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?

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Leave it in the Booth

Do you wish you had a say in how your government works? Do you wish you could tell the government what you want, have people who care about you and your issues represent you in Congress? I’ve got good news. You do have a say that can affect the government. It’s called a vote. You simply go into the booth and make the choice. I’m not versed on all the ways and machines you use to vote, but you simply make the choice you want. I heard the officials use simpler machines and systems than that used to. My precinct uses a paper you read into the machine.  

I’ve also decided to address some issues and sayings regarding why people do not vote. Unfortunately, I have an issue with each of them:  

1) “My Vote Won’t Make a Difference.”  

Newsflash: As of writing this, we are within 48 hours of the polls opening. Polls show a slight margin to one side. Notice I said SLIGHT. The polls might even be in the margin of error. I’m not saying which way they’re leaning, because it might poison the will of that side. I want everyone who can to vote. Besides, there are countless stories online about narrowly decided elections. So, maybe this country is big and you’re small, but at least you can make a choice – unlike other countries.  

2) “I Don’t Like the Lesser of Two Evils Strategy.”  

I’ve railed against the Lesser of Two Evils myself. Remember the 2016 posts? Anyway, now that it’s midterms, there is a chance there are more parties to vote for besides Democrat and Republican. I know those are the major ones, but you might be able to put a referendum on those parties!  

3) “The Weather Does Not Agree with Me.” 

It has been said Republicans should pray for rain. But, I believe Uber and Lyft offer free rides to polling places. I wish I could drive so I could help people get to the polls – but I’m pretty sure you know  

4) “It Takes Too Long to Vote/Too Far Away.”  

Let me get on my soapbox for a minute. How could you say your vote is inconvenient when you can google Voter Suppression and find it, even in this election? How many of your ancestors fought and died to have their say? How many of your foremothers and forefathers could not even vote? How many of your relatives cannot vote now? You who are registered, you are privileged! You have a chance to speak when others do not! Have your say! 

 

If you’re registered, please vote. I really don’t care who you vote for, whether it be Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green or even Communist – even if it’s against who I want. I want you to be heard. I want you to have your say.

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.

How Christmas Went This Year

After a day of rest, I have enough energy to talk about how I dealt with Christmas.

I don’t really have any more tips, other than know your autistic relative.

Christmas Eve was basically spending an evening at my cousin’s place for food, family and fun. The funny thing is, it was almost entirely about vegetable casseroles, almost all of which I like very much. Off topic, it’s funny how I have come to like vegetables as an adult, even after thinking I would never like them as a child. Somehow, trying new things and culinary adventure came to include veggies in adulthood. Sometimes, one just needs to bite the bullet and try it. There’s no shortcuts to that one. We also got games, good family talking and even some quiet times, too. It was great. I was disappointed in one factor, though; I wanted to talk to the parents of an autistic relative of mine. He’s a young boy, but I would like to have a talk with his parents, you know, to provide some perspective. But they were not there. I was not exactly going to grill them or provide lectures, but it helps when you’re not alone in a family, as I have so often felt.

Christmas Day was a little different. We invited a couple who had just gotten together, but the man in the two was a friend, so it was alright. Much of the food was on my shoulders, but it was very easy. We had Prime Rib, steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, rolls and a salad, plus cheesecake for dessert. It’s not easy to screw up Prime Rib. Twenty minutes at a high temperature and then 25 minutes per pound. It was done within three hours, resting included. That was the hardest part of the meal. I mean, rice pilaf is very easy from the boxes, and I’ve done rolls many times for Thanksgiving. So, easy meal, good food, good friends, and an overall nice time. It started to get very cold when the day was done, so we had to get them home early. We had a nice time, with blocks of quiet book ending the day. Could not have asked for more.  

Autism Warrior Moms and My Mom

I do not consider my mother an autism warrior mom. Warrior moms and my mother are very different. Take autism warrior moms. They prescribe restrictive diets. They have “therapists” beat the children, starve the children and hold their children’s favorite things above their heads until they exhibit neurotypical behavior. Of course, I am referring to Applied Behavior Analysis. They don’t give any rewards until the child passes for neurotypical in the therapists’ eyes. They even pump caustic bleach up the child’s rectum in hopes for a “cure” for autism. And when their children finally grow up and rebel, they often murder the child, and society takes their side.  

My mother was not the usual autism warrior mom. Sure, she’s a warrior and a mom, but she knows that things are there to protect me, not her ego. She never did things like restrictive diets, ABA and CD/MMS to Make Cambria Neurotypical Again. Of course, I was never neurotypical in the first place. She also told me that. I exhibited signs of difference as a baby. Sure, she fought for me to have speech therapy and social training, but not really passing for neurotypical. She explained to me that I was learning how to act in public. In private, I could be myself. She taught me basic life skills, like cooking, cleaning and paying bills. (Of course, with pre-cut frozen vegetables and basic sauces, cooking is really quite easy for me.) Eventually, I will learn to drive. I want to drive badly, so my mother can focus on getting better. What I am trying to say is, I can generally take care of myself, which is more than I can say for most “warrior mom” children out there.  

The difference between my mother and “warrior” mothers is, there was a modicum of acceptance concerning my mother. Once she learned about autism for the first time, she prayed and asked God for guidance. (As you all know, we are Christians.) I think she never really knew about ABA, but I don’t think she would have approved of the techniques. When I had to stim, I did – even if it meant running up and down the hall six times. I am not traumatized by her upbringing.

April Post 6: Hairstyling 

There is an article on the BBC website regarding a barber who will cut an autistic child’s hair. Apparently, you have to go to a special hairdresser or barber to get it done. What a surprise! We autistic people are such terrible people to deal with that it takes somebody special! Before I go down that road, I think I might offer a valuable point. Now, I don’t specifically have an episode where cutting hair was an ordeal, but I have a sibling who did. Apparently, it’s hard for an autistic child’s parent to get their hair cut and styled, prompting many hairdressers to completely turn autistic children away! Now, I think I might be able to give some insight to why this is so: to me, a haircut is very hard. Some of the time, the comb or scissors pulls on small hair in my head, making it feel as if someone is sticking a bunch of needles in my scalp. I prefer when my hair is wet, so I don’t get that feeling of needles as often. I have been able to sit through an appointment without crying easily, but my sibling was not able to for a few years as a child. There have been studies that prove siblings of the autistic have autistic traits. Perhaps this happens to be one of them with my sibling.