Adapting Peggy McIntosh’s paper on “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of privilege” to accommodate and reveal how Neuro-Typicality constructs its own unspoken system of privilege in our society.

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“As a “neuro-typical person”, I realized I had been taught about discrimination as something which puts others at a disadvantage, yet at the same time, I had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, which are that “neuro-typical privilege” puts me at an advantage.

 

 

I think “neuro-typical people” are carefully taught not to recognize their privilege, in much the same way that males are taught not to recognize male privilege.

 

So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have “neuro-typical Privilege.”

 

I have come to view “neuro-typical privilege” as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious.

 

“Neuro-typical privilege” is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.

 

In a sense it affords those who are “neuro-typical” all of the automatic advantages and access to the world that those who are “non neuro-typical” do not have.

 

Thinking about privilege in this way I began to understand why we are seen as oppressive, even when we don’t see ourselves that way.

 

I began to count the ways in which I enjoy an unearned sense of privilege and of how I have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.

 

My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person or as a participant in a damaged culture.

 

I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will.

 

My schooling followed the pattern in which “neuro-typicals” are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work which will allow “them“ to be more like “us.”

 

I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of “neuro-typical privilege” on my life.

 

As far as I can see, my “non neuro-typical” co-workers, friends and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and line of work cannot count on most of these conditions.

 

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my own “neuro-typical status” most of the time.

 

2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area, which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

 

3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

 

4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

 

5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my “neuro- typical status” widely represented (in positive ways).

 

6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my ilk made it what it is.

 

7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their “neuro-typical validity”.

 

8. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

 

9. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my “neuro-typical behaviour” not to work against the appearance of my financial reliability.

 

10. I can go into a supermarket or into a hairdresser’s without risking “being over whelmed by sensory stimulation”.

 

11. I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to bad morals, poverty, or the inadequacies of  “having a non-neuro- typical status”.

 

12. I can speak in public to a powerful group without putting my “neurological status” on trial.

 

13. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my “neuro-typical” class.

 

14. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my “neuro- typical” group.

 

15. I can remain oblivious of the “sensory needs and issues of non-neuro-typical persons” without feeling any cultural penalty for doing so.

 

16. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as an outsider.

 

17. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my own “neuro-typical status”

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18. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children’s magazines featuring people of my own “neuro-typical status”.

 

19. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.

 

20. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my “neurological status”.

 

21. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my “neurological status” will be mistreated in the place I have chosen.

 

22. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my “neurological status” will not work against me.

 

23. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has “discriminatory” overtones.

 

I repeatedly forgot each of the realizations on this list until I wrote them down.

 

For me, “neuro-typical privilege” has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject.

 

The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy, for if these things are true, this is not such a free country; one’s life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.

 

In unpacking this invisible backpack of privilege, I have listed conditions of daily experience which I once took for granted.

 

I now think that we need a more finely differentiated taxonomy of privilege, for some these varieties are only what one would want for everyone in a just society, and for others give license to be ignorant, oblivious, arrogant and destructive.

 

I see a pattern running through the matrix of “neuro- typical privilege”, a pattern of assumptions which were passed on to me as a “neuro-typical” person.

 

My “neurological status” has been an asset for any move that I’m educated to want to make.

 

I could think of myself as belonging in major ways, and of making social systems work for me.

 

I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms.

 

Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely.

 

In proportion, as my “neurological status” made my group confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated.

 

My “neurological status” protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit in turn upon people of “different neurology”.

 

For this reason, the word “privilege” now seems to be misleading.

 

We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work to systematically over empower certain groups.

 

Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one’s “neurological status”.

 

I want, then, to distinguish between earned strength and unearned power conferred systematically.

 

Power from unearned privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission to escape or to dominate.

 

The expectation that your neighbors will be decent to you, or that your “neurological status” will not count against you in court, should be the norm in a just society.

 

For example, the feeling that one belongs within the human circle, as Native Americans say, should not be seen as a privilege for the few.

 

Ideally it is an unearned entitlement.

 

At present, since only a few have it, it is also an unearned advantage for them.

 

This paper results from a process of coming to see that some of the power which I originally saw as attendant on being a human being in the U.S. consisted in an unearned advantage of conferred dominance.

