Saturday, April 30, 2016

Don't call me "talented"-BADD adjacent post

This post wasn't exactly written specifically for BADD like my posts for it usually are, but there's an aspect of ableism the phenomenon I'm writing about. There's also a big pile of ableism in the life experiences that lead to my reaction to being cast as "talented". So this is BADD adjacent, bc of timing & because a lot of disabled people relate, based on my small contacts.

Please don't cast me as "talented" or "a natural". Unless you're talking about hyper mobility or pattern recognition, I'm probably not, and it really freaks me out.

The first reason this freaks me out is easy to comprehend: it erases my effort. Hard work beats talent because hard work shows up. I'm probably not "a natural"; my ass is showing up. That deserves recognition, dammit. I'm way more impressed with someone who puts in the hours than someone who just magically can do things, why are you not?

And then you get into the muddle of confusing, "wow you have issues" things. Maybe I do have issues. But that doesn't make this less valid. You don't have to understand it for it to be real, and these reasons were directly caused by other people. So go roll your eyes at them.

The first bit is a common twice exceptional kid thing, I think. I need to be allowed to be not good at things. In my youth (& let's face it, to this day) my worth was determined but what I could do--especially that which came naturally. Things that didn't were considered lost causes. Apparently autistic kids & kids considered smart are born with a full suite of abilities waiting to be untapped, and if it doesn't happen on the first try it is never going to happen. I internalized this attitude before I knew that what I was surrounded with wasn't actually objectively factual. I've had to fight every breath for the right to do things I had to work for (ask me about gymnastics sometime...), and I had no support in learning how to do that work. Instead of "try again!" cheerleaders I had a chorus of voices telling me that there's so much I am good at, why not focus on that? Why do you care about these things that are hard?

It's important for me to do things that are hard. I'm just now starting to get comfortable with the idea that things are hard and I have a ceiling in things and that's ok. Other people also need to be comfortable with this, or at least keep their discomfort to themselves. This is hard-won. I am not good at taking failure gracefully. Don't sabotage my progress.

There's another factor too. I brushed lightly on it in my Dream Student/Nightmare Student post last summer. If I am given room to fail or have to work hard without it being a big production, without "wow I expected more of you" or disappointment or "maybe you should stop doing the thing" or what have you, I do a lot better. A couple of the arenas that people mistake me for a natural in are adjacent to things I've got much experience in coupled with an environment where no one expects perfection right away. Where it's okay to not be a natural. Where it's acceptable that if things change I can't actually adapt quickly. If you put me in an environment that demands immediate excellence, rather than being pleased with it, then I am a mess. The weight of expectations leads to anxiety & actively impedes participating in the thing. Even if it's patterns. Even if it's not getting dizzy. Even if it's code breaking.

Too often the twice exceptional kid gets told she is "so smart" and that is presented as her defining feature and her redeeming value. Anything autistic people in particular are good at gets written off as a splinter skill or savant skill. We're weirdly presumed incapable of learning, so everything we know we must have inherent aptitude for. We are not able to persevere, merely perseverate.

Give us credit for our work. For trying. For progress. For doing things even though they are hard.

Lots of us cannot deal with compliments on abilities at all. I can, but within certain guidelines. Don't tell me I am good at a thing, please. Do not ever tell me I am inherently good at a thing. I will freeze. I will tell you why you are wrong. I will know that not having a skill without trying isn't safe around you. Tell me that an aspect of the activity or subject has improved, or looks nice, is dynamic, some appropriate adjective for the subset. My falls are nice. I made saltatory conduction make sense. You love my toe point. I have a good eye for landing deductions. My arrow shooting form is efficient. Whatever. But not the blanket thing please.

And for the love of all that is good, don't ever say that I'm good "for a disabled person". That's pretty much a different post, but if I'm good, I'm good for an anybody person, and I work just as hard as anyone of my skill level. Acknowledge that.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

I know why your child acts out: an analogous situation

As you all know, I have photosensitive epilepsy. I have had a long long struggle with trying to get people to maybe consider not killing me. Long. Exhausting. Futile.

Today I went to a cross disability conference. Someone not me (hooray!) took the initiative in dealing with the flash issue, I got there & they told me and I was like "hooray!" and then went to get coffee before my first session.

