This is another archived post I’m bringing back. I’m having a really hard time at work now. Part of it is the Protestant Work Ethic that saturates U.S. culture: you know, the whole work yourself to death thing and somehow you will be rewarded.
By the way, if you work as hard as I’ve been working and you’re Autistic, you will not only not be successful, you may burnout.
Yesterday, I heard someone say at school that she was signed up for the Autism version of some training the public school folk have to attend each year. She’s our Title teacher, who comes out to work with kids, via the taxpayers. I wanted to ask her if an Actual Autistic person was teaching it, but I’m selectively out at work right now; my colleagues who can help me know I’m Autistic, but my principal just officially knows my husband and son are Autistic. She’ll do the math at some point, but for now, if I need help, my colleagues can help me pretty readily. At any rate, this is an issue I’m forever concerned about: Autistic “training” for teachers that’s usually designed by people who believe in helping us “manage” our Autism by helping us to “pass” as neurotypical. This ends up passing on a whole bunch of information that is, in fact, harmful to actual Autistics.
At any rate, early this morning, I was following tweets by the mind behind the amazing Aspie Mermaid about a class she was in with a whole bunch of nt folk talking about Autism. They knew SO MUCH, yet they knew nothing. They likely had been to some of these trainings I mentioned earlier.
And then the mind behind The Silent Wave tweeted about arguing about removing Autism from the DSM, and we batted some ideas around.
These events sparked this post, where I unpack a few myths about Autism from the so-called experts and what’s really true.
Come have a look at Autism, not from the “cheap seats” at those neurotypical-designed trainings, but right in the front row of the box (the best place to watch a musical) or the front row on the floor (the best place for other events!).
One of the things about being Catholic is that we are called to believe in one Truth (capital T) which is Jesus/God/Holy Spirit…you know, TRUTH. And this actually fits in line with what I think the Autistic view of Truth is…the idea that there is one factual truth in all things.
But we also, as Autistics, believe in multiple perspectives. As in, one person’s experiences will affect the way he or she tells the story. Sometimes Autistics who have not been “woke” to this truth still fight it and believe only one view of events can possibly exist, but increasingly, as one becomes an activist, one learns about perspective, white privilege and so on.
In leadership, there is another kind of truth, I think.
Sorry for the lack of update. It’s a busy time of year for work. Without revealing too much, I am a Catholic school principal and we are reinventing ourselves to be more inclusive and also more authentically Catholic. We pray more, we love more, you know…the kind of school that, if you went religious, you’d want for your Neurodiverse kid because our goal is to help kids to find their true selves and be able to advocate for themselves wherever they go to school next. The need is great where we are. But yes, very busy this time of year.
I just had some news that frustrates me to no end. The teacher I thought I could depend upon to stick with me this year has been wooed away by the public schools. They can offer him the little things like pay commensurate with experience and, well, health insurance. I’ve done the math on what I could make, going public, and it’s more than double than what I make now. Unfortunately, I am Autistic, and I cannot play the “fitting in” games required in public schools. I just don’t have the spoons for it.
This is a reblog from an article I posted around November or December of 2016. Last night, I was watching an episode of Raising Hope when the Chances are working on their GED. When Burt, the dad, is being tutored from his son’s co-worker at the store, they are reading Shakespeare. Burt says he keeps seeing words so the play is boring to him and his tutor tells him that’s dumb and he should instead think of pictures when he reads, since that’s how everyone else does it. I shouted “ableist” at the screen since, well, that’s not how I do things.
And I’m very highly literate and have read much Shakespeare.
This talk about thinking in text led me to discover more about myself through some helpful blog readers (I think Nicole C. was one of them) who helped me to discover that aphantasia is the name for what this is. So, if you do this, too, you are not alone. And it isn’t “dumb” (ableist slur that that is) to think in words; it’s just different.
So, here’s all about thinking in words, from my perspective.
Temple Grandin wrote a book called Thinking in Pictures. In it, she described how many Autistics (including her) think in pictures. Recently, in Autchat when we were covering invalidation and doubt (about whether we were really Autistic), it came up that at one point someone didn’t realize that people didn’t all think in pictures. Then some of us offered that we were word-thinkers.
