Archive for the ‘defeating ablism’ Category

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From Guilt to Acceptance of a Smaller Role in Autistic Advocacy

February 21, 2013

So we have been dealing with many guilty and unhappy feelings lately. Let me be clear first: NO OTHER AUTISTIC SELF ADVOCATES ARE IN ANY WAY RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR FEELINGS. We haven’t, fortunately, read any posts by any advocates we know, that suggest that autistic people who aren’t involved heavily in self advocacy are bad people or not serious about wanting better representation in society. We haven’t been more involved in advocacy for several reasons. We are currently in school pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics. We have had many difficulties in school which are mostly unrelated to subject matter. Though this semester, we have had trouble with some of that as well.

These guilty feelings are doing absolutely NOTHING to help us. Well duh. They are directly NEGATIVELY affecting our concentration. They pervade our waking thoughts (not all the time, but even a few times is too many!). They are unwanted intruders.

We feel guilty about having arrived late on the scene of autistic self advocacy. This is true mainly because prior to our diagnosis, we had no contacts with self advocates, nor any occasions to learn about the movement. Had we known, we probably would have tried to get involved sooner.

Again, we must reiterate our prior assertion that NONE OF OUR GUILT SHOULD BE BLAMED ON ANY OTHER AUTISTIC SELF ADVOCATE! Our current life circumstances (primarily being in college) mean we don’t have as much time or energy to dedicate to advocacy. We just have to embrace a less visible, but no less important and significant and MEANINGFUL role in the process.
There will ALWAYS be a need for advocacy in the autistic community.
Our advice to anyone feeling a similar sense of guilt,

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Being responsible versus being given a responsibility (or several)

February 18, 2013

What is the difference between being responsible and having responsibilities? To give someone a responsibility does not necessarily mean that the person is now responsible. The word “response” which means “a reaction or reply” to something, is the word I think of when the words responsibility or responsible come to mind. Actually, a friend mentioned this thought to me at a dinner outing last night…we were sitting at Noodles and Company, close to where I live, and we were talking about that briefly over a scrumptious (boy I love that word!) meal of spicy Indonesian peanut saute noodles. A person may have the responsibility of raising a child, but that alone does not a responsible person make. There are countless stories in news, past and present, of young people and celebrities having children without regard to the kinds of RESPONSIBILITIES they would have to face, and when they do not face them properly, they are not RESPONSIBLE.

A responsibility is an obligation bestowed on someone, and “being responsible” is a character trait usually acquired over a certain period of time. The length of time depends of course on environmental factors such as life experience, age, education level (sometimes, not always) and other things. We may explore some of these other things in future posts. People with disabilities can certainly be responsible. That discussion deserves its own post.

Being responsible is learned behavior. NT people learn it by observation and imitating peers. So too can autistic people, but it can take much longer. First do we understand what a responsibility is? Autistic advocates definitely have responsibilities that they take on themselves. Some of us organize protests against Autism Speaks events. Others organize major events such as the ASAN annual gala. Need link to this. Include more examples)
Others give presentations at Autreat, the annual retreat by and for autistic people.

The advocates who participate in these activities have chosen to take on these responsibilities. They are not forced or coerced by others to do these activities. These are real responsibilities though, just like going to work if one has a job, going to school (in my case) or taking care of one’s children. And some autistic people have children too, but that isn’t all that relevant except it is another responsibility that some of us have.

We will have other blog posts upcoming about things related to this: specifically we have plans for a post about the damage parents/family can do to autistic people by calling them “irresponsible” for not doing certain things. If you have something to say about that, or this post, we would love to hear from you!

Collaborative, all of us (finished by Athena)

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Reblogged: Shopping Expedition gone Awry

December 16, 2012

Wow. There are so many things wrong in this situation. Talk about deflating! This kind of thing is what many of us autistics experience in daily life. We need to figure out how to educate staff in grocery stores and retail in general, on proper etiquette when interacting with disabled customers who happen to bring friends/support people.

I would love to read suggestions from other self advocates, on how we can educate customer service employees to interact appropriately with autistic people and others with disabilities that might cause them to “appear” less intelligent, for lack of a better expression. Especially those like E who went with a friend, and had the employee talk to her friend rather than directly to her.

My wording is poor, but this has to go out. We have been sitting on this post for a very long time now.

Andrea

The Third Glance

While I know this is really minor compared to some things people go through on a regular basis, and my visible disability is temporary, I just wanted to share a story that happened to me yesterday. Not for reactions, just to point out that things like this happen. All the time.

