No, My Autism is NOT a Superpower or a Tragedy, It’s Neutral

Controversial, no? That I can see my condition as neutral? I guess I’m really different from other people. Let me explore the ways both values can be right and wrong, and show you how I reject both of them.  

Autism as a Superpower: This is not a viewpoint shared among many autistic people, though many non-autistic people think we do. Why people think we hold this is a mystery to us. Are we that arrogant to you? We certainly are not to ourselves. There are many things many of us cannot do without support, such as go grocery shopping. Perhaps the reason they think we hold this so-called belief is – maybe those dumb T-shirts saying “Autism is my Superpower.” I do not know of an autistic adult that actually owns a T-shirt with that message. The difficulties given to us by autism make us humble. Basically, it is arrogant to think that you are better than another person, simply because you are different from them. This pattern of thinking goes down a slippery slope to prejudice and scapegoating.  

Autism as a Tragedy: This is the other extreme viewpoint we try to ignore. This is ableism in a nutshell. Basically, a disabled person is tragic, and the only way they can make the world a better place is to remove themselves from it. In movies such as “Me Before You,” suicide for the disabled person is seen as good! How disgusting is that? It infuriates me. Just because we operate on a different level is not a reason to advocate for suicide! We are denying autistic people the basic right to live! Another slippery slope appears: If we kill off all the people who are different from us, whoever wins that war would be the last person on earth. I’m not going there. One person can only do so much. 

Why do people assign value to neutral events? Is this another symptom of the Power and Control addiction?  

I have decided to reject both viewpoints, because they are gravely erroneous. They both lead to the same conclusion: prejudice, scapegoating, and eventually, death to the autistic. I want to live. I want to be able to access the rights that only White Men!!! can currently: the rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I want my life to matter.  

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Kondo-ing before Kondo-ing was Cool

Well, somebody on a TV show is having trouble giving up a bookcase. They had it since they were a kid. That’s what they said. I guess it bugs me that people feel a need to hold on to things beyond their use or purpose. I mean, beyond a true illness (and I count mental illness as true illness), I don’t see the purpose of holding on to stuff beyond their use.  

Sure, nobles and the British Royal Family has tons and tons of stuff to furnish their houses, but usually, that stuff’s purposes have not expired. You can keep furniture around as long as you like it. I’m not trashing people with lots of stuff. I just don’t find it too useful for me.  

A few years back, my mother and I decided to go ahead and sort through our household things. Blankets, clothes, kitchenware, you name it. We threw out things we did not use, and kept enough stuff to keep going afterwards. I guess we are not as attached to our stuff as other people are. To us, it has to fit in our vision of what the house or life is. Basically, it has to bring us joy.  

That’s where Marie Kondo comes in. She is always asking, “Does it bring you joy?” For example, our silverware we use to eat, so yeah, that stuff does bring us joy – joy in health. Maybe I’m rambling, but for me, a thing has to have a place – a use – to stay in my life.  

I’m looking at our stuff and it may be time to go through it again. We need to conserve space in our apartment.  

Older Dads Cause Autism – Really?

I recently came across a theory that older parents are more likely to pass on autism to their children. But can we give this theory to ALL of the autistic children? My own father was twenty-five at the time of my conception. (My mother was twenty-eight.) I think this theory cannot hold the water in every single case. Perhaps there are younger parents who pass on autism to their children without any so-called “inferior” genes. Regular genetics, whether by chance or design, is a much stronger theory, and autism existed long before it was discovered and named.  

If you don’t believe autism existed before its naming, consider the behavior of the “fairy changeling.” In many changeling legends, there exists behavior similar to autistic meltdowns and stimming. Wikipedia has several examples of this behavior listed in the various cultures of changelings. But I digress. 

Since there is evidence of autism and other conditions in fairy changeling folklore, I propose that autism existed long before its naming, and that its existence is purely due to genetics – not genetic mutation caused by older and therefore “inferior material.”

Quickshot – World Autism Month. Yay.

I’m stating the title rather sarcastically in my head. I mean, I think Autism Awareness, in the traditional sense, has already saturated the population. I mean, who asks “What is autism?” anymore? How about Autism Understanding? How about Embracing the Autistic? How about Autism Acceptance? There is literally no one I come across that asks me “What is autism?”

“Mom, Can You Schedule a Colonoscopy for Me?” Snowplow Parenting and the Autistic

Now, let me give you some background: A person who needs a colonoscopy scheduled is usually around 50 years old. By that time, it’s a good bet their parent needs care themselves, if not already dead. That is often the problem with autistic people: their parents worry a lot about who will care for their child when they die. I’ve got a radical idea: why not prepare the autistic child to be capable of caring for themselves?  

Now, I know what you are saying: there are autistic people who still need 24-hour care. Perhaps you could teach and schedule somebody to trust with your child in that case…but I’m not talking about that case. I’m talking about an autistic person who can be taught to care for themselves. If you teach them to access community supports out there, and be their own advocate in a hateful and prejudiced world, you might not have to be the usual Snowplow Parent.  

