Sunday, February 27, 2011

On Atheism & Disability

I've been noticing something lately:

In groups centered around disability (at least the ones I know of), there's a lot of godding it up.

I mostly hang around the autism & epilepsy parts of the disablilitysphere, & I hear a lot about praying, I hear a lot about "His will be done", I hear a lot about evil. I hear a lot of thanking God (or equivalent) when a treatment does what it is supposed to do.

I hear that my neurology is an act of evil, the destruction of God's Perfect Creation. And I hear that anyone who doubts that is an agent of Satan.

Say what now?

I'm an atheist. I believe in no gods. I don't believe in any gods. I strive to live an ethical life and to be the best Neurodivergent K I can be. I know damn well that when my medications work, it has nothing to do with God, but with science working. I know damn well that when things don't work, it isn't the work of Satan, but of an incomplete understanding of all brains and mine in particular.

If it makes someone feel better to pray or engage in other superstitious behavior, more power to them. As long as they aren't hurting anyone, good for them. I can sort of see how believing that one's own or one's child's condition is part of some giant ineffable plan makes it easier for some people to deal. I disagree, I think it's magical thinking, but again--whatever helps you sleep at night.

That isn't how it's used, though. I don't just see the harmless ritual around the disabilitysphere.

I see blame.

I see vengeful religion.

What is vengeful religion? It's prayer and faith as a weapon. It's using your gods to say "you are a horrible person for disagreeing with me, and I wish more than anything that my skydaddy would strike you down." It's "LALALALA YOU NEED TO SHUT UP BECAUSE MY GOD SAYS I AM RIGHT". It is things like "I pray you don't work with people" after a disagreement. It is things like "you are evil and work for Satan" because one is atheist. It's angrily 'praying' that my heart be softened or whatever because I am clearly bitter or something about being me. (Fact: I like being me. Who I am doesn't believe in gods. Whoopie shit.)

If you are theistic, and you run across me or another disabled atheist, don't jump to self righteously pray for me; it's obnoxious and condescending. Don't assume that when I argue with you or state that I don't believe in gods it's because of bitterness with my lot in life-I'm not. Seriously, I'm pretty great. I am pissed as hell about poor treatment, I am pissed off by holier-than-thou self righteousness, I am pissed off by a lot of social problems, but I am not bitter about your invisible friend testing me. Imaginary things aren't worth being mad about.

The behavior the imaginary things are used to justify, though--that's often worth my wrath.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

To the Newly Diagnosed (Especially Teens & Adults)

So you just found out you're autistic. You've been living your life wondering why you have such a hard time with things other people find effortless, why you notice things others do not, why you feel out of step with most of your peers.

And you hear the answer is autism. And the mix of emotions that goes with it is confusing-relief, fear, denial, acceptance, a thousand things.

Welcome, and Congratulations.

Welcome to a community that takes care of its own. Welcome to a community of people who get it. Welcome to a community where being unusual is acceptable, where we know that your difficulties in 'easy' tasks are not a moral failing, where we know that your strengths don't negate those difficulties. We have drama and personality conflicts, as do all communities, but we also have a lot to offer each other.

Congratulations on getting an answer. Congratulations on being an individual. Congratulations on being you-you're probably pretty fantastic.

Some advice, whether you want it or not:

-Be yourself. To hell with anyone who thinks that who you are isn't ok. At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with you. Trying to put up a normal facade day after day is unsustainable.

-Take care of yourself. It's ok to excuse yourself from situations that are overwhelming or painfully difficult. It's you who has to live in your skin and your brain, not anyone who tries to give you crap for it.

-Don't let anyone make you think you are broken. You aren't. Different, yes, but faulty? Nope. Having difficulties isn't the same as being fundamentally broken.

-As a corollary, don't go chasing every so-called cure that comes out. They are usually scientifically bassackwards, usually expensive, and often harmful to your vital organs.

-DO get any therapy that may be helpful. Anxiety is crappy. Sensory issues are crappy. Insomnia is crappy.

