Normal Is Overrated

Musings and meanderings on the autistic spectrum

April 2, 2010

If it looks like a duck…

So today is, of course, World Autism Awareness Day.

As you might also be aware if you happened to look at Google’s home page today, it’s also the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, author of numerous well-known folktales. Among many other stories, he wrote “Thumbelina,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes”… and, of course, “The Ugly Duckling.”

“The Ugly Duckling” is a story that Andersen himself has admitted was based on his own experiences growing up. And it’s always resonated with me as well, as an autistic living in a neurotypical world. Despite all efforts to be accepted, I’ve never quite felt like a duck neurotypical; I only truly felt free, free to be myself, when I learned of the autism spectrum, when I learned that I behaved and perceived things differently because I was different.

Think about it. How many times do we see autistic people described as broken neurotypicals, rather than as individuals with their own distinct thought patterns and processing styles? How many times do we see people trying to make their autistic children behave like them, rather than letting them exhibit entirely harmless behaviors that just happen to be trademarks of autism?

And isn’t it all a bit like expecting a swan to look and act like a duck, when it is, in fact, a shining example of a swan?

Though it may seem a bit strange to think of a fairy tale as a shining example of autism awareness, it does seem as if people could learn a lot about it from “The Ugly Duckling.” And it amazes me how many people haven’t even considered that analogy.

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 10:56 am

April 1, 2010

It’s April again…

…which means, yet another Autism Awareness Month has begun.

You all should know by now my feelings about what counts for autism awareness these days; if not, see my posts from 2008 and 2009 to get caught up.

So yes. Once again, I’ll be blogging quite a bit more than usual. I’ll be monitoring my Google News alerts and Twitter searches, as well as the occasional offline news source, for anything that looks blog-worthy. I’ll be writing about autism advocacy and what fellow blogger SadderButWiserGirl calls “autism badvocacy”. And of course, I’ll be sharing some personal anecdotes to give readers a look at autism from the inside out.

I’d have blogged more today, except I’ve been pretty much out of it between grading for my graduate assistantship and a really irritating headache that keeps coming back. (Seriously, why does Autism Awareness Month also have to coincide with pollen season? :-P)

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 11:43 pm

February 20, 2010

Autistic Thoughts on Autistic Relationships

(This is my post for Disability Blog Carnival #63: Relationships. See also the companion post from my girlfriend.)

Greetings. I’m Cody, I’m autistic, I have a girlfriend, and I love her.

Yeah. I hear you saying it right now. There are autistics who actually want friendships? Autistics can actually feel love for others? Autistics can be in romantic relationships?

And to answer those questions: Yes, yes, and oh so definitely yes.

On one hand, it amazes me that these tropes continue to persist in the face of all manner of evidence to the contrary. And yet, on the other hand, it really shouldn’t amaze me.


Filed under: Blog Carnival,General — codeman38 @ 12:39 pm

Guest Post: Misinformed Autism Awareness Doesn’t Just Hurt Autistics

(This is my post for Disability Blog Carnival #63: Relationships. See also the companion post from codeman38.)

April is coming.

It’s only just nearing the end of February. I know that. I also know that there are many things I need to get done in my life before April Fools Day comes around again.

But still, April is looming. I can almost feel myself bracing for it.

April Fools Day. The day it always starts.

Justifying The Existence Of My Boyfriend Month.

Justifying The Existence Of Our Relationship Month.

Justifying The Fact That No, I Am NOT Going To Try To Change Him Month.

Hi, I’m codeman38’s girlfriend.

The one the “My autistic child is never going to have a girlfriend!” moans during Autism Awareness Month claim doesn’t exist.

(Then again, every year a number of people usually manage to claim adult autistics don’t exist, so codeman38 and I are likely somewhat even on that. Not that either of us is keeping score.)


Filed under: Blog Carnival,General,Guest Posts — sarahgirl @ 12:39 pm

October 25, 2009

The spaces in my résumé

(This is my post for Disability Blog Carnival 59: Disability and Work.)

I’ve never applied for a job in the traditional manner.

Sure, I’ve done some work for my father’s office, and I’ve done some freelance work for organizations owned by his friends and associates. But this has all been through connections, through friends, family, and friends of family; I’ve never actively sought out a job on my own in the traditional way.

But it’s not that I don’t want to— in fact, I would absolutely love to find a job that suits me well. It’s just that the process is… a difficult one for people with the issues I have, to say the least.


Filed under: Blog Carnival,General — codeman38 @ 11:36 am

September 23, 2009

Autism Speaks Hits A New Low

If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know my stance toward Autism Speaks by now. It’s an organization I’ve always had my share of issues with; see my past posts on the subject for some idea of why.

But this time, they’ve really outdone themselves.

