Announcing My New Shop!

Dear Friends,

I am beyond thrilled to announce that my online shop is now open!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DannyWithWords

I am so excited to share my poems and other creative ideas with you in this new way! It is so meaningful also because my opportunities for earning money are limited, and even though I don’t anticipate earning much from this shop, it is still a step toward greater agency.

So here is our Valentine’s Day crop of goodies! I am so happy with how they turned out. The timing is a bit tight, so order soon if you want it in time to share by February 14th! Of course, most of these pieces are still lovely to have year-round.

We printed 25 of each card for this pilot run. We are starting off with free shipping and gentle prices compared to similar products!

Thank you to Tara for turning my ideas into designs, and for handling the logistics. We welcome constructive feedback. We have many more ideas to share!

Please share with anyone who might like these! Thank you so much!

Your Friend,

Danny

More struggles but also more insight

Dear Friends,

At the risk of being a habitual downer, I am once again coming to you with my woes! I had a glorious and joyful Christmas, but then it all unraveled a bit in the days after. I was so compulsive and felt like my body and mind were on hyperdrive. I couldn’t sleep for days. I could barely sit still unless I was actively engaged in an activity, and I couldn’t stop shouting and stomping. My poor mom was so patient but I know it ran her down.

But this time was a bit different. For the first couple of days, I felt an underlying confidence that I was going to be okay. This is a huge step forward; I usually feel despair and such bleakness when dysregulation hits. It was such a shift toward equanimity in the storm.

To be transparent, that equanimity dissolved after the second day. I felt almost foolish to entertain the idea that I would be okay! And I once again fell to despair.

But my therapist wisely pointed out: My internal messaging was a big step forward, but perhaps too laden with expectation. I kept reassuring myself that I “will be okay”, but when I still wasn’t okay, I felt like I had failed my expectation. So she suggested that I try more neutral statements, like “I am so brave” or “this is unfair but accepting it can help”. And she helped me regain my perspective on how far I have come in the past couple of years.

I am feeling much better today. Who knows how long it will last, but I will enjoy it while I can. I am so appreciating your comments and suggestions even if I can’t reply to most of them! I hope you are all doing well, and that we all find more and more resilience!

Your Friend,

Danny

All the rain

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

After feeling amazing during Christmas, I have been very out of sorts for a few days. But I wanted to share this poem. It was written about days like the rainy ones we are having this week in San Diego, washing away 2022.

It is a summary of a big lesson from this last year to not be afraid of the process and unfolding of time and life. This is a lesson I will take into 2023.

Wishing you all clarity and renewal and a wonderful start to this new year!

Your Friend,
Danny


ALL THE RAIN, by Danny Whitty

I woke up to the tap tap tap grumble
And vague whooshing and
And this world felt smaller
Gray wrapped tight
Me wrapped tight
Washing washing washing
The debris away away away
And down the hills
And drains and roads and riverbeds
Out to the sea
And me too
Rolling and cascading without fear or anticipation
Just on my way.

My Year in Review

Dear Friends,

Wow, I can’t believe the year is coming to a close! I bet I am the only one who feels that way. I had felt very scattered for much of the year, but now I feel so proud of all I have done and so content with how the year went. This was pretty much aligned with my third year of fluency in my daily communication, and I suppose each additional year will come with more options for defining what I do. This made it harder to get a grasp of this year, but I realize that I actually did a lot and grew so much.

To help me wrap up this year, I want to share my highlights:

  • I am now able to type autonomously for meetings and short posts; I still need my main CRP with me, but it is a huge step forward!
  • I started regularly posting on Danny With Words and gained over 2,000 followers on both Facebook and Instagram; this is still small as far as influencers go, but it is massive to me who had been silent and ignored for decades.
  • My yoga practice has come a long way thanks to the guidance of Erin at Sunrise Therapies; I feel so much more in tune with my body, and my stamina and coordination have really improved!
  • I am also much more attuned to my motor skills thanks to working with Michelle Hardy on music therapy; I so love the way she has coached me, and I look forward to more growth with her!
  • I submitted a book of poems to be published by Unrestricted Interest; it should be out in early 2023!
  • I co-taught 2 short courses to Spellers, Introduction to Poetry and Art History of 20th Century Abstraction; I loved this so much, appreciated being a paid instructor at Transcending Apraxia, and look forward to much more teaching in the new year!
  • I gave my first presentation for a conference, invited by the Nurture Program, and was paid for it; it was so fulfilling to be able to share lessons from my experiences in education and to earn money from my work!
  • I travelled to Ireland to see family and meet Spellers over there; it was so meaningful and has given me life goals of writing about my heritage, travelling to Ireland as often as possible, and being part of the community of Spellers there!
  • I also travelled to Maryland and Virginia for I-ASC’s Motormorphosis; this was my first conference in person, and it was amazing to meet so many Spellers and mentors face to face!
  • I continued with my ocean sports, and kept making progress in all, and saw so many cool critters.
  • I was elected to join the Nonspeaking Leadership Council of I-ASC, which is an honor and great opportunity for learning!
  • I made great progress toward a healthier diet and a less anxious mind thanks to the support of my family and my amazing therapist; I am so proud of how I work to care for my physical and mental health.

I can’t capture the wonderful experiences of this year in a post, but there were so many gorgeous times with friends and family. I feel so lucky and so absolutely loved, and so grateful to be ever growing and learning. Thank you all for being a part of my journey this year! Wishing all a wonderful start to 2023!

Your Friend,

Danny

The Day After Christmas

Dear Friends,

Happy holidays to all who observe! We had a wonderful Christmas with beautiful outings, delicious food, fantastic gifts, and lots of relaxation. I felt so resilient and joyful, as a much needed contrast to the weeks prior. This was such a relief!

This year I bought a new living Christmas tree for my family. Our old one looked so sad and I want to plant it in the garden. The new tree was a bit hard to find – it seems living trees are not popular here now. It was also a bit expensive. But I insisted on paying for it myself. Why? Because it felt so empowering to be able to do this for my family!

I am so absolutely thrilled that I can make some money here and there with teaching and interviews and presentations. This is huge for me, who until about three years ago had no hope for any meaningful livelihood. Giving to others is one of my absolute favorite parts of being able to communicate and being able to earn some money. It is so important to me to be able to share tokens of love and appreciation!

And I also love being able to be part of shaping a memorable holiday experience. I am so proud of this tree, and each time I look at it and see our ornaments so pretty in it, I feel so full of contentment. We have rarely gotten new trees, as money is not exactly bountiful for us, but sometimes a splurge is worth it!

This was an absolutely lovely Christmas, and I am so delighted with how I felt during it! Sending warm wishes to you all, especially those impacted by the severe winter storm.

Your Friend,

Danny

Low Tide Tidings & Retiring the podcast

Dear Friends,

I so love the more extreme tides of winter! Though I have not been doing ocean sports lately, I have still been enjoying walks on the coast. They are so meditative and gorgeous, and help me find peace and process life. Yesterday, Tara and I went on a low tide exploration in the La Jolla area. We checked out a couple of spots I had never been to, and it was amazing! I so love the freedom I feel on these walks and the energy of the natural world is so invigorating. These spots were teeming with tidepool life and it was so gloriously beautiful to walk along beaches and cliffs and rocks.

I am using this post to officially retire our long dormant The Ocean and Us podcast. I know this is not surprising, but I wanted to give it a nice goodbye. I had high hopes of shaping it into something bigger, and I so loved the interviews we did, but we didn’t have time to keep it up along with my other activities. I am sad and a bit disappointed, as I think it had some great potential. But I think my more mainstream advocacy work is more pressing. I also know that it achieved a lot and moved several people and inspired many Spellers. It opened some amazing doors for me. And it helped me learn a lot about sharing on social media and how even a small podcast with a very irregular schedule could have an impact. This really helped me build courage to share more deeply in my Danny With Words social media.

I wish we disabled folks didn’t need to advocate so much. I would love to spend most of my energy on an ocean project! Maybe someday. In the meantime, I will still be pursuing ocean adventures. And you can follow me, if you don’t already, at Danny With Words. I so appreciate everyone who shared their time in interviews and everyone who watched!

Very gratefully yours,

Danny

Trying to trace the past

Dear Friends,

I am feeling so much better! Recently though, my OCD has flared up especially around trigger foods. This is distressing because I am trying to work on being healthy and the compulsive gorging sabotages that! And I am horrified that sometimes I even am driven to frantically snatch food from the trash.

