So There is an Outbreak of Measles in Minnesota…..

So there is an outbreak of measles in Minnesota among Somali-descended children, spreading to other vulnerable populations. I want you to understand that. What I don’t want you to do is point the finger at me about it. For the longest time, I thought that, being autistic and scary to a neurotypical population that is afraid of me, that I was the cause of unvaccinated measles outbreaks, in Minnesota and Southern California (at Disneyland, no less), especially since Jenny McCarthy literally blamed her son’s autism for all her suffering in life. But, in this case and others, I have already dismissed my existence as a cause of measles outbreaks, especially since now there are more complex, pointed reasons as to why there is an outbreak of measles they are dealing with in Minnesota. I want you to read the next sentences very carefully. That’s why I have separated them out.

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The causes of the outbreak of measles in Minnesota are as follows:

  1. Ableism, represented as Anti-autism
  1. Racism
  1. Xenophobia

The causes of the Disneyland outbreak in Southern California are as follows:

  1. Ableism, represented as Anti-autism

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These lists are not finished. First, I want to discuss the discovered causes of the measles outbreak in Minnesota. Let me start with ableism.

Thank you so very much, Jenny McCarthy. Thank you, Andrew Wakefield. Thanks a lot, Autism Speaks. While I won’t go into the extremely non-duplicated, thoroughly debunked, corrupt and hateful so-called “study” of how you think the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine causes autism. I have felt personally responsible and personally attacked because of you. You have made children sick because of my existence. You have murdered over nine thousand children as of July 2015. And the cause of all this pain and destruction? The existence of autistic people. I am autistic. Therefore, you make ME a target. Your hatred of me justifies your actions of denying children their health, their immunity, even their lives. You justify your kills because of me. I am tired of being the cause for the loss of innocent lives.

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Now, onto the next two causes, because they are interwoven and intersected. They are Racism and Xenophobia.

Now, when most white American people look at Somali immigrants, what do they see? They see dark skin – race being the previous mark of slavery, and they devalue the person. They see a foreigner – those “evil” people trying to come and take their lives, jobs and livelihood. They see a Muslim – and deem them dangerous, evil terrorists, not realizing that most Muslims HATE those terrorists. (Don’t get me started on some of my Muslim friends’ seething rage.) So, when these dark-skinned foreign so-called terrorists come to them with an issue – their children are getting autism – what do those white American people do? They ignore and deny help to these inferior people. So, what does the ableist, Anti-vaccine camp do? They listen, and recruit soldiers for their own terror. Herd immunity is compromised. And children in Minnesota now have measles, many of them hospitalized because their weak and developing immune systems are defenseless against the onslaught. Now do you see how danger and strife can get a foothold due to racism and xenophobia?

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I am not here to bring anybody down, or anybody out. I am simply facing hatred in three intersecting directions of ableism, racism and xenophobia. Now, I know I am not black and an immigrant, but I will fight the diseased rot of ableism, racism and xenophobia right alongside its victims. I do it every day – even in my mind. When children are dying, there is something wrong. One absolutely must speak up for the sake of the future. One must speak up for the sake of the suffering children.

 

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No More Self Hate 

Recently, I’ve been going over some of my posts. I’ve noticed a pattern of pity and self-loathing. Will I die alone? Am I pretty enough for love? Am I too fat for love? It has come to me what I have been doing, and what drives these posts. I have been listening to what the haters say, and not what the people who love me say. It’s a vicious cycle. The haters scream and shout, while those who love you are drowned out. It’s vicious what I’ve been listening to. Well, it’s time to make a definite change. I’ve come here to say NO MORE. It’s time I reverse my ears and listen to those who really love me – those who say that love is there, even if it’s not in a partner.

Autistic people find love. I have known a chemist/inventor who has been in Time Magazine, and she has been married for years. Of course, no one has to marry their partner, but isn’t that sweet? I have decided this: If I am bound to find a soul mate, they will come at the right time. If not, oh well. Maybe I can look at the other ways people can be loved – you know, without partners.

