Dentist Haze Videos and Meltdown Videos: Yes, They are Related

There is a trend of videos, that, to put it bluntly, just angers me. I heard of gymnast Simone Biles being filmed while still being affected by the anesthesia after the dentist. Sure, it was funny, but it was funny in a way that laughing at an autistic person in meltdown mode is funny. It’s humor for bullies and haters. Why do people do that?  

Trust me; I come from a place of familiarity and some guilt on this one. I used to laugh at drunk people’s foibles on videos. Fortunately, I realized that most people who are drunk are not in their right mind. Yeah, acting not normal is funny, but if laughing at people in distress is your thing, that is sad in itself. And that is the trouble: laughing at people who are drunk, laughing at people who are affected by dentist haze, and laughing at autistic people in meltdown is as cruel as throwing water on a drowning man. 

Speaking of a drowning man, you remember the teens who laughed while filming a drowning man? He died. Due to their laughter and not helping him, his blood is on their hands. You who laugh at people in distress, you are no better.  

Stigma on TV: The Carmichaels Edition

I’m getting real mad at The Carmichael Show. This is what facing mental illness stigma is like. 

Well, the episode started with the matriarch crying by herself in the kitchen, while nobody else knew. The elder son’s girlfriend, who is a therapist, caught her, and the matriarch would not let her help her. They went out to the living room, where the girlfriend told the men (and got called a snitch), who began a discussion about depression. The discussion following reeked with stigma. There was talk of weakness, of not talking about it, of saying it only happened to rich and (implied) white people, and even self-medication with weed. It literally took holding the day’s plans hostage to actually get her to go to therapy. She eventually went to therapy, but admitted she lied about everything. It took a fight out front in the living room and admitting the pressure she put herself under to get her to go to therapy again.  

Anyway, I summarized the episode because I’m still processing the information. It makes me mad because if this is what we with mental illness face going into various communities, it’s no wonder so many of them are going to jail! Now, I’m not blaming the African American community at large for the crimes of a few. That is not the problem. The problem is stigma. The problem is hate and discrimination against the “crazy” (and yes, that word was used at one point), which will get them locked up in jail or prison before they get help. The largest mental health institution in the United States is the Cook County Jail in Chicago. Perhaps if people were encouraged to seek help for their problems, maybe they would not wind up in jail! It often takes TV shows like The Carmichael Show encouraging getting help to get people to get help. Unfortunately, I feel they dropped the ball on this one. Why not fight the stigma?  

Musings on the New Doctor

 

NOTE: I’ll get to the events of today when I have processed them. Don’t rush me.

Now that I’ve had time to process it, let me give my thoughts on Doctor Who. When I first heard about the 13th Doctor, and saw Jodie Whittaker, my first thought was this:

“Oh. She’s pretty.”

Of course, I’ve been trained to judge a woman’s looks first. But my second thought was this:

“Cool. I have no problem with this.”

Honestly, I don’t. I don’t understand why many men do, though. Maybe it’s the whole “we can’t be distracted by our emotions” thing? I’m not going to go into it.

I started thinking: what if the show runners were grooming its audience for her in the last seasons? That would explain the existence of Missy, the villainous Master’s current form. To know that Time Lords are not gender-locked, nor race-locked (citing the Doctor’s wife, River Song), can lead to more varied casting choices.

Some thoughts I think we need to address:

“But the Doctor has always been a man!”

Yes, previously, but have the Time Lords always been locked into one gender? I have just addressed the issue! Besides, where in the TARDIS do you need a penis to operate it? (Talk about your FCC violation.) River Song knew how to run it.

“But what if the actress gets pregnant?”

How about the Doctor getting pregnant, then? After all, the Doctor does have a granddaughter, which means he/she has a child in his/her future. I’d write it into the script.

Please, let me know other questions to address. I’d like to talk about the 13th Doctor with you.

On the Road to Being a Real Woman 

I’m not going to lecture you on what constitutes a real woman or a real man. What I’m going to do instead is share with you a realization about what being a woman is, as opposed to being a little girl, in a new aspect. Now, I’ve been critical of the general societal perception that thin is in. I’ve even gone so far as to call the skinny girls of the world “broomsticks” out of sheer jealousy. But this morning, something inside of me changed. It’s not my attitude toward thin is in. It’s my attitude toward the girls and women who fit this particular image. I’m not hateful towards them anymore. I have no reason to tear the thin ones down, simply because they are thin. It’s not their fault they’re thin and therefore beautiful by society’s standards. Just because they were born lucky, doesn’t mean they stay that way.

There is no need to tear a person down, because they’re perceived as having more value than you. It must be hard for them, too, because of this perception that you have to compete.

