because I grew up speaking using my mouth words. But then why not connect with other nonspeaking autistics who do know and understand your child from that perspective? There’s so many types of autistic people in the world; you’re bound to find one that has a similar experience to your child.” M.S.
  5. “They are not the ones with autism and that they have to help that person develop a system/ anything to move through life. I just feel like I was told how to feel most of my life and now I’m on my own idk how to process my actual feelings now that there’s ppl who want to listen. 🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️” K.N
  6. “Understanding that we aren’t doing ‘bad things’ for the sake of being malicious 99% of the time. I remember having meltdowns and being told I was ‘ungrateful’ and throwing a ‘tantrum’ when the reality was it was like something else had taken over me and turned me into an anger monster. I was never in control until I came down from it and I was blamed for ruining outings and embarrassing my parents. Same thing with not being able to or not wanting to do a task or go to an event. They took this as me being defiant. The reality is they never listened to what I was actually saying when I said no and instead framed me as a defiant child. Talking to your autistic kid on a more peer level will help you communicate better and they will tell you what they need. You just have to listen and learn your child’s language.” S.S.
  7. “That it’s often a journey to understand our own feelings and symptoms. We don’t always have the answers, but that doesn’t mean others should speak for us.” C.T.H.
  8. “What bugs me the most is the idea that something is ‘wrong’ with their child. This whole grieving how they expected their child to turn out or how they wanted their life to be or their kids life to be. Disabilities are not bad, don’t need to be fixed, your child doesn’t need you grieving the loss of the abled child you wanted. Secondly, stop exploiting them on social media to ‘help other parents’ or ‘spread awareness’. Thirdly, I wish they would realize that societal rules are completely made up. Your kid doesn’t need to speak, use fake pleasantries, have fun at amusement parks etc to be loved, respected, or to enjoy life.” C.H.
  9. “That everyone is different. I really wish that was emphasized more. There is no ‘stereotype’, everyone still has their own personality.” S.G.
  10. “That we aren’t unintelligent just because we can’t/don’t communicate the same way. I’ve noticed the same problem within the deaf/HoH community; if you can’t or don’t speak (or can’t speak well) people don’t take you seriously or assume you must not understand normal speech. I can understand you just fine even when I don’t know how to respond or am unable to.” B.N.

It’s Been Two Years Since My Autism Revelations

I’VE YET TO REACH THRIVING, BUT I’M SURE WORKING ON IT.

July 24,2022

Photo by Randy Jacob on Unsplash

Next month will be two years since I was diagnosed with autism at 37 years old. I’d spent the prior three months going through the self-diagnosis process, every night I was plagued with the truth of experiences I’d reframed with delusional optimism, lied to myself about, or full-out repressed altogether. They haunted me all night long, smashing into my mind with heartbreaking clarity:

They weren’t really laughing with me. That’s what they meant by “you’re…funny,” without a smile. When they said I was brave for doing things that seemed normal to me, it was probably because they knew I’d get made fun of for it. Accepting the struggles at work and school where people accused me of not trying, there were real — physiological — reasons for it, but feeling powerless because I can’t redo my life and choose a more realistic and sustainable path for my neurological needs, and now my brain’s been run into the ground.

Daytimes were better though. I’d cry through meditation most mornings, shaking off the night, but by the end of my mandatory wellness stuffs that help lower fibromyalgia pain, I was amped to get back into learning about my brain, talking to other autistic people about our brains and brain issues, and starting to write about the things I’d learned.

It felt wonderful to finally know I wasn’t just someone who sucked at being human, I’m actually just of a different neurotype — my brain and nervous system have different needs, and I needed to start taking them seriously.

But the thing is, I don’t live in a society that’s allowed me to do so.

The matter of how to pay for one’s life is a huge problem in the autistic community, with nearly 80% of us unemployed. I was able to semi-skate by in my 20s, somehow graduating from college and getting an office job around the time my student loans became due. But the jobs never lasted, sometimes due to the economy and sometimes because of me, struggling to the point of autistic burnout and/or fibromyalgia flares (which I thought were a weirdly frequent flu) so having to quit or being let go.

There was so much needless brain drainage in Office-world. In order to be taken seriously, I had to sit straight with my feet on the ground (gah! musthavelegsup!), I couldn’t defend myself from the brutal 60* AC with a blanket, had to wear uncomfortable clothing, sit under painful fluorescent lights, and try to focus on menial tasks despite someone eating freakin’ microwaved fish in the next cubicle, someone else playing pop music just loud enough for me to hear, and the constant chatter of small talk betwixt the cubes.

And don’t even think of wearing headphones. Those are anti-social.

But it was much better than retail and service, where the audio cacophony was even worse and there was soooo much more talking about nothing — plus, numbers mix up in my head, I have very little working memory, and I confuse faces and names! (I tried bartending and trying to keep track of whose tab was whose nearly sent me into tears. Cocktail waitressing was also a nightmare.) Those experiences are probably what pushed me to finish college, the hope of a less draining way to earn.*
* These are my particular autistic struggles, other autists with different spiky skill sets are probably fabulous at these things.

Anyways, a job loss in 2020 is what sent my negative autistic traits so high that I finally had to accept that being a Highly Sensitive Person definitely didn’t cover this shit.

The publication I was writing for lost an investor due to COVID, which at least meant that I qualified for unemployment despite technically being a freelancer. But that process was a maddening struggle (it was like 5 months to get the first payment) and all of my neighbors seemed to have lost work too, everyone in my crowded block was suddenly home all the time, often playing music at “fuck this shit” levels.

Sensory sensitivities skyrocketed and meltdowns became regular, sending me into desperation for answers that led to my autism revelations, then Level 2 diagnosis on August 10th, 2020. (Self-diagnosis is totally acceptable in the community, but I felt desperate for proof and was lucky to get an affordable-ish referral.) It was a bittersweet confirmation, a long list of what are essentially faults in our society, things I’d tried to hide my whole life. My assessor was shocked I’d gone so long without a diagnosis, which makes me wonder if I ever did pass as “normal,” or if people found me to be “off” all along.

But it was also incredibly validating. I’m not “off,” I am autistic and have millions of neurokin! And with clinical reasons for why I am the way I am, I hoped for more understanding and real connection in longstanding relationships once I told people the news. Instead, coming out as autistic largely brought the opposite. While there were some wonderfully accepting people, it was also a time when I finally got it into my head that people I thought I was close to for decades, family even, weren’t ever going to see me as one of them. They’d given up on me, full-stop.

The personal rejection combined with online bullying, continued auditory harassment, and old-fashioned “make the naive person do cringe shit just because she will” teasing led to a complete mental breakdown later that month. Burnout got worse after that. I’d have encouraging months where I felt like I was coming out of it, but in early 2021 I started experiencing nonverbal days, sometimes my brain was too exhausted to even think. When it was really bad I felt like I was getting sucked into myself and might not come back. It was terrifying.

I had a few encouraging months, but stress and trauma overwhelmed me again I had one more mental break last summer, which was absolutely soul-crushing and left me with a head injury that busted a hole into my wall. After that, my functionality was worse than it’d ever been, I couldn’t even make simple phone calls or figure out my Roku.

I thank the Universes that unemployment benefits, COVID rental relief funds, and the generosity of friends and strangers helped me get through the worst of times. Finally accepting that I’d lost people from my life over the last couple of years seemed to give me the room to open up to more supportive people I didn’t know all that well, just a couple of friends (three now, two long-distance) — but the routine connection and emotional support have helped more than all the therapists I’ve seen combined.

