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What People Should know about Autism: Written by an Actual Autistic Person

When a person hears the word autism, the first things they may think of are one of two stereotypes. One thing that may come to mind is the smart, quirky boy who is obsessed with trains but lacks empathy, emotions, and the ability to flirt. One may also think of a person who needs to live with a caregiver or requires more assistance and accommodations in life. Autism isn’t just one way, but rather a spectrum. However, there is more to this. Yes, many autistic people may need more support than a neurotypical and able-bodied person, and there are also many autistic people who don’t need very much support and are able to live in a society that caters to neurotypical people. Many autistic people dislike functioning labels (i.e., low functioning, high functioning) and see the autism spectrum as a color wheel rather than as a linear function. 


If you’re unfamiliar with what autism is, it is a developmental disorder that shapes the way one thinks, acts, learns, communicates, socializes, and perceives the world. Autistic people can have difficulty with socializing, processing sensory information, and communicating. Autistic people can speak early, late, or not at all, and things such as reading social cues, understanding sarcasm, showing emotions, and understanding intentions can also be challenging for them.

I was diagnosed with autism when I was two-and-a-half years old and spoke much later than other children around me. I was fortunate to get diagnosed at an early age because it allowed me to get the intervention and support I needed. Unfortunately, most autistic girls tend to be diagnosed later in life. I think that this is because of stereotypes created about autism and gender roles in society. In our society, boys are often conditioned to be vocal and rowdy, while girls are often conditioned to be quiet and polite. If a boy’s speech is delayed, it’s often considered a problem sooner. However, if a girl’s speech is delayed, it doesn’t necessarily raise concern because people expect girls to be more quiet and shy. 

The autistic community is a diverse community. There are autistic people who identify as part of the LGBT+ community, autistic people of color, and people who come from many different backgrounds. Many forms of media such as what you see on television and what you read about don’t really take this into account. When I want to see a TV show about autism, I want to be able to see diversity in who is represented. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an autistic person of color in a show and I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve ever seen an autistic woman or an autistic person who is part of the LGBT+ community portrayed in the media. 


Autistic people can get really into specific topics. The autistic community refers to these topics as “special interests.” A special interest is an intense interest in a topic. Interests can be really narrow, anything from reptiles to a specific movie or TV show. It looks like obsessions to non-autistic people, but these special interests can help autistic people cope. 

Something that is usually hard for autistic people is taking perspective and predicting social reactions. For example, understanding intentions can be very hard for autistic people and this can make socializing very difficult.

It’s also common for autistic people to have trouble with sensory processing. People with Sensory Processing Disorder may be very active, or may dislike certain textures, foods, tastes, smells, or may prefer their clothing to be made of a certain fabric. 

Some autistic people engage in self-soothing behavior, also known as stimming. Examples of stimming include flapping one’s hands, rocking, humming, and many others. Autistic people are also known to repeat words and phrases and perseverate on specific topics, often in line with their special interests. Stimming and repetition can help autistic people regulate their emotions and stress, calm down, and manage sensory input. 


When I was twelve, I wrote, illustrated, and self published a book. My book, Autism Over The Years: A Twelve Year Old’s Memoir, is about growing up as an autistic person. It is available on Amazon and on my website, In my memoir, I wrote about how activities such as playing and communicating with other kids were hard for me. I also included memories of behavior that people probably thought was weird, but in my perspective, totally made sense! As I share with readers in the closing pages of my book:

“I wrote this memoir because I want to show people how I see the world, as a person with autism. I want to explain how my life has been different from many other people’s lives, and how certain thoughts and ideas came into my mind that other people did not understand. I want to share why I did things that seemed strange to others… I want to put an end to the idea that autism is a disease that needs a ‘cure.’ I want to put an end to autism being a taboo subject.”

After publishing my book, I started presenting about autism to parents, professionals, kids and teens, graduate students, and school administrators. I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to give presentations and to do magazine and radio interviews.


Since April is designated as Autism Awareness Month, many members of the autistic community and allies are working to change it to Autism Acceptance Month. A lot of autistic activists don’t like the idea of “awareness” as it has connotations with the idea of autism being a disease that needs to be cured, when in reality, it’s not. It’s a core part of who I am and if someone ever gave me the option of a cure for autism, I wouldn’t accept it.

Although there are some challenges with autism, and it’s considered a disability, I still think autism is a great part of who I am. I’m proud to be autistic and to be part of a community where we share the same struggles and have some of the same strengths.

