At birth, doctors suggested I would be mentally disabled, in addition to the physical injuries I suffered. I have never been described as normal. “High-functioning autism” (HFA) is just another way to describe a few aspects of “me.” The autistic me is the creative me, the curious me, the complete me.
I've come to realize that many readers of my last post weren't aware of what started the latest round of debates within the "Autism Community." Actually, this is merely a continuation of an on-going series of disagreements between two communities. If interested, here is the link:
The basic background, as best I can tell, is that two groups don't like each other and don't want to listen to each other. On one side, we have some parent advocates and on the other we have self-advocates. That's a simplification, but it offers a basic overview.
I'm not a supporter of either of the two groups at the center of this current debate. They have far more passion and conviction on issues that I don't consider my highest priorities.
So, there's a debate about an Obama appointment to the Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. I don't even like the name of the committee, but that's not a debate that would engage me.
For me, the biggest issue of late is access to buildings on the campus where I teach. They don't have enough ramps and my classroom can only be accessed via four steep stairs. That's important to me. (The campus is building a great new building that will be much, much better for access.)
The debates about things like "with autism" vs. "autistic" simply don't raise my passions. And yes, I should care more about the DSM-V and things like "What happens to Asperger's Syndrome in 2013?" That's a debate in the area of scientific rhetoric, and it is interesting, but I'm not going to like or dislike someone simply because he or she disagrees with my view of the DSM revision process.
The "community" will debate this appointment, as they debated the appointment of a self-advocate. Insults will be exchanged, both subtle and direct, and nothing much will be accomplished other than reinforcing some bitterness.
"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?"
A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius.
I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include: Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include She…
Think about what you see, online and in the media. I see upper-middle class parents, able to afford iPads and tutors and official diagnoses. I see parents who have the resources to fight for IEPs and physical accommodations.
I see self-advocacy leadership that has been fortunate (and hard working, certainly) to attend universities, travel the nation (or even internationally), and have forums that reach thousands.
What I don't see? Most of our actual community. The real community that represents autism's downsides. The marginalized communities, ignored and excluded from our boards, our commissions, our business networks.
How did my lower-income parents, without college educations, give me a chance to be more? How did they fight the odds? They did, and now I am in a position of privilege. But I don't seem to be making much of a difference.
Demand that your charities seek out the broadest possible array of advisers and board members.…
Life is okay, if more than a little hectic at the end of this first month.
With one month down, I'm 11 months away from my MFA in Film and Digital Technology. Though things might happen and things do go wrong, so far I'm on schedule and things are going well —— though I'm exhausted and working harder than I did for any other degree. Because the MFA requires projects every week, this isn't as easy to schedule as writing. Even researching a paper can be done from the comfort of home, at any hour.
You cannot make movies by yourself, at any time of day. It doesn't work that way. Filming takes time, and often requires a team of people. It's not comparable to working alone on a degree in writing or rhetoric.
The team-based nature of film is exhausting for me, but I enjoy the results. I also like the practical nature of the skills being taught. You either learn how to adjust ISO, f/Stop, shutter speed, and other variables or you don't. You can have theories …