In late 2021, I finally had enough functionality to do something besides write about autism and started applying to the plethora of work-from-home positions that’d become available since the pandemic. I thought, finally a way to work without all the needless environmental drainage! Though I’m very grateful for the freelance work I’ve gotten, it hasn’t been a stable income and I hoped for a shot at benefits, a living wage salary, and some security.

But after a few months and so many cover letters I’ve literally cried about it (many times), I realized the proverbial fish weren’t biting so decided to examine my online presence. I’d spent years freelance writing through the stressful process of trying to get disability benefits, and I put out some very emotionally raw work, as well as writing all about my autistic experiences here with my full name — it’s work that I’m proud of, work that I know helped people because they took the time to tell me so. But, as a friend gently reminded me, that stuff can also scare employers off.

I knew they were right, and I felt silly for not realizing sooner, but as I took down and/or anonymized my work I felt like I was erasing the person I’d finally allowed myself to grow into. It was an emotional thing for me. The need for security is real though. I don’t have support (disability paid ~2 of the 7 years I’ve been homebound ill, and most of it went to debt), so I need to pay to live somehow. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Unfortunately, after greying out my internet presence, I only hooked one fish and it got loose after the second round in the hiring process. A while later I did wind up with a freelance gig, ironically at an organization that serves disabled kiddos, referred by someone who knew I’m autistic.

I was so excited but it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be and quickly turned into a communication disaster. I’m used to freelance content writing being like, “here’s the title, keywords, and word rate — go for it!” but this was completely different, it was like filling out a form, something that makes my brain go berserker. Very little analytical thinking, lots of filling in blanks, following directions, endless emails, and interviewing people with questions I didn’t get to write.

It was very typical of my office experiences, sans the smelly lunches, and I failed miserably; everything that must be time-saving for their other writers only added to mine, and asking for clarification led to my supervisor seeming to think I was needy, so I asked less, and eventually they took the essays before I could even finish them — two hours from completion to me, I’d finally gotten to the easy part (writing!) but I imagine finishing must have taken them much longer. It seemed ridiculous, more so after I got an email that contradicted every reassurance I’d been offered when expressing concerns in Zoom meetings. It felt like I was thrown under the bus before I even got where I was going.

In a way, I’m glad that it wasn’t a normal freelance gig because I needed to (re)learn that limit — traditional work situations just don’t work for me, even from home, and especially not now. Still, I’ve been floundering since. When I started the gig I was definitely still in burnout, far from the bushy-tailed optimistic finally-feeling-like-me-again person I was when I started my job hunt, but I was hanging in there okay.

Since then, not so much.

I’m struggling with my brain functionality, in the literal dark most of the time due to sensory issues — and now it’s been two years of autistic burnout. Is this my life now? Am I ever going to get better? At least better enough to pay for life and like maybe go to lunch with a friend on occasion?

And I still feel all greyed-out, both internally and in my online expression. Those articles and accounts are still gone or anon’d, and I’m not sure I should put my name back on them. People aren’t as good, kind, and open-minded as I presumed. At large, it seems we’re kind of horrible. My naivety remains cruelly intact, but I’ve turned into a cynic at the same time and I don’t know what to do with myself.

The times I feel strongest and most hopeful are when I decide that advocacy writing for autism acceptance, chronic illness awareness, and social change are my best shot. I’ve always had a book in me and started writing it seven years ago, besides a handful of not-good pitches and my last article here, it’s been about all I can work on lately; executive malfunction’s been intense, my brain’s like “special interest or nap, bitch, I’m just too fucking tired.”

Oh, but my mind. (It’s a strange thing to have your neurology disagree with your mind, but as a reader of ArtfullyAutistic, you’re probably all too familiar with the conundrum.) My mind says advocacy pays dookie and isolates you from societal acceptance/success, but maybe that’s just what it’s been conditioned to think. And if it were true, maybe changing times means it’s not anymore. I have found several literary agents specifically seeking neurodivergent writers, so that helps modulate Cynic Mind a bit.

Plus, I’ve been trying to squeeze myself into the norm for decades to utter failure and complete body-mind-spirit breakdown. I’m tired of throwing myself against that wall, it’s fucking broken me and I can’t break much more without shattering completely.

Writing this has helped, but I still don’t have a clear plan for what to do. I do need to start “coloring myself back in” so to speak. Looking back at old writing and social media posts, even ones where I was homeless, there was a sparkle to my words and in my eyes. I’m not sure where it’s gone, or if it will come back. I know it had to do with hope though.

I’ve just got to take it day by day. Hard thing by hard thing. Small joy by small joy.

And, eventually, I’ll find that sparkle again and get back to writing in a more “let’s take on the world!” fashion — but for now, there’s my painfully honest take on my first two years of autistic self-knowledge.

I’m broken, really broken. But I don’t wish to shatter.

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

Professional Communication Tips for NDs

A lil’ wisdom gained the hard way.

Jun 18, 2022

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Professional communication isn’t a breeze for most people, but when it’s between a group of people who are neurotypical and you’re neurodivergent, the potential for misunderstandings and struggle get even trickier.

It can be really defeating to get through the doors that often hamper NDs and other spoonies from success — resume gaps, too many jobs, functionality limitations, etc. — just to have it all dissolve for reasons that leave you bewildered and crushed.

Entering a group of NT people who already know each other and have established professional dynamics is so overwhelmingly complicated to me, my goodness, but this post shares a few tips learned from trying to re-enter the world of professional teams after years of flying basically solo. I’m autistic and have ADHD (AuDHD), so that’s the ND perspective I’m offering — I welcome comments to add to the wisdom, from similarly wired folks as well as other neurotypes. We can’t have too much wisdom. (I also happened upon a great Twitter thread with similar aims, there’s highlights from it at the end.)

Our time and energy are precious, and wasting it on a bad professional fit, or losing a potentially good one due to miscommunication is fiercely disheartening. In hopes of someone else not learning the hard way, here are some tips on ways to avoid ill-suited situations and/or navigate the challenges of professional communication while neurodivergent.

