Autism Speaks Resource Toolkit

One of the main aspects of my activism has been spreading awareness (to steal their term) of how horrible Autism Speaks is as they are the main organization that people think of when it comes to autism and also a hate group. As I’ve been doing this for three years now I have amassed multiple resources including my own writing to cover the problems with them.

I asked on my page An Articulate Autistic if people would be interested in resources to also become better activists and advocates against the organization which has been screwing us over for the past twelve years and the answer was a resounding yes so I thought I would make it…and then completely blanked on it for probably months.

This collection isn’t just a dump of links (though I do have an aggregate of many links in here), but organized in argumentative points to better equip you to articulate issues.

Better much late than never, here they are:

First my writing (with what they are as they’re different styles for different purposes):

  • You See A Puzzle Piece was a poem-esque thing that I wrote before I started on the old blog was originally a Facebook note/mental allergic reaction to seeing a plaque in an old job, it’s what comes to my mind when I see the symbol
  • You Have The Choice was my nice Autism Acceptance article from last April asking people to choose acceptance.
  • A Red Rage #RedInstead was my article this year demanding people to accept us because acceptance of our humanity shouldn’t be a choice but a moral obligation (note on language: Autism Awareness Month is what A$ calls April it’s pretty much their main fundraiser. In response autistics have created multiple Autism Acceptance Month movements, including #RedInstead. I started wearing red shirts and shoes for Acceptance the whole of last April [2016] and it’s become my aesthetic).
  • Please Don’t Support Autism $peaks was a letter I wrote to a sorority that has become an aggregate for links. While it has the stuff that I’m linking in here its main design was to overwhelm with a total of 20 links from various sources (autistics, autistic mothers of autistic children, allistic mothers of autistic children, and The Daily Beast along with various others), it wasn’t really meant to be read as much as show there’s a lot of people, I’m putting my favorite ones in here.
  • Why You Should Not Support Autism Speaks is a persuasive essay I did for my class for teaching writing, I linked the sources of information within the essay like I would with an article in the doc, it’s definitely more professional and it does do something others don’t, give a fair mention of the arguments that the opposition would make. I don’t usually do that because thinking about the arguments people make to support a hate group kinda hurts and they’re wrong and don’t deserve my time in articles.

Now for the other useful tools:

  • Honestly, this is one that shouldn’t be arguable, their horrific I Am Autism ad. I share the transcript because I have sensory processing issues and I couldn’t handle the stalkerish voice from the perspective of autism saying horrible stuff about us. Read at your own risk, it’s…really bad.
  • The main therapy that A$ supports is Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA. It’s also utterly terrible, designed to make us look allistic by forcing us to suppress behaviors that are coping mechanisms. Julia Bascom wrote her perspective from going through it in Quiet Hands (with the haunting line “And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy) and my friend at Ink & Daggers Illustration wrote this view from the perspective of an ABA therapist which I call by the first line “First time I hurt a child”. It’s also the main therapy which is why you’ll get “Not my ABA” apologists. The thing is, as this article Screams, Slaps, and Love shows, it’s the original form (the article is as bad as you would think an article with slaps and love regarding autism would be, but it’s about the creator of it). There’s a form of it that many have called “diet ABA” which only has positive reinforcement but as this picture shows it’s still dog training if you just use treats to reinforce behaviors that might harm us (stimming is a coping mechanism and eye contact takes focus away from me and hurts others) instead of using a spray bottle and treats (spray bottle is actually used and the treats are skittles when it’s humans). This is an autistic reading of The ME Book which is the original manual…this is real ABA.
  • They use a blue puzzle piece as their symbol, they weren’t the original to use it for autism so Why you need to stop using the puzzle piece to represent autistic people is useful for the history and why it’s a problem and their blue is because blue is for boys and only boys get autism, which isn’t true at all. According to this, the diagnosis rate is currently 1 in 45 and 75% of the diagnoses are male, which is solely due to diagnostic criteria problems and societal misconceptions, the latter of which isn’t helped by the fact that the main organization reinforces this myth with their color scheme. You See A Puzzle Piece was my mental allergic reaction to seeing it in the break room at Sprouts (one of the 24 corporations that donate yearly to A$)
  • This is a handy printable flyer showing their financials (as I said in the article about those, “This year, they spent 39% of their funding on advertising and lobbying for more money, 24% on fundraising, and 3% on family services. This is 21 times as much trying to get money by ads, fundraising, and lobbying than how much they spend on actually helping people”) and various important details about why they’re a problem.
  • From other bloggers, the Caffeinated Autistic made this bulleted masterpost and Radical Neurodivergence Speaking wrote this beautiful Autism Awareness piece I’m aware of your hate.
  • Most people have major issues with Nazis and would regard organizations as suspect if they would allow them at their fundraisers…which isn’t a common situation, but was the case with an A$ fundraiser in Canada which was going to let the Soldiers of Odin walk until multiple people called them out on it. They responded saying they would look into it, which honestly considering the first article that pops up is this Wikipedia article calling them an “anti-immigrant street patrol group” it should have been rather easy to look it up beforehand. However, no autistic activist I know was surprised…Nazis and A$ both hate autistic/disabled people, so they’re natural allies.

