Learning to Adapt

I saw a rerun of “America’s Got Talent.” On the show, a deaf woman sang her own original song, with her own original, beautiful voice, and with her own way of feeling out the notes and vibrations; she had her shoes off to feel them through the floor. I thought that bit was amazing. It got me thinking: I know what we do when we have a perceived disability: We adapt. We adapt to get through the world not made for us.

For some of us, the learning process is easy, especially when the person is supported and accepted as they are, without shame or blame. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us have a hard, trouble-ridden process of adapting. I used to speak stiffly and with echolalia well into adulthood, especially since I was not taught how to mimic good speech properly, in the right environment. I know that through childhood and early adulthood, I have been bullied, made fun of, tricked into compromising pranks, and even mocked by adults supposedly watching out for my best interests. However, I later found these adults who looked out for me in a group “program” setting. It was there that I finally felt like I was in the “inner circle” I longed to be in. I finally, in my thirties, found the way to speak with a natural flow and rhythm.That group therapy has been discarded through budget cuts now, but it was the first time I actually felt like I fit in somewhere. It was a new feeling to me; I did not know what to with it at first. The point of the story is, in the best environment, where I am supported and encouraged, I learned an essential skill.

A lot of people with autism do not receive this essential support at all, or not until late adulthood. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. I would like to get some tips on how to create that particular environment online, where I apparently have a tiny sphere of influence. I want to create a space where people can easily be themselves and supported, without blame or shame. I want to create a space where we can learn to adapt and practice adaptation safely. Anyone want to help?

So There is an Outbreak of Measles in Minnesota…..

So there is an outbreak of measles in Minnesota among Somali-descended children, spreading to other vulnerable populations. I want you to understand that. What I don’t want you to do is point the finger at me about it. For the longest time, I thought that, being autistic and scary to a neurotypical population that is afraid of me, that I was the cause of unvaccinated measles outbreaks, in Minnesota and Southern California (at Disneyland, no less), especially since Jenny McCarthy literally blamed her son’s autism for all her suffering in life. But, in this case and others, I have already dismissed my existence as a cause of measles outbreaks, especially since now there are more complex, pointed reasons as to why there is an outbreak of measles they are dealing with in Minnesota. I want you to read the next sentences very carefully. That’s why I have separated them out.

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The causes of the outbreak of measles in Minnesota are as follows:

  1. Ableism, represented as Anti-autism
  1. Racism
  1. Xenophobia

The causes of the Disneyland outbreak in Southern California are as follows:

  1. Ableism, represented as Anti-autism

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These lists are not finished. First, I want to discuss the discovered causes of the measles outbreak in Minnesota. Let me start with ableism.

Thank you so very much, Jenny McCarthy. Thank you, Andrew Wakefield. Thanks a lot, Autism Speaks. While I won’t go into the extremely non-duplicated, thoroughly debunked, corrupt and hateful so-called “study” of how you think the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine causes autism. I have felt personally responsible and personally attacked because of you. You have made children sick because of my existence. You have murdered over nine thousand children as of July 2015. And the cause of all this pain and destruction? The existence of autistic people. I am autistic. Therefore, you make ME a target. Your hatred of me justifies your actions of denying children their health, their immunity, even their lives. You justify your kills because of me. I am tired of being the cause for the loss of innocent lives.

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Now, onto the next two causes, because they are interwoven and intersected. They are Racism and Xenophobia.

Now, when most white American people look at Somali immigrants, what do they see? They see dark skin – race being the previous mark of slavery, and they devalue the person. They see a foreigner – those “evil” people trying to come and take their lives, jobs and livelihood. They see a Muslim – and deem them dangerous, evil terrorists, not realizing that most Muslims HATE those terrorists. (Don’t get me started on some of my Muslim friends’ seething rage.) So, when these dark-skinned foreign so-called terrorists come to them with an issue – their children are getting autism – what do those white American people do? They ignore and deny help to these inferior people. So, what does the ableist, Anti-vaccine camp do? They listen, and recruit soldiers for their own terror. Herd immunity is compromised. And children in Minnesota now have measles, many of them hospitalized because their weak and developing immune systems are defenseless against the onslaught. Now do you see how danger and strife can get a foothold due to racism and xenophobia?

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I am not here to bring anybody down, or anybody out. I am simply facing hatred in three intersecting directions of ableism, racism and xenophobia. Now, I know I am not black and an immigrant, but I will fight the diseased rot of ableism, racism and xenophobia right alongside its victims. I do it every day – even in my mind. When children are dying, there is something wrong. One absolutely must speak up for the sake of the future. One must speak up for the sake of the suffering children.

 

Blogging Against Disablism: My Experience With Disablism

What is my experience with Disablism? First, let me get this straight: Disablism is another word for Ableism. It’s judging a person as “less” because they’ve got some perceived disability for getting along in this world. Let’s keep that in mind.

So I’ve decided to simply relate my experience with Disablism. Let’s start with when Ableism really hit me in the gut: In college, I decided to reveal to my psychology professor that I was autistic, and could be used as a resource. She simply went, “Awwww!” As in, she felt super sorry for me. I told her I was a resource for autism and autistic therapies, if she wanted to use me! She avoided me for the rest of the semester. Not cool, lady. She judged me as less simply because I revealed to her I was autistic. I wonder what she would have said were I in a wheelchair?

