real social skills

Ableist hostility disguised as friendliness

Some people relate to people with disabilities in a dangerous and confusing way. They see themselves as helpers, and at first they seem to really like the person. Then the helper suddenly become aggressively hostile, and angry about the disabled person’s limitations or personality (even though they have not changed in any significant way since they started spending time together). Often, this is because the helper expected their wonderful attention to erase all of the person’s limitations, and they get angry when it doesn’t.

The logic works something like this:

  • The helper thinks that they’re looking past the disability and seeing the “real person” underneath.
  • They expect that their kindness  will allow the “real person” to emerge from the shell of disability.
  • They really like “real person” they think they are seeing, and they’re excited about their future plans for when that person emerges.
  • But the “real person” is actually figment of their imagination.

The disabled person is already real:

  • The helper doesn’t like this already-real disabled person very much
  • The helper ignores most of what the already-real person actually says, does, thinks, and feels.
  • They’re looking past the already-real person, and seeing the ghost of someone they’d like better.

This ends poorly:

  • The already-real person never turns into the ghost the helper is imagining
  • Disability stays important; it doesn’t go away when a helper tries to imagine it out of existence
  • Neither do all of the things the already-real disabled person thinks, feels, believes, and decides
  • They are who they are; the helper’s wishful thinking doesn’t turn them into someone else
  • The helper eventually notices that the already-real person isn’t becoming the ghost that they’ve been imagining
  • When the helper stop imagining the ghost, they notice that the already-real person is constantly doing, saying, feeling, believing, and deciding things that the helper hates
  • Then the helper gets furious and becomes openly hostile

The helper has actually been hostile to the disabled person the whole time

  • They never wanted to spend time around the already-real disabled person; they wanted someone else
  • (They probably didn’t realize this)
  • At first, they tried to make the already-real disabled person go away by imagining that they were someone else
  • (And by being kind to that imaginary person)
  • When they stop believing in the imaginary person, they become openly hostile to the real person

Tl;dr Sometimes ableist hostility doesn’t look like hostility at first. Sometimes people who are unable or unwilling to respect disabled people seem friendly at first. They try to look past disability, and they interact with an imaginary nondisabled person instead of the real disabled person. They’re kind to the person they’re imagining, even though they find the real person completely unacceptable. Eventually they notice the real person and become openly hostile. The disabled person’s behavior has not changed; the ableist’s perception of it has. When someone does this to you, it can be very confusing — you were open about your disability from the beginning, and it seemed like they were ok with that, until they suddenly weren’t. If this has happened to you, you are not alone.

When one of the people we were questioning went out a window, Perkins decided his first move of the pursuit should be to fire his crossbow into the crowd of people out shopping and doing stuff. He hit an innocent young man, so I had to stop to heal the poor kid. There was blood everywhere, and I would have gotten arrested along with Perkins and the murderer if not for Kei’i and her actual real people social skills.

Open letter to sick kids and disabled kids.

Dear sick kids, dear disabled kids,

You may be facing a lot of adults who want to believe that your therapy is fun. You may feel differently. You may not be having fun. That’s ok. You’re not failing. You don’t owe it to anyone to enjoy the things that are happening to you.  

Even if you think the therapy is important, you might not think it’s fun. You don’t have to think that it’s fun. Your feelings are yours, and your feelings matter. No one has the right to tell you how to feel. No one has the right to insist that you think something is fun.

If you don’t think the therapy is a good idea, you have the right to have that opinion. Your parents or other adults may be able to decide what treatments you get. They don’t get to decide what you think, or how you feel. They can’t make things fun by loudly insisting that they are fun, or by making you smile.

It’s ok not to think that your breathing treatments are a fun game. Even if your mask is fish shaped. Even if you put frog stickers on it. Even if you had a lot of fun picking out the stickers. Even if you know that you need it in order to breathe properly. Push come to shove, it’s still a breathing treatment. You are under no obligation to enjoy it. If you’re not having fun, then it’s not fun. Even if people make you smile.

It’s ok if you don’t think a purple hospital gown means that the hospital is fun. Even if you love purple. Even if you put your favorite sparkly heart stickers on it.   Even if you want the operation or procedure you’re having, you don’t have to think that what you’re doing is fun. Even if the volunteers and play therapists are really nice. You’re still in the hospital, and it’s ok to feel however you feel about it.

It’s ok to dislike the tracing exercises your occupational therapist makes you do. Even if she says that they’re really fun and that she loved them when she was your age. It’s ok to think of it as work rather than fun. It’s also ok to think it’s a waste of your time. You are not her, and it’s not ok for her to tell you how to feel. She is not the boss of your feelings, or your likes and dislikes. You are under no obligation to have fun.

It’s ok to dislike singing silly songs with your speech therapist. Even if he tells you in an excited voice all about the great new conversation starter iPad app, it’s ok not to think it’s fun. Even if other kids seem to like it. Even if there are fun prizes for cooperating and smiling. Even if people frown when you don’t seem happy enough. You don’t have to think anything is fun. Your feelings are yours. You don’t owe it to him to like the activities you do, even if he expects it from you.

