Agency & Autism

I have been reading quite a bit on human rights and disability both in the media and in philosophy, and I am appalled at the power the label “disability” has alleviated human beings of their agency and their rights.


I started studying this topic with the intention to explore it as a PhD topic in political theory. I started to rethink my choice when it occurred to me that academic thought was not going to educate employers any faster, nor was it going to be a credential they would recognize as relevant if I were to have that discussion myself.

So much for my current education. Funny how diagnosis changes perspective and purpose. Topic for another day…

Anywho, lemme run down some concepts in case you are a new to below.

Agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.

Human rightsare defined by the UN with specific charters for women and the disabled. I urge everyone to actually look it up themselves. And, please note as well the countries that didn’t sign, didn’t ratify, and/or put tons of caveats.

The basic points are that each human is just by virtue of being human is entitled to universal rights. Unfortunately, just as they have tried to curtails the rights of people of color and of women, they have tried to limit the rights of disabled beyond what is reasonable based on impairment, most recently the reproductive rights of Autistic persons by seemingly well intentioned parents that are not giving their children a chance to even blossom, which we often do late.

The most recent offense was by a Judith Newman (I refuse to plug her repugnant book), but I have seen numerous blog posts as well. These are mostly written by mothers who think their children will never be capable of raising a child, let alone a disabled one. They may not entirely be wrong in all cases, but some go looking for the ability to physically alter their child before they even reach puberty. This is unconscionable.

Never mind that interfering with a child’s sexual development could possibly harm them for life, which is not even treating your child like a human being. This breaks the very tenants we claim to respect as members of the UN. Somehow having a disabled child absolves one from having to respect those rights. I’m utter disgusted by this behavior. Just because raising your Autistic child was difficult, does not make you the “owner” of this being with right to do whatever you want with him or her.

That said, I get that these “autism warrior” mothers believe they are acting in the best interest of their child, but I’m not entirely convinced that these women truly understand more about their child than the behavior they are not getting from them.

I cannot stress enough how sensitive ASD people are. Most of us anyway. If you have a child that is unresponsive, my first question is how patient are you the parent? Even though I am on the Asperger’s side of the spectrum, I can tell you that 6 sets of eyes staring at me at the dinner table with contempt for not wanting to eat most vegetables made dinner miserable for me. My pediatrician blamed my parents for somehow sending out “broccoli hate” that I was somehow picking up on even though everyone seemed to love it except me. Breakfast is still my favorite meal of the day even though I live on my own and eat most things today. But, I digress, as I do often.

Just because I “should” eat a variety of vegetables does not mean I am malnourished from my childhood. Heaping on pressure was just traumatizing. Forcing me to eat foods or keeping me at the table all night does not aid child/parent trust. It turns the parent into the villain, however “well-intentioned” it may seem to other parents of NT children. NT families are not what you should be judging yourself or your child by. Period. Your Autistic child will never “normal”. Grieve if you must, but NEVER let them know.

So, I keep seeing this discussion of wanting the right to force vasectomies and hysterectomies on Autistic children. The youngest I’ve seen was eight. They don’t even know what he or she will be like at 18 or 26 or 32 and yet they are ready to make life changing procreation choices for them? Is this out of concern for care or is this out fear of more Autistic people in the world?

One thing I can tell you is that, barring violent behavior, most people are mildly shitty parents. I wish my Autistic father hadn’t been sexually abused as a child, which made him 100 shades of fucked up and a bad parent, but he could have tried harder. I chose not to have children, but at least it was MY CHOICE. Point being: even Asperger’s folk can suck, so there’s no reasonable line to draw in the sand about who has the capacity and who doesn’t, in a quantitative sort of way.

If I remember correctly there was a eugenics-y sort argument for Down’s adults 10 or 20 years ago. Don’t think I don’t get it. I do. Ultimately the point is to be able have supports there to help out where any parent lacks. But, I do not believe at all that function Autistics can’t be parents. I know a few. Most put that job above everything else in life. That’s more than I can say for NT 18-year olds in the welfare office that wear a child like an accessory (True. Story.).

