Normal Is Overrated

Musings and meanderings on the autistic spectrum

April 2, 2009

A glimmer of hope

So today was the second ever World Autism Awareness Day. And I expected it to be one of those days that was frustrating but that I just had to bear, with all sorts of media coverage of the plight of parents of autistic kids and all sorts of distortions and incomplete truths about what autism actually entails.

And y’know what? It wasn’t too bad this year.


Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 9:37 pm

April 1, 2009

Yet another April…

…which means it’s once again time for me to blog more often than the occasional post that I usually make.

And it’s not just because I just turned in my comprehensive exams for grad school, though that has a bit to do with it as well, given how swamped I’ve been feeling lately.

No, it’s because it’s the second ever World Autism Awareness Month. And those of you who follow this blog should know how I feel about the typical media approaches to “awareness.”

And tomorrow’s the second annual World Autism Awareness Day, which means that such “awareness” will be out in full force on all the TV morning shows and news programs. All sorts of talk about how kids on all ends of the autistic spectrum will never have jobs, never go to college, never have significant others, yada yada yada, never mind that many of us have grown up to do all of those… all sorts of misguided efforts to try to make sense of autistics without actually bothering to talk to any of us, as if we don’t actually exist… not to mention all the people who seem to forget that autistics actually grow up…

Then again, the media may very well surprise me, as some of the ones I mentioned in the above-linked blog post did last year— actually giving awareness that autism isn’t just something that affects kids, that it certainly isn’t any sort of death sentence, and that even with the occasional odd reaction or atypical behavior, yes, we’re people too.

That’s the sort of awareness I’d like to see more of this month.

Or, to paraphrase a slogan from another well-known advocacy movement:

We’re here. We’re weird. Get used to it.

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 3:26 pm

January 18, 2009

When Transit Systems Don’t Consider Their Users

Well, it’s going to be yet another boring weekend. At least I’ve got a good bit of entertainment available to me here in the apartment— which is a good thing, since I won’t be venturing all that far from it.

You see, I don’t have a car. I tried learning to drive… for about eight years, and never made much progress. It’s as if my brain just isn’t wired for spatial perception or visual discrimination rapid enough to be of use in driving— and my somewhat spacey, easily distracted nature doesn’t help matters any.

So I have to make do with alternatives. (more…)

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 8:14 pm

December 16, 2008

Autism Twitter Day

I know I haven’t updated since August, but I figured I needed to at least make a quick note for anyone reading this who might happen to be using Twitter…

Today is Autism Twitter Day. Follow the discussion by searching Twitter for the tag #ASD, and contribute to the conversation by adding that same tag to your tweets.

Naturally, this Aspie is joining in… it is, after all, a lot easier than carrying on a conversation in a crowded room. 😉

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 3:43 pm

August 6, 2008

Stumble in the jungle

I’ve been thinking about the Tropic Thunder controversy that’s been brewing in the disability blogosphere. (Go follow that link if you haven’t already heard about this; I don’t see a need to reiterate the background story when it’s already been covered on plenty of other blogs.)

And as I thought about it, I noticed something odd. It wasn’t the oft-quoted dialogue about mental retardation that bothered me; sure, it’s offensive, but part of the whole point of the movie is that the characters are painfully insensitive. (I mean, come on, Downey’s character performs in blackface. You can’t say the characters are pinnacles of understanding.) The portrayal of “Simple Jack” in the film-within-a-film is a bit more unsettling, yet even that wouldn’t offend me if it were framed in a suitably satirical context pointing out just how chock full of stereotypes it was.

No, what’s nagging at me goes further than mere dialogue and character portrayals; it’s a matter of unfortunate implications. Now, to be fair, it could very well be that this is dealt with in a more balanced manner in the movie as a whole, so I’m withholding any final judgment for the time being; even still, the choices of what scenes were chosen for the trailers alone demonstrate a… rather unsettling bias.


Filed under: Controversies — codeman38 @ 11:41 am

June 27, 2008

Mea culpa

As it turns out, those skeptical of the latest Autism Speaks controversy may have actually been right.

Zach Lassiter of AspieWeb has been in contact with Zazzle, and it’s been revealed that though there was an Autism Speaks complaint, it didn’t involve that particular shirt. In other words, this removal was just a Zazzle employee’s attempt to cover the company’s posterior, so to speak, despite what was claimed in earlier e-mails.

So— and this is probably one of the very few times I’ll ever say this— my apologies to Autism Speaks for claiming they did something that they didn’t.

