• Me:*Points at a character* Well, they're autistic
  • Other people:No please...you're fetisishing, romanticising a very serious condition...everyone is allistic, please don't make us think about you
  • Me:*Points at character* Love that autistic character

Appreciation for all the Autistics out there who have executive functioning problems/issues with processing, remembering and organising information and as a result often feel like they frustrate others and themselves.

This is a PSA: If you are allistic you do not get a say in anything that has to do with autism.

You get to shut up and listen to autistic people. Period.

It doesn’t matter if your child is autistic, or your nephew or your sister or ANYONE else. If you yourself are not autistic you don’t get a say.

You also do not get to speak over actual autistic people and say “Yeah but my *insert relative here* is actually autistic and isn’t like you and they really struggle!”

Guess what? We do not struggle because we are autistic. We struggle because of our environment and our needs not being met. Odds are that if the autistic person you know has a hard time it has nothing to do with their autism and everything to do with the people and stimuli around them.

So stop trying to speak for us and over us and shhhhh.

Listen to us. We’ll tell you what we need and how to help us and whether or not what you’re saying/doing is offensive to us. We get to decide what we’re capable of and if we feel like you’re respecting us properly.

"But what if the person in question is nonverbal?" I hear you ask? Well, allistic person, that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of communicating. There are many ways to communicate other than verbally and they still reserve the right to speak for themselves. You are not "their voice", it is not your job to speak for them. Sit down.

If anyone ever expresses that they do not want to talk to you or be touched
  • Please take this seriously (no they don’t want you to jokingly poke them)
  • Understand that what may not seem like a big deal to you can be perceived very differently but no less genuinely by them. 
  • Understand that although sometimes they may be willing to be talked to and touched by you or others at other times, this is not always the case.
  • Don’t be offended, they’re not trying to be rude and it’s usually not personal.
  • You should never touch someone who doesn’t want you to anyway.

Respect personal and social boundaries. 

US colleges and universities need to do better at meeting the needs of disabled students.

This is a link to an amazing 5 page article on being disabled in college. I can’t recommend it enough. It shows just how pervasive ableism is and how difficult it is to attempt college when you’re disabled. It shows that we’re not respected or welcome at US colleges in a lot of ways. In Europe, it’s a different story entirely.

After reading this, Rachel and I had a talk about me possible doing my PhD in England instead of the US, since I have a much better chance of success there. It’s sad that the US puts all the stress on the disabled to change and act more normal when other countries put the stress on society to work with the disabled and be accepting.

Again, please read and share this article. This is the best I’ve seen on the subject, hands-down.

anonymous said:

I know functioning labels are ableist, but I haven't been able to find anything on why that is and you seem to be really in the know. Could you give me some links or your opinion on the matter? That'd be awesome.

Ok so functioning labels are this weird idea that the autism spectrum is a line in which some people are at one end and some are at the other.

It’s assumed all those who are ‘high-functioning’ are verbal, good at communicating, not very sensitive, not too attached to routines, and can basically pass as allistic

whilst it’s assumed that those deemed ‘low functioning’ are the opposite

now in reality we are all a mix, for instance I’m mostly verbal but need to adhere to routines, I go into a monotone when tired and need fluffy animals to cope, I can sometims communicate effectively and sometiems make animal noises and flap

the reality is as some others have said its more like a buffet of different traits where we all have a very different mix and those ‘functions’ or traits fluctuate throughout our lives or even our days

and what functioning labels do to us varies on what you get labelled

those labelled ‘high functioning’ will be denied resources and assumed to be independent, they will be punished and chastised for struggling with anything and may be told they’re faking for attention when stimming or such

those labelled ‘low functioning’ are infantilised and assumed not too understand, they are given help even when it is refused and often are granted very little agency and bodily autonomy

so yeah, that’s a basic run down of what they are and why they’re wrong hope it helped!

Can I just say that autistic people are adorable? Seriously, how fricken cute are we? (Answer: Very.)

If I see you stimming I can guarantee I’m thinking “Wow, what a cutie pie”.

Same goes for when we awkwardly avoid eye contact with each other.

Don’t even get me started on infodumping, I will be flapping my hands while listening to you and thinking “Oh gosh they know so much and also how adorable are they oh wow oh wow”.