Further, I also get the overpopulation argument as well, but frankly, it isn’t statistically our population responsible for that. If anything, we are at least geared towards the fields that can help fix the problems of the modern world. Let’s face it: you need more us and less of you.

Seeds of Autism

A social justice mural was vandalized in less than 24 hours after it was painted on the seeds of autism12th of this month in Gainesville, Florida. “It was shocking because Gainesville is a very friendly, open, groovy, inclusive town,” Shirley Lasseter, member of the Gainesville/Ocala chapter of Women’s March Florida, told CNN. And the rest of the country thought, “It’s still the South.”

What is glaringly new is the use of Autism in a political statement. It is so out of place I have to wonder if it doesn’t mean the same thing to the fringe right as everyone else, since they have their own little hate glossary with meanings drawn completely from conspiracy conman Alex Jones or some such place. I’m going to have to dig to find out how they believe this ties together. Perhaps they think liberal values have caused the so-called “autism epidemic”? I had to investigate.

I tested out a bunch of terms starting with “seeds of Autism” since that was the phrase they created. That came up with one BBoard site called Ar15. I’m not linking to their dross. You can google that one yourself if you must. But, the line that stuck with me was one post that asked, “What fun is it trolling the leftist if they are too stupid to understand the joke?” A few other posts list other seemingly unrelated memes about a frog, and I was still perplexed.

Next I googled “‘Autism’ right wing glossary” et voila. Buzzfeed produced. “The Normal Person’s Guide to How the Far Right Troll Talk to Each Other” or “A Glossary of Far Right Terms and Memes”. And, my expected translation was fairly close except it was a trolling joke. So, for all my lefties, here’s how the thought process goes:

NEETS stands for “No Education, Employment, or Training” which self-deprecatingly refers to 4chan’rs that are loony right wing and also live in mom’s basement that spends all day playing video games or on the internet that may be on the spectrum. They call people who work, oddly enough, wagecucks or wage slaves. Unclear how they think the “free market” economy can work if all these twats don’t contribute, but whatever.

REEEEEEE! is the angry shriek of a 4chan’r. “Typically, it’s used to show anger at “normies” for invading their online spaces. There are memes of Pepe the Frog making that noise when he’s angry.” Presumably, Pepe then becomes the image of an angry alt-right loon when a lefty enters their forum.

Pepe the Frog is “A cartoon smiling frog created innocuously by comic artist Matt Furie that has, over time, become the official mascot of far-right extremism in the US and parts of Europe.”

Don’t you feel educated now? So, to sum up, the followers of Pepe, aka NEETs, were accusing the left of causing Autism with our politics to rile us up in some PC froth, but only managed to confuse everyone. Now they are just licking their wounds and blaming us for being too stupid to understand their memes without a f’ing translation. I’d call this a fail for the home team.

Further this has nothing to do with Autism really, good or bad. There’s nothing further to read into it. It’s for the most part been ignored post-CNN coverage, so, of course, I had to understand it, as if making sense of the alt-right is even feasible.

“Am I mad,” as the troll face always asks? No, I find it childish and in amazingly poor taste, but no, I’m not mad. I have plenty of real things in my life that warrant more of my energy, but I am angry that this mural was graffitied. Someone on that BBoard called the mural graffiti and likened the vandalism to the mural itself, as if the two can be equated just because it portrays politics they don’t like. Talk about twisting facts! More alt-facts. I’d like to know if there were any arrests.

Broadly. Talks Working Autistic Women

There’s a rather oddly written article on Broadly. about Aspie women and the workplace. No, I'm kidding.I say oddly for lack of coherent order or argument flow. It appears the intention is to talk of symptoms we women face, but it really is not tied back to one central point because it switches gears between symptoms and an employment organization. That said, I get where she was going: advertisement of the org via article. Got it.

Anywho… The symptoms mentioned are a good place for me to start talk about what I’ve been experiencing because of my workplace. I’ve been working for the government for three years. It’s absolute torture, and I’ve been in and out HR more times than I can count now. If it wasn’t for union protection I would have been fired just for not being the meek, avoidance type. Thankfully I’m not though because they eat people alive.

