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When did ‘different’ become wrong? or Acceptance is not a one way street

differences

There’s something about you that’s different

I couldn’t decide on which title I liked better so I just went ahead and used both.

There seems to be a divide growing between certain autistics and certain parents. Not all. Just certain ones. My fear is that divide is growing.

I cringe when I see people talk about how they don’t understand how “the camps” can’t work together. For me, I don’t understand how there can be “camps” at all. Yes, autistics are different from parents and children are different from adults but really, aren’t we all different anyway? Autistics are different from other autistics and parents are different from other parents.

In the camp of differences, we all belong together.

So it hurts me when I see people share their experiences and opinions and get attacked for it. Now, don’t get me wrong. If someone tells me the green grass is orange, I’ll be pretty quick to say “no it isn’t.” But really, do I need to? Is it a requirement of mine to correct them? Or worse, am I bound by some law that says I have to attack them for what a horrible person they are for believing it’s orange?

What if it turns out that the person has a condition, such as color blindness, that truly does make the grass look orange to them? Are they still wrong? Is their perception wrong? Do I proclaim them wrong because their brain interprets things differently than what mine and my friends brains do?

A parent is going to have a different perspective than their own child. That just has to be. I mean that whether the child has autism or not. If a parent shared a child’s perspective and was only interested in appeasing that child’s wants, then the child would have totally chocolate dinner every night, a water park in their bathroom and video games would replace school.

When I hear about a parent that “leashes” their child while out, or fences off their backyard or school yard, I find that it almost always accompanies people that don’t just share their own opinion that a parent shouldn’t do that, they outright attack that person’s intelligence, age, education, parenting skills, rationality, mental stability and oh so much more. People are vicious. They never once consider that person or their child’s past. Does the child have a history of dashing off? Into traffic? Is the child incapable of staying close by for some reason? Is the parent incapable of reaching their child should something happen? Perhaps they have a medical condition of their own such as bad knee or back?
The point is, maybe they just are way too overbearing… or maybe they have a very good reason for keeping their child safe in the way that they know how.

When I hear about an autistic that tries to share their experiences in just how hard life can be sometimes, I find that it almost always accompanies people that hate them for being negative when others are trying so very hard to make autism out to be a positive thing. Or conversely, there are those that hate autistics that share their successes and triumphs only because they’ve been trying so hard to paint autism as a very dark and debilitating thing. They don’t take the time to understand how hard it is to share these things or how hard the journey was to overcome the obstacles they did… they simply attack for not representing their own situation or for “giving people a false impression” simply because it does not reflect their own situation.

Everyone is different. Everyone’s perspectives are different. Everyone’s experiences are different. And for anyone, autistic, parent, child, etc to request/demand acceptance from others, they must be willing to do the same.

Instead of condemning a parent for protecting their child from the evils of a chocolate dinner, accept that they are different from you. Before you condemn an autistic for making the world think that not all autistics are like you or your child, accept that they are just different from you.

I am different. And I am proud. And quite frankly, I don’t care if you accept that about me or not. But know that I understand just how different you are. And I accept that too. You won’t parent how I parent. You won’t “be” as I will “be”. You won’t see the orange that I see.

If someone says something that I disagree with, that doesn’t make them wrong. It makes them different. And even if I do feel they’re wrong, it’s not my job nor my duty to attack them for it.

Different is not wrong. Acceptance is not a one way street.

Let’s accept the differences in those that we demand acceptance from for our differences.

Comments { 11 }

Laying the blame

blameThere is so much blame going around, I seem to find it everywhere.

There are parents that blame vaccines or the environment or doctors for their child’s autism. There are some autistics blaming their autism for their inability to succeed. There are some parents blaming autistics for giving people a false impression to people of their child and then there are autistics blaming parents for giving people a false impression of autistics in general.

The worst is when I see advocates (you know, the people who actively try to reach as many people as they can and even influence people in some way) that blame each other for something or another. Especially when someone actively goes out of their way to either visit someone in their home (their blog or place they advocate) and attack them there or to write on their own about those other people.

I’ve written several times about how division in the autism community saddens me and I’ve felt that it’s far too depressing and, quite frankly, pointless to continue writing about. It would seem that there will always be division, so wishing for it to change just isn’t going to make it so.