 

I have met very few “neuro-typical” people who are truly distressed about their systemic, unearned advantage and conferred dominance. And so one question for me and others like me is whether we will be like them or whether we will get truly distressed, even outraged about unearned “neuro-typical” advantage and conferred dominance and if so, what will we do to lessen them.

 

In any case, we need to do more work in identifying how these unearned advantages actually affect our daily lives.

 

Many, perhaps most of our “neuro-typical students”, think that “disablism” doesn’t affect them because they are “neuro-typical”, so they do not see being “non neuro-typical” as an identity.

 

In addition, it is hard to disentangle aspects of unearned advantage which rest more on social class, economic class, race, religion, sex and ethnic identity than on other factors.

 

Still, all of the oppressions are interlocking and one factor that seems clear about all of the interlocking oppressions is that they take both active forms, which we can see, and embedded forms, which as a member of the dominant group one is not taught to see.

 

In my class and place, I did not see myself as “discriminatory” because I was taught to recognize “discrimination” only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in the invisible systems conferring unsought “neurological” dominance on my group from birth.

 

Disapproving of these systems won’t be enough to change them.

 

I was taught to think that “discrimination” could end if individuals changed their attitudes.

 

(But) being “neuro-typical” opens many doors for those who are, whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate, but cannot end, these problems.

 

To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions.

 

The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tools here.

 

They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these taboo subjects.

 

Most talk by “neuro-typicals” about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.

 

It seems to me that obliviousness about “neurological advantage” is kept strongly inculturated so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all.

 

Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power, and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.

 

Though systemic change takes many decades there are pressing questions for me and I imagine for some others like me if we raise our daily consciousness on the perquisites of being “neuro-typical.”

 

What we will do with such knowledge is an open question?

 

Whether we will choose to use unearned advantage to weaken hidden systems of advantage or whether we will use any of our arbitrarily awarded power to reconstruct power systems on a broader base, is up to us.”

 

This reworking of the classic article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” By Peggy McIntosh, an Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Research for Women, was initially written to challenge racism  by looking at it through the lens of “whiteness” and the unspoken level of privilege that whiteness confers upon those who hold it. The vast majority of her article as represented here, continues to remain the work of Peggy McIntosh almost verbatim. The only changes I have made have been to replace the terms “white privilege” with “neuro-typical privilege”, “whiteness” or ‘white/fair skinned” with the word “neuro-typical’ and “race” or “racism” with terms “discrimination”, “neurological status” or “non neuro-typical status”.

Warning of Tragic Funding Consequences For Those With Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome Under the DSM-V

Illustration: Matt Golding.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

Australia‘s foremost authority on Asperger’s Syndrome has warned of ”tragic consequences” if governments use the new narrower diagnostic criteria for autism to cut funding for children at the mild end of the spectrum.

”A child diagnosed with apparently mild autism may have challenges that are profound to them. If they are offered little or no support, there potentially could be tragic consequences,” Professor Tony Attwood told the new edition of the Australian Autism Handbook, which will be published on Monday.

Changes to the criteria for the diagnosis of autism – which unlocks $12,000 in funding – are due to come into effect in May.

According to Australian and American studies, the changes are likely to exclude the highest-functioning 9 per cent to 23 per cent of autistic children, many of whom would have received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome or high-functioning autism under the old criteria.

Those higher-functioning autistics are likely to receive a diagnosis of social communication disorder, as distinct from autism spectrum disorder.

The federal government has yet to decide whether children who have received the lesser diagnosis of social communication disorder will qualify for Helping Children with Autism funding.

”At worst, 75 per cent of those with a current diagnosis of Asperger’s will no longer meet the criteria for an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis under the new criteria,” Professor Attwood said.

The HCWA program has been in place since 2008 and has helped 19,000 children gain access to early intervention services that vastly improve their chances of fitting into mainstream schooling. It is estimated one in 100 children in Australia has autism, though the most recent survey in the US put the rate there at one in 50. Boys are afflicted more often than girls.

Professor Attwood’s caution is supported by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists president Maria Tomasic, who said: ”The diagnostic criteria suggests disability may be similar to that of Asperger disorder and will require comparable support. As social communication disorder is a new diagnosis, we do not yet know its validity or associated disability.”

