The State of the Autistic Person 2018

As I see it, the State of the Autistic is, well, poor. We have a long way to go. Let’s start with the obvious:

  1. The average life expectancy of the autistic person is 54 years old, even though autism should not affect life expectancy directly. (By contrast, neurotypical lifespan are roughly 80 years in the USA.) 
  2. With other diagnoses, such as epilepsy, life expectancy lowers to 39, even though autism should not directly affect life expectancy. (Again, life expectancy is roughly 80 years for most neurotypical people.) 
  3. Many of these people are murdered and raped by their caregiving families. 
  4. Autistic voices are routinely ignored, just as much, if not more, than female voices.
  5. Almost every autistic woman I know has been raped, molested and/or abused, myself included. 
  6. Almost everyone I know with autism has either no job or a low-paying job. 
  7. I myself am on disability payments to live and take care of my mother with. 

 This is a bleak picture which I do not see changing, because nobody will listen to autistic adults. Autistic adults are often treated like they do not exist, even by parents of autistic children. If they can, they are expected to be neurotypical. If not, they are locked away in institutions. How is this fair to autistic people?  

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Looking Back? I’d Rather Look Forward.

It’s almost 2018. While people are looking back, I’m looking forward.I’d rather look forward. It’s a shame that I have very little good to look back on. Congress and the President care little about non-millionaire people. There’s crippling debt. There’s crippling racism. My family will not get back together in the near future. And Judith Newman and Donald Trump put their fingers in their ears and scream “LA LA LA LA LA….” when hearing autistic people, because they do not agree with them.

My main question is: When did willful ignorance become a virtue?

Ableism in Action: “To Siri With Love”

WARNING: Mentions of medical abuse, ableism, and prejudice

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I was certain I had nothing to say about a book I never read. The book “To Siri with Love” seems to me biased and anti-autistic, with some thoughts about forced sterilization and not being able to picture having sex without the Benny Hill soundtrack in the mother’s head, for example.

Well, here’s a few statements I jotted down in my journal. Take a look, judge if you must:

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Just wondering: how much ableism is “To Siri With Love”? A whole bathtub of ableism, as I have heard. My mother recently told me not to read negative things about autism; trouble is, “To Siri With Love” is one of those things. Saying your son can’t have sex in your head without the Benny Hill soundtrack, that’s ableism. Saying you want to sterilize him by force, that’s ableism. Saying no woman will want him, that’s ableism.

I haven’t talked about it before, because I haven’t read the book. I don’t think I’ll be able to in the near future, unless I rent it electronically. I have a strange feeling that I will be triggered like I used to be in the days of living with my sisters.

I tried to get the book “To Siri With Love” through the library. It was not there. I hear you can only buy it through Amazon. And you can only review it if you can buy it through Amazon. I wanted to come to the book with an open mind, but its mind is so closed that I feel I have to protect myself from Judith Newman.

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Unfortunately, I have not read the book, as I have stated before, but it seems the book was not written for me, as Judith Newman actually states. See, I am autistic. I am also a woman who wants to work with autistic people. So, Judith Newman says this book is written for me. Which one is it, Judith? Am I good enough for you or not?

Forgive me, it is a bit rambling, but I am certain the hatred toward people like me will increase based upon “To Siri With Love.”

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Here’s the lowdown: I wanted to approach “To Siri with Love” with an open mind, but the author has approached autistic people, including me, with a closed mind. And how am I supposed to respond to that?

About Shaun Murphy’s Flat Voice

NOTE: This is about the TV Series “The Good Doctor.”  

Now, I’ve heard a lot of criticism about Shaun Murphy’s flat voice. It normally does not affect me personally, but I know it seems like a stereotype. So many things can seem like a stereotype, but if a person matches one or two particular stereotypes, it could be terrible, but it can be mitigated by the presence of somebody who does not fit the stereotypes. As “The Good Doctor” makers are just getting the show off the ground, they have not learned that yet.   

I decided to formulate theories as to why Dr. Murphy’s voice is flat. Here are a few theories:  

  1. It is due to the lack of training in Shaun Murphy’s past. I have yet to see a vocal training session or learning as to the man’s voice in the show, so this theory may be disproven in time. But have autistic people been given speech therapy to address that, at least?  
  1. Trauma has affected Shaun Murphy, so he regressed in vocal progress. The storyline shows major traumatic episodes in Dr. Murphy’s past, and more could be coming. People facing trauma often regress in behavior. I have often done this myself, when aware and when not, for comfort. 
  1. Shaun has not quite learned or gotten how to speak neurotypically yet. Now this seems to be the most plausible. Has Shaun been given classes or therapy on how to speak normally? Better yet, can he possibly learn to speak neurotypically in the future? A little background on this theory: I myself have been told I did not learn how to speak like neurotypical people until I was about thirty. I learned in eventually speaking in a group therapy setting, mimicking my peers. My mother had to point it out to me, by the way. According to her, “A light went on.” Often, that’s what happens with me. I’m not saying Dr. Murphy is exactly like me, I’m just saying the vocal change could play out like that.  