6 Professional Communication Tips for NDs
  1. Know Your Needs and Limits. It’s important to be honest with ourselves about what our limits and needs are, I’m of the rosy-eyed persuasion, very prone to overestimating what I can take on sustainably health/functionality-wise. Positivity’s got a great rep, but taking on more than our systems can handle means burnout — which scarily increases disabling traits and steals access to ND perks, like autistic hyperfocus. 
    .
    It’s often hard for people to admit their needs and limits, but when you’re atypical there are increased odds of pushback bc folks just don’t get it. And avoiding that potential social issue can make just pushing through the internal struggle incredibly alluring, especially if you’re desperately in need of an income, and/or insurance. However, learning the hard way can mean severe neurological punishment, so it’s important to really consider if your neurology is up to the challenge.
  2. Ask Interview Questions Accordingly. In addition to screening jobs before you apply, ask very specific questions during interviews to distinguish if it’s right for you. Questions pertaining to financial and health sustainability can be hard to ask, but it’s just as important for the potential employer to be honest about the actual demands and expectations of the job as it is for us to be about our limitations. Try to fight any people-pleasing urges, don’t just assume it will be fine, and make sure you have the information you need (as well as making sure you’ve presented your strengths and all that usual interview jazz).
  3. Masking: Ooooh, masking. I was adamantly against masking my ND traits when I first learned masking had a huge role in crushing my functionality, and while I’m still infuriated that it’s demanded of us — it really can help when navigating NT communication.
    .
    People can be judgy, and they can come to damning conclusions without even asking any questions. So, now I have a rule to never take a meeting without preparing to socially mask first, as I’ve found just taking twenty minutes on presentation (appearance) and getting in a “NT Communication Time” headspace has a positive effect on reactions and helps me people more effectively.
    .
    Howevvvver, I haven’t been masking right. Growing up, I learned how to seem likable to NTs, asking them lots of questions, being positive, agreeable, etc., but that really only works for first impressions. I wish I’d learned the important thing is to demonstrate competence and communicate effectively. (I blame the patriarchy.) Tips welcome.
  4. Just to Recap and Make Sure We’re On The Same Page: Take careful notes in meetings and always follow up afterward with takeaways/action confirmation emails. It’s good to have expectations in writing as NTs don’t always say what quite they mean, and autists tend to take things literally. Also, people often lie and/or omit relevant truths to their bosses to reroute blame. There’s a whole phrase for it in Office World, “throwing people under the bus.” So, yeah, document that ish.
  5. To Cc: or Not to Cc: If wondering if it’s okay to add an upper person/boss on email, use extreme caution. (Or maybe just don’t.) Hierarchical communication norms are a mysterious maze, full of traps that seem like common sense or courtesy. According to the Harvard Business Review, Cc’ing the boss makes co-workers trust you less, which can lead to all kinds of trouble.
  6. Don’t Avoid Group Channels: Office communication channels like Slack are daunting for me because group dynamics are overwhelming in any form (and there are already so many!), but also it can be hard to get the info I actually need among all the messages that aren’t related to what I’m doing — they can be very busy, messy, and excessively interruptive/distracting, or the opposite, so inactive that I don’t get the notification and miss something important. But there are often professional consequences for not having your voice present, so if there’s a next time I’ll be sure to figure out a process to make it work for me.

The day I wrote the original list for myself, the internet kindly confirmed that I’m not alone in my frustration and struggle — I happened to check Twitter right in time to catch the fabulous autist YouTuber Purple Ella start a thread asking for similar advice, here’s her post and some of my favorite answers:

@liam1408: Developed a reputation of being a technical expert, always offering an honest opinion and able to speak truth no matter to whom. But took years of learning how to cope with the politics that flew over my head, ended up ignoring it, which was the best approach.

@polymathical: I just focus on being true to myself and improving myself in the ways that are fulfilling for me. I hope to find more people that vibe with my authentic self this way. I won’t be successful in the way others are, but I will be fulfilled.

@BrandNewAutie: I think years of masking made me somewhat ok at all of that, with many gaffes of course! It’s the aftermath and long-term impacts of masking that became destructive for me. Now to an extent I can turn it on because I’m learning how and when to unmask. I hope that makes sense?

@level80: Well as a neurodivergent person, my answer is by choosing self-employed careers (been doing paid work now for around 28 years) where there is a very small percentage of work time is face to face social interaction and the rest (90%-99%) is just getting on with the job on my own.

@MarcelPotter9: Just be yourself and let your natural talents and skills shine. A good boss will want a balanced team with a good mix of people & this will enable your strengths to develop and shine. I get on so well with my boss now, I’m the only one who can tell her off! 🙂

@ADHD_Coach_UK: I cope by doing things I am passionate about, and being open about my neurotype. Set expectations from me and what can do to help me. In my young days I progresses thru sheer sweat and tears, but that only led to unrealised potential. Wish I knew back then!

Content and Copywriting Portfolio

I have extensive experience in content and copywriting, gaining experience in a variety of industries and styles; I’ve been a copywriter for a Medicaid/care CCO, created webcopy and SEO articles for many businesses, filled dozens of content holes for Leafly, created media-attracting press releases, oodles of radio ads, and all kinds of other copywriting.

My clients and editors report that my articles do well because they inform readers while also keeping them entertained and engaged, as well as my reliably meeting deadlines and conveying information in the tone requested. (Please check out My Words, Their Website for more information.)

Below you’ll find a small sampling of writing done for content marketing agencies.

Click on a topic to navigate:
Copywriting/Webcopy (JEMSU)
Savignon Interiors Homepage
TEBO Store Fixtures Homepage
LawnTech Homepage
Colorado Family Dentistry
NisonCo Cannabis Press Relations

Content Writing/SEO Articles (Foottraffik)
Why It’s Better to Get Your CBD Oil from a Dispensary
What is Ocimene
Cannabis for Muscle Spasms and MS
Cannabis Concentrates: What They Are & How to Use Them

Additionally, here is a sampling of my writing for radio ads.

And a few examples of copy + design:


COPYWRITING/WEBCOPY

SAVIGNON INTERIORS HOMEPAGE

The Answer to Your Interior Design Needs  

You deserve a space that speaks to who you are as an individual or brand, while also creating an ambiance that soothes and inspires – and Denver’s Savignon Interiors can bring your unique vision to life. We know that entrusting someone with the interior design of your home or workspace is a big deal; and we’re honored to have pleased our clients, in Colorado and beyond, for nearly 20 years. 

Our Fearless Leader  

Team Savignon is led by Gabriela, who has a formal graduate-level design education. She was trained at UC Berkeley in Interior Architecture as well by well-respected educators around the world. Before returning to Colorado, she traveled extensively and lived abroad for many years; enriching her palette and taste for unique elements. In addition to her native English, she is fluent in Spanish, French, and Italian – enabling her to participate in exclusive international projects. 

She now brings this worldy experience to the Denver metro area, with a distinctive international flair to her design. She and the rest of us on the Savignon team also participate in ongoing training and visits to national and international tradeshows. We’re also members of the Association for Interior Designers, a partnership that helps keep us accountable and trained as well on top of industry trends.

We’ve Got You Covered from Remodeling to Accessories  

Our experience helps ensure that you remain worry-free, and that mistakes aren’t made. We’ll handle everything; from structure to window treatment, and from furniture to products. We offer residential and commercial design and architecture, including: 

  • Remodeling – We offer kitchen remodels and bathroom remodels as well remodeling other spaces in need of transformation. Our team has the creativity and know-how to create a space that fits how you live while reflecting your personal style.
  • Space Planning – How a room is arranged is crucial to its design success. We’ll ensure that the room’s needs and functions are taken into consideration; and done so beautifully, comfortably, tastefully, and gracefully.
  • New Construction – We’re knowledgeable about the construction and remodeling process, as well as the people and products involved. We collaborate with allied professionals to confirm that preliminary space plans and design concepts are safe, functional, and aesthetically appropriate. 
  • Color Consultation – Choosing color has as much to do with light, scale, and architecture as it does materials and furnishings. Let us take the guesswork out of color selection – making finding the perfect hue easy, and even fun. 
  • Hunter Douglas Authorized Dealer – We’re proud to offer their luxurious window treatments with features like: energy-efficiency, automation, unparalleled quality, and, of course, beautiful and unique designs.

A Partner You Can Trust  

At Savignon Interiors we know that you are very busy, but also concerned about the important and costly decisions involved with interior design and architecture. We go the extra mile to ensure that your project is completed to utmost standards, making your investment a valuable one. 

This is the space where you’ll grow your business, host memorable dinner parties, or bathe your children – this project needs to be right, and we’ll make certain that it is. Our proven results and boutique approach to customer service keep our clients returning, and we’re sure you’ll be just as pleased.

Start a conversation about your project today: (925) 872-9710.