-If you have health issues, take care of them, but don't expect that to cure your autism. It won't, but it's a lot easier to function in this alien world if you aren't also sick.

-Seek out our kind. There's nothing like being in a place where everyone speaks the same dialect. It's beautiful. You need to experience the ease of relating to people who grok.

-Non autistic people sometimes get it, too. They're good people to get to know.

-Accept yourself as you are. Strive to be the best you that you can be. Always.

With open arms,

Neurodivergent K.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Punishment for "Coping Well"

If you have a disability, especially one that isn't visible, there's this really strange phenomenon. Apparently one is supposed to live their whole life afraid & dependent & limiting oneself.

If you don't, you are said to be "coping well" & therefore able to do without having your support needs met. A few examples for you:

There is a woman who attends a certain autism group that I attend as well. She is MEAN. She is a bully, she has no regard for anyone's needs but her own, she breaks the confidentiality rules (as loudly as possible. In downtown Portland. My Deaf friend could hear her. Said Deaf friend does not use hearing aids or anything of that sort). She is manipulative and sneaky and seriously, she's mean.

Get pushed too far by this sort of person, stand up for yourself, get yelled at. Why? Apparently because I am smarter than she is, or at least more articulate. Fun fact: I have intense sensory issues, I do not tolerate bullying, and once you push my (fairly well known) buttons to hard, I will absolutely tell you exactly why you are wrong, and quite possibly what I think of you. And you deserve it! Bullying continues & is taken to other venues. Mention it to the powers that are in the particular autism group. Get yelled at! Fuck yeah, enablers! Being smart does NOT mean I am not autistic, with real support needs, with real needs to not be bullied by people who are supposedly my own, with real needs to not have it overlooked & tacitly supported because I am superficially a bit more "normal" (here read this as: I give a flying fajita about other people & I don't SHOUT EVERYTHING I SAY EVER).

I've been sitting on that one for over a year, but it never fails to piss me off. Ever. How dare I be the non-shithead kind of autistic??

Or epilepsy! Yes, I do stuff that could be seen as risky-gymnastics, I go places alone, stuff like that. So then when there is a real access need, it can't be that important because I take care of myself pretty well? NO! I can navigate my environment because I make eliminating changeable triggers a priority. It's a priority so that it's safe for me to go places. What is so difficult to understand about this? I mean, besides the "legal obligation" part, or the "don't be an asshole" bit?

And if you have a disability, and you disagree with what Tragedy Model pushers say, if you do anything independantly you must be full of shit. No. I'm living my life. There is a difference, and fuck you right to hell for putting us all in a place where we can't win.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I mean you. Right now.

I protested you. You know damn well I protested you. It's not a secret. I wore a shirt that said "Celebrate Neurodiversity", carried a sign that says "Autism Speaks does not speak for me" with your ugly blue puzzle piece all crossed out, talked to parents about why you are so damn toxic. Does that look like a person who wants anything to do with you?

And then you go and quote me?? In your transition kit??? AND YOU GET THE ATTRIBUTION WRONG??? No, I was not fucking diagnosed at 18. I found out at 18 I'd been diagnosed for-freaking-ever. There's a difference. A substantial one. But hey, any misleading thing to try to shut up autistic adults, right?

Oh and there's the whole "Not asking" thing. I know, it was a publicly available work, but it would have been ethical to ask if you could use it, if the context was correct, if I wanted in any way to be associated with you (which I don't. Except protesting you. I'm ok with that, no matter how many of your supporters tell me to go play in traffic--3 was the count this year. Other obscenities rate much higher).

Shut up and listen: this is more talking about us without us. You can't yank a quote--even a good quote--and get the details about that person wrong and just use it when you know damn well they dislike you and all you stand for intensely. That isn't involving autistics, if that's your excuse. That's more of the same thing we've been getting for years, acknowledging us only when convenient.

Shut the hell up and listen.