Embrace egalitarianism though it is a thorn that rips your flesh. Embrace multiculturalism though it is a venom that dissolves your bones. Embrace freedom though it is a fever that saps your power. Embrace them with all your strength though you fear to bleed and collapse and succumb. Pull them inside yourself until they are your flesh, your bones, your power, your awesome crown.

Managing Challenging Behaviors in Neurotypicals

Restless Hands

[This is a long overdue repost from my old blog. It is both satire and very serious. It is satire in that it is very closely modeled on actual articles I see frequently online, and it borrows much of the tone and phrasing of those articles. It is serious in that I very much hope it will make the people who write, read, and share those articles think a little more deeply about what it feels like to be one of the people that those articles are about. It is also serious in that it is legitimate and honest advice for autistic people who find the actions of non-autistic people stressful and exhausting– as most of us do at times. We,  as much as anyone else, deserve to have that stress and frustration openly acknowledged. But I also hope that by turning the spotlight back on the majority, I can…

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Adding Songs to Baby Dance

The girls (3 & 4) have a tiny subset of my music library on their devices. It’s time to update their playlist which I named Baby Dance back when they were babies. They hear songs they want from my library and ask for them. Some I added by request, some by paternalartistic edict. Might as well give them a good dose of the stuff that’ll be making them roll their eyes after they become convinced that all parents are lame. Mom will let me know if I accidentally added anything that doesn’t belong.

The Beatles – Love Me Do, Penny Lane, Help!
Ben Folds – Still Fighting It
Blind Melon – No Rain
Bob Dylan – Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Just Like a Woman
Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
Cake – Short Skirt/Long Jacket
Caribou – Andorra (album)
Carole King – I Feel The Earth Move
Construction Joe – Lizard
The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out (album)
Erik Satie – Three Gymnopédies 1-3
Frank Turner – Dan’s Song
Jack Johnson – Mudfootball
Jamiroquai – Cosmic Girl
Manitoba/Caribou – Up In Flames (album)
Outkast – My Favorite Things
Phish – Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Esther, Tweezer, Chalk Dust Torture
Queen – You’re My Best Friend
Shawn Wasabi – Marble Soda
Soundtrack – Broken Flowers (Ethiopian jazz)
Soundtrack – Waking Life (tango)
Thievery Corporation – The Mirror Conspiracy (album)
UB40 – The Way You Do The Things You Do
Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman (album)

They already have a lot of songs and kids’ albums but I’m always looking for recommendations.

Two kinds of NUX

To me there are two different ways to read the term “NUX”.

* (NU)X is the experience provided to new users. (New User)’s Experience
* N(UX) is when any user experiences something unfamiliar. Novel (User Experience)

“NUX” commonly means (NU)X. We use “new users” to refer to people who are signing up and starting to use the service. “NUX” therefore refers to the signup flow and maybe some early interactions.

I prefer to think in terms of N(UX) because it’s user-centric and personalized. (NU)X is an onboarding process with an end whereas N(UX) treats novelty from the viewpoint of the user throughout their lifetime. You can apply N(UX) thinking to (NU)X but that’s not where it ends. And not every (NU)X is a N(UX).


we should try to offer the right variation for individual users

New users all look pretty much the same on arrival: just a bunch of unauthenticated HTTP requests for a signup page. When you know nothing about the individual users you can’t differentiate between them to sort them into signup variations. The more you know about them, the better you can tailor their experience. Do they need a guide? A map? A hint? A challenge? No help at all?

It looks like you are trying to start a blog. Can I help?

Clippy was a good idea that became an ironic cliché because it was too eager to help. It kept repeating its distracting wiggle onto the screen long after the user stopped needing its simplistic instruction. Good help can come from an automated agent if it doesn’t take the form of an attention-starved acrobat.

Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.

This ubiquitous admonition is annoyingly disingenuous. They don’t actually keep track of whether you have called and listened to the menu since the latest update. Good help remembers what you already know.

 Yellow! Yellow! Yellow! Yellow!

Have you ever noticed a newly installed traffic signal on your daily commute? Commuters are terrible at noticing because they are conditioned by familiarity to be less alert. This is why new traffic lights are magnets for accidents. Where I live, road crews typically give commuters a few days of flashing yellow to alert them. Blogging about a change isn’t enough; respecting the habits of seasoned users saves lives.


With N(UX) you can see that every user slips in and out of familiarity. Even tenured users and the developers themselves go through N(UX) now and then. My WordPress.com account is ten years old and I’m constantly getting N(UX)ed.

Knowing whether a given user is in unfamiliar territory depends on knowing where the user has been and whether the territory has changed. Depending on how comfortable they are with novelty, they’ll either need a guided tour or be happy with a hint.

N(UX) is not a yes-or-no question, a one-way ramp or a single fact for each user. It is a record of a relationship between a person and software, a profile that maps familiarities and predilections. The software has a “mental model” of the person and adjusts itself to suit them, or offers instruction when needed.

For a start, ask the beginning user if they want help. Just not too acrobatically.