Before I explain what they’ve done to make me say that, I have to provide a bit of background information. You see, back in early August, Autism Speaks sent out this press release encouraging people to submit videos of autistic individuals for use in an upcoming film project. This project had huge names behind it— most notably, award-winning movie director Alfonso Cuarón, the man behind both Children of Men and the third Harry Potter movie— and was to be titled “I Am Autism.” According to Autism Speaks co-founder Suzanne Wright, this project was intended to “shine a bright spotlight on autism,” and was to be unveiled at the United Nations World focus on Autism on September 22.

Seems pretty harmless, right? “I Am Autism.” Sounds like it might be some sort of “We Are The World”-type production, about how we’re all affected by autism in some way. And “shining a bright spotlight”? I actually had a small gleam of hope that Autism Speaks was finally shedding their doom-and-gloom message for something more positive.



Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 2:04 pm

May 1, 2009

Assumptions, Assumptions

So it’s Blogging Against Disablism Day once again. I’d been thinking for the past couple days about what precisely I want to blog about today… and then it hit me yesterday.


People tend to make assumptions of a person’s abilities and general nature based on that person’s appearance. But sometimes these assumptions turn out to be incorrect. Some people adjust their personal stereotypes to adjust for their errors; others cling to their assumptions and classify these cases as exceptions to the rule.

You’re all probably familiar with this sort of dynamic as it applies to such matters as race and gender… but yes, it applies to disability as well. And in fact, I’ve seen it happen in two different directions in just my own experience.


Filed under: Blog Carnival,General — codeman38 @ 1:35 pm

April 12, 2009

Noodly executive functioning

So, at my Aspie support group meeting last week, I finally learned how to cook spaghetti on my own. It was actually a lot simpler than I thought it’d be, and there was very little room for me to accidentally scald myself (something that has happened before in other attempts at cooking).

And I was ready to cook some for myself tonight, since I figured most restaurants would probably be closed for Easter. I’d already gotten spaghetti noodles and sauce at the store; I’d already checked to make sure I had a pot to cook it in; I thought I was ready.

Some of you probably see the issue already.

I remembered to check if I had a pot to cook it in. As I realized this evening, however, I forgot to check whether I had a colander to pour it in afterward. Which, of course, it turns out that I didn’t.

So much for that plan.

And it’s not as if I can go to the store to get one today, since (1) none of the stores are on the Sunday bus route, and (2) they’re probably closed for Easter anyway.

Guess I’ll be seeing which restaurants are open downtown; there’s bound to be one, at least…

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 5:08 pm

April 7, 2009

A bit late, but still a worthy link…

I’m a day late with this, but I just can’t go without linking Cara from The Curvature‘s post “Things That Pain Me“. It’s about Yoko Ono’s partnership with Autism Speaks, and it links to my own post about said organization.

I’m glad to see that those of us on the autism spectrum aren’t the only ones who have issues with Autism Speaks’ tactics and approaches. Thanks, Cara, for getting this out to an even wider audience.

Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 8:27 pm

April 4, 2009

Mr. Handley, we’re standing right here…

I was planning on posting about the ridiculously frustrating Larry King interview from last night with Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, and J. B. Handley, but Joseph at Autism: Natural Variation beat me to it. So I’ll just let you read his post instead. It’s well worth it.

I will, however, comment on one particular line of the interview that made me just want to scream at my set for its utter wrongness (as taken from the official transcript):

HANDLEY: I want to talk about this issue of autism prevalence. It’s going to be shocking for parents to learn that the CDC and the AAP don’t actually acknowledge that there’s been a real rise in autism cases. Larry, the Department of Education in 1992, 16,000 kids were getting autism services. Today 225,000. That means in 1992, they were missing 93 percent of kids with autism. Where are all the adults with autism? They don’t exist.

Not only is that, as Joseph says, completely wrong, it’s also logically inconsistent with itself. Let’s see: If there were 16,000 kids getting autism services in 1992, those 16,000 kids would be… I don’t know, over age 18 now, since it’s been over 18 years since 1992 they were already in elementary school 17 years ago (I once again demonstrate that I’m horrible at arithmetic). Which, last time I checked, would make them adults.

So Handley must think that every one of those 16,000 individuals has either been cured or died, I guess. I’m curious as to which.

And that’s completely ignoring the issue of diagnostic substitution— I was undiagnosed in 1992 because Asperger’s and other high-functioning forms of autism just weren’t on people’s radar back then— which, as Joseph’s post points out (and which Dr. Max Wiznitzer also attempted to correct, but was cut off by the show ending), Handley also got wrong.

This seems to me to be one of those sorts of cases that Keunwoo Lee termed fractally wrong.

Filed under: Controversies,Vaccines — codeman38 @ 11:41 pm
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