Abby's Neurodiversity Blog

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It has been a long time since I've posted. For that, I apologize. A lot has been going on, including: my dog is sick, my mom is moving, my 20th birthday took place, my aunt flew down for a visit because she's having family issues, and to make matters worse Autism Speaks has started showing their obnoxious advertisement durning my Star Trek: Enterprise re-runs.

Star Trek, science fiction in general really, is always trying to tackle social issues, one of them being predjudice. They always have outlandish futuristic scenarious, involving some new predjudice, that are meant to be analogous to historical or current events. I was watching one such a program this past week.

I like to analyze shows, and nit pick any thing that doesn't seem realistic.

I was thinking "That's very not realistic. I'm fairly certain that if anything with such blatantly obvious parallels to Nazi Germany, or segregation; people would take notice. I think that far into the future we'll have learned our lesson. Some of these shows would almost make one believe it's a never ending cycle.

So, there I was feeling optimistic about humanity's future and thinking that the notion that as soon as one form of intolerance get resolved society will always automatically turn its predjudice on some other segment of the populations was wrong.

And on came the Autism Speaks ad. Well, it made the show seem a little more believable at least...

Anyhow, Autistic Bitch From Hell, wrote an entry about the fact that Here!, a gay and lesbian television network started running the ad, too:

I think it's pretty unfortunate, also quite ironic. I wrote an e-mail to Here!, this is what it said:

"It has come to my attention that Here! is now going to be running ads from Autism Speaks.
As an autistic person, I'd just like to express that this is deeply disappointing. I'd think if anyone could understand the plight of the autistic community, it would be members of the gay community.
Autistics are now in the same situation gays and lesbians were in 50 years ago. We are being marginalized, classified as broken or diseased, and having people attempt to cure us of being who we are(not only that, but wasting time and resources trying to eliminate individuality, when their efforts would be better spent trying to cure actual devastating epidemics such as AIDS or cancer) .
There is nothing wrong with being autistic. We think, feel and perceive the world differently; but difference, individuality, is not a disease. I would hope Here! could realize that.
In a deeply disturbing turn of arrogant, hypocritical irony; we may not receive any empathy from America's Premium Gay Television Network.
We are, nonetheless, here. We are autistic. Get used to it."

I was thinking perhaps if more people wrote such it might be beneficial. I wrote an e-mail, though I think perhaps hand written might be better. Their e-mail address is on their sight, I'll try to find their snail mail address and post it here later, but for now my mom's roommate needs the computer.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Prenatal test for autism.

This is really, really disturbing to me. It's depressing, it's infuriating. It's depressing in one respect to consider the prosepct of the genocide of autistics, and at least as much to consider the extent of human prejudice this represents.

I like who I am. I like the way I perceive the world. I like the way I experience things. I'm glad I exist. Someday I will die and that unnerves me. The only real consolation is, human kind will continue.

That the future for human kind may be one where diversity is not embraced, a world from which people like me are excluded, and a world where individuality is squelched, that's depressing.

I sincerely hope we are not the last generation of autistics. To eliminate an entire group of people, and ensure the nihility of that groups enire future progeny, is unfathomably lamentable. An entire way of thinking and being, a part of what makes humanity what it is, destroyed. People not being aloud to exist simply because they are differnt.

Well, what if the situation were reversed? What if I were so deplorable a person as to pass judgement on my child before he's even born?

What if I get pregnant, and prenatal test my unborn child for autism, and just terminate the pregnancy if I found out I were pregnant with an NT child, and decide right off the bat, I don't even care to meet that person and I just don't even think he should be born?

I wouldn't do that. I'd love my kid for whoever he/she was no matter what. I would want him/her to be happy, and care for him/her no matter what kind of neurology he/she had.

Well, I don't think this prenatal test business is going to blink autistics out of existence. Autism is genetic. There are multiple generation autistic families who are perfectly content to be themselves. But still the idea, the bigotry, the thought that this is even happening, and the lives that doubtless will be lost over this, is disgraceful.

Anyhow, humanity thrives because of it's diversity.

Face to face communication is less necessary with the advent of computers. In many jobs, good memory, and attention to details are more useful than motor or social skills. Expertise in highly specialzed scientific and technological fields are more prevalent now than ever before.

The fact that humanity includes individual differences, is why our species is so strong.

But, things are getting really serious now. How can humanity be strong, and united as a species, when some expressly disqualify others from their definition of personhood?

We are all human, and all of humanity deserves equal respect, but if some want to exclude and segregate us what can we do? Someday, in the future, people will give up archaic prejudices, and except others for who they are.

