Queen of the Antivaxxers on Your TV – What Do You Do?


Now, I must admit something: I did go and watch The Masked Singer. Yes, the one with Jenny McCarthy as a judge. No, I do not think she’s the brightest crayon in the box. She did not even get the unmasked person right. I only wanted to see what the Twitter-fueled craziness was about. Honestly, it did involve me a little, but it did not seem too engaging. Honestly, I only enjoyed the Monster and the Peacock. Ask me privately if you want to continue further. I’m at cambriaj1977@hotmail.com if you’re interested. 

But this brings up a key issue for us autistic people in general: people will disagree with us, even in the face of cold hard facts. It’s kind of like flat earthers’ stubbornness into seeing whether the earth is flat or round, even though they accept the fact that Mars is round, because they see it with their own eyes. They will always have an answer for whatever facts you can have. For instance, the sun, according to them, is about the same size as the moon. Also, Antarctica is a wall that surrounds the earth. Why am I sputtering this nonsense? To remind you that ignorance is a choice, and some people will put their fingers in their ears and scream “LA LA LA LA LA….” to avoid being wrong and found out. 

This is very sad to say, but sometimes, you, the autistic in the know, must smile and grit your teeth, knowing that there are people who think things different from you. That does not make them right and you wrong. When the facts are revealed, they will get their just desserts.

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New Amsterdam and Stigma

I’m watching an episode of New Amsterdam – and one patient attempts suicide. Fortunately, she survives. Trouble is, there is so much stigma surrounding the family that the patient is worried she will lose her mother’s love if she undergoes therapy.  

Here is how the stigma is dealt with: 

  1. A judgmental mother. She does not even acknowledge her daughter’s attempt. “She slipped,” she says. 
  1. A culture which describes illness as “weak.” I’m not sure if it’s the Asian culture (which is not specified), or 21st-Century American culture. Both are equally hateful of the ill.  
  1. They are trying to wrangle around her getting therapy with lies.  
  1. Now, the doctor is talking to the mother. He brings up another point: that the mother might have blamed herself.  
  1. Now the psychiatrist talks to the patient. She is describing symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
  1. Now the mother is admitting she needs help too, after her daughter apologizes.  

Anyway, there are a lot of sadness and shame associated with the daughter’s depression. Fortunately, there is a lot of love, and burgeoning understanding, between the mother and daughter. Love wins out in the end.  

Do not dismiss this case. Stigma is real. Thanks to stigma, people are not getting the help they need. Thanks to stigma, there have been people in psychosis causing chaos on the roofs of buildings. Thanks to stigma, people are suffering in silence. Thanks to stigma, people have died by their own hand. Why is it not enough that people are suffering and dying to fight stigma? How many people have to die?

Show More Little Persons of Color!

Just a little thing to grind my gears a bit….

Well, “The Little Couple” is on TLC right now. (Should it now be called “The Little Family” because they have two kids? I don’t know.) I like the show a lot, since it follows a couple that’s pretty typical. She’s a doctor, he’s an entrepreneur. The thing is, they’re Little People. Sure, they have needs and whatnot due to their being of short stature, but it is just a part of them. Being Little People does not take over their lives. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. I also noticed they’re white and generally upper class. It would not bother me so much, except that I do not see a lot of Little People of different races or classes a lot on TV. I mean, it would be ridiculous to say that Little People of Color don’t exist. The TV family’s son is Chinese, and their daughter came from India, so of course people of color are being secretly represented.

But this is often not the case.

The only other time I saw a Little Person of Color was on Cops. He appeared in two segments – one ending with his arrest, and the other ending with a job offer from a nearby nightclub that employed Little People. (The segments took place in Las Vegas.) I wonder if, being white or upper class, would the guy from Cops have had a better shot, and not needed a job offer from the nightclub? He might have been a doctor or entrepreneur. Perhaps this intersection of race and limb size has increased his suffering and decreased his chances.

Baby Steps in the Right Direction

So, I watched an episode of “God Friended Me.” It involved a woman and her autistic son. I believe the portrayal of the autistic son was realistic, albeit there were several stereotypes I have to point out.  

Let me say, first of all, that I liked the casting of the family. The actors were black. Personally, I do not see enough diversity in the casting of autistic people, especially since people tend to think we all are white males who look and act like Sheldon Cooper. We’re not clones; Hollywood and Television City tends not to see that for the most part. Personally, I want more diversity in autism portrayals.  

So, let’s talk about some stereotypes. The first stereotype I came across was that the child was nonverbal. I know nonverbal autistic types exist. The truth is, most of us are verbal – quite verbal in some cases, but I digress. It’s mostly a stereotype. A second stereotype is that the child has extraordinary talent – a savant trait, if you will. Now, it was not explicitly named, though it was heavily implied. I don’t know how many of us have a real savant trait, but I hear it’s not the majority. Finally, there seemed to be a sort of “magic key” stereotype that also creeps into many portrayals of mental illness as well. Why do they do the “magic key” thing anyway? Most of the time, it does not work. 

Maybe I’m being too hard on stereotypes. The actor was not portraying an autistic meltdown, for example, and the child was finding his own way to communicate, which is often a foray into more traditional avenues of communication, such as the child’s smile.  Maybe having one or two stereotypical behaviors helps identify the character, as long as there is truth to them; the lack of empathy stereotype is wrong and harmful, though. It may be some time before we get a real, authentic portrayal that offends few.  

