Kroger April Early Shock

Well, Kroger has decided to get their Autism Awareness out early this year. That was a shock. I know I was expecting it, but something inside me this year has decided to raise anxiety. I mean, stuttering has come out of me this year, too. I don’t like it. 

It’s not quite full-blown yet, but it’s starting up fast. Today I saw two women wearing the Kroger Autism Awareness Shirt – light blue with a “ribbon” made up of primary color puzzle pieces. They haven’t pulled out an infographic station yet, though. As I have said recently, you know how I feel about the puzzle piece. Anyway, the start has hit me hard this year.  

Maybe I ought to ask how those who wear the Autism Awareness Shirt are connected to it. If it means an autistic relative, maybe I can give a few tips on how to help. Who knows?  

I think I need to go self-care a bit right now.  

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Why I Don’t Like the Puzzle Piece

 Now, it’s time for me to dress the blog in red roses and the infinity symbol. It’s Autism Awareness Month again. 

However, you won’t find one thing on this blog outside this post: the puzzle piece.

I find it oppressive. Here is why.

HISTORY OF THE PUZZLE PIECE

The symbol of the puzzle piece originated from Britain’s National Autistic Society (Society for Autistic Children). It depicted a crying child to symbolize suffering. Here it is: 

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Here is an American version I am familiar with: 

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They both depict the child as a mysterious puzzle to solve, and a sufferer that needs to be changed or gotten rid of.  

NOTE: To be honest, autistic people’s suffering is a lot like racial suffering, like body type  suffering, and like the suffering an immigrant undergoes, especially if they speak a different language. All these types of suffering, and autistic suffering, have this in common: People simply living in a world that is not made for them, and will stubbornly not accept them as people. The suffering is simply a fact of living in a hateful world.  

The puzzle piece is very ubiquitous, and before I go on, I must admit I was very into the cause. I grabbed my puzzle ribbon to cover it in the colors of my bedroom. I thought about making puzzle bracelets, puzzle dresses, and even a purse with puzzle-patterned handles. Now, once I learned the truth about the puzzle, it offended me greatly.  

Now, the puzzle piece connotes suffering. I am not suffering outside others’ influence. 

The puzzle piece connotes a mystery to solve, yet they will not go to the source of solution. Talk to ME and communicate with ME! I AM THE ONE YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!  

The puzzle piece connotes that we are not whole people. It says we are not fully human. This brings up a lyric from Disney’s “Pocahontas,” 

You think the only people who are people 

Are those who look and think just like you; 

But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, 

You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.  

Now, will you put down the puzzle piece and actually listen to us? We are your children’s future, whether you like it or not.  

Stoicism: How Displaying Strength Goes Wrong

CONTENT WARNING: Murder, Suicide, Drug Use 

“Man Up.”  “Be strong!”  “Real men don’t cry.”  

These are common phrases said when a boy, man or even woman or girl perceived to be “strong” is told at a young age. This model of strength, and masculinity in the case of males, is heavily influenced by stoicism. Stoicism is an Ancient Greek school of philosophy that argues displays of emotion are due to lapses in judgment, and true strength and rationality is emotionless. It has made its way into the Model of Masculinity in America. I can’t say if it has made its way into other nations’ Model of Masculinity, though I suspect it has. Some people will admit to murder before admitting to therapy, as most men in America will.  

Modern stoicism is best defined in the basic emotional philosophy of professional wrestling. I have only seen two major emotions defined in the ring, and yes, I watched pro wrestling for years: Rage and Lust. It’s as if any emotion at all that is not rage or lust does not exist. That kind of aggressive stoicism takes a toll on a person, woman or man. Want to know something really weird? Pro wrestling is chock full of early deaths – including one which, if I remember correctly, involved family annihilation. But the man who did that has become a sort of He Who Must Not Be Named. (No, not Voldemort, my dear Harry Potter fans.) 