It’s ok to dislike the sensory diet an occupational therapist puts you on. You don’t have to like being brushed.You don’t have to like weights or weighted blankets.You don’t have to believe that squeezing a fidget toy is better than rocking, and you don’t have to think that chewing a tube makes the lighting and noise any less painful. Your feelings are real. If you like something, that matters, whether or not anyone else thinks it’s important. If something hurts, your pain is real whether or not anyone acknowledges it.

And so on. If you’re sick, or you’re disabled, or you’re both, there are probably a lot of things happening to you that aren’t happening to other kids. It’s ok to have whatever feelings you have about that, even if others desperately want to believe that you think all of it is really fun. It’s ok for you to think that something isn’t fun, even when adults speak in enthusiastic voices, put stickers on things, use fun toys, or whatever else.

It’s ok to think something is fun, and it’s ok to think it’s really not fun. It’s also ok to find something helpful without finding it fun. You have the right to like what you like, and dislike waht you dislike. Your feelings are your own, even if you have to smile to get people to leave you alone. 

It’s ok to like things, and it’s ok to dislike things. You are a real person, your feelings are yours, and your feelings matter. Illness, disability, and youth don’t make you any less real.

anonymous asked:

Just kind of wanted to say that I respect you a lot for not letting writing fic take control of your life, and being completely comfortable with making it clear that your time is yours.

I mean, like I said in that post: I let it rule my for a number of years already. It wasn’t all bad. I made some good friends and built up different skills that helped me in the long run. But it did have an impact on my real world social skills and definitely contributed to some weight gain and unhealthy habits that I’m still trying to fight. 

As I get older, it’s becoming more important for me to disconnect when I can. I work in front of a screen for 8+ hours a day, so I don’t look forward to coming home and doing that for another two hours before I go to bed. I’m tired of using guilt over fic as an excuse not go out and do things, you know? Especially in the summer! I love being outside in the spring and summer. I’ll be more productive in the winter when outside time is limited, I swear. 

You can do more when you remember that you’re disabled.

People with disabilities are often taught the anti-skill of pretending to ourselves and others that we have no disability-related limitations.

Most people (disabled or otherwise) have the related anti-skill of assuming that everyone present has pretty much the same physical and cognitive abilities. (Or, in other words, that no one present has a disability that significantly affects physical or cognitive functioning.) This often leads to the assumption that people who aren’t doing a task either haven’t been told what to do, or aren’t sufficiently motivated to do it.

These two anti-skills can make it very, very hard to solve problems when something goes wrong for disability-related reasons.

This kind of conversation tends to happen a lot:

  • Someone: You need to do the thing.
  • Disabled person: I’m having trouble with the thing.
  • Someone: “Can’t you just do the thing this way that sounds reasonable but is actually impossible for you?”
  • Disabled person: “You’re telling me it’s possible in tones of absolute conviction and are making me forget that I won’t be able to do it that way. Ok, I’ll do the thing from now on.”
  • The disabled person, predictably, fails to do the impossible thing.
  • Someone with an entirely reasonable need for the thing to get done: Why didn’t you do the thing?!
  • Disabled person: I don’t know. I’m sorry, I’ll try harder, I’ll do it from now on.
  • This, predictably, doesn’t work either. 
  • The task doesn’t get done, because it’s impossible to do things that way.
  • In these situations, disability is neither acknowledged nor accommodated, and things end badly for everyone.

Or, to give a less abstract example:

  • Aubrey has severe ADHD. She’s been fired from several jobs for failing to keep track of things and missing key deadlines, and she’s on thin ice at her current position. Blair, Aubrey’s boss, is running out of patience for the problems caused by Aubrey’s overdue work.
  • Blair: Aubrey, you’ve missed several deadlines, and it’s causing serious problems for the team. What’s going on?
  • Aubrey: I’m having trouble keeping track of everything.
  • Blair: Most of us here use to-do lists on our cubicle whiteboards. I’ve noticed you don’t have a to-do list on your whiteboard. Can you do that from now on?
  • Aubrey (who has never, ever used a to-do list successfully): Ok, I’ll start using a marker board and meet my deadlines from now on.
  • Blair believes that everyone can use to-do lists, and has never thought of the possibility that anyone might not be able to.
  • Blair is making a suggestion that from his perspective is completely reasonable and possible. 
  • Aubrey responds to Blair’s certainty, and forgets that her limitations will prevent that from working for her. 
  • She believes, in the moment, that if she tries hard and takes enough responsibility, she’ll be able to use the to-do list and meet her deadlines this time. 
  • Even though that’s never worked before, and there’s no real reason to believe that it will work any better this time.
  • Trying hard doesn’t make disability go away, and it doesn’t make impossible things possible.
  • Aubrey, predictably, fails to use the marker board, because that strategy doesn’t work for her. And she, predictably, gets fired, because the tasks need to get done and she’s not doing them.
  • From Blair’s perspective, Audrey was given a lot of patience, guidance, and multiple chances.
  • Blair has a legitimate need for the work to get done.
  • This is probably going to keep happening, so long as Audrey tries to rely on willpower to solve problems rather than honest assessment of her capabilities.

