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.
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.
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.
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.
As I have said before, previous Autism Awareness Month(s) have been hijacked by the “Destroy All Autism” rhetoric of Autism Speaks. Now, we autistics are breaking through. I can see it in a local Kroger store’s Autism Awareness Month display. I was initially put off because it used puzzle pieces in decoration, though those puzzle pieces had words such as “Accept,” “Love” and “Hope.” It looked like your basic puzzle piece poster at first, though. I had to look much closer. With the traditional puzzle piece, you are literally forced to look closer for hope. I found that hope breaking through as many of us autistics grow up, and often find themselves finding about autism later in life, especially if you’re a woman. Now, I’m turning forty this year, and was diagnosed as a child myself, but at the time of my diagnosis, autism was considered a rare condition. I’ll tell you what changed: the diagnostic criteria was loosened considerably. Now that is why we’re getting a lot more diagnoses these days. But learning that autism actually has benefits, and breaking away from the Doom and Gloom of Autism Speaks, we find our hope peeking out through the pain.
So, I went to church this morning and looked around. There were a few people wearing blue, but not anyone whom I would suspect is working for Autism Awareness. Well, maybe one, but I do not think she is particularly concerned about her one-year-old being autistic. Truth is, I am the only known autistic in the church. And here’s a photo of me after coming back.
As you can see, I’m wearing red. I have decided not to begrudge most people wearing blue today, because most people wearing blue are utterly clueless about how the #ActuallyAutistic feel. Most of them just want to do some good, and they are clueless that Autism Speaks wants to rid the world of us. (No cure is known at this time.) The only people I will call out are those like Donald Trump, who are willfully ignorant. Those who actually ignore facts that do not line up with their way of thinking. Some people may accuse me of the same thing, however. The reason I cite Donald Trump is this:
The Washington Post, for One.
This Article Displays His Tweets about Autism
I don’t like to disrespect the President, but when he willfully ignores facts-and the fact is, Andrew Wakefield’s study was debunked and the results never duplicated in larger-scale university studies-he needs to be called out. He’s being willfully ignorant.
Enough about the President. The point it, willfully ignorant and hateful people have hijacked the conversation about autism, and we have to fight HARD to get it back to those who know it best – autistic people. We’re here, we’re autistic, get used to it.
I must admit, that last post was mostly reactionary. It’s terrifying to know you’re the worst-case scenario for a lot of people. Well, maybe they don’t quite know about me. I don’t want to be all hate and vitriol. It’s really dragging my blog down into a negative space. Perhaps we need a new and more accurate version of autism; not one that’s all doom and gloom. That is just why I have decided to mention the new, for 2017, Blue Power Ranger. Billy does a LOT of good things for autistic people, and I haven’t even seen the movie yet! First of all, Billy is a Power Ranger. He is a member of a superhero team. I hear he even contributes to the team’s success. If we can contribute something to the success of humanity, please, let us know. Oh, and another thing: Billy is the Blue Power Ranger. I must admit, I was a little scared that Autism Speaks might take that as a clue to hijack him, but Billy is too positive an image for Autism Speaks’ anti-autistic rhetoric. I mean, Billy contributes to the Power Rangers’ success! That, according to Autism Speaks, that cannot be. To them, autism is the enemy. So, unless Autism Speaks gets itself together and accepts autistic people as they are, then Billy is taking the color blue back from them. And that is the upside of the blue Power Ranger.