TEBO STORE FIXTURES HOMEPAGE

A Store That Makes Customers Want to Stay

Outfitting your store is more than just finding ways to hang your products, it’s about creating an environment that your customers will want to spend time in. Tebo Store Fixtures provides merchandising equipment that uses creativity and innovation to make your retail environment appealing and user-friendly. And whether you’re a first-time business owner or a seasoned veteran, we can help you display your goods in a way that encourages customers to stay…and shop

We’re a retail design expert and outfitter who’s proud to service a broad range of customers from around the world. With our expansive in-stock selection at our Denver, Colorado warehouse, we’ve got what you need at our fingertips – display cases, digital signage, fixtures, display walls – all the retail store fixtures to equip your store like a pro. And no matter what type of business you are, after over 50 years of providing retail store supplies; we’re probably going to know just what kind of merchandising fixtures you need.

Fixtures that Sell

Tebo Store Fixtures’ retail design specialists provide revenue-producing solutions. We’re armed with an understanding of consumer behavior and market trends, helping us support retailers in creating engaging experiences for their customers. Our mission is to provide you with quality display supplies that best showcase your products – not ours. How can we use store fixture equipment to highlight your selection today?

We Carry: Display cases, digital signage, slatwall, gridwall, apparel, jewelry supplies, store supplies, fixtures, gondola shelving, acrylic, and merchandising supplies for specialty shops.

Trust and Competency

At Tebo, serving our clients to the utmost standard is nothing new. We’ve been at it since 1968, that’s five decades of helping businesses present themselves with the best store fixtures possible – and people have noticed. Many of our featured clients are household names, like Puma, Warner Bros, Dish, Post Cereal, 4 Wheels, Verizon, and Crocs. 

We’re also there for you when you need us. We keep a huge inventory on-hand, enabling us to serve the Denver area ASAP with free pickup. For those ordering from this website, orders ship same day if ordered before noon on a weekday. It’s important to us that you have what you need when you need it. In addition to fixtures, displays, packaging, and merchandise; we consider ourselves to be in the business of customer service. 

No Matter Your Industry  If You’re in Retail, We’ve got you Covered

Whether you are a start-up or a flagship, a supermarket or restaurant, a boutique or multinational chain, our experienced team will guide you from the inception of your vision to opening day. We love serving a large range of businesses and open our arms to industries of all kinds – including the cannabis industry. 

Creating a successful retail environment is a challenging task with many moving wheels, and you don’t have to do it alone. Give yourself the gift of relief today. Stop by our Denver warehouse, or call (720) 571-0403 to start creating a space your customers don’t want to leave.

LAWNTECH HOMEPAGE

You deserve a sanctuary, let LawnTech help.

Your home is your kingdom. It should be a place of sanctuary, not endless to-do lists. And when at work, you need to be focused on the job – not making your space appears professional. At LawnTech we take our lawn and home care services very seriously, knowing that the outcome impacts our client’s lives; and making sure that it’s a positive one. 

We have been in the lawn and home care services business since 1977, and we apply these four-plus decades of expertise to every project we take on. Whether your needs are residential or commercial, we value quality work and customer satisfaction. We get the job done right, efficiently, as well as affordably. And our trustworthy team ensures that it’s completed with professionalism and friendly service, done in a way that’s eco-friendly. 

And you can also rely on us – if any concerns do arise, know they will be addressed promptly and with attention to detail. We know that providing exceeding customer service is key to running a successful business. Providing all of our clients with quality work on a weekly basis is our goal, we aim for quality at every turn. 

Masters of Lawn and Home Care Service

We are masters of lawn maintenance in Denver, offering: lawn mowing, aeration, maintenance, fertilizing, landscaping, sprinkler systems, and more. We partner with quality local professionals and our staff is professionally trained and certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. In addition to providing Denver with superior lawn care services, we also provide: roof and gutter cleaning, power raking, general clean-up, as well as the removal of snow, leaves, and pet waste.

Whether you’re a homeowner, renter, or come from the commercial sphere; you can trust us to get the job done right. Let go of worries and know the peace of a well-kept environment, call LawnTech today at (303) 502-9441, email service@lawntechdenver.com – or read on for more details about our services. 

Expertise You Can Trust 

Hiring someone to care for your home or office is different than hiring a business to design a website. When people are caring for the spaces where you have your most treasured family memories and professional milestones, it’s important to hire a team that knows trustworthiness is a crucial part of the job. 

LawnTech is a locally-owned, family-operated company that has proudly served the Denver community for over 40 years. We were started by Greg Hegarty in 1977, who is now joined by his wife Sherry; and their sons, Joey, Michael, and Christian, who are active in the day-to-day operations of the company. And the rest of our staff is truly an extension of the Hegarty family, we believe this is essential to our decades of success.

Another key factor to our success is commitment to training and professionalism. We are, of course, licensed and insured as well as being eco-friendly. Our staff is also professionally trained and certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Additionally, we partner with Green Industries of Colorado, AGFINITY, Pioneer Sand Company, ScienTurfic, and Alameda Wholesale Nursery to offer you industry-leading products and services.

When you hire LawnTech, you’re hiring a trusted team that cares. We want you to enjoy your beautiful, professionally manicured home and garden; without any worry of how it came to look so good. Our customer service philosophy is to put your needs first as a client, and it shows.

As a final act of trustworthiness, we guarantee total satisfaction on all services.

LawnTech Knows Lawns.

At LawnTech we know that lawn maintenance is so much more than running the lawn mower sporadically. We are passionate about lawn care services and have been learning the tricks of the trade for over 40 years. As a result, we offer a specially curated and expansive range of lawn services. Maintaining the appearance, health and vigor of your lawn requires special care in Denver’s arid climate – let us handle it.

Lawn Mowing: Keep your grass fresh and healthy with our weekly lawn mowing service. This inclusive service includes mowing, trimming, and edging, as well as cleaning sidewalks and driveways.

Aeration: Aeration controls and prevents water run-off, dry spots and certain diseases. It also stimulates root growth by allowing water, nutrients and oxygen to reach the grass roots.

Fertilization: We know that fertilization is key to having a beautiful lawn, and our intensive and careful plan ensures that it’s done right, from pre-emergent phases down to weed control.

Sprinkler Systems: Proper water is essential to having an exquisite yard. Specialists will design and install highest-quality professional systems, as well as providing expert repair and maintenance services.

Landscaping: Our landscape architects will work with you to add dimension and depth to your yard, creating the lawn and garden you’ve always envisioned!

Gardening/Weeding: This year when spring weeds begin to rear their ugly heads, call on team LawnTech to remove them, amend the soil, and add mulch to keep your gardens healthy and looking their best.

Sodding: Lawn technicians will tear out the old sod at your home or office, prepare the soil, and install new sod.

Tree Planting: Looking to add some foliage to your yard? Look no further! LawnTech will plant any type of tree or shrubbery you’d like.

Trimming: Are your hedges or bushes beginning to look overgrown, spilling over sidewalks, fences or roofs? Technicians will prune and shape hedges, shrubs, and small trees to make them not only look better but improve their overall health and longevity.

…But we’re so much more.

In addition to providing Denver with superior lawn care services, we also provide: roof and gutter cleaning, power raking, general clean-up, as well as the removal of snow, leaves, and pet waste.

You can rely on LawnTech to provide the feeling of peace and tranquility known when entering your freshly cleaned home or office. Your time is so important, we’ll help you find balance with it; allowing you to focus on the things that are important to you.

We’re also happy to work with your individual needs, schedules, and lifestyles; offering customized cleaning packages so we can serve you best.