They have the advantage in every single way, but something we do have is our voices. So please boost ours and speak against them.

If you like this and want to support me this is my PayPal and my Patreon which you’ll get rewards from my writing about mythology taking back the modern world about. I wouldn’t ask this here if my car, phone, computer, and bike weren’t all taking a dive and I don’t have a job or source of income to pay for them.

From The Ashes: Week 2 update

Original article: please read and share, will have links to updates as they’re posted

Update One

Important information:

There are currently 12 active fires in California (the main one affecting my area is 94% contained and 36,807 acres)

There are now 42 people dead from the fires, 23 of which are from my area

6768 structures have been destroyed

Important fundraisers if you can help: My friend’s farm could still use helpthe city of Santa Rosa has a fundraisermy old school (which the pheonix is mascot for) could use donations on their page, and a reservation has opened its doors to many evacuees and is trying to build tiny houses purchase camping equipment and other things to be a better shelter


Blue Phoenix (Anova's mascot is now going to be a phoenix and their color is blue, however they are getting a logo designed by someone connected to Disney not this from Google

Blue Phoenix (Anova’s mascot is now going to be a phoenix and their color is blue, however they are getting a logo designed by someone connected to Disney not this from Google)

“The school was lost in the fire but the ‘real school’ is alive and well.”

Words from a teacher’s email the day of the fire when I asked if they were ok

 

Last update I focused on the negatives of my old school being destroyed.

This last week has changed my perceptions of everything regarding it and its future though.

On Tuesday night I attended a meeting about the future of the school where all the parents, students, and staff attended to hear the administration team tell us where the school was going from here on. I was somewhat proud to hear that the administration team was already looking for places to start classes up until the old campus is rebuilt. They also said that donations to the Gofundme or on their site (Gofundme takes a cut, direct donations won’t) will be used not for insurance but things you can see, like a library, a playground (which they were working on), a gym (something we’ve never had), all the things that normal schools have that Anova never did.

However, the thing that made me realize that what my teacher said was true wasn’t the meeting but a dance. Friday night was a dance which was the first time the teachers and students got together since the fire and seeing what was happening made my heart soar. All of the people who made the school great were there, dancing and celebrating being together. It was as if nothing had happened, the people not affected by the fires which destroyed the school and so many lives.

My old teacher was right. The campus was just a building, a container for people to be in. What made Anova Anova is still here, the people who made it a wonderful place that helps us. As long as the people exist, nothing will stop the school from rising from the ashes.

Adaptability and Uncertainty: 1st update on the Santa Rosa fires, 1 week after

(I’ve decided that I would do weekly updates on the fire’s effects so people know what’s going on from a personal perspective not just the news one, both providing data and my own experiences. If you’re interested in following you can subscribe to the blog by putting your email in the sidebar on the left)

 

Original article: please read and share, will have links to updates as they’re posted

Important information:

Total fires in California as of now: 28, 16 of which are 100% contained (none of the ones near me are yet, the main one affecting the people I care about, the Tubbs fire, is now 36,432 acres and 75% contained)

Death toll is now 41 in Northern California, with 88 people still missing.

As of 4 days ago, Santa Rosa (city that has been destroyed) has lost 2,834 homes and 400,010 square feet of commercial space.

Important fundraisers if you can help: My friend’s farm could still use help, the city of Santa Rosa has a fundraiser, my old school (the picture) has a fundraiser to help rebuild, and a reservation has opened its doors to many evacuees and is trying to build tiny houses purchase camping equipment and other things to be a better shelter


 

The school for autistics that I went to and plan on teaching at with a picture of students in front next to what the school looks like now.

“We all fall down and we get right back up again”

Broken English, Rise Against

Life in my city has altered radically in large and small ways.

The small ways are things like how small talk now includes “is your family ok” as a common question, more common emergency vehicles, and now only smoke in the distance if you look hard.

The large ways are how there are multiple places that have converted to shelters (4 that I know of, I’ve volunteered at three), and seeing the places which I knew and was familiar with converted into temporary homes and donation centers for survivors.

