Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Random neurodiversity stuff:

  • I once had a T shirt made that said " Autism: it's not like you think". Nobody seemed to get it. of course, I didn't wear it very much, because even though the color (oatmealy natural) and size (small) were right, the neckline was so high and small that I felt a bit claustrophobic, like I was on the verge of being strangled. Kind of ironic that I did not attend to my own sensory issues while ordering a neurodiversity T shirt.
  • The autism end of the neurodiversity movement has been hijacked by "autism awareness" groups, most of which seek to "cure" or eliminate us or to force us into conformity at any cost to our own identity and personal well being. For example, Autism Speaks does not allow anyone with autism on it's board, nor in any position in its organization. This may have changed...I will look into it. How the fuck can they call themselves "Autism Speaks" when their very agenda is to silence us? They don't allow/listen to any criticism/feedback/input from people on the autism spectrum. They are in fact the very antithesis of their (poorly chosen!) name. And, also last I heard, they are in support of a prenatal test for autism spectrum disorders.
  • I have mixed feelings about the prenatal test (which is not a reality, but a goal in the minds of some groups). There is something very close to eugenics about it, particularly since it probably would not filter out mildly, barely there autism spectrum from solidly in the thick of it auties. I don't think any of us should be eliminated, nor do I adhere to the notion that people such as myself, who can pass for normal most of the time, are superior to so called "low functioning" autistics.
  • "Low functioning". What a slap in the face. Who is to say that these people are low functioning? Functioning poorly at what? At what the neurotypical experts think they should be functioning at? I am pretty sure that these people are functioning far more highly at things which the experts are either unaware of or completely insensate to.
  • Moreover, how much of it is the environment that the autistic people are in? Fluorescent lights, for example, drove me nuts in school. Between the humming and the constant flickering, I could hardly focus on my schoolwork. Describing how these lights make me feel is difficult, but aside from the noise and visual effects, there is something else...something toxic about them. They make me feel less together, less mentally organized, less able to think and cope well. And don't even get me started on Walmart....half an hour in that place renders me numb, overwhelmed and dazy. But my point is....if these people who are accused of not functioning well were in a place without artificial light, without constant noise (as opposed to sound) and generally toxic surroundings....they would "function" better, cope better, than they do when assaulted in almost every sensory way imaginable. This is not their/our fault. It is the time and society we are living in. It's toxic to us all, but some of us are more sensitive to it than others.
  • There is a fellow spectrumite, young, who comes to the library. He regularly has meltdowns and flips out. I have seen him in places that are not inundated with fluorescent lights and his behavior is so different there that at first I was shocked that it was the same child. It might not be the lights...but it could be.
  • I have been talking about this with my (ostensibly normal) friend/lover, who detailed a number of highly irritating sensory items. There are a lot of people who have issues with the overly aggressive, intrusive sensory assaults in our world. Now imagine being much, much more sensitive to strobe lights, very high pitched sounds, obnoxious perfumes (Axe! yuck!), etc, and being told that it is your fault and that you have to learn to deal with it because the world isn't going to change to suit you. Is it our fault that as people become increasingly insensitive and benumbed by their surroundings, the advertisers, etc ramp it up to still get a response, at the expense of those who are not dead to the world?
  • I hate hate hate those autism puzzle ribbons. I hate the idea that we cannot be understood, that we don't have a voice to explain our ways of being if only people would listen...which we do, that we are so poorly put together that our pieces don't fit or make a real picture. I hate even more that very well meaning, kind and autism advocacy minded people put these ribbons on their cars thinking that this is some kind of a positive gesture towards people on the autism spectrum, an emblem of support. The infinity ribbon, is what is generally used by people who are actually on the spectrum. Can you imagine what an uproar would ensue if a group of people whose goal was to test for -with the goal of aborting- anyone prone to developing breast cancer, were the ones who were designing and displaying the breast cancer ribbons, while the people who actually had breast cancer used an entirely different symbol??? That would not fly. The infinity ribbon has no puzzle pieces (unless normal people hijack it). It clearly shows us as we see ourselves, a color on the spectrum of humanity, not a piece out of place, a continuous spectrum wherein no color or section is inherently "better" than another one. This symbol is positive and empowering....and hardly ever seen. Here, by the way, is the website on which I found the image I linked to. "Unpuzzled" it. :-)We are not puzzles. We are people, like anyone else.

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