Minister for Disability Reform Jenny Macklin said through a spokesman that her department would ”continue to monitor international best practice and liaise with the Department of Health and professional health bodies about the appropriateness of the tool for diagnosing autism in Australia”.

Sydney mother Kristen Callow knows the trouble parents of newly diagnosed children might find themselves in if funding is cut. Her daughter Juliet, 7, could read at age two but, despite having 500 words in her vocabulary, could not communicate ”I want juice”. She was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 3.

”It could very well be that we would have missed the boat,” Mrs Callow says. ”It’s hard to argue that a profile like that does not need help.

”We got a lot of ‘she is fine’, a lot of dismissal of our concerns. Because she had 500 words, our paediatrician at the time was totally unconcerned.”

After Juliet accessed the early intervention program she has been able to attend mainstream school.

Despite initial difficulties with anxiety and adapting to the social environment, Mrs Callow says Juliet is doing very well.”

This article has been written by Kathryn Wicks, co-author of Australia’s Autism Handbook

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/warning-of-tragic-outcomes-in-narrower-criteria-for-autism-20130330-2h0ab.html#ixzz2RZ8btaHl

 

The Privilege Game

seventhvoice:

I’ve been trying to say something very similar to this in many of my previous posts but I’ve never ever managed to pin down all the arguments involved in such an eloquent and articulate way.

Originally posted on Autism & Oughtisms:

Non-autistic parents of autistic children, are apparently privileged. What does that mean, and why does it matter? And does it really justify silencing and attacking us, as seems to have become a popular pass-time for a few autism bloggers?

By TheFutureIsUnwritten

“Privilege” here means that we’re in a position of power, particularly as relative to other autistic adults and autistic parents. We live in a world where being not-autistic is some sort of advantage, a world where our voices as non-autistic parents is apparently already strong.

Whether that is true or not, is one question. The second part of the question is what this supposed privilege entails or justifies.

The argument I see coming through the most often when privilege is cited, goes like this: Because of our privilege, we non-autistic parents of autistic children, are meant to make way for the voices of autistic parents and autistic adults; pass…

View original 1,746 more words

Parenting in the Digital Age. The Dangers of Mobile Phone Uploads and “Selfies.” A plea for teenage girls and their parents to become more aware of what’s going on out there in cyber space.

This is just one example of the phenomenon known as a “Selfie” ( a photo taken of oneself by oneself) that is beginning to flood the pages of Face Book, Instagram, YouTube and other various forms of social media.

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What’s disturbing about this photo, amongst oh so many other things, is that the girl in it is obviously quite young.

Young enough to not be posing for pictures like this in her underwear, (even if she is the one taking the photo of herself), and certainly not yet old enough to realize the dangers inherent in posting photos like this on the world-wide web, where anyone can download them and do whatever they want with them.

As a parent, I have to admit that I am shocked to see this kind of photo being posted regularly via links to my own daughter’s Facebook page.

As a mother, whenever I see these images, I wonder whether or not the girl’s parents are aware of what their daughters are posting on-line?

This is a very different response to the one I would have had less than a year ago, when I would have automatically condemned the girl’s parents for “letting their daughter’s take such photos”.

Now with the benefit of hindsight and a rapid education in the modality of our modern social media, (thanks in large part to my own children’s use of social networking), I am beginning to understand that such photos can be taken without a parent even so much as being aware that their children are doing anything more than playing with their iPod’s, iPad’s or mobile phones all within the safety and the privacy of their own bedrooms.

And of course, therein lies the rub.

We think that as parents, our children are safe when they are in the privacy of our houses or in the safety of their own rooms.

But the truth is….. Sometimes they’re not.

Sometimes, especially for teenage girls, privacy when combined with the ability of mobile phones, iPod’s or I pad’s to take photos and upload them instantly onto the internet, along side the peer pressure they face to  be cool, can  become nothing short of a recipe for disaster.

A disaster that anyone can download, copy and redistribute to as many different web sites, as many times as they like.

As if that isn’t a creepy enough thought already, my major concern in all of this is for my own daughter.

What happens if these kinds of photos appear often enough on her links that they become viewed as common place and no big deal at all?

Will she then, in time, begin to believe that it’s acceptable to post up similar images of herself? As if it is no ‘biggie’ to expose her face and her body in such a way to the world at large?