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Traveling Central and South America! Part 1: Costa Rica

So I said I would write every week. Not! So recently, I’ve been pretty busy, and the free time I’ve had was spent pretty much doing nothing/watching Netflix/reading. Every night, my family’s been watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and we’re on Season 3 currently.

In Costa Rica we stayed in a turquoise house, Casa Turquesa, in the jungle. We stayed near a beach town, Manzanillo, where there are lots of people and vendors selling handmade items.

Our little jungle house!

When we left the San José airport in Costa Rica after our arrival (this was about five weeks ago), we stopped at a soda and we were getting food. Since the man at the counter didn’t speak English, Mom and Dad were making animal sounds to identify what they wanted. The man at the counter was explaining a pork dish in Spanish and since I forgot the word for “pig” in English (when I’m thinking in one language, I really can’t think of other languages, otherwise I’m just confusing myself), so I snorted, trying to explain what “puerco” was in English. So my explanation turned into Mom and Dad trying to order their food by making animal sounds.

We spent six nights in Costa Rica, and as we stayed there, we saw sloths, bats, raccoons, leaf cutter ants, howler monkeys (they sounded more like lions according to Mom), and smaller monkeys.

So our first full day there, after a good night’s rest, we went to Puerto Viejo, and there, we had breakfast at De Gustibus Bakery (at 2 p.m. ????).

After breakfast (or lunch?), we walked around Puerto Viejo, and we saw many things. We stopped at the beach and waded in the ocean a bit, and the water felt amazing on such a hot day!

A beach in Manzanillo!

I noticed how Puerto Viejo had been influenced by America. Many stores and shops in Costa Rica take US dollars, and that there’s a lot of American “food” (Lays Chips, Planters peanuts, Skippy peanut butter, you name it and there’s a 50 percent chance it was there) in the Supermercado we went to later that day. I said that America colonized grocery stores.

Besides finding all that, I found these super cool popsicles that are all natural; they use plastic-free packaging, and they still have some of the natural fruit pieces. I got a Mango one and it had those little stringy mango bits in it (am I making sense?).

The next day, we went to the local beach, Punta Uva after spending a late morning at the house. The water was too dangerous to go swimming for a long time, but Dad and I swam a bit (I think Mom got scared after a while).

Wading in the water at Punta Uva.

At the beach, there were people selling empanadas, pastries, and Argentinian churros. We didn’t end up buying any though.

Later, we headed back to have a relaxing evening at the house. I spent some time doing schoolwork, and think maybe I tried making a blog post.

The next day, I got pretty sick. I had some sort of stomach bug, and I spent the day lounging around the house and getting sick. Pretty much what I did that day was try to hold food down, read, and watch Riverdale (don’t worry I’m not going to give any spoilers).

That night, when I felt better, Mom, Daisy, and I watched Gilmore Girls on my phone.

The next day, we went to the Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge, where we saw monkeys in the trees. We turned back after a while (half an hour?) because the rest of the trail was “dangerously slick and muddy,” as Mom said. It was pretty muddy! Besides that, the trail was very beautiful! We walked back so we could drive to town.

Nice walk, but very muddy!

For dinner, we went to a Caribbean style restaurant called Mr. Maxie’s in Manzanillo. We had Caribbean dishes for dinner and outside, it was raining.

On our last full day in Costa Rica, we drove 45 minutes in the northerly direction (it was Dad driving, but I wish I was behind the wheel personally) to Cahuita National Park. There, we saw sights of bats, monkey families, sloths, raccoons, and leaf-cutter ants! We said it was like we were in a nature documentary. Daisy had her spyglass that I got her for her birthday, and she used it to get a better look of the monkeys.

We waded in the ocean there a bit, but since there was debris and the waves were rough, we didn’t swim for a long time.

Later, we went to the ice cream shop in the town of Cahuita and I got mango sorbet (mango sorbet is one of my favorites), and we walked around Cahuita. It was warm out, yet it felt good. We noticed that there were a lot of stray dogs in Cahuita, and Daisy thought every one of them was cute.


Later, we headed back to Puerto Viejo and we spent a bit of time at the beach. A man was selling Argentinian churros, and of course, I couldn’t resist. We were all hungry from the day’s adventures, so I got some churros. We waded into the ocean a bit; we couldn’t really go swimming because we had to get to the car soon so we could go back to the house.

That night, we enjoyed our last dinner in Costa Rica and we packed our things for the next day. The next morning, we would have to leave at 5:30 am, since San José was five hours away from the house.

