Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, intersectionality

Disappointing John Warriner: Why it’s Hard for Me to Change

Autistic people like to be right.

We have a saying in my house, “technically correct is the best kind of correct.”  It’s what my husband and I say to each other about ourselves or about our son when we realize we’re arguing in circles and all of us are convinced we’re right.  Because I was more able to see the point of view of other people than my husband was, inevitably I’d say something that was right in terms of, if you looked at lived experiences, and my husband would say something that he’d internalized as a rule.  Once upon a time, I’d said, “Well, you’re technically correct…” at which point he replied, “Well, that’s the best kind of correct.”  Ever since we make that the family joke.

And it really does give you a handle on why we Autistics can be difficult to change.

One of the things I learned from going to public schools myself, is that embarrassment is the worst thing in the world.  See, if you do something embarrassing two things happen 1) people can randomly bring it up in the future and use it to color their future opinions of you and 2) your mind has this irritating habit of doing this thing where, if you’re sitting there, enjoying the day, it will decide to bring you down a peg or two and replay an incident that was horrifyingly embarrassing.  Objectively, I know now that brains playing bad memories over again is a typical thing.  In fact, I seem to remember learning it in high school when I read a Dave Barry column and he mentioned his brain doing that as if it’s what brains do all the time (thanks, Dave!  You really helped me out with that!), but at the same time, I still think I react more strongly to that embarrassment than the typical neurotypical.

Female Autistics in particular have a hard time being recognized because we tend to do this thing where we’re aware of how we’re perceived and can even (often) sense other people’s emotions and what they are thinking.  We’ve learned this from years of playing detective and trying to fit in, which we might have managed in elementary years, but when things start getting too intense around middle school, we often can’t make it anymore and just get lost at the “fitting in” game.  But some of us can still sense what other people are thinking and feeling, but we can’t do anything about it so we’re ostracized for being different.

That’s not, clearly, ideal.

Continue reading “Disappointing John Warriner: Why it’s Hard for Me to Change”

Posted in Books

Read this Book

I recently read The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater.  I picked it up due to reviews, without really knowing what it was about.

Given I’m working on my pronouns in the wake of Siri-gate, it was quite timely for me.

It’s the story of an incident on a bus in which a Black teen lit an agendered person on fire.  They were just napping on the bus when the Black teen got the idea of lighting their skirt on fire.  The skirt burned too hot, too fast, and they were very damaged as a result.

This is told as a narrative journalism where the author interviewed everyone involved.  It is particularly helpful because it goes over a lot of terminology including pronoun usage in such a way as to explain it in a very neutral fashion, which can make it a little easier for someone like me who is still working on pronouns.  The reason the race of the perpetrator matters since it’s also a story about his identity as well.  It’s a very powerful story.

What I particularly like about the book is that Slater doesn’t make the story about “Dashka-the-author”; rather, she presents both teenagers’ stories and then you’re not sure who you’re mad at, by the end.  It is a story of an incident, and well told.

And as it’s YA lit, it’s a quick read, besides.

 

Posted in School governance, School Leadership, Self-Care

Seclude/Restrain and Other Pointless Forms of Discipline in Schools

[Image: eighteen wooden, red-tipped matches are lined up in a semi-circle (that presumably continues outside the frame) against a black background. The eighth match from the right is lit] image from Pixabay]
Not again.

We have a school district not too far away that keeps doing things that make no sense.

A few years ago, this district had a situation where the principal decided a meltdown didn’t end fast enough and she sat on an elementary student’s legs and held him down so she could, in her eyes, force the meltdown to “peak” so it could end faster.  That was about 2.5 years ago.

Last month, the district decided to hit the news again.  This time, a young child (this district only has grades K-3 in these schools, so these are little elementary kids besides) took one of the other students’ play-doh and decided to throw it at people.  The teacher called in the principal when the kid wouldn’t give it back, and the principal dragged the child down the hall and put him in a closet.  Okay, now it’s a “time out” space, but it was effectively built to be a closet, so…it’s a freaking closet.

For throwing play-doh.

Continue reading “Seclude/Restrain and Other Pointless Forms of Discipline in Schools”

Posted in Advocacy

The Lady at Guadalupe: Permission to Be Yourself

If you don’t know anything about apparitions of Mary, you may not know about some powerful stories.  Inevitably, the “certified” visions appear only to children or people who have no power in society.  As an example, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to a young girl who was illiterate, yet was able to repeat what the lady said, that she was the “Immaculate Conception.”  There was no way that young Bernadette, far removed from the theologians of her day, could possibly have known they were all kicking around the idea of Mary’s immaculate conception and whether or not it was true.  No one in the village really knew about that going on.  Later, in Fatima, Portugal, “a lady” appeared to three shepherd children.  One day, she made the sun dance.  The weirdest part about the sun dancing was that not everyone there saw it, which seemed to make it even more believable as divine (Bible stories inevitably have unbelievers seem to not see a thing).