When others expect us to do impossible things, it can be hard to remember that they are impossible. Particularly if we’re told that they’re easy or that everyone can do them. Especially if we are surrounded by people who are successfully doing the thing.

All of this can be very disorienting, especially if someone whose opinion we care about is angry or disappointed. It can be surprisingly difficult to keep in mind that disability is real.

It’s also crucially important. Agreeing to do something impossible that “everyone” can do doesn’t magically give us the ability to do it. It just sets us up for failure.

We are all much better off if we face reality and spend time doing things that are possible. Everyone else does. It’s well-known that expecting people to do impossible things is counterproductive and demoralizing. Only exceptionally unreasonable employers expect people to lift 300lbs, sprout wings and fly, turn lead into gold, or decrypt 128-bit encryption keys in their heads.

It’s just as unreasonable to expect disabled people to do things that our impairments make impossible. One limitation we share with everyone is that pretending that something is possible won’t make it possible. We are much better off acknowledging reality, working with our brains and bodies rather than against them.

This is hard. Remembering the truth often requires us to fight through shame and disorientation, or to violate serious taboos. No one succeeds at this 100% at the time, but it does get easier with practice. It’s also really, really worth it.

Whenever you are able to stop trying to do an impossible thing through sheer force of will, it makes it more possible to do things. You don’t have to overcome disability to do things that matter. You just have to find things to do that are actually possible, with the abilities you actually have. The things that you really can do are worth doing.

achibikitsune  asked:

heyo!!! Can I have some platonic 2nu fluff headcanons? Because the siblings are cute, pure, and they destroy me.

New Writer up to Bat

- Sometimes, when she was younger, Noodle would wake 2D up during the Holidays by jumping on his bed and shouting random Japanese curse words. 2D would try to fight her off but it would end up in him falling victim to her pleas. He’d get up and make her some burnt pancakes, which she would politely decline and feed them to whatever demons were lurking around Kong studios at the time.

- Noodle never went to school, so she never got any real social skills. 2D would take her to the park and have her interact with the other kids her age, but they’d get kicked out because Noodle enjoyed using the playground equipment for martial arts training, possibly harming a few kids in the process. 2D always told her it was because she was way too cool for regular play parks.

- 2D can’t cook. Noodle would teach him to make some of the traditional Japanese meals she learned how to make in her time in Japan. He mastered ‘Yakitori,’ a grilled chicken meal.

- Noodle got 2D hooked on RomComs, and whenever an s/o of his accidentally quoted a line from one of his favorites, he’d grab Noodle to tell the s/o how good the movie is, but never actually let her say anything as he’d want to interrupt with little tid bits of info.

- Whenever Murdoc was out, 2D and Noodle would build forts in the living room in Kong Studios.

- They have a very complicated secret handshake, which involves several movements that include the leg and the elbow. - Noodle has very bad nightmares about being stranded at sea, and she’ll wake up to find a fidgety 2D standing over her with a mug of her favorite tea and a warm towel to help her sleep better.

Mod B: Here are some HCs i thought of - hope you enjoy :)

Response to a question

Hi. I was wondering if you could make a post regarding parents and specifically, strategies for coping with them. [Parents who don’t acknowledge autism/insert other as legitimate.]

Short answer: it depends. Families are really complicated, and it depends on what the relationships actually are. There isn’t much I can say that is generally true for all children and families.

That said, here are a couple of principles that work for some people:

Some people are never going to accept that you’re autistic, and are never going to understand what that means. For some people, that word is just too loaded, and too unacceptable.

Some of these same people will do what you need, if it’s framed the right way. Sometimes it helps to *not* talk about autism and *not* give any principled explanations, but rather to say things that are more like “I don’t understand. Send me an email and I’ll reply”. or “That restaurant is too loud for me." 

That can work better than things that are more like "I have trouble with loud noises because I am autistic and we often have trouble processing intense sensory input”. Because actually, they don’t *need* to understand or agree with your explanation of what’s going on in order to do right by you. They just have to do what you need in order to interact.

And I’d say also that – first and foremost, learn to say no and make it stick. Asserting boundaries makes a lot of things better, and the more you can establish that you are in control of your life, the better off you’ll be. In some circumstances, your ability to do this can be very limited because of danger – but in just about *all* situations, people will try to convince you that you have less power than you really do. Being mindful of your autonomy and preserving it helps.

Also – one thing that can happen is that people feel like they need permission of families/parents/whoever to think of themselves as autistic/whatever and to seek out help. And, while you might need their assistance for certain things, and while they might have the power to prevent you from doing certain things – you *don’t* need their permission to try to understand the world, understand how your mind and body work, get help, and make your life better. Don’t make their acceptance a prerequisite for doing these things.

