I am not that oblivious.

One troublesome side effect to my difficulty with reading subtext, non-verbal cues, and hints, is a reputation I’ve acquired for being naive, foolish, and gullible. It is easier to pull the wool over my eyes the first few times because I don’t pick up on the falsehood cues as well as others do.

Some seem to think this makes me incapable of picking up what’s going on. I’m not. I might not be as good at it as you, but I can pick up the obvious.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: If you are snapping at people and heaving heavy sighs and making ominous hints that I can’t read, I might not be able to read what’s going on with you, but I sure as hell can tell that something is going on. You don’t have to tell me. I’m not entitled to know.

But don’t lie and tell me there’s nothing. Don’t insult me like that. You’re being so obvious about it that even I can tell that something’s up. Given a choice between something’s up and an obvious lie, I won’t believe your lie.

I am not that oblivious.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to come out and say it, don’t keep trying to tell without telling, through your hints and your sighs and your allusions. You know I can’t read them. I know I can’t read them. All that you do with that is set my brain into catastrophizing mode, as I have just enough information to know that something’s going on, but not enough to know what. And then my mood and productivity are shot for the rest of the day because rather than concentrating on working, I’m concentrating on getting my brain to stop playing Worst Case Scenario.

Tell me or don’t. If you choose option two, stop it with the ominous hints and the allusions to something bad followed by don’t-worry-your-head-about-it-dears. I’m not going to magically pick it up, and you obviously aren’t willing to say what it is outright, so just stop. Please. My adrenal glands will thank you for it.

Announcing a blog project and a call for help

So, there are apparently a lot of people out there who think that cognitive and developmental disability ableism isn’t a thing. That it’s not “real” oppression. This is a meme with disturbing reach and pervasiveness. And it is a myth. 

I want to debunk this myth. 

So I’m going to be writing a blog series on the history of cognitive and developmental disability ableism. Sometime after April is my rough timeline for my first post.

If anybody has any useful resources they can direct me to, I would appreciate it greatly. I want to do this properly, so I’m looking for historical, journalistic, or peer-reviewed articles. I’ll count blog posts as journalistic if they cite their claims appropriately and/or otherwise support their claims with evidence. Particular emphasis on pre-20th century stuff (to establish that historical ableism has been a thing for a while), and stuff that’s still ongoing (the JRC will definitely be making an appearance, among others).

Language restrictions: Due to the fact that I don’t read well in any of my other languages, I need all resources to either be written in English or have an English translation available.

Thanks, all! More updates will be coming on timeline, etc, when I know more.

Sleep problems and executive function

I wonder how many people with executive function issues have sleep problems due to it. I probably will do a follow-up post after I’ve had time to do some reading and research. This post is purely anecdotal.

For me, there’s a difference between insomnia and forgetting to sleep.

Insomnia is knowing I need to sleep and wanting to sleep because I feel like crap but not being able to sleep because anxiety or hurt or meltdown or what have you. I do get it sometimes, and it sucks. 

Forgetting to sleep, on the other hand, is why I’ve operated on <4 hours of sleep every day for the past five days. “Hmm, I should go to bed soonish. One more episode of House of Cards first wouldn’t hurt, though.” *four hours later* “Shit, is it one thirty already?!”  It’s low body awareness (don’t notice I’m tired) coupled with preserveration (binge watching a show I just discovered and enjoy) and a lack of awareness that the clock, which is right by the TV, is showing a later and later time on a work night. 

Sound familiar to anyone?

The Case Against Stupid

TW: Discussion of ableist language & bullying

 

 

 

 

“You’re S-T-U-P-E-D. Know what that means?”

“Stuped? It’s not a word.”

“Yes, it is! Stupid, do you know what it means?”

“That’s not how you spell ‘stupid’. It’s with an i, not an e.”

“It means you’re r******d.”

Stupid first entered the English language as a word back in the early 1540s. According to current current usage and definitions, its most common usage has to do with describing a lack of ordinary “quickness or keenness of mind” and describing things characterized or proceeding from “mental dullness”.

In other words, it is a word that exists to belittle those based upon their perceived mental acuity. If you doubt this statement, look only to its accepted list of synonyms, which includes such words as “dull,” “dumb,” “unintelligent,” “dim,” “doltish,” “half-witted,” “idiotic,” and “moronic”, all of which are words with well-defined ableist history (several of which were once ableist medical terms). This belittlement of perceived mental acuity is harmful to those with cognitive and developmental disabilities – we who, due to those disabilities, are often perceived as having lower mental acuity than our peers.

So, we’ve established that it has an ableist definition. Now I’m going to talk about my case that it constitutes a euphemism for one of the most vile ableist slurs out there. The first part of my case is to look at the synonyms of that slur. It includes many of the same words as the list of synonyms for stupid, and even includes the word stupid itself. If you look at the definition, a common slang use is as a synonym for stupid or foolish – this is the ableist slur usage we’re so familiar with.

