It seems no matter where one goes or where one looks, you can always find some jackass who thinks that what they think overrides the view of the autistic, even when they are not remotely autistic themselves. Call me narrow-minded, but I am struggling to even understand how such a belief works.
So that one can understand what I am getting at here, I am going to talk a bit about the differences between not understanding, understanding, and grokking. I think that everyone has a basic understanding of what understand means, and what its antonym means. So let us cut to the chase here and talk about the most important word in what I am trying to communicate here: grok.
Grok is a word that Robert Heinlein used a number of times in the novel that many consider to be his magnum opus: Stranger In A Strange Land. The novel is about a man who was born on Mars to Terran astronomers who conceived him during a scientific expedition. He is raised by Martians, and when a subsequent expedition brings him back to Earth, a clash of cultures the like of which only Robert Heinlein could imagine ensues. When this Martian-raised Human is rescued from the government and brought into the care of a wise old sage of the sort that frequently populates Heinlein stories, many conversations ensue. And one conversation concerns itself with certain quirks of the Martian language.
One such quirk is the word grok. You see, you can understand a person or their emotions, or why they feel icky inside when within a grimy, icky-looking place. But to grok why a person feels as if their skin is going to walk away from them when they look into a drain that appears to have not been cleaned in a decade means you are feeling exactly what they feel. As if you have somehow been wrenched into them, and are experiencing it as if you were them.
This is the level of understanding it takes before you can tell an autistic adult, especially one of the Powell type, that you know better how to talk to an autistic individual or how they should be treated. Grok. It is a very small word, a very simple-sounding word. In fact, if truth be told, it sounds like a throwback to the days when words only came in one syllable. Like thousands of years before Greece was even an idea. But like a certain other word of similar length and simplicity, it can be used in so many different contexts that it is impossible to assign it only one meaning. When Valentine Michael Smith, the novel’s protagonist, tries to explain the word, he makes a lot of references to sharing water, as water is an especially precious commodity on Mars. But this explanation does not really convey the meaning of the word. In one conversation, Jubal surmises that the word coneys a level of understanding so total that it is as if the person doing the understanding is living in the skin of the person conveying the message.
There are a few kinds of people I consider to be capable of grokking my message when I say that I feel an extreme state of distress akin to discovering that I am dead lately. Other autistic adults, especially Powell types or other autistic adults who feel disenfranchised to the extent that I do, are the first and foremost of these kinds. Although they are not me, in the sense that Pepsi Max is the same thing as Pepsi Max if you get my drift, they are close enough to me in type that they can grok what I am on about. Veterans and sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will also grok what I am on about to varying degrees. Their knowledge of having been pushed far beyond the limits of stress at which a Human being can be expected to break, or being tended to by a system that does not care if they live or die, enables them to grok what I am on about.
From there down, it is a bit of a sliding scale. But the important point for this discussion is that irrespective of how far the scale slides or changes, there are people who do not, will not, and cannot grok an autistic adult who is suffering serious trauma, or anyone on the autistic spectrum for that matter.
Which begs the question. When I am the autistic adult who was ignored up until around his 26th or so birthday, then basically ignored some more and left to die, why do you expect me to be impressed when you say you are a teacher who works with special needs children? Do you even kid yourself that I care? Are you even aware that the two people I most would like to see chained to the back of a car and dragged along the street, the people named Shuster and Buttsworth that I mentioned in an earlier writing, are (or were) teachers? Seriously, asking me to even consider your statements worth the breath that were expended upon them on the basis that you are a “teacher who works with special needs children” is like asking me to believe that the Earth is a flat disc around which the sun revolves because “god said so”.
It is hard for an autistic adult who is on the verge of falling into the state we refer to as legal insanity to convey how angry an implied statement that a special education teacher’s viewpoint is somehow worth more concerning autism than that autistic adult’s makes them. You can point at yourself and say “autistic”, then point at them and say “not autistic”. But since normies seem to think being not autistic somehow makes their opinion worth more, all that does is create confusion on their part. As if somehow, they never expected to be told that simply being a teacher does not make them the sole arbiter of fact concerning autism, or what an autistic child might need.
