Autism Reality Show: A Reality Show No One Wants, But One We Need 

I Just read an article about a TV show concerning an autistic character. According to the review, it is simply the same “Experts because they know someone autistic” who gets a LOT of autism wrong. The show has not even come out on Netflix yet, and I’m disappointed. Maybe it could apply to one autistic character or person, but not a great majority. See, there is autism in all races, cultures, genders and sexualities.

I somehow think that the best interpretation of autism on TV is one which groups several autistic people together, of different ages, races and genders, and simply follows them around. You know, an autism reality show. No inspiration porn, no neurotypical censorship, no getting autistics wrong. Just autistic people, navigating a world that is not for them. But I think nobody will take it. Neurotypicals like to get autistic people and put them in a little box. Trouble is, if you don’t fit in this little box, you’re not autistic. Even professionals withhold help because women and people of color, and successful people too, do not fit into this little box. They withhold help in the form of refusing to diagnose autistic people with their autism. This is why we need an autism reality show in the form I described.

Besides, if you were a bird who could fly, would you rather not learn how to fly from a bird?

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Take Them at Their Word 

Have you noticed that the more different a person is from you, the less likely you are to take them at their word? Case in point: I have an African-American neighbor. She experienced racism when she once called the police to report criminal activity. The policeman threatened to lock HER up, even though SHE called the police. The policeman did not back off until a white man intervened on my neighbor’s behalf. While this is shocking to most white people, I decided to take her word for it, because I know racism persists like a virus in this world. I wonder, why do people deny the different person’s experience? Is it that people are more likely to trust their “Own Kind?” I do not have that luxury. I have met very few of my “Own Kind.” My “Own Kind” are autistic women, who have been taught by society’s wishes that they barely exist. Also, I was often taught to doubt myself and my own instinct in my family, and that kind of betrayal gives you a major distrust of anyone. So, what is taking a person at their own word? To me, it is revolutionary.

Some people have the luxury of trusting their own kind – mostly, white males. I’ve observed their behavior, these people who can trust their own, and it seems that they trust their own because they seem themselves in them. Why don’t you try to see yourself in people different from you? Is it because they are “less human” because they are not your clones? How much like you does the person have to be for you to trust them? Also, how much faith do you put in similarity anyway? Similarity is no guarantee of safety.

The Incredible Shrunk World of the Disabled Person  

Now, I am currently on vacation at my aunts’ place, who live in a small town in southern Kentucky. Now, this is unremarkable. What is remarkable is how incredibly small one of my aunts’ world can be at most times. It is hard for her to even get to the most basic, menial places. The place is fairly isolated, and the aunt I’m referring to has disabilities, too. It would be hard leaving her without any help for me, so I’m glad my other aunt can be somewhat helpful. What I marvel at his how small and shrunken the world for her seems.

I’m a person with a shrunken world, too. My parents divorced when I was sixteen, and my elder sister had already moved away, so nobody taught me how to drive. I need my mother to drive me places. On most days, my world does not extend past the end of our street. At least I walk the dog. Yet, on most days, my mother can barely walk upright, let alone get to the car. I do the cooking for both of us. At least it’s a short distance between her spots around the house. We live in a rather small apartment, and for me, at least, the walls can close in around both of us. When I write about these things, know this: I’m not writing for sympathy. I am writing to let you know how incredibly small the world of a disabled person can be.

Just so you know, I am turning forty in a few weeks. By comparison, many forty-year-olds have a job, a spouse, maybe some children, and a few activities to immerse themselves in. They often commute to work. They may have to drive some distance to get to the grocery store. My most common grocery store is just three blocks away. Fortunately, I can walk to many of my favorite places because they are within five blocks. Now, to get to something like paying the electric bill, I need someone to drive me. Good thing my mom drives. She also helps with my mental and emotional health, too. She’s very useful on several things. Of course, I cook and clean, and she appreciates it. We do for each other.

I never said either one of us is useless. We help each other daily. Without the other, it would be a very small world for both of us.

Too Fat to See the Doctor 

I have been alerted to a fatphobia effect: women are canceling their doctor appointments on the fear that they’re too fat to see them. I can’t say this fear is entirely unwarranted. I mean, every single time I go to the doctor, I am lectured about my weight. I mean, why don’t you just refuse to see me unless I am a size 2? Would make you feel better? Oh, wait. That’s OVERT fat discrimination. You can maybe get sued for that. It’s too obvious. But, honestly, I feel like canceling the doctor and never seeing her again. With my autism, that would be comfortable, but it would also be unhealthy. But here’s the thing: my doctor hates that I’m fat. I don’t even want to go to the doctor anymore. I wish my health insurer would carry a doctor who was fat-friendly. Then maybe I would not dread going to the doctor.

I wonder if Humana offers fat-friendly doctors???

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.

*****

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.

 

What to Do About Mental Health Stigma 

STIG-MA (noun):

a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person:
“the stigma of mental disorder”

synonyms shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, (bad) reputation shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, (bad) reputation

Source: Oxford University Press

*****

I just realized something: Mental Health Stigma is not killed through lecture. Sure, I can sit and talk about how mental health stigma hurts, but I can also offer some tips to combat it. Research is fairly sparse on the topic – how to combat mental health stigma – but I’ve been looking at it anyway. There are a few tips to consider:

1) Combat internal stigma: Internalized stigma is not really your fault. It’s instilled in you by your family, your friends, the media, and even strangers. You might want to think of your mind as a sponge – if it sits in the dirty water of stigma, it will eventually absorb the dirty water of stigma. Get yourself away from those who are living in the dirty water as much as possible; however, we are talking about cleaning out the dirty water you have already absorbed. Here are a few things to consider:

-Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia and Borderline Personality Disorder are real medical illnesses. Why are they published in medical journals if they’re not?

-See a therapist if you can. I know that often, people are

-Don’t self-medicate. Using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs to make yourself feel better often leads to addiction, and a troubling condition called Dual Diagnosis. I don’t know much about this condition, but bringing on multiple conditions is not recommended for anyone. It takes you the rest of your life of taking care of yourself to live well with mental illness; it takes just as long to recover from addiction.

2) No Name Calling: From one “Crazy” or “Nutjob” to another, those words hurt. They are just as derogatory as racial slurs, and calling something “gay” when you mean stupid. As far as I’m concerned, this name calling is hate and discrimination.

3) Praise for Seeking Help: If you don’t get that it’s good to get professional help with your brain, I’m here to tell you this. It’s good to get professional help for your brain. Your brain is a complex medical instrument that often requires a professional’s expertise to get it working properly. If no one tells you this, know that you are a good person for seeking professional help. Remember, you are not Superman.

4) Take Care of Yourself: I cannot stress this enough – self care is essential. What people do not get about self care is that it is not always the glamorous bubble bath most people picture it to be. Self care is taking your medication even though you gag on the larger medicines. Self care can be the bubble bath or treating yourself, but it’s other things, too. Self care is seeking help if you need it. Self care is resting when you need it. Self care is getting to your therapy appointments. Self care is learning that you can still live a full and productive life with your state of mental health. Self care is not self-medicating.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If others want to contribute tips and tricks for combating mental health stigma, by all means, tell me.

The Cold Within, by James Patrick Kinney – A 1960s Poem For Our Time

Read this poem, take it in. This is the political problem for our time – cold, hard hearts ON ALL SIDES.

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The Cold Within  – by James Patrick Kinney

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back
For of the faces round the fire
He noticed one was black.

The next man looking ‘cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.[1]

*****

I’m not asking you to change political beliefs. I’m asking you to open your heart.

America needs a hero.