Because of this I know a lot about Aspie Burnout. I’ve had burnout 3 or 4 times since I started this same job. I’ve been on two medical leaves, both for physical problems, and emotional as well. I’ve had enough of the bullying and mocking, especially when they know full well my diagnosis. EEOC is coming, all I’m gonna say.

Right now I’m in a whole new zone, somewhere beyond burnout, where my vindictive and conniver aka my bitch side comes out. I didn’t want this side to resurface this way, but I am so done with this place I’d nuke it just as a warning to others.
(Because of the world we live in today, no, I would not actually hurt people. Please put the gun down officer.)
I kind of miss the days when I was completely naive to the fact that I even needed to guard my words. I had far more energy. It’s not like I’m even any good at pretending to be normal anyway, no matter how much people tell me I’m “so normal”. Actually, they really want to say, “You’re not different, you’re just an a$$hole,” which is so much easier for them to wrap their teeny, tiny brains around than to try understand what I really go through.

In the newer understanding of female specific “symptoms” there is something called twofaced“masking”.  If you happen to not be familiar, it as studying another girl’s behavior to then mimic her as a way to try to fit in with other girls. Some (or many?) Aspie girls learn to do this to cope. It also costs far more energy than it would for a neurotypical to develop the same skills without a mask.

I never learned this mimicry, which has always been a double-edged sword. I’ve always felt super strongly that we are ethically bound to be open and honest. And now, in my late thirties & early forties, I’ve been fire forged to lose a bit of my naïveté, but gain the patience necessary to find out what people’s motives are, and they aren’t very good I’m finding. It is rather disappointing.

I have also believed in letting one’s freak flag fly, and this is not the exactly the standard business behavior. I have paid over and over for just being myself and hoping people will be accepting, but I am repeatedly disappointed there too. It does hurt the self esteem after a while, and it reinforces the idea either way that who you are is unworthy and people only want to be around mirrors of themselves. This is particularly true in my current office. Trump clones.

I don’t personally have issues with work clothing with the ever present exception of tags! and finding comfortable footwear. I don’t do cute shoes or anything girly really. But, I do struggle to find shoes that will accommodate the shape of my foot.

I wish my parents had encouraged my interests. Instead they’d say every single one as a waste of money. Toys for me were ever a waste of money. My parents let television raise me because it didn’t cost anything extra for them. My mother made a huge show of how wonderfully giving they were just to buy me new clothing at the beginning of the year and that became an excuse to not buy me Xmas or birthday presents. And, they weren’t even poor yet!!  My mother went to Ann Taylor. They went of trips to the Caribbean. And so on.

So, that covers the symptoms they covered in the article. I’ll need to separately add more of my own.

Anne with an E

With the exception of her lovely fantasy world and her terminal vanity, I identified annewithecompletely with Anne with an E. I see Vanity Fair is having a fit over the reworking of the story, but I just adore her. Her battle to survive and be accepted feels so much like my normal. Including her understandable PTSD, she’s definitely an Aspie.

Okay, so what if she saves the day twice in one season? So what if turn-of-the-century Ontario isn’t all roses and sweetness? This seems more like a real world, and rough like life is for an Aspie child. Imagine if you, Miss Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair, actually understood what it’s like to be misunderstood and feel constantly like one giant shredded nerve.

Conversely, if you want to complain about a movie not matching the book. You should be far more offended by the movie version of Hitchhiker’s Guide. It was a terrible disappointment because they ruined Douglas Adams’ jokes. Never mind the pathetic version of Zaphod, all the missing scenes, and the reduction of a brilliant Trillian to a dim damsel in distress, they actual cut his humor, which is far more of an atrocity than the rest. And, this was never claimed to be “based on”. It was supposed to be half of what Adams had adapted, written himself, as a script before he passed. I wish I never saw it. Let’s keep outrage where it’s appropriate, hmm?

I don’t honestly care how well Anne with an E keeps to the Anne of Green Gables story. It’s only based on the story, it isn’t the exact story. The exact words from Wikipedia are, “series based on the 1908 novel”. They intentionally made it their own, and I think they created a new version that beefed up what many had suspected about Anne’s neurotype and her devastating life. Perhaps it doesn’t mirror the book, but it certainly mirrors the reality of being the outcast.