I’ve grown a lot since I started writing though. I mean, I still believe now, as I did then, that people should not be fighting and should work together instead. However, now I realize that wishing for something isn’t going to accomplish anything. Even some positive words, a moment of enlightenment, won’t change anything.

What I have found, what I believe, is that the root of the problem is blame. We’ve become so frustrated with our own situations that we need to find someone or something to blame.

We can’t work together and we can never come together as a community until we can learn to stop blaming each other.

I’ve come to realize that blaming someone for saying or being a way that I don’t agree with is no way to resolve a situation. Blaming them for affecting my life or anyone else’s life is no way to bring about peace and unity.

The best that I can do… the best that I can be… is to focus on me. Improve my message, make my message a message worth hearing. Make what I have to say, better and more worthwhile than the message that I disagree with.

The best way I can bring about positivity is to let go of my own negativity and stop laying blame. If someone is wrong or is doing something wrong, they’ll have to live with that and it’s consequences whether I say anything or not. And if I do play the blame game, I myself will have to live with that and it’s consequences too.

If you can’t climb the stairs, don’t blame the stair maker. Find another way. If you can’t see the words on a page, don’t blame the author. Find another way. If therapy isn’t going your way, don’t blame the therapist. Find another way. If your finances aren’t going your way, don’t blame your job. Find another way.

Focus on you and how you can be the best that you can be. Over come the obstacle, don’t focus on who’s to blame for the obstacle.

There is zero success in blame. Your success will come from realizing there is no blame, there are only challenges to better yourself by.

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The kind of self advocate that I want my child to become

Tyler and Cameron - Brothers

Tyler and Cameron – Brothers

I am writing this because I’ve had quite a few people ask me if I want my son to be an advocate like me or what I would hope he’d say. I thought this would be a good time to address those questions.

If you’ve read anything from me in the past, you likely expect the answer from me to be something along the lines of “a positive role model that is respectful and understanding of everyone.”

And yes, should he truly wish to speak up and raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism, that is pretty much the exact type of advocacy that I would love to see from him.

I understand that some advocates take the “fight for our rights” approach and that is very much needed as well. I won’t lie. Yes, some get caught up in the battle and it becomes hateful and negative… but this isn’t about that right now.

There’s more kinds of advocacy too. As much as some might disagree, those that fight for health care changes, particularly those surrounding vaccines, are advocates as well. Those that fight to cure their now adult sons and daughters that are still living at home or in a home, they are advocates.

There are even some self advocates that wish to be cured of their own autism. They are self advocates all the same. Even if they might not be sharing the sentiment of the “majority.”

I’ll love and respect my son and be very proud of his efforts no matter which approach he takes.

However, the honest truth is… and it’s kind of hard for me to admit is… I sort of hope that he doesn’t get into the whole thing at all.

That’s not to say that I’ll be disappointed if he does. It would be pretty awesome if he does because I think he can do a lot to improve things.

But I kind of look at it like how we shelter our kids from the 6 o’clock news. Because they don’t need to know about the wars, the murders and the state of our economy. They are happy. Carefree. The world reaches as far as their furthest friend’s house down the street and the worst thing that could happen is that they drop their ice cream cone in the middle of summer.

A self advocate (or even a parent of a child with special needs for that matter) that lives their own struggles, battles and daily disappointments and achievements will have enough in their lives to keep them both busy and content too, depending on how that day goes. For most people, that’s more than enough.

The advocacy world seems pretty great at first, getting positive feedback and support and reaching more and more people with each day’s effort you put forth. But at some point, it changes. You start reaching haters, who “come after you” where ever you may be sharing your thoughts. You get people who don’t just disagree but disagree via attacks and threats. You get people who expect more from you whether it be more effort or more time.

The best advocates are the ones that can deal with these things either by tackling them head on, rising above them or by simply paying no attention and doing what they do regardless.

But it’s taxing. It can wear you down and make you tired.

And at some point, invariably, you start to wonder…. what’s the point?

Do I hope that, should he become a self advocate, that he’ll have the strength and wisdom to over come these hurdles? Of course! I hope I can be strong enough to help him be ready should that time come or to be there for him at that time. I hope even more that he can be a self advocate and not need to experience those hurdles at all.

But the honest to goodness truth is, I would kind of rather him just not need to get to that point.

I’m one of those parents who, probably blindly and even wrongly, wants to shelter his kids from the evils of the world. To not ever have to hurt. To never know what terrible stuff is really happening out there.

