A pal and a confidant

A Facebook page called “Queertism” shared a link to a poem they found on “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism” about the heartbreaking realization that a new “friend” is only using you for school credit and will go back to hanging out with the cool kids when their “assignment” is over.

Well, I was one of those “assigned friends” as a student at Benchmark Transitions (formerly Benchmark Young Adult School). It was supposed to make the arrogant douchebag (who made zero effort to hide his annoyance with me or his assignment) I was “assigned” more humble. It didn’t.

That’s the primary reason why I refused to participate in “Best Buddies Day” in college (“make a friend for life,” by using them as a prop to feel good about yourself for a day), and “Disabilities Awareness” merit badge in Scouting (which now only requires you to “…spend a day with a disabled scout…” [3a]), and while I cringe at Allistic Scouts explaining disabilities to their troop/pack (5a), it has added a new requirement about “pledging to show a positive attitude about people with disabilities” (req. 6).

Thank you for reading this, and, as always, thank you for being a friend…

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, BYAS (Benchmark Transitions), California, Redlands\Yucaipa, scouting | Leave a comment

Fare is fair… except when it’s not

Today I went to Publix to buy milk. I took the Red Line trolley to the end of the line. I got lunch at the Subway next to the store, bought my low-fat milk and waited 10 minutes for the trolley back to my apartment.

“STOP,” the driver barked opening the door, but refusing to let me on. “Why you always pay just quarter? I ask(ed) you a question. Why do YOU pay a quarter? That rate is for people who WORK along route. You no work. You have no work, do you? You ‘work’ here? Fine, show me an ID from your job?”

Wait, what? I thought it was a “resident” rate, but I could be misinformed.

“Huh,” he taunted before I could answer him. “Ha, you don’t have one. You are not ‘special,’ unless you are a senior or in a wheelchair – which are neither – you pay this much,” taps signs on farebox.

Right, because only people in wheelchairs are “disabled?” Gotcha.

“You see that,” he said condescendingly. “Do you? THAT is how much you pay. I am not a fool. I have job, and I am doing it. Now, you pay $2, or you do not get on. Period.”

I remember my Nextbus app saying “6 minutes” and then “39 minutes.” It probably wouldn’t have been THAT long as I was at the second stop on the route… but I didn’t feel like chancing it, so I pulled out 2 $1 bills (out of the $5 that were in my wallet) so the hero driver wins the day.

But victory wasn’t enough for him. He has to lecture me about how I can’t be mad at him for “doing (his) job” when I don’t have one of my own (because I was holding a SHOPPING bag, and “shopping is no working”). Finally, I just tune out his prattle and pretend this is all his being a jerk… and realizing I could get a “disability card” for Autism in Florida with a valid assessment (which I don’t have at the moment) and a consultation with an affiliated psychologist.

Three stops later, the driver stops for a young black man in a grey T-shirt with “DKNY” written on it with baggy white sweatpants. He drops a quarter in the farebox and heads to a seat across from me without a word from the driver.

See, I thought with a passing smile, I am “special” after all…

Categories: adventures, Autism, florida, I-Ride Trolley, Orlando, transportation | 1 Comment

Fire Sprinkler Inspection Day

Today is “Fire Sprinkler Inspection Day” at Sea Isle (required by law for all apartment complexes in Florida). The fire Marshal, apartment manager and maintenance supervisor come around to poke around the apartment – including the closets 😮 – to check smoke detectors and see if you have the right number of fire sprinklers in your unit.

I can hear the alarms getting louder, so they must be coming soon. I HATE the alarms they’re extremely loud and the flashing lights give me a headache. At least this time I won’t be in the shower…

Fire Marshal,” he shouted over the roar of the water. “You have less than one minute to open this door before I knock it the fuck down!

Back to the present, I’ve been hanging out on the balcony with headphones on for the past hour as the noise from the other buildings has gotten steadily louder.

I think they left now, but it was 15-20 minutes of pure TERROR while they were doing my section of the building as even with headphones the noise was absolutely deafening.

Fortunately, I wasn’t naked this time (as my balcony overlooks the main walkway through the complex). However, I still managed to make a fool of myself in front of the Fire Marshal and the maintenance woman when I was blinded by the flashing lights AND doubled over in pain from the noise (as jolting up when they knocked on my neighbor‘s door threw the earbuds out of my ears leaving my ears unprotected). I have no idea how they do that without earplugs.