He Who Must Not Be Named, Chris Benoit, I briefly touched upon. He killed his wife and child. Now, it has been revealed that Benoit had brain injuries consistent with CTE, sustained during his career. I wonder if he knew he was going downhill physically? I wonder if that prompted such an extreme reaction? Unfortunately, I have previous experience in family annihilation. It happened to a friend of mine at church. The theory floating around is that his father did not think anyone could take better care of them than himself. I wonder if it a similar case? 

More examples of Stoicism abound. Many men have died of suicide due to not being able to get help for themselves. I have also heard that the success rate of suicide is four times higher among males than other genders. Also, what does modern stoicism contribute to the usage of alcohol and other drugs to evoke the “proper” state of being? How many people have fallen into addiction due to pressure to Man Up or Be Strong?  

You may think I have no business talking about Toxic Masculinity or Stoicism, but Stoicism has made its way into dealing with female emotions. How many times, when crying, have women and girls been told they are “Hysterical” or “Irrational” and unable to deal with hard issues due to emotion? By the way, “Hysterical” comes from the Ancient Roman word “Hystericus,” meaning “Of the womb.” The very idea that women are too emotional is ingrained in us from the ancient world. How are they prescribed to overcome their womanly emotions? “Woman Up!” “Be Strong!” Stoicism!  

I suspect that emotions may actually be helpful to one, if used correctly. If you’re feeling bad, there may be something wrong. If you’re depressed and putting on a face at a party, something might be wrong. If you’re feeling too good, something also might be wrong.  

I must admit, I was inspired by a segment on Sunday Morning about the toll that modern masculinity takes on young men in our culture…based on recent school shootings, mostly done by young men. We need to remove the stigma and hate of emotion from our national psyche. The Dam of Stoicism will burst eventually, and like any other dam holding back giant walls of water, the ending will not be pretty.

Autism Awareness – Specific Issues

You’ve seen the blue monuments, the store displays, the big rallies. It’s all about the suffering parents! Those poor paaaaarents, dealing with a demon autistic child! But nobody seems to see how it’s affecting the children, or worse, what happens when those children grow up as broken adults that need repair. Sure, most autism parents tend to make the autism suffering all about them. They tend not to look past the end of their noses. But let’s see how we can deal with them now.

  • On Autism “Awareness” Rallies: Don’t go. There is no need to go to a rally where your fear being booed and worse.
  • On Wearing Blue: I’d avoid it, at least for April 2. People might think you support the hateful actions of Autism Speaks. Most autistic people tend to go towards red, gold or taupe for Autism Acceptance. (Personally, I go red, simply because I have it.)
  • On Blue-Lit Monuments: Take those as reminders that we need to fight for Autism Acceptance.
  • On Store Displays: Take these with a grain of salt. Your experience is an expert one.
  • On Those Poor Paaaaarents, Part 1: Ask them this question: “Are you the one who is autistic? Or is it your child?” “Do you think a child has meltdowns on purpose?” “Do you think a person suffers on purpose?”
  • On Those Poor Paaaaarents, Part 2: Remember, they are made by despair-loving doctors who talk about what the child CAN’T do, as if the doctors know. If they are open to it, teach them the truth.
  • On Autism Speaks Dominance: Take it as a reminder that we still need to fight. Remember, they are anti-autistic scaremongers, no matter what they say.
  • On Not “Looking Autistic” or “Seeming Autistic”: Well, bring up the point that AUTISTIC ADULTS DO NOT ACT LIKE AUTISTIC CHILDREN. (Ahem, excuse my yelling.) It’s true. When you talk about delays, bring up the point that Later Does Not Mean Never.
  • On the basic stereotype that “They’ll Never Amount to Anything!!!!!” – Google Famous Autistic People. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Remember, autistic people can do anything.
  • On Inequality in Autism Access and Treatment: This is intersectionality in a nutshell. The theory is, suffering is compounded the more you deviate from the white male cisgender neurotypical “norm.”

