not every person with a learning disability is autistic

Okay unpopular opinion time.

As somebody who knows a blind-from-birth person, it’s kinda pissing me off that people are acting like the Doctor going blind is tragic. It might suck for him for awhile because he’s not used to living that way, but ffs if he’s taught how to do things the blind way as opposed to the sighted way and borrowed other people to be his eyes when vision is necessary then not much would have to change.

If the Doctor can memorize a map in a few seconds, I doubt it’d take him long to learn just about every form of Braille or raised reading material for blind people all over the universe.

Imagine if the TARDIS made him a sonic white cane that could do all the cool stuff his sonic screwdriver could do and more. Imagine it having a “homing” signal where the cane will gently tug him back to the TARDIS if there’s danger or if he gets ‘lost’ on an adventure. (And imagine him having to resist it and be all “be quiet, you!”)

Disability doesn’t have to be tragic, y’all.

–posted by an autistic person who headcanons the Doctor as autistic.

As somebody who has an autistic relative, I can’t help get angry when people “headcanon” autism on characters like it’s some kind of cute personality quirk and not a serious learning/social disability.

I love my brother to death and I would never change him for my own sake, but his life would be so much easier if he wasn’t autistic.

Please don’t treat the condition like some kind of trope, or use it as some kind of “special snowflake” token for fanfics.

If you’re going to write about it at least do your research. Not every autistic person has major sensory issues with sounds/textures/foods.

anonymous asked:

hi! i'm autistic and have problems understanding speech as well as speaking. is it okay for me to learn/ use sign language, or identify with HoH?

Hi,

anyone can learn sign language! :) Lot of autistic people use it, as far as I know, as well as people with other disabilities.

As for your identity, nobody but you can decide how you identify. Hard of hearing is a term that is usually used for people with hearing loss. If your problems with understanding speech come from auditory processing disorder or from something similar, that’s not quite the same thing and not every deaf person would welcome you into community. Its… complicated issue, sadly and I can’t tell you “yes you can” or “no you can’t”. In the end, its up to you.

Also, @andreashettle has lists of blogs who do have APD! :)

Hope that helped,


Mod T

anonymous asked:

How can you love acotar (which has its issues) but choose to completely ignore a series that was written by the same [wonderful] writer? How are you an acotar blog when you repeatedly hashtag antisjm? I know it is almost impossible to capture disability, but if you gave tod a chance, you'd seen that it is done well. Not AMAZING, but she can't focus wholly on disability in a fantasy-based series. Being paralyzed is a war of its own. I know this. But it isn't THIS war.

I…..Don’t love acotar. I’ve blogged frequently about my disappointment and flat out disgust in some cases about acowar. But even if I did love acowar, and even if I did love tog as well, actually, that doesn’t preclude me from making anti posts that point out the very real and valid flaws that both series have. 

There seems to be this idea, especially in this fandom, that you either love a thing with your entire being, and pointlessly defend it against seriously valid criticism from groups of fans who are being actively hurt by the things in the books, which are to be honest, constructive for a writer to hear, especially if they’re writing/representing minorities in a group they do not belong to, invalidating those fans and causing more harm….Or you hate the thing and everything about it and spend your weekends in the back garden burning sjm books in cult rituals. 

The truth is, there’s good in these books, and bad in these books. They aren’t wholly awful, but they aren’t wholly brilliant either. I can, and have in the past, appreciated the good things the books have done. Now I’m increasingly finding that the bad things outweigh the good, and if I want to talk about that on my own personal blog, I have every right to do so. 

It’s not “impossible” to capture disability; not if you actually put in some effort and listen to disabled people. Writers can learn and grow from criticism (a good example in this case is brandon sanderson. Who, in the past, wrote an autistic character who was, much like Chaol, magically “cured” of his disability. There was an outcry from the autistic community, which was not shut down by either the fandom or the author. He listened. He acknowledged that he had done wrong. and he did better. His portrayal of autistic characters in his books is insightful and one of the best I’ve read) 

This is the biggest problem here. SJM’s fandom, and SJm herself, bleat continually about the mitigating circumstances, ‘it’s her book, she can do what she wants!’ over and over and over again. If I pick up my knife, and ram it into someone’s chest, and cause them pain, even if it is my knife and my choice with what to do with it…I have still harmed another person and I should listen to them when they say that, apologise, and be more careful with my goddamn knives in future. (A little bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point) 

Just because an idea or a story or a figment of someone’s imagination was dreamed up by them, it does not mean other people don’t have the right to comment on it and criticise it. SJM’s books don’t exist in a vacuum. If she was writing them purely for herself, and they were never seen or read by another soul except from her, you’re damn right, she can do whatever she likes. Her book, her fantasy, her choice. 

When that book is published however, when it goes out into the world, when people pay for it and consume it and are affected by it, good or bad, it no longer belongs to her, and it no longer matters what she wanted to write, or how she intended it. What matters is that the things she’s writing are damaging. To real people. Who have real lives and real feelings just as much as her. Why does she get absolved of any potential wrongdoing just because it’s her idea? 