Get Started Today

When you partner with LawnTech, you’re getting thoughtful care that’s been honed with experience since 1977. Winter, spring, summer, or fall – we are here to keep your grass green, garden thriving, yard leaf-free, and your driveway clear of snow.

You deserve an environment that you love to work and live in. Contact us today to get started.

COLORADO FAMILY DENTISTRY

Crowns and Bridges

At Colorado Family Dentistry, your happiness and health are our highest priorities. The dental health of Lakewood is our passion, and we take this responsibility to our community seriously. We’re led by Dr. Julia Kasper, who’s been practicing for over a decade and has earned fellowship status with the American Society of Implant and Reconstructive Dentistry, something only 5% of dentists have achieved nationwide.

Dr. Kasper and the highly skilled team at Colorado Family dentistry make sure to stay abreast on the latest dental technology and practices; ensuring you’re in capable hands when you choose us. We’ll also keep you in the loop, educating you on the services rendered and how to keep your smile healthy in the future. Two of such services are dental crowns and bridges. Read on to learn more, or schedule your appointment today.

Crowns 

Dental crowns are used to restore teeth by encasing the entire tooth to bring it to the desired size, shape, and color. They are tough and resilient, enabling them to fix teeth in situations where fillings cannot. This is a solution with multiple purposes as your crown will prolong the life of the tooth by making it stronger, in addition to solving your original problem. 

Some such problems:

  • Fractures and Broken Teeth: It’s a rough day when you break or damage a tooth. We’ll get you looking and feeling good as new, and we’ll do so with care.
  • Decay and Rot: When your tooth has been damaged by decay, we’ll get it out of there and restore the space thoroughly.
  • Filling Replacement: Crowns are stronger than fillings, and are a great replacement for fillings that have started failing, leaking, or breaking.
  • Function/Bite: When your mouth doesn’t quite bite like it ought to, we can use crowns to even it out or build up worn areas.
  • Root Canals: When a root canal is done, it’s important to use a crown to seal out infection and prevent tooth breakage.
  • Cracks: Like in your car windows, a crack is likely to indicate a future fracture is coming for you. We’ll prevent that fracture and the damage it would have caused.
  • Severely Worn Teeth: Sometimes damage is a slow fade. We’ll restore your smile to its original facade.
  • Aesthetics: We can change the color, size, and shape of your teeth; giving you the smile that you’ve always dreamed about.

Bridges

Dental bridges are an excellent solution when one or more teeth cannot be restored. They consist of two crowns that are attached to artificial teeth, or pontics, that fill the empty space. Bridges are usually made of porcelain fused to metal, but they also can be made entirely out of gold. They are cemented in place and not removable, a long-lasting tooth replacement.

Reasons for a Dental Bridge:

  • Fill spaces created by missing teeth.
  • Ensure that teeth still present stay in position – 
  • And in doing so, maintain the shape of your face. 
  • Restore or maintain your ability to properly chew and speak.
  • Get you enjoying your smile again!

What to Expect 

While getting crowns takes two appointments, getting a bridge may require more. Either way, the first appointment will involve your getting several highly-detailed impressions that will be used to create your custom crown. After impressions are made, you will be carefully numbed and Dr. Kasper will prepare the tooth by removing decay and shaping the surface of your tooth to properly fit the crown.

Then we’ll use those impressions to create temporary crowns, false teeth (or pontics), and bridges as needed; which will stay in place until your custom-made pieces have been finished to satisfaction by a dental laboratory. We’ll place your temporary crown or crowns, and bridges if needed, making sure that you are biting properly. After 2-3 weeks for crowns, and 3 weeks if you also need bridges; you’ll come back in and we’ll get you cleaned up and cemented with your permanent custom-made crown(s) and/or bridges.

Our Knowledgeable Team is Here for You

During every step of this process, you can expect to be treated with impeccable care and thoughtful attention at Colorado Family Dentistry. Our goal is to help our patients have mouths that are healthy and free from: decay, gum disease, cancer, and pain. This, in turn, allows our patients to achieve overall health of their bodies. You’ll be amazed at the personal and comprehensive dental care you receive at our family-oriented office.

A Colorado Family Dentistry, we strive to create an atmosphere that is fun, friendly, and clean. And for crowns, bridges, or any of our other services; you can count on our caring team to work hard to ensure that your experience is professional, comfortable, and consistent – doing our part to change people’s perception of the dentist from something negative to something positive. 

We look forward to caring for your family! Schedule your appointment today.

NISONCO CANNABIS PRESS RELATIONS

Welcome to NisonCo Cannabis Press Relations

Choosing a public relations agency means selecting the people who will share your brand with the world. And when you’re in the cannabis industry, PR becomes especially important as you’re dealing with legal complications, stigma, and a sensitive burgeoning new industry. You and your team have worked hard, and it’s important that the impression you communicate is a positive one. 

When you trust NisonCo with this crucial responsibility, you can rest easy knowing that your cannabis PR is in good hands with our marijuana communications experts. We serve the gamut of businesses who could need marijuana PR: dispensaries, products, tech companies, hemp and CBD businesses, cannabis manufacturers, ancillary/accessory industries, and anyone else who might benefit from our services.

What We Do

We know that you’ve put care into establishing your business and we’ll help you take that impression to the next level. We offer a wide range of services that enable our clients to increase sales, brand awareness, and thought leadership within the cannabis industry. With NisonCo, you can:

  • Develop a PR strategy
  • Receive cannabis PR consulting
  • Outreach to relevant reporters and reviewers via our our proprietary database
  • Take media training
  • Receive assistance in applying for awards
  • Benefit from cannabis email marketing 
  • Develop a tandem social media strategy
  • Have content created
  • Distribute press releases 
  • Identify, secure and promote speaking engagements at premiere conferences and industry events

We’re passionate about the environment, and additionally provide:

  • Sustainable Industry PR
  • Green Tech PR
  • Green Technology PR
  • Agritech PR

We’re an Authority in Cannabis PR

We’re a team of PR specialists that’s poured their sweat, blood, and tears into the creation of the legal cannabis market; our staff has actually worked on many of the policy regulations that made the legal industry possible. Our forward-thinking and diverse staff are masters at connecting clients with industry leaders and educating on industry trends. We’re considered the “go-to” source for industry news by industry pros, whom we have long-standing relationships with.

You Can Trust Us

We know how hard you work to be ethical and elevate the cannabis industry. In addition to helping our clients continue to do so – our team is committed to the same objectives ourselves, and highly involved in cannabis advocacy. These values carry over to how we do business. We’re committed to honesty and transparency, it’s built into everything we do. (And since we’ve grown exponentially by word of mouth alone, it seems our clients appreciate it…) 

We won’t try to upsell unnecessary services or provide dishonest metrics – some firms will try to sell you on things like crisis communications for an additional $10k a month, but you won’t find that nonsense at NisonCo. Everything about PR is included in our retainer. We also have an all-remote team that hustles until the job is done; without the constraints of an office, we’re able to start our work day on the east coast and end it on the west coast.

We’ve been in cannabis PR since 2013, making us one of the first cannabis-specific firms out there. We know what we’re doing, and we get palpable results. Many agencies lean on a slew of ambiguous metrics, but we get you published in outlets that make an impact. We ensure clients benefit from coverage to elevate the profiles of industry leaders, when appropriate. We’re experts in pitching and managing relationships, but we also receive a number of inbound requests every day. 

A Cannabis PR Approach That Works

We’re confident in our approach because we have proven results that speak for themselves. For example, our founder has been featured by Good Morning AmericaBloomberg TVNew York TimesForbesUSA Today, and others. Reach out today to see what we can do for your brand!

