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What does Emabler mean?

Post published: 15 October, 2022

I've had a few private messages before and also a comment last night asking "what's Emabler mean?" - something I've been meaning to do a post about.

The word Emabler features my personal love of puns at play. My name is Emma and some close friends/family call me Em.

Enabler (that's with an 'n') is a term that is often associated with negative traits, like enabling someone to continue an addictive activity. "Fred is such an enabler, ugh. He shouldn't encourage her."

That said, the word 'enable' on its own means to make it possible for someone to do something. The thing you make possible doesn't have to be negative.

Some of the work I do in my advocacy is to tell people that it's okay to be the way they are. That the differences they have been told are wrong and they should feel shame for their entire lives - are just a part of how their brain works.

As such, I see what I do having a slight streak of mischief to it. My own personal touch on the caricature of the Aussie larrikin. I'm not necessarily living my life the way people are 'meant to' but I'm happier for it - and maybe I can show and 'emable' a few people how to do the same along the way.

A Dance of Light

Post published: 11 September, 2022

There is a section of road in Canberra that winds back and forth slightly as it goes up a small incline. It’s lined with streetlights and from one direction, you see the grey back of a single billboard used to share traffic updates and weather warnings to the drivers on the other side of the road.

This section of road is my favourite sight in Canberra – but first, certain conditions must be met. It must be viewed in the evening. Generally, it cannot be viewed in daylight savings time – as the sky must be dark. And, once the second condition is met, the third follows in turn – the streetlights must be on.

When these three needs align, the magic starts. As your eyes follow the gentle curve of the road back and forth, the streetlights begin to dance. They wave back and forth for but a few moments until the road straightens out again as you continue up the hill.

This dance of light is my favourite sight in Canberra.

A few years ago, I started to mention it to my friends and family in passing. “This part of the drive here is my favourite.” “I like this section of road ahead.” “Just one second, if we could keep talking once we’ve passed the lights?”

They’re a good sort – I’m very lucky in that way. My husband now reminds me the lights are coming up if I’m distracted and don’t notice that we’re close. Friends have smiled happily for me and with me – and thanked me for telling them about something precious to me.

At this point you’re probably thinking this is a sweet story (and it is) but there’s an ending twist even I didn’t previously see coming.

In being validated and encouraged to enjoy the dancing lights, something even better emerged. Many Autistic brains excel at pattern recognition. It turns out, you get better at the things you practice – and over the last year, my brain has honed its ability to find dancing lights.

It no longer needs a wide-open space free from other landmarks to focus on them. Nor does the stretch of road need to be expansive. The dance can be seen through a patch of trees, or on the smallest bend.

I don’t know if I would have seen all these lights or had as many moments of joy without being encouraged by the people around me to seek it out. It doesn’t take much effort to encourage someone to go after moments of happiness. But it can result in far more than either of you ever imagined.

Photo credits to Mark Stevenson

A curvy section of road with street lights on either side.  A curvy section of road with street lights on either side. The cars are blurred into neon ribbons of light.

R U OK Day

Post published: September 8, 2022

Today is R U OK Day in Australia. It's a mental health awareness initiative started some years ago now to reduce the stigma of asking someone if they are okay, and reduce the rate of suicide by helping people build positive connections and support networks to turn to in difficult times.

These are, undoubtably, good goals to have. That said, R U OK day is often a difficult day for those of us with complex or difficult mental health experiences.

Disabled folks, neurodivergent folks, folks with chronic illness (the list goes on) are often facing situations that require time, energy, and financial resources we don't have to resolve.

There are also systematic barriers, like the shortage of specialists and mental healthcare professionals. Diagnoses and treatment with long waiting lists that were further delayed by the pandemic.

When the issues you face aren't able to be resolved by someone asking if you're okay, it is easy to become resentful of this day. Especially when it feels like a corporate check box for many organisations - an opportunity to talk up their position on mental health but not follow through in a way that enacts meaningful change.

