Arrogance is a wonderful thing. No, really, it is. For one thing, it gives beholders a great insight into which people out there should, in fact, be kicked to the curb and left to starve, and whom should be allowed to take over whatever position of say they hold in a society. But everywhere we look, we are unfortunately bombarded with examples of arrogance so powerful and all-inclusive that they are truly flabbergasting to behold.
The arrogance of people associated with disability services, social services, and services in general is something that has the ability to turn stomachs. When I was a child, I heard a number of stories about disabled folk. Usually ones told to me (and the rest of the class) by teachers. These stories always focused on people with obvious disabilities, or the exact opposite of what I call reversion disabilities. Reversion disabilities, for those who do not speak the refined English that I do, are disabilities that, if you were to reverse the ratio between those with the disability and those without, those with would not be considered disabled. Hence the term, reversion disability. The stories I was told as a boy all concerned themselves with things like blindness or paralysis. Now, do not get me wrong, stories like those of Louis Braille are inspiring and should serve as an example to children. But the thing is, being autistic and being blind are two entirely different things.
Being blind entails the loss of one sense. Specifically, sight. And there are different levels of blindness. Just because your eyes properly focus a light signal through your optic nerves and into the receptor cells of your brain does not mean you can see well. Just like your SLR camera (cameraphones are only good for shoving up one’s arse, sorry), your eyes can only be as good as the weakest component. If the lens, mirror, optic nerve, or worse yet the sensor, in your eye is not up to spec, then you have a problem.
And do not let anyone kid you. Being blind is very disabling. It means being unable to operate a car and transport oneself on one’s own. It means needing to improvise ways to use other senses to compensate. It means having to rely on the assistance of a specialised cane or a specially-trained canine to find your way. And if your luck really runs out, and someone decides they want to subject you to violence, unless you really are a Zaitochi type, you are pretty much at their mercy unless some heroic type comes to help you.
When you are autistic, your sensory input or your brain’s ability to interpret it, or both, can be far greater than others would expect. What your eyes take in and how your brain interprets that information is often (but not always) different. One difference that has been true since I was a boy, and remains true to this day from a distance of about six to twelve feet, is that I can see more detail than most people can through a magnifying glass. This is especially fun when one is looking through the viewfinder of a digital SLR that is zoomed out to 300mm or more. Seeing who is approaching from far enough to know their eye colour before they even know I am there is a bit of a kick. But this is all aside from the main point.
The insanity of the current situation is that parental units keep going to look for information. Information that could mean life or death, peace or abuse, suffering or hope, or extremes even worse than this, for the children. And what these parents end up finding so often is, to put it nicely, a load of horseshit that advocates for people suffering from diabetes or cancer absolutely will not tolerate being circulated.
The problem here is that when people have a specific will concerning what accommodations or changes should be/need to be made for them, that will should be obeyed. Not the will of their friends, not the will of their parents, not the will of their extended family, not the will of their grandparents. Theirs. Theirs alone. This is the problem at the very heart of the autism civil rights movement today. Everyone seems to think their viewpoint or idea is more important than that of actual autistic people. Just about everything that autistic self-advocates say lately is centered around requests, both polite and not-so, that we be allowed to speak for ourselves.
In fact, it absolutely baffles me, the kind of things that people online will say to autistic adults when one directly confronts them and says “no, what you are saying is wrong, and I want you to stop”. If a person advocating for people with diabetes, AIDS, asthma, or chronic cancer were found to be ignoring the will of the patient and substituting their own to this degree, they would not be allowed to continue purporting to be advocates, carers, or charitable collectors. But it seems that this is perfectly okay where the autistic are concerned. If you are not outraged by this situation, then you are not paying attention.
So in that spirit, I would like to share a few points about what this actual person on the spectrum would like you to know:
- So-called “person first” language is not desired, is not “the standard”, and is not “nice”. In fact, it is deeply offensive. If you want to call me a “person with autism”, then be fair about it. Go to places like Queens or the Northern Territory and start calling the local people you find there “people with blackness”. And if you think that this is different, you are proving my point. Call me a “person with autism” to my face, and look the fukk out.
- “X cannot speak for themselves” is not a valid defense. When my blood glucose is below 2.0 mmol/l, I do not do a very good job of communicating for myself, either, but that does not entitle you to tell others that your will is somehow above mine. It means that the parts of my brain that enable me to speak coherently are suffering dysfunction due to insufficient fuel supply. And it most definitely does not mean that I want anyone concerned to do things other than what I ask them to do when they come to help. When an autistic adult tells you “do X”, “I’ll do Y” is the wrong answer!
- Show me an autistic adult who cannot speak for themselves, and I will show you someone who has never been properly taught and/or trained to speak for themselves. This is where the early intervention that so many services that should receive the funding and publicity focus their efforts at present. This is an extension of the previous point, but basically, the saying is “he who is silent is understood to consent”, not “he who is silent is understood to make a choice on the behalf of millions of others”! Consent derived from neglect and miseducation is not valid, either. Nor is consent from a person who does not have the interests of the affected individual at heart.
- This brings me to the point that I believe so-called disability advocates are unable to get. No matter what the disability, and regardless of whether it is a disability in the true sense or just a reversion disability, the disability does not take away the fact that each person is an individual. This critical point seems lost on advocates, governments, and even some self-advocates alike.
Irrespective of what way you slice it, “one size fits all” solutions are by nature doomed to fail. This is because Humans are designed by nature to vary from one another. In some cases, drastically. One would think that people would treat the existence of an autistic spectrum as confirmation of this.
When one looks at such mundane things as a person’s eyes, one has to go through as many as thousands to get a perfectly identical iris. And that is when one lines up thousands of people with an identical basic colour (let’s say blue in this case because being my eye colour, it is easiest for me to draw examples of what I am talking about). Not only are basic shades different (light, dark, etc), the patterns of tonal variation vary dramatically. Even the manner in which one’s eye colours change from one colour to another are different from one person to another.
The point being that no matter how hard Humanity as a collective has pushed toward uniformity of thought over the years, we are not one step closer to it. Oh, sure, we see bursts of it from time to time. Trends where people decide that they have to all be alike and so forth. But the thing is, when Human powers have decided that every Human has to be alike, it is not the Humans who desire and wish to enforce their sameness policy upon us all that suffer for it. It is always the disenfranchised, the disadvantaged, and those who are already suffering who suffer the most.
I really have lost track of what I was meant to be closing this essay with. Truth be told, motivation is scarcer than hen teeth when one is waiting for a new computer (do not ask) and generally just waiting for the end. It is hard to keep coming up with great ideas to write about when one has been told they need to have their face operated on to remove a cancer, and that a mistake in such an operation may result in a permanent facial drooping on one side. They want to remove a whole gland from my face. And yet the normalisation of the place I live in dictates that everything has to be done in the day, and that every waking minute has to be spent in daylight, and so on. Let me be brutally honest here for a second, normies. If I never saw the sun again whilst I lived, it would be too soon.
If you have read this far and want to tell me something about your experience with what I have described, feel free to do so in comments. Otherwise, get yourself a copy of the Julie Christmas song When Everything Is Green and have a good, hard, repeated listen. It might teach you something about me. Good night, and good luck.
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