The next morning, we woke up at 4:45 a.m. and we packed up our stuff and went to the car. Dad drove for a while and he got coffee at a soda and he gave me a sip (I didn’t want a whole coffee).

We finally got to the airport after five hours of driving and after getting our stuff done, we got on the plane to Guatemala!

We’re now in Costa Rica again after five weeks, but I’m trying to catch you up here.

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Headed to Costa Rica!

So a few weeks ago, my family got back from traveling around the US and Canada, and in a while, we’re getting on a plane for a late night flight to Costa Rica and a four-hour layover in Mexico City (the plan already sounds tiring).

For the next six weeks, I’ll be traveling around Central and South America with my family. I’ll also try to post more often.

As I travel around Central and South America, I’ll be studying the history of chocolate, the growing process and science, and how it’s incorporated into many cultures. I’ll also study the child labor that many big chocolate companies try to cover up.

I’m also planning to make a presentation for an international school in Guatemala. I’m looking forward to presenting at the school and being able to say that I did presentations outside of my country.

Right now I’m at LAX so I’ll try to write about the beginnings of my trip soon!

P.S. I prepared for a long flight. I brought peanut butter cups, Sea Salt and Vinegar chips (thanks to my grandpa), and some gum. I also bought myself a music album and downloaded some movies.

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A Catch-up on What Happened

I haven’t written for a while so I’m going to catch you up on what happened. I’m not able to fill you in completely, since that would be a lot of writing, but I’ll tell you what’s been happening recently. First, I turned fourteen on September 21! Also, I crossed into Canada and I stayed in Canada for two weeks!

So on October 14, we crossed the border from Michigan into Ontario, Canada! In Ontario, we went to Niagara Falls (the Canadian side), and we visited a town called Niagara on the Lake because Dad wanted to go to Strewn Winery. At Strewn Winery I got some dark chocolate, since I’m too young to get wine. Mom and Dad were going to buy me some chocolate, but they said I’d have to share it. So, I bought my own so that nobody else could have any.

Spending a day at Niagara Falls!

After Niagara, we went into the province of Quebec and we explored Montreal! There, we went to a museum where we learned about French colonization and the beginning of Montreal. In Montreal, we also went to a restaurant where we had lunch and Mom got me a cookie that looked like a giant Oreo.

Spending a day in Montreal!

In Quebec, all of the street sighs are in French in order to keep the French culture and influence dominant there. Also, in Quebec, a lot of people speak French as their first language, and English as their second.

After Montreal, we stayed a night in a motel in Quebec City. The next day, we FaceTimed the class from Old Town Quebec City. We told them about the culture in Quebec and about the French influence there. After FaceTiming the class, we went to a restaurant where I had a savory salmon crepe for breakfast and a side of poutine.

Daisy, Dad, and me walking around Old Town Quebec City.

At the restaurant, the bathrooms were in the basement, and there was graffiti on every wall, but the graffiti made it look cool. And the sink was a bathtub with water spouts from above for your hands.

After Quebec, we went to New Brunswick and we stayed in the Kouchibouguac National Park for three nights. In Kouchibouguac, we explored near the lagoon, biked, and saw the bogs. The bogs were very interesting; there are carnivorous plants that eat insects such as mosquitoes.

Our dinner on the last night was tacos and quesadillas, and that night, I think I lost the chocolate from Strewn Winery that night because right now, I can’t find it. 🙁

Besides losing my chocolate piece, that night, dinner was nice. I enjoyed my dinner, and afterwards, Daisy and I went stargazing.

When we went back to the camp, Daisy and I went to the fort we had built near our campsite. It was night, and we took some Luci-Lanterns and lit up our fort we had made with branches and a tree. We stayed there for a bit until Daisy got scared.

The next morning, we packed up and headed to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia, there’s a small store called Farmer’s Daughter. There, I purchased a banana bread made with chocolate chips. Of course Daisy wanted some, so I gave her a bite on the way to camp. We would’ve had more, but Mom told us not to have anymore, since we were going to have dinner at our campsite.

When we got to camp, Daisy and I helped Mom and Dad set up, and since we didn’t have any firewood, I helped Dad by gathering branches to heat the chili we got from Farmers Daughter. At dinner, we had chili with biscuits. The biscuits were amazing, they had cheese and other things, and I’d say they were some of the best biscuits I’ve had.

The next day, it was very windy. The staff at the visitor center said the winds were going to reach as high as 50 miles per hour, but our trailer was probably going to be fine.

That day, we did a nice drive on the Cabot Trail. It was really beautiful, and the color of the ocean was so lovely. The ocean was dark blue, and the ride was amazing.

