Saturday, June 24, 2017

Comments by Daniel Au Valencia

Showing 12 of 12 comments.

  • Note that the monetary bottom line isn’t necessarily a one to one correlation with “bigness”. Autism Speaks has political and cultural influence for sure, but in a lot of other ways Autism Society is more of a direct comparison to NAMI rather than Autism Speaks. NAMI has local chapters where parents get together in “support” groups to complain about how tragic and burdensome their children are. Autism Society does the same thing. Autism Speaks just swoops in to take your money and is then conspicuouly absent for the other 364 days.

  • The way I measure success in the fight against Autism Speaks is by the primary activity for which the company exists: Fundraising. in 2014, the first year I came to protest and started tracking the data, their Los Angeles yearly fundraiser swindled over 2 million dollars. Then in 2015 it was a little under 2 million. Then in 2016 they scaled the goal back to 2 million and only stole 1.5. This past April 1.5 million became the goal and they couldn’t even steal that much. These are still HUGE amounts of money that actually Autistic people could be doing actual advocacy with, but that’s just because the fight started with the corporate empire at a huge advantage. The trend is clearly downward.

    Last year a guy who looked like a discount Ted Nugent came to our table to yell at us, and took some of our literature to show the event organizers so they can strategize. He then got on the stage and proclaimed “don’t believe everything you read” (including the Autism Speaks website, right?) You know something fishy is going on when a multi-million-dollar corporation PANICS at the sight of a small group of disabled people with flyers.

  • Regarding normal people, it seems to me there are double standards within double standards. for a neurotypical person, “normal” means be yourself. For an Autistic person, “normal” means a list of a hundred unwritten rules to follow, and if you slip up, there will be consequences. not that there aren’t consquences for deviant neurotypicals too (for example, gay people are mostly considered neurotypical, yet still breaking a rule), but it’s a lot easier to follow the rules when your biology isn’t demanding you do things in ways that fall outside the “normal” range. Autistic people being dog-trained into “normality” isn’t any less oppressive than people with other so-called mental illnesses being medicated into it.

  • So glad to see Mad In America recognizing the natural allies in the Autistic rights movement and the neurodiversity movement! Autism is still considered a “mental illness” in society just as much as people who hear voices or who have extreme states, and these sorts of proclamations are the same result. I’m excited to see our communities collaborating more in the future.

  • At first I thought this was going in the direction of intersectionality, criticizing people who say things like “I’m Autistic and mentally ill”, applying critical thinking to autism and nothing else, and as a result throwing the Mad community under the bus. That’s exactly the sort of presentation we need to bring into Autistic spaces, such as at the Association for Autistic Community conference, but that’s not this article.

    What quickly tipped me off that this was going in the wrong direction was the phrase “more autistic”. I was really hoping the title was ironic. To use such a phrase indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of what autism is. In this case it’s not the “autism=toxins” line of thought but rather looking at someone who’s having fewer meltdowns because their gluten-free diet no longer triggers their celiac disease and describing that as “less autistic”. The problem isn’t that cutting gluten wasn’t beneficial, in fact it WAS- the problem is perpetuating the notion of a linear sliding scale of autisticness, and implying that sliding the scale in one direction is automatically preferable.

    The author claims, in a sort of repeated disclaimer-y way, the belief that autism is not inherently bad, yet by conflating disease and injury states with being “more autistic”, asserts the opposite. If “more autism” is intrinsically worse than less autism, then you’re saying autism is intrinsically bad.

    I also noticed that the anti-DSM rhetoric is immediately followed by an assumption that meeting more DSM criteria is the same as being “more autistic”. As with the previous observation, this is a clear case of cognitive dissonance. In fact additional marks on the DSM checklist indicate that you are perceived as more broken or more “severely” disabled, not more autistic. If you define “psychotic” as someone who either hears voices or commits murder, then of course serial killers are going to meet the criteria for psychosis, but only because you wrote the definition that way! If the DSM criteria for autism were accurate, then having unrelated microbial issues would have no effect on how psychiatrically autistic you are.

  • There IS a word, ableism, and it’s been around for decades.

    The simplistic definition you give to someone who asks “what does that word mean?” is that it’s like racism or sexism, but instead of race or gender it’s applied to disability. Except “disability” is socially constructed just as much- nay, more so than race, sex, or gender; so if you truly seek a deeper understanding then it inevitably gets more complex.

    The foundation of ableism is the belief that some bodies and minds are better than others, and therefore are deserving of more rights. If you think about it, that is also the foundation underlying all the other “isms” too. Racism assumes that white bodies and white minds are better than the rest. Sexism assumes that male bodies are better than female or intersex bodies, that male minds are better than female or nonbinary minds.

    I’ve also encountered the terms sanism (from labeling people sane or insane) and neurobigotry (from the people who brought you the words neurotypical, neurominority, etc.) to specify that mental things are the target of discrimination. While that’s a useful distinction, especially around under-the-bus-throwing “our minds are fine” disability advocates, ultimately it still boils down to ableism. The assumption that “sane” and “mentally healthy” are legitimate factual categories, distinct from “insane” and “mentally ill”, is really the same as the assumption that neurotypical minds are better than neurodivergent minds.