About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.
Author Archive | Stuart Duncan

I don’t believe you, I believe in you

I read about fear, bullies, inflated egos, feeling of not belonging, regret, disappointment… being different. I read about suicide, running away, giving up… loss. It hurts me so much to read these things. Children feeling things they should never feel, writers feeling like their words are hated or ignored, parents feeling like they aren’t good enough for their children. It hurts to read. I can’t imagine the pain involved in writing them.

Being so entrenched in the autism community, you would think the one common factor each person with each feeling would share is that they have autism but it’s not the only common element. The other, possibly a bi-product of autism, possibly just something more people deal with than we realize, is insecurity.

They tell me they are useless, that no one listens, that they are bullied and that they are worthless. They tell me the most terrible things and they say these things about themselves.

I used to say these things about myself.

But over time, as I found my purpose, as I put my heart and soul into helping others, I began to realize something, I don’t believe myself anymore.

Don’t wait until you find your purpose. You don’t need to find a reason. You need to stop believing yourself and start believing in yourself. You are all the reason you need.

You need to have pride in yourself, respect yourself, understand how important you are and you need to believe it. Believe in yourself.

Do I know you? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in you. I haven’t met anyone yet that I couldn’t believe in. Because every person is important.

Autism or not, you are important. Insecurity or not, I believe in you.

Myself, my son, you, everyone… shed your insecurities and let your potential free.

I might not believe you if you say such hurtful things about yourself but I believe in you.

I’m not the only one.

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Autism Speaks is not and has never been listening despite their slogan

Autism Speaks, the largest and most powerful autism organization there is with enough real power to make a real positive difference.

Ah to dream.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. They have brought about some big changes and it can be argued that they have raised more awareness than pretty much anyone else in history. But at what cost? And using what methods?

Fear. A lot of fear.

They have a long history of fear mongering with videos that depict autism as a deep voiced child predator or as an epidemic that makes moms want to throw their children off a bridge.  They spend donation money on all those research studies that you hear about in the news that links “an increased chance of autism” to such things as tylenol, c-sections, premature birth, living close to a freeway, being old and on and on and on.

There’s really no point in rehashing history. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. I’m also sure that you’ve heard about what’s happening this week. Autism Speaks is heading up a “summit” in Washington DC where they’ll call on the government to come up with a “national plan” against autism. Yes, “against” autism.

To this end, Suzanne Wright, a co-founder wrote this piece on the Autism Speaks website: http://www.autismspeaks.org/news/news-item/autism-speaks-washington-call-action

This post, this whole “action plan” is deeply disappointing. It is disturbing, disgusting, shocking and all together frightening.

Putting in bold, in 3 separate places “this is autism” is not just wrong, it’s designed to make people fear autism, hate autism and want to do what ever they can to wipe it out. I’m sure they do not deny this. It’s very clearly the purpose.

It’s a fear mongering tactic.

Now, granted, there are some that have autism that truly are in a great deal of pain, completely incapable of any perceivable form of communication and really could do with some level of “curing”, not such that they’re not longer be autistic necessarily maybe but just so that they are no longer in pain and able to function independently.

That’s fine.

But to say “this is autism” and spout scary numbers and say that “these families are not living” is basically equivalent to turning millions of people into monsters that are to be feared. If they used a child as an example of.. well, an example… that would be different. If they quoted numbers of those that are specifically that bad off, that would be different. But they don’t. They claim “this is autism” over and over again. They attempt to speak for us all. They attempt to lump in those of us that do not need to be spoken for in their big monster horror film.

Sure, Autism Speaks can go to Washington and push for help for those that need insurance and aren’t getting it, they can push for more therapies, research and medication for those that need it.

But there should ALSO be those going along with them to make sure that all the other autistics are represented and accounted for as well. That all the families that have children that need those things but don’t see their child has a monster are represented as well. That all those that are unable to speak but are still able to express an opinion are represented as well. That everyone… absolutely everyone… is heard.

All of us… that is autism. 

There is something amazing to come of this though. The comments. The autistics, the parents, the community… all of those people outraged in the comments,  they give me hope.

This is the message to Autism Speams and to the government and to the world:
We are the voice that should be heard. We are the ones that you dismiss. We are the ones that you attempt to speak for and silence and remove. But we are the ones that matter. We are the ones that need to be a part of what directly affects us.

I have autism, my child has autism and thousands of others just like us are telling you, right here, right now, this is how it really is.

All of us… that is autism.

With that, there’s only one thing left to say:

Hey Autism Speaks… it’s time to listen.

Loving life, not silent, not to be feared, not to be spoken for.