People’s ideas have the potential to hurt and harm other people, and when they do, they should be criticised and called out and challenged so they don’t keep doing it over and over and over again and profiting from it

“ but she can’t focus wholly on disability in a fantasy-based series.” listen pal, SJM took an entire 700, or however long ToD is, vacation from her fantasy-based series….to write an entire book focusing on a character with a disability. You’re telling me she can’t focus on that now? And also, I’m sorry, but the implication that a disabled character will somehow slow down, or get in the way of, her grand fantasy series is really fucking gross and isn’t something I’m even going to respond to beyond ‘fucking no’. 

I don’t….Even know what to do with that last line, I really don’t. All I’ll say is, if a writer includes a story about a disability, or anything similar, if they aren’t prepared to put in the work, the research, the page time, and do the damn thing properly, maybe they shouldn’t be writing it in the first place. 

I realized on the drive home today…

Julian Bashir was the first time I saw someone with a mental disability (or any disability) say that they had lost something by becoming normal. He was the first character to implicated that being neurodivergent was actually good enough. Yes, he was “made better” (I headcanon him as still on the autism spectrum also autistic in the first place fight me) but he was horrified by what they did to him, what they did to their child, just because he was different. When the other “treated” characters showed up, he treated them like people–he actually treated every disabled person he came across as people, the whole crew did, no matter how they chose to handle their disabilities or what those were.

Deep Space Nine was the first show I saw that didn’t imply that I was somehow amusing or broken for being learning disabled, and I’m just realizing how important it was to hear that at 15.

(I will be posting this on my facebook on April 2. Let me know if I should add anything.)

Time for some real autism awareness, and not any of that “light it up blue” bullshit.

  • The consensus among the autistic community is that Autism Speaks is a hate group. If you want to know why, just google “what’s wrong with autism speaks”. Some examples are their videos “I Am Autism” which makes autistic people seem like burdens, and “Autism Every Day” which features a mother talking about wanting to murder her autistic daughter. If you want to actually help autistic people, you should support Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
  • Light It Up Blue and the puzzle piece are not supported by the autistic community.
  • Contrary to popular belief, most autistic people prefer “autistic person” over “person with autism”. Autism is something we are, not something we have. You cannot separate a person from their autism. The only time “person with autism” should be used is when they specifically ask to be called that.
  • The number of people diagnosed with Autism is not “shocking”. We exist. Get over it.
  • There aren’t more autistic people now. Those who are autistic are just more likely to be diagnosed now.
  • Most autistic people do not want to be “cured”. We want to be accepted, not removed from the gene pool. The struggles involving autism are caused by how society treats autistic people, not by autism itself. A non-autistic version of an autistic person would be a completely different person. Curing us would be like murdering us and putting someone else in our bodies.
  • Even if a cure was possible, it would most likely be very dangerous. People have tried bleach to cure autism, and that doesn’t even work. If a cure actually did work, one can only imagine how dangerous it can be with society still accepting it.
  • Functioning labels do not help autistic people. They just label us based on how well we can pretend to not be autistic. Instead, state a person’s needs directly (nonverbal autistic person, autistic person who also has a learning disability, etc.) Many autistic people can’t be put into a category because they fit some characteristics of being high functioning and some of being low functioning. Also, unlike the autism condition itself, a person’s functioning label can change over time.
  • It’s commonly believed in the autism community that autism affects all genders equally. Women/girls are just severely under-diagnosed.
  • Autistic people are just as diverse as non-autistic people. Not every autistic person is going to remind you of that one autistic person you know.
  • For a detailed scientific explanation of how vaccines cause autism, go to howdovaccinescauseautism.com. 
  • Even if vaccines did cause autism, you must really hate autistic people if you’re willing to expose your children and any immune deficient children to deadly diseases in order to prevent autism.
  • You are not an “autism family” unless your entire family is autistic. Actual autism families exist.
  • You’re allowed to think that an autistic person is annoying. Just know that we’re allowed to think you’re annoying too.
  • “I didn’t know they were autistic” is not an excuse. Do not make fun of anyone for being different in a way that’s not hurting anyone else.
  • Do not accuse someone of faking a disability. The harm caused by a person faking is much less than the harm caused by a person being wrongly accused of faking. Not all disabilities are visible. Not all disabled people fit the stereotypes. Not all disabled people have been diagnosed.
  • Do not dare someone to do something, pretending that people will like them if they do it, then laugh at them when they do it. Autistic people can’t read your mind and won’t know whether doing something will cause people to like them or think they’re weird.
  • It’s okay to be surprised to find out that someone is autistic, but don’t compliment someone by telling them that they don’t seem autistic. It implies that being autistic is bad.
  • Do not use “autistic” as an insult.
  • Saying “talk to people” as advice for how to make friends is like saying “write numbers” as advice for someone who needs help in math. It’s just about as vague as you can get. If your advice cannot be taken literally (meaning that it’s possible to do something wrong while technically following the advice), it’s bad advice.
  • Say what you mean. Not everyone can understand subtle hints and hidden meanings.
  • Don’t expect something to come natural to everyone just because it comes natural to you, even if it actually does come natural to most people.
  • Talking to people does not come natural to everyone. Not knowing how to talk to people is different from being shy or being afraid of rejection.
  • If someone says that they’re unable to do something, the correct response is to help them find something similar that they are able to do (or maybe they’re okay with not being able to do it and don’t need your help at all). Do not just say “yes you can”. It’s not a compliment. It’s not reassuring. It’s just denying their personal experiences and making them feel like no one understands them. 
  • If someone tells you about a problem they have, don’t say that everyone experiences it. They know that’s not true. 
  • Positive stereotypes are still harmful, because they erase those who don’t fit the stereotype.
  • Autistic people are not all math geniuses. (I just happen to fit the stereotype.)
  • If we try to be funny and end up offending someone, we’re expected to stop and apologize. You should too. Do not say “I was just kidding” and expect a free pass. In many cases “I was just kidding” is code for “Normal people consider what I did funny, so you should shut up and accept it.” If you make fun of someone as a joke, that person must be your target audience. If you make fun of someone to get laughs from someone else, you’re just being a bully.
  • There is nothing “rude” about wanting to be left alone, not wanting to talk, or not making eye contact. 
  • Do not assume someone is lying to you just because they don’t make eye contact or they don’t maintain a straight face.
  • Do not post videos online of your autistic child having a meltdown.
  • Do not defend parents who murder their autistic children. I don’t even know why that has to be said.

