Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity, intersectionality, leadership, Teaching

The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Accepting That I’m Not a Superhero

The thing about being Autistic, I think, that can be really detrimental to living a functioning adult life, is that we believe a lot of what we’ve been taught.

Think back to all those posters on the walls at your schools.  Think about all those heroes they made us read about, so that we could learn to cultivate all those virtues “they” wanted us to all have.  We were supposed to be honest, hardworking, and compassionate.  We were supposed to save the world!

But, as we Autistics have found, we aren’t really supposed to be too honest.  Being too honest doesn’t work out so well for us.

A lot of people can hang out at the water cooler (literally and metaphorically) all day long, and yet they seem to get ahead at work.

And when you give so much that it hurts, all that happens is you’re hurt.  There is no reward.

And yes, it’s all possible for all this suffering we go through on this earth to be rewarded in the afterlife, but we see so many people flagrantly ignoring the rules we were overtly taught and internalized, and they do, in fact, get ahead on this earth.

If they meant that honesty, diligence, and compassion would mean not a danged thing now, but might or might not in the afterlife (if it exists), why the heck didn’t they just say that?

Continue reading “The Rest of Us Just Live Here: Accepting That I’m Not a Superhero”

Posted in School Leadership

Going Back for the Others?

Jonathan Kozol once wrote semi-admiringly about free schools as a concept.  Free schools don’t mean public schools; there was a movement to do these kinds of schools where students do all the decision-making.  It’s kind of like unschooling, but in a school format.  It’s brilliant, but it presupposes a view of childhood that most people find unnerving: that kids can think for themselves and make good decisions.

In my experience, in fact, they can, once they get past the idea that they can, in fact, do nothing and have ice cream all day.  Eventually, when they get used to a life with no rules, they do like learning and eating real food, too.  Autistic kids thrive with choice since they seem to have this innate knowledge of what it is they need…society just likes to get in the way and interrupt this little voice that tells them what to do.  Anyway, sure, kids ought to be able to choose what they do and when they do it.  It’s a good thing to have children and teens vote on what happens next, and have them direct their own learning.

I’m sure, deep down, Kozol also would agree in theory with Catholic education because of the good it can do, especially in urban areas.  It gets some kids out, and helps them move to the middle class.  When you think of individual children, homeschooling, choice schools and Catholic education and other options are always a wonderful thing.  He is not remotely a fan of it in practice, though (or possibly not even in theory; sometimes it’s hard to read his work for me because of this).

But he said something about free schools that has stuck with me for years.

He compared them to the commandant’s children playing in the sandbox near Auschwitz.

Continue reading “Going Back for the Others?”