I do think there is still stigma against mental illness and raising awareness can help. And I recognise the privilege that comes with having people around me that are well-versed in talking about mental health. So I simply ask that you be mindful. And remember that the mission of the R U OK organisation includes the phrase 'meaningfully connect' - something that might not be achieved if you are only able to be present for this kind of conversation on an annual basis.

Please be mindful of the people you are engaging with today. Consider using today to set a reminder to check in with someone at a later date. Respect that there are people who will not want to talk about their mental health today. If you're going to ask a person if they're okay, be aware that they might tell you no, and that you will need to consider what your capacity is to help. Be very aware that you may have the best of intentions, but there are limitations to the help you can offer and the problems that you can solve.

If today is not a good day to talk about your mental health, feel free to tell people you aren't up to having that conversation today. If you are up to the conversation, I hope there is someone available to listen and to help you in the ways you need.

2 images of Homer Simpson sitting on his couch. In the first, the subtitles read Announcer: It's R U OK Day. Are you okay? In the second image, Homer angrily tells the tv, I told you last year, no!

Canberra CareersXpo 2022 (Reflections)

Post published: September 2, 2022

Two weeks ago I attended the Canberra CareersXpo looking into career pathways, opportunities, and support for disabled and neurodivergent school leavers. It was, as I suspected, a mixed experience, but overall I found it positive. If you are here for info on specific services and organisation, you can go straight to the tables I compiled on my resources page.


  • More people knew what neurodiversity or neurodivergent meant than I expected
  • An increase in pathways for neurodivergent school leavers that reflects the known global trend of increased interest in hiring neurodivergent employees
  • An uptake in providing bespoke or individualised assistance to could result in greater support for an individual's needs rather than a cookie cutter approach
  • More people identified themselves as neurodivergent in response to me identifying as Autistic/ADHD
  • More than one person liked my "Neurotypical is my second language jumper".


  • Some organisations didn't offer or have any information about opportunities for disabled or neurodivergent school leavers
  • Passive acceptance of disability was a go to response for some organisations (I have a seperate post about that here)
  • Still a very strong association of neurodivergent as meaning Autistic only, or only having pathways for Autistic individuals rather than other types of neurodivergence

I still think there is a long way to go to increase the knowledge and support there is for neurodivergent and disabled workers, but there has been some progress.

I have built 4 tables summarising the information I found helpful (or potentially helpful) at the expo. This was based on the vendors that I managed to speak to, and the information they could give me at the time.

Group 1: Specific education and services for disabled/neurodivergent people that provide assistance and/or training relating to employment

Group 2: Career Pathways for disabled/neurodivergent people

Group 3: Services that are good to know about more generally

Group 4: Options that help everyone but don’t necessarily target disabled/neurodivergent people.

Given the amount of data, these tables are available seperately under my resources page. I hope you find it helpful!

Passive acceptance does not remove barriers for disabled people

Post published: August 19, 2022

Yesterday I attended the Canberra CareersXpo looking into career pathways, opportunities, and support for disabled and neurodivergent school leavers. There were a number of positive experiences that I'm going to write up into a post on my website, but first, something that deserves its own space to be addressed.

At least one vendor at the Canberra CareersXpo responded to my questions with a very simple "We accept everybody", or "of course, everyone's accepted here." Once upon a time this would have been a great response in my books. Yesterday, it filled me with disappointment.

That said, I’m willing to bet that for many of you, ‘your best’ is likely to have negative connotations. "Was that really your best effort?", "Is that your best shot?" "Is that all you’ve got?" Or the classic – comparing ‘your best’ to someone else’s.

"Everyone's accepted here" is the bare minimum. In fact, it's required by law that disabled persons not be discriminated against because of their disability.

When I ask an organisation what pathways are available for disabled and neurodivergent people, I want to know what they are specifically doing to remove barriers that prevent us from accessing the same opportunities as everyone else.