Oh, and the inspection of my unit itself took less than a full minute so there was that…

Categories: Autism, florida, Orlando, sensory processing disorder, Williamsburg | 1 Comment

How to ruin your own meal

So I had just returned from the zoo and was reorganizing the pictures I uploaded from my phone (for some reason, FB overrided the album I uploaded them to and said “nah, he doesn’t want to upload the to the album he created especially to upload them to. No, what he REALLY wants them put in ‘Mobile Uploads’ because #fuckhim

After getting that squared away, I began planning out yesterday’s post. I had a blank document with no headline… and a rumbly stomach so I went downstairs to the frigid cold lobby (#becauseFlorida) and decided to have a quick meal in the hotel restaurant.

I was seated straight away despite it’s small size and slightly bigger crowd than I was expecting this early – even for a Friday (I was unaware it was also a game night so we got a lot of customers come in wearing “Bolt Blue,” and, of course, they got far better service than I did). My waiter took my drink order right away, and came back about ten minutes with my water, and then took my order. I asked him about various things on the menu, and then ordered a plate of wings and a plain cheeseburger. Pretty straightforward, right? Of course not.

After waiting 20 minutes for my appetizers, my waiter brings them out. They have zero taste, but I’m hungry. He comes back and takes them 10 minutes later and asks if I want any “coffee or dessert.”

“How about the burger I ordered?”

“You didn’t order any ‘burger.’ So, bring the check out then?”

“Damnit, why do I keep forgetting I’m stooped? But appearently, I decided – without my knowledge to cancel my order while I was making it. My God, that is REALLY stupid on my part, but that’s just how us stooped people roll.”

“I asked you if you wanted the wings AND the burger, and you said ‘no’ (so buying an appetizer negates the rest of my order?) Therefore, if you want the burger you thought you ordered, you have to actually order it.”

If he simply forgot to put it in, that would be one thing; but not putting it in and saying it’s somehow MY fault makes me more mad. Twenty minutes later he brings it out exactly as I hadn’t ordered and runs off. Obviously, I’m not eating here again.

I’d was going to go out and do something fun tonight, but, frankly, I’ve lost my appetite…

Categories: Autism, Channelside\Downtown, florida, Tampa | 1 Comment

Thankful Thursday memes

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“Buddy, ya mad psyc elf”

Did that headline make sense to you?

Good, that makes TWO of us. I was thinking of that annoying Will Ferrell movie, but, sadly, it had nothing to do with that abomination.

I was going out to buy milk from the 7-11 catty-corner from my apartment. That was my only intention for this humid fall night – nefarious or otherwise… and, yes, I’ll get to that later in this essay, but first some context…

It was 7:45pm, and, due to the quaint anachronism known as “Daylight Saving Time,” it was practically pitch black out there save for oncoming traffic (which are extra dangerous for me due to my having a 1.5 second processing delay – which can be absolutely deadly as a pedestrian), a couple of flickering/sparsely placed streetlights and the signs on top of the two hotels – plus the aforementioned convenience on the other side of the extremely busy intersection.

That is stressful enough for me under normal conditions (but is far better than being out in the day’s heat), but did I mention that I also had to deal with the deafening noise of a rapidly approaching fire truck with horns blaring and sirens at FULL VOLUME.

I get it – it’s an actual emergency, but it doesn’t have to stop an inch behind me blaring said horns directly into my ears while I’m in the middle of a busy intersection with the pedestrian signal up (it was also the very thing I was trying to avoid so, congrats, mission accomplished).

This caused me to jump 3 feet in the air and freeze temporarily while their sirens were still going and now they were shouting “MOVE YOUR (horn)ING ASS (double horn), YOU (horn)ING RETARDED ASS(horn)!!!”

“Shit. God damnit, that hurts,” I said holding my ears in pain as I tried to continue crossing the street while the fire truck nearly clipped me as it shot off behind me.

“Buddy, up ya mad psycic elf,” this guy in a black and grey hoodie said passing me from behind, I could barely hear over the ringing in my ears.