Then, there was another incident in which I was judged as being “less.” At the Autism Society of the Bluegrass, they were discussing their autistic kids, and I wanted to join in and give them some insight, and, dare I say it, some hope that their kids would turn out fine if given the right tools. They asked me, “How old is your kid?” I simply told them, “I AM the kid.” They seemed shocked and dismayed. Here is my question for the ASB” Why don’t you unclude autistic adults in your conversations about your children? Do you want your children to be ignored and discounted the same way? Because that is what you are telling the world to do. It’s as if you’re literally saying, “Ignore my moronic child. They are not worth talking to about their own lives.” I am still on their email list, but I am considering leaving the list altogether. I do not like to be discounted.

Autism Post 12: Autism Horns Effect 

I was watching Little Big Shots, and saw there was a six-year-old drummer from Brazil who taught herself drumming. She did everything around drums. She told her story, gave Steve Harvey (the host) a pair of drumsticks, and even said her dream was to be a Super Drummer, in her childlike glory. She must be neurotypical, I thought, because she is being celebrated. Let me tell you that any autistic child who takes a special interest in drums is usually put down to a “Fixation” or “Obsession.”

Have you ever noticed that once autism enters the picture, everything seems to have a negative tone to it? A kind of “Autism Horns Effect,” if you will. Imagine a pair of little devil horns, if you will, protruding out of any autistic person’s head, and you’ll get the picture. A special interest, for example, is often encouraged in a neurotypical child (unless they misbehave), while in autism, particularly Applied Behavior Analysis, is discouraged or held over the child’s head, especially if it’s unusual, like an interest in buses. If it’s buses, then that could be a marketable trade down the line! But it’s autistic, so it’s wrong.

Here’s another example: I have linked to another article about how autistic girls’ personalities are known  as “Subtypes.” If they were neurotypical, they would have simply been Personalities! Have you noticed a pattern? Interest or Fixation, Personality or Subtype, it’s all the same. Autistic people are made to think everything they are is wrong, even down to what they want to eat! No wonder so many of us are crawling out of our skin and have meltdowns when we get home. Trying to fit into this world which puts Autism Horns on our heads is trying. If you want to understand, go to a place without your social customs. You know that uncomfortable feeling you get there? We autistics have it all the time. It’s why we often become reclusive, especially when alone.

I wonder what people would think if I wore horns and a puzzle piece all the time because some people see them anyway? Okay, maybe that’s a bit too far, but do you see my point? We autistics are tired of being treated like invalids and morons. We are neither. Stop treating us like that.

April Post 11: Autism Portrayals in Media 

Much of the Autism Awareness talk has died down by now. Even the store displays are showing the leftovers from puzzle piece junk, like keychains and stuff.  

I’ve decided to talk about an issue that seems to plague the portrayals of autistic people in the media. The fact is, nobody is listening to anybody else about how people really are. I know for a fact that it plagues all portrayals, but I am focusing on autism here. I have struggled to find a similar portrayal that falls far short – and needs somebody to explain to these people how – and I found it in Japanese Engrish.  

I’m only giving you this link to the site because it is very offensive, not only to English speakers, but it makes the Japanese look like morons, just because they don’t know the ins and outs that native English speakers do. Now, it’s kind of like this Japanese Engrish unlearnedness that plagues portrayals of autism in the media. Many of us autistic people find most portrayals offensive. So far, the best portrayal I can find is Billy Cranston in the new Power Rangers movie. Otherwise, even little Julia from Sesame Street has some traits that offend autistic people. This comes from people not listening to those of us with autism. 

Now, tell me: would you rather have a portrayal of autism that is accurate and tasteful, or an autism portrayal that is like Japanese Engrish?

Inspiration Porn and Fat Friend Therapy – THE SAME THING! 

I would like you to examine the following items: An In Living Color Skit about the “Lorie Davis Hair Care System,” and an Inspirational Poster featuring two Disabled people. 

 

inspirationporn

Now, don’t get me started on how savagely ugly this In Living Color skit is to fat people by itself. That is a whole other day. But, have you considered how similar the message is to most inspiration porn? “You look (act/will do) good…” “‘Cause I don’t,” is kind of the whole concept of disabled inspiration porn. That’s the problem.  

First of all, there are the people who are being compared. They are divided into two groups: the better and the worse. Obviously, “Cher” and her skinny friends are the “better” and “Lorie” is the “worse.” In the inspirational poster, the people running on springs are “worse.” Who’s the “better” in the poster? YOU. You are the “better” one, simply because you are evidently abled better than people with no legs. This is a comparison contest, with Cher/You the winner, and Lorie/the disabled as the loser.

Sure, you can make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to the disabled all day because you’ll win, apparently, but is that the measurement stick of your worth? How abled you are? Because that’s the textbook of ableism – measuring somebody’s worth by how well they can function in society. So, if a person needs help, they are worth a little less? So, how abled must a person be to be worthy enough to, I don’t know, live? Because many of the Nazi Holocaust practices were experimented on by the disabled. Now, I know that’s a long way from inspiration porn, but that is right up the road from it on Ableism Street. It’s not a place you want to travel down. I have already shown in previous musings that measuring a person’s worth by an unattainable standard leaves so many people out.

April Post 7: Why We Fight 

Where does this “Accept” and “Love” position I give come from? Why, it’s from viewing autism as what it really is: a different operating system, which anthropologists are now coming around to as beneficial to many aspects of life. Autism, like any other trait, has benefits. Sure, you’re not sitting around talking to people in a bunch of flowery chitchat, but the autistic person has real focus and drive. Most of us can cut to the point quicker than most. There are more than I can think of, but here’s the point: I have come to believe that autism is not some divine punishment. I believe autism has its purpose in this life, and society. The fact that I have to wonder if the autistic will be destroyed before we find the purpose out is what troubles me. According to anthropology, most religion, and technology, there is a purpose for autism. Do we autistic people have to be destroyed before we find it out? I hope not.