I’ll admit it. I’m fat. I can’t compete. But knowing this frees me to find the inherent value I have inside myself. There is a purpose to my existence. If there was not, I would not be alive. Believe me, those who love me have fought to keep me on this planet, even though I have had a strong desire to leave at times in my life. Yes, I have had to fight my own desire for suicide. But I have won. To paraphrase Alice Walker, I may be poor, I may be fat, I may be ugly, but I am here.

I’ve also learned that I can get a man on my own, without having to compete with anyone. A real man won’t make you compete. Boys want women to feel insecure, to compete and focus on them, as if the woman is his mother. Boys need mothers. Men need women. Which brings me back to the real woman.

A real woman is not that hard to spot. She is the one who builds women up, not tear them down. She can stand on her own without a man. She can want and desire a partner, but she does not need one. A real woman works on her healing. Trust me, the world wants you to be a girl, because girls are controllable. That’s why the world works to break you as a girl, to freeze you – keep you as a girl. Girls wallow in their hurt. You can see this in earlier posts.  Trust me, I have not quite made it to being the real woman. But I have taken a step toward it.

What Does Autism Look Like Anyway? 

When I reveal that I am autistic, or my mother does, we often get this response: “But you don’t look autistic!” Yes, I do. I got my formal diagnosis from the UCLA Medical Center as a child. Do you think I would lie to you? Why don’t you believe me? What does autism look like to you?

According to popular media, autism is usually depicted by a white cisgender male, and usually a child. They are often portrayed as some sort of savant as well. That is an extremely narrow and stereotypical view of autism, and it is not helpful when you reveal it to people to spread understanding among them.

Is it because I am a woman? I can assure you, autistic women exist. They often go into adulthood without their formal diagnosis, often waiting until their fifties to get this diagnosis, often when researching their own children’s or grandchildren’s diagnosis. Just because we are a smaller group does not mean we are nonexistent. That is just ridiculous to think.

Is it because I am an adult? Usually autism is given a child’s face. Also, that person is in meltdown or other extreme distress. We are not always having meltdowns. Meltdowns are usually caused by a trigger. It could be a sight, sound, smell, taste or touch. If you need something to compare the trigger to, look not further than an addiction. Or PTSD. Or various other dynamics which involve avoiding triggers to stay sane.

(The following does not apply to me, but this is often a reason people do not “look autistic.”)

Is it because of my race? There may be more formal diagnosis among white people, but there is also an existence around every known society. I recently saw an episode of Chicago Med with an autistic doctor played by somebody who was black. (Yes, I do say “black.” It’s perfectly OK to see what race a person is. What is not OK is to assign a lesser or greater value to that race.) I applaud Chicago Med for that casting choice. It gives a sort of face to an entire race of autistic people not represented in media. Not to mention that most races are given say, one token representation, and it certainly is usually not with neurodiversity. You usually have to be white for that.

Is it because of my gender identity? Is it my sexual orientation? I could go on and on about how a narrow stereotype locks many people out of perceptions of autism, or various other conditions for that matter.

(Back to what applies to me again…)

Open your minds, people. Autism is not equipped with a specific physical “look” or “act” to be obvious. A specific facial expression or profile does not exist in the autistic spectrum.

When one specific trait, such as autism, is used to describe a group of people, try not to be surprised when the traits not used to describe them vary widely. It would have to call on other traits to be mentioned in common to get a grasp of the people you are describing. Don’t put people into boxes. They don’t fit.

Women and Clothes

Wear a hijab. Don’t wear a hijab. Wear a bikini. Don’t wear a bikini. Be sexy. Don’t be a slut. Be smart. Don’t be a bitch. (Yes, I went there.) Show some skin. Don’t show that skin. Is it any wonder women get confused as to what they wear in youth, and screw it all to be comfortable in old age? I have noticed that to those in power, fashion is important on a woman.

Have you noticed that women are not allowed to wear the same amount of clothes that men are? If you’re in a conservative nation, you wear more clothes – ranging from longer skirts and head coverings to the all-covering burqa seen in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. If it’s in a more secular country, it’s less – sometimes a lot less.  The trouble is, do any of these people in power know what women want? Do they even care?

Religious codes aside, there is a lot of ignoring what women actually want. Maybe it’s the fact that since they are, well, women, they are made to feel less than true citizens. It’s even worse if you have a different skin color, or a disability. For example, there is a movie about disabled sexuality called “Yes We F**k” because people still think those of us with disabilities do not. Plus, there is also the stereotypes associated with women of different colors than, say, the palest Northwestern European, which still dominates world media to an extent. (It’s almost a game of “How Much Do You Look Like a King of Britain?” where only the most resembling can even get to the final rounds.)  Anyway, the trouble with all this is that women who do not feel they can stand up to this grievously high, white, able, etc. level of beauty are left out as if they are not even human. A dark-skinned woman in a wheelchair is barely recognized above apes, for example.