“HEY, BUDDY,” he said repeating it for me impatiently. “I SAID ‘YOU’RE OFF YOUR MEDS AGAIN, YOU FUCKING PSYCHOPATH!!!’”

That is both helpful and not helpful at the same time – especially since I once again only caught half of it.

“God damnit,” I said stepping onto the sidewalk, “that horn was loud and an inch away from my ear. What the hell is wrong with them? Fu…ow. Seriously.”


That I sort of understood, but as I tried to work it through in my head, I didn’t realize I was repeating everything I was saying out loud.


“MASS SHOOTER?!! WHERE,” I shouted looking around frantically for a place to hide. Of course, there wasn’t so much as a bush in a 100-foot radius, so I looked like a madman to 100s of oncoming cars.

YOU ARE,” he said flipping me off as he finally disappearing somewhere into the darkness.  “YOU GOD-DAMNED RETARDED LUNATIC!”

Sure, he was gone… but what if he came back later in my trip? I wondered as I continued to walk towards my destination, my body still shaking as I entered the convenience store, but, hey, at least, my hearing was starting to come back…

Categories: adventures, Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, florida, Orlando, sensory processing disorder, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

Can’t you get it?

Do I really need to take that awful phrase apart? I will anyway, but first let me provide some context. This is a comment I made on the Facebook page “Joy of Autism” on a picture of a boy with the caption: “I asked him to do something. He said “no” so we celebrated.”

Was it inartful? Probably. Was it insensitive? Possibly. Did I prove I have absolutely no understanding of what Autism is (and by implication never will)? At least one commenter thought so asking:

Jonathan Twiggar, can’t you get it? He’s nonverbal, and he spoke.”

“Can’t you get it?”

There were 100s of enraged replies I could have posted, and, believe me, I considered all of them. Was see implying I was stupid or just that I wasn’t worth explaining things to? This is why I quickly learned to not ask questions in school – either my teacher, classmates or both would have that “why are you wasting our time with this shit? This is OBVIOUS to anyone with half a brain!”

Can’t you get it? Of course not, and you never will because you’re stupid/retarded/etc. so why should I bother explaining it to you if you’re never going to get it?

To be fair, not 100% understanding something relatively trivial that I didn’t know and had no way of knowing based on the scant information presented to me is a federal crime… at least on Facebook.

Heck, I guarantee my mom could see that same reply and react like “what’s the problem with this? Why do you think she’s ‘attack’ …wait, what did YOU say to… how dare you write something like that!” #supportive

Speaking of Facebook, I couldn’t post any of the replies I wanted, but I eventually collected myself enough to give a reasonably measured response (which to my amazement, no-one argued with). However, that doesn’t mean I know anything about Autism – least of all mine…

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, entertainment, Internet\FB | Leave a comment

Awesome Autumn memes

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Autism, cartoons\memes, humor, Internet\FB | Leave a comment

Why I hate getting my haircut

Just got a haircut, after waiting for over a half-hour in the half-full waiting room I was finally called back to the chair. I told the barber that I wanted “scissor cut” (because I hate the noise/vibration against my head), and he replies: “Right, okay, like a 4 or 5? Okay, I see, gotcha.”

“No longer like-”

“You mean like a 6 or 7? Okay. Okay, I see. Gotcha,” he pulls out his clippers and starts giving me a 5 anyway.

When I tell him I wanted a scissors cut, he says “you did not. Your said ‘give me a 5 with clippers.’ Yes, you did, and that is what I am giving you.”

“No, YOU asked about a ‘4 or 5.”

“I told you that was too short and you recommend ed a ‘6 or 7.’ Why would I tell you to give me a clipper cut when I know I hate when barbers do those things?”

“Because you did,” he shrugged, “maybe if you told me in Spanish…

“What, you don’t speak Spanish? Pfft,” he said putting his clippers down and picking up a large, shoddy looking pair of scissors. “How do you understand what the people in the next chair are saying if you ‘don’t speak Spanish.’ I mean come on, this is Florida, EVERYONE speaks Spanish.”

He then proceeds to spend the next ten minutes manhandling my head with his giant hands (good thing I’m sensitive to touch too). I REALLY wanted to rip my apron off dramatically and walk out (wouldn’t be the first time), but I didn’t because “!el Stupido” or something – especially since I knew without even looking that it was already too short.

