Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Hell is other people. Hell is awareness without understanding. Instead of trying to convince me I am a horrible unempathetic (a load of shit, btw) half-human for not being willing to forgive truly shitty things and for not supporting the WAAAAH MY KID IS BROKEN pity party, let's talk about being an autistic adult in the world that this attitude has created.


Let's start with a school which shall remain nameless. A teacher who shall remain nameless, who was all for me taking his indoor climbing class, knowing I have epilepsy. Then the A-word comes up and he's all "cannot understand risk" and "would be better suited to a yoga class". Yeah no. I don't like yoga. I like high places and getting to use my muscles. I evaluate risk for a living, except without time to think about it. I WAS A HIGH LEVEL GYMNAST AND THIS IS A COMMUNITY COLLEGE CLIMBING CLASS. It is well within my capabilities thank you very fucking much.

Or let's talk about disability services at the school, who argument-from-tone'd me after not listening to me at all, just this teacher. Or the deans who suggested I don't belong in college at all because I am autistic. Citing my GPA would just be ridiculous, given that it's very high, so let's go with ILLEGAL DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION WOOHOO. Or all involved telling people all about my neurology without verbal permission, much less the written consent they legally need to get.

Or let's talk about the never ending "yes, your strobe on your camera is a strobe light too. Yes, it can cause seizures. Yes, it's a dick move to 'forget' to turn it off. Yes, I have as much right to be in public as anyone else" battle. Or let's talk about the event photographer who shoved my friend and aggressively multiflashed in my face, because he takes pictures for money and therefore the rule did not apply to him.

Or let's talk about the bikers who say they're willing to take the risk of MY having a seizure from their strobes because epileptic people don't drive, right? So who really cares?

Or let's talk about the fucker at a pizza place some friends and I go to regularly who said that if the (nonessential to the venue) music choice was a seizure causing problem, we can all just leave. We have thrown paper airplanes and cupcakes and done awful ballet and lindy hopped and built forts in this damn restaurant but OMG NOT TEH BRAIN DIFFERENCES NOOOOOOOOOOOO. Everyone else who goes there might catch it and that'd be a travesty!

Or we can talk about how nothing is ever easy because people make it hard when it doesn't have to be, and when I express frustration it's because who I am is apparently incomplete and not a really real person, but if my parents (who by the way are poor excuses for human beings) were to express frustration about me, or tried to use my neurotype as a reason for being poor excuses for human beings, would get loveyhugs and sympathy. Because they are real people. And I am not.

(there's all the regular stress too--finals, projects before finals, work, med changes, etc. Usually it's tolerable. Now? Not so much. THANKS, AWARENESS!)


Ari said...

I have quite a few motorcycles. I install a brake light modulator on all of them. It does indeed flash. Every motorcycle I ride that doesn't have it gets rear-ended at some point. Regardless of how much money I spend on personal protective gear, I end up hurt in such accidents. Sometimes, seriously hurt. I could be killed, I've been lucky so far and only have a permanent limp. I have tried reflective vests, non-flashing lights, bright colours, and horns have not helped at all.

Since I installed the flashing lights, the bikes that have them never get rear-ended. Those bikes that don't have it still have such accidents. Thanks to my autistic brain, I have no choice but to ride a motorcycle because I cannot drive a car and there is no transit that I can use where I live. I don't know for certain what the motorcycle riders in your area use flashing lights for, but the only type I know that get used are brake and headlight modulators. Both are used to avoid otherwise life-threatening collisions, both are quite expensive, both have been extensively tested and have proven to be a huge risk reduction. Those flashing lights save lives for the same reasons that flashing lights on emergency vehicles do.

Camera flashes, music, and decorative lighting is a stupidly simple choice: just turn them off, it harms no one. But the flashing lights on a motorcycle are not decorative. They keep me alive and unhurt. I know my flashing taillight is a problem to epileptics. I understand it is painful, damaging, frustrating, risky to you. Can you understand that not having those flashing brake lights is painful, damaging, frustrating, and risky to me?

My point is that you are not always going to be aware of what exactly the choice is that the person is faced with. To you it's simple: kill all flashing lights to avoid seizures. But I must choose between your health or mine. It is a terrible choice, I knew this when I bought my first brake light flasher. I am reminded of it for every new brake light flasher that I have bought. Not everyone who uses flashing lights is either lacking awareness or being inconsiderate.

Neurodivergent K said...

I was referring to the strobes on the front of bicycles, actually (which people cannot track very well anyway. People SUCK at tracking flashes).

Given that I have the sort of seizures that can kill you, I have, like, NO sympathy for people who use the bike lanes and the sidewalk and still tell me that they feel justified in their damn strobe lights. None at all. I've never seen a flash on a motorcycle so do not have an opinion other than kneejerk "to hell with flashies".

Ari said...

Not having my flashing lights can kill me too, whether I'm on a motorcycle or bicycle. So that is the terrible choice. Who gets to live, you or me, and why? My life isn't worth less than yours, otherwise that would be an easy question to answer.

My point is that this is not a simple problem and it does not have a simple answer. Your knee-jerk reaction of "no flashies" is just as unproductive as their knee-jerk reaction of refusing to accommodate you.

Granted, I understand and have sympathy for you whether you are willing to understand and have sympathy for me or not. But, most people aren't like me...

Neurodivergent K said...

You realize this wasn't just about the flashy lights on the front of *Bicyles* that I was talking about, yes?

It's more about "SO HEY EVERYTHING IS SO DAMN DIFFICULT AND DOESN'T NEED TO BE" combined with "You'd be pissy too in my position".

Heldenautie said...

"L'enfer, c'est -- les autres!"

Way to quote Sartre. Also, to previous commenters, do you all mean to imply that there are NO ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVES to flashing lights? Zero? That flashing lights (specifically 10 Hz lights, i.e. EEG strobes) are the SOLE CONCEIVABLE WAY TO ENSURE YOUR SAFETY? Because, if not, you need to check your non-epileptic privilege, cut out the ad hominem attacks, read the book, and (as stated in Matthew 17:26) "Shut the hell up."