Whilst it has been some time since I was a child, I can tell you one thing a child needs when they have been singled out as different and thus designated for abuse by others is to be protected, and taught to protect themselves. Telling a child that they are not worthy to be taught how to protect themselves because they act out violently or lash out in a confused and defensive manner is not going to cut it. Of course the child is acting out, hitting people, and doing “unacceptable” things. You are creating an environment for him where he feels the only way to make people stop bullying him is to fight back! Jesus, how hard is that for you oh-so-enlightened normie parents and teachers to understand? When a boy (or girl in a significant number of cases) feels powerless, they will do anything they can in order to regain some sense of control over their own space or the space that they have to visit on a regular basis. If I understood my situation when I was a child as well as I do now, I would not have had the slightest hesitation at murdering some of the children I was being made to go to school with. Can you hear me, Shuster or Buttsworth? I would have taken a sledgehammer to school with me and hit other children in the ribs if it became necessary. Watching a bully or abuser gasp for breath as their ribs have torn their lungs open is not a crime, it is poetic justice.
If you are upset or offended by all of this, special education teacher who thinks their status as a special education teacher means their ideas and views supplant the autistic adult’s somehow, can I share a little secret with you? Your attitude, your self-centric view of how the autistic should relate to one another or the world, will ensure that ten to twenty years from now, there will be more autistic adults out there who feel the same as I do. And course, these are the people who whinge and cry whenever they are confronted by some angry Powell type who wants them to understand that child abuse is not, never has been, and never will be an acceptable response to children behaving in a manner that they consider unacceptable, that in turn is usually in response to something they themselves did.
Even autistic adults who have run away from the formal education system (in response to abuse, I might hasten to add) and tried to go out on their own in the world can figure this part out very easily. When an autistic adult tries to tell educators that X, not Y, is the preferable way to deal with meltdowns and compulsive behaviours amongst children, they are speaking from experience. They are not making anything up, nor are they simply experimenting with children to see if their pet theory will hold water when it comes to peer review time. When an autistic adult tells you that shutting a child in a storage room or making them sit under a cardboard box is not an acceptable way to treat a child, it is often because they were treated in a similar manner as children and now live with the effects. Yes, it looks like I am abusing the underline tag for emphasis, but let me tell you something. The degree to which we are finding normies who do not understand the statement I just emphasised is an embarrassment not just to the society that we are living in, but to the species as a whole.
Nor is it acceptable to proclaim that you are abusing these children because you believe it is the right thing to do. Scientologists would not get away with that if we had genuine rule of law in the Western world, and neither would you. You see, one of the greatest things about science is that whilst you can have your “own” opinion to your heart’s content, you are not entitled to your own facts. No matter how much wailing you do that ABA (or systematic child abuse, as it should be labelled) or anal bleachings are somehow acceptable ways to treat a child who is autistic, they do irreparable harm. Not just to the child, but on a societal level. When a child goes into the big bad world of adulthood thinking that inflicting the pain involved in bleaching a child’s anal passage is somehow acceptable, it is but a matter of time before they do it to someone else.
So let us review for a moment. You find yourself in a discussion with a bunch of people who think they know everything about autism because their children are autistic. Before you can explain to them that having a father who flies or once flew fighter planes does not make you an expert pilot, one of them proclaims that on the basis of them being a special education teacher who works with disabled children, they proclaim referring to you as an “adult with autism” is somehow acceptable. Which party in this “discussion” (read: normie idiots trying to bully others into validating them) do you side with? If you picked anyone other than the autistic adult who states, plainly, that they are ready to put their foot up the arse of the next person who refers to them as an adult with autism, then please go and kill yourself. Preferably by insulin overdose, so that on the way down you can get some kind of idea of the pain and suffering that you are spreading into the world around you.
So, after all of that rambling and raving, what can I really offer as meaningful advice to anyone? Well, I can tell you this much. We, the autistic adults, have a lot of work to do in order to take the normie, curebie, parent-über-alles movement or side of arguments down. I am still amazed that there are parents left in the world who think that being a parent makes their opinion automatically the word of whatever supreme deity they want to invoke. In the year of 2008, three point three million allegations of child abuse and neglect involving six million children were made in America. And numerous sources have made the horrifying suggestion that for every case that is reported and recorded, as many as a dozen go unreported.
Reconcile that with your “ahm a parwent, ah know best!” belief at your leisure, parental autistic overriders.
(Oh, and if Bill Cosby is reading this, I would like him to know that I will gladly shove every available VHS cassette of his parental supremacist show from the 1980s up his arse. One cassette at a time.)