Friday, November 1, 2013

Autistics Speaking Day: truth to power part 5

This Autistics Speaking Day, I am going to speak truth that certain folks with power in the larger Autistic community would rather I kept to myself. An access fail went down at Autreat 2013. The official incident report is a) not an incident report and b) utterly devoid of "having consulted with the person it actually happened to". Now it's my turn to report on the incident, and the ugly underbelly that was revealed in the immediate and distant aftermath.
This is what I'd classify as the immediate aftermath.

Friday is going home day. I couldn't even with the ending session. There were voices happening that made me feel panicky, and disconnected was better than panicky. I remember basically being aimless & still wanting to go home, but it was like I was resigned to not yet.

I could not wait til Beth got back from running folks to the airport. I felt wrong. But we didn't leave til the next day, so I squashed down my escape feelings. Shut myself down even more. Keeping busy wasn't a choice, but Shutdown & Stepford mode is unfortunately something I have experience with. My autopilot is pretty tuned.

We went to the hotel. We got food. That's what I've got. And then Saturday we got up to go to the airport for the flight.

I don't really remember the flights either, except that I couldn't focus and attempted to wind some lace weight yarn of Mandy's into a ball. And failed somewhat spectacularly. It's probably still a tangled mess.

And over the next couple days I started connecting to the world again, reassociating if you will, and realized that scripts used were ones that trigger dissociation and "whatever I need to do I will power through before this turns to extrabad" reactions. I wrote about that.

And then I did something unforgiveable: I said so. That I was not mentally present, that I shouldn't have done the presentation, that I was manipulated.

And people lost their shit. How dare I use that word? Manipulation involves intent.

Except that's not quite right. Manipulation does not require saying "I am going to go be manipulative right now bwah hah hah hah". It requires having an agenda and using your communications toward that agenda.

"Fifty people are waiting to hear your presentation" (or was it 70? I don't know. It doesn't matter) is communicating clearly towards an agenda of making that presentation happen.

And, you know what? I thought that Jim would want to know. Would be mortified perhaps, but would want to know that problem solving scripts and walls of words like that wall of words and such can be experienced that way. Even though xe had effectively kicked the person acting as support person out of the room, ridiculously enough I thought xe cared about me as a human being.

I get the impression that this was a silly thought.

The timeline here, again, is fuzzy, but these are immediate things that happened. It took me til Tuesday or so to find my body enough to not hurt myself, so my brain wasn't exactly there.

But I expressed that I shouldn't have, that I was manipulated, and all the outrage! Because intent is fucking magical!

I expressed that gaslighting is a thing, and it had happened, and even more outrage!

Autreat officials have expressed the view that if you don't sit down and say "how can I be abusive today?" you are not able to be abusive. This is a dangerous attitude for anyone to have, even if they never hurt anyone. It's far too callous towards survivors and far too forgiving of abusers.

So, shit hit the fan. Got really very ugly. Somehow it turned into folks were abusing Jim by using the m word (and then the g word) and how dare we?

Stress is a thing. Rhapsody's death is a thing that I was sad about too (and I helped fundraise his care, but people keep forgetting that). No one claimed that Jim was operating at the top of xyr game.

But that's not an excuse to trigger the abuse survivor script and then get angry when told you triggered the abuse survivor script. No. Fleeing to intentions when you hurt someone is really not actually all that illustrative of good intentions.

So then moderation went on and Jim ragequit after climbing up on the cross-apparently it is gaslighting now to point out gaslighting, and rugpulling to point out that the carpet didn't hold still for two days and counting? and of course all this is all my fault.

The moderation was...interesting. In that no one who was actually there could get a post released but all sorts of speculation did. The only time a post got through was immediately ripped apart by the moderator who approved it.

Which is interesting.

Doug Kline's post stating that "Autreat isn't supposed to be safe for child abuse survivors" got through, uncontradicted. No one has had an explanation about why this is acceptable yet. But anything anyone who was actually there says? Nitpicked to death.

So I disengaged. And watched myself be turned into a monster of epic proportions, for daring to be epileptic at Autreat.

Wait, what was that I was told wasn't going to happen? That my access needs weren't going to be twisted into an excuse to be exclusionary? That's funny. Autreat did exactly this, as neatly as Portland Lindy Exchange. And they're still doing it.

Next post we shall explore my new urban legends as well as some interesting double standards.


Anonymous said...

Well, even if Jim isn't, *I'm* interested to know that certain problem-solving scripts can have the effect you describe, because I don't want to inadvertently do that to anyone, and my job kind of puts me in a position where I inadvertently could.... so thanks for writing this.

"Not supposed to be a safe place for child abuse survivors" is an interesting take, given the, like, probably large majority of autistic people who are childhood abuse survivors.

Amy Caraballo said...

Every place should be a safe place for abuse survivors. If it's not, it's as bad as the abuse itself.

Lindsay said...

@chavisory -

"'Not supposed to be a safe place for child abuse survivors' is an interesting take, given the, like, probably large majority of autistic people who are childhood abuse survivors."

That was what I thought too!

Between that and the person who thought it would be great to have a TV in the common area, I'm just flabbergasted at how clueless the people in charge of Autreat seem to be. Blows my mind that this is a conference run by us, for us ... and is still hugely inaccessible to people who have issues that are particularly common among autistic people, like seizures, sensory sensitivities, history of abuse ... yeah.

Lonhar said...

Links to all 7 parts:
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Anonymous said...

I think it's worth noting at the start that I am also someone who can get triggered into disassociation as a result of childhood abuse.

The fact that you have been able to put so many words to what happened only a few months after, especially when those words are so descriptive and concise, clearly indicate a vast amount of inner strength.

In my experience, it takes much more effort and energy to avoid being incapacitated by triggers when putting words to something that I experienced without words.

And all of that strength you obviously have makes it even more scary that you were pushed through all of that into such complete disassociation.

Thank you for being willing to spend that effort and energy. What happened to you is important for all communities that think it's important not to actively exclude people, not just for the Autreat community.

People need to know that safety is about more than weapons. Safety is also lights and sounds and words, and we shouldn't get to hand-pick who's allowed to be safe in any given space.