Long time readers & people who know me personally know, I've done a lot of reaching out, conversing, talking to people about this issue. They know that I'm pretty much always met with lies & flashing.

We went to our first session, which was quite good, & a photographer (supposedly they had all been talked to already) flashed his flash. It was too early in the morning for this shit. I chucked my pen at him. Someone from the organization putting on the conference took him out to the hall, told him he really cannot do that, & returned my pen to me.

Not a single other flash happened.

Announcements were made. They were observed.

Throwing a pen worked. "Using my words" has never worked.

Ask nicely? They say "oh of course" or "well we can try but no promises" and it's like a godsdamned disco ball. Tell meanly and they act all put out, like it's the world's biggest favor, maybe they'd be more accommodating if you begged more, and it's a godsdamned disco ball. Enlist someone else to ask and they get tone policed no matter what they do (though it may not be a disco ball). Talk with them for years after they have a board member harass you with a camera, it's all promises and scapegoating a man with high support needs and yet more flashes.

But throw a pen? I believe the behaviorists in the audience would call it "one trial learning".

And it was quick and it was easy. Tactful conversations up a power gradient are stressful. Rude conversation up a power gradient is stressful. Waiting for other people to talk so I don't get upset and throw a pen is stressful. All of these things are draining, hard, and not consistently in my skill set.

And they are ineffective.

Acting out worked. And it was efficient. It was so easy. It actually really pisses me off that I have engaged my impulse control for so long, when doing the easy automatic thing, which happens to be the socially inappropriate thing, was so easy and effective. I'd have thrown a pen a decade ago if I'd known it was this easy.

So, like, maybe when "using your words" is thoroughly ineffective frustration, but dumping a desk works? You're gunna keep dumping the desk.

Yeah, I know exactly why.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

I'm aware of your hate.

It's yet another "autism awareness day". Or autism acceptance day if you run in my circles.

The rhetoric never gets better. We can tone it down taupe, red instead, light it up gold, burn it down beige all we want, but we don't control the narrative.

No matter where I turn this month, I am forced to be aware of one thing:

The well of your hate for me & mine is truly bottomless.

There's a slow trickle throughout the year. My Autistic siblings are murdered and the media reports naught but sympathy for the killers. Scary people are armchair diagnosed as sharing my neurotype, with no evidence but that you hate us all. People fundraise to get rid of us.

Epidemic. Emergency. Tsunami. Burden. National crisis. Tragedy.

Those words never stop echoing in my ears, not really, but I can pretend for whole hours at a time that you almost think I'm people, 11 months of the year.

But in April you won't give me that. It's 30 days of solid "we hate you. You should not exist."

It's not just the gush of threats of bodily harm. Those ebb more with current events than with the calendar, mostly. It's the 24 hours wall to wall endless rush of hate and resentment.

It's parents who admit to treating their kids worse than animals being treated as heroes.

It's people giving money to organizations that pay people to go on camera saying they want to drive kids off the bridge.

It's the endless barrage of people telling me  I don't know my experiences because of abilities they assume I have, damn the facts.

It's the other barrage of people telling me that my fear-driven anger with the narrative is unreasonable & a reason I'm too broken to live.

These same people are afraid of autism, but we may not be afraid of the consequences of their hate.

It's blue lights, because "blue is for boys and only boys have autism".

It's the legacy of little puzzle head.

It's the same fear based tactics since I was 16, & they get more frenetic rather than segueing to calming the hell down.

It's how calmly people tell me they don't blame my mom for her violence.

It's uncritical presentation of Indistinguishable from Peers as a good & damn the consequences.

It's the lauding of Good Autistics from rich white moderate backgrounds while ignoring or even taking steps to silence those of us born unrespectable.

It's the rain of infantiliaztion.

It's " do you want to donate money so we can prevent people like you from being born?"

It's the words that say more about you than about us:

Lacking empathy. Rigid. Unpredictable. Violent. In their own world. Perpetual child. Noncommunicative. Soulless. Stolen. Lost. Missing.

It's being reminded it's a tragedy that we have a normal life span. Except we don't. We die 30 years early. Even that is too long for you all.

Everywhere I look you remind me that you hate uhat you hate us. You want us gone. A word for the history books.

I'm aware of the meaning of 'awareness.' Are you?