That if enough of her friends start doing it then eventually it won’t matter to her how many times I tell her that it’s wrong……. and that it is a big deal…..

And then maybe…..

Just maybe…..

The first time I’ll know anything about it will be once it’s already too late to take it back.

And perhaps the scariest part of this line of thinking is that when it comes to questions like this……

How do I know that she hasn’t already snapped a shot of herself like that within the privacy of her own bedroom?

With the phone I brought her to keep her safe while she’s out and about in case of emergencies.

The answer is….. I don’t know. And if even I have to admit that I don’t know, then there must be other parents out there who may also have to admit that they don’t know either.

So I think the days of believing that we as parents can control what our children do, show and say have well and truly been taken away by the digital age.

So we’d best get on with the job of understanding this and start looking at finding new ways of safe guarding our children’s best interests.

In the meantime here’s a simple truth for every teenager out there………

Once a picture has been posted on the internet you can never really get it back.

It is there to stay.

Yes sure, you may be able to delete the original copy that you put up……… but can you track down and trace however many people have downloaded it in the meantime?

Can you prevent them from sharing it?

Can you prevent complete strangers from downloading your photos?

You may think that you can….. But you can’t……

Unfortunately the photo at the top of the page is proof that anyone, and I mean anyone, can download your personal pictures from any unprotected social media sites……

Scared yet?????????

Because I know I certainly am.

The photo used in this post is the least offensive “selfie” shot of its variety that I could find. Believe it or not, this young girl is actually wearing more clothes than most of the others. Disgusting I know.

Free Form Human Beings ……………Life In The Androgynous Zone

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Do you ever just sometimes want to be able to walk out into the world, not as a gendered being, but simply as a human being?

A human being that isn’t defined by the otherwise hidden credentials harboured between your legs?

The very credentials that have become such important aspects in shaping both our place in the world and whether or not we are deemed to “fit” successfully within it?

I must admit that some days, as a woman, I long for the sanctuary of androgyny.

To be able to move freely amidst the sea of other human beings without the minds of others making automatic assumptions about me simply because of my gender.

Sometimes I just want to go out into the world as the person that is me. No if’s, and’s or but’s, just plain old me.

I’m not sure whether this desire to be viewed as gender neutral is something that’s becoming stronger  within me as I age, or whether it has more to do with constantly  feeling at odds with a world that endlessly seeks to tell me who I am and how I should be.

Whatever the reason, I feel the personal need to strike out against the ideological constraints too often placed on women in our society.

Not in a violent aggressive way, but in a silently self-contained  way.

A way that reflects who I am, not who I am told I ought to be.

More and more often, I find that I am drawn to wearing hats that conceal my hair, scarves that conceal my neck, long coats that conceal my body and tall boots the visually eradicate  the curve of my legs.

These items of clothing, I am discovering, are becoming my own modern version of a personal Burqaa.

A mailable barrier that creates a material shield which encapsulates me when I’m out in public, in a way that I find, comforting.

Liberating even.

In the past I’d heard Muslim women claim that they derive a sense of liberation from choosing to wear their Burqaa’s.

For years my western sensibilities denied the truth of such claims. After all, I reasoned, how can anyone feel free when they’re being forced to cover themselves up night and day for the benefit of others?

Of course the point I’d missed within it all was that the women making such claims were choosing to wear their Burqaa’s/ Hijab.

Now when I think about the concept of the Burqaa, sitting as it now does alongside my own desire to move about the world un-gendered and un-encumbered by all of the stereotypes that gender brings, I can appreciate and begin to understand how it may indeed hold liberating effects for women.

So now instead of wondering  why it is that anyone would want to cover up their gender, I find myself questioning why it is that our Western societies have taken something as personal and as intimate as gender and turned it into a trademark.

A trademark that has become both the stamp of admission and the marker of denial framed within the fine print on the passports that we all must carry in order to obtain our human rights.

A passport that for too many now offers up the personal judgements, condemnations and un-warranted rules and regulations that seek to constrain personal freedoms instead of ensuring them.

Perhaps if we stopped placing  gender at the centre of our being and instead re-instated our humanity, in all of its colors, shapes and diversity, as the single most important qualifier for accessing human rights, then all the division, intolerance, discrimination and hatred that has established itself so firmly within our world,  could be dissolved overnight?