How to tell someone off
Sometimes, when people do things that hurt you, it’s a good idea to tell them off and assert forcefully that what they did was not ok. The point of this is not to hurt them or to get emotional satisfaction from expressing anger; the point is about making them stop. Here are some things I think I know about what sometimes works:
  •  Be specific. Tell them exactly what they did wrong, why it was wrong, and what they ought to have done.
  •  Tell them what would solve the problem. 
  •  Don’t use obscene or personally insulting remarks. For instance, it’s usually inadvisable to say things like “Are you fucking kidding me?” or “Doing that is effectively giving me the finger”.  It’s better to say things like “When you do that, it makes it impossible for me and others to participate. That’s not ok”.
  •  Don’t talk about your feelings and don’t allow the person you’re telling off to turn it into a discussion about your feelings. Making it about feelings causes a power shift, and it gives the person an opening to make it a personal or therapeutic encounter. This is not the time to talk about feelings or use I-statements; it’s the time to talk about the specific thing that person is doing and why it’s a problem.
  •  If you’re able to make eye contact, it’s useful to do so in this situation. Not making eye contact in this situation is likely to be perceived as you being ashamed, intimidated, or submissive. Making eye contact is likely to be perceived as you being willing to stand your ground.
  •  This is not about consensual interaction. You don’t need someone’s permission to say no, or to tell them that they are hurting you. (It can be hard to learn to understand the differences between these situations, but it’s really important to be aware that they both exist)

I hate fandoms. They’re ridiculous.

I cannot take anybody who self identifies with ‘fandom’ seriously. Fandom culture is weird, creepy, immature, and obsessive.

Like the things you like, but please just don’t make it weird for other people to enjoy the same things. You know you’re doing your favorite book/show/etc a lot of harm when people are turned off of them because of their fans, right?? I feel so embarrassed when people find out I like Dr. Who or Supernatural (etc)… because they immediately associate me with you absurd assholes. I feel like I can’t fully enjoy something or try to connect with content creators (like going to a convention for instance) without being mobbed my fandom creeps.

I went to a convention ONCE. Strangers hugged me because I was dressed up as their favorite character. Really gross, creepy people touched me, “glomped” me, followed me around, and took photos of me going about my own business. (I guess Senpai fucking noticed me.) I want to enjoy things as much as you do. Life isn’t an anime? Life involves real people and if you haven’t developed real social skills because you have been immersed in the tumblr/fandom cocoon… STOP.

Calm the fuck down. Grow up, and please get a life. Be your own person. It’s so sad that some of you don’t even seem to have your own personalities… you’re just Marvel fangirls™ or Whovians or whatever. You all act the same, think the same, and wear the same unoriginal costumes (see TARDIS dresses) and merch. You have been absorbed by media and you need to go the fuck outside.

anonymous asked:

Recently I found articles about ABA and how it's bad. However, I work at an ABA clinic&we NEVER use punishment (only positive reinforcement), NEVER restrain learners, never speak down to, never yell, etc. The main things we do is reinforce good behavior which for some clients may be going 5 minutes without slapping their self, keeping positive attitude when losing a game, or asking for help. So my question is, have you or any of your friends had +/- experiences with ABA&what do u think a

Okay, so plenty of other people have said this in way more detail and probably way better than I ever can, but I’ve got a little to add as well.

(I am assuming from your wording that you do proper ABA and not “we call it this to get insurance money” ABA.)

First of all, punishment is just the biggest and most obvious problem. There are plenty of issues with ABA which extend beyond that.

The aims tend to be to suppress autistic traits, regardless of whether or not they’re actually harmful. This is psychologically damaging.

Even if the aims are only helpful, ABA teaches compliance, not real social skills. We’re better off learning why Allistics respond in certain ways, or expect certain things (and learning that their way isn’t better than ours), than we are being taught “correct” responses by rote.

(More under the cut.)

Keep reading

On names

Some people have names that other people joke about a lot.

For instance, if you have the same name as a famous celebrity.

Or the same unusual last name.

Or a vaguely similar last name.

Or a name that sounds like a pun.

Or a name that’s sort of similar to a swear. Or a word that sounds like a swear if you’re 7 and aren’t allowed to say real swears.

These jokes aren’t very funny, and they are *especially* unfunny when they’ve been repeated hundreds of times. Anyone with that kind of name has heard jokes about it many, many times, and is probably sick of it.

So if you meet a new person with that kind of name, don’t comment on it, because commenting on it is likely to annoy them and unlikely to do anything good. (But if they make a joke about it, it’s ok to be amused). 

You may be saying that about your student’s parent

Content note: This post is mostly intended for k-12 classroom teachers, but probably applies to other groups as well.

When you teach, it’s really important to be mindful of the fact that people from all walks of life have children. 

When you say something about a particular group of people, you may be saying it about a student’s mother, father, or parent. It’s important to keep that in mind when making decisions about how to discuss things. (Including things that it’s 100% your job to teach your class about).


When you express an opinion about a group of people, your student may hear it as “I think this about your mother”, “I think this about your father”, or “I think this about you and your family.” Don’t forget that, and don’t assume that you will always know who is in the room.