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HAVE A HEART

WHY IT’S BETTER TO GET YOUR CBD OIL FROM A DISPENSARY

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is having its day in the sun. While you’ve probably heard that it’s a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant and it is believed to do things like calm anxiety, ease pain, and help with sleep (we’re still waiting on science to sort that out) — you might not know where it’s best to buy your CBD oil. It’s quite suddenly available everywhere: from bodegas to the internet, and, luckily, at cannabis dispensaries.

All CBD products are not equal, and it’s important that you know what you’re buying. There are many factors in regard to why it’s best to buy your CBD at a dispensary near you, and we’ll cover them, making sure that you don’t wind up with a bottle of snake oil, and do get the best out of your CBD experience.

There Are Many Cannabinoids like CBD

CBD is one of many compounds from the cannabis plant that are called cannabinoids. THC is the other popular one, but there’s actually thought to be hundreds of them. The most talked-about difference between THC and CBD is that the latter won’t get you high, but there are many other non-psychoactive cannabinoids available. Though other cannabinoids might wind up in your CBD oil bought from the corner store — including psychoactive THC — you can only intentionally get access to them from dispensaries.

Your nearby Have a Heart is able to offer products specifically created to serve your body and endocannabinoid system in different ways than CBD does. For instance, if you have nerve pain, the cannabinoid THCa might be a great relief. Researchers are still unlocking the potential (and even the availability) of different cannabinoids, and we’re excited to see what they find!

The Entourage Effect: Power-up Your Plant Medicine

These other cannabinoids are kind of like members of CBD’s team, and they work better when together! There are also factors like terpenes and flavonoids involved, all playing off of one another for a synergistic effect that your body and mind will benefit from. This is also referred to as using “whole plant medicine.” 

And even a very small amount of THC is thought to enhance the entourage effect, much smaller than the amount it takes to get a person stoned. In fact, you can benefit from whole plant medicine that includes THC in small doses without having a psychoactive effect. Keep an eye out for tinctures with labels like “18:1 High CBD” if that’s something you’d like to try out.

Buying at a Dispensary Means Products are Tested

Dispensaries are also required to test their products, which means that you’ll know what you’re getting; informing you about potential whole plant medicine as well knowing that the product is safe to put in your body. When you purchase CBD from other sources, they are only subject to the same standards as supplements, which basically means “healthy until legally proven dangerous.” There’s little-to-no testing done and no standard for quality. You could be buying an-y-thing when purchasing CBD from an unregulated source. 

Getting your CBD from a dispensary means knowing exactly what you’re buying, and that it’s ok to put into your body.

Get to Know All of this Powerful Plant, and Its World

Not only can you get access to other cannabinoids and products from your nearby dispensary, but you can also gain access to an entire industry and culture. People are realizing that the power of the cannabis plant goes far beyond munchies, and it’s resulting in a wildly exciting industry and scene. Help support the legalization of this powerful plant by shopping with the people who are making sure it’s done right.

FOOTTRAFFIK: HAVE A HEART

WHAT IS OCIMENE

Cannabis 101: Terpenes Are Nature’s Aroma

Think of how cannabis smells. Beyond “delicious” and “skunky,” there’s a whole world of words in our lexicon to describe its fragrance. Cannabis can smell piney like a tree, earthy like the ground, citrusy in general, like specific fruits in particular, or a whole olfactory world in between. This variety in smell and taste is created by oils called terpenes, which also affect the high and therapeutic benefits of a strain or plant. Ocimene, with its sweet, fragrant, herbaceous, and woodsy aromas is just one of many of these compounds. (It’s also beloved by perfumers for its herbal scent, contributing to floral notes like lily and lilac.)

Terpenes are also found throughout the plant world, giving us many of the smells known by our noses. At least 100 terpenes come from the cannabis plant, and there are actually more than 20,000 known terpenes in existence. Originally thought to deter predators, terpenes actually help a plant’s survival and evolution by attracting pollinating insects, which helps spread the species by spreading its pollen. Terpenes can also attract the predators of insect herbivores, who then eat the bugs that would otherwise nosh the plant. Isn’t evolution neat?

Terpene Magic in Cannabis

In the case of cannabis, terpenes like Ocimene are secreted from the same glands that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD. It works with those cannabinoids to create the various effects that cannabis has on humans, both in relation to the therapeutic and psychotropic experience. This teamwork is known as the ‘entourage effect’ and is a great argument for whole plant medicine.

Ocimene produces an energetic effect in cannabis, and is usually found in sativa strains. It shouldn’t be too hard to find strains high in Ocimene if you have access to a good dispensary. Strains that are often high in Ocimene are: White Fire OG, Chocolope, Dutch Treat, Super Lemon Haze, Purple Haze, Arjan’s Haze #3, Amnesia, Strawberry Cough, Golden Goat, Space Queen, or Himalayan Gold.

The Exciting Therapeutic Potentials of Ocimene 

In addition to cannabis, Ocimene is found in mint, parsley, basil, orchids, oregano, mango, mint, lavender, as well as other plants. Not a whole lot of research has been done yet, but it’s already proving to have many therapeutic benefits. It’s been shown to be anti-microbial, fighting off trouble-makers like Candida; a gut flora that’s prone to overgrowth. It’s also got great promise as an anti-viral, helping ward off SARS in this study. Another showed that Ocimene has potential as an anti-inflammatory.

It’s also an anti-congestant, helping the body expel excess mucus and phlegm; making it easier to breathe. While this is medically exciting, it also contributes to more coughing when smoking cannabis strains that are high in ocimene. Something else to note about Ocimene is that is also has a low boiling point, so use a low heat setting when vaping strains high in it to preserve the terpene’s benefits. And, as previously noted, it’s likely to give you energy; great for daytime but not bedtime.

To Sum It Up

Terpenes are a big part of why the plant world smells like it does, and cannabis is full of a variety of these aromatic oils. But they do more than make strains smell awesome, they have effects on both the high and therapeutic effects of the plant. Ocimene is going to make your herb smell sweet yet woodsy, give you an energetic boost with its high, and several therapeutic properties have already been discovered with this terpene. Enjoy!

FOOTTRAFFIK: HAVEN

CANNABIS FOR MUSCLE SPASMS AND MS

Our muscles ought to be limber and pliable, but in many people, that’s unfortunately not the case. Muscle spasms and lack of spasticity are a problem for millions of people all over the world, making it painful and difficult to move; sometimes to the point of being completely debilitating. Luckily, we’ve got cannabis for muscle spasms and limited spasticity, with exciting progress on treating this malady.

Cannabis for Muscle Spasms and MS

Spasticity problems can happen for an array of reasons, but perhaps the biggest and most severe cause for muscle spasms and lack of spasticity is a disease called multiple sclerosis (or MS). MS is a progressive disease of the nervous system with no known cure that plagues 2.5 million people. It destroys a protective coating around the brain, brain stem, and spinal cord called the myelin sheath. This results in an array of symptoms, including loss of voluntary muscle control and spasticity.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, spasticity “refers to the stiffness and involuntary muscle spasms that are indicative of the disease.” This is a problem in 9 out of 10 MS patients, sooner or later. Some know it as mild muscle stiffness, but others endure constant ache, cramps, involuntary muscle spasms, or even paralyzation in severe cases. Sleep is hugely affected, which affects other symptoms as well.

