Autism – Absurdities and Atrocities

Artwork by JudasArt

Artwork by JudasArt

Voltaire once wrote: “ Those who can induce you to believe in absurdities, can induce you to commit atrocities.”

Nowhere is this statement more relevant than when looking at the many perceptions of the causes of Autism.

For example, consider the following two statements regarding Autism.

  • People with Autism experience the world differently due to the impacts of a disease process. This disease process can be cured. Therefore Autism is a condition that we, as a society, have a duty to either eradicate or overcome.

  • People with Autism experience the world differently due to neurological variances that are hard-wired within them at birth. Autism is not the result of a disease process which can be cured. Therefore Autism is an aspect of life that we, as a society, have a duty to seek to understand, respect and accommodate.

Which of the above statements do you believe to be the least absurd?

If you agree that the first statement is the least absurd and therefore, (in your eyes, most likely to be true), then chances are that you will do and try almost anything to either cure or rid yourself or your child of Autism.

The past 50 years have shown that attempts to cure “the autism” out of a child or an adult have had disastrous results.

Yet attempts to cure “the autism” out of a child or adult continue. Some involve relatively harmless and repetitive therapies that do appear to help assimilation.

However, some attempts involve subjecting children and adults with Autism to debilitating, humiliating and ultimately mentally and physically harmful forms of abuse.

Such as forcing persons with Autism to drink bleach, delivering painful punishments, such as kicking, punching, whipping or starvation, to persons with Autism for displaying undesirable behaviors or subjecting them to intense isolation and deprivation of liberty by locking them in rooms or cages.

All of which should be considered crimes against humanity and therefore seen as atrocities.

If you agree that the second statement  is the least absurd and therefore, ( in your eyes), the most likely to be true, then chances are that you will do and try everything you can to be better understand and accommodate for either your own or your child’s Autism.

Over the last 50 years the voices of those with Autism have continuously cried out for understanding and acceptance.

A key aspect of accepting the potential that children and adults with Autism process the world differently involves making the attempt to understand what those differences are, how they impact the individual with Autism and then accommodating for them respectfully.

Accepting and making accommodations for adults and children with Autism , whether that be providing them with safe, quiet places , pressure blankets, clothing without tags, or specialized educational programs, is both respectful and beneficial.

The practice of providing acceptance, respect and accommodation breaks no laws, perpetrates no crimes against humanity and therefore does not induce anyone to commit atrocities.

I prefer statement 2.

How about you?

P.S  I am aware that some may argue the possibility of a third statement in which Autism could be considered a curable disease whose sufferers should be treated with both consideration and respect whilst they are experiencing its disease effects. However, the propensity of those who support statement 1 toward the overall aim of ‘curing autism’ places many adults with Autism, who not only accept their differences but are increasingly proud of them, at odds with such beliefs.

Could starting up and running a Facebook Page be for you? Some of the benefits and pitfalls that you may need to be aware of.

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A few weeks ago I started a Facebook page and I must say that the entire process of doing so was an incredibly easy one.

At every stage along the way there where prompts reminding me of what needed to be done and even suggestions as to how to do them more easily.

Yet, whilst the mechanics of if have been remarkably easy, by far and away, the hardest part of starting up a Facebook page has been finding the right ways to express what it is exactly,  you want  your  page to achieve.

In my case, I wanted to create a page that focused on the female experience of living with Asperger’s Syndrome / High Functioning Autism.

Which in itself sounds fairly straight forward but in actual fact  has proven to be far more difficult than I had at first thought.

So simply having an idea, whether it be specific or not,  as to what you’d like your page to be about, still leaves you only half way there and this is because,  even though you may have a clear concept of what it is you’d like to discuss, share or achieve on your page, others may have very different ideas as to how they perceive or wish to interact with your page.

For instance, even though my page is dedicated to primarily expressing and exploring the experiences of women with Asperger’s, it has been joined by several people who are  either the parents of daughters with Asperger’s Syndrome or the partners of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.