But the big common denominator inevitably is: a silenced voice sees a lady (the viewer or viewers rarely call her Mary, but eventually they figure it out or someone else will eventually decide it is she).

Today is the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Americas (not just Mexico, as some might believe).

Continue reading “The Lady at Guadalupe: Permission to Be Yourself”

Posted in Advocacy, Neurodiversity

Boycott To Siri Update

Thanks for all the visits recently in the wake of #BoycottToSiri.  I’m so humbled by the neurotypical allies joining us, and even more humbled to hear my words are being used in this movement.

Have a look at our hero, Amethyst Shaber, who posted video message to understand the movement and how you can help http://autismgazette.com/videos/videoamythest-schaber-boycotttosiri/.

 

Next, head to this review by the amazing Kaelan Rhywiol if you want to understand the specific problems of the book: https://twitter.com/kaelanrhy/status/936307207968137216

 

 

 

Posted in Advocacy

neurotypicals Are Very Odd Creatures: Watching Survivor to Analyze Neurotypicality

So, a long time ago, when the television show Survivor first came out, I watched it and was utterly fascinated.  The main thing I loved about it was watching Richard Hatch play a game no one else yet understood was the actual game of the show and (spoiler alert) be rewarded with a million dollars.

[A blue piranha with red stomach is hidden in some underwater grass. Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor, pointed out that a bigger fish can take your finger off with one bite. Image from Pixabay]
If you don’t know the game, the gist is they strand people on an island in two groups and early on, the way you get power is by winning challenges, many of which are physical, which can be a real problem due to (as the show goes on) less and less food being available to you unless you’re good at finding it on your own.  There are mental challenges, too, but these get hard given the lack of food as well.  The trick is to figure out how to stay healthy physically so you can compete physically and mentally.  When there are too few people to have two separate groups, they merge them together and the challenges become individual.  If you get “immunity,” the others can’t get rid of you by voting you out, but almost all of the people who are there after the merge then become a jury who decide who wins the million at the end, so if you’re too devious in your scheming, it will cost you.  Maybe.

Anyway, when the game first started, the original group had literally no idea what the game was, so it was relatively easy for Hatch to create a core alliance and use it to have an effective voting bloc to ensure that what he thought, strategically, would be the best thing to do, he was able to actually carry out.

Fast-forward to the season I just finished, season 6 (I only really watched the first, some of the celebrity edition, and the all-star season, so I’m watching old ones).  I was incensed this season, more than before, and it made me think about the “pretty people” vs. the rest of us and what all this means for society.

Continue reading “neurotypicals Are Very Odd Creatures: Watching Survivor to Analyze Neurotypicality”

Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity

I Wish I Could Say I’m Aspergian: Why We Have to Join Up “For the Team”

Every so often, you’ll meet an Autistic who insists on saying that he or she has Asperger’s Syndrome.  That term has been removed from the diagnostic manual because people OTHER than us decided on Autistic being the blanket term.  While there’s good and bad in that, the gist of the reasoning was that those who got the Asperger’s label weren’t getting help, so it was better to call us all Autistic.

That was remarkably helpful of the medical establishment, which is sort of rare.

But had I been in the meeting, I would have said, “Can’t we both be Asperger’s Syndrome, instead?”

But since Asperger’s ONLY (to them) meant “high-functioning,” to ask that question would be tantamount to saying that I wanted to erase the “low-functioning” people from existence.  I don’t believe in functioning labels, but if I DID, I need to support my Neurosiblings who have been considered “low-functioning” first.  As such, I have to bury Asperger’s Syndrome.

Which is sad, I think.

Continue reading “I Wish I Could Say I’m Aspergian: Why We Have to Join Up “For the Team””

Posted in Autistic Identity, Parenting, School governance, School Leadership

Autistics Make GREAT Moms

This post should be about how much I am insightful about my child’s needs, judging from the title.  And I believe I am good at that sort of thing.  However, this post is not that.  Instead, because I was asked if I was another person’s mother multiple times yesterday, I thought this would be far more interesting to talk about, given the current Autistic community speaking out about being great parents in the wake of #BoycottToSiri.

As the setup to this story, I have a lone 8th grader.  He’s pretty amazing, if I do say so myself, and part of why he’s amazing is how much progress he’s made in the last year and a bit since I came to this school.  He used to be very silent, especially around adults, and took a very long time to read.  His work was adequate at best and he seemed to be behind grade level.

This year, he’s at grade level and can explain things better than most 8th graders in other schools (since we have no basis for comparison here, we have to look elsewhere; this is probably a good thing and less stressful for him anyway).