But they will. One day, many days… they’ll be made all too painfully aware.

And avoiding the advocacy world won’t stop that. But it will help him to avoid extra hardships. Some extra hurdles that he need not worry about.

Not much would make me more proud than seeing him pick up a metaphorical sign (or a real one for that matter) and fight for himself and others like him, for what ever reasons and in what ever manner he chooses. I believe that he would inspire many and do great things.

But I’d also be quite happy and every bit still just as proud to see him go about his life, focused on what matters most to him, what ever that may be.

Because in the end, that’s what this is all about. Being accepting of what others do, even if it’s not what we did, or what we want them to do. To let them be their own person, whether it’s some other advocate or someone that refuses to be an advocate.

Because if my own advocacy is to mean anything, if it’s to have any value at all, than it has to start with me.

That means having my own hopes and dreams, even hopes and dreams for those that I love, and having the understanding and respect to accept that not only do they not have to fulfill those hopes and dreams of mine but that I will be every bit as happy and proud of of them for having their own hopes and dreams.

Comments { 6 }

Conversations within the autism community

Miscommunication

Miscommunication

Before I begin, you should know that I’ve altered these to be a bit more… generic. As in, not specific.

Also, I recognize that these types of conversations happen in any community and basically in general on the internet but this is an autism blog and thus, it’s my topic “du jour”.

But if you’ve been a part of the autism community for any decent length of time or even just been on the internet for more than say… 5 minutes, chances are you might recognize some of these.

Be sure to let me know which conversations seem most familiar to you in the comments.

 

Reading Comprehension

Person 1: Would you like to go for a drink after the movie?
Person 2: I’m not hungry.
Person 1: I didn’t say food, I said a drink.
Person 2: Listen, I don’t even like steak so just stop.
Person 1: What? When did I say steak would be involved?
Person 2: Great, now you’re talking in circles. You don’t even know what you’re saying. Man you’re stupid! This conversation is over. I’m out.
Person 3: What just happened?
Person 1: I have no idea.

Mis-association

Person 1: Hockey looks like fun. It’s fast paced and full of action. It’s a lovely sport.
Person 2: So you’re saying that baseball is a terrible sport, is that it? You prefer hockey over baseball??
Person 1: No, I didn’t say that. I didn’t even mention baseball.
Person 2: I can’t believe that you hate baseball!! It’s a perfectly great game and you have to come and rain all over it.
Person 1: I don’t hate baseball. I was just commenting about hockey, that’s all.
Person 2: People who hate baseball shouldn’t even be on the internet. I hope you die.

Condone-sation?

Person 1: They really should try to put a stop to the fighting in hockey.
Person 2: So what, you think it’s ok to fight in baseball?? All the players rushing the field and hurting each other is suddenly fine with you?
Person 1: What?? No. I don’t think fighting is ok in baseball either.
Person 2: Well that’s what you’re saying. Suddenly fighting in hockey is bad but all this time, you never said a word about the fighting in baseball so obviously you condone it!
Person 1: That is some twisted logic you’ve got going on right there.
Person 2: You’re the one who’s twisted. I can’t believe you actually think it’s fine for there to be all kinds of fighting in baseball but when hockey does it, it’s all rules and regulations with you.
Person 1: Wait, what?? I didn’t say any of what you just said.
Person 2: I’m going to go tell everyone what a bigot you are… how you want there to be more fighting in baseball but none in hockey. God I hope everyone learns to hate you as much as I do.

Para-flipflop-phrase

Person 1: This ice cream sure is cold!
Person 2: So you’re saying that it’s too cold to eat? It’s not that cold, you know.
Person 1: No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying it’s cold. You know, like, I might get brain freeze if I eat it too fast.
Person 2: That’s like saying that a steak is so hot that you might get heart burn. You know you can’t get heart burn from something that’s too hot right. You do have an IQ high enough for that, right?
Person 1: No, it’s not like saying that and yes I do know that. What does my IQ have to do with it?
Person 2: So what, now you question my intelligence? That’s like saying I didn’t even go to high school. I’ll have you know I went to college and was on the honor roll! You probably didn’t even finish elementary.
Person 1: Wait, what? Of course I did. I finished college too. I don’t understand what our IQ has to do with the temperature of ice cream.
Person 2: I knew it, you’re a moron. I can’t talk with someone so stupid.