This is fine by me and for the most part I applaud parents for being open enough to listen too and learn from,  where relevant, the experiences of women who have been in their children’s shoes, but, there are times when either I myself, or someone else, will share a post or a comment, that whilst not designed to hurt the feelings of non-Asperger’s women or parents, never the less, becomes perceived as doing so.

In such cases, the negative comments made by those who feel slighted, often effectively shuts down  any and all further discussion surrounding whatever the topic of the post may have been.

This remains an issue that I am unsure how to confront, as even those people who run Facebook pages that have taken the time to make it very clear that they are designed first and foremost for a specific purpose, still find themselves  in the predicament of having to try and clear up other people’s misconceptions of their comments or posts.

It seems that no matter what you do you can never please everyone, yet I’m  still far from convinced that this fact alone means that one should settle for the potential of offending everyone either.

fblikeAnother issue that has  become somewhat of a quandary to me is the way in which “likes” for particular posts are being both attributed and distributed by Facebook.

For instance, running a much smaller page on Facebook I’ve found that often the bigger pages will pick up on one of my posts and “share” it on their own pages.

Now I don’t mind this happening at all, after all the aim is to spread awareness, and when it first began happening I thought it was a good thing as it was providing my page with exposure.

However this turns out to be less the case because in the process  of the bigger pages doing so, the “likes” for whatever post they’ve chosen to “share”  end up becoming  attributed to their page’s alone.

This means that although it’s may be my post, from my page, that people may be “liking”, the  fact that it is being distributed on a larger page means that those “likes” never make it back to or become attributed to, my page.

Normally this wouldn’t be so much of a problem, however, the way  in which Facebook chooses to promote  ‘not for profit pages’ makes it so, as the capacity of any such page to reach new members , depends entirely upon the amount of “likes” it receives.

The more “likes” a page receives, the bigger the page becomes and the size of the page decides how high up on the list of recommended pages, it will appear on Facebook.

The higher up the list a page appears, the more likely it is that it will continue to attract new members and therefore grow.

So, under this system, if  bigger pages continue to be the sole beneficiaries  of the  “likes” they receive  for “sharing” smaller pages posts, then effectively the  bigger pages will continue to boom and the smaller pages will continue to remain just that, small.

This to me sets up a kind of dog eat dog system of promotion, which is something to bear in mind and be prepared for, if you are thinking of starting up a Facebook Page.

So although Facebook makes it incredibly easy to start your own Facebook Page, these are  just  some of the issues associated with starting up and running a Facebook page that you need to be aware of.

In the end, whether or not you choose to start-up a Facebook page, may well all come down to a matter of deciding what it is you want to achieve and whether or not that goal can best be achieved via Facebook.

 

Women with Autism – Beware we wear masks (well supposedly anyway).

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I think it’s interesting that many of the articles I’ve read all state, in one way or another, that girls and women on the Autism Spectrum are hard to diagnose because they “mask” their symptoms.

Yet when I look back on my life I don’t see any evidence that I “masked” any of my symptoms at all.

In fact, more often than not, my symptoms/differences were repeatedly pointed out to me and criticized by others.

So what I tend to see, when I look back, is the exact opposite of the claims made by others that women and girls “mask” their differences.

All throughout my  childhood  there is clear evidence that although those around me knew that I was ‘different’, no-one was prepared enough to take any steps toward understanding either how or why my behaviors were so different to those of the children around me.

So for me, I find the statement that girls/women on the Autism Spectrum “mask” their ‘differences’ to be both a very misleading and a potentially harmful one.

One that in a round – about kind of way, ends up placing the blame for the lack of awareness regarding females with Autism, right back at our own feminine feet.

After all, we were the tricky ones who were supposedly “masking” our own behavior’s in order to evade detection.

Is it just me or is anyone else  beginning to feel slightly perplexed by the repetition of this very insidious form of circular  reasoning?

 

Do you experience anxiety, extreme shyness or have trouble making friends?

