Thursday, April 30, 2015

Acceptance Is

This month (Autism Acceptance Month) the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network is posting signs that people send them that are done on their Autism Acceptance Month templates, which can be found on Facebook and e-mailed to until the end of April.  So I just wanted to share it with readers, and hope you enjoy, though you can also find them on ASAN's Facebook page.

It's an orange fist (orange for the Celebrate Autism Foundations spark logo, which you also see in the background) coming out of a lotus with a rainbow infinity symbol against a winged heart, all much bettersymbols for autism than puzzle pieces, with a quatrain saying:

Guess what.
I'm autistic.
Better get used to it.
I love myself the way I am.
Got it?!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

Autism and Dual Messages: A Poem for Autism Acceptance Month

You say to me:
"I support you.
I'm going to get hundreds of signs all over town saying, 'Autism Awareness.'"
I hear:
"I want everyone seeing you as the lion in my circus,
how you're a lonely old ladies favorite past time that her dog chewed up a lot of,
and I get a high out of letting us marvel about how you're the sick little kitten,
while we're the human adults."

You say:
"I'm here for you.
I'm going to wear or light it up blue,
like the CN Tower, the White House, the Hotel Dubai, and the Sydney Opera House."
I here:
"I believe in supporting autistic people based off the first thing I hear off the streets,
and the people you listen to on how to support you
are the same ones who've segregated you, discriminated against you, and shoved you into cages, and you can't make these decisions about your life,
despite being on the Dean's List and twice promoted at work."

You say,
batting your eyes at me from across the gym:
"I'm gonna stay by you.
I'm going to wear my shirt publicizing a celebrity or locally-known individual lending their name to the autism cause."
I hear:
"I expect you to support my clique's,
which probably doesn't over represent autistics in their numbers,
line about people like you at any cost,
which we'll peer pressure people like you into doing,
take the recognition of your struggling autism project's work for ourselves,
and try to get liked by appealing to the lowest common denominator,
which is the only real thing we've done for autism,
while for our fifty-fifty relationship,
I don't have to hear your opinions on yourself,
while you're expected to listen to me ramble on about student parking."

You say:
"I'm on your side.
I've liked Autism Speaks on Facebook,
just so I can know what they’re doing,
and plus, they are the most well-known name in autism,"
when I have repeatedly pointed out ways they're financially irresponsible,
use ignorant people's emotions to tell them what's best for us,
and treat us like children who can never know as well as they do how society should accommodate
people with similar needs to our's.
I hear:
"By my logic, Rain Man's Dustin Hoffman and Playboy's Jenny McCarthy know autism best
not like Temple Grandin or John Elder Robison,
so I'm supporting you by clicking a button to let the world know I approve of their didactic, self-absorbed rambling,
and that I expect a financially murky organization like them to tell me the truth of their activities."

You say:
"You're twisting my words,"
make some subtle plea for me to absolve you of these things.
I hear nothing.
I'm this close to unfriending you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Letter to Myself

After feeling my efforts to start an autistic community in Warrensburg were going so underappreciated by many, I made myself a bracelet from tiles cut out of a beer caddy, each with symbols autistics themselves had suggested for autism, and I wrote a note to myself saying,

Dear Ben,

I wanted to thank you for all you have done for the autistics at UCM and in efforts for the benefit of the autistic culture and liberation everywhere. You have been a pioneer willing to take on ...the worst challenges with little support or recognition. You have persevered under the toughest challenges, and, though you may not think it, your actions are beginning to take root. No one could have possibly taken things further from where you started. At times, many people have been given recognition in the world of autism merely for their looks or their well-established reputation, which people automatically seem to judge the work they do by. You however, have stood for autism, even when the message you brought forth was not popular. You persevered through thick and thin, never gave in to pressure, strove for what you believed was right, and spent hours of exhaustion and uncertainty for people you wished to make strong, empowered people with a culture of their own. Because of you, the autistic world now has many new innovations, such as the thriving autistic community at JCCC, the Autistic Liberation Dharma, the autistic porcupine symbol, the eco-autistic movement, and the Friend of Autism Pledge, and I wish to give you this bracelet of tiles with the autistic symbols from some of the greatest minds in the world of autism, has ever seen, as well as your own. Your granddad also wishes to thank you for the work you have done, and for your earnesty, wisdom, dedication, and sacrifice for the good of autistic kind. Thank you.