Here’s an archives piece that will be even more relevant soon with a new version of A Wrinkle in Time hitting the big screen in the spring of 2018. The new movie will feature a Black Meg and given how infrequently Neurodiverse types are female, let alone girls of color, I am already thrilled by this casting.
Anyone who knows Madeleine L’Engle’s classic story, A Wrinkle in Time, the Newberry Award winner that was considered “too hard” for children and subsequently rejected over two dozen times, knows the story is special. It’s the story of a family whose professor father is missing and the journey his “misfit” children, Charles Wallace, the baby, and Meg Wallace, his eldest daughter, undertake to rescue him. Both mother and father have multiple doctorates and mom even works in a lab at home. This is normal to the Murry family (if not the town). To the Neurodivergent crowd, A Wrinkle in Time can be seen as one of those special stories that means a whole bunch.
I modified this absolutely wonderful piece by Peggy MacIntosh (which I remind you all to read every so often) to focus on Neurodiversity. I haven’t seen a Disability adaptation, and, while I’d like to make this broader to include more types of Disability, I only know my own area of Disability, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
Neurotypical Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
(a modified list based on Peggy MacIntosh’s seminal piece on White Privilege)
1.I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my neurotype most of the time.
2. I spend money on electronics and “gadgetry” as a discretionary part of my income; if I can’t buy it now, it will not impede the quality of my work and/or social life.
3. If I find a tag in a clothing, I can wait until I get home to remove it and go on with my day as usual.
4. If there is a strong smell in the building, once I have recognized it, I will ignore it and go on with my day as usual.
5. If I struggle to speak, people will allow me to take my time to recover and will not speak for me unless I give them permission.
6. I can turn on the television, browse the Internet, or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my neurotype widely represented, not just in “inspirational” stories, fear stories, and/or crime stories.
7. I can browse the Internet without stumbling upon a group that would destroy people like me because my neurotype deviates from the norm.
8.When I am told about our natural heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my neurotype made it what it is.
9. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
10.I can swear, or dress quirky, or not answer telephone calls without having people attribute these choices to the lack of social skills of my neurotype.
11.I can speak in public to a powerful group without putting my neurotype on trial.
12.I can do well in a challenging situation without being called “more than my neurotype.”
13.I am never asked to speak for all the people of my neurotype.
14.I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my neurotype.
15.I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, or held at a distance.
16.I can disclose my neurotype at work without having co-workers on the job suspect that I get preferential treatment because of my neurotype.
17.I can disclose my neurotype at work without having to worry that my co-workers will be afraid of me.
18.I never have to worry about whether to disclose my neurotype at work since my neurotype is considered to be “normal.”
19.If I disclose my neurotype at work, I do not have to fear being fired as a result of that disclosure.
20. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my neurotype will not work against me.
21.I can tell friends, family, colleagues, and strangers about a condition I experience without being questioned about whether or not I really have that condition.
22. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has ableist overtones.
23. When I talk about my special interests, people don’t call them obsessions or ask me to change the subject.
24. When I disclose my neurotype, people won’t tell me that I should hide it because people don’t need to know.
25. When I disclose my neurotype, people won’t tell me stories about other people with my neurotype and how they “know all about” my neurotype from those one or two experiences.
26. When I disclose my neurotype, people don’t compare me to a celebrity of my neurotype and ask how I’m like him or her.
27.I have a reasonably good handle on how much, or little, work I need to do at my job to avoid negative consequences.
28. When I try to talk about my neurotype and how it affects me, no one tries to tell me “everyone feels like that.”
29. When I make parenting choices, or any choices, my neurotype will not be used against me in judgment of those choices.
30. The number one group supporting people of my neurotype does not actively seek to eradicate my neurotype.
The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts was first published in 1980, it is still available (check out Scholastic’s book club!) and continues to be relevant even today. Read more about how this book resonated with me as an Autistic tween.