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.

*****

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

*****

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.

*****

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?

*****

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?

April Post 10: Meet the Angry Autistic Woman 

Looking over my behavior when I am alone, it disturbs me. I swear, I give obscene gestures to random people that are not there, and I am a constant simmering volcano of emotion. I don’t know where all this anger comes from. My mother does not know about this  I don’t like being an angry woman. I don’t like wanting to explode at people all the time. I don’t like having to relive every single day simmering at the edges, and literally stuffing down my emotions with anything I can find in order, like ice cream, to protect everyone else from my feelings.

But, when I look over all the injustice that I received as an autistic person, I get why I am so angry. The rage I feel inside when I see anything that reminds me of my childhood is unbearable at best. Tonight, I saw an episode of “The Goldbergs” which revolved around theater. I never really fit in anywhere in high school, not even theater. I even tried to spell it “theatre” in order to fit in. Then, as I learned later, I was made fun of behind my back for talking to myself. There is a post about that called “Facebook and the Mellaril Nightmare” if you want to read about it. Truth is, the only time I ever really felt accepted in school was on Grad Night. I guess everybody was trying to make a good last impression. Truth be told, I was finally relaxed and relieved that it was all ending.

I spent years trying to find love and acceptance, because I was always unacceptable. I was unacceptable in class, unacceptable with friends, unacceptable in theater (pretentious snobs!), unacceptable in church, even unacceptable in ASAN (for being too politically conservative). Honestly, I am currently an angry, bitter, lonely recluse, and that’s what everybody wants me to be. They only want me to go away. Is it any wonder I am an Angry Autistic Woman?

April Post 8: Meet Julia 

This is a reaction post: I must admit I haven’t seen Sesame Street in a long time.  

10:32 – Julia is not taking greeting very well. She seems to be rubbing Big Bird a little wrong.

10:33 – They’re explaining Julia’s autism to Big Bird in very simple terms.

“Play, play, play!” Is her first real line. She’s very sweet.

10:35 – Uh-oh – sirens. She’s holding her ears. A little insight: it’s apparent to Julia that sirens are much louder to her. It’s common for an autistic person to experience things more or less.

10:38 – Big Bird is getting that people are different from each other. Elmo seems to get Julia a little more, as does Abby.

10:40 – They’re singing about differences, and friendship.

10:42 – They’ve changed things a bit. Now they introduce the Letter of the Day with a song. Cool. By the way, its “F” for Friendship.

10:43 – Boy, this is FAST. We’re now in a segment about friendship. I’ve forgotten how quickly the child’s brain processes information – at least with Sesame Street.

10:45 – “Hey, come play with me” is a great song.

10:46 – Now were learning how to take turns with the Two Headed Monster.

10:47 – How Many Cookies Today? 2!

10:48 – Now Elmo and Abby are learning to count to 2.

10:49 – A song about 2!

10:50 – Whew! I have to go FAST.

10:51 – Now we’ve got Smarty the Smartphone. And we’re talking about friends. (I’m sensing a theme here.)  Now they’re playing Tic Tac Toe.

10:54 – A man and dog teaching how to play with a friend.

10:55 – Elmo is doing the Happy Dance Dance. 🙂

10:56 – Big Bird and Julia are now good friends. Goodbye NOW?! (That’s OK. It only lasts for a half hour.)

10:58 – Roll Credits – with a song!

I’m happy Julia has made the jump to TV Sesame Street. If Julia or some type of autistic child had been around Sesame Street as a kid, maybe I would have been more accepted instead of teased for being a crybaby. (To be honest, I’m getting jealous of autistic kids today. They’re having opportunities for love and acceptance I never did.)  

I guess you have to start the acceptance and friendship with different people REALLY young. Hopefully, they’ll get the message one day.

I haven’t got the skills to detect if Julia is stereotypical or just right at the moment; I’ll make a more informed decision soon.