(Image caption: In a study of brains from children with autism, neurons in brains from autistic patients did not undergo normal pruning during childhood and adolescence. The images show representative neurons from unaffected brains (left) and brains from autistic patients (right); the spines on the neurons indicate the location of synapses. Credit: Guomei Tang, PhD and Mark S. Sonders, PhD/Columbia University Medical Center)

Children with Autism Have Extra Synapses in Brain

Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is due to a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Because synapses are the points where neurons connect and communicate with each other, the excessive synapses may have profound effects on how the brain functions. The study was published in the August 21 online issue of the journal Neuron.

A drug that restores normal synaptic pruning can improve autistic-like behaviors in mice, the researchers found, even when the drug is given after the behaviors have appeared.

“This is an important finding that could lead to a novel and much-needed therapeutic strategy for autism,” said Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at CUMC and director of New York State Psychiatric Institute, who was not involved in the study.

Although the drug, rapamycin, has side effects that may preclude its use in people with autism, “the fact that we can see changes in behavior suggests that autism may still be treatable after a child is diagnosed, if we can find a better drug,” said the study’s senior investigator, David Sulzer, PhD, professor of neurobiology in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pharmacology at CUMC.

During normal brain development, a burst of synapse formation occurs in infancy, particularly in the cortex, a region involved in autistic behaviors; pruning eliminates about half of these cortical synapses by late adolescence. Synapses are known to be affected by many genes linked to autism, and some researchers have hypothesized that people with autism may have more synapses.

To test this hypothesis, co-author Guomei Tang, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at CUMC, examined brains from children with autism who had died from other causes. Thirteen brains came from children ages two to 9, and thirteen brains came from children ages 13 to 20. Twenty-two brains from children without autism were also examined for comparison.

Dr. Tang measured synapse density in a small section of tissue in each brain by counting the number of tiny spines that branch from these cortical neurons; each spine connects with another neuron via a synapse.

By late childhood, she found, spine density had dropped by about half in the control brains, but by only 16 percent in the brains from autism patients.

“It’s the first time that anyone has looked for, and seen, a lack of pruning during development of children with autism,” Dr. Sulzer said, “although lower numbers of synapses in some brain areas have been detected in brains from older patients and in mice with autistic-like behaviors.”

Clues to what caused the pruning defect were also found in the patients’ brains; the autistic children’s brain cells were filled with old and damaged parts and were very deficient in a degradation pathway known as “autophagy.” Cells use autophagy (a term from the Greek for self-eating) to degrade their own components.

Using mouse models of autism, the researchers traced the pruning defect to a protein called mTOR. When mTOR is overactive, they found, brain cells lose much of their “self-eating” ability. And without this ability, the brains of the mice were pruned poorly and contained excess synapses. “While people usually think of learning as requiring formation of new synapses, “Dr. Sulzer says, “the removal of inappropriate synapses may be just as important.”

The researchers could restore normal autophagy and synaptic pruning—and reverse autistic-like behaviors in the mice—by administering rapamycin, a drug that inhibits mTOR. The drug was effective even when administered to the mice after they developed the behaviors, suggesting that such an approach may be used to treat patients even after the disorder has been diagnosed.

Because large amounts of overactive mTOR were also found in almost all of the brains of the autism patients, the same processes may occur in children with autism.

“What’s remarkable about the findings,” said Dr. Sulzer, “is that hundreds of genes have been linked to autism, but almost all of our human subjects had overactive mTOR and decreased autophagy, and all appear to have a lack of normal synaptic pruning. This says that many, perhaps the majority, of genes may converge onto this mTOR/autophagy pathway, the same way that many tributaries all lead into the Mississippi River. Overactive mTOR and reduced autophagy, by blocking normal synaptic pruning that may underlie learning appropriate behavior, may be a unifying feature of autism.”

Alan Packer, PhD, senior scientist at the Simons Foundation, which funded the research, said the study is an important step forward in understanding what’s happening in the brains of people with autism.

“The current view is that autism is heterogeneous, with potentially hundreds of genes that can contribute. That’s a very wide spectrum, so the goal now is to understand how those hundreds of genes cluster together into a smaller number of pathways; that will give us better clues to potential treatments,” he said.

“The mTOR pathway certainly looks like one of these pathways. It is possible that screening for mTOR and autophagic activity will provide a means to diagnose some features of autism, and normalizing these pathways might help to treat synaptic dysfunction and treat the disease.”