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Thoughts of My Own on the Perception of Autism

A moment of your time on Autism Awareness? Many autistics, and I myself have been and still find myself in this situation, spend every hour of every day-at work, at school, at home, even with our families-trying to pretend we're "normal." We must concentrate every ounce of effort we have not put into the jobs, families, and work we already struggle in due to lack of accomodations, to avoid doing anything that might sell us out as autistic. That means flapping our arms, being blunt, avoiding eye contact, and even mentioning about a novel we read last night for fear it show our "special interests." In short, we spend all our remaining energy trying to blend in with the crowd, and then people come along-celebrities, high management autism organizations, parents, politicians, frat boys and girls all meaning to do the right thing-and tell people to be aware of US. And we're told constantly and constantly by the same people that if we don't learn to look neurotypical-using eye contact, avoiding stimming, etc.,-we'll never get a job, go to school, get married, have children, or lead a fulfilling life. We strive harder then ever to look like we're "normal" because the puzzle piece symbols tell us there's a missing piece to be found of us before we can belong. Anywhere. And so autism is presumed by the do-gooders to be some troublesome child who's a constant wreck because that's what gets the numbers up-people afraid their career, their home lives, and their marriages will be ruined because of a child we've already been taught we were, and act so hard not to be. And since we, or none of us fit this image, we may as well be presumed to be neurotypical, or basically almost so because we've had ABA, or are high-functioning, or whatever, just so do-gooders can let the people know those they now fear aren't doing their behaviors to be rude. But God forbid that us "high-functioning" people or ABA graduates should ever stim, avoid eye contact, or have their own interests. We are considered "too evolved" to do these things, not because we do them to help us process sensory stimuli which are brains are already hard-wired to receive differently. And we by no means are capable of speaking for the "low-functioning" community, let alone our own selves. We're afraid to get help, many of us just to stop painkillers the next day, so we can live our lives healthily and comfortable, while still expressinng our own identity. So I ask you, will you, next time you think you're going to do us right as victims and not humans, think of reaching one individual at a time, to be empowered to be his or her own self, and forget this idea that the most attention-getting messages or people are the ones who spread the most progressive attitude towards the masses, and think about what you want for us, not FROM US. We commonly are too complacent or uncritical to examine the conventional wisdom of our approaches to problems. We think if we just let the river flow our boat downstream, not noticing where it's going, we will arrive in the safest place, and all will be better for everyone. Well if you down row upstream, honey, and watch where you're going, the river might well lead you to a waterfall that you'll bring us all down with you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thoughts of My Own on the Language for Autism

A note on person-first language: I have heard you don't say "an autistic person" because you wouldn't say "the fat man" or "the short boy." Well, maybe I wouldn't, but that might be because I'm sensitive like that. Anyho, if that is the case I want to hear terms like "the man with racism" or "the girl with promescuity." Why don't I hear those? Because in this culture, those things are shamed, not just the behaviors, but the person doing the behaviors. Whereas obesity, sh...ortness, and other physical ways of being, we want to not shame the person (most of us anyways, I hope) but the way of being itself. But why is that? Is it because we believe these people are lazy or they'll never date the popular girl in school? Well, if you look at autism, you see that we have all these sorts of preconceived notions about them. They can't lie, they're good at math, they can't understand sarcasm. And it's this limited way of understanding that takes away their humanity. So what do we do? We detach autism from them, rather than our prenconceived notions about what autism is like for them. In our obsessive person-first language culture, we continuously associate autism with negative stereotypes-they'll ruin my marriage, they can't learn to communicate-myths perpetuated by society and various organizations such as Autism Speaks. If we view ourselves that way, it's because we've learned to hate ourselves because of discrimination and stigma. You think we'll learn to love ourselves by teaching us to disassociate with part of who that is. You insist on saying "person with autism" so we know that's not the only part of ourselves. This shows your neurotypical sense of superiority by implying we aren't smart enough to figure that out for ourselves. It is the stigma of autism, perpetuated by the stereotypes autism makes you think of, that makes us feel low about ourselves, and by not acknowledging that, you choose to be part of the problem.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My Autism Acceptance Day Post 2015

For me, and thousands of my friends in the fold of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and Autism Women's Network, we view April as Autism Acceptance Month. To many there might be some confusion as you may have heard some call it Autism Awareness Month. For us, we have changed it to Autism Acceptance Month because we feel while "awareness" tends to imply a passive pity for how autistics "don't fit in" acceptance means an active role... of refusing to be people who autistics cannot fit in with. Whereas Autism Awareness Month and a Day on April 2nd has focused on blue lights and puzzle pieces, Autism Acceptance Month focuses on reading poetry by and celebrating autistics, along with art, blogging, positive, unhumilitiating storytelling, and often donating to groups where you see openly autistic members in at least a third of their highest leadership giving the bulk of their funds to services allowing autistics to reach their highest potential and showing a balanced view of autism's strengths while respectfully respecting our challenges, bearing symbols like a rainbow infinity or a multi-colored pie chart showing that while autistics are diverse and part of a larger picture, it is a picture that naturally goes together to make a unified image with no beginning and no end. Double palms are also acceptable symbols, indicating many autistics need to flap their hands to self-regulate while still paying attention to those around them. We operate within a diversity model of disability and pan-disability culture, where all are responsible for any message they send.