anonymous asked:

I was wondering if you could go in depth about autistic people who need help doing cretin things like going to the bathroom,washing hair, remembering to eat, ect. You don't really hear about that much I and I would like to learn more about people with autism who have trouble with task that for most people are 'simple'. I often forget to eat/drink because i don't notice I'm hungry

Hi anon. This is a very big topic that is difficult for me to write about here, seeing as how every autistic person is different and will have different disabilities and difficulties.

There are lots of daily tasks that neurotypical and able bodied people tend to think of as simple or easy but that can pose real challenges for autistic, neuro-atypical, and disabled people. Many of these are what is known as “self care skills”. Personal hygiene (brushing ones teeth, showering/bathing, dressing, etc.) and basic homemaking (preparing food/meals, cleaning counters and sinks, sweeping/vacuuming, maintaining a tidy living environment, etc.) make up most of the “self care skills” people talk about.

There is a stigma surrounding those who, for whatever reason, need assistance or accommodation with self-care skills. This is partly because of a lack of understanding or empathy on the part of the able bodied/neurotypical majority. The able bodied/neurotypical thinking appears to be something like, “I learned to brush my teeth when I was four, and I have never had any trouble brushing my teeth, so idea of someone who does have trouble brushing their teeth is confusing/pitiable/unbelievable to me”.

I think another part of the stigma is that many of the self care skills people talk about were “supposed” to be learned and mastered in childhood. The able majority is all about the normative milestones, and there is a definite link in the average able/neurotypical person’s mind between the mastery of self care skills and adulthood. This means that disabled people who struggle with or who need accommodation to perform self care skills are often infantilized and presumed to be less competent overall, even in areas where they display no disabilities or challenges.

When it comes to autistic people specifically, there are many reasons that self care, like showering or remembering to eat or drink, might be difficult. In my mind the three biggest reasons are sensory processing issues (SPD), executive function issues (executive dysfunction), and comorbid conditions (other disorders or conditions that are also present).

Keep reading

...when you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.

“The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit the views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.” -Doctor Who.

(That quote can also double as the TL;DR version of this post, with the caveat that this doesn’t just apply to powerful and stupid people, to some extent it applies to everyone, and I’m not trying to call people stupid for doing this.)

Anyway, I was originally going to write this as a reply to a particular thread. But the more I think about it, the more I think that, again, it’s best to describe it in general terms. In this case, because I don’t want to inadvertently cause anyone to dogpile someone who wasn’t intending any harm. (Not that I can singlehandedly prevent dogpiling any more than I cause it even when it’s done in the name of something I’ve written. But I can try, when I notice the problem could happen.)

So… There’s a thing that happens a lot.

I’ll describe it in terms of something I see frequently, over time. I haven’t seen it recently, but mostly because I haven’t looked places I know I’d see it. I know it happens all the time. Because I’ve been watching it happen for years over and over and over again. So it’s a good example, because it’s incredibly common but I’m not singling anyone out in particular.

Anyway, it’s like… Where people want something to be true so badly that they – probably without even realizing it – bend reality until lots of very true things get denied as not true at all.

So… The example:

Lots of times when autistic people online encounter a parent who says their child is nonspeaking and non-typing. The autistic person outright assumes that the parent has never given the child the opportunity to learn to communicate through typing. It can be “You’ve never provided your child with a communication device” or “You’ve never given your child FC training” or “You’ve never given your child. RPM training” but the assumption there is that the parent hasn’t tried, because if the parent had tried, they would have found out that their child could in fact use a communication device using language even if they couldn’t speak. Or sometimes they assume that they could use picture symbols even if they couldn’t use words.

