Get Me Out of This Stinking Cradle! I’m Not a Baby!

As I’ve been roaming around online, I’ve come across a disturbing thing: A person faced what has been called infantilization of autistic people. The commenter got a flat-out accusation of lying because she was not “innocent” and “sweet” like an autistic should be. I wanted to go to this person and ask whether or not she understands that autistic children grow up, but sadly, I can’t. This is a problem among people who think of autistic and other disabled people as children. This usually denies us rights that neurotypical adults enjoy all the time.

Now, what are these rights supposed to be? Well….

THINGS CHILDREN CAN’T DO THAT ADULTS CAN, UNLESS ALLOWED

  1. Make Decisions
  2. Hold Bank Accounts
  3. Have Sex, Even in Marriage
  4. Get Married
  5. Anything Sexual
  6. Have a Relationship outside Parent/Child unless allowed
  7. Control their own finances
  8. Dress themselves
  9. Feed themselves
  10. Have their viewpoints considered
  11. Be listened to
  12. Answer their own questions
  13. Have their own interests, including Special Interests
  14. Vote their own way

…And the list goes on and on.

Now, I don’t say we ought to let those who clearly can’t take care of themselves be loosed upon the world with that responsibility. What I am saying is, teach the children age-appropriate responsibility. And do NOT assume that the person is not “getting” the concept now means they will not get the concept later, or even sooner. What I am also saying is, ask yourself if it is appropriate to the person’s age to handle the responsibility you are trying to teach them. Most of the time, it usually is. Adulting should be taught to autistic people. Adulting, that is, handling adult tasks and responsibilities, is usually appropriate to the autistic adult.

Back to the “innocent” and “sweet” way that autistic adults “should” be, according to the person who thinks they should. What makes you an expert on autism? Why do they have to be children? Don’t you know every child eventually grows up? You don’t think an autistic person can be forty years old? Boy, you are in for a shock. I was born in 1977. Do the math.

I don’t need to tell you how I carry myself as an adult. Besides, you would probably think I am lying when I say I am autistic because I am not some sweet little baby you can put in a cradle and control. Why do I even have to justify my autism to you? You won’t listen, anyway.

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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.

Revisiting Mental Illness Stigma on TV

Now, I’ve been watching the TV show OutDaughtered. For those not in the know, the father has been dealing with a form of depression. He has been getting encouragement to get professional help, and it takes a final exposure of the mother’s pain to do it. That’s all I’m going to say on this one. 

I’m not saying there is a perfect show about dealing with mental illness stigma. What I am saying is, this show kept the stigma to a minimum. It was mentioned a few times, but it was kept in a more visceral sense, and it was definitely fought with. That’s what I want when dealing with mental illness stigma – fighting it like the plague.  

It’s a funny thing, how different TV shows deal with mental conditions. I know I criticized The Carmichaels in the past about their handling of mental illness stigma, and they are about a black family. To ME, PERSONALLY, these things are completely unrelated. If OutDaughtered were about a black family, or The Carmichaels were white, I would have dealt the same reviews. I still think they ought to fight stigma as much as they can. Somehow, I still believe The Carmichaels would have revisited the issue with mental illness stigma had they not been canceled. As I have said before, I liked The Carmichaels. I just wish they would have fought the stigma of mental illness more.  

 

Musings on Prejudice

Definition of prejudice  (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

  1. 1 :  injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especiallydetriment to one’s legal rights or claims 
  1. 2a (1) :  preconceived judgment or opinion (2) :  an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.  2b :  an instance of such judgment or opinions :  an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics 

My first experience with Prejudice was a magazine cover on a news magazine. It was a series of differently colored or shaded(?) fists surrounding planet Earth. I asked dad what prejudice was, and he told me. He also warned me about not having prejudice, since it was one of those evils in society. In my family, we believed in equality. We believed humanity was humanity. This is why, today, I am an avowed opponent of ethnic separatist groups, the Ku Klux Klan among them. I believe separating and segregating people apart causes unnecessary fear and anxiety in people. I believe everybody is in the same race – the human race. There are people walking around everywhere as a testament to it. This is why I say what I say about the events in Charlottesville and other race relations hot spots. 