Loving life, not silent, not to be feared, not to be spoken for.

PS

I’m including some other great posts/discussions on this because I believe, as we all do, that we should have the right and opportunity to speak for ourselves.

http://autisticadvocacy.org/2013/11/asan-aac-statement-on-autism-speaks-dc-policy-summit/

http://paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog.blogspot.ca/2013/11/autism-speaks-kidnaps-policy-summit.html

http://www.mostlytruestuff.com/2013/11/autism-speaks-speak-son.html

http://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/no-more-a-letter-to-suzanne-wright/

http://www.blog.mamasturnnow.com/2013/11/12/dear-ms-wright-autism-speaks-and-any-others-out-there-who-may-read-this/

http://theautismwars.blogspot.ca/2013/11/a-mouse-that-roars-standing-in-defiance.html

http://autismandoughtisms.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/crisis-despair-and-everything-else-wrong-with-autism-speaks-call-for-action/

http://www.decipher-morgan.com/2013/11/autism-speaks-isnt-speaking-for-us.html

http://theconnorchronicles.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/autism-speaks-does-not-speak-for-us-this-is-autism/

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Inspiration and Insecurity – The eternal tug of war with greatness

greatnessIt is my firm belief that we all have greatness within us. Not everyone lives up to it, some people never try and others embrace it and go on to become known for their greatness.

Greatness, to me, is like energy in the universe. It’s never really created or destroyed. You can only add to or take away what you can do with it. In our case, it’s belief. Either we believe we have greatness within us or we don’t.

I often say that it’s not inspiration that makes you great, it simply helps you to see the greatness that is already within you. You believe a little bit more than you did before. That’s what I try to do. I don’t want to make you great, I just want to help you see that you already are.

Insecurity, on the other hand, is usually what keeps us from believing it. We doubt yourselves, we question ourselves, we refuse to believe others that tell us we’re great and the worst is when we’re bullied. And bullying comes in many forms including friends, parents, teachers and so forth when they tell us that we can’t do something or that we shouldn’t try or even make totally random comments just in our general presence that make us feel a little less important that we should. Our greatest bully though, is ourselves. When we dwell on something we did wrong or shouldn’t have said or we just sit and think about life in general… we bully ourselves so bad and tell ourselves the worst things sometimes.

But none of that, not the inspirational stuff nor even the insecurities will ever take that greatness away from you. Nothing can! It is there, it will always be there and not anyone can take it away or make it more or less than what it is. It’s in you.

The only thing that can change is whether or not you believe it. You believe it when you’re inspired, you don’t believe it when you’re feeling insecure. You believe it when you try something and it works but you don’t believe it when you try something and you fail. It doesn’t matter what you’re feeling or trying, that greatness will always be within you. It doesn’t change.

It’s up to you to decide what you will do with it. You need to understand that you don’t need inspiration and you definitely don’t need those insecurities.

All you need is who you are.
Because you’re great!

 

I know, you’re thinking that this isn’t really an autism post but in a way it sort of is. You see, I didn’t specify autism or any other special needs because I believe greatness lies within us all, regardless of gender, skin colour, medical condition or special needs. There’s greatness there. Realize your potential.

Don’t wait for someone to inspire you to recognize the greatness that is within you and certainly don’t let anyone make you bury it under it a mountain of insecurity.
Unleash it.

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Why my child needs to know that he has autism

I am an adult with Aspergers but I wasn’t always. Before I was diagnosed, at 36 years of age, I was an adult that was very confused, I had no self esteem and I was always extremely depressed. Before that, I was a child that was very confused, with no self esteem and depressed.

For the better part of my life, I struggled with my work, relationships, school, my appearance, friends… let’s just say that I struggled with everything. I hated life. But the part that I hated most was the feeling where, it’s not just that I didn’t fit in, I was the same as everyone else but I simply could not make anything in my life work right no matter how hard I tried and no kind words, medication, self help books or anything else could fix it. No one could tell me… what was wrong with me?!?!

Now, before I continue, if any of my family is reading this and it starts to make you feel like you let me down, don’t. You didn’t know, I didn’t know, no one knew. And considering how mixed up and down I was feeling that whole time and the fact that I’m still here, I’d say you did great!

My 3 greatest fears in life, listed least to most are:

  1. Death
  2. Being alone
  3. Feeling alone despite being with people and not knowing why

AloneWhen my son was first diagnosed with autism, I came to realize that many of his experiences mimicked my experiences. I wasn’t just reliving my youth the way a parent does through their children, I was reliving my heartaches. A lot of my past was suddenly explained to me as I started to put the pieces together. This was amplified a hundred fold when I was actually diagnosed. To this day I don’t know why but somehow, making it official, really opened my eyes to a lot in my life that had, up until then, remained unanswered.