He then pulls out the razor for my ears and neck which is even worse from a noise/vibration stand point and doesn’t seem remotely phased by how clearly uncomfortable it is for me (as I had a stylist in Baltimore nearly cut my ear off doing that). He then puts it down, shows my hair and it looks like a damned buzzcut – and a sloppy one at that.

“See, what did I tell you? I gave you a great haircut. Huh, huh, huh,” he said elbowing me annoyingly. “Ya look great.”

Um, no.

On the plus side, he charged me full price for it (couldn’t understand how I couldn’t be happy with such an “awesome” cut), and I gave him a $2 tip simply because I already had too many 1s on me to get change from him. Very frustrating and disappointing, and it happens nearly every time I get a haircut.

Probably the reason I avoid them at all costs, just like my dentist…

Categories: adventures, Autism, florida, Orlando | Leave a comment

Fiction: Children of Wax: Part 1

“The hottest day of the year,” Wes said. “And, of course, the A/C decides to give out. I swear, by the end of the day, we won’t have a museum – we’ll have a giant pool of wax. I don’t want to be the one who has to clean that up.”

“Neither do I,” Jake replied drolly. “Did you ever hear back from that college you applied to?”

“WE applied to, and, yes, I’ve got the envelope in my bag…I can open it now. I’m sensing good news.”

“Let’s hope so.”

“‘Dear applicant,’” he began as Jake cringed. “Must be one of those ‘form letters’ I keep hearing about… ‘Thank you for your interest in our school. We re…gret t-to in…form you that…’”

“It’s okay,” Jake said putting his hand on his fiancé’s shoulder reassuringly.

“No,” he said rebuffing said hand. “It’s not. We were supposed to go t-together, and now… and now, we can’t. Just go. Check the galleries, make s-sure nothings melted yet…”


Jake Norway went through the galleries (normally Wes’ job) straightening wigs and repositioning dummies. He knew his fiancé would tell him they “looked sad” for some reason, but he’s been working there long enough to know that was usually the result of either a slid wig, misaligned eye…or the viewer’s imagination (like Wes with his silly paranormal “reality” shows).

As he was evaluating the Appalachia scene (the one directly behind Rodney’s), he heard the restroom door slam loudly. Fine, nothing strange about that, he’d be out in a minute or so…but he wasn’t. However, he did hear an unfamiliar voice shout his name from that general area – despite the fact that the museum hadn’t actually opened yet. Spooky, but more than likely just his imagination…

He got into the gallery where Daniel was and heard his name called again, but in a much louder, more urgent voice. He then, having finished his tour, checked the restroom next to the curator’s office to see an unconscious Wes sprawled on the floor holding a pocket knife in his hands as blood spurted from his wrists…

Oh right, he pulled his cell phone out and frantically dialed 9-11, hoping it wasn’t too late…


While the doctors were still treating Wes, Jake returned to work the next day to find that his replacements had set up a bunch of fans in the museum (even though fans do not actually “cool” air, they just move it around). There was a large, relatively new oscillating fan in the lobby and several older, smaller fans set up in the individual galleries plugged in the loose, aging outlets.

“Idiots,” he said seeing the ragged extension cords (that looked like the rats had been chewing on them) duct taped to the floor. This was an obvious fire hazard, but he couldn’t leave to replace them as he was the only one working there that day. He probably didn’t want to see the job they did cleaning up the restroom.

He continued his inspection, noting that he thought some of the figures in the first room seemed worried. “Happy,” “sad,” or “angry” were common interpretations, but “worry” was new to him. Bah, he was probably just projecting his own feelings on some lifeless pile of wax.

He goes back to the lobby and checks his e-mail to find an ominous looking message from the park owner…


Wes woke up sometime later to find himself standing rigid and immobile on a small platform in the museum lobby across from where Jacob and some other dude was sitting. Was that Kenny from the go-kart track or Brice from the putt-putt course or…it didn’t matter, he was probably dead anyway.

Then he realized, the reason he was awake now – the ring on his left hand was gone, and he just saw the smug little shit (no older than Rodney or Sara) leave the museum with his mom. That bastard was definitely going to pay for that, and as much as the others tried to dissuade him, he decided to follow him around the 3rd rate park – making damn sure the punk thief saw him.