MS and Cannabis: The Numbers Are In

In a 2012 study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found a one-third decrease in spasticity in MS patients that consumed cannabis compared to participants given a placebo. The ability to move more is a huge deal, but it also reduced the patient’s perception of pain by 50% – far more than any other medication. 

Another study showed that 77% of subjects found cannabis helpful in managing symptoms, especially spasticity and pain. As cannabis legalization increases and stigma decreases, many more MS patients have turned to the plant for relief. 76% of respondents in one study said they’d consider using cannabis to manage their MS and 28% already are.

Other Conditions That Cause These Problems

MS is the most well-known of culprits behind spasticity problems, but other conditions can also cause spasticity issues. Some other causes are brain and spinal cord injuries, stroke, meningitis, fibromyalgia, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Other kinds of brain damage can also be the culprit, like diseases in addition to MS that compromise the myelin sheath, such as B12 deficiency and encephalitis.

How Cannabis Helps Muscle Spasticity

The exact reasons that cannabis is helpful in these matters are not known, but it is generally understood that anti-inflammatory properties that are the cause for the success of cannabis for muscle spasms. A study conducted at the University of South Carolina found that the immune system’s inflammatory proteins are deactivated by cannabis. As with many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, research is just getting rolling; but it sure is off to an exciting start.

FOOTTRAFFIK: CLEAR CHOICE

CANNABIS CONCENTRATES: WHAT THEY ARE & HOW TO USE THEM

We are blessed with a plethora of options when deciding how to consume our beloved herb. Cannabis concentrates are quickly becoming a favorite, especially with seasoned cannabis enthusiasts. Concentrates appear in many forms, but the essential common thread is that they isolate cannabis trichomes — and their powerful cannabinoids, like THC or CBD. 

The Power of Cannabis Concentrates

This isolation means that unnecessary plant material and other impurities are not consumed, which has a few benefits. For one, your pipe or bong will stay clean much longer; and one can only imagine that something similar is happening in the lungs… And, of course, concentrates are going to have a significantly higher percentage of cannabinoids; meaning that you can take much less of it for the same effect. 

But when it comes to psychoactive cannabinoids like THC, this can actually cause trouble. It’s very common for even veteran enthusiasts to get unpleasantly high on their first concentrate experience. Cannabis concentrates typically range between 50-80% THC, with superb products coming in as high as 90%. For comparison, cannabis flower ranges between 10-25% THC. Be very mindful of this while navigating concentrates for the first time. (And ask our budtenders for help!)

Terpenes can be hard to preserve during the extraction process, so the flavor may not be as enjoyable as flower. However, many companies have started adding terpenes in at the end, so that’s an option for a more flavorful concentrate. 

Dabbing has become one of the most popular methods for consuming concentrates, which involves heating a “nail” on a dabbing rig and applying the concentrate to the hot surface. You can also add concentrates to your bowl, joint, or compatible vaporizer.

Types of Concentrates

Hashish: Cannabis concentrates are currently experiencing a surge in innovation and popularity, but hash (the OG concentrate) has been around for centuries. It is formed by taking stalked resin glands from the cannabis plant and rubbing them together to remove the trichomes, as well as other similar methods. The result is a sticky brick or ball. 

Kief: You already know kief, also referred to as dry sift or pollen. It’s the sticky-icky on your fingers after rolling a joint, it’s the crystal-like substance at the bottom of your grinder. Kief is usually sifted to separate the trichomes, and like hashish, it frequently contains plant material.

Shatter: This name, and the ones that follow, describe the consistency of modern cannabis concentrates, which are generally free of all impurities. In this case, we’re talking about a hard glass-like substance that can also resemble pulled taffy.

Budder/Batter: These two are soft in consistency, making them great for spreading onto joints or blunts. Budder has a consistency similar to butter, and batter the consistency of cake batter.

Crumble: Indeed crumbly in texture, this concentrate has a honeycomb consistency.

Sugar/Sauce: A concentrate has a consistency similar to wet, sappy sugar is called “sugar.” Sauce is a thicker version that has a more uniform and prominent crystalline structure.

Distillate/Oil: As you may have guessed, this refers to a liquid, oily, consistency. Oil is what goes into cannabis cartridges and pre-filled pens, and it also can be found in syringes.

It’s an exciting time for cannabis, and the world of concentrates is no exception. Keep your eyes on this ever-changing market for continued evolution of our cannabis options.

In the market for top-shelf cannabis concentrates in Tacoma, Washington? Stop by our popular Tacoma dispensary for help choosing your new favorite products, or check out our online dispensary menu.

Societal Conditioning is Losing Its Grip, Let’s Help

Advocacy movements are changing harmful norms, but they can’t do it alone.

Still from ‘They Live,’ a 1988 cult-classic, very clever take on societal conditioning, and great follow-up to reading about this topic. (Image via letterboxd)

Social conditioning is a lot like air, we hardly notice it, and yet it affects every aspect of our lives.

It’s defined as ‘the sociological process of training individuals in a society to respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within society,’ and it looks like going to school, interacting with peers (especially “fitting in”), engaging with pop culture, adapting to work environments, etc.

These things shape the way we view the world and interact with others.

And right now, Americans are learning that our “air” has some fiercely toxic issues.

Though there have always been Black advocates speaking up, nearly a decade ago The Black Lives Matter movement finally brought national attention to the fact that we most definitely do not live in a post-racial society (which has been clearly reflected in demographic statistics for decades) — and yet our public schools essentially teach that the ’60s brought equality to our country.

Generations were taught that we’re “a nation that doesn’t see race,” learning that ignoring our racial differences was helpful; and this conditioning has led to continued societal disbelief and inaction in regard to the very real racial disparities in the US. It’s horrifying.

Then the #MeToo movement busted onto the scene in 2017, exposing the harmful misogynistic norms that women have been dealing with in America all along — and making a lot of us pretty furious about all the “sugar + spice” conditioning that basically trained us to put up with harassment and abuse, all in the subconscious pursuit of trying to be the “good girls” society told us to be.

Photo by Edrece Stansberry on Unsplash

And though disability advocacy movements haven’t yet caught the nation’s attention, we’ve been yelling for a very long time. From extensive issues with accessibility (for wheelchair users and beyond), massively-funded nonprofits that actually work against us (*ahem, Autism Speaks*), to a society rampant with inspiration porn in place of actually informing people about how to work with our different needs; to excessive government focus on “preventable illness” and little-to-none on the myriad of conditions that can’t be, resulting in a blame-the-patient culture that’s really hard to survive —we’ve got a lot to be upset about.

All-in-all, America has a white-supremacist, sexist, ableist (+!) set of social norms; and they need to change, fast.

While developments like oodles of (brilliant) intersectional entertainment, advocacy movements regularly trending on Twitter, and increased diversity in politics are helpful and encouraging; we also need our societal conditioning to change in a structural way, in our government and healthcare systems, schools, workplaces, and how media is sourced and distributed.

Luckily, the evolution of societal norms is often a direct result of individuals speaking up. A paradigm shift is not only possible, it’s already happening.

For example, those same public schools teach young minds that Thanksgiving commemorates a peaceful celebration of unity between settlers and Native Americans when history shows that the opposite was true. And this propaganda is taught by teachers who are overwhelmingly white, with a lived racial experience that 4 in 10 Americans cannot relate to.

Photo by Mwesigwa Joel on Unsplash

We need schools that teach actual, factual, history, and it needs to be taught by teachers who represent the demographics of the students in this country.