I cannot sit by while people are murdering each other because of minor differences that seem so much. I cannot sit idly by while hate rules in the halls of American government. I know violence is wrong on both sides. However, when the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and other segregationist groups want to destroy the multicultural diversity that actually makes this nation great, I cannot stand idly by and sit silent. I cannot sit idly by, because I am a firm believer in equality. I was raised as a firm believer in equality.  

I may not go to the protests and marches due to various circumstances, such as disability and economic hardship, but I speak wherever I can. I speak on my social media. I sincerely disagree with Trump’s approach to race relations. Yes, there was violence on many sides. But sometimes, you have to take a side. Unfortunately, you either stand against intolerance, or you are intolerant. The ultimate paradox of tolerance, is that you have to be intolerant against intolerance. The whole world has seen the results of accepting intolerance. It caused World War II, as a matter of fact. 

Sure, you can blame the other side for race baiting and the presence of prejudice. Both Democrats and Republicans do this. But what if we stopped blaming each other, came together as one, and vowed to do something BESIDES blame? Would that not be more effective? If we forgave each other (NOT excused, by the way) for race baiting and prejudice, stopped doing it ourselves, and finally decided to work on it together, would that not be more effective a weapon against hate?  

Too Concerned with Mental Health at Times? 

When I heard an actress, who had recently given birth, was getting health with her postpartum depression, I felt that concern time was over because I somehow knew she was in good hands. I often wonder if that concern was prematurely ended. I mean, since she was in good hands, she was getting good help, right?  

I was wondering: when should you be concerned with a person’s mental health, and when should you be NOT concerned? Also, could you be too concerned? Could that concern actually be thinly-veiled fear? 

When you’re dealing with your own mental health, I think concern should be best had by the person themselves. Mental health persons, when dealing with it, can be their own best advocates. Besides, they know what is best for them a majority of the time, especially in dealing with the tedious trial-and-error method of mental health medication. I am a fan of telling the doctor everything that is going on with your body, mind and mood. I know it’s long and drawn out. I myself had to tell my own prescriber that I was not feeling and functioning when they switched my prescription on me once. I am even glad there is somebody who looks out for me and my mental state as well. Unfortunately, few of those with mental illness have that person who really looks out for them. I know I am blessed in that aspect.  

About excess concern: that is usually a veiled fear of mental illness itself, and the various aspects of the behavior. I must speak again and again of the stigma, fear and hate that surrounds us who have mental illness, and our families. Pushing it under the rug will do nobody any favor. As a matter of fact, stigma gives mental illness a cover of darkness, and darkness is the perfect environment for the illness to spread and fester like bacteria, claiming lives and families as it grown. It is only in exposure to the light of day that we can fight it. 

So, what is the limit of concern? Where do we stop being scared for the person and begin to help the person in their fight for their health?  

Seek Help Beforehand

Chester Bennington was found dead of suicide. He was 41. I recently came across a tweet that basically said, “If you only want to talk about mental illness when someone famous commits suicide, you’re part of the problem.” Trouble is, that seems to be the only time people are listening. Most of the time, people shut their ears at anything unpleasant. They want to be unrealistically happy. I consider myself a pretty happy person, but I have also been diagnosed with major depression right along with my autism. (Surprise, surprise – this world drives me crazy.) But mental health should be talked about all the time, not just when something terrible happens to shake you out of your “Happy Haze.”

For me, mental health is a daily management. It’s a sort of demand in order to keep performing at my peak. I include my medicines in my routine. There is no shame in the process. I just take my meds and move along with my day. If there is a problem, I talk it over with someone who can help me. Again, there is no shame in the process. Yeah, I live with the specter of stigma when it comes to mental illness, but I know that I am an adult, and I do not have to take on that stupid stigma myself.

