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.
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.
I would like you to examine the following items: An In Living Color Skit about the “Lorie Davis Hair Care System,” and an Inspirational Poster featuring two Disabled people.
Now, don’t get me started on how savagely ugly this In Living Color skit is to fat people by itself. That is a whole other day. But, have you considered how similar the message is to most inspiration porn? “You look (act/will do) good…” “‘Cause I don’t,” is kind of the whole concept of disabled inspiration porn. That’s the problem.
First of all, there are the people who are being compared. They are divided into two groups: the better and the worse. Obviously, “Cher” and her skinny friends are the “better” and “Lorie” is the “worse.” In the inspirational poster, the people running on springs are “worse.” Who’s the “better” in the poster? YOU. You are the “better” one, simply because you are evidently abled better than people with no legs. This is a comparison contest, with Cher/You the winner, and Lorie/the disabled as the loser.
Sure, you can make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to the disabled all day because you’ll win, apparently, but is that the measurement stick of your worth? How abled you are? Because that’s the textbook of ableism – measuring somebody’s worth by how well they can function in society. So, if a person needs help, they are worth a little less? So, how abled must a person be to be worthy enough to, I don’t know, live? Because many of the Nazi Holocaust practices were experimented on by the disabled. Now, I know that’s a long way from inspiration porn, but that is right up the road from it on Ableism Street. It’s not a place you want to travel down. I have already shown in previous musings that measuring a person’s worth by an unattainable standard leaves so many people out.
So, I went to church this morning and looked around. There were a few people wearing blue, but not anyone whom I would suspect is working for Autism Awareness. Well, maybe one, but I do not think she is particularly concerned about her one-year-old being autistic. Truth is, I am the only known autistic in the church. And here’s a photo of me after coming back.
As you can see, I’m wearing red. I have decided not to begrudge most people wearing blue today, because most people wearing blue are utterly clueless about how the #ActuallyAutistic feel. Most of them just want to do some good, and they are clueless that Autism Speaks wants to rid the world of us. (No cure is known at this time.) The only people I will call out are those like Donald Trump, who are willfully ignorant. Those who actually ignore facts that do not line up with their way of thinking. Some people may accuse me of the same thing, however. The reason I cite Donald Trump is this:
The Washington Post, for One.
This Article Displays His Tweets about Autism
I don’t like to disrespect the President, but when he willfully ignores facts-and the fact is, Andrew Wakefield’s study was debunked and the results never duplicated in larger-scale university studies-he needs to be called out. He’s being willfully ignorant.
Enough about the President. The point it, willfully ignorant and hateful people have hijacked the conversation about autism, and we have to fight HARD to get it back to those who know it best – autistic people. We’re here, we’re autistic, get used to it.
….but not until next month. Perhaps us autistic adults can give some insights and gentle correction to upcoming mistakes I’m sure Sesame Street will make with Julia.
If you don’t know, Julia is an autistic Muppet being introduced to Sesame Street. So far, that is her major trait. Hopefully, her autism will not separate her too much from the other characters. It seems to look promising, since they are reportedly welcoming her into the fold. I’m a little concerned, though, on how Julia will be portrayed. Will her autism be her defining trait, as it often is of many shows’ neurotypical writing? Will she be looked on as less in neurotypical eyes?
The best-case scenario is as regular people who are just a little different. Let her participate in adventures. Let her experience life in groups. Give her some interests. Have her appear often and Flesh out her character. Autism is not the only thing unique about Julia, if you do it right.
There are many well-intentioned disabled or neurodivergent characters who fall flat, and even a few in unexpected places who would actually do well in reality. Of course, I think the key to a good portrayal in neurodiversity or disability (which are often treated the same by a conformist society) is a good dose of reality, inclusion and fleshing out. So many autistic characters are stymied by stereotypes that it really is tragic that one must fit this stereotype to even get an autism diagnosis. I prefer that Julia be a recurring character, at least, so she could have some time to flesh out. Good characters get time to flesh out over a series, but most characters with differing traits rarely get anything beyond their introduction and defining trait. Hopefully, we can see a development over time.
What I am trying to say is, please, don’t make Julia a one-shot. Make her a realistic child. Listen to us autistic adults. We can give you some insight.
I’m loving this inclusion and casting of Dr. Latham. However, a colleague in autism brought up a very good point in the storytelling. There is a troubling thing about the narrative, which I think ought to be reconsidered as well as my colleague: the cure narrative. While the cure narrative is the most common in the autism media universe, it is not one which most autistic adults refer to in living. There is a lot of trouble in pushing the cure narrative.
As for one, autism, as it stands today, cannot be cured. There is no cure known for autism. As for Dr. Latham’s radical treatments, they are fine to some extent. But why not show some of the side effects? I like that the treatment Dr. Latham is receiving is shown as temporary or needing to continue. I think we need to continue with that aspect.
2- I think I need to stop for a second and express a point here. There is also a big, foul prejudice reeking in the narrative that we need to address: ableism. Ableism, by definition, is adding stigma to a perceived lack of ability. As I have defined before, adding stigma to the perceived lack of communication is wrong. Even the language, “lack of” being the focus here, adds stigma to autism and other disabilities. It’s as if you have to experience things exactly as the neurotype in power, and all others is wrong and a tragedy. Autism is not a tragedy! The trouble is, there are scared, desperate autism parents looking at this show, hoping to find some answer to “fix” their “broken” child. They turn to risky, strange and even abusive treatments to do this “fixing.” And when those treatments do not work, the child might be permanently scarred, or even killed in some cases. Also, there are broken relationships, running away and suicide to consider. Is it any wonder very few autistic people talk to their families of origin unless forced to? What is there except autism acceptance?
I’ve got a question: Why not consult real autistic adults on their struggles and triumphs? Have you even considered that autistic adults are real people, with real opinions, real knowledge and real experience? Or are we still complete morons in your eyes? So, what about it, Chicago Med? Is Dr. Latham a moron? That is what you say if you do not consider a viewpoint from real life autistic adults.