In the original This is our time: Thoughts on How People Respond to Disasters, I said that after natural disasters is when the best and worst of humanity is shown, when people can show who they truly are.

In the wake of the fires, my county has shown to be downright amazing.

Multiple donation centers are at full capacity, unable to hold anything else because so many people donated. At the Elks Lodge where I used to have Scout meetings, there was a huge dinner for people after we volunteered, with food that my mom recognized as coming from a family owned restaurant locally. When I volunteered at the fairgrounds (a weird experience in itself, a place that I’m used to having rides and animals becoming a massive center where trucks full of donations and many people are located), I helped unload a truck full of donated food (including far too much bread). There were bagged lunches that people had put together for survivors, many of which had messages drawn on them telling survivors to “stay strong” and many other things on the bags that were telling the evacuees they were cared about. It’s amazing how my county has adapted everything to fit the need of supporting those in need. I saw people I haven’t seen in ages volunteering, people from my Scout Troop (I got my Eagle Scout 8 years ago and turned 18 [when you can’t be a Scout any longer] 6 years ago) and old classes. The people here have fallen in a lot of ways but managed to come right back up in a new form designed to help each other.

It hasn’t been just the best of humanity here though…9 people have been arrested for trying to start new fires (5 individuals and a group of 4 teens) in the areas where the fires in North California (thank the Gods not just in my county), and I heard that some houses have jacked up in price to take advantage of the people who need homes.

However, with all this help…it’s all temporary. Eventually the fires will be out, and people will no longer be at the shelters, people have already gone back and seen their destroyed homes in places where the evacuation orders have lifted. As the picture shows, the school I went to is utterly destroyed, and tomorrow I’ll be going to a meeting about its future (which will be mentioned in the next update). It’s awesome seeing what is happening now but in the long term that’s when we’ll need you more. There’s a lot that’s still up in the air, we don’t know the exact damage, people don’t know if their homes are still here or not because they aren’t allowed to look yet, and it’s too soon to know what we’ll need. It’s only after the fires are out when we’ll know, and that’s when the news coverage will stop…please don’t stop paying attention then. We need you. I’m going to keep writing these updates so please subscribe, if enough people do I might ask others to share their stories of what they’re going through.

The struggle is going to go on for quite a while, whether or not you’re paying attention. For all those who have lost so much, I beg you to keep doing so.

This is Our Time…Again: Thoughts/a plea From Someone Going Through A Natural Disaster (with updates)

(With the goal of making it so people can follow what is happening, I’m going to make weekly updates with data about the fires and my own personal notes and put them at the end of this article, please subscribe on the left if you want to get them, if enough people do subscribe I’ll ask other people who were actually affected to give their stories as time goes on)

(The picture is of my friend’s and his family’s farm, their animals were evacuated but they need help so please click this, donate, and share along with/instead of the article [if you don’t want to share this, I want people to know what we’re dealing with but it’s not as important] , they need it)

My friend’s destroyed farm

“Neutrality means that you don’t really care

Cause the struggle goes on even when you’re not there

Blind and unaware.”

Collapse (Post-Amerika), Rise Against

When I started this article a couple of weeks ago, it was going to be very different.

It was going to be about Trump’s response to Puerto Rico, how he demeaned its leaders, said it wasn’t a “real tragedy” like Hurricane Katrina (the response to which inspired the rage in the first time I wrote on how people respond to natural disasters, This is Our Time, thought I would rewrite it after so many others were happening) because there were only 13 confirmed deaths (confirmed because death certificates take labor to do that a destroyed island can’t really do), and capped it off with saying he had fun, how he donated $1 million to help Texas in the wake of Harvey which is nothing to him and how he paid 5 times as much to find Obama’s birth certificate which was basically just a racist dogwhistle.

That was before Monday, when I learned that a fire had started during the night that was ravaging the main city in my area, burning down a friend’s farm and another’s mom’s home that has all their stuff in it while they’re in Los Angeles and forced many people I care about including my godparents to evacuate.

There are now 22 fires ravaging California and 21 dead statewide, and the fire here is 29,800 acres, has destroyed 576 buildings and threatens 29,192 others, and has caused 5,000 people to evacuate from 20 shelters as of Tuesday night. While the fire itself is about 19 miles away, thanks to going to a school for autistics in the area (which was also destroyed) a lot of my old classmates, friends, and people I care about are in danger if not already affected.

From going to volunteer and seeing the devastation in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina for 6 years I have always felt connected to survivors of natural disasters.