I’m going to go off script and talk about this – it’s related: Ashley Graham – yes, the plus-size Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model – says she’s not ashamed of her body. Why should she be ashamed of it? She’s a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model! Even now, I can hear the cracking and crumbling of the plaster statue of broomstick beauty dictatorship. I’m not a broomstick, but why does that have to shut me out of love and acceptance? It’s sickening.

The worst part of it is this: It recurs almost every now and then. It’s like a pain that flares up with this trigger or that trigger, and I want it to stop. I want to stop feeling like I am inadequate to find and give/receive love. I’m tired of being disqualified because of things I can barely control, let alone things I can NOT control. I can’t control that I’m autistic. I can’t control that I’m short and stocky. I can’t control your attitude, either. So why lament about it?

The Problem With Disabled Inspiration Ads 

I have seen those ads or Public Service Announcements where a kid facing a challenge – let’s just all call him “disabled” for short – is, I don’t know, running with blade prosthetics or doing a flip in a wheelchair. Those are all fine and dandy when presented by themselves, but when they are shown as “inspiration,” it gets, well, problematic. It again poses the stereotype that the “disabled” person is an object of pity. Dictionary.com gives the definition of “pity” as “sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy:” Therefore, any achievement by the person, even those that display their strengths, should be therefore be displayed to the abled to make them feel better about themselves. It’s really putting a person down, saying their strengths and contributions are, well, a miracle. That’s taking things a bit far, don’t you think?

“But if they can do it, so can I. Isn’t that good?” Do what? Do you even know? Is it really that weird that a deaf person can dance? Is it really that weird that an autistic person can sing? Maybe they can sing or dance better than you, even. But it goes back to that “object of pity” default mode that the abled tend to give the disabled. It kind of puts the abled in a position of power and privilege to lord over the disabled. “Those poor, poor disabled! They can’t do anything that contributes to society!” It also puts the disabled at the fickle mercy of the abled, to again pity or get rid of. And as we who have had meltdowns know, the mercy of the privileged is fickle, indeed.

Of course, some people really get happy from these messages of inspiration. It’s as if they get a sort of drug like “high” from being inspired. One of the few things which gives such a “high” to the brain that is not a drug is watching or reading depictions of sexual activity, or, to put it crudely, consuming porn. That is why these sort of inspiration things are often called “inspiration porn.” Now, I know I have lost some of you at those two words, but hear me out. If we are really giving you pleasure simply by doing something slightly unexpected, like not bemoaning our lot and getting on with life, it’s really the kind of objectification you tend to get from things like porn or drugs.

“But they are different! They have (insert condition here)! They need our tender loving care!” I get that they need more tender loving care or support. But they don’t need to be weighed, measured and found wanting by people who want to feel superior to them in some way. We get enough of that from prejudice! That’s the crux of the Inspiration Porn problem; it is prejudice! It is looking at or listening to a person and prejudging their competence, contributing potential or even worth as a human being! You can rant and rave about how your child can never do this or that, but then they will see that particular thing they “cannot” do as a measure of whether they are loved.

So, comment your anger at speaking out against being your inspiration porn star. I stand here with fists at the ready, waiting for the opportunity to fight for my right to be a human being.

Disability is Not a Costume 

I am coming off a brilliant performance of Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III in “The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses,” a sort of Shakespeare showcase of linked historical plays. I am happy he did the performance; he did it well. What I am not happy about is that soon it will be put into the long history of abled actors donning disability like a costume, as if they can really draw upon direct experience.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is disturbing me about abled actors portraying disability. Is it the lack of direct experience? Is it the donning and doffing of disability like a regular Halloween costume? Is it the presumption that we actually disabled can really do that? Or is it that it seems like a version of a white person doing blackface? Maybe it’s as if we actual disabled are not good enough to provide our own voices. Why is that? If the mathematicians in “Hidden Figures” were played by white women in “black makeup,” would it not cause outrage due to the casting? Yet, because we are disabled, such outrageous assumptions like stupidity, incompetence and inability to act are foisted upon us, causing the “need” for abled actors to don disabilities like costumes, only to toss them off later. It’s a terrible thing to consider; that I’m not good enough to provide my own voice. Does anybody else want to feel this way?