And what gets lost in the mix here is that there are autistic people in the world who can’t type, can’t speak, can’t use words of any kind, and can’t use picture symbols either.

This doesn’t mean they don’t communicate, mind you.

But it does mean that communication is going to be really difficult, and possibly is always going to take the form of having at least one person familiar with the person’s unique mode of communication, serving as an interpreter. And that method is always going to leave a lot to be desired, to put it mildly, although it’s better than nothing.

Mind you – I don’t ever automatically believe anyone who says, of another human being, “He will never speak,” or “She will never type.” Nobody knows what a person “will never” do, and I’ve known people who learned speech or typing at a point when they were well into – or even past – middle age already! Nobody could have predicted when they would be able to learn those things.

And I never believe someone who says that someone else doesn’t communicate, because that always reflects a narrow understanding of what communication means. (Including the idea that all communication is words, or all communication is a deliberate attempt to share information. Although I also don’t believe “all behavior is communication”, either in a literal or non-literal sense, which is often used as a sort of knee-jerk retort to “So-and-so doesn’t communicate”. An understandable knee-jerk retort, but not an accurate one.)

But I do know that there are people who don’t communicate in standard ways. And that there are people who will never communicate in standard ways – although you don’t know which people they are until they’re dead, because of the inherent inability to predict “will never” for another human being. And that there are people who find communication incredibly difficult, and always will. And that there are people who will never be able to use a communication device of any kind.

I had a good friend who understood the purpose of communication devices, understood what other people were saying and wanted to communicate. But something – and I’m not entirely sure where – had a wire crossed. Because she would pick up PCS symbols and leaf through them frantically, handing you one after another – but randomly, without picking the one that meant what she wanted to say. If there was a communication device present, she would hit the buttons, but also randomly. Facilitated communication training never made her any more able to type or use any form of symbol system. She tried her damndest to use symbols and words, and she just could not do it for the life of her.

And there’s lots of people out there who can’t even punch the buttons randomly or hand you random symbol cards, let alone use them to convey information.

But there’s a lot of autistic people who have various emotional ties to ideas that make it very easy to pretend that people like my friend don’t exist. And I’m pretty convinced most people who have these emotional ties, don’t even notice them, let alone their consequences. Or notice them only peripherally, as a weird sort of tension, fear, anxiety, irritation, or anger, that crops up when they encounter certain topics and situations. It’s not always specifically that they don’t want such people to exist. It’s that the existence of such people is inconvenient to other ideas they hold very dear.

And I say they, but I really mean we, because I’m pretty sure everyone does this at least some of the time about at least one topic or another.

Anyway, what do I mean by related ideas?

Like… With regards to autistic people who can’t speak or type even when given every opportunity to learn. The problem can be a lot of different ideas, and it can be slightly or even greatly different for each person.

Like, one person it can be because they want autism to be largely or entirely a positive thing, and they become uncomfortable when highly negative aspects of autism are brought up.

Another person, it can be because they think that all difficulties disabled people face come directly from society. So if a person can’t type, it’s because they’ve never been given the opportunity to learn, it can’t just be because they really can’t do words in any form and may never be able to.

Another person, it can be a combination of several smaller ideas. Like, they want to believe that all autistic people are intelligent. They believe that intelligence is defined in a certain way that would exclude a person without the use of language. So, they want to believe that autistic people don’t exist who can’t use language – or that if they do, it’s not really because of autism.

Another person, it can be because of a specific, highly negative personal experience that they have with being presumed unable to do something. Like, maybe she herself could not speak or type until she turned 40. When she was 40, her father found out about the Rapid Prompting Method, and enrolled in a class. Her father used RPM techniques to teach her to type. Prior to this, every attempt, whether through conventional teaching of AAC devices or through things like FC, had completely failed, even though her father had never given up on her. Learning to type changed her life so much for the better – and after having so many people give up on her over and over again – that she wants to believe that there is nobody who wouldn’t benefit from the kind of training she had, and that anyone who can’t type is just someone who, like she before she could type, is being underestimated and not given the right chance to prove they can really do it. And after 40 years of being thoguht incapable by most people, and then suddenly being seen as capable, this is totally understandable. But it can still lead to inaccurate and inadvertently damaging conclusions about other people.

Another person could just, rather than initially being heavily attached to an idea, never have knowingly encountered autistic people outside the highly self-selected-for-writing-skills online autistic community. So they have just never encountered autistic people who would never have been able to participate in that community

Another person could see autistic people as all having certain fundamental traits in common (and have this belief be important enough that it would take a lot of contrary evidence to shake it even slightly). And since some autistic people could do language, then obviously all autistic people could do language if given the right motivation and opportunities. This can include an “All autistic people are fundamentally alike inside even if we act very different” mentality. (And yes, some of us are very similar inside even with great outward differences. There are people who are basically walking aspie stereotypes internally, but are unable to speak for other reasons, so they’re not classified as aspies. That happens more than people think. But it’s hardly a universal thing, and sometimes people look very different because they genuinely are very different. And sometimes people who look very similar on the surface are actually incredibly different. But this is all getting into another topic entirely.)