I have watched as the country constantly fails them, with government programs consistently being terrible to the people who need it most and people as a whole sinking into apathy when the fires go out or the floods recede when they’re actually needed the most.

I became jaded and bitter as the same betrayal happened after each disaster, the Valley Fire in the county north of me, Katrina, Irma, Harvey, Maria…but now it’s my home and the people I care about.

I look out my window and see yellow light because the sun is being filtered through smoke that is said to be as far as San Francisco which is 47.6 miles away.

I’ve been breaking down crying off and on through the past three days, am now as I write this.

So instead of asking you to not forget flooding in Baton Rouge I’m asking (rather selfishly as other places are going through worse), to not forget us. We’re human beings as well that deserve your care even after the fires are out, especially because these are going to leave a scar on my state for many years to come. Part of me is expecting people to do what they always do and stop caring after the flames go out when we need people to help because that’s when we’ll actually be able to do anything, when the news decides that the fire was the pretty thing that was what actually mattered and moves on from us.

However, I’m begging you not to, to actually think of us as people who need and deserve help not just some spectacle to look at and turn away from like has happened over and over because we actually need you. Donate to my friend if you can there’s also this for the city of Santa Rosa, share articles about us and let people know, life is hell right now and the feeling that it’s going to go on with people ignoring it all like it they have in the past is only part of it.

CalFire for the fire here is this link, this is the fires in general throughout the state, and my friend has been updating this for information for locals.

I’m begging you not for myself because I’m safe for now but for those I care about don’t forget that we’re here and need help, the whole state pretty much, and that’s going to be the case for a while.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

“Now I know we’re gonna be alright”

Parts Per Million, Rise Against

One thing that you don’t realize happens when you’re watching from afar is what your community becomes. Yesterday I saw something amazing as I worked at shelters…donations from everywhere, people rallying together for those who need it, and it was beautiful. It’s not enough for the long term, but if it’s hell to see the suffering of people at least it’s awesome to see what people do to help those going through it. I’ve never been more proud of my city until now, as we’re not affected directly but have rallied around supporting people who have evacuated here…if that same spirit spreads to others, and everyone rallies around those in need, maybe we will in fact be alright.

Updates:

Update 1: Adaptability and Uncertainty

Update 2: From the Ashes

You’re Not As Important As You Think: on “Being Divisive”

Remember folks: If you don’t hold your oppressor’s hand while softly explaining to them things they could just as easily google and maybe make them some cocoa to help them feel comfortable learning about your lived struggles, you’re just a big ol’ meany who doesn’t deserve to be treated like a person.

Remember folks: If you don’t hold your oppressor’s hand while softly explaining to them things they could just as easily google and maybe make them some cocoa to help them feel comfortable learning about your lived struggles, you’re just a big ol’ meany who doesn’t deserve to be treated like a person.

“Like a fire
Don’t need water
Like a riot
Don’t need order

We don’t need them”

Red Flag, Billy Talent

If you’ve followed me since the beginning, you’ve probably noticed that the most common topic is allies I don’t want. I’ve said I don’t want allies who can say they care about Trump, allies who can be turned away by us not being nice, conditional allies, or performative allies.

A common accusation that people get is that people who have my particular tone including many of my friends are “being divisive”.

In the radical leftist side of Facebook (known as “Leftbook” by those of us involved in it), a popular accusation when minority activists speak out is “you’re dividing the Left”.

I find this accusation humorous because not only do I know I’m being divisive, it’s deliberate and a core of my activist practice.

As I touched on in By Our Side or Out of Our Way, I used to be nice in the old blog I was part of before Trump was elected.

I sought to reach out and change minds.

Nowadays, I have come to realize that in this burning world if what’s happening isn’t enough to make you steadfast against oppression, you’re not going to ever really change.  This regime is getting more and more oppressive and decent people will stand against it and by our side believing we deserve to live without investment of labor. I don’t have spoons to invest labor in presenting myself a certain way and nurture people, if the fact that people want to hurt people like myself just because of aspects of our humanity won’t move you to action I can’t trust that you will help me when I need it the most.

My goal now isn’t to reach out to people but to push people away. I need to know who I can trust, and that means seeing who can be moved from caring about my life.

There are a lot of people who tell us that we should be nicer if we want more allies…but my question is why would we want people who would require us to police our language around them, censor and watch our words when we’re in hell?

There are so many people who claim the title of ally and expect it to matter (to the point where we have created the term accomplice instead of ally to be more specific in what we want) to us that anyone who says they are one honestly makes me skeptical.