It’s worth speaking with the assumption that there are people in the room who know a member of the group you’re talking about personally. When you’re working with kids, it’s worth speaking with the assumption that this person might be their parent or someone in a parental role.

This is important whether what you’re saying is positive, negative, or neutral. If you speak in a way that assumes that what you’re saying is theoretical for everyone, it can make it very hard for a child to whom it is personal to trust you. And you can’t assume that you will always know a child’s family situation, or that you will always know how a child feels about it.

For instance:


  • Many parents are in prison, have been imprisoned in the past, are facing trial, are on probation, have been arrested, have been accused of crimes, have been convicted, are on house arrest, are facing some other kind of court-ordered punishment or similar.
  • Many parents are police officers, prison guards, judges, prosecutors, probation officers, or in a related role.
  • Many parents (and children) have been the victims of violent crimes. (Including crimes committed by police officers.) Some children may have lost parents this way.
  • All of these people are parents, and most of their children go to school.
  • Some of their kids may be in your class, and you may not know this.
  • Even if you do know about the situation, you probably don’t know how they feel about it.
  • Kids have all kinds of feelings about all of these things (including, often, complicated mixed feelings).
  • If you want to talk about prison issues, crime, justice, legal reform, or any of that, it’s important to keep in mind that whatever you say about one of these groups of people, you may be saying it about a student’s parent.
  • And that you don’t know how they feel. 
  • Speak in a way that gives them space to have opinions, and to be both personally affected and part of the class.
  • If you say “we” and mean “people who aren’t personally connected to this issue”, kids are likely to feel that you are distancing yourself from them and their parents.
  • It’s better to speak with the assumption that what you’re saying applies to the parents of one of your students, and that they may have complicated thoughts and feelings about this.

Similarly:

  • People of all races have children of all races. When you say something about a racial group, you may be saying it about a student’s parent.
  • People with all kinds of disabilities have children. When you say things about disabled people or disabilities, you may be saying it about a student’s parent.
  • (Including blind people, deaf people, autistic people, people with intellectual disabilities, wheelchair users, people with conditions that usually shorten lifespan, and every other kind of disability).
  • When you talk about teenage pregnancy, keep in mind that some students may have parents who were teenagers when they were born.
  • People of all political opinions, including abhorrent opinions, have children. When you say something about members of a political group, you may be saying it about a student’s parent.
  • People who work at McDonalds have children. When you talk about McDonalds workers and people in similar roles, it’s extremely likely that you’re talking about a student’s parent. (Especially if you teach in a public school).
  • Many people who do sex work have children. If you say something about strippers, porn stars, escorts, phone sex operators, dominatrixes, or whoever else, you may be saying it about someone’s mother, father, or parent.
  • People of all faiths and ethnicities have children (who may or may not be raised in their faith). If you say something about a religion or its followers, you may be saying it about the parent of one of your students.
  • And so on.

Being more abstract again:

  • People from all walks of life have kids, and you may be teaching some of their kids.
  • Keep that in mind.
  • Whatever you say about a group of people, you may be saying it about your student’s mother, father, or parent.
  • If you speak about it like it’s an abstract issue that couldn’t apply to anyone in the room, it’s likely to be really alienating.
  • This is true even if what you say is positive or sympathetic.
  • Kids need to be seen and acknowledged. If you speak as though they’re not there, it gets harder for them to trust you.
  • When you speak about a group of people, speak with the assumption that at least one student in the room has a parent who is a member of that group.

(To be clear: I’m not saying don’t talk about these issues. Sometimes it’s 100% your job to talk about these issues. What I am saying is, keep in mind that it may be personal, that you may be talking about a student’s parent, and that you won’t always know that this is the case. Taking this into account makes it possible to teach everyone in the room.)

tl;dr When you’re teaching, keep in mind that the kids in your class probably have parents, and that you don’t know everything about their parents. Their parents may come from any and every walk of life. Keep this in mind when you talk about issues and groups. You may well be talking about a student’s mother, father, family, or parent. 

We're just like everyone else — and we're also different

In some ways, people with disabilities are just like everyone else. In some ways, we are very different. Both sides of that matter. Bad things happen when either is overlooked.

We are different from everyone else in that our bodies work differently. Most people have bodies that can do certain things. Our bodies can’t do all of the things that most other people can do. That matters. Being blind means something. Being d/Deaf means something. Having an intellectual disability means something. Being autistic means something. Having a mobility disability means something. Fatigue means something. Depression means something. The way we move, communicate, think, and perceive the world matters. Thinking about the differences created by our disabilities allows us to think about how to live with them — and live well with them. These differences do not need to be cause for alarm — we’re just people, and we’re part of the world, just like everyone else.

We are just like everyone else in that we are human beings. Our bodies are important. We experience pleasure. We have feelings. When people hurt us, we feel it, and it matters. Injustices against us are important, and we have the right to resist. We learn for our whole lives. If we survive to the age of adulthood, we become adults. When we wrong people, it matters. We are able to love. We can reciprocate relationships, consideration, and efforts. And any number of other things. Basically, we are people.