Until then, I guess all we can do is at least take care of eachother as best we can, try to raise awareness and gain acceptence. The whole thing is just very sad. Humanity dissapoints me sometimes.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

On monday, All Things Considered on National Public Radio did a piece on Autism. "Autism movement Seeks Acceptance, Not Cures". It can be listened to here:

This show made some very good points. One of which was the arbitrary nature of labels like "High Functioning" and "Low Functioning". It is arrogant that some proclaim themselves high functioning and deem others low functioning, and generally based on things as trivial as when/if a person develops spoken language, or how a person communicates.

I'm very glad that this side of the story is finally getting recognized. The side of the story that says that we like the way we think, we don't need to be cured, and what we need is acceptance.

In other news, unfortunately, the other side of the story has been getting more coverage as well. The side of the story that basically propagates the belief that autism is worse than death. I'm sure most have already heard about how Autism Speaks recently made a video they called "Autism Every Day".

I watched it, and it litterally made me feel ill. A mother of an autistic girl talked about how she would have killed herself and her autistic daughter if not for the fact that she also had a non-autistic daughter. She said this right in front of her autistic daughter. While holding her daughter on her lap.

"Autism Speaks"(which is a gross misnomer as the group is lead by non-autistics speaking on our behalf, as fervent supporters of a "cure"), has also recently made a television commercial.

What is this commercial about? It shows a little girl dancing around, singing twinkle twinkle little star. Then it says that a child's chance of being in a broadway show is 1 in 10,000 but their change of getting diagnosed with Autism is 1 in 166.

And went on about how that makes finding a cure important.

I was sitting there watching, thinking "OK, so we're more likely to be autistic than on broadway...and?" There are a lot of things people are a lot more likely to do than go on broadway. I don't know if the little girl singing was supposed to be autistic or not, or what having autism has to do with being on a broadway show, but it was a stupid commmerical.

For one thing, what's so terrible about getting diagnosed? 100 years ago, they wouldn't have gotten diagnosed with autism. But not because they didn't have it, just because doctors weren't so obsessed with parcing out people's individual differences and diagnosing them as diseases back then.

Autism Speaks preys on people's fears, because as soon as somone hears something like "diagnosis", they panic.

Once, when I was little, my mom was at a group for parens of kids with learning disabilities, and one woman, who's little girl had just gotten diagnosed, was crying, and carrying on about it. My mom told the woman "It's just a label. She's the same little girl she was last week." This realization alone greatly consoled the woman.

Basically, Autism Speaks just needs to shut up, and stop spreading mass panic.

A good point made on the show by Jim Sinclair was this:
"What the rest of the world needs to know about autism is that it's not something that can be separated out from the person, it's part of the person,' explains Sinclair. 'And so you cannot meaningfully say I love my child but I hate the autism. "

Monday, June 26, 2006

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In loving memory of Katie McCarron.

A beautiful, wonderful, happy little girl, who was murdered by her own mother(, at the age of three.

The story ran in the Chicago Tribune on June 9, 2006. I first found out about it the other day, while at my favorite neurodiversity blogger's site:

Katie's mother, trusted and loved by Katie and entrusted with her care, put a plastic bag over Katie's head, and suffocated her to death. There is no excuse for that. Katie's mother claimed that she was trying to "end her daughter's pain" because Katie was autistic. Katie was not in pain.
Here's what Katie's grandfather had to say about it:

"I would like to say something about Katie. Some newspapers have reported that this was done to end Katie’s pain; let me assure you that “Katie was not in pain”. She was a beautiful, precious and happy little girl. Each day she was showered with love and returned that love with hugs, kisses and laughter. Katie loved music; she would fill in some of the words in children’s songs as my wife would sing along with the CD that would be playing, their own version of “karaoke” . She liked to dance, she loved to do the “hooky poky”. She loved being in among flowers and tall grass. She would say “I like grass”. She enjoyed the zoo and because of all of the drills and flashcards she could identify the animals. Which I thought was pretty amazing for such a young child. She was also the only little child in her non-autistic play group that could identify an octagon. My wife and son had a party for her the day they heard that from the teacher."

She only barely got to experience life. The murder of Katie is tragic and inexcusable.
Although, Katie's mother may have had reason to believe she might be able to commit this attrocity and escape justice:

But, Katie's loving grandfather will not except Mrs. McCarron's attempt at justifying this attrocity. How could anyone stand for it?

Here are some more links I found about the tragedy, and with some of Katie's Grandfather's commentary.
I can't even express how sad a thing Katie's untimely death is. How terrifying it must have been for her, for such an act to be committed by her mother, whom she loved and trusted.