What does this have to do with clothes? Simple. They put inordinate amounts clothes on darker skin, less “abled” bodies, unskinny bodies, and female bodies in general. And somebody somewhere is going to go crazy and berate them for the amount of clothes they are going to wear anyway. Is it any wonder women who are older get tired of it all? Because it is too taxing on the young psyche, let alone the older one.

So, screw all the mixed messages, because you’re not going to please everybody. Wear what you want, because that’s all that matters. I just want to know that the clothes you wear do not make you less of a person, no matter what everyone else says.

 

Women and Girls: Autism’s Lost Tribe

There is an oft-repeated statistic concerning the ratio of boys to girls with autism: That ratio is 4-to-1 in favor of having boys. I happen to think that particular statistic is not true. Many women with autism are diagnosed later in life, often in adulthood, and many after learning of the autism in their children. So, why are we being diagnosed so late, and so few in between? I believe that since the industry is male-dominated, there is bias towards males in the theories, diagnosis and treatment in relation to autism itself. For those reasons, girls and women with autism often become a lost tribe in diagnosis and treatment.

I was one of the lucky ones, to receive a diagnosis in childhood. I was told to be “a little autistic, a little aphasic…” And by sheer luck, fate, or as we put it, the Grace of God, my mother was able to diagnose autism in me. Here is how my mother puts it:

The first time I heard “autism” was up in Fresno. They said to me “you don’t want to give the diagnosis of autism.” I said “without the label, how was she supposed to receive help?” I fought with the label until she was in fifth grade. I had to go to fair hearing to get your diagnosis accepted – and they still did not acceptance….the label of autism was worse than death. There was no hope until I met B.J. Freeman at UCLA, to get your true diagnosis.

A little background on her statements: We lived in Fresno, California when I was six. I was eight when my mother met B.J. Freeman. I was ten in the fifth grade, held back for a year for “social growth.” The only teacher to take my mother seriously was my RSVP teacher my senior year, and only after an embarrassing incident involving my backpack, but that’s another story.

I still consider myself one of the lucky ones, since I received my diagnosis before adulthood. Most women begin their autism journeys with self-diagnosis. There are harmful biases towards males in the theories, diagnosis and treatment in relation to autism in women. We become a lost tribe.

The biases in diagnosis are the most subtle, because more attention goes to the boys due to the more aggressive “masculine” behavior preferred on boys…but not too much. Let me explain: in this culture, boys are believed to be more aggressive, more assertive, and allowed to be more belligerent in their behavior. However, there is a cliché about “proper” behavior: “Children should be seen and not heard.” So, when boys are given leeway to be belligerent, the autistic ones are more likely to be disruptive. I observed an autistic boy in kindergarten. He was accepted to be what I never really was allowed to be – loud. Girls, however, and supposed to be “sugar and spice and everything nice.” We are taught that quietness, passiveness, and going along to get along are virtues. Quietness is rewarded. The autistic quietness and passiveness are rewarded. We mimic behaviors of neurotypicals, too. Simply put, girls are rewarded for being introverted, a stereotype of being autistic. Since “children should be seen and not heard,” the boy attacking another is going to get more attention than the girl sitting quietly and staring into space.

The theories of autism are even more male-biased. Autism has been described, even by an article in Time Magazine, as an “extreme male brain.” Now, this “extreme male brain” theory is due to less empathy, better performance at analysis, and more masculine interests. However, theories must be taken with a grain of salt. They must be analyzed in the current 4-to-1 boy-to-girl ratio of medical diagnosis. Since more boys are diagnosed than girls, the data will obviously skew in favor of the boys. More research into autistic females is needed.

So, in light of biased diagnosis and theory, the treatment is going to come more easily to boys and men, than it is to girls and women. We are finding more and more girls diagnosed in adulthood than boys. The trouble with that is, later diagnosis leads to limited success. The results are clear: Girls and women with autism are more likely to be severely limited in romantic relationships, while boys and men are more likely to find romance and marriage. Even I myself, at age 38 as of this article, am living alone with my mother. My computer is my primary source of interaction with the world. I am also extremely resentful towards most of the Tustin Unified School District of Tustin, CA, for not taking my autism seriously. Due to my troubles in socializing, it took an apology from a former schoolmate to even begin accepting Facebook friend requests from my former schoolmates-and that was only after I explained some of my behaviors. (Check out “Facebook and the Mellaril Nightmare” for background on that.) Also, so many of us, myself included, have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for being raped, abused and manipulated by neurotypicals we should not have trusted. (Fortunately, only abuse is in my history, not rape. Again, lucky.)

I hope I can call for more research into the signs and symptoms of autism as shown in females, because we need it. I may have to donate my body to scientific research in order to contribute further, because I don’t think enough is being done to recognize and treat autistic girls and women. We are falling far behind our male counterparts, and I don’t think it’s really our fault.