I’ve been the girl a parent says their child can’t go near for nothing more than horrible assumptions. I’ve been the girl the popular girls corner and taunt. I’ve been the girl that hides in the tutoring room during lunch because I had nowhere else to sit. I’ve been the girl that was punished by teachers for things I never did, publicly humiliated and privately apologized to. Is Anne with an E believable? Emphatically YES.

It certainly more believable than the an poor orphan being immediately popular with wealthy townies. Seriously, what does everyone think of foster kids right now even? Humans were no nicer or accepting then than now. Let’s get a grip. Life was never Little House on the Prairie.

That all said and certainly more importantly, the Aspie traits I see in Anne are as follows, and feel free to comment and deny or add anything you like.

  1. The fantasy world Anne retreats to to get the acceptance she craves.
  2. The loud and very chatty behavior Anne has on topics of her interest.
  3. The well-read knowledge she has for her age, including the large vocabulary.
  4. The “get out of my way and let me fix it” attitude, even towards adults.
  5. The inability to tell what is inappropriate knowledge to share with peers.
  6. The play acting out how she thinks conversations with go in a social setting.
  7. The desperate attempt to follow the social rules she’s told directly.

After watching the series with my father, my mother for the first time in my 41 years actually said she finally could comprehend the abuse I received in grade school. Imagine that!? That’s enough for me to give this puppy an A+.

15 Seconds: My Diagnosis Story

It’s a lot to take in at once. ASD Level 1 was handed to me before I even knew what it
Aspie behaviorseven meant. My voc rehab counselor suggested that I figure out if something else was going on besides just anxiety (after work-related error in judgment). Since she mentioned Aspergers specifically I sought out a specialist in the field. I fully expected to be told that this was me barking up the wrong coconut tree because I knew nothing about autism. Rainman, Baron-Cohen tests, and part of the “Pretending to be Normal” book seemed completely foreign and didn’t speak to me at all. All I had out of the pic on the left is “Difficulty in interactions with others”. Not much of match, right? I totally get why anyone would be reluctant to bother seeking a diagnosis.

I was already forty at this point. I’d been introspective my whole life. How could I not know this about myself? I knew everything… I had taken every test. I had read so many books, from Astrology to what Jungian archetypes fit me. I never had developmental delays according to my parents. I’m “normal”, just weird, right?

Nope. She said she knew in 15 seconds. *facepalm*

I googled the PsychologyToday for a local psychologist that would be PhD and a specialist in this field. This one, “Mary”*, said she was caring and kind, and that’s another story, but I bought it. I made the appointment. I sat down in the room, and I threw my life down on the floor before her.

I talked about my divorce, my education, my difficulties at work, my layoffs/firings, my parents, the years being stuck, and on and on. I talked about my upcoming trip to England, and how I love learning about cultures. I shared my “special interests” in politics, logic, history, and mythology. It all came out in one epic infosplatter.

Then I said, resolutely, that I wanted to know if maybe I was Autistic and the reason why. To my surprise, the answer was, “Yes.” And that’s when she said she knew “in 15 seconds”. That was her actual words. She told me I’d have to go through some testing to be sure, but it appeared she was already decided.

My head spun. I was almost angry. How many people would say they know your most inner self in 15 seconds? A gypsy fortune teller at some weird carnival in a horror film? The next week I was in a stupor. I started to google more about what this meant, and still I was lost on how this could be me. I wasn’t googling women and female in my searches yet because I just didn’t know there would be a difference.

The next two visits spanned my assessment. She wanted answers to specific traits common to our neurotype, although looking back, it was still male gendered or neutral traits, not what is common to women. Still, I fit.

Suddenly, a sigh of relief washed over me. I wasn’t alone anymore. There are lots of people out there that are my people, my clan. I started joining Facebook groups, and reading what I shared with others. It was transformative. We had some many joys and defeats in common.