Now, I can sense some people think I’m picking on Benedict Cumberbatch. That is not my aim. I just hope that he had at least one or more consultants who could put a sense of competence into his performance. I think he did; see, when his Richard III is on horseback or in battle, he is just as elegant and competent with the horse and sword as his brothers. It seems like light is breaking through, but I’m not so sure.

My aim is simply this: to help people to understand that, at the end of the day, real disabled people still feel shunned by the film industry, unless it is reality TV aimed specifically at showcasing disabilities, like A&E’s “Born This Way,” about people with Down Syndrome. With my known condition, and the glacial pace that the film industry is moving, it’s going to be a long time before I really feel represented in film, beyond the inaccurate portrayal by Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” Oh, how I wish I could shed that image!

Musings on Stigma and Ableism 

I once had a friend who preferred going in and out of mental health hospitals to actually taking mental health medicine. When we confronted her about it, she felt that the medicine was “stupid” and would still not take it. I suspect, however, that there was something else at work in her brain. It somehow reminds me of country star Mindy McCready, who eventually committed suicide after learning she had been living with a mental illness. I myself am not immune to this type of thinking. I have had trouble with concealing my autism as well as revealing it. This kind of tension should not be. I mean, it’s a choice between “You’re a Weirdo and We Don’t Like You” or “You Poor Unfortunate Soul! We Still Don’t Like You!” So what am I supposed to do? I confront stigma and ableism on a daily basis.

When “The Accountant” came out with its cold-blooded killer “autistic savant,” I confronted stigma. When I see people deciding not to vaccinate their children because they don’t want said children to be like me, I feel stigma. When I was told “You suffer from nothing” by a (former) friend, I confront stigma. While I mostly act neurotypical, when I don’t, I am told either explicitly or implicitly that I “know better” and I ABSOLUTELY MUST ACT NEUROTYPICAL for the sake of other neurotypicals. I am never allowed to be my autistic self, unless I am completely alone or with only my mother. It is a vicious cycle. It seems that without my mother or the internet, I would be completely alone with nobody to understand me or my condition. I am considering moving to a low-income area near a center focusing specifically on autistics after my mother passes on, to be honest.

Don’t even get me started on the ableism I got from my sisters. For example, if I did any stimming at all, I was yelled at to stop. I was often told to sit down and shut up. They mocked me for sitting on my hands to stop the stimming; but that was the only way. Of course, after my sisters unceremoniously sent me back to my mother after telling her I was a horrible person, I had to pay back Social Security thousands of dollars due to their handling of all my money. Of course, they will deny all this. Anyway, abuse is a common effect of ableism and stigma.

Let me explain why I put ableism and stigma together. They work together. Stigma about having something wrong with you feeds discrimination for the  able bodied and able minded. The neglect of people to, say, allow an access for a wheelchair-bound person feeds the inability for that person to be there, even if they are the person of honor at the event! Hopefully, my mother won’t need to speak at church; she can’t even get up on the stage. Oh, and another thing about stage access: If you see my disability as an “acting challenge” that you can put on as if it were simply a costume, you are wrong. Can you draw on being disabled yourself, “Rain Man” actor Dustin Hoffman? DO you know what it’s like to live with the pity, “Ray” actor Jamie Foxx? Can you handle constantly being told your kind is a scourge to be eradicated, Daniel Day-Lewis? No, because nobody ever asked us what it was really like to be us! In Hollywood, we disabled are a forgotten bunch of sideshow freaks cordoned off from the main attraction, hid in the back to be feared and pitied at the same time. We are too scary to be on TV, unless you treat our disability as a costume. I hope someday your disabled performances are as offensive to us disabled as blackface is. I digress; my point is, ableism and stigma are connected; they’re practically siblings.

What can we do with my friend who used to cycle in and out of mental hospitals due to the stigma of taking care of your mental health? Self-care is not a glamorous spa experience. How can we say “There is nothing wrong with taking your medicine,” when we as a society mock and ostracize people who take medicine? How can we say “We want you at our protest/ceremony/place of worship” when they can’t get either in the door or on the stage? How can we, and this is a personal one, say we are supporting autistic people when we will not take a measure or two to prevent sensory overload or meltdown? Society, we need to change. We need to not view disability or mental illness as a moral weakness or failure. (This viewpoint dates back to Biblical times, as does Jesus’ response: John 9) I hope we can before the disabled do what other marginalized groups are doing: resorting to their most frightening stereotypes.