This list of specific issues is by no means an exhaustive one. Please, comment on ones I need to address. I really want to help.

EDIT: Point included in comment about autistic age on 3/25/18.

Searching for Self-Care Help

Now, I’m getting the ramp up into World Autism Month just as much as any autistic person. We’re definitely feared and hated just as much as any other rich, neurotypical cisgender white male*. (*Other conditions apply to be mainstream, too.) I’m not going to discuss how we are ostracized and misrepresented. Any visit to Autism Speaks will give you a good idea of that. All I have to say is that being cured to most of us sounds like Invasion of the Body Snatchers – killing us and taking over our bodies. We scare you, huh? We’re here, we’re autistic, get over it.  

Anyway, what we really need at this point and can get is self-care and mutual care among autistic people. Most of us are broken, traumatized adults. We are cynical, we are twisted, we are bitter. We need to be nurtured back from the brink.  

I have decided that together, we can give more effective self-care advice than any one of us alone. That is why I have decided that we can search for it on sites which cater to our needs, such as Tumblr. Anyway, sometimes we can do better together.  

Just a note here: World Autism Month is an invention of Autism Speaks. April 2nd as World Autism Day is the only UN-sanctioned World Autism Day. Check with your countries on how long “Autism Awareness” has sanctioned in your own country.  

Why I Can’t Be a Shiny Aspie

TRIGGER/CONTENT WARNING: Discussion/Use of functioning labels,  

 Well, if it isn’t another method of discrimination I’ve just learned about. The Shiny Aspie has come to minimize the perception of autistic suffering.  

Well, let’s see…what is a “Shiny Aspie” in the first place? Well, the Shiny Aspie is a supposedly high-functioning autistic person who throws shade at a person who strives to pass for neurotypical as much as possible, while passing judgement on “lower-functioning” autistic people. Basically, a Shiny Aspie feels they are fine, while wanting a cure for “lower-functioning” autistic people. A Shiny Aspie tries to separate themselves from their tribe to be better than their tribe.  

I used to be a Shiny Aspie, mostly because I was encouraged to appear neurotypical by every society I was ever in. Family, school, church youth group, theatre students…all either tried to Make Cambria Neurotypical Again, or ostracized and made fun of me for being different. The message was clear: “Be neurotypical or be kicked out!” “Be neurotypical or be mocked!” “Be neurotypical or die!” (Hey, the last one was the title of a previous post!) I had to, for survival, become a version of a Shiny Aspie, to strive for neurotypicality, and put down others like me. In other words, for lack of a better scenario, I was like a Jew being a Nazi, or a person of color in a Ku Klux Klan hood – a hypocrite.  

But here’s the problem – I was once a “lower-functioning” autistic person. The doctor told my mother to prepare for me to never get any “better” than I was at age three. I was obviously behind other kids at that point. (Tells you how much doctors know about bringing the hope!) I had to change one stim for another at several points in my life. I spoke stiffly until my thirties. The persecution I suffered throughout my school years was nearly nonstop. I only felt that I fit in during Grad Night, the last night I would ever see any of these people. I still don’t know why most of them are my Facebook friends. I’m still shocked they contacted me.  

Anyway, to think that I am “better” than any other autistic bothers me. We are being segmented and pitted against each other in petty squabbles in order to keep us down and out. The Shiny Aspie has drunk the poisonous Kool-Aid, not knowing they are being plotted against as well. I hope they wake up from their sleep soon.  

Planning Self Care, Part 2

SelfCareExample2

Now, I decided to type my answers to the above questions in, because my printer does not work. It hasn’t for months.

I would like to hear of some tips from you guys about caring for oneself during World Autism Month/Day besides the ones I have posted here. Like what to do when confronted by a blue-lit major landmark, for example. Or maybe so-called “Autism Warrior Parents?” What about those displays in grocery stores or places of gathering?

The only thing I can remember is:

Remember, most “autism parents” will have to learn Autism Acceptance the hard way.