Finally around 11pm, as said thief was playing an online game, his system suddenly shuts off and he could see the reflection of a certain red-haired boy lying on his bed in the black monitor holding the power cord in his left hand.

“You know what I want. You may as well give it to me – call it an even exchange.”


“Absolutely not,” the boy shouted. “This PC cost my parents $8500, this ring will pawn for less than $200.”

“It’s not about money, my fiancé saved up for months on a part-time minimum wage to buy this ring for me. Frankly, you can’t put a price on love.”

“I don’t care about you and your gay, faggot ass lover.”

“Damned straight…err, not straight. Augh, it doesn’t matter, boy knows a good thing when he sees it.”

“I don’t care about you. I want my power cord back. NOW!”

“Phillip Ryan Thatcher,” his mother said sharply as she entered the room. “What the hell are you carrying on about? Your father and I are trying to sleep. Now go to bed before I bring your father in here.”

“Go on, tell her. It’ll be fun.”

“No,” Phillip said (to Wes).

“Don’t talk back to me, young man. You do not want your father up here.”

Suddenly, there was a noise of loud footsteps on the stairs.

“That’s it,” she continued. “You’re really in trouble now…”


The footsteps stop a few feet from the boy’s door, but neither of him nor his mother saw anyone come in leaving both vaguely unsettled.

“Who are you,” Wes asked cocking his head slightly.

“George,” Phillip’s mom blurted as he (unbeknownst to her) stepped into the doorway.

“Dang it,” the fair skinned boy with shaggy brown hair and a dirty grey uniform shouted in his thick Southern accent. “For the last time, my name isn’t… you can see me?

“Um, yeah, and your little thief here can see me so you may as well tell me.”

“I am not a thief.”

“What was that,” his mom asked sharply.

“My name isn’t ‘George.’ It’s Jonah.”

“George? Jonah? They are kinda close.”

“Jonah,” Phillip asked. “I like it.”

“We were half-right,” his mother added.

“Not the point, the point is your antics woke everyone up.”

“HIS antics,” Wes said pointing to his left. “He’s the one who stole my engagement ring off my finger. Wants to pawn it for $200.”

“I did not ‘steal’ anything. He’s a fucking mannequin. What the fuck does he need an ‘engagement ring’ for anyway?”


“It doesn’t matter,” Jonah said. “You can bet that if someone stole one of my possessions that I’d be mad too.”

“You’d better not have!”

“Three against one. Better hope your dad doesn’t come in here.”

“Like I care what some 60-year-old thinks.”

“Six-TEEN!! I’m SIXTEEN not 60. Stop making me older than I am.”

“TEEN,” Wes said. “He’s three years older than you are.”

“He’s sixteen? I thought he was supposed to be some grizzled old vet.”

“Don’t you dare mock his service.”

“I did not ‘mock’ his service.”

“His uniform is grey, but his hair is dark brown. Give it a good cutting, and he’d look damned sexy. Don’t worry, kid, as you’ve probably heard by now, I’m already engaged…”


“Who are you talking to,” Phillip’s mother said. “I said nothing about his service. I swear boy, I love you, but you’re starting to worry me here.”

“You mean like this kinda service,” Jonah said closing the boy’s dresser drawer loudly and tossing the ring to Wes who catches it making them both visible for a moment.

“Thanks, Jonah,” he said sliding it onto his finger. He turns to Phillip’s mother, bowed and continued: “Sorry for the interruption, Ma’am. Oh, and Jonah…”

“Hi,” he said waving awkwardly as he realized they could see him, but, for the life – err, afterlife – of him he couldn’t think of a single thing to say after that. Thankfully, he didn’t need to as Wes continued:

“You’re more than welcome to visit me in the park if you need me.”

And with that, Wes disappeared triumphantly followed shortly by a slightly embarrassed Jonah who quietly shut the door behind them passing Phillip’s father on the stairs…


Several days later, Wes stood guard as his former colleagues sat down for their weekly staff meeting. The first item on the docket (which his former fiancé had no interest in entertaining) was “strange occurrences” around the museum/park.

“Well,” Jacob said skeptically. “There’s only one fair way to settle this. We need to bring in fair, impartial outside observers.”