A view of the ocean from the Cabot Trail.

After we did our drive, we went on a walk near the ocean. It was my first time in years seeing the Atlantic Ocean, since I haven’t been on the Atlantic Coast since I was a baby. The walk was nice, even though it was cold.

Seeing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time since I was a baby!

After our walk, we had lunch at a sheltered picnic spot, and we had sandwiches while the wind blew outside.

On the drive back, I was allowed to read my book that I downloaded on iBooks, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han. If you love cheesy teen novels, as Mom calls them, you’ll love the book. I’d say it’s way better than the movie, but I’m sure there are people out there who say the movie is better.

Later that day, we had dinner at a sheltered picnic place and we had a strange combination of an Asian-Mediterranean dinner. We had an appetizer of Kalamata olives and Parmesan cheese. For dinner we had noodles with soy sauce with roasted vegetables. It was salty, but delicious and warming.

After dinner, we went back to camp, fighting strong winds. We immediately got bundled up and we went to bed.

The next day, we had a relaxing morning at camp, and that afternoon, we hiked up part of a five-mile loop. It was super pretty, and Daisy was obsessed with picking up acorn caps, since she can use them as whistles.

When we got to the viewpoint, we had snacks and I had bell pepper and pistachios. I like to use the bell pepper as a bowl and put the pistachios inside.


Later, Mom, Daisy, and I relaxed in the trailer, and I read for my Language Arts class. I bundled up in Mom and Dad’s bed (I think Daisy took up our whole bed that day), and Dad went out to get pizza. For dinner, we had pizza; Daisy and I had a veggie pizza, while Mom and Dad had a seafood pizza.

The next day, we left Cape Breton and headed for Lunenburg, a small town in Nova Scotia. It was super beautiful, and we stayed at an airbnb called the Ahoy Matey. The house was very nice and homey, and we stayed there for five nights.

For our first night in Lunenburg, we went to a place called The Knot Pub, and their food was delicious! For dessert there, I had an ice cream sundae (it’s been years since I’ve had an ice cream sundae).

The Knot Pub.

That evening, we walked around Lunenburg and we walked to a beautifully lit gazebo. Daisy loved the gazebo. I think she felt like a princess while she was there.

The next morning, Daisy and I had cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, and as usual, we didn’t leave until late morning to noon. Our morning was spent touring Lunenburg, with Mom and Dad showing us the places they had visited in the past.

That afternoon, we went to a store called The Atlantic Superstore. The Atlantic Superstore is pretty cool. We got the stuff we needed, but once we got to the frozen food/dessert section, We went all out. We got a box of sixteen Eggo Waffles. We got so many, Eleven would be jealous (Stranger Things reference)! We also got three flavors of ice cream! We usually never get that many; two is the maximum we usually get.

The next few days, we explored places around Lunenburg. We went on different bike paths and Dad, Daisy, and I also explored a couple of museums in Lunenburg. One of them was called the Fisheries Museum, and the other was a museum about the railroads and trains around Nova Scotia.

The Fisheries Museum had different sea creature exhibits and there. We saw a blue lobster. I didn’t know that lobsters can be blue, so I thought it was super cool to see.

Next, we went to the Halifax & Southwestern Railway Museum. I loved how engaging the man who ran the museum was (Daisy, Dad, and I were the only visitors at that time). They have a model of the railways built with LEGO pieces and some other things. It was so cool!

At the end of the museum trip, Daisy and I looked around the little gift section. Daisy found a pin to add to her pin collection, and I found a pair of beautiful earrings. They had porcupine quills and light blue beads. They were made by the man’s wife, who is Mi’kmaw. His wife makes authentic Mi’kmaq jewelry and she hand makes it with high quality products.

The items were about twenty-five dollars together, but since his wife made them and all, he gave me a discount on the pin and earrings. Dad didn’t have cash and I only had $10, so he only charged ten dollars, and of course, I thanked him very much.

The last day we were in Nova Scotia, we went to the Kejimkujik National Park. That day we went biking! One of the bike paths we went on had a great view of the lake!

Biking near the lake in Kejimkujik!

The bike ride that day was really nice, and later for lunch, we had a picnic near the lake where Daisy and I looked for small fish.

That night, I sadly packed my clothes into my suitcase, and my family and I played a couple last rounds of Dog Pound (a game that was at the house).

The next morning, we packed up, and I finished the ice cream Daisy picked out (she didn’t like hers), and because Dad wanted me to “burn off that ice cream,” I took a walk to the water to take a last look at Lunenburg. I was sad to leave such a beautiful place.