I referenced Snowplow Parenting earlier, because it is common in parents of autistic children. Snowplow parenting is the parenting style that does everything for the child, moving all obstacles to success out of the way, like a snowplow. The trouble with that is, the child emerges into adult age unable to deal with obstacles themselves, needing the parent to care for them throughout their life, even when the parent needs care themselves. Now, many autistic adults have had to learn to “adult” as adults. That, my friends, is much harder to do than learning how to take care of yourself in childhood. You’ve heard the saying, “It is easier to raise a strong child than repair a broken adult,” right? It’s a saying for a reason.  

Selma Blair: More Gracious than Me

I’m noticing something on Twitter concerning Selma Blair and her fabulous Vanity Fair Oscar Party appearance. Many people tend to use certain words describing her and her MS revelation: Courageous. Brave. Tragic. Inspiring. All words which are highlights of ableism.  

She seems to be handling it better than I would.  

Unfortunately, I am often a ball of outrage and anger, especially when it comes to ableism. That’s all I’m saying about me.  

Let’s get back to Ms. Blair, shall we? I heard her say to another (cameras caught this), “It took a lot to get here.” So, she has limited spoons and probably used them all up in those days? Well, I appreciate her efforts, especially when she came out looking like she did. Personally, I think the whole ensemble, including the cane, made her look regal.  

And I would like to applaud her for her interview with Robin Roberts. It is rare that people give an interview when they have trouble speaking. It is a possible effect of the MS. (I learned a little of the symptoms some years ago when Montel WIlliams revealed his own diagnosis.) Her vulnerability showed her strength. It’s hard for me not to describe this in an ableist manner, for that’s what I’ve absorbed from society. What I mean is, when you have a disability, you live with the disability, and it’s a part of you. You will most likely be fine with it, as I have learned among us fellow disabled.  

Most people cannot find an example of living with a disability or condition, of a world that will not adapt to you, but I have. I remember, back in California, a small section of Santa Ana where everything is in Spanish. (Spanish speakers are here. Get over it.) I have had trouble learning Spanish, so spending time there was strange and uncomfortable, but it opened my mind. It made me realize that for many people, middle America is a strange and uncomfortable place. For the autistic, for those with chronic conditions, for those with skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism for the uninitiated), for those who speak a different language, for persons of color…even for women. Maybe even for you, middle America is a strange and uncomfortable place.  

I just wish that people would try and see the whole person, and not just fixate on the cane. It’s kind of like focusing on one little hand or arm when there is a whole person to look at. That is what creates the stigma surrounding disabilities. That is what makes the disabled feel unseen and marginalized.  

So, I’m pretty sure Selma Blair is resting now, as much as a mother can. I think she deserves it. Take care of yourself, Ms. Blair. You’ve done a lot for your causes recently.

#TimeToTalk Day 2019

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.” -Chinese Proverb  

Well, they are using this hashtag on Twitter right now to talk about mental illness.  

So, what do tree planting and talking about mental health have to do with each other? Well, for starters, there is a lot in common, as stated by the old proverb. Can you go back in time? Not that I know of. But can you start talking about mental health, plant that proverbial tree, now? Of course. 

Let’s talk about some myths: 

  1. “Mental illness has some rational beginning, and is reactive.”  Sometimes it does, but most of the time it does not. As I have stated before, even people on top of the world have mental illness to deal with. Robin Williams, for instance.  
  2. “Mental Illness only affects the people who act or look a certain way.” Would you be shocked if, and I am only saying if, Guy Fieri had depression? I would not. The losses of the once-strong Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain should have shaken that out of your mind.  
  3. “Mental Illness is character weakness.” This comes from the belief that you earn health and wealth through finding favor with your chosen deity – known in some circles as The Prosperity Gospel. But what happens if, say, you get a mental illness? Does that mean you are not good enough?  This false notion about mental illness believes you are not good enough… 
  4. “Mental Illness can be cured with willpower, vitamins and exercise.” Sorry, Tom Cruise, but this is simply not true in many cases. Denying the sufferer the medicine, the very thing that provides relief, is cruelty.  
  5. “Mental illness prevents you from holding down a job.” I HELD DOWN A JOB AT IN-N-OUT FOR SIX YEARS! Sorry for the shouting. This is simply not true. It is a corollary of the “character weakness” myth.  
  6. “Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why not just take a pill?” Because much of the time, “taking a pill” is only a start. Many of us need a support system.  
  7. “I can’t help.” Many, many people need your support. Just being there for them makes a big difference. It did with me.  
  8. “Prevention is impossible.” Ever heard of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? The core of it is TRAUMA. That is one of my own mental illnesses, thanks to people in my family.  

Mental health is coming out of the woodwork with or without you. It is connected to physical health as well. People are tired of losing their loved ones to suicide.