Wishful thinking I know.

But some days it seems to me that if we removed all of the superficial and socially constructed constraints of gender from the passport of our humanity, we’d all be just that little bit closer to actually being free.

Free from banning girls from going to school.

Free from bullying young boys and girls for existing somewhere outside of the lines of a predefined gendered stereotyped way of being.

Free from having to try and delineate the terms under which love is legal.

Free from the weight of living in what is fast becoming a too unrealistic and overly sexualized world for our children.

I don’t know about you, but I for one think this world could be a wondrous place if we simply just let ourselves and others be free.

Free Form Human Beings. That sounds good to me.

 

Ignore them and they’ll go away……A Dangerous Response to a growing social problem….

The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get

The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been reading  a few blog post that have really got me thinking about the way we treat other people in this world and the lists of  justifications we use  for doing so.

I think in a lot of ways, the views we have of ourselves, dictate the views and actions we  practice towards others.

The thing is, I’m not entirely sure this is a particularly good way of going about things.

Take for example the view that if someone does something that YOU do not like, then YOU should ignore them until they go away.

As a result of this line of thinking, a lot of people have commented that the best way to defeat “evil” or “negative actions”, is to ignore those who  commit them.

To many, this way of thinking involves  making sure that the stories behind the actions of “wrong doers” receives no ‘air time‘  either within the media or society itself.

Don’t talk about them,

Don’t mention them,

Don’t let yourself for one minute even consider how such unimaginable actions might have occurred int the first place.

Focus only on the victims and the perpetrators will go way.

After all, isn’t that what current conventional wisdom dictates?

That  if a person committing an aberrant  action is not given any attention, then that person will either go away (note there does not seem to be a particularly large amount of thought going into just how that person should go away)  or change their actions into something considered more favorable by society.

The thing about all of this is, well, what if the person has already been treated negatively by others all of their life for the very same reasons?

What if  it’s the very idea that you should ignore someone whose actions or behaviors  do not fit in with YOUR own world view, that has caused that person to further respond badly toward others?

What if being ignored all the time just because they are different, is the very thing that feeds the fire within those who go out and commit acts of violent crimes towards others?

What then?

I know a lot of people are currently running with the adage ‘that if you don’t feed the flames  the fire  will eventually snuff itself out…..

But…..

People aren’t fires or flames, or whatever other analogy you’d like to use .

And I do worry that this idea that we should automatically ignore those who are different or not behaving in ways that we either understand or consider to be positive, is a dangerous one.

Especially when it comes to acknowledging the reality that  those with conditions such as Autism or  Mental Health Disorders, already often live in a world in which their behaviors, and as a consequence of this, their personhood‘s, are routinely being looked down upon or ignored by others.

So how are such people to react to the adage that ,”if you don’t feed the flames, the fire will snuff itself out.”

If you don’t pay attention to those behaving negatively or in ways that you cannot comprehend…….

They will……

What……?

Give up?

Go away?

Live a life of isolation?

Or eventually just snuff themselves out…..?

I’m sorry, and please forgive me, but isn’t this practice of ostracizing others because YOU do not like their behavior,  the exact same belief pattern that has already made those who are different in any way, feel like outcasts within their own communities?

I don’t know about any body else….. but to me….. the use of this whole mindset of ” ignore them and they will go away”,  as a justification for  not dealing with or attempting to understand those who are different within our society, far from posing any form of solution,  just seems to be feeding the bigger problem of intolerance.

Besides, whatever happened to the good old-fashioned saying that “all that is necessary for evil prospers is for good men do nothing?”

Isn’t it time we did something?

Isn’t ignoring the problem exactly the same scenario as “good men doing nothing?”

 

First do no harm or First ask no questions? Thalidomide, Anti-Anxiety Medication, Anti-Depressants, Doctors and the Big Pharma World Wide Web

THEIR PROFIT

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YOUR LIFE

Shows 1962 photo of baby born with an extra ap...

Recent reports on Thalidomide state that the German pharmaceutical company that produced it had knowledge that Thalidomide caused birth defects  for at least 2 years prior to its being banned.

An Australian report released last week asserts that not only did that company employ many ex-Nazi war criminals in the form of scientists and doctors, but that one of those of those war criminals was also on the board of the company.