Mom, Dad, and Daisy came by in the truck, and we drove to Peggy’s Cove where there is a beautiful lighthouse. The logo of Mom’s business is based off of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.

Lighthouse At Peggy’s Cove!

Since I really wanted to try maple taffy, we decided to go to the Bubba Magoo’s candy store after going to see the lighthouse. At Bubba Magoo’s, there was lots of different candies and gifts, so I decided on some maple candies and maple taffy. Daisy decided on some cherry candies, and Mom got some chocolate fudge and maple fudge. I was so happy!

Later, we came to New Brunswick and we had dinner at the Hilltop Grill. The atmosphere was cool, but the waitress seemed very annoyed that we accidentally spilled a cup of water on the table and floor. Dad says that the people of New Brunswick aren’t as nice as the people of Nova Scotia.

After dinner, we stopped at Tim Horton’s so we could take Timbits across the border into the United States. Timbits are like donut holes, but they’re called Timbits at Tim Hortons. I got a Kit Kat donut with caramel, they didn’t have my favorite flavor, Canadian Maple.

We drove for about an hour until we reached the border. They let us through, and I took out the box of Timbits. I was sad to go.

My two weeks in Canada were the best two weeks of my life. I loved meeting different people, trying new things, and seeing the different cultures.

Mom says it sounds like I’m a junk food glutton with all the desserts and sweets I mentioned, and that she and Dad sound like bad parents for letting me eat so many sweets. But I made sure not to eat too much junk food in a day. When I bought Justin’s peanut butter cups one day at the store this month, Mom said I cannot buy anymore junk food for this month. So don’t worry, she and Dad are being good parents and not letting me buy too many sweets.

To see the full story of what happened between the California Redwoods and Canada, read Mom’s travel journal at

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I’m Back, Baby!

Last Friday, September 6th, our family left for our travels! Our house is all packed up, and we are currently at a KOA campsite with our trailer near the Redwood Forest.

So the day after we left, we went to San Francisco and one of Mom’s childhood friends, James, showed us around San Francisco and we went to the Dandelion Chocolate store. I saw how their chocolate was made, and I even sampled some!

Then after that, we went to Mendocino, where we stayed at a KOA campsite for two nights. For our day in Mendocino, we ate lunch at a coffee shop where I had a mocha with hemp milk. I really wanted to try it with hemp milk, since I’ve never had it before. After our lunch, we explored the town of Mendocino, and we went back to our campsite. At that time, Daisy and I decided to explore the KOA in Mendocino. We enjoyed exploring, and after our exploration, we made pasta for dinner. That was our second night there.

After staying at the KOA in Mendocino, we spent a night at the Jedediah State park in the Redwoods; and because we couldn’t stay another night there, we’re currently spending three nights at a KOA near the Redwoods. Here, they have the best game room and it’s pretty much the best KOA I’ve stayed at in my life.

Now, I’m about to go on a cruise to Alaska and I’m super excited!

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Welcome to my blog!

Hello, Neurotypicals and fellow Spectrumites! My name is Micaela Ellis and this is my blog! In this blog, I will share my experiences as I travel around the world with my family. During our travels, we  will  homeschool and also connect with people all over the world who are affected by autism. I will try to post weekly during my travels. I can’t promise to post too often because I am extremely ADHD (for real) and I also don’t want to bore people with too many posts.

In preparation for our travels, we are cleaning out our house. This can be kinda hard for me because I am conscious about our environment, and I don’t want to throw away things that can be recycled. Environmental activism is a special interest of mine (one of my autie “fixations”), so I get stressed out when my mom or dad tells me to throw something away, like a piece of fabric, that could be recycled. This is causing some arguments in our house. At this very moment, we are having a disagreement about the fast fashion industry and the waste it produces. When I have to throw things away, I remind myself that this is a lesson I am learning to not bring so much stuff into our house.

Even though it’s hard to get organized and prepared, I am looking forward to traveling! I am excited to study the history and cultures of different regions. I’m also excited about meeting new people and eating new foods; I want to try different dark chocolates around the world. Dark chocolate is an obsession of mine but it’s not a special interest. A special interest looks kind of like an obsession, but, for a lot of autistic people, a special interest is a constant part of  life and provides thoughts to retreat into when the world is too stressful. Dark chocolate is not a constant part of my life, though it is a constant part of my backpack.

Thanks for reading my blog! I’ll keep you posted on my upcoming adventures!

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