(Now if only they would involve autistics in their organization and issue an apology for Alison Singer’s statements in Autism Every Daythose complaints, unfortunately, still stand.)

Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 11:14 pm

June 22, 2008

Autism Speaks Against Autistic Free Speech and Fair-Use Parody

CORRECTION — 27 June 2008: The designer of the shirt described in this post has been in contact with Zazzle, and it turns out that the shirt was not directly removed because of an Autism Speaks complaint. Instead, it was in fact a proactive action taken by a Zazzle employee; see my post from tonight for further details. In the interest of correctness, I have struck out the portion of this post containing that accusation. The NT Speaks takedown, however, still does appear to be Autism Speaks’ doing, so that section of this post will remain intact.

(Cross-posted, in slightly modified form, from DailyKos.)

You might recall that a while back, I posted an entry criticizing some of the tactics of the autism charity Autism Speaks, which I originally posted at DailyKos.

Well, let’s all be thankful that they haven’t (yet) forced DailyKos to take that post down— or, worse yet, sent a cease-and-desist notice to the hosting provider for my personal blog— because of alleged intellectual property infringement. As utterly absurd as that may sound, it is precisely what they’ve done to not one but two autistic bloggers an autistic parodist who have has dared to criticize that organization.


Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 4:22 pm

June 19, 2008

Yay, new readership!

It appears that I’ve been accepted into the Autism Hub blog community. Yay!

So for those of you who are new here… welcome! It’d probably be best to start off with my introductory post and trawl through the (admittedly sparse) archives from there, but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t. 🙂

I guess this means I’ll have to start blogging a bit more frequently here. Not that I shouldn’t have been doing that anyway, of course, but this will definitely give me a bit more motivation to do so.

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 7:09 pm

April 11, 2008

Do You Know What You’re Supporting?

So tomorrow’s the big Walk for Autism in Atlanta.

And this Georgian isn’t going.

I’ve already written in the past about Autism Speaks, the organization sponsoring this walk, in a good bit of depth, but I’ll just reiterate things in a shorter fashion to drive the point home:

I refuse to support an organization whose idea of treatment isn’t to try to find a way for autistics to function in a hostile world, but rather to “ultimately eradicate autism for the sake of future generations”, in the words of its founder.

I refuse to support an organization which talks all the time about the peril of autistic children, while seeming to forget about us autistic adults, or at most, giving us only a passing mention.

I refuse to support an organization which falsely appears to speak for autistics, when not a single person on the autistic spectrum can be found amongst its board of directors or anywhere else in its leadership.

I refuse to support an organization with a vice president who openly admits to having wanted to drive off a bridge with her autistic daughter in frustration, in front of that very daughter, while cameras are running to record the moment for posterity in a fund-raising documentary.

And in this repudiation, I’m not claiming autistics don’t need support, services, or any other help. Even though I’m on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum, I’ve had many moments where I could easily have used a helping hand…or several. I, too, go into meltdowns when I’m feeling stressed or overloaded; I, too, would very much benefit from accommodations that allowed me to actually meet halfway, rather than exerting even more effort than most people dream of just to maintain an appearance of normality.

But this help should be provided with respect. Respect for who we are, for the fact that autism is a pervasive developmental disorder and not just something that can be taken out of us like a tumor. Respect for the fact that our brains work differently, and that methods of teaching which may work perfectly well for a typical child (or adult!) may not work at all for us. Respect for the fact that we may still be aware of what’s going on around us, what’s being said about us, even when it doesn’t look like we understand a word.

Strangely enough, organizations for other neurological disorders—disorders with even more of a popular stigma than autism—get it. See, for instance, Joel Smith’s comparison of Autism Speaks’ rhetoric with that of the National Down Syndrome Society for just one example.

But unfortunately, even with plenty of protest by autistics all around the country, the world, and the Internet, Autism Speaks just doesn’t seem to grasp this idea.

And that is why I cannot honestly support them.

Filed under: Autism Speaks,Controversies — codeman38 @ 7:20 pm

April 8, 2008

Apropos of completely nothing

Hm, I’ve posted on the 1st, 2nd and 4th of this month so far. I really ought to post something today, even if it’s just this short ramble, just so that I keep up the exponential trend. Unfortunately, that’d only give me one more day this month to post, so I’ll probably end up posting on some date that’s not a power of 2 anyway.

…Yeah, I’m way too easily amused.

(Hey, this is sort of related to autism, in that we autistics often have an eye for patterns… 😛)

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 3:11 pm
« Previous PageNext Page »

Powered by WordPress