It further assert that Thalidomide itself is a drug devised directly from the many atrocities and torturous ‘medical experiments’ performed at Auschwitz.

Sadly, Thalidomide is not the only so-called pharmaceutical or medical ‘break through’ which began its life in this way.  Many of the  drugs which have emerged since the 1940’s share this same shameful heritage.

Nor are the makers of Thalidomide the only drug company to profit  from the misery their products create.

Time and again we are being shown that fiscal fines offer no deterrent for big companies whose products knowingly cause harm to millions.

Why? Because the amount of money they make from selling harmful products far outweighs the cost of any fines applied to them.

Even when caught there is no jail time involved.

Big Pharma simply has nothing to lose in this equation.

We now live in a world where anti- anxiety and anti-depressant medications are being dispensed like candy to an increasingly stressed and disillusioned population. All this despite the growing level of evidence that some anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants are more addictive than heroin and just as, if not more, destructive to those who take them.

Isn’t anyone out there stopping to ask why a doctor would prescribe a person suffering extreme anxiety or depression medication that many increase “thoughts of self-harming”?

What on earth is the point of dispensing medication that holds the potential to increase the very symptoms it is supposed to cure?

We need to understand that just because a drug is  being legally made , it  does not necessarily make it a safe drug to take.

That medications prescribed by doctors are neither  safe nor in many instances even  necessary for attaining good health.

In fact, many of the medications that have been manufactured and prescribed for mass consumption are leaving behind a legacy of harm which, as with Thalidomide, hold the potential to impact on future generations.

Many of these medications  can be seen to offer little more than a quick medical fix to the wider societal problem of unhappiness. As such they create more problems than they cure.

Given this it is hard to see how our doctors are not acting as little more than legally sanctioned drug dealers.

Errand boys ,operating  between Big Pharma and the vulnerable populations their drugs are being pimped out too.

What ever  happened to the idea that doctors are supposed to be independent thinkers who read medical journals and research the products they dispense to their patients?

Aren’t they supposed to be the guardians of our health?

Isn’t that what they are trained to do?

Isn’t that what they get paid  the big dollars for?

Their so-called knowledge and ability to discern a good treatment regime from a bad one ?

Isn’t  the motto of the medical fraternity supposed to be ‘first do no harm’?

Or have our doctors stopped taking the Hippocratic Oath and replaced it instead with the motto of ‘first ask no questions’ if profits abound?

Are parents of children with Autism really so wrong to question the role of immunization and other medical treatments in relation to their child’s Autism?

If there’s one clear lesson from the Thalidomide scandal it’s the sure and certain knowledge that legally prescribed drugs can and do cause harm to developing fetuses.

So just how many more scandals  will it take before we understand that the role  of Big Pharma and their profit driven medications offer us no solutions, cures or reductions in the problems of the human condition?

That  in fact, Big Pharma corporations may indeed be creating their own seductively marketed and heavily disguised ‘consumer diseases’ under the guise of the DSMV for  little more than their own fiscal benefits.

Autism and Parental Expertiese

As both a parent and a researcher I can not stand the way parents have continuously been portrayed by ‘medical’ researchers as either uncaring, neglectful or somehow to blame for their child’s autism.

Too often the lies that have been told in the past are recycled in the present to form a justification for the negation of parental views on Autism.

For many decades parents of children with Autism were constructed through the medical model of disability, as not having the capacity to ‘cope’ with the ‘caring’ demands their child required (Olmsted & Blaxil, 2010; Kanner, 1943).

This type of thinking led to the  policies of the past that sought the removal of Autistic children from families and instigated the  institutionalisation of disabled children (Olmsted & Blaxil, 2010).

The medical definition and diagnostic criteria applied to understanding those with  Autism  also led to their socially prescribed status  as unable or ‘non-functioning’ people.

Many today have refuted such erroneous understandings (Oliver, 1996)  and indicated the role of the medical establishment in  influencing, if not entirely constructing,  modern understandings of Autism, disability, parenting and family life (Oliver, 1996: Olmsted & Blaxil 2010).

Despite this the influence of the medical model is still present within the changing circumstances and social interpretations of the role of the family and those with disabilities today.