We are different from nondisabled people in that we can’t assume that we will be treated as equals in any context. Few, if any, spaces are designed with the assumption that we will be present, or that our presence is important. A school with a wonderful reputation for supportive friendliness may be aggressively, or subtly, hostile to students with disabilities. A movie theater may not bother to unlock the accessible doors, or may not have accessible doors at all. Airline policies may make travel impossible. People who say they are our friends may see us as charity projects, possibly with the encouragement of teachers or therapists. Or any number of other things. The daily toll of unmet access needs adds up, especially when the barriers are unnecessary, especially when they could be easily removed if anyone cared to do so.

We often can’t even assume that our humanity will be recognized.  In our culture, we are surrounded by people who think that disability makes us less than human — sometimes even within disability community. Sometimes it’s subtle, and sometimes it’s blatant. Many of us grew up subjected to therapy that would have raised outcry if it had been done to a typically developing child. Any number of books and movies raise the question of whether death is better than disability. 

Conversations about disabled people often do not include us, and often do not even recognize that we have perspectives of our own. When disabled people are murdered by caregivers, the murderers often get more sympathy than the victims. Ethicists with tenure debate whether disabled people ought to be allowed to be born, whether medical treatment for people with disabilities is a good use of resources, and whether we’re really people after all. And so on. The dehumanization adds up, too.  Even when we are treated well, we live with the knowledge that people just like us are not. 

We are fully human, and it is wrong to treat us as subhuman. In that sense, and many others, we are just like everyone else. We are also different. We are physically and cognitively different from other people, and those differences are important. We are also treated very differently from others, and that experience is important too. All of these things shape who we are, and the skills we need to live well. Glossing over disability does not serve us. We can get a lot further if we are matter of fact about all of this, and face these realities honestly. 

Tl;dr People with disabilities are just like everyone else in some ways. We are different from everyone else in some ways. We are the same in that we are people. We are different in that our bodies work differently — and in that others treat us as subhuman. All of these things matter.

We are people

When I see a picture of someone who looks like me, it’s usually illustrating a tragic or demeaning story.

Sometimes it’s a picture of a child, illustrating a story about how difficult life is for parents of autistic children. Or a story about how the child’s favorite thing got turned into therapy. With depressing bullying statistics.

Sometimes it’s a picture of an adult, illustrating a story about how difficult life is for parents of autistic children once their kids reach adulthood. Or a bleak story about unemployment statistics. Sometimes it’s a story about a special business or sheltered workshop for autistics that the parent is proud to say their child is involved with. With depressing unemployment statistics.

Sometimes it’s a story about how an autistic person has a special talent. Maybe they’re an artist. The story is always about how mysterious and beautifully tragic it is that autism sometimes gives people special abilities along with significant impairments. The story will not take them seriously as an artist. It will be a human interest story about autism, and no art experts will be quoted — but the headline will probably say “autism does not define him.”

This gets corrosive. It can make the world seem bleak and hopeless. It can be hard to remember that this isn’t an accurate way to describe us. That we are, in fact, more than that.

In real life, we’re people, and we do things. We do things besides be miserable or be inspiring. We have thoughts and attributes that are not convenient to the tragic plots of newspaper articles. We’re people. We do real things. And we matter.

I am not a tragic story; I am not an illustration. I am a real person. And so are you.

History and the difficult process of learning to tell better stories

Studying history well enables people and cultures to tell better stories, and to change in ways worth changing. This is difficult on a number of levels.

In order to learn things worth knowing about the past, we have to ask good questions, and we have to make an effort to find the real answers to those questions.

The basic premise of historical scholarship is that in order to know what happened in the past, you have to check. You may not find what you expect, and you may not like what you find. But what you find will be worth knowing, and it will inform your understanding of the present.

In historical research, anything can be questioned, and any question may well have an unexpected answer. In order to make a claim about the past within the rules of history, you have to do several things:

  • Explain what your claim is.
  • Reference evidence that supports your claim.
  • (Ex: documents that have survived from the period, artifacts, diaries, graves, laws, TV clips, junk mail, angry letters, hats, etc)
  • Make an argument about why your evidence supports your claim.
  • Reference other arguments, and explain why yours is a better explanation of the evidence

For instance:

  • Say, many historians argue that nobles in the year 500 in Hypothetical Country commonly kept implausible hounds.
  • Their evidence for this is that many nobles kept diaries that reference implausible hounds in great detail.
  • Their diaries also reference business transactions that we have independent evidence occurred. 
  • You don’t think implausible hounds exist.
  • You might argue that: we have lots of laws from that period, including livestock laws. None of them reference implausible hounds. 
  • We have found discarded animal bones for every animal referenced in the attested livestock laws. No one has ever made a credible claim to have uncovered the skeleton of an implausible hound.
  • These diaries also contain accounts of the authors’ encounters with dragons, and no one cites this as evidence that dragons actually existed.

People may be convinced by your argument, or they may not be. People may make counterarguments. They may argue in favor of positions that no one has ever taken seriously before.