I helped spread the word from the window of my dorm, with a sign that says, "Wear Gold for Autism ACCEPTANCE Month April 2, 2015/Gold=Au, Autism Acceptance, Beyond Awareness, and changed my profile picture to that. I also put up signs, one representing hand-flapping; one arm-flapping-two movements done to self...-regulate; one of two people embracing, representing autistics search for connection, like the logo of the National Autistic Society in the UK; one an infinity, representing the fluidity of autistic abilities, rather than being fixed; a brain with butterfly wings that I drew months earlier, along with my Autistic Pride sign, all done in black ink. 

I put out on the door of my dorm, in addition to my Autistic Self-Advocacy Network of Kansas City poster that I drew a few months ago, I put up an autism pie-chart logo, a design created by autistic Andrew Lerner, with four slices, one blue, one yellow, one green, and one pink, making a peace sign; with white eyes, the left one with the letter A and the one on the right with the... letter S for Autistic Spectrum or Asperger syndrome; while at the top it reads, "AS PIEces fit in piece." Its colors and pieces represent diversity within the autistic community only, unlike the puzzle piece symbol, they fit together naturally to make a coherent symbol. Along with it is a paint slip with various shades of gold for Autism Acceptance Day's Light it Up Gold as the chemical symbol for gold is Au, the first two letters of the word autism, which I made at a UCM Pinterest party, each part with a place where I might be at the time along with a white button on a red paper clip to point to them, red being for Light it Up Red, created like LIUG in response to blue lights used to raise money from pitiful images of autistics.

I made a cross drawn with blue in the background with rainbow stars along it to represent the autistic blue rainbow stars ribbon created by autistic Carol Ann Acorn (and its also Easter season), along with three drawings: a mandala (Buddhist-Hindu meditation image) that is a representation of Turkey's whirling dervishes, which I hung because of autistic activist Lydia Brown's long-time interest in Sufi music and dance; a triskele, an Asian symbol with three curved lines going the same direction in a circle, with one segment green, one segment red, and one segment yellow-the colors of ASAN's and the Autism Network International's color-coded communication badges, each corresponding to how comfortable you are talking to people at their meetings; another "mandala" that was inspired by a Moroccan tile design with various colors representing the diversity of autism, but diversity that is fluid and makes a complete natural picture, and it also has a yin-yang symbol in the middle representing how autism's existence as a disability and a difference exist in balance, and helping the disability should not be disrespecting the difference; along with a mandala thatis based off a kaleidoscope design, also with various colors representing the same thing, and how diversity of autism, or functioning labels, depend a lot on one's point of view, and it is a picture that can move around a lot, and it also has in it the shape of an eight-rayed star the symbol of the Men of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings, who represented honor and nobility.


Today for Autism Acceptance Day, I wore an Autism Acceptance Month t-shirt everywhere I went at UCM and in Warrensburg, that says, "Acceptance is Action," showing I'm not going to hide from who I am regardless of how others might think. Also, in honor of the various movements created in response to blue lights, Light it Up Gold, gold's chemical symbol Au being the first two ...letters of the word autism; Light it Up Red; Tone it Down Taupe; and Light it Up Orange, perhaps because orange is the color of the Celebrate Autism Foundation's autism spark symbol, I wore on my left wrist my red Buddhist prayer beads that I made from straws a year ago, which I don't normally wear; on my right wrist an orange bracelet that I made from cutting an orange bag along the sides and spinning the length and a gold paracord bracelet I made, especially considering Warrensburg is the home of an airforce base; on my neck my Lucky Buddha Beer bottle cap lockets, which are red, from the beers my dad gave me last year for Easter; and on my hoody I wore a gold ribbon pin, which used to be a puzzle piece ribbon, which many autistic's object to due to the idea there's a "missing piece" of them or they need to be put together, at I took apart, turned inside out, colored with a gold sharpie, and glued it back together; my pants today were taupe; and on my shoulder was a red bag, with other gold paracord bracelets I made to give to people for this day. I wore my grey UCM hoody instead of my regular blue hoody, and I made a commitment not to avert stranger's gazes as I walk past them or avoid interaction with people to avoid questions, and will go to eat in town to show this shirt to all I can. I also wore on my wrist a tile bracelet made from cardboard, with one an autism pie-chart symbol, a half-transparent butterfly symbol used by the Hidden Wings autism organization, a blue ribbon with rainbow stars created by autistic Carol Ann Acorn, an autism rainbow infinity symbol, a blue and white infinity symbol used by the Metis in Canada, rainbow scribbles representing "beautiful chaos" by autistic James McCue, the orange spark from the Celebrate Autism Foundation, and a porcupine symbol I created, representing autistics ability to defend themselves against larger groups without being aggressive, their affection even if they don't like physical contact, and the quills representing their voice even if they cannot speak. Through this, I plan to get the word out. Happy Autism Acceptance Day everyone!