I was bullied, I had few friends, I had bizarre obsessions and habits, I never wanted to leave my room and I remember every detail of every event that caused me pain, whether physical or mental. For example, I remember how I got the scar on my knee when I was 2 and I remember very well how I felt when my mom told me that I told an inappropriate joke before I was old enough to know it was an inappropriate joke. I felt terrible!

Still, I can take all that and more (which I am not about to list on a public blog) and very confidently say that it doesn’t even come close to the very overwhelmingly sinking and crushing feeling of being so completely and totally alone while with people that love you and want nothing more than for you to just feel good about yourself for once.

If this was a YouTube video, I’m sure most of their viewers would read that last bit and then comment to tell me that I’m just a moron and should just smarten up and listen to those people.  In a way, this is a good thing because it tells me that those people, and probably most people really, will never know just what that feels like and how impossible it is to do. That’s good, I think. I would hope that most people never really understand how that feels.

I’ve talked to a lot of people that are either waiting to or hoping to never tell their child that they have autism. They fear labels and they do not want to make them feel like they’re different or that there is something wrong with them. I get that, I really do, but take it from someone that’s been there and done that, they know. Believe me, unless your child is still two or three years old, they know.  But they can’t quantify it nor explain it and if it affects them even a bit like it did me, then they most definitely do think that there is something wrong with them.

Now, I want to stop right here and say that I know full well that all people are different, all lives are different and just because my upbringing was as I describe it, it is in no way a certainty that anyone else’s life would be the same. Still though, in my acceptance of this fact, I must also insist that you accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, it could turn out the same.

When you feel like you can’t ever have friends, you can never do anything right, everyone gets to be happy except you, talking to people comes easy to everyone but you, you’re a bully magnet, you can’t do or say anything right and life in general seems to not work for you, at all, ever, you KNOW you are different. You KNOW that something is wrong with you. But what you don’t know is why. And not knowing why is the scariest, most lonely feeling in the world.

I need to base my decision on my previous experience. I need to know that my greatest fears and feelings are something that I do not pass on to my son. I know now that I can’t protect him by keeping the truth from him.

My child needs to know because not knowing is a pain that I could never wish on anyone.

What he does with that knowledge is up to him. Will he come to accept that there really is nothing wrong with him, as I have? Having autism and being different doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.  Will he seek out guidance and therapies to help him with friendships, work, love and life? I do not know. But at least now he’ll know what kind of help he’s looking for. I didn’t have that.

My greatest wish for my son, and everyone really, is to accept and love yourself. But how can a person accept and love them self if they never really know who they are?

 

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Attempted murder – Seeking justice both after and before the fact

lady justiceThere seems to be two reactions to the Stapleton story:

1. The search for justice and the need to place blame where blame is deserved.
2. The need to know how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

These are both good reactions. Both of these things need to happen. Kelli needs to be held accountable. Every murderer/attempted murderer does. But also, if she wasn’t ever the type of person to do that before, and now she is, we need to know how that happened.

The difference I’m seeing here, however, is that group 1 is outright attacking group 2 but not the other way around. I can only assume that this is because, instead of raising pitch forks and being outraged, those that seek out more answers are seen as some how supporting Kelli or at least, not blaming her. As if the need to seek out an explanation as to how this happened is seen as an attempt to find a reason to let her off the hook. It’s not.

I am in group 2. And here’s why:

I know Kelli is at fault. I know she’s wrong. I don’t blame anyone but her. I don’t now nor can I ever forgive her for making her decision no matter what brought her to that point. So in my mind, that’s taken care of. I don’t need to write about it. Besides, the authorities haven’t even had time to pick up a pen yet… so let’s see where they go with this. If somehow she is excused… then please, pass me a pitch fork.

Until then, is there another mother, or father, maybe I know them, or maybe I don’t, that I may be reading about in the news tomorrow when I thought they were fine yesterday? How can I know? What should I be aware of? How can I prevent it?

You can hate me because I didn’t write about how terrible she is, or how evil any parent is that would do this, and you can certainly think I’m just being diplomatic if you have to.

Whether you think I’m doing right or wrong, I still support you and back you and think it’s great if you are outraged and want to see Kelli hang for this (proverbially or literally). Please do. More.

While you’re doing that though, let me see if I can find a way to stop the next child from facing a similar fate.

The way I see it, hating Kelli for what she did (and yes, I really do) isn’t going to stop it from happening to someone else.

I missed this one. I let Issy down.

I need to know how to not miss the next one.

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