After saying all this, I still believe “God Friended Me” took steps in the right direction.

All the Ways I’m Not Sheldon Cooper

Now, for some Godforsaken reason, when I come out as autistic to some people, they suddenly see this:

4830_sheldon_cooper.jpg

And they will NOT STOP COMPARING.

Since I have to spell it out, point by point, I am going to. All questions will be rendered to Captain Obvious, standing over there.

 

  • “You’re in my spot” – Sure, I have a “spot.” But I’m not entirely going to yell at people for sitting in it.
  • Extreme Arrogance and Self-Superiority – “The Big Bang Theory” seems to equate autism with arrogance. I’m not arrogant. As a matter of fact, I have to be told on a regular basis that my voice and life matter.
  • Reacting in the Worst Way – One of the hallmarks of Sheldon Cooper, and sitcom characters in general, is that they react to criticism in the most dramatic way possible.
  • Empathy – Sheldon Cooper, in this aspect, is a false stereotype. Autistic people have empathy, and the fact that I have to tell you this well into the 21st Century vexes me to no end. In many online tests, and by people in the know, I have been told I am an empath. I may not express my empathy in “reading between the lines,” but I literally take on emotions of others. There is almost no boundary. I often hold back tears when someone else is crying. Anyway, I have also taught myself on such important things as facial expression and sarcasm – while Mr. Cooper sees no need to do the same, even when he really needs to.
  • Sex/Gender – Sheldon Cooper is male. I am female. I and my fellow female autistics have been told by many professionals that we don’t exist. News flash, autism researchers: autistic women and girls exist! Autistic people of color exist, too!
  • Savanthood – Apparently, Sheldon is a savant in physics. I have been told I am one in spelling and grammar. Not everyone is a savant, though. And not everyone is a physics savant.
  • Physics Snob – Now, Sheldon is a physics snob. He looks down on other forms of science. I do not.
  • Executive Function: Cooking – Can you imagine the high amount of money the group in general spend on takeout? I can cook, and pretty well, too. Sure, I have the occasional takeout, but I can fix quite a few meals, too. Even from scratch.
  • Changes – I can deal with changes in relationships, hairstyles and even food, among other things. Sheldon cannot.
  • Bathroom Schedule – I go when I need to. Sheldon needs a schedule.
  • Diagnosis – I am officially diagnosed autistic (on paper). Sheldon is not diagnosed. At all.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. So stop comparing me to him.

Kentucky Representative Race: Amy McGrath and….. Who?

This is about the race for a seat in the House of Representatives. The two major candidates are Amy McGrath, Democrat, and Andy Barr, Republican.  

Now, here’s the thing. I know Lt. Colonel Amy McGrath is running against Andy Barr. If we were to go on the political ads, we know about Amy’s look, supporters, military record, fundraising support, similar candidates, possibly everything you might be able to display about a candidate. 

But all we know about Andy Barr, her opponent, is that he voted party line 98% of the time.  

There seems to be very little told about Andy Barr.

That’s the trouble with running solely attack ads. It seems like you yourself have nothing to offer. I suspect that is not truly the case. Is Barr putting all his political eggs in the incumbency basket? I don’t get it. People are tired of “politics as usual.” That’s why they voted for Donald Trump. They knew he was not a politician. It seems to be translating into a loss of power for incumbency so far.   

And that’s a potential misjudgment for the incumbent. Think about it.  

April Wrap-Up: It’s A Little Better

So, another Autism Awareness Month has come and gone. Is everyone OK? I hope so. Although most of the autism Awareness emphasis was toward the beginning, people might want to reminisce toward the types of progress the autistic community has made. I’ve made lists of the Pros and Cons toward this progress. For the first time, there have been definite Pros.

 The Pros:

1. There has been a definite shift toward what autistic people want and need.

2. Autistic voices are finally gaining some sort of traction toward being heard.

3. There has been a rise in finding and diagnosing autism, particularly in communities of color.

4. More female portrayals of autism are coming around in the media.

5. At least in my local grocery store, there has been a shift toward acceptance and social inclusion.

 The Cons:

1. Autism Speaks still wants to “DESTROY AUTISM!!!” as if autism is some sort of social cancer. (It’s not; prejudice is, though.)

2. The portrayals of autism in the media are still generally white and male. This stereotype still rules and harms autistic people everywhere, even denying them diagnosis in females. I have yet to see an autistic woman who is like me on TV.

3. Sheldon Cooper, who does not have an official diagnosis, is the gatekeeper of autism in many neurotypical minds.

4. There has been only one major portrayal of autistic persons of color: Billy the Blue Power Ranger in the Power Rangers Movie of 2017.

5. Most people still think autistic adults are not autistic enough to speak for autistic children.

6. The Autism Community is still fragmented, with parents of the autistic on one side and autistic people on the other.

7. ANDREW WAKEFIELD, JENNY MCCARTHY AND THE VACCINE BLAMERS!

8. The Most Important: People still think autism is a tragedy. Some people even have to wait until adulthood to get diagnosed because their parents do not want their children to be autistic. (Nobody gets a choice in the matter!)

 While the Cons List is almost twice as long, the fact that there are actually Pros is a plus. I previously referenced April as The Trauma Month, if you remember reading that back in March. If we get over our differences, band together and fight the prejudice against us, someday the Pros list will be longer. That, my friends, I am looking forward to.