Today I started to really explore this with my therapist. This is so complex and deeply rooted and sensitive, but it feels so empowering to shine some light on it! I have so much to process and I so feel like it will be helpful even if tough. There is so much that young me has gone through but could not share.

I have asked my mom to help me trace my life experiences and my evolving behaviors, and she is so eager to help. Tara is so supporting me emotionally, too. Even our dogs were snuggled up to us while I shared with my mom. I started smiling and delightedly giggling because I felt so safe and loved and hopeful!

Thank you all for caring and following my journey. It means so much that others can learn from my experiences! That is all I will share for now, but I hope to share more of what I learn.

Your Friend,

Danny

Poem: Our brown bags with colorful tissue

Dear Friends,

Thank you so very much for your kindness with my last post. I am coming out of it, though still feeling very rundown. But I was able to have a lovely day out with Tara a couple of days ago. I had been feeling so low about missing out on the pre-Christmas spirit, worried that my dysregulation would make me miss all of the holiday excitement. So I proposed that we play hooky and go to some cute little spots in South Park while I was feeling okay!

It was so wonderful to enjoy a leisurely day out! I was still a bit on edge but much calmer, and so I could really enjoy without too much fear of going into monster mode. I am so glad we took the time to do that and I am so going to treasure memories from that day of small business present foraging and dining. I am so feeling more in the holiday spirit now!

I hope to reply to comments and messages soon, but I am so wiped today. Thank you for your friendship even though I am limited in my ability to interact more with you!

Your Friend,

Danny

Our brown bags with colorful tissue

by Danny Whitty

I dream of our future in some charming European city

Where we walk everywhere and enjoy cafes and bookshops and

Leisurely meals and the energy of savoring life

And I know we will get there but it might take some years

So for now we do our best to

Find that zest that joy that contentment

In the sprawled apart nooks of San Diego

And we indulge in an al fresco tea and cappuccino and croissant

And a wander through a thoughtful boutique

And some poking around a local bookstore

And a lunch surrounded by Christmas decorations

A bit of mineral water and Santas

And a stroll through the park

And I guess we will one day be over there but

Really that contentment is already in our togetherness.

Tough Times

Dear Friends,

I have been really struggling especially the past weekend. When my dysregulation takes over and kicks my OCD and panic response into high gear, I feel like a monster. That is not an exaggeration. I was truly disruptive in ways that caused distress to my family.

I don’t know how many can really understand this if you don’t have firsthand experience with my flavor of this disability. It is such a cruel disability in many ways. It is not just that my body won’t do what I want. It is also that it often aggressively does what I don’t want it to. It is not about being ashamed of my disability. It is about realistically facing the worst parts of it.

I am so upset about how I acted and I don’t need comfort or assurances, though I appreciate the urge to share both. I need to be able to share my frustration and have it heard and validated. I know it is not my fault. I know it is my disability. I know we all wish we could live in a world where dysregulation is not disruptive to ourselves and others, but we don’t and some realities are hard and we need to accept that. And I know many activists try to stifle the experiences of families and caregivers, because somehow they feel that those people can’t also suffer. But I know the pain and stress of my family when I am out of control, and it is not them being selfish or ableist. They love me wholly, and they are trying their best and are doing more than most could in their shoes.

I am trying to continue making progress in my regulation through therapy and almost constant effort and a healthy lifestyle. I have made remarkable progress over the past couple of years. But it is a long and difficult journey. I am so confident I will be ever stronger, but it is also my reality that such tough times will likely always be in my life. And I am allowed to be sad and upset by it.

Your Friend,

Danny

My Friendship Wish

Dear Friends,

I have been having a tough time since Thanksgiving. I am so trying to figure out why! It seems to happen on the holidays, even though I love them. I am so tired because of it, though thankfully I seem to be calming down.

I got to hang out on Zoom with some of my Speller bros yesterday, and it was so soothing to be in their company, even virtually. No one else can understand like my fellow nonspeaking autistic friends. It is so healing to know others like me, and to be able to comfort and help each other. Even hanging out without communicating by words is so good for my heart.

Friendship with people like me in this disability has changed my life and brought so much joy and comfort and hope and fun! How I longed for it for many lonely and misunderstood years! How amazing to feel now that I have a family of peers around the world to love and be loved by!

I wish all of us such friendships of mutual understanding and care.

Your Friend,

Danny