Hating on a Muppet

Julia, the autistic character from Sesame Street

I’ve been looking over this new Sesame Street character, Julia, and know she has autism. She carries some of the traits of autism, including sensory issues and social troubles. What I have also come across is the strange stance that there is a giant conspiracy afoot, apparently to hide the “vaccine injury” (I am NOT making this up) known as Autism. Oh, there’s a conspiracy alright. The conspiracy is to save the people from dying from Infantile Paralysis, Measles, Mumps and Rubella. The anti-vaccine people say that Sesame Street in general, and Julia in particular, are puppets of Big Pharma, and are trying to get this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing known as Autism “normalized” into the public. The anti-vaccine lobby is extremely ableist, which means they will hate any effort to bring acceptance to people with so-called “vaccine injuries,” including those with disabilities. Their aim is to cure people of the Autism Tragedy, which cannot possibly have any positive effect. (Even though Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah and Temple Grandin are all wonderful individuals due to their Autism, hmmm?)

First, of all, let me say that much of anti-vaccine agenda is based on false and misleading data. You can Google any source and defend both sides of this vaccine issue, but let me tell you that most of the anti-vaccine lobby boils down to two people: Andrew Wakefield and the Ableist, Emotional Parent. Andrew Wakefield produced one study, whose results were not duplicated, and which was retracted by Wakefield himself, admittedly corrupted, motivated by his own vaccine patent, and who finally got his license revoked. The Ableist, Emotional Parent usually believes that vaccines cause autism because they happen at about the same age. My example of this, Jenny McCarthy, noted that after her son got a certain vaccine, he had a certain look in his eyes, saying “no soul.” Let me give you a note: saying an autistic look means “no soul” is extremely prejudiced. Do I have no soul? Also, to note, the story with Ms. McCarthy is very emotional, so it seems rational in her own eyes…and she talks frequently about the “motherly instinct,” especially when it counters established scientific theory. My question to Ms. McCarthy is: Have you never been wrong? Are you omniscient when it comes to your son? Now, I doubt she knows absolutely everything. But she acts as though she is wise in her own eyes, which is to me a very dangerous thing, especially since she seems to regard autism as worse than the “f***ing measles,” as she once said the autism parents would rather have.

Of course, regarding autism worse than measles is blatant ableism. Ableism is rife within the anti-vaccine lobby, which is why they consider autism a boogeyman to fear and fight. Have you heard of anyone lauded by Autism Speaks as a positive influence? Does Autism Speaks tell you that Dr. Temple Grandin is a top authority in the beef cattle industry, particularly when it comes to leading them to where they are supposed to go? Do they even mention Dan Aykroyd, who has spoken about his particular flavor of autism, and his work in comedy and film? No, they simply say autism will destroy any semblance of a disability-free, and therefore model, life. Ableism is simply looking at anything that makes a person abledly different and counting it as a loss, or a strike against that person’s humanity. Ableism says that the autistic MUST be cured of their autism, or they are not a full human being. Ever.

Where does this leave poor Julia, and the autistic children that Julia can relate to, according to the Ableists? That leaves Julia and autistics alike in a sort of invisible no-man’s land, in a place where the only appropriate response is pity and shame. Of course, that will eventually lead to locking them away in jails, prisons and other institutions, where the poor, pitiful things belong, according to the ableists. Of course, it also romanticizes the murders of autistic children, too, and encourages them to suicide, I’m sure. The truth is, the anti-vaccine lobby hates autistic people succeeding, because it has chosen to hate autistic people. I have decided to applaud Sesame Street’s little creation, Julia. It comforts me to see that there is someone like me on the screen, despite the fact that the anti-vaccine lobby hates her, and me in extension.