“You mean like those paranormal investigators I saw on TV,” Kenny asked (didn’t he work rides?).

“I was thinking more along the lines of scientific investigators…”

“Oh, come on,” Brice said (the mini golf course wasn’t good enough for him?). “It would create buzz for the park – plus, wasn’t Wes a huge fan of that show?”

“Um, yeah,” Kenny chimed. “It’ll be a fitting tribute. You should totally call them after the meeting.”

“Fine,” Jacob sighed as he looked up and thought he saw Wes’s statue smiling at him cheesily. “Compile a list of anything suspicious or ‘paranormal’ that you think the so-called ‘ghosts’ did around the museum and/or park and I’ll present it to them IF they come.”


As the TAPS team entered the aging amusement park, a young employee with caramel skin handed Dave Tango a map, imploring him to “enjoy his stay.”

“Hey, thanks.”

“Hey, Dave,” Steve Gonsalves asked. “Who are you talking to back there?”

“The employee over there, the one who gave me this map.”

“What ‘employee,’ the park is closed today?”

He motions to where the young man was standing, “what the..? He was JUST here a moment ago.”

“Your imagination is acting up on you again, Dave.”

“Then where’d I get this map from,” he said showing it him. Steve grabs it from it his hands impatiently.

“Hey, wait, there’s two here,” he said handing the one back to Tango before opening his own to find a large drawing of a spider tucked into the inside of the brochure with the word “Boo” written below it.

“What’s going on back there,” Lead Investigator Jason Hawes asked.

“Nothing, Jay.”

“Good, catch up, we’re trying to find this ‘museum’ place.”


“My map says it should be around the corner to the right.”

“When did you get a map,” Co-founder Grant Wilson asked. “We didn’t get a map. Did we, Jay?”

“Oh come on, I couldn’t possibly be the only person to see him standing there!”

“So, around this way… and to the right,” Jay said ignoring Tango’s outburst. “Looks like some kind of food court and…it should be right…around…THERE! Looks like your map was right, Tango.”

“Um, thanks, Jay.”

“Let’s get inside,” he said opening the door and practically pushing them inside. “You two can go first.”

“Yeah,” Grant agreed half-jokingly. “Keep you two from causing any more trouble.”


“Um, guys,” Tango said peering into the main gallery. “This is him.”


“The kid I saw at the entrance.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jacob said. “That reminds me of something I was going to tell you anyway. He was one of our last arrivals, and I still remember the first thing Wes said when we unboxed him was ‘doesn’t he look like he should be standing at the gate-’”

“‘…Handing out maps,’” Tango continued holding up his for the group to see. None of them noticing the boy in question smiling subtly (…except the cameraman who happened to pan up during the exchange).

“Um, yes,” Jacob said awkwardly. “He then insisted on leaving a pen and notebook in the room while we went out to the floor. When we came back, there was writing in it. No clue how it got there, but it wasn’t any of our handwritings.”

“Interesting…,” Jay said.

“Wait, do you still have this notebook,” Grant asked.

“In the desk drawer, I can get it if you want.”

“Please do,” Jay said. “It would be a great help.”


“Do you mind if we take it with us,” Grant asked.

“Why,” Jacob asked. “It’s only two pages.”

“Still. Anything you could give us would be a big help towards our investigation.”

“Whatever, you can have it. Now, if you follow me, I’ll introduce you to them personally. This is the main gallery, the expansive Virginia Beach scene on the left, the manor house scene on the right and the models from both of these scenes are in the notebook.”

“What about the kid on the raft,” Jay asked of the relatively small endcap.

“Huck here is just a mannequin, but around the corner is our Appalachian scene leading into the Hollywood and Ole’ West dioramas.”

“So, anything reported back here,” Steve asked wondering if his cords would reach this far back.

“Nope, but the next room where our newest model, which was apparently part of some planned robotic display give some visitors ‘weird feelings,’ yet none of the reporters say they were ‘scared’ or ‘intimidated’ by it.”

“So, he’s not bothering anyone,” Jay asked.

“No, but if you follow me,” Jacob said leading them through the archway to the lobby. “I can show you the rest of the park…”

Categories: Autism, entertainment, museums, writing | Leave a comment

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