cognitive abstractions

The effects of Rain Man, I think.

Mind you, there are things I liked about the movie.  But Rain Man is the only thing I can think of to blame for what happened to me when I was looking for housing in Isla Vista, California.

I answered an ad in the paper that was for a room in a woman’s house.  I would live in that room and there were some stipulations but nothing I couldn’t handle.

She found out, somehow, that I was autistic.

Suddenly, she said, and this is a near quote:

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I have a three-year-old child.  I can’t have you compromising his safety.  You’ll have to find somewhere else to live.”

Just because I was autistic.

I’m sure I could have pushed back somehow, legally, but when you’re trying to move into someone’’s house, it doesn’t feel like legal action is going to make the relationship between you and your housemate particularly good.  So I went ahead and sought housing elsewhere.

This was the year 1999, I was 19.  There was not a lot of representation of autism anywhere.  But somehow, somewhere, she must have seen the scene in Rain Man where Raymond reveals that the reason he was put into the institution was because he’d accidentally hurt his baby brother while trying to give him a bath.

(And don’t get me started on the way, at the end, they manipulated his language disabilities to make it sound like he didn’t understand the choice he was making to stay out of an institution.  That scene was so triggering I can barely think about it, because I’ve literally had agency workers do similar things to “prove” that I couldn’t understand decisions I was making, and it’s horrible.  They’d also deliberately provoke me into meltdowns or shutdowns in order to score points against each other in games of office politics.)

Anyway, I can’t think of any other autism movie or media portrayal in 1999 that would have given the impression that simply because I was autistic, I could not be trusted around a small child.  

These days, of course such portrayals are a dime a dozen.  You can hear that we are mass murderers, and violent, and that we kill our parents, and that we can’t be trusted around anyone at all.

And this is why it’s important to do things about media portrayals.  They aren’t some kind of abstraction that hangs in the air and has no effect on reality.  They squirm their way into people’s brains, and then people make life-altering decisions based on them.  I wonder how many autistic people have been made homeless due to Rain Man alone, let alone the rest of these portrayals that came along later.

When we discuss media portrayals, we should discuss their real, concrete consequences.  We shouldn’t just discuss why they are wrong.  We should say “This makes autistic people have trouble securing housing.”  We should talk about what portrayals would have the opposite effect, and how to make sure that autistic people can get housing, can avoid homelessness.

And this isn’t true just with media portrayals.  This is about everything.  Where possible, there should be concrete examples of how a people is harmed by an issue and concrete examples of what would help.

It’s fine if specific people are incapable of coming up with concrete examples.  We can’t all do everything.

But when you have an organization like ASAN or something, that is doing public service announcements and other stuff?  Super important to include concrete examples of the effects of the idea in everything.  It’s important for lots of reasons.  It shows people why things are important.  But it also makes it cognitively accessible to a lot of people who can’t simply sit around debating abstractions.

I’ve had conversations with Ari Ne'eman that left me with my head spinning and a horrible headache afterwards, and left the only other autistic person in the room with the same symptoms.  It is not his fault that he communicates in a highly abstractified way a lot of the time.  Some autistic people communicate like that, there is nothing wrong with it, and I am not trying to say there is.

But in an organization that he runs, he should be turning to ‘translators’ for support.  He should be finding people who can understand his highly abstractified ideas without dizziness or headaches.  And then he should be getting those people to translate his ideas into concrete examples that  just about everyone can understand.  I’m sure he’s doing some of this already, or ASAN would not be the success that it is.  But when I think of them doing work on media portrayals, I’m thinking of an area where it’s very easy to get abstract, to talk about ideas and principles, but to forget the human beings that are at the heart of the problems created here.  

So when you discuss media portrayals of autism, be sure to discuss those in terms of actual people affected by them  and then discuss how we are affected, and then discuss better portrayals, and then discuss how those better portrayals will help those of us already affected.  Always, always always, begin and end with real consequences and real human beings.  