Victimizer

Person 1: Science is better.
Person 2: No, religion is better.
Person 1: No, science is better.
Person 2: No, religion is better!
Person 1: Listen, religion is all nice with it’s fluffy clouds but science is based on facts.
Person 2: Ah, Fluffy!! How dare you remind me of my childhood hamster!!
Person 1: What? What does your hamster have to do with this?
Person 2: You’re the one who brought it up. And you keep mentioning it!! Don’t you know I was horribly traumatized by the stench of my uncle farting on it and killing it?? It was death by gas cloud man!!
Person 1: Ooooo…. k. Well, I’m sorry I brought up Fluffy.
Person 2: You keep saying his name!! Are you intentionally trying to hurt me!! Is this how you win an argument??? You’re so cruel!!!
Person 1: Wait… what? I just said I was I sorry.
Person 2: You’re a vile and evil person.
Person 1: Ok… well, anyway… back to science vs religion…
Person 2: You don’t even care!! You jab a knife into my gut and then just go on like nothing happened!! Is this how you’re mother raised you!?!?
Person 1: Look, I said I’m sorry about the Fluffy thing. Let’s move on.
Person 2: You’re still talking about it!!! I can’t believe you keep saying his name when you know how much it hurts me!! I’m like, unable to stay seated in my chair right now because I’m just so furious!!
Person 1: I am very sorry that you’re so mad, I’m sorry for what ever I said… can we get back to the topic at hand?
Person 2: Oh no, I’m not leaving until this is resolved. You are going straight to hell and I’m going to see to it that I’m driving the bus mister!!
Person 1: Ok well, this really isn’t going anywhere productive for me so I’m going to go now.
Person 3: What happened here?
Person 2: Religion totally won that argument.

ASSumption

Person 1: Aww…. my baby just sneezed.
Person 2: YOU’RE A TERRIBLE MOTHER!!!!!!

 

Sound familiar to you? Have any to add?

Leave me a comment below!

Comments { 23 }

The start of something finished

Well, 2012 really sucked for the world of autism. Between 50 cent and his dumbass remarks on twitter, doctors placing a lower value on an autistic life, Jenny McCarthy calling autism moms “victims” if they aren’t trying to find a cure and what has to be the absolute worst, the media attempting to find a correlation between the Sandy Hook shooter and Aspergers.

Even for me personally, it really sucked as my wife decided we need to get a divorce… just before Christmas.

The good news? The past is the past. 2012 no longer exists.

This is 2013 and things are going to change.

Ignorance is being forced to apologize, the only moms that are victims are the ones that believe McCarthy’s stupidity. And the media were falling all over themselves with articles about how there is no connection between autism and violence.

As for Paul Corby and his heart transplant… I sincerely hope that the doctors received a good firm slap in the face and changed their minds. But I haven’t heard anything.

The autism community is getting the message out there. People are talking and when they’re wrong, there’s someone there to correct them.

Autism is not something to be feared, laughed at or used as a way to guilt moms into doing what you want them to do.

Not the media, celebrities, lynch mobs or even divorce can stop the wave that is heading towards governments, communities and audiences everywhere.

It’s a wave of truth, understanding, positivity and love that is a much needed set of emotions in this ever increasingly dark world.

It’s so easy to find the wrong information, to spread the wrong information, to be a hater and to ignore what you don’t want to hear.

But a force, such as the autism community is becoming, can’t be ignored and it can over come any misinformation that the media or celebrities can fling no matter how wide their audience is. In fact, the larger the audience, the more likely the backlash.

2013Don’t let up though. Don’t coast that wave.

Rise up out of your seat and correct those people that are getting it all wrong. Write and phone those media outlets, those celebrities, the government and anyone else that isn’t getting it right.

Shut down the haters, force the ignorers to listen and don’t give ignorance a free pass.

A lot went wrong in 2012 but a lot went right too. And I’m proud of most of the aftermath.

But more can be done. More can be achieved. More people can be reached. More that is broken can be fixed.

2013 might not be the end of the story but after what I’ve seen in 2012, I can see the start of the finish on the horizon.

People will accept all differences.

In the world around them, themselves, in our loved ones, in ourselves.

They’ll have to. Because we won’t stop.

And we’re just getting started.

Comments { 2 }