Do your application forms use simple language? Do you have specific intake rounds for disabled people? Is a person able to demonstrate their skills rather than needing to ace an interview? Are you able to be flexible on deadlines for applications from people with ADHD?

Until we see more of these initiatives, the reality is that disabled people will continue to be underemployed at twice the rate of non-disabled people.* "Acceptance" in these scenarios means to be tolerated, at best. It's time to change that, to ensure disabled people are actively welcomed and embraced in the workforce - and receive fair pay for the work we do.


An image with a purple background. Text in black reads 'Passive acceptance does not remove barriers for diabled people in the workforce - Neurodivergent Emabler

Doing your best

Post published: August 14, 2022

For those who are disabled, neurodivergent, and/or chronically ill, I’ve been thinking about the concept of 'your best' and wondering whether you tend to think of this as a positive or a negative.

‘Your best’ could be a positive descriptor – a time when you put in a big effort and achieved the best outcome you could get. "I did my best." "That’s your best score yet!"

That said, I’m willing to bet that for many of you, ‘your best’ is likely to have negative connotations. "Was that really your best effort?", "Is that your best shot?" "Is that all you’ve got?" Or the classic – comparing ‘your best’ to someone else’s.

I think that it's important that we remember that a person's best efforts aren't a stagnant thing, especially in the case of disability or chronic illness; the amount of spoons that you have on a given day is going to change.

Your best on Monday might not be the same as what you could achieve on a Tuesday - and that’s okay. On a given day you will be competing with different needs and challenges. You might be coping with different amounts of sensory overwhelm, or could be having a flare up of a chronic condition.

Remember that it’s okay for your best to look different. You do not have to exhaust yourself trying to always match a particular standard because you did it once and therefore you should somehow be able to magically match that effort every time.

It’s very easy for people with ADHD especially to feel like they are letting people down if they don’t achieve at the same level (I see you, former gifted kids), or for someone with chronic fatigue to think "I’ve still got something left to give, I can push past it".

You do not have to drain yourself to the point of exhaustion. You don’t have to rob yourself of the spoons that were left for you to do something for yourself at the end of the day, or prevent yourself from being able to do anything the next day.

Your best on a given day is your best on a given day and that’s okay.

Note: I’ve mentioned spoon theory a lot in this post and it’s a fantastic way of communicating the impact of chronic illness to those who are less familiar with the impacts. Christine Miserandino is the author of the Spoon Theory, which you can read about here if you want more details. Spoon Theory.

An image with a blue background. Text in black reads 'Your best on a given day is your best on a given day and that's okay. - Neurodivergent Emabler

Trialling e-bikes

Post published: August 7, 2022

Well, I said I spent more time outdoors yesterday than I would typically on a very cold day – the reason for that is the electric bike I have out on loan from SEE-Change Canberra! I’m going to do my best to get a bit of time in each day, as much as work, winter temperatures and the nights getting dark early will allow.

Bicycles and cycling can be a mixed experience for neurodivergent folk. Some might love it – others may find the sensory input overwhelming. It’s not just the outdoor environment and stimuli that comes with it but the very act of riding a bicycle itself, due to the way cycling engages with our vestibular system.

The vestibular system is based in the inner ear and is responsible for giving us information about our movements and the sense of the space we are in. It is important for our sense of balance, which is why you can lose your balance and stagger if you have an inner ear infection.

ADHD and Autistic children can have both hyposensitive and hypersensitive levels of perception that may result in either sensory seeking or sensory avoidant behaviour, some of which may be in attempt to either increase or decrease the amount of input our vestibular system is receiving.

Sensory avoidant behaviour may be seen in those who are hypersensitive to movement, who tend to show this by avoiding particular activities. Swings and slides can be overwhelming. Elevators and escalators may cause dizziness or motion sickness. It can be easy to lose your balance and fall over a lot – and it can be more difficult to learn how to ride a bike! I myself only learned when I was 12 and had a lot of fears of falling off.