And there are autistic people who are very afraid of the idea that autism needs a cure, or of the idea that there are autistic people who might actually want a cure. And they believe that if they were to acknowledge the reality of certain difficulties, they might have to concede that there are people who might want, or need, a cure. Mind you, I don’t think it always follows that a person “needs” a cure just because they can’t do something, or that there’s any given type of autistic person who automatically wants or doesn’t want a cure based on their pattern of abilities and difficulties. I’ve known too many autistic people who do and don’t want cures to think that it hinges entirely on abilities – it hinges much more on how people relate to themselves and their abilities. But a lot of people do make that assumption, so to them acknowledging difficulties of certain kinds is like acknowledging that we really do need a cure after all. Or at least it’s like acknowledging that some of us might actually want one. And those aren’t either one of them things the person wants to acknowledge. So easier to pretend some of us don’t exist at all.

And there are autistic people who want to believe that all autistic people could relatively easily take part in the autistic community without major changes being made to how the autistic community operates.

And there are autistic people who specifically don’t want to have to make large changes to how the autistic community operates, so it’s easier to deny the reality of anyone who’d need those changes. (Yes, this sounds a lot like the last one, but they’re slightly different. One is about wanting everyone to be able to participate, the other is about not wanting to have to change. And both can of course happen together, and often do.)

And those are just a few of many motivations that can all lead to people denying the existence of large swathes of the autistic population.

So… In a recent post, I wrote about something entirely in the abstract, because I didn’t want people to get bogged down in any specific example I gave.

In this post, I gave an extremely example because I didn’t want to write yet another post that was so abstract it’d be unreadable to a lot of people.

But I’m not trying to start a debate about autism and communication techniques. I’m trying to describe an important thing I keep seeing people do, that I’ve done myself at various times.

Which is, when people’s ideals tell them that they really want the world to be a certain way. Then when they encounter a piece of the world that is not that way… They find it easier to deny that this piece of the world exists, sometimes quite vehemently, than to acknowledge that maybe the world isn’t 100% how they want it to be.

And sometimes this is mostly harmless. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter In the scheme of things whether you’re right or wrong about the world.

But sometimes it’s incredibly harmful. Sometimes it matters a great deal. And most of the time, you can barely even see that you’re doing it.

But to recognize if you’re doing it… I’d say the easiest way to do so (and it’s never easy, because it always requires confronting things you don’t like about the world)… Would be almost to notice when certain topics cause you to tense up inside in a particular way. Not in an “I’ve been triggered because this is disturbing” way that’s kind of pure in its own way. But a way that tugs on you. It pulls you off sideways at an angle, usually. It makes you feel like you’re off-center. Mind you, lots of things can make you feel off-center. But this does it in a particular way. Where you’re first pulled off-center in a way that causes tension, anxiety, fear, anger, and/or irritation – and then immediately you want to explain to the person why a certain situation actually never happens the way they say it does.

And… Eventually if you look closely enough at your actions and motivations, it’ll become easier to differentiate between, say, irritation and furiously typing that something isn’t true, because it’s actually not true. And irritation and furiously typing that something isn’t true, because you don’t want it to be true (even if it is true). There’s a superficial resemblance between the two, but there are differences. And I can only express the differences in visceral, kinesthetic metaphors unfortunately – the kind that involves a false belief is more likely to feel like you’re being pulled in a weird direction. And it’s also more likely to feel like you’re suppressing something that’s actually real, that keeps coming back no matter how hard you try to make it go away. And there’s more likely to be a sense of defensiveness in your responses.

But it can be hard to tell these things at first, especially because they can all be happening in a split second that’s highly emotionally charged. And because there’s always translation difficulties in even trying to describe this stuff. So there’s always a thing that sounds a lot like what I’m talking about, but isn’t actually like it at all. But time and effort and patience can help a person tell the difference.

It’s worth looking at, though, the moment you very intensely want to say to someone, “Actually, that situation never really happens.” Like, sometimes you might be giving them real information. Other times, you might be saying something completely inaccurate, in defense of an idea you hold dear, that you’re not even aware is being threatened by what the person just said to you. And it can be hard to tell the difference, especially if a little of both are going on. Because it’s also possible to be technically accurate – but with motivations that could just as well have led you to be wildly inaccurate. And it’s also possible to be technically completely inaccurate – but not because you’re strongly motivated to deny reality to protect a belief you’re emotionally attached to. So looking at your motivations doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll Instantly know whether you’re right or not, it’s just a starting place.

But certainly if you detect a strong emotional attachment to an idea, followed by the urge to deny the reality of any idea that contradicts the idea you’re attached to in some way, then it’s good to double and triple check, with an open mind, the accuracy of any of the knee-jerk responses you want to give. And possibly even to try and get underneath the emotional attachment to that idea and do something about it, if it seems to be causing problems in some way

And as I said, I think this sort of thing is on some level about as close to universal as you can get. Because everyone has certain things they very much wish were true, whether they really are or not. And that’s all it takes to get this sort of thing going. It can make you quicker to look at certain evidence over others, quicker to deny certain things, and quicker to believe certain other things. So it can affect you not just when you’re telling people how you think the world works (or ought to work), but also when you’re evaluating how you think the world works. So you might think there’s all this evidence for your point of view, only to conclude after years of this that you’ve been too quick to dismiss even very strong evidence that seems to contradict it, and too quick to grab at even dubious evidence that seems to support it.

