Tag Archives | inform

Dear 50 cent, I hate what you said, but thank you

On Twitter, where these things always seem to happen, a follower lashed out at 50 Cent (kind of tongue in cheek-like), insisting that he release his album early. In an attempt to by funny, 50 Cent tweeted back something that put the entire autism community into battle stations.

And I say, thank you.

50 Cent

50 Cent

What he said

First, let me show you what he said. These tweets have been removed from his stream but he has yet, at the time of this writing, to apologize.

yeah i just saw your picture fool you look autistic”

i dont want no special ed kids on my time line follow some body else”

just kidding about da special ed kids man, i was in special ed day said i had anger issues lol”

My reaction

At first, I was a bit upset but mostly disappointed. I am not exactly his biggest fan although I do like his songs that I hear on the radio. Nor am I well versed in his life but I have heard that he’s more intelligent than most would give him credit for and that he is quite the philanthropist.

Both of these things greatly contradict his remarks and would have me questioning if what I had heard was true.

Still though, I took to Twitter myself and Facebook and Google+ and shared what he had said. I tacked on “Not cool man. Not cool.” to show my disapproval but reserved any emotional response for later… after I had time to think about it.

Holly Robinson PeeteHolly R. Peete

Probably the best response and the one that is making it’s rounds around the Hollywood and news media scene is the open letter from Holly R. Peete, the celebrity mother of an autistic child.

You can read her response here. I suggest you do now if you haven’t already: Dear 50 Cent…

Her letter made a lot of people rejoice, repost and even cry. It prompted a wave of tweets from parents, all sharing their child’s pictures with a single unified message: “This is what autistic looks like.”

Her tweet, with the link to her response, has over 1000 retweets and that’s not counting all of the other people that have tweeted the link. My own tweet to it has dozens of retweets as well.

I can honestly say that I’ve never seen that before. It is amazing!

Wait, why thank you?

So why is it that I am saying thank you to a guy that said something so hurtful? Why am I saying thank you when so many people are so mad that they wish they could meet him face to face to yell at him in person for what he said?

Well, for two reasons really.

Number 1 is that he, and others like him who do these things, are able to unite the autism community, even if for just a moment. All parents, experts, educators, autistics and everyone else associated with the community all felt the same thing at the same time. And as improbable as it seems sometimes, the entire community actually is all saying the same thing… shame on you 50 Cent.

We’re all mad. We’re all waiting for an apology. We’re all disgusted for the same reason.

Oh, it’s ugly, but it’s unity. I’d rather it could come under different circumstances but there it is.

Number 2 is that it shows us just how much work we really have left to do. If raising awareness was step 1, then we’re only now tipping our toes into step 2… and there’s still 8 more steps to go.

The world has become so familiar with autism that it’s now a commonplace enough word to sling around carelessly, just as the r-word has been in the past. And that’s being beaten back, thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of great people. But it’s hard work all the same.

If celebrity philanthropists can sling around “autistic” as an insult, in an attempt to be funny, then hard work is quite the understatement. But it does mean that people are aware. Now we have to inform.

And despite the lack of apology… I think the backlash and recent media attention (thanks to Holly R. Peete’s great response) is a great step forward towards informing people.

A lot of people are reading and watching and listening to that media. People who knew less about autism than 50 Cent apparently did. And they’re getting an ear full.

Just to be clear

I don’t condone what he said. I don’t like what he said. But it was said and I was mad, for a moment.

Still though, it’s an eye opener. A rude one but an eye opener. And despite the very negative beginning, I think this little episode is actually doing a lot of good.

With a united community and with great people like Holly R. Peete standing up to those who make statements like that, we’re well on our way to ensuring that these little episodes don’t happen again. Or at the very least, rarely.

And I welcome that. A lot of people just found out how very wrong it is to try to use “autistic” as an insult… whether they’re just trying to be funny or not.

That makes me smile. The entire autism community, for a moment, makes me smile.

I really hope he apologizes. That would really put a great little wrap up on this whole ordeal.

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The Universal 3 Point “Guide on How To” When Dealing with An Autistic Person

I’ve seen a lot of these ‘guides’ floating around, how to be their friends, how to think of them, what they wish they could tell you, etc… some are rather enlightening, many contain pretty common sense stuff that you should apply to everyone, not just someone with Autism.

The ones I find amusing, yet scary, are the ones that try to pad them out to be a nice round number like 10 or to sound like they have a “lot” to share with you by having a high enough number. But what I find even more amusing and scary is that every single one of these people know that no two Autistic people are created equal, therefore generalizing is a tricky thing to do. Not every child will react the same in every situation and thus, guidelines are exactly that, guidelines… not rules. Learn from them, don’t take them too seriously. How you interact with an Autistic person will vary.

Anyway, it was after reading a few of these that I summarized all of them into 3 simple points, which I tweeted in well under 140 characters and I think did a good job of summing it all up without generalizing to the point of excluding anyone… although, this will fall into the category of applying to everyone, not just Autistic people. So my apologies if you were expecting some ground breaking new way of thinking that pertained only to Autism.

Don’t Tell Me. Inform Me.

Autistic people can’t express themselves as well or at all, and they tend to take in information in a literal sense. For example, if you tell them that you feel like a pizza, they’ll picture you feeling like dough covered in cheese, sauce and pepperoni. Instead, say “I want pizza for supper.”

That being said, they’re not just robots that you can feed information into and tell them how to think. I think it’s fairly safe to say that if you’ve had any kind of extended period of time with an Autistic individual, you realize that you can’t force them to do anything or to think anything.

Give them the information they require to visualize and conceptualize for themselves and form their own opinions and decisions. My hope is that my son grows up to pick a political party on his own, based on the facts he learns and bases his vote on what he thinks is best. It’s not my place to tell him.

That brings me to…

Don’t Include Me. Involve Me.

I don’t think most people realize exactly how much of a difference there really is… I see this happen in regular programs with regular kids that try to “include” special needs children.  Most do a good job, but some feel that simply having the child there watching, or sitting close enough to the action, that they’re somehow involved.

The really great people are the ones who find a task or a way to get the special needs child involved. For example, on my videos page, there is a video of a boy who was the helper of the basketball team. He loved being involved, he loved being an important part of the team and when his time came, he laced up his shoes and became a star! It was because he was involved, not just included.

That brings me to the last one…

Don’t Judge Me. Accept Me.

I think this one pretty much speaks for itself, not just for Autistics but for all people who feel… out of the norm.

For me, when I think of this, I think as a parent would when I am out in public and my son loses his cool and throws a temper tantrum like only an Autistic person could. I see the other parents judge me and I think.. if they knew, it would be different.

Autism tends to lend itself to this very well because on the surface, most people don’t and can’t recognize there’s anything wrong beyond the person just being bad, dumb, silly… crazy even. Perhaps if a puzzle piece shaped scar appeared on children with Autism, this one wouldn’t be a big deal.

Stop looking at me, the parent… and stop whispering to the person next to you about how bad behaved my child is. Stop thinking my son is rainman, stop thinking he’s retarded….  just stop thinking about everything you’re thinking except… there’s a man with his son. Because that’s all we are.

So there you have it, all of the lists on all of the sites on all of the internet summed up into 3 little points. Autistic or not, young or old… practice these 3 things with the people you know. It’s not just a list of nice little words of wisdom, they’re the building blocks to friendship, to a community and to peace.

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