Now, April is about two days from being over. I don’t think there will be a lot more discussion on very much autism anymore. The next big autism day will be June 18, which is Autistic Pride Day. (I don’t care if you celebrate it, but I do.) I will have my April 2017 Journal up for people to see on this page. Here are a few thoughts on the state of autistic relations today:
It’s obvious we are not where we need to be. The largest known “Autism Charity,” Autism Speaks, still has a negative rhetoric when it comes to the autistic. Parents are still desperately putting their children on gluten-free and other restrictive diets, shoving bleach up their behinds or down their throats desperate for a cure, and cajoling their autistic children into making them act the way they want them to making them act neurotypical. Our current United States President believes autism is caused by vaccines. And we autistic adults are still being largely ignored in the conversation about us.
But, we have made small strides. There are some people out there who want us to be accepted. I like to call them Neurotypical Allies. Organizations are rising. Autistic adults are rising up to be heard. We are writing blogs. We are putting out information. We are learning to care for ourselves. We are learning to speak for ourselves and our kind. We are learning to speak for the autistic.
True, we are making strides. We are starting to move, but here is the truth: we still have a long way to go.
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.
Where does this “Accept” and “Love” position I give come from? Why, it’s from viewing autism as what it really is: a different operating system, which anthropologists are now coming around to as beneficial to many aspects of life. Autism, like any other trait, has benefits. Sure, you’re not sitting around talking to people in a bunch of flowery chitchat, but the autistic person has real focus and drive. Most of us can cut to the point quicker than most. There are more than I can think of, but here’s the point: I have come to believe that autism is not some divine punishment. I believe autism has its purpose in this life, and society. The fact that I have to wonder if the autistic will be destroyed before we find the purpose out is what troubles me. According to anthropology, most religion, and technology, there is a purpose for autism. Do we autistic people have to be destroyed before we find it out? I hope not.