MY Ten Things I Learned From Bullying, as an Autistic:

OK, let me talk about “10 Perks Kids With Autism Get From Bullying,” the article from Autism Daily Newscast that has autistics up in arms. For starters, I ran the title by my mother, who said it was “foolish.” Her word, not mine. Let me say for now that it is like saying “10 Benefits African Americans Get From Racism.,” an article not written (yet) that would cause an extreme outrage and protest all its own. You can google the shameful, ableist article that justifies ostracizing kids through physical and mental violence, which is the textbook definition of bullying.

What I Learned From Bullying:

1) Avoid anyone my age. No one relates to me. 

To this day, I do not have any close friends who were born between 1974 and 1983. (I was born in 1977, in case you were wondering.) All my classmates live far away, and I can only contact them through Facebook.

2) Authority does not look out for you; in fact it eggs bullying on

Everybody knows sensitivity training and anti-bullying programs are simply legal and societal alibis, used to shield any responsibility for the eventual school shooting that comes from the eventual loneliness and isolation that bullying creates. Also, when I went to school and church authorities about the bullying I was enduring through the social circles of the time, I was told “Ignore them,” and “Maybe he likes you.” How do you ignore something which gets into your face and threatens physical harm? I hate to say it even now, but one of my youth counselors would join in on the jokes to win the bullies over.

3) Autism Hatred Every Month 

For example: much of the bullying was due to me liking New Kids on the Block. I got most of this in seventh grade. I was so bullied, I ended up feeling this was a horrid secret I was supposed to keep away from the general public, as if liking NKOTB was on par with pedophilia (wanting to sex up kids). I eventually learned Autism = Pedophilia as well, so I kept that a secret until my senior year.

4) My skills I developed were subterfuge, lying, and reclusion.

TRUth and TRUst begin with the same three letters. I learned I could trust no one. The only things I learned were to fight dirty, lie, sabotage, and hide. I was a filthy animal as far as anyone else was concerned.

 5) Built an Abuse-Accepting Pattern of Being Controlled

This eventually led me to believe that abusive behavior was okay. I did not expect any better from people, because I did not know any better. Another maxim I have to still shake off: People are basically evil, and must be controlled by another force. I mean, I expect the worst in people now. Maybe that’s why I am pushing 40 and still single. This leads to:

6) No Friendships, and Extreme Suspicion of Good People

Again, I have nobody my age I can relate to, except on Facebook. In my first post, Facebook and the Mellaril Nightmare, I have expanded on my confusion as to people wanting to even be my Facebook friend. I mean, bullying is a way to ostracize the undesirables out of society. You make fun of the people you hate. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. These people made fun of me to my face and behind my back, and the only thing which made me even want to consider clicking on that Accept button was an apology from one of them.

7) A Decline in Overall Well-Being

With all this swirling around in my head, I was cut off from any help, unless it came through therapy. I hated myself for years, and am only now getting to like myself again, though it still only comes in spurts. Only in the past nine years have I showered regularly without being forced to, for instance. I was not worth it, I thought.

8) Abusive Relationships, because I was a Freak

I’m not going to name names, but I was abused for years because I thought deep down I deserved it. I was an undesirable freak who was lucky that person was in my life to protect the world from me. (That was what the abuser said to me, in so many words.)

9) Decreased Life Skills and Life Appreciation

Why would I take care of myself? How could I love my neighbor if I did not love myself? Was I even worth getting out of bed, and even worth living?
10) No Self-Esteem, and Suicide Ideation

Eventually, this led to not having any appreciation for anything life had to offer, and a general hatred of life. I began to imagine what it would be like if I was dead, and I wrongly concluded that it would be better without me. I also began to formulate a plan: I would find a room or toilet with a drain, and slit my wrists. The blood would be disposed of.

WHAT EVENTUALLY SAVED ME

I learned that the world would be a worse place for my mother, and a few others, if I died. I could not go through with it, once I learned that my mother would be screwed. She should not be responsible for keeping me alive, but God keeps reminding me that if I die, several other people would be screwed, both physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I eventually also learned that bullying is wrong, and I would be letting the terrorists in my life win if I removed myself from living. I could not let that happen. I have had to tell myself daily that I am worth the fight.