And the weird thing? Half the time, whatever idea you’re so wedded to, isn’t actually contradicted by the idea you’re trying so hard to suppress. You can believe that autism doesn’t need a cure, and also believe that autistic people exist who experience really unpleasant things because they’re autistic. You can believe that abortion should be legal, and also believe that fetuses are human. You can believe that euthanasia is wrong (and/or should be illegal), and also believe that there is sometimes pain associated with terminal illnesses that can’t be controlled with modern pain control techniques. Yes, there are always people who will say these things are a contradiction in terms, but they don’t always have to be just because lots of people (on all sides of any of these issues) say they are. So you may discover that it’s not even necessary to drop the idea you’re so attached to, just because you’ve found out that something (which you always thought had to be a certain way in order for your beliefs to be true) is different than you thought it was. And that can be an important discovery as well.

Anyway, I also think that this sort of thing – when taken in large groups of people with similar values – is one of the things that can lead so strongly to the echo chamber effect. Where everyone in a particular community feels like they all have to have certain beliefs about the world, so everyone very strongly polices who is allowed to believe and say what, in that community, and everyone ends up believing and behaving in lockstep with each other in a way that becomes very damaging both to people in that community and people affected by the actions of that community.

When diversity of ideas and opinions tends to enrich any community, even one founded around having certain core principles in common. And when having an entire community deny the reality of actual human beings and actual human experiences, just because they really really really don’t want certain things about the world to be true, can have an even more drastic impact on the human beings in question than having just one person do it. Which is why I wrote this: As much as I fully understand WHY this happens, and believe it to be a very common human failing, I’m really tired of watching entire vast groups of people and experiences handwaved away because someone really doesn’t want something to be true, that is actually true. And while, again, I do think that as individual human beings most people do this from time to time, I also think that there are communities that actively encourage people to do this kind of thing. And that there are plenty of ways to fight the tendency to either do this or encourage others to do it. It’s really much better, for you and for everyone else, to alter your views to fit the facts, than it is to (attempt to) alter the facts to fit your views.

Okay but honestly, the HALT method of detecting what’s wrong and finding a solution to negative emotion has absolutely saved my life and helped me prevent meltdowns and even relapses and it’s something I think every autistic person (if not every disabled person and mentally ill person in general?) should know

The way my therapist taught it to me was, when you feel a negative emotion or are doing really badly for some reason (maybe you’re really low on spoons or you’re really anxious or on the verge of a meltdown or panic attack), there are oftentimes very simple reasons why and it’s useful to learn those reasons and how to combat them.

That seems like really obvious advice, but for many disabled people pinpointing the actual cause of negative emotion or low energy can be tricky. That’s why if you can’t immediately figure out what’s wrong, ask yourself if you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

If you can pinpoint that you’re any of these things, try to find a solution.

  • Eating properly can have a huge effect on both energy and meantal health. If you haven’t eaten in awhile, try your best to eat something. Even something small like crackers or some fruit is good.
  • If you’re angry over something find a way to relieve stress or distract yourself: use a stress toy, write or draw, listen to calming music, watch a show you like, etc.
  • If you’re lonely, call or text someone. Maybe even write an email or letter (even if you don’t end up sending it), or make a few posts on Tumblr or send asks to people.
  • Not having enough sleep can also effect mental health and energy (obviously?). If you’re tired, try to nap!

Obviously these won’t fix long-term problems or anything, like this can’t cure anxiety (but it can help for times when anxiety is particularly bad) and there are some situations where you can’t accomplish the things you’ll need to work the problems out (for example you may not be in a place where you can take a nap). So it’s not perfect or anything.

But it’s really hard for lots of autistic folk (and others, but I’m speaking as an autistic person) to detect the source of negative emotions and we tend to meltdown or “blow up” at even the smallest things during bad times, and if you can step back and get into the habit of asking yourself why you feel bad and work towards finding even a quick solution, like eating some crackers or taking a nap, it can seriously help you so much.

Absolutely Mental | Ian Macks

Two summers ago, my life changed for the better.

From the outside, I was rock bottom. Out of school after a sophomore year where I’ve never felt more depressed or insecure in my life. Lacking acceptance and understanding from my family at the time, I had two options: Enlist or Get a Job. The only jobs I had prior to this time in my life were in the Mental Health field. Since my mom was an Occupational Therapist, the only real in that I had job-wise were through her prior and current jobs. I had worked at her old job, Center for Disability Services, as a Relief Counselor from the summer before my Freshman Year through the summer before my Sophomore Year. I was the youngest person to every work that position at that job, landing it exactly on my 18th birthday.

