A set of infographics by Janae Elisabeth, informed by Dr. Stephen Porges, Deb Dana, Peter Levine, Bessel van der Kolk, Robert Naviaux, Veronique Mead, and disability theorists

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An emotional response to Polyvagal Theory researchers

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My autistic social engagement system is not dysfunctional.

My social engagement system hears every nuance in your voice, tracks your body language, and builds a complex editable picture of who you are as a person.

My social engagement system easily attunes to animals, children, and safe people.

On a regular basis, my social engagement system allows me to offer empathetic support for my friends and family’s day to day stresses.

Before covid, my social engagement system allowed me to dance with large groups of people without experiencing any anxiety.

My social engagement system…


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If you’ve been reading my writing for a little while, you might have caught on to the fact that I comprehend autism as something entirely different from the stereotype many people have in their minds when someone says “autism.” Between the medical myths of social deficits and the Hollywood portrayal of autistics as severely lacking empathy, it’s not surprising that we aren’t all on the same page about this.

When I discovered that I am autistic, it changed my life in a good way. I finally had answers for why my brain doesn’t work like my parents and teachers and…


From the perspective of a trauma-informed positive autistic identity

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Reader’s Note: Quotes from the DSM-5 appear in regular text. The neurodiversity paradigm perspective appears in italic text written by autistic trauma specialist Janae Elisabeth. The medical model of autism presented in the DSM may be particularly disturbing for autistics to read. If you begin to feel dysregulated, it’s ok to stop and come back to this later when you’re feeling more resourced.

Diagnostic Criteria for 299.00 Autism Spectrum Disorder*

*This is not the full criteria. It is a representative selection from the full text

All of the following should be understood as a speculative story from a…


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What is vagal tone?

Vagal tone is the ability of the ventral vagus nerve to regulate the heart beat. It is referred to in medical literature as “cardiac vagal tone.”

Vagal tone is measured by tracking heart-rate and breathing rate at the same time. The heart-rate speeds up a little when we breathe in, and slows down a little when we breathe out.

The bigger the difference between inhalation heart-rate and exhalation heart-rate, the higher our vagal tone is.

Higher vagal tone means that the body can return to a calm state quickly after a stressful experience ends. Higher vagal tone does not mean…


“Reality simply consists of different points of view.” -Margaret Atwood

We the neurodivergent are genetically different. We experience the world through a hypersensitive nervous system which informs every aspect of our thinking, our behavior, and our social values.

The dominant social group labels our way of being in the world as disordered because they don’t understand us. Even though they don’t understand, the dominant culture controls the narrative about our differences.

Society believes the experts who are not part of our culture, who see brokenness where there is order. We gradually start to believe the myths ourselves and lose all…


A set of graphics by Janae Elisabeth, informed by Paul MacLean, Dr. Stephen Porges, Deb Dana, Peter Levine, Bessel van der Kolk, Pete Walker, and neurodiversity activists

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A set of graphics by Janae Elisabeth, informed by Dr. Stephen Porges, Deb Dana, Peter Levine, Justin Sunseri, Stanley Rosenberg, Bessel van der Kolk, Pete Walker, Melody Beattie, D.W. Winnicott, Janet Lansbury, and neurodiversity activists.

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A set of graphics by Janae Elisabeth, informed by Dr. Stephen Porges, Deb Dana, Peter Levine, Justin Sunseri, Stanley Rosenberg, Bessel van der Kolk, Pete Walker, D.W. Winnicott, Layla F. Saad, Sonya Renee Taylor, Adult Children of Alcoholics workbooks, and neurodiversity activists.

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Trauma Geek

Janae Elisabeth is a researcher-storyteller and neurodiversity advocate from western North Carolina. #actuallyautistic #traumaismyspecialinterest

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