Hi, I’m Toeps!
Pre-order now: This autistic girl went to Japan (Signed!)
When Bianca Toeps first set foot in Japan in 2008, she just knew: “I’m going to live here someday.” Flash forward 15 years, and she’s finally traded her tiny apartment in the Netherlands for an even tinier one in Tokyo. But it wasn’t always easy. Between that first visit and now, Toeps was diagnosed with autism at age 26, suffered several burnouts, and switched careers a time or two (or three) before becoming a web developer and a best-selling author. And just when she was all set for the big move, the pandemic derailed everything.
My new book, This autistic girl went to Japan – And you won’t believe what happened next, is now available for pre-order here! And if you’re a Kindle user, the e-book is 50% off until launch date, so grab it quickly!
Last month I photographed Cynthia. Among the internet veterans perhaps better known as Miss Lipgloss, but nowadays blogging under the name Cynthia.nl, because we’re all not 15 anymore, and that sticky substance your hair got caught in is more than welcome to stay in the 00’s. So, Cynthia. A surprising development for some, because eh, you didn’t like each other much, did you?
In the silly piece in Trouw to which I responded with some other autistic writers, two critical “giftedness coaches” wrote that we couldn’t have autism at all, because, ‘Writers who say they have autism but write books and are in relationships are not examples of people with autism to us.’ Why their entire article made no sense we explained clearly enough in our reply, but the fact that they mentioned the very profession of being a writer made it extra funny to me. Did these two think that someone who sits like a hermit all day in their attic, in a cabin in the woods or, in my case, at the foot of Mt. Fuji, crafting sentences, cannot be autistic? How…?
Thanks to the launch of my new book (and a cringeworthy opinion piece in Trouw that we had to respond to), I have been in the papers, on the radio and even on TV over the past few months. While I was generally pleased with the coverage, I also worried from time to time, as some of the headlines were somewhat unsubtle. Although I invariably did my best to emphasize the diversity of both Japan and autism, that didn’t always come across well.
We autistic people are often good at stressing ourselves out. When we lose track, the same thoughts keep popping into our heads over and over again. Stress builds up and we can’t manage to calm ourselves down. When we ask for help, others say, “Don’t worry!”, or ” You’ll be fine!” Well intended, but perhaps the most unhelpful thing someone can say at times like that. “What do you mean, it will be fine?! How can you possibly know?!”, my head screams. Below are some questions that might actually help when an autistic person is stuck in their thoughts.
Last Monday was Sea Day. A national holiday in Japan, and therefore a perfect excuse to go out. To the sea, or elsewhere. Jean-Jacques and I chose elsewhere; in fact, we had bought tickets for a steam train ride in Tochigi prefecture!
As an autistic person, I sometimes find it difficult to manage stimuli. It is often too much, and if I go beyond my limits I sometimes have to recover for days. In my book I wrote about how I learned to create structure by planning. Now you may be thinking: Sure, planning is good, but how exactly do you do that? While I don’t think there is one method, and I believe everyone has to figure out what works for themselves, I have listed eight points below that have perfected my planning over the past ten years. I hope you find them helpful.