In other words, even dictionaries, which are notoriously slow to accept changes in language usage, recognize that stupid is synonymous with that slur. Dictionaries exist to document current language usage patterns, not to stay on top of slang fads. Hence, for something to be placed in a dictionary as an accepted definition, it must be both 1, common usage (technical definitions almost never make it into general English dictionaries) and 2, old enough for the dictionaries to recognize it’s not a one-year fad like the neologism “ruly” was in my childhood.

On the more personal side of this argument: That’s exactly how it was used against me. The exchange I wrote at the start of this post actually happened to me, and I learned very quickly that the other kids couldn’t get away with calling me a r*****d in public, but they could get away with calling me stupid. So they used stupid as a euphemism for r*******d, probably just like their parents told them to.

But, you see, kids possess less ability for self-deception than adults. So they didn’t try to rationalize that they were just going around the social condemnation of the use of the word retard by saying that wasn’t really what they were doing, they were actually just saying it was a bad idea or I was annoying or made no sense or what have you. They said it like it was: When they said stupid, they meant r*******d.

As people get older and they learn the why of why retard is so very offensive, many of them don’t want to give up other ableist insults while they’re at it. After all, how can they express ableist sentiments without ableist words? So they rationalize. Stupid doesn’t mean r*******d, it just means dull-witted and dumb, amirite? Some get angry: How dare you tell me that stupid is a euphemism for retard! That’s offensive! I don’t use it to mean r******d, I use it to mean [insert other ableist word here]!

But the kids are more honest. They say it like it is.

That means you’re r******d!”

Grow up with love, not fear

My brain hasn’t wanted to make a post happen the past few days (I was helping on Twitter with the #FreeAvery shitstorm and that kinda soaked all my not-school energy), but I do want to signal-boost the Love, Not Fear flashblog, so I’ll try to make something worthwhile, though I don’t think it’ll be as good as, say, Kassiane’s Litany Against Fear / Litany For Love. Or Cynthia’s Love, Not Fear post (both of which are good and are recommended reading.

I’m writing this post for the kids like me. People who are going through what I went through ten to fifteen years ago. The autistic kids.

If I could give you all one piece of advice, it would be this: Love yourself. Don’t fear yourself.

What the allistic people – parents, teachers, siblings, what have you – don’t get about meltdowns is that they’re far scarier to experience than they are to watch. I say this as a person who’s been on both sides of meltdowns. I know how meltdowns can make you feel like you’re out of control, and how others’ reactions make you feel like your some sort of evil monster.

You’re not.

Love yourself. Love yourself enough to advocate for what you need. If classroom noise makes your ears feel like someone’s jabbing ice picks in them, communicate that however you communicate. If the sun makes your eyes feel like exploding, likewise. If those around love you, they will listen and help teach you to self-accommodate and self-advocate effectively. If they don’t, that is not your fault. But sooner or later, you will meet someone who does listen, and they will help you change your life. When you get what you need, meltdowns will mostly disappear on their own. You are not a monster. You do not want to melt down. I know that. I’ve been there. You’re not a monster. You’re not a monster. You’re not a monster.

I repeat it so much in hopes that emphasis will help you remember. It’s hard to believe you’re not a monster when others are telling you that you are, when you feel out of control, when you hurt people and break things and don’t want to. So once more, with feeling: You are not a monster.

Don’t fear yourself. Love yourself. I won’t say that it’s all easy and simple after that. It’s not. But loving yourself makes everything else easier as you grow up.

Loving yourself is a radically defiant act when people around you are telling you that you’re bad and violent and rude and obnoxious and [insert other negative adjectives here]. It is a radical act when, if you’re bullied, adults assume it’s your fault. It is a radical act when you’re different. When you stick out. When you’re disabled.

That allistics think you shouldn’t love yourself as you are, that they can’t even comprehend the concept of an autistic person who is happy with who they are, is the most important reason to love yourself. Because those people would change who you are to suit them. People who would try to change the core of you don’t love you. They love who they think you should be. And there is a difference. You need to love you because you will never be who they think you should be.

Don’t get me wrong: You can become a better you. You can learn new skills and coping methods and ways of expressing yourself. But you can’t change who you are. You can’t become someone else. And you will destroy yourself trying to be them. I know. I tried. For years and years and years I tried, and I don’t want you to have to do that.

You don’t need to become someone else. You need to love yourself, where you are now, for who you are now, so that when they tell you something to the effect of, “If you’d just not be you, you’d fit in more,” you know that the problem does not lie with you. It lies with your bullies and the adults who decide it’s easier to cut off the corners of the square peg than to find a square hole.

You can improve your abilities – you can learn new coping skills and new communication methods and new strategies to manage sensory overload – but you cannot change who you are. Who you are is many things, but autistic is part of that. Love yourself. Love who you are. And, as you grow up, grow into the best you possible by loving yourself, rather than growing into a second-rate emulation of an allistic person, like they want you to, by fearing yourself.

Grow up with love, not fear.