For instance, people who are convinced that implausible hounds existed may start arguing that dragons also existed, making arguments along the lines that:

  • The diarists describe their own implausible hounds using very similar language to their horses and other domestic animals.
  • They describe dragons in very similar terms to lions and other dangerous wildlife. 
  • We know from many sources that they raised horses and that lions posed a threat to people and livestock.
  • The diaries also describe unicorns and flying hippopotamuses, and they use very different language to do so. No one claims to have personally encountered or raised one of these animals, it’s always a friend-of-a-friend or an elderly relative’s parent.
  • If dragons and implausible hounds were mythical, they would be described the same way as other mythical creatures, but they’re described in the same way as other real animals.
  • Many buildings were destroyed as a result of the unprecedented forest fires of 1000, including the courthouses that held most of the agricultural legal records. 
  • Given that we know so many records were destroyed, there’s no reason to assume that existing legal documents described all domesticated animals and all dangerous predators.
  • It’s generally agreed that implausible hounds were no longer kept after around the year 850, so it’s unsurprisingly that no new implausible hound laws were passed after the fires of 1000.
  • The dragon problem could also have resolved by then. We know that increased human population, agriculture, and improved weapons caused the extinction of several large predators.

As more investigation is done, researchers may turn up evidence that calls more things into question, for instance:

  • People who argue seriously that dragons existed search archives closely for dragon-related materials — and find some laws restricting dragon-hunting.
  • Or petitions to the king asserting that the local lord was neglecting his duty to provide adequate dragon-proof roofs.
  • A dig at a previously unexplored abandoned farm uncovers an unfamiliar animal skull that may be from an implausible hound.
  • Or a discarded merchants’ log listing dragon scale inventories and sales.
  • These documents and artifacts may be found to be a fraud, they may be found to be genuine, or there may be legitimate arguments to be made in both directions.
  • Or: Newly uncovered diagrams in a clearly authentic diary may have drawings of the animals called “implausible hounds”. 
  • The drawings look like horses and not canines, and look similar to drawings explicitly labeled as horses.
  • Many historians start arguing that “implausible hound” is how people referred to particularly good-tempered horses.
  • Or: There may be evidence discovered that dogs were unknown in Hypothetical Country until 1200.
  • (For instance, there may be records of foreign merchants importing hunting dogs in 1200, sparking a decades-long contentious theological and legal controversy about whether it was blasphemous to domesticate a predator.)

If people care enough to investigate the issue of implausible hounds, dragons, and life in Hypothetical Country, there’s probably a reason they care about it personally. That means that what they uncover may have implications that they don’t like, or have trouble assimilating into their worldview constructively.

For instance, implausible hounds, and the story of their past, may be greatly culturally important, maybe with this kind of story:

  • Implausible hounds allowed the nobles to oppress everyone else.
  • They were vicious attack dogs, and no other people were permitted to own dogs.
  • Eventually, the common people courageously disobeyed these laws. They started raising their own dogs, for protection and companionship rather than attack and oppression.
  • The nobles tried to crack down on the peasants and their dogs, but failed because of the fundamental truth that a man and his dog are not easily separated. (And that these days, we understand the importance of including women in dog culture.). 
  • Resistance aided by dogs showed us that it is possible to rebel and win if we stick together, and led to the greater democratization of society.
  • This story is regularly referenced by preachers, politicians, teachers, writers, and just about everyone else.
  • In this context, uncovering evidence that implausible hounds may not have existed or may not have been dogs may feel deeply threatening.
  • People who make this argument may be seen as unpatriotic or immoral.
  • But even if implausible hounds didn’t exist, the country does.
  • And it has a real past, and some of what it believes about itself is true.
  • It can become more true, as it incorporates better understandings of what descriptions of implausible hounds meant
  • And where the cultural importance of dogs came from
  • And what role that played in democracy.
  • There are probably important truths in the stories about dogs and democracy, even if parts of them aren’t true
  • Learning what really happened doesn’t have to break the stories, but it does have to change them.
  • This doesn’t happen overnight, and can be difficult and uncomfortable.

More generally speaking: Historical evidence with unexpected implications can be threatening to your identity, values, or understanding of your culture. Most cultures have deeply held cultural believes about the past. Often, the best available evidence contradicts these beliefs. It can be very difficult to engage with both your culture and your understanding of the evidence at the same time. It’s also possible, and important.

Studying history involves emotional skills as much as it involves academic skills. One of the skills you need to do history well is to learn how to care more about understanding what really did happen than you do about believing the stories your culture has taught you. You don’t have to reject your culture to do take historical evidence seriously, and you don’t have to stand alone. You can learn these truths, as a member of your culture and tradition, and incorporate what you learn into your cultural self-understanding. This involves learning to construct a new kind of identity that can adapt to accommodate changes in your understanding of the past.

This is hard, but it gets easier. And it’s absolutely worth it.
The real past is much more complex and amazing than the imagined past. Learning about what really happened and how we got here can give us a much deeper understanding of who we really are. Seeing nuance in the past allows us to face complexity in the present. When we seek the truth about the past and take what we find seriously, it enables us to build a better future.

feelings and therapy

Anonymous said:

When I have therapy or counselling, I notice that if I deal with real emotions in a way that is good for me, that I have to drop the neurotypical act of behaviours that show I am doing polite and kind listening.