I’m still on crutches, and as such, need to go with someone to the grocery store. My friend and I have a deal that involves a weekly trip, and we’ve been shopping together for more than a year. I keep him on task (he spaces out a lot, plus, I know where everything in the stores we go to is, and can quote prices, too), and he deals with people for me. It’s a good trade. So anyway, we were on our way out of a store last night, and were about 20 steps away from the register and…

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Ann Coulter Discussion Continues

November 24, 2012

We are very glad that people are still thinking about Ann Coulter’s use of the r-word. Just yesterday I saw that someone had found our blog using the following search phrase: “autistic girl’s letter to Ann Coulter”
We do not know of such a letter, just the one we found and reblogged, written by a young man with Down Syndrome.
Talk is good, as it induces thinking. Now it is time for action.

When we have more time and energy, possibly over either Thanksgiving or (more likely) Winter Break, we will attempt to create a list of bookstores which sell her books, with contact information so that people can call and voice their concerns. We would love some help with that if anyone is up to the task; then it can get done much faster and we can get on with making calls or writing/emailing those bookstores! Seriously, we need to do this. Hitting Ann Coulter where it hurts the most, in her wallet, is the best way to send her and everyone else a message loud and clear: that hurtful and offensive comments do not and will not go unnoticed and unchallenged any longer.

Solidarity, fellow advocates and allies!

Let’s do this!!!!!!

Ivan

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Mental Health 2013

November 21, 2012

I found this while perusing through posts in various tags we follow. This is a brilliant idea, and I think autistic advocates should have a theme for next year too! A theme for blogging buttons, not just for topics.

How about tackling one theme topic each week too? We can recycle topics also. And then at the end we could have a “blogthology” like Loud Hands has their anthology of stuff written by autistic people. Which unfortunately we didn’t know about until it was too late to submit something. That’s okay, I am sure there will be more opportunities to submit our stuff.
We are looking for feedback on this idea.
Andrea

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From Kittymama-Spread the word to End the Word(s)

November 2, 2012

More on the issue of using words to hurt people, this time from a slightly different cultural perspective. It says pretty much the same thing. Definitely a good read and well worth sharing!

Thanks to my headmate-sister for finding this. However, autistics are not all unable to lie. They can fall victim to corruption too. Maybe not to the extent of elected officials (but could that also be partly because few if any elected officials are known to be autistic?) yes we are capable of BEING corrupted! It happens all the damn time! But not in the conventional sense. Whenever we are told we can’t do this or that because of our disabilities, we are being corrupted, if we end up BELIEVING those lies. That will be the subject of another post, eventually.

Sorry to Athena for hijacking her reblog. She asked me to finish it for her.

Athena and Ivan

Okasaneko Chronicles

In 2009, at the height of the campaign for the Philippine Presidential Elections, the word that critics used to disparage then-senator-turned-presidential aspirant Benigno Aquino III was “autistic.” You see, Filipinos don’t like using the R word as much as the A word. Call it a cultural difference, but here in the Pearl of the Orient Sea, we like to insult people with the A word.

As a result, I wrote “To Senator Noynoy (An Open Letter to Senator Noynoy Aquino from a Mother of an Autistic Child)” in 2009. This was my answer to the people who liked to abuse the word “autistic’ and I quote:

If being autistic means not being able to lie, then by all means, I should be proud to say I am autistic.

If being autistic means not being able to cheat and rig elections, then call me autistic.

It being autistic means not…

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Seeing the Sparkle in Autism

October 24, 2012

So I read this post again, not exactly sure why I had marked it for reblogging in the first place. I knew there was something about it that definitely warranted a response, and a positive one at that. Some of it is very difficult to read, namely the parts about being in gloom and doom and the “dark side of autism”. That simply does not exist for many autistic people, our system included. But this is the writing of a parent who is gradually coming to see the light, the great potential. This IS a big moment for her son. Her wording may be objectionable in many aspects (note to author: unfortunately many of us self advocates do find things objectionable about parents’ descriptions of their autistic children at times. But please do not take this necessarily as condemnation. It is just a statement of fact. Just listen and reach out. We have reasons, justified or not, for our “harshness” to parents of autistic children as regards their use of words to describe their children. I will attempt to explain this in a separate post.

wisdomfromthesisterhood

I call this moment my “number one reason to love autism moment” because, truly, it was the first.  This was the first time I realized there is some crazy magical stuff inside of autism and just when you think you understand it all, it will knock the wind out of you.  Yeah, in the beginning, autism is every bit of 100% scary and overwhelming and your moments of hiding in the bathtub become more plentiful as you try to hide from the thing you don’t understand and the thing that is slowly taking over your life.  It is either a dark pit to fall into or to pull yourself out of.  In that very beginning, there is no light, there is no positive and, clearly, there is no magic or wonder to be found.  It is mostly black and sopping wet from the tears that seem to be continually clouding…

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