Now let’s pick on the media. Television and magazines propagate impossible ideals, corporate support/dependence, and harmful norms that serve to protect the status quo — which isn’t surprising since six white-male-led companies control the vast majority of the media, often resulting in news coverage and bias that benefits those already on top.

The “normal” office space is also rife with room for improvement. The constraints of “acting professional” usually have more to do with not causing waves than treating colleagues with respect — and this conditioning serves us in the exact same way as the “sugar + spice” bullshite, helping to maintain the toxic status quo through unspoken demands like code-switching.

The effect of our present societal conditioning is that people are expected to “fit in” in order to move up in life, which is functionally racistsexist, and ableist in application — ensuring that the people on top, stay on top.

(And we’ve only talked about 3 offensive ists harming our society! There’s plenty more.)

It might “make waves“… 😮 (‘They Live’ film still provided by Universal Pictures, via Fonts in Use.)

How to Help

Norms are changing on our screens, now it’s time to securely bring inclusive changes into the schools, offices, and community spaces of the United States.

It’s time to check ourselves. And it’s time to speak up against harmful norms.

Everyday. Everywhere.

Luckily, the evolution of societal norms is often a direct result of individuals speaking up. A paradigm shift is not only possible, it’s already happening.

But it needs all of us.

Here are 6 ways we can help detoxify the effects of societal conditioning:

  1. Learn, learn, learn. We need to educate ourselves in areas where we have societally-suggested knowledge gaps (or even misinformation), carefully ensuring that what we’re reading was written by a member of the affected group. This can take some effort, but it’s worth it to ensure that what we’re reading is truly the perspective of the community affected. (There are lots of advocacy personal essays on Medium, so you’re at a great place to start.)
  2. Inspect our language. Our culture is rife with popular terms that are actually offensive to our many vulnerable demographics, and even well-meaning can people offend. (We’re practically trained to, via societal osmosis.) And it’s important to pay attention to aspects that aren’t usually considered; such as more subtle aspects of discrimination (ex. for ableism, hurtful usage of words like ‘crazy’ and ‘stupid’), phrases like “that’s just the system” that subtly stand up for the status quo. And it should go without saying, but this applies to every space — not just those where minority groups are present.
  3. Request change from the leaders of our society, especially politicians and corporations. Be it an email to your local political representatives about the harm of letting misinformation masquerade as news, no longer supporting an offending corporation due to sexist advertising, or calling out a celebrity for the societal ramifications of an ableist action; individual complaints add up and are often (eventually) appeased.
  4. Request change in your environments. Again, individual input matters! When enough of us ask for changes in respect to well, respect, leaders have to respond. And there are now training programs to help educate employees, students, and communities on how to better accommodate one another, so why not encourage one?
  5. Speak up when you’re affected. We need to speak up when we’re hit by the negative outcomes created by societal conditioning, or it will seem like “we’re fine with it.” If a teacher only calls on the white kids, if women in your office are paid less than men, if you’re being treated as if your disabled needs are irrelevant, or anything else of that nature — now’s the time to speak up.
  6. Learn to welcome the different. Even when we try not to let it, subtle-yet-constant conditioning affects how all of us see the world, often creating anxiety around allowing new experiences and people in. But in addition to being the inherently more kind thing to do, diversity has proven benefits; the more perspectives, the more coherent the collective understanding will be.

Inclusivity, attentiveness, and compassion in regards to our differences need to replace the societally-pervasive dinosaur mentality of “that’s just how things are done.”

And it starts with us.

How Breathing + Cold Exposure Can Improve Your Life

The Wim Hof method activates the mighty endocannabinoid system, the body’s wellness regulator.

Meg HartleyNov 10 · 4 min read

Photo via Instagram

This article was orignally published on ILLUMINATION, I very much appreciate claps (you can do 50!) and follows over @ Medium! 

There are lots of bizarre-sounding health fads out there, and many of them aren’t as effective as they are attention-catching, but I can say from personal experience that the Wim Hof Method (WHM) is one that actually works.

It’s just breathing exercises plus cold exposure, but it’s been hailed for improving, or even curing, all kinds of health conditions, as well as improving general health and well-being — and there’s a science to back it up.

Here’s a list of benes: More energy, boost the immune system, anti-inflammatory, better sleep, increase sports performance, workout recovery, autoimmune disease relief, arthritis relief, post-treatment Lyme relief, COPD management, migraine relief, MS management, asthma management, lower blood pressure, improve metabolism, and relief from fibromyalgia symptoms.

I’m in it mostly for that last one: helping ease the hellacious pain that is fibromyalgia.

I can’t report that I’m totally healed, but after 3–4 months of doing their daily breathing + cold shower technique, my pain decreased immensely. I’m unable to do the cold shower portion in the winter due to bone pain, but just the breathing alone still keeps fibro pain below a 3, when it was 8’s and up prior winters. And in the warmer months when I can do the cold shower portion, I don’t even think about fibromyalgia! It’s been a godsend.

Though this exercise is great for anyone with a body, I especially recommend that my fellow fibro-fighters and spoonies of all kinds — including mental health warriors and the neurodiverse — keep reading, even if your condition wasn’t listed this could help.

The breathing exercise also just feels great, delivering pleasant tingling sensations throughout your body; it’s both invigorating and relaxing, plus my back and neck usually pop with ease afterward.

The Science
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

The reason the WHM is so effective is that it activates the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is best known for being the bodily system that works with cannabis, but it’s so much more.

The ECS is in charge of regulating virtually all of the other systems in our body, so it’s big deal, and it’s criminal that doctors don’t study it in school. Science has shown that atypical endocannabinoid levels are associated with many chronic illnesses, several of which are listed above, as well as forms of neurodiversity — like AutismADHDTourette’s, and others.

In 2018 researchers studied the WHM on Wim Hof himself, finding increased activity in the areas of the brain that are “associated with brain mechanisms for the control of sensory pain and is thought to implement this control through the release of opioids and [endo]cannabinoids.”

In other words, the breathing exercises and the cold exposure cause an increase in ECS activity, allowing it to better regulate the body’s functions and get unbalanced aspects in check.

Again from the study, “The practice of the Wim Hof Method may lead to tonic changes in autonomous brain mechanisms, a speculation that has implications for managing medical conditions ranging from diseases of the immune system to more intriguingly psychiatric conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders.”

How to do the Wim Hof Method
Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Completing the WHM should take 15–20 minutes, all you need is this free video and a functional shower (or another form of cold exposure). The video will guide you through a 3-part breathing exercise, which will be repeated 3 times.

Here’s how it goes:

  • The first element involves circular breathing, which is simply breathing into your belly, letting it extend, then pulling that breath into your chest, then releasing. The video will take you through 30 reps, showing you an orange bubble that inflates and deflates with you to help keep time.
  • In the second bit, Hof will tell you to let all of your breath out and to refrain from breathing in for as long as you can. It’ll give you 60 seconds, then 1:25 as goals — but don’t feel pressured, just fast-forward the video when you need to breathe in, or pause if you can hold out longer.
  • The third portion will have you do the opposite, breathing in as much as you can, then holding the air in for 15 seconds before releasing — if you haven’t felt the great bodily feelings yet, they’ll come for that part.

Then it’s time to hop in a freezing cold shower! It’s hard at first, but they became refreshing for me after a few weeks — you’ll adjust to the cold temperatures too, you really will. (Which expands options for outdoor swimming fun…)

In the meantime, if the cold water is just too cold, try starting it at normal temps and then moving to cold. Start out with whatever your body can handle, and work up to 2–3 minutes.

Happy Hoff’ing!