On the other hand, those who are hyposensitive may need and seek extra stimulation due to being underwhelmed and disengaged by sensory input. Hyposensitive people often fidget to provide the level of input needed to continue going about their day. They might rock back and forth, spin in circles, or shake their leg while seated. They might be classified as a thrill-seeker and do things that seem dangerous at times. The sensation of going over a bump in a car or on a bike may give a pleasant feeling rather than inducing motion sickness.

And, if you’re only reading this because of a video of a dachshund on the back of a bicycle, this paragraph is for you. 😊 Today I had a go at having Marvel sitting in the cargo space. She’s never been on the back of a bike before – you can see I’m travelling pretty slowly and my bike seat is too low from when I had been sitting on the seat and just walking the bike to start. I think she did pretty well!

The ACT Government and Switched on Cycles has sponsored the continuation of e-bike library through to 2024 – Ken Behrens interested in a two week trial of an e-bike should fill in the form at the SEE-Change. My thanks to Zuleka for helping me get the bike up on my bike rack! Wouldn’t have made it this far without your help. 😅

Auditory Processing Disorder Information Session and Resource

Post published: June 20, 2022

Earlier this week I ran a presentation on Auditory Processing Disorder for staff at my department as part of our Neurodiversity Network’s efforts to increase awareness of neurodivergent experiences in the workplace.

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is experienced by both children and adults and is commonly present in people diagnosed as ADHD and/or Autistic, as well as those who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. APD impacts the way your brain interprets sounds, and among other things, can cause a delay between when you hear a sound and when you understand it. APD can cause issues following instructions with multiple steps, or any instructions given verbally, as well as impacting your ability to understand conversation when there is background noise. It may not be picked up on in a standard hearing test if it is not being looked for.

We discussed ways to reduce the impact of APD in a corporate environment, including actions a person with APD can take as well as support that can be provided by supervisors and co-workers.

It was a great success, with over 90 people in attendance on the day and many others signing up for the recording to access in their own time or to share with their teams.

I built a resource with most of the information I covered in the session, which can be found on my resources page.

Autistic Pride Day

Post published: June 19, 2022

I wrote and shared the below with my workplace a few days ago in preparation for Autistic pride day, which was yesterday.

This Saturday, June 18 is Autistic Pride Day, a day in which many Autistic people choose to celebrate their Autistic identity and experiences.

Autistic Pride Day was first celebrated June 18, 2005, as a way for Autistic people to celebrate their neurodivergence and the contributions we make to humanity’s neurodiversity. This day is a chance to celebrate the traits we have in common with other autistic people and the ways in which Autistic people are unique.

You may wonder if Autistic Pride Day is connected to Pride month (June), or if it is only for those of us who also identify as LGBTQIA+. Autistic Pride Day is for all autistic individuals to take part in. There are similarities in the reasons why the Autistic and LGBTQIA+ communities need times of celebration – as both groups have experienced stigma and rejection simply for being who they are. Similar to LGBTQIA+ people, not every Autistic person could be considered "out and proud". It is not always safe for Autistic people to share that they are Autistic – there is the potential to lose friends, family, and work due to the ableism Autistic people face.

Autistic people spend much of our lives being told some variation of "You’re doing it wrong," whether it be in reference to our communication styles, our ways of socialising, the way we emotionally regulate or the way we think. If we grow up without a diagnosis, or in isolation from other Autistic people, it becomes easy to assume that there is something wrong with us. Autistic Pride Day helps to correct that assumption and celebrate all we have achieved in spite of the ways in which society is not shaped to support us.

It is in the experience of community and of shared identity that Autistic pride takes root. Days like Autistic Pride Day provide opportunities for us to contribute to and look for other representations of Autistic people and gain further understanding of Autistic joy and positivity. This makes a very real difference to the next generation of autistic people, who are not just youth – as many Autistic people aren’t diagnosed until later in life. Breaking stereotypes and presenting a broader range of Autistic representation helps to establish a better understanding of what it means to be Autistic and the different ways Autistic people can not just live, but thrive and flourish.