 

Artwork by Jason Limon

Artwork by Jason Limon

Are you experiencing:

“Crippling social anxiety?

EXTREME shyness?

Trouble making casual friends?

Feeling isolated?  

You’re not alone ….

There’s a chance you may be among the gifted few,

Blessed with expansion-pack wiring.

Don’t suffer in silence ,

Explore the wonders of Asperger’s.  

Find your tribe,

You’ll be relieved you did.”

Words by  Kami Bee.

You are always welcome to come and join us at  WASP Women’s Asperger’s Syndrome Awareness Page to learn more. http://www.facebook.com/waspwantsyou

 

Women with Autism – Stepping out of the dark

Lupytha HerminWomen with Autism,

Our lives are no longer about learning how to survive the storm,

Instead we’re now stepping out of the shadows,

That were cast upon us,

By the ignorance of others,

And we’re teaching ourselves and each other,

How to dance, splash and play,

In the colors of life….

And as we dance, splash and play,

We are helping one another,

To reconnect the dots,

Creating ourselves,

Anew.

 

All Alone……

1048992_177511792418513_147821062_oToo often, this is how society makes women with Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome feel………

Yet we are not twisted and we are not bad….

We are all alone because too few have bothered to try and understand us……

So few in fact that we are often told that we need ‘fixing’…..

Yet deep inside we know that we’re not broken….

We are merely different….

Given all of that….

It’s little wonder….

That we have our moments,

Of feeling all alone,

And sad.

 

Well I guess you’re just going to have to color me bad -A follow up to the post on Autism, Empathy and the Intense World Theory.

Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado

Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado

Ever since I shared the article written by Maia Szalavitz in 2009 on the Markram’s Intense World Theory of Autism, which makes the claim that those with Autism do not suffer from a lack of empathy but rather an overabundance of it, I have been inundated with responses from people whose life experiences resonate deeply with the understanding that they, as individuals on the Autism Spectrum, regularly over empathize with the emotions of others.

However, at the same time, I’ve also received numerous messages from readers who disagree adamantly with the very concept that people on the Autism Spectrum are capable of feeling empathy.

To this end I’ve been accused of such things as spreading “harmful misinformation” by “promoting a theory that is irrelevant, old and misleading”.

In response to these negative accusations I chose to remove the post for a while in order to allow myself enough time to take a step back and genuinely consider the validity of the claims being made against me.

Yet within less than an hour of removing the post I began receiving messages from people wanting to know where the post had gone and requesting that I post it back up as they felt that the understanding that people with Autism not only feel empathy but experience  high levels of empathy towards others, was an extremely important one.

And I have to say, that at the end of the day ( and in the beginning and middle bits too) I agree far more with those who believe that righting, even just one of the many misunderstandings that surround the experiences of those living with Autism, is more important to me than the harsh words and judgements of those who disagree with either the premises behind the Intense World Theory or the implications that the theory holds for providing a greater understanding of those with Autism.

And when it comes right down to it, the act of sharing what I consider to be valuable and worthwhile information is more important to me than the criticism I’ve received for doing so.

So let me make it clear, personally I do not care with the theory is called or how old it is.

What I do care about is exposing the simple truth that people on the Autism Spectrum can, and often do, feel an over-abundance of empathy towards others.

And that often these extreme feelings of empathy can be so intense for people on the Spectrum that they generate in them the need to remove themselves from people and situations, including loved ones and family members, in order to cope.

In fact, I care more deeply that the actions which were once mislabeled and misunderstood by so many, as being signs of aloofness, detachment or a lack of empathy,  are beginning to be redressed and therefore more properly understood as actions that arise as a result of being able to feel too much empathy, rather than not enough of it, to pull the post.

So those of you who wish to accuse me of “spreading harmful misinformation” or of “promoting old dead theories” are just going to have to color me bad because both the post and the very important message of understanding that it’s offering to so many in the here and now, are both staying.