Here’s the first lesson I learned: People are not born crazy. We have all been victims of this harsh reality one way or another, whether that incident is small or great. During my time at CFDS, I mainly worked with the physically disabled and the autistic. This made me appreciate the little things, things you can easily take for granted in this reality. Waking up, making breakfast, having a read, going on a run. These people couldn’t do that. In fact, they just needed someone to help them get through the day. I can only imagine what it must feel like to be dependent on someone to help me take a shower, go to the bathroom, eat a meal, and take a walk outside.

The weird thing was the whole process left me paralyzed emotionally, at least at that job. My co-workers had no issues helping these people, but you could tell their heart wasn’t in it. They were in it for money to help them pay for school, rent, gas, etc. Legitimate reasons to do a job that pays over 10 dollars an hour right? Yeah, but the people who needed the help could tell they really didn’t give a fuck, and it showed in the way they were treated. They were helping them to help them, they were just doing it to get it over with, get paid and take care of their own bullshit.

Keep reading

(I have previously posted this. This is an updated version. I will be posting this on my facebook on April 2. Let me know if I should add anything.)

Time for some real autism awareness, and not any of that “light it up blue” bullshit.

  • The consensus among the autistic community is that Autism Speaks is a hate group. If you want to know why, just google “what’s wrong with autism speaks”. Some examples are their videos “I Am Autism” which makes autistic people seem like burdens, and “Autism Every Day” which features a mother talking about wanting to murder her autistic daughter. If you want to actually help autistic people, you should support Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
  • Light It Up Blue and the puzzle piece are not supported by the autistic community.
  • Contrary to popular belief, most autistic people prefer “autistic person” over “person with autism”. Autism is something we are, not something we have. You cannot separate a person from their autism. The only time “person with autism” should be used is when they specifically ask to be called that.
  • The number of people diagnosed with Autism is not “shocking”. We exist. Get over it.
  • There aren’t more autistic people now. Those who are autistic are just more likely to be diagnosed now.
  • It is up to each individual disabled person to decide whether their disability needs to be cured. Abled people should not be the ones deciding that. Also, acceptance must come first, because some disabled people may want to be cured only because they don’t know that acceptance is an option.
  • Most autistic people do not want to be cured. We want to be accepted, not removed from the gene pool. Most autistic people believe that the struggles involving autism are caused by how society treats autistic people, not by autism itself. A non-autistic version of an autistic person would be a completely different person. Curing us would be like murdering us and putting someone else in our bodies.
  • Even if a cure was possible, it would most likely be very dangerous. People have tried bleach to cure autism, and that doesn’t even work. If a cure actually did work, one can only imagine how dangerous it can be with society still accepting it.
  • Autistic children become autistic adults. It is impossible for an autistic person to grow out of their autism. We just figure out ways to appear less autistic in order to be accepted, so it may appear that we grew out of it.
  • An autistic adult who hasn’t been diagnosed yet has most likely spent their entire life trying to be normal, which causes their autistic traits to be less visible, so it’s very difficult for an autistic person to be diagnosed as an adult. 
  • Functioning labels do not help autistic people. They just label us based on how well we can pretend to not be autistic. Instead, state a person’s needs directly (nonverbal autistic person, autistic person who also has a learning disability, etc.) Many autistic people can’t be put into a category because they fit some characteristics of being high functioning and some of being low functioning. Also, unlike the autism condition itself, a person’s functioning label can change over time.
  • It’s commonly believed in the autism community that autism affects all genders equally. Women/girls are just severely under-diagnosed.
  • Autistic people are just as diverse as non-autistic people. Not every autistic person is going to remind you of that one autistic person you know.
  • For a detailed scientific explanation of how vaccines cause autism, go to howdovaccinescauseautism.com.
  • Even if vaccines did cause autism, you must really hate autistic people if you’re willing to expose your children and any immune-deficient children to deadly diseases in order to prevent autism.
  • You are not an “autism family” unless your entire family is autistic. Actual autism families exist. You wouldn’t call your family a “tall family” if most of you are shorter than average except for one tall person.
  • You’re allowed to think that an autistic person is annoying. Just know that we’re allowed to think you’re annoying too.
  • “I didn’t know they were autistic” is not an excuse. Do not make fun of anyone for being different in a way that’s not hurting anyone else.
  • Do not accuse someone of faking a disability. The harm caused by a person faking is much less than the harm caused by a person being wrongly accused of faking. Not all disabilities are visible. Not all disabled people fit the stereotypes. Not all disabled people have been diagnosed.
  • Do not dare someone to do something, pretending that people will like them if they do it, then laugh at them when they do it. Autistic people can’t read your mind and won’t know whether doing something will cause people to like them or think they’re weird.
  • It’s okay to be surprised to find out that someone is autistic, but don’t compliment someone by telling them that they don’t seem autistic. It implies that being autistic is bad.
  • Do not use “autistic” as an insult.
  • Saying “talk to people” as advice for how to make friends is like saying “write numbers” as advice for someone who needs help in math. It’s just about as vague as you can get. If your advice cannot be taken literally (meaning that it’s possible to do something wrong while technically following the advice), it’s bad advice.
  • Say what you mean. Not everyone can understand subtle hints and hidden meanings.
  • Don’t expect something to come natural to everyone just because it comes natural to you, even if it actually does come natural to most people.
  • Talking to people does not come natural to everyone. Not knowing how to talk to people is different from being shy or being afraid of rejection.
  • If someone says that they’re unable to do something, the correct response is to help them find something similar that they are able to do (or maybe they’re okay with not being able to do it and don’t need your help at all). Do not just say “yes you can”. It’s not a compliment. It’s not reassuring. It’s just denying their personal experiences and making them feel like no one understands them.
  • If someone tells you about a problem they have, don’t say that everyone experiences it. They know that’s not true. There’s most likely an important detail that you’re missing.
  • Positive stereotypes are still harmful, because they erase those who don’t fit the stereotype.
  • Autistic people are not all math geniuses. (I just happen to fit the stereotype.)
  • If we try to be funny and end up offending someone, we’re expected to stop and apologize. You should too. Do not say “I was just kidding” and expect a free pass. In many cases “I was just kidding” is code for “Normal people consider what I did funny, so you should shut up and accept it.” If you make fun of someone as a joke, that person must be your target audience. If you make fun of someone to get laughs from someone else, you’re just being a bully.
  • There is nothing “rude” about wanting to be left alone, not wanting to talk, or not making eye contact.
  • Do not assume someone is lying to you just because they don’t make eye contact or they don’t maintain a straight face.
  • Do not post videos online of your autistic child having a meltdown.
  • Do not defend parents who murder their autistic children. I don’t even know why that has to be said.