The next session with “Mary” was not great. Once the relief washed away, the next emotion was grief. I started to mourn not knowing sooner and the choices I could have made differently. Instead of empathy, “Mary” was already past that and onto wanting to “fix” me. I was just trying to recenter myself after a gigantic, life altering revelation, and she’s over it. This is where some sympathy would have been appreciated, but she was busy trying to “help” me with my work issues by trying to work on my social skills.

Does anyone not see how that was invalidating my feelings?

Anyway, my time with “Mary” was short-lived. I gave her a few more sessions, even expressing my need to get used to the whole thing, to see if she would focus on just listening to my problems till I was ready to take on more. It didn’t happen. I got a blank stare then more urging toward skills and things I was not ready for. I took the next few months to reflect and debate whether this whole therapy thing was truly worth the bother.

*I’m going to be using the fake names in quotes in the future. I suppose at some point I’ll make a glossary.

This Blog is My Life

ThemetaZoneLogoI’ve thought a lot about what I want to write about. Often it best for it to be of single topic and the audience clear, but as an aspie I have tons of “special interests” and tons of hours of reading to draw from on tons of topics. So, what do I focus on? For years I have stumbled over myself trying to decide what to talk about as if I had nothing of value to say. I hurt my own self esteem being verbally constipated.

Why admit that? To encourage other aspies to find their own voice. Our clan needs to express who we are and what we are, so we can help others. It’s really important for the undiagnosed to hear themselves in our stories, and for the diagnosed to find comfort in each other.

I’ll be weaving back and forth for a while on how I describe myself, my current problems, and how I got here. Occasionally, there will probably be some activism. There will definitely be ranting and frustration. But, this blog is about my life, who I am and how I developed in adversity, and how I deal with adversity today.

Yes I’m talking about blogging in a blog. You have now entered… The Meta Zone! Do do do  do do do…

May I should have called this blog “The Aspie Zone”. lol hmmm

On the Outside Looking In

attheWindowI never talk much about my private life and feelings online. I try not to give people gossip to share in my workplace, even when I can block work people from my FB posts. That’s not to say I don’t give enough just being there.

I need to share my life because it’s killing me. I don’t get proper support from my aging parents, and I have only one person I can truly share my thoughts and feelings with outside my therapist. I feel like a volcano that is ready to erupt.

I have never fit in. From kindergarten to present, I will always be the kid that others children avoided, even at the bus stop. I could never participate in normal growing up activities except those thrust upon me like ballet and softball. I just followed along with what I had to do, in spite of consistent bullying and always feeling like I was on the outside looking in.

I was bullied in the home.

I born at a time when eating difficulties were blamed on the parents. My father in turn took it out on me. I was perpetually being blamed for my mother having to toil to create separate meals (hot dogs or mac & cheese, woo hard work) when I couldn’t handle the very adult food (salmon) they were eating to picking on my weight, which really does great things for a young girl’s self-esteem.

My mother just had no time for me. She carted me to her bed-ridden mother’s house everyday with one toy and I was left to my own devices for hours while she cleaned, then went home to clean her own, make dinner, and spend time with my father. There was no time for me. I was in the way. I was left to raise myself, mostly by tuning out to television.

I was bullied at school.

Anyone my age can remember the iconic bullying scene in Stand by Me. “Boom babba boom. Boom babba boom,” kids would chant behind me as I walked through the halls in middle school. This was a movie about teen suicide that came out when I was a preteen, and kids had already gotten the idea to try it out on me. At that age I was naivé enough to believe I must have deserved it because everyone tells the truth and makes accurate assessments of others, right?

The abuse continued all throughout my school years, but now it was both from school and home. I felt safe nowhere. When no one wants you anywhere and you are too old to died from lack of touch like an infant, how could one as sensitive as a raw nerve not consider taking themselves out of the equation at least once or twice.

This lack of social interaction and abuse I’m sure created maladaptive behaviors my aspie brain needed to cope. I am still in the process of unpacking all that and fighting the demons that keeping me from pursuing the career path I really want. With all my adversity, I am still fighting to be a better me, even though I know now I will always be unable to be part of any group.