More recently  the recommendations of the placement of disabled children within the realms of familial care, as well as the instigated structural reliance of disabled persons and their families on the medical system in order to gain support payments (Heredia, 2007:129) has shown the clear influence that  the medical model of disability has in framing understandings of disability.

For this reason it has been argued by theorists that  the governmental systems over reliance on the medical model of disability to define modalities and instances of disability, has prioritized medical pathology over and above an individual’s rights of citizenry (Heredia, 2007:129, Priestley, 2003:61, Oliver, 1996: Finkelstein).

This is particularly true for children with Autism and their parents where citizenry rights and services, such as access to educational facilities, funding for teacher aids and specialised educational equipment  are based entirely on the medical confirmation of a disability in order to receive  said support (Department of Education Australian curriculum, 2009).

Nadia Heredia (2007:129) argues   that in placing  medical understandings of disability at the gateway of structural, institutional and financial resources, the government has  instigated ‘special’ policies for people with disabilities and their families,  based exclusively on the medical model (Heredia, 2007:129).

As a result the medical model continues to be  viewed as the only mechanism through which solutions to any and all aspects of disability can be legitimately found (Heredia, 2007:129).

Applying Heredia’s (2007:129) argument, it can be seen that  parents of  children with Autism are structurally being positioned in society as both voluntary ‘carers’ and person’s with no professional rights.

The positioning of parents as ‘carers’ with out professional rights is also being  strengthened by the emphasis on  early intervention for children with disabilities (Jenkinson, 1997).

Parental co-operation within early intervention centres, although often crucial to a child’s success,  positions parents as unpaid ‘carers’ working within a system in which every other adult participant working with their child receives financial and social recognition for their work.

This state of affairs neither accurately reflects or acknowledges the high degree of  skill, understanding and worth of parents.

Through both early intervention settings and familial settings  the broader inferences of medical  ideologies can be seen to be constructing  understandings of what constitutes appropriate parental behavior for parents of children with Autism by actively constructing and stratifying the conditions (where, when, how, and why)  through which ‘professionally supervised’ and parental interactions take place (Jenkinson, 1997).

If you think this is not true, just take a minute to consider how you would react to parents who refuse to engage with early intervention, therapy or any other form of established treatment for a child Autism and instead opted for a free form understanding of their child’s needs based on their own observations.

Would you consider them ‘bad parents’ for not conforming to our heavily regimented and medically constructed understanding of how  children with Autism such should be parented?

 

The Law of Provocation

A white ribbon to commemorate the National Day...

An Australian man has been sentenced to 6 years in prison after openly admitting to killing his wife because he did not like what she was saying.

So what was she saying that provoked her husband to kill her?

According to the man his wife had been telling him that she was leaving him.

His apparently ‘legally legitimate’ response to this news was to run into another room, grab a box cutter (AKA Stanley Knife), return to his wife, stab her, slice her throat open and willfully leave her to bleed to death while standing above her and watching her expire.

I don’t know about anybody else, but as far as I’m concerned, this  is an act of murder.

To have this murder ruled as a reasonable attack response to a verbal provocation begs the question:

 Since when does a wife attempting to have a discussion about ending a marriage become  grounds for murder?

Given the husbands Indian heritage one must also ask whether or not this is a case of Australian law turning its back on what would have be seen as an ‘honor killing’ in the husband’s home country?

So how does this happen?

Under the law in Australia there are acts understood as arising out of provocation.

Quite literally the idea is that one person can be provoked , verbally, into losing control of themselves and attacking another.

In the USA I think the equivalent term may be the claim of temporary insanity.

In this case  however, there are clear indications of fore thought. The man had to leave the room in which the ‘offending discussion’ took place to retrieve the box cutter he later used to kill his wife.

Given this, how can his murderous actions  not be seen as providing clear evidence of fore thought, planning and a willfully controlled act of  murder on his part?

 As far as I’m concerned this should never have been a case in which the law of provocation was applied.

It should never be seen that killing another person  because you do not like, or are offended  or hurt by what they are saying, provides an excuse for murder.

Especially if that other person is smaller, weighs less, is defenseless and is a woman.

To me, the ruling in this case sends out a very dangerous message to all would be domestic abusers.

What do you think?

 

Australia The land of the Young, White, Able Bodied, Heterosexual, Male, Fair Go…..

