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.
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Bad Advice: "Just Ignore the Jerks" and My Memory
Ignoring people isn't something I can do. There is no "polite mode" with my lack of executive function. If someone is a jerk, I tell the person, at that moment. That's something non-autistics never quite grasp, either. My wife has known me for 30 years and forgets that I have no mental editor. Unfortunately, I also relive moments, visually and aurally, for years after the incident. It is a mental film loop, playing repeatedly every day of my life. It is unpleasant, especially since one bad moment with a person or group is the moment that sticks with me for decades. If someone is rude, insulting, or cruel, that person has become a life-long miserable memory that can be triggered by the slightest thing.
"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 …