Okay so I’ve thought a lot about how to word this post, because I don’t want it to sound at all like I’m criticizing self diagnosis or accusing anyone of being fake. I just want to point out something I’ve noticed with those who self diagnose with autism that I want to point out that could potentially make you either reconsider your self diagnosis, or it could further solidify that you’re correct!

Anyway, I see lots of the time, those who self diagnose (and those who give resources and info on autism for those self diagnosing), leave out the impact autism has on people as children!

You don’t “become” autistic, so while you may display different traits and symptoms at different parts of your life, you should display some traits all of your life. In fact, when it comes to professional diagnosis, if you’re going in as an adult/teenager a lot of the time you’re encouraged to bring along a family member or childhood friend who can provide information on whether or not you displayed autistic traits as a child.

On top of that, autism is a developmental disability. Lots of the time people who provide resources for self diagnosis or answer questions about it don’t talk about the impact of that aspect of autism. There is oftentimes more to it than simply impaired social interaction & sensory stuff & special interests & stimming. Many, many autistic kids cannot properly communicate, are in speech therapy and have trouble speaking at young ages, many of us cannot tie our shoes until way later in life, many of us cannot read clocks well, many of us are much quicker to start crying in hard situations and be unable to “use our words,” etc.

While I hate the whole idea that autistic people are “mentally younger than they actually are,” it is worth noting that many of us develop slower than allistics or struggle with doing things that allistics have less trouble doing. And some of us never are capable of doing some things, there are definitely autistics that never learn to “speak properly,” there are autistics who never learn to tie shoes, lots of us will at least have periods of time (such as during meltdowns or sensory overload) where we can’t properly communicate, etc etc.

So when looking into whether or not you may be autistic, I really want to emphasize these parts of autism. Some of my earliest memories are sensory overload at Disneyland, having trouble processing emotions and getting overwhelmed at my birthday party, special interests from as young as 3 years old, speech therapy until fourth grade, etc. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability and it will effect every stage of your life, including early childhood!

Obviously not every autistic person is the same and you don’t at all have to fit every single thing I listed, and again I am not criticizing self diagnosis or trying to accuse anyone of faking. I genuinely just have noticed these aspects of autism being overlooked a lot and I really really wanted to bring awareness to this stuff!

If you’re thinking you may be autistic: I hope you figure it out, good for you for trying to learn more about yourself, and be sure to keep these things in mind!!

Literally stop telling me I’m ‘too high-functioning’ to understand people with severe disabilities related to autism.

I’m not even worried about myself when I do advocacy activities.

I’m worried about nonverbal people who will be put through abusive 'therapies’ in order to force them to speak.

I’m worried about people being ignored when medical decisions are being made.

I’m worried about autistics who can’t work, who receive paltry disability checks and whose benefits are slashed if they ever decide to marry another disabled person.

I’m worried about children whose parents are crazy enough to try and use fucking BLEACH ENEMAS on them to 'cure’ their autism and when they grow up and start learning to pass from all the abuse, their parents declare them 'cured’.

I’m worried that the stereotypes of autism, whether they be of severely disabled individuals or of Rain Man type shit, are already so deeply ingrained in our collective mind that if genetic testing is eventually developed, EVERY SINGLE FUTURE AUTISTIC will be wiped out through selective abortion.

I’m not worried about myself anymore. I’m worried about everyone. I’m sickened by the actions of the neurotypical community in the name of 'awareness’. And I’m fighting because I can.