Because that’s the whole point of everything – people are the only point of doing any of this.  If there’s a point for you that is more important than the people affected by these ideas, then you really have to think hard about why you’re doing this.  Plus if you get into the practice of communicating that way, by alway tying things back to real people and concrete examples, fewer autistic people will end up with migraines every time they try to discuss ethics with you.  :-P  

I understand, truly, that not everyone can do this on an individual level. I can’t always do it on an individual level.  But on an organizational level, it should be policy that someone somewhere makes sure these things are communicated in a way that most people will understand, and that focus people on the real people who are why the issues matter in the first place.

Beth Greene Lives - my thoughts

The Beth Greene Lives tag gives me life. 

And I was also ruminating on the theories all these GENIUS fans have put forth.

Detractors, however, raise the rebuttal “It’s not possible/unrealistic to survive a gunshot to the head!”

Well, quite honestly, survival after a gunshot to the head depends mostly on physics and luck. 

Does everyone remember Gabrielle Giffords, who in 2011 took a bullet to the head? And SURVIVED? Let’s talk about her case for a moment. The bullet that the gunman fired into Gabrielle Giffords’s head entered the back of her skull on the left hand side and exited at the front.

Look familiar? Although Beth’s gunshot entered the forehead and exited the back of her head, and I believe the bullet path stayed in a straight line or even upward slope rather than downward slope for Beth, the injuries are quite similar. 

One of the neurosurgeons had this to say about Gifford’s injuries: “If [the bullet] had gone lower down into the brain and damaged the areas that affect respiration, then she would have died immediately. I understand that, since she is obeying commands even before surgery, the bullet didn’t traverse that area of the brain.”

We know that Beth’s gunshot wound was distinctly higher than Giffords’, so there’s no chance in hell of damage to lower parts of the brain. A very, very good sign. 

(Taken directly from the website) The main cause of death at the scene of a gunshot wound is usually blood loss – if a bullet goes through important blood vessels and there is not enough time to stop the resulting bleeding, for example.

Look me in the eyes and tell me that this amount of blood would result in death by blood loss or is even indicative of a bullet hitting a major blood vessel/artery. Like c'mon. Not even close. That floor would be FLOODED. It isn’t.  

HOWEVER, if the victim survives the initial blood loss, the problem then becomes the increasing pressure inside the skull. “The blood supply to the brain reduces but also the blood which is coming out of the vessels causes pressure within this confined space of the skull,” said the doctor. “And, if the bullet itself goes through the brain structure, there is a massive inflammatory reaction, so you get a lot of swelling in the brain and that’s another big cause for death.”

Beth would need medical treatment. She would. 

“The major reasons for fatalities are really to do with the fact that the brain lives inside a confined box called the skull and, if pressure increases within that confined box, that’s what’s going to really lead to death,” said Masud Husain, a clinical neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery in London.

So Beth would need medical treatment. Um, literally where are the survivors just coming from? This fact would support the theory that maybe something happens while leaving the hospital/area surrounding the hospital in 5x09 and Team Rick having to leave Beth’s body because she is ‘dead weight’. And perhaps they cover her with leaves or foliage or something, which would maybe shield her from walkers or whatever the threat is? And then either people from the hospital find her and help her, or ever better, Morgan finds her and tries to get help at the nearby hospital when he sees that there are actual people in there. 

Just because it appears like a burial/funeral is happening in 5x09 does NOT mean there’s a body. It could be a pseudo-funeral. In memory. No body. It’s happened before on the show. 

I want to scale back a little bit to the injuries a gunshot wound to the left hemisphere of the brain could inflict. The left hemisphere in most people is responsible for language, cognition and abstract thought. The back portion also contains the occipital lobe, where visual information is processed for the right-hand field of view. 

Visual info….right hand field of view….um. UM. UM. UM. Who was shot in the face, lost his RIGHT EYE and a portion of his skull? CARL. Now how uncanny would that be, and eerily similar to the comics, if one of the after effects is Beth losing vision in her right eye???

And to finish off my contribution to #TeamDelusional, where could TWD writers, producers, and etc have Beth shot and make EVERYONE believe she was truly dead while also ensuring that one of the other survivors didn’t shoot/stab her in the brain so she wouldn’t come back as a walker? That’s right, in the head. Literally the ONLY PLACE this would work. 

Well thanks to everyone who reads this and when I gather up more info I’ll try to make another post. We have faith, and it WILL pay off. BETH GREENE LIVES!!!!!