It is of huge consequence how autistic people are portrayed in the media. Raymond “Rain Man” Babbit has dominated the conversation for decades, especially since people continue to put their fingers in their ears and try to block out what autistic people are saying. Yeah, neurodiversity relations are that bad, but I’m not surprised by that.  

More Thanksgiving Tips; Plus, How it Really Works

Here comes Thanksgiving. Strangely enough, it’s going to be an easier time than in years past. Funny thing, I actually do the cooking. That alone puts me on a stress level that may be higher than many autistic people – and I said maybe, mind you. The thing is, a person who has done the main Thanksgiving cooking for, say, eight times in their life might be able to recall how it is done. It’s not that bad, considering we’re having a quiet Thanksgiving Day. However, I’ve been through bustling, huge Thanksgiving Days, too. I’ve got a few last-minute tips to give for the day. 

  1. Setup, setup, setup. This kind of runs into the next tip, but involving some sort of planning and maybe practice is necessary. I am currently sitting next to an empty dish arrangement I made for the dinner setup. I’m in charge of Thanksgiving, but setup and practice may be necessary.
  2. Have the person get involved, when appropriate. I may have been delayed in some things when it came to social interaction and executive function, but I was fine in other things, like getting the finger veggies out (we always have pickles and olives at our table). Can they handle setting a table for the occasion? Go ahead and let them help out. Someday, you may have someone who can take over more major duties, or even the whole thing altogether. Give it time and patience.
  3. Have an Chill Out Space. This is not a traditional Safe Space, as marginalized groups prescribe. A Chill Out Space is actually a space away from the festivities the person can escape to, when, say, things get too loud, or, someone decides to discuss politics. It can be as simple as the child’s room. It is simply a place where the person can rest their senses and their interactions.
  4. The Girl Scouts Are Right. I learned early on that it was customary to give hugs to greet people in my family. I adjusted sooner than many like me. However, I don’t recommend a suffocating hug for someone who is, say, a little more delicate in the touch arena. Don’t push it if the person is not up for it.
  5. Have a Quiet Moment Immediately Before the Meal. In praying families, this seems to be built into the meal through prayer. A quiet moment helps center not just the autistic person, but most everybody.
  6. You Know Your Autistic Person….If You Listen and Accept Them. You know how much your child can take of Thanksgiving. If they need to eat in their Chill Out Space, go ahead and let them. It does not matter what your fickle relatives say; have they actually gotten to know the person?  

Helping out an autistic person during Thanksgiving requires actually getting to know them, beyond perceived stereotypes, beyond disappointments, and all the way in acceptance. Unfortunately, many autistic persons’ caretakers are often unwilling to get there. This may or may not be the case with you, but acceptance of current reality is required for all these tips to actually work.  

The Good Doctor Steps Forward. Now Let’s Take Another Step.

Now, I’ve had time to process the fact that “The Good Doctor” has taken a step forward: in the hiring of an actually autistic actor. To be blunt, he played the patient of the day. It’s really good, guys. I am happy you’ve hired somebody who has true insight into autism. The reason is this: a lot of people outside the autism spectrum get major tenets of autism wrong. For example, we’re still fighting the “No Empathy” stereotype even today and probably tomorrow. But I digress. Bravo, Good Doctor. 

What I am now waiting for is a series recurring or regular autistic actor, a la “Speechless.” Speechless has the Good Doctor beat in the series regular Micah Fowler, who of course plays J.J. DiMeo. Sure, he has trouble delivering his lines, but the character has built-in supports and more than enough nonverbal expression to carry himself around the obstacles the actor and character face. It is sensitive, funny and even has a filled-out set of characters for the siblings, parents and aides. The reason I wax about “Speechless” in a post about The Good Doctor? I know The Good Doctor can make the same jump in some way or another. Perhaps in a consultant or recurring patient? It is quite doable.  

Real Thanksgiving Talk, Part 2 – Planning and Shopping, and the Thankful Part

How is my Thanksgiving prep going? Pretty good. We have planned the menu and we will be shopping for it soon. You kind of have to do the fresh things, like turkey and fresh vegetables, a week before, so you can get it all properly. I must admit, I need help to do the Thanksgiving dinner the way we had it in the past, but I’ve got that too. I have done a Thanksgiving dinner before – several times. I also have the mind behind the Thanksgiving dinner – my mother.  

It’s not all bragging. It’s careful planning and timing, something I still struggle with. We have our traditions for after Thanksgiving, too. It’s called “Staying Home and Putting up Christmas Decorations.” But I digress. There’s not really much to the Thanksgiving thing. To me, it’s mostly being thankful for what you have, and dinner.  

I am thankful I have a mother who accepts me the way I am. I have a warm home with love and good furniture. I am thankful I have clothes to wear. I am thankful I can express myself in the blog I have. I am thankful I can clean the clothes I wear whenever I can, thankful for a washer/dryer combo in my house. I am thankful I have a dog that looks at me like I’m the best thing that ever happened. I am thankful that I can say I have basic needs covered. Many people around the world and near me do not have even this.