I’m still listening but just not showing it in the way people prefer. When I do this, I notice that they get very hard and uncaring, even though I do it to make counselling work for me so I can tune into myself instead of acting. Do I give up?

realsocialskills said:

I’m not sure what you mean by “Do I give up?”.

If you’re asking about dealing with real emotions - I don’t think that you should give up trying to find a way to deal with your real emotions. I think that everyone can learn to deal with feelings, both feelings they’re having and feelings that other people are having. I think it’s really great that you’re working on that, and I definitely don’t think that you should give up.

Which leads to the question: What should you do about your current therapy situation? I don’t know the answer to that. I think you’re the best judge of that. Here are some considerations that might be worth thinking about:

I think that you have a lot of options. Some I see (there are probably others):

  • Trying to negotiate with your current therapy to make therapy work better for you
  • Trying to find another therapist
  • Staying with this therapist, but not expecting much out of it (or giving it time)
  • Trying a different kind of therapy
  • Deciding not to do therapy for now

Regarding working things out with your current therapist:

  • If you’re with this therapist voluntarily and could quit if you want to, trying to negotiate might be a good option
  • It might be worth telling them that you need to be able to drop attentiveness behaviors to be able to process
  • And that you want to process and deal with these feelings in a real way, and that you can’t both look attentive and do that
  • Some therapists are receptive to that kind of feedback; some aren’t
  • Therapists are human, and sometimes they misread things. Sometimes if you point it out, it helps.
  • Some therapists are not receptive to that kind of feedback, and might get really annoyed or manipulative
  • If it turns out that yours isn’t interested in meeting your need to drop affect in order to process feelings, it’s likely that they are not the right therapist for you
  • And that’s information worth having.
  • (If you’re stuck with this therapist no matter what, this might be riskier. I can’t tell you how to evaluate the risks in your particular situation, but I think it’s important to consider whether there might be some)

Not all therapists are the same:

  • It’s fairly common for people to need to look unusual in order to be able to engage with emotions in therapy
  • Working through emotions and psychological issues is hard work. Sometimes it means you can’t manage looking attentive
  • This isn’t a secret. A significant percentage of therapists expect that many clients won’t look like they’re listening when they’re processing.
  • Some therapists have the skills to handle this constructively; some don’t.
  • If you can choose who your therapist is, it might be worth trying to find a therapist who already understands this

Not all kinds of therapy are the same:

  • Not all therapy is about feelings.
  • Some kinds of therapy are about behavior, or learning specific skills.
  • If what you want from therapy is to learn to tune into yourself and deal with your feelings constructively, it’s important that you do a kind of therapy that helps with that
  • For instance, psychodynamic therapy or art therapy might work well for that. CBT probably won’t, since CBT is about behavior more than it’s about processing.
  • Just, generally speaking, it’s important to make sure that you and your therapist agree on what the goals are, and that the type of therapy they do makes sense for your goals
  • It might be worth learning more about types of therapy, and thinking through whether you’re in the kind you want to be in, or whether you might rather try a different kind

More generally regarding therapy:

There are a lot of therapy evangelists who talk about therapy like it’s the end all and be all of making progress in your life. They talk like therapy is risk free, universally helpful. They also talk like, if you’re not in therapy, you’re doomed to stagnation and that you’re essentially giving up on yourself. Real therapy is not like that. Real therapy is a set of people with a set of tools, which may or may not be helpful in given circumstances.

Real therapy is a mixed bag. Not everyone has the same experiences with it. For instance:

  • Therapy can be game-changing.
  • A lot of people find that therapy allows them to make progress dealing with problems they’ve felt completely trapped by for years.
  • Others find that therapy gives them skills or insights that dramatically improve their lives.
  • Others find therapy completely unhelpful.
  • Some people finds that it helps some, but not that much.
  • Some people are people are harmed in therapy.
  • Some people struggle to find the right therapist, but have really good experiences with therapy once they find someone who can work well with them.
  • And there are any number of other experiences.

I think there is no universal answer to “Should I work on this problem in therapy?”. I that’s always a complex personal decision. It depends on what you want and what you have access to and what you find works best for you. The answers to these questions are personal, and you’re the best judge of them.

And just, generally speaking: if therapy is not working for you, that’s a problem that you should take seriously. If you don’t feel respected, that’s a problem that’s a problem you should take seriously. Therapy is supposed to be helpful. If you’re in therapy that isn’t helping you, it means that something isn’t right and that it’s probably worth changing something.

tl;dr Therapy means a lot of different things, and people have a lot of different experiences with therapy. There are different kinds of therapy and different kinds of therapists. Sometimes therapy is a good idea and sometimes it isn’t. It’s a personal decision and sometimes it’s complicated. Whether or not therapy is your approach right now, don’t give up on yourself. You can learn and you can make progress.