Because we have a large developmental gap between him and my next youngest student who fits in best with the 4th/5th graders, he likes to work in the office.  This works out fine because 1) we get another person to answer the doorbell, 2) I can teach him in between my work, if he needs it, which frees up the one-room schoolhouse, and 3) we can, when we’re both stressed play Uno or Yu-Gui-Oh, or what have you.  He’s seemed to move along even faster, academically, since now he can choose the order he does things in (being mindful about what time I have that’s free to teach), and he still joins the rest of the class for meals, gym, and art.  He even DIRECTS gym now, teaching the other kids games that country school kids used to play years ago like “Ghosts in the graveyard.”  He learned about this game online.

So, this is my 8th grader, and because there IS such a gap between him and the others, and because he’s going to have learned as much as he can, being in the office with us, he wants to go to another school next year, and we found a charter that is project-based and quite small, with lots of quirky students he should fit in great with.

SO…here’s the story.

Continue reading “Autistics Make GREAT Moms”

Posted in Autistic Identity, Catholic education, Catholic leadership, higher education, Identity, writing

Goodbye, Academia (Again)

[Image: A brick wall has been broken down and the foreground has some debris that’s difficult to make out. There is a large, green coniferous tree standing directly in front of the opening. It is sunny outside. A mist hides some of what is beyond, but the world outside seems welcoming.]
If you follow me regularly, you’ll know that I’ve recently been conflicted about whether to focus my non-school related energy on pursuing an Ed.D. or focusing on my writing.  You may also remember, I’ve got all the Ph.D. courses necessary for a Ph.D. in Education or Library and Information Science, but I left the path to the ivory tower because of a lack of support.

The little voice in me finally started to speak; actually, she screamed during this #BoycottToSiri saga that’s been going on lately.

The little voice that is me had already been complaining considerably while I was writing my paper to end the semester.  I knocked the thing out pretty quickly and it’s fine; it answered my questions, and I did okay.  But I hated every minute of writing that academic paper.

Here’s what I learned about myself.

Continue reading “Goodbye, Academia (Again)”

Posted in Advocacy, intersectionality

It seems no one cares…#BoycottToSiri

It’s very difficult to watch the BoycottToSiri protest that I mentioned last week go, effectively, nowhere.

Autistic Twitter is a pretty darned intersectional place.  We talk about race, gender, sexuality, and the larger group of disability.  We rarely talk much about religion, but people haven’t gotten all upset with me because I do, and someone probably should address religion, so I and a few others fill the quieter space for that.  We fight with each other sometimes, because it’s hard to unlearn a lot of old stereotypes we learned before we realized we used to fight back against them before we were taught the social rule of “you must do x or you are a bad person.”

Anyway, my point is, other than some fabulous parents of Autistics who are truly interested in hearing our voices (by the way, thanks for this, parents!), I maybe only saw one Disabled activist who wasn’t Autistic talking about it (there probably were many more, but some of the people on my own Twitter list seemed strangely silent, and it didn’t come up in the intersectional spaces I’d imagine it ought to have.

Because, remember, we’re talking about forced sterilization of a Disabled person without his consent.

Unfortunately, all this was going on at the same time the U.S. government was passing this huge taxbill which is, well, not good.  And, unfortunately, a lot of people only had so many spoons and it was overwhelming.

I get that.

I also get the reality that Disabled people in general are used to the idea that people talking about their bodies and what to do about them is status quo.  It’s still wrong, but it’s so very much a part of their everyday existence that it’s like when Black people ignore a race-based protest.  To them, it’s another Wednesday or whatever, but us privileged folk (and so often, Disabled twitter writers can pass as Neurotypical) are incensed because we see this as unusual.  That’s another reason why, I think, the bigger Disability community didn’t get upset with us.

There’s another double-edged sword here.  I am still waiting to hear back from an agent about representation, and she did mention she does look for people who won’t go offending a huge audience.  This is the reality of life as we live it: gatekeepers want people who don’t get upset when another author publishes her work, or at least, we can get angry if and only if everyone else is angry, too.  A huge Trump protest?  Fine…you’ve got numbers.  This sort of thing?  What am I trying to do, piss off one of the big six publishers?

So, there’s that, too.  And that’s also why I didn’t volunteer that I had this blog and Twitter account.

But I’m Autistic and I was never really good at the social rule that said you shut up when you see or hear about oppression.  It may have taken me years to get awoken to all the oppression around me (and I’m still learning and still making mistakes), but once I knew it was oppression, there I was, speaking up.

It hurts me too much not to speak up.

And this is what the lived reality is about being an Autistic, in general.

There are a few of us who are ridiculously nice; they do a better job at passing in intersectional places.  There are tokens in every community, and I guess I shouldn’t criticize them.

But this hurts.  The people who have the privilege of standing with us haven’t come.

Is it because their spoon drawers are depleted?  Is it because they don’t know or don’t care?

Or is it they believe we should, in fact, be treated in this way?