I can tell what people are thinking – what if I go off my meds? Then I become irrationally depressed. That’s why I stay on my meds. I can tell people are thinking this, because every mentally ill person on TV has been through a “go off their meds and go crazy” storyline, usually with a dictation that they cannot cope with society and need to be locked up at least for a time. What a negative, hateful, bigoted LIE! Those with mental illness (I use “mentally ill” and “with mental illness” interchangeably) are perfectly capable of living in society, with their meds. Perhaps this dictation from the media is why Chester Bennington never sought help for himself and is now dead. Perhaps seeing illness as weakness is why Robin Williams never sought help for himself and is now dead as well. Perhaps the fear and stigma surrounding having a mental illness is why so many people never get help for their conditions and let their conditions morph into boatloads of unnecessary drama and, in many cases, unnecessary suicide.

Now, let’s get the myth out that a person who commits suicide is supposed to go through with it anyway. I once considered suicide a long time ago. My mother found out about it, and eventually I got help for my own conditions. That’s how I got diagnosed with major depression. Here’s the thing about it all: Once I verbalized my pain, I changed my mind. Here’s the kicker: eventually, a person will change their mind. Maybe it’s in the throes of death itself, but they eventually change their mind. A survivor of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge himself regretted the act once he went through with it. As he was falling, he prayed to survive. The point of that is, we will change our mind. Perhaps if society made it okay to admit you’re struggling with your own head, we would seek help BEFORE we are falling off the Golden Gate Bridge, so to speak. I want people okay with thinking about unpleasant things. Maybe we can prevent tragedy when we do.

A Closer Look at Glorifying Autism

I just heard the most ridiculous thing: we autistics are “glorifying” autism. I would like to know: How do you do that? How do you glorify something when you can’t help but be that something? This contends to be a twofold problem: One, people are upset that there are autistic people out there in the first place. Two, they are upset that these autistic people are not going away. These accusations of “glorifying” autism are simply one thing in particular: they are undeniable proof that people have a hate of autistic people because they choose not to understand them. They are willfully ignoring us because of anti-autistic prejudice.

Anti-autistic prejudice has existed since the discovery of autism itself. There is no denying that. What exists around it is that people are willing to stick their fingers in their ears and yell “LA LA LA LA LA” at autistic people, as if they think autistic people have no idea what is going on with them. Why do you not take autistic people at their word? Is it because you are going to find out you might be wrong about us? This inexperienced “expertise” is one of the things most Actually Autistic People hate about Autism Speaks. Yeah, there may be so-called “experts” on the field of autism now, but it is only after an autistic campaign of shame and exposure, and for us, it’s too little, too late. Those neurotypical experts, I believe, come from the same position of autism as most White Americans on the position of Africa. The position is as such: they know what it is, they maybe have seen it somewhere, but have they experienced it? No. Only people who have been to Africa can actually tell you about Africa. Likewise, only people who are autistic can fully tell you about the experience of autism.

So, about “glorifying” autism: this seems to me, as I have said before, a simple sign of trouble with autistic people existing. Why don’t you just say: “We hate autistic people?” I mean, be honest. Isn’t that what you always really wanted to say? Usually, somebody talking about “glorifying” something that simply exists is actually wanting to say how much they hate it. They are saying they do not want to be reminded that it exists. They want it to go away. They hate it. They hate us.

Why do I speak of hate in the “glorifying” accusations? Simple: it is there. Usually, when a “glorifying” accusation is thrown out, it is thrown out at something unpleasant that people want to go away. Here are a few: glorifying drugs, glorifying LGBT existence, glorifying single motherhood; I could go on. What all these things people are supposedly glorifying have in common is this: they are unpleasant to some. What these accusations of glorifying do not do is help. They simply drive these unpleasant things underground, where they can thrive in the fertile ground of secrecy. We need to talk of unpleasant things. No, we are not glorifying that.