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 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 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?

 

Posted in Advocacy

STAY IN YOUR LANE: #BoycottToSiri

Yesterday, I wrote about how real advocates correct their negative behaviors when they are corrected by others.  How, when you are an advocate (or want to believe yourself to be an advocate), you apologize and try to learn from what’s going on.  What mistake did you make?  How can you make it better?

What you don’t do is get into a fight with the advocate who is trying to help educate you on the harm you’re doing.

If you’re not on Autistic Twitter, you might not know that Autistic advocate Amethyst Shaber, a fantastic advocate, found out that they were referenced in a book called To Siri With Love.  It’s published by HarperCollins, a major publisher, and written by Judith Newman, mother to an Autistic and standard variety “my life sucks because my kid has autism” variety.

The author called Amethyst (who prefers they/them pronouns, and tells you so outright) a girl, and misconstrued Amethyst’s identity, using what the author believed would be a flattering description, but was actually quite condescending.  At no point does the author reach out to Amethyst, but she (the author) uses Amethyst’s work in the book and twists it so it’s not quite right.  In this way, the author apparently thinks that she herself is being helpful, but in reality, when the author presented Amethyst’s work in that way, Newman was not.  Amethyst looks into it and is concerned about the use of Autism Speaks as a reference in the book as well.

Amethyst objected, the author said “sorry” and she’d update it “in the next edition.”

The author was condescending.

Amethyst and other advocates actually start looking into the book and find passages that are eugenicist in nature including the author’s desire to have power of attorney over her son so she can get him sterilized when he comes of age.

Autistic Twitter explodes.

The standard trolls come out of the woodwork to defend this book and the author, not understanding what she’s actually did and why it’s so morally repugnant.

The author keeps saying snarky things, condescending things.

SHE WILL NOT GET INTO HER LANE NOR WILL SHE APOLOGIZE, SINCERELY, AND WORK TO MAKE AMENDS.

Check out #BoycottToSiri for the details.

Oh, and this goes without saying, DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK.  The author and publisher ought not to profit when they were given a chance to do the right thing, and chose, instead, to show what kinds of negative people are involved with this book.

 

 

Posted in Advocacy, intersectionality

Stay in Your Lane: How to Feel Empowered, Not Insulted If You Are Given This Invitation

The expression, “stay in your lane,” is getting increasingly common among Disability activists.

The term is a reference to driving, and if you veer all over the road, you’ll end up hurting the other drivers.  In addition, it points out that you don’t own the whole road; others have a right to use the road as much as you do.

Often, we say it to parent activists and other busybodies who can only speak about their personal experiences, and suddenly, they’re swerving over to talk about the Autistic experience or the experiences of another Disabled person.  It’s also used in issues of race or class or religion.  Basically, anything that is deeply personal, about which only someone who has lived the experience, can really testify about.

If someone witnesses you talking about a life experience that you do not actually live for yourself, it’s possible an activist will tell you to “stay in your lane.”

When you hear that, you might get offended.  You might try to respond that you have as much rights as anyone else to speak your truth.  You’ve seen Muslim people, Autistic people, Disabled people, Black people, whatever you’re talking about, and so somehow you know the experience.

Seeing something and even living beside someone does not guarantee that you know the experience.  Sure, you might understand things a little better than someone who has never lived with a Disabled person (etc.), but that doesn’t mean you belong in their lane, so to speak.

But that’s okay.

Let me tell you about something that will help you feel a little better if someone tells you to, “stay in your lane.”

Continue reading “Stay in Your Lane: How to Feel Empowered, Not Insulted If You Are Given This Invitation”

Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity

Wisdom from the Professor: Learning Who Has Been to Narnia

[Image: an old wooden wardrobe sits on a floor under the rafters of an otherwise empty attic room. Nothing there!]
I was reading a children’s book yesterday.  I wish I could remember which, but I’ve been stimming through reading the last few days and I’ve devoured more than a dozen in the last three days, staying up late if I need to, and spending way-to-much time in bed falling asleep and waking up and reading more.

Last weekend was a major fundraiser for our school.  It was too much for me and it sent me to bed the whole weekend afterward, but with reading by my side, I readily got through our two-day week at school.

But I digress already from my main point.

The author of whatever book it was referenced the professor from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

If you have not yet read this series in its entirety (at least The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew, my two personal favorites, go and read them before I ruin things for you!

I’m serious!  Read them now before reading this blog post.

Did you read them?

Okay, if not, you’ve been warned.

Continue reading “Wisdom from the Professor: Learning Who Has Been to Narnia”

Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, Parenting

The Mother of Privilege: Greenlighting Eugenics Through Mama Drama

[Image: A scientific dropper pours black images of people from a dropper with greenish water into a waiting blue beaker; many other test tubes are lined up, and empty, in the background.]
In Autism circles, we talk a lot about the Autism Mother.  Typically, this person writes a blog and/or publishes posts on Facebook or Twitter to tell anyone who will listen about how his or her child was robbed from them due to Autism.  Many of them insist it was the MMR vaccine, but others, who feel a bit more enlightened by science, are taken in by the Autism Speaks mantra about how Autism is a growing epidemic.

An epidemic that must be stopped at all costs.

For some background on why we get irritated with the Autism MomTM  syndrome, visit this link to learn more about the Autist who created this term and why we take issue with these moms (or dads).

See, part of the reason why we get annoyed by these parents is because they make the narrative always about them.  When you’re a parent, though, isn’t it supposed to be about your kid and what he or she needs, and not about what you as the parent needs?  But for some reason, society allows this inverted family structure to continue: mom’s life sucks because of her child’s very existence.

You don’t get to do that with other issues without someone doing a PSA about it.  I vaguely remember they do Public Service Announcements about not emotionally abusing your kids that are basically just this narrative: children hear you; don’t hurt your children by what you say.  The words “I wish you were never born” come to mind…anyone else remember this ad that used to play?

Anyway, despite the fact that we’ve been told for years that this emotional abuse through words is wrong, for some reason, society gives these moms a “pass.”

And the thing of it is, the longer they whine and complain and are given all sorts of pats-on-the-back about how hard their lives supposedly are…that’s when the Eugenics monster shows up again, trying to pull us Autistics out of the gene pool so as to make neurotypicals’ lives better.

Continue reading “The Mother of Privilege: Greenlighting Eugenics Through Mama Drama”