Reliefmap of Australia

Reliefmap of Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The question of “Australian Identity” reared its head again this week (as it so often has a remarkable tendency to do whenever this nation gets within spitting distance of an election).

At first, due to my overwhelming cynicism of all flags hoisted on behalf of nationalism, I summarily dismissed the question.

However upon reflection, I think this time around, it might just be a question well worth asking.

Though not in terms of assessing what the average Aussie now looks like but rather in terms of assessing Australia’s mythologizing of the ‘Fair Go Spirit’.

So can Australia, through the lens of identity, really be seen as the land of the iconic “Fair Go”?

I have a rather unsettling suspicion the answer to this question might just be no.

If you look at the Australian response to illegal refugee’s (AKA ‘Boat People’) the answer would most definitely have to be a resounding no to the idea of a ‘Fair Go’.

There has been a rather concerning lack of ‘fairness’ shown toward those who arrive on our shores without the benefit of that all-important small piece of paper known as a valid passport.

So being Australian today, if you believe the political spin, now includes holding a rather alarming propensity for locking asylum seekers up.

Another Australian propensity related to this revolves around the broader issue of racism.

Apparently Australians today are a racist bunch and indeed if you were only to look at Australia’s policy driven responses to Indigenous Affairs, you would undoubtedly see clear evidence of this.

Australia’s history of  ‘Intervention’ in Indigenous Affairs is a rather sad and sorry one. Consisting of one human rights violations (such as the “Stolen Generation”) on top of another..

So far, the notion of the Australian ‘Fair Go’, in terms of identity, only applies to those who are born white and non-Indigenous in this country.

The Australian identity (well at least our political one) is also  homophobic too.

If you look at the political stance that Australia’s leaders have taken over  Gar Marriage, you could also add the denial of the right to marry the one you love, to the list of  human rights violations occurring in this country.

In terms of identity, the ‘Fair Go’ spirit does not seem to apply to those born elsewhere or born of a different race (ethnicity), nor to those born with a different sexual orientation.

But wait…. There’s more……

If you are an Australian with a disability or the parent of an Australian with a disability, guess what?  Apparently you are excluded from the notion of a ‘Fair Go’ too.

The recent political ‘push through’ of the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia (NDIS) is not what many within the disability community had hoped it would be.

Nor can the NDIS even be seen, at this point time, as a solid promise toward change.

Not when we have one political party stating the need for better support for those with disabilities (through the yet to be fully explained NDIS), while the other political party states that if elected it won’t uphold or implement the NDIS.

As the parent of a young adult with a disability I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing even remotely  ‘Fair Go-ish’ about the way this country both treats and regards those with disabilities.

So far the concept of a ‘Fair Go’ only applies to those who identify as white, born in this country but not of Indigenous or any other ethnic dissent, entirely heterosexual and also not at all disabled.

And then there’s the unemployed whom have been quite vocal of late in airing their grievances over the fact that unemployment benefits haven’t risen for the last 20 years despite the constant leaps and bounds in inflation.

Of course I should also add the elderly and those who work as carer’s, to the ever growing list of those whose identities, are no longer experiencing the much mythologized Aussie Fair Go.

Ok, I will. So here we go…..

Identities that don’t qualify for the Australian ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are Indigenous or of any other ethnicity, not born in Australia, homosexual, disabled, elderly or work in the care giving industry and those who are unemployed.

Qualifiers for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are white, born in Australia with not too much ethnicity, heterosexual, able bodied, young, workers.

I really should also add the growing, (not shrinking), lack of equal pay being experienced by Australian women  in terms of wages and job security in this country.

One more time….

Those who qualify for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ are……..

-White,

-Non-Indigenous

-Australian Born

-Young,

-Heterosexual,

-Able Bodied,

-Male

-Workers.

Sounds like a capitalists dream workforce really……. Oh wait

Those who do not qualify for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are……..

-Indigenous

-Any other ethnicity

-Not born here,

-Aged,

-Gay,

-Female,

-Disabled,

-Carers

-Unemployed

Makes me wonder just how much of the Australian population there is left for politicians to marginalize?

So what does Tony Abbott  have nightmares about?

An elderly, disabled, gay, unemployed, refugee seeking female, on a boat coming his way.

 

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