The world is a sadder place now that she's gone. Katie did not deserve to die.

Katie deserved a mother who would take good care of her. A mother who would tell her "I love you for who you are. You are my daughter, and you are perfect and beautiful to me in everyway." She deserved a mother who would laugh with her when she was happy, and comfort her when she was sad.

Katie deserved a chance to experience more of life. She deserved more days of visiting the animals at the zoo. More trips to the mall with her grandmother, and days of sitting among the tall grass she so enjoyed. She deserved more days to laugh, and play with her dolls, and to continue bringing light into the lives of the people who loved her.

Katie's mother should have loved her unconditionally. Instead she chose extinguish the precious gift that was Katie. To put a plastic bag over her head, and suffocate her trusting little girl to death.

I'm so sad about what happened to Katie. But still, I'm glad that she existed. I'm glad that she got to experience life, and see those animals in the zoo, and sit in that tall grass. But her time here was far to short. I only wish that the world that she lived in, could have been one where it was not dangerous for her to simply exist. I wish that it could have been a safe world for Katie to live in and be who she was. I hope someday, it will be such a world.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

This is my first post. I suppose it would be appropriate of it to be an introduction, and the best introduction would be an explaination of why I created this blog in the first place. I am trying to create a blog about nerodiversity and autistic rights.

I'll try to summaraize, which I'm not entirely good at, but here is a brief outline of what lead me here:

First, parents, teachers, and doctors thought I was odd.

Next, I got diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.

Next I had some bad experiences with a corrupt education system, and ignorant doctors and medications and things(despite the fact that I have loving, supportive, well meaning, albeit occasionally misguided, parents for whom I am very grateful).

Next, I declared that there wasn't anything wrong with me, and therefore I couldn't have anykind of whatever this whole autism thing was.

Next, I read about it, and said, "Hmm. OK, yes. I suppose I do have that. But, I can't see how there's anything wrong with it. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, and they seem to be medicalizing individuality. I like myself the way I am. Is there anyone else like me who feels this way?"

Then, I got online, and discovered that I was not the only one who felt this way about it, and that there are many people who think like me, and who feel the same way about it, as I do.

The internet is where the other half of the story is told. Not the story that doctors, teachers, and parents sometimes try to push on us, that we are actually suffering but just don't know it; but our side of the story. That these differences in the way we think, and in the way we perceive, are not wrong. Our individual minds, and our minds alone are who and what we are. And, I have long held that if I was "cured" of the way I think, than I, would cease to exist. Altering the very core of what makes someone who they are, keeps them from existing, and replaces them with someone new, and thats a kind of death, so it just wont do.

Anyhow, I've come accross some excellent blogs, my favorite one being Autistic Bitch From Hell: .

And, I've also discovered that a lot of people who claim to be trying to help, are actually causing a lot of harm, such as a lot of doctors, and a lot of non-autistics on the internet who think they know what is best.

I'm often taken aback at how some people claim to care about autistics but say such hateful things about/to them, such as calling them a bitch, or saying they are mentally dead/better off dead.

I've also discovered many tragedies and injustices that I hope to do something about. There have been many instances of autistics being murdered, and often their murderers are not brought to justice:

In addition to that, cruelty and medical negligence against autistics goes unpunnished all the time, and is often even condoned by the law.

I was talking to my step-mom about the Katie McCarron case, and other senseless murders and how I wanted to be able to do something about it.

She recommended to me, that I change my major from geology, to either law or special education, and eventually become a lobbyist for autistic rights. She noted I was much more passionate on the subject than geology. I proposed the idea to my dad.

He said he couldn't see why he'd never thought of it before. He said I would be uniquely qualified as a special education teacher, having had experience being in the system myself. That, my students and I would both learn differently, and therefore I would be ideal for teaching them.

Also, that I have had some bad experiences in special ed, my father has even fought the school system on my behalf and for that I am very thankful. If I were a special education teacher, I could right some of the wrongs in the system today, treat children like people, not like dammaged goods which can't learn, and need to be warehoused where no one will see them.

He also noted that, being a special ed teacher with a focus on autism would make me a qualified expert on autism, that in addition to being on the spectrum myself, would help me on my way to becomine a lobbyist.

My step mom is a lawyer, and ever since she married my dad, she's been taking all the cases involving autism. My step-mom told me that she is aware of a group called "Bikers against child abuse." They are a group of motorcyclists which gives support to abused children, and sometimes attends trials. She said that I should form a similar group, to support the rights of autistics.

So, that is, in short this is where I am and how I got here.