I need to know who is willing to help and stand by me and mine and who will ditch us when they don’t feel fulfilled. The only way to do that for me is to be hard and challenging in my words and actions so that people need to confront themselves and realize that they are doing wrong and this system is something that they need to be fighting or that I am the problem and they need to stop helping me.

I’m not creating division but exposing divisions of values and commitments. If these people can be turned from thinking I’m a human who deserves help, they never truly believed that. Believing that we deserve rights should be a matter of morality not comfort. My goal is to shake things up, expose who people truly are, and that ends up polarizing and angering people because they don’t like being called out on harmful behaviors or can’t handle me saying that their feelings aren’t actually the most important thing in the world. I’m not the one who is breaking people apart in their ideals, I’m exposing divisions that are already there.

I don’t need everyone and nobody is extremely important to have when the net result of them being here is going to be a drain on my sanity trying to make myself presentable enough to keep them around. People I know and love are suffering and I refuse to prioritize anybody else’s feelings over them. I’m not going to be nice all the time to people who have the luxury of being able to just ignore the reality of what is going on with the world because I frankly don’t trust anyone who is willing to look away from the horror that is happening and say that if they’re going to stand by my side against it I need to be nice to make them feel like there’s a reason to fight, who requires more than the fact that people are suffering and dying to do anything.

When people are suffering from oppression it’s a moral imperative to stand strong and say that is wrong. When the government is doing things that are going to kill innocents, you fight back. You tell yourself this is wrong, you do what you can, which if you’re one of the people who are suffering might just be existing and living, which is huge if a system wants you gone. But if you aren’t you should be doing what you can to help because you know in your heart that it is immoral that the system that makes it so you don’t have to worry about what is happening is making others suffer. We are fighting, rioting because it’s the only language that has ever been heard, rising on wings of fire and broken glass to burn this corrupt order to the ground, and if the way we are fighting, the way we have to fight, is too much for you, we don’t need you. Turn your nose and roll your eyes, complain about our tone and get offended by how we aren’t making sure to exclude you from our venting or following the rules of what you think is acceptable rebellion, I frankly care not, you aren’t important compared to the threats against us and my fellow strugglers. But if you know in your heart that this is wrong and will stand by our side unconditionally, use your voice to carry our own, I’m glad to have you by my side.

The choice is yours, the division between action and inaction not created by me but by your own morality.

Make the right one.

Your Time is Now: a Call to Activism

If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive. - Audre Lorde

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. – Audre Lorde

“Now, the time is now
We can still turn it around
Raise your voice like a weapon
Til they fall to the ground

Light, let there be light
Without a shadow of doubt
We will fight tooth and nail until
Salvation is found”

Viking Death March, Billy Talent

I usually write articles from a lens of anger, calling out harmful acts, telling allies who aren’t being screwed over things that I feel are wrong and that I see them if they keep doing them.

This isn’t that.

This time I want to call to my fellow strugglers.

I know you’re suffering and every day is a new barrage of darkness.

I know the world is crushing you and hates you for what you are.

You may feel powerless, unable to do anything.

But you’re more powerful than you know.

No you can’t stop Trump on your own, can’t somehow control his cabinet and Congress with a wave of your hand.

But under a regime that wants us gone, who is seeking to pass the AHCA that is pretty much designed to kill us (I explained how it’s not a stretch to say that it’s meant to kill us and is genocide in Pick a side), when the Nazis want us gone, our fight to exist is an act of great power itself.

You might think that you are unimportant and don’t deserve to be heard.

No matter what has been ingrained in your mind, you’re wrong, your fight is important and your voice and experience matter.

You’re reading my voice (probably) because of that, and I’m a 23 year old jobless college student. (trying to hopefully make money through his Patreon).

What makes us important is that we’re fighting against a system that wants us dead that people are accepting as normal, helped by a media which always focuses on the things that affect the majority over the issues that specifically harm us.

This has always been true, but now more than ever it’s needed.

In the face of this system which wants to crush us we need to stand up.

When the media and the majority will pretend that anything not affecting them isn’t happening we need to step up and speak out, become unable to be ignored.

We can’t let them control our narrative, not when so much more is at stake, not when it seems like each day our lives are more in danger.

This is your time to speak out. We need to raise our voices to cut through the noise, force people to realize it’s not alright, that we are suffering and won’t accept it.

Do what you can, take care of yourself, but act.

We may not have the money they do, the privilege they do, but we have things they don’t.

We vastly outnumber them, and while they have had everything given to them we have needed to fight every step of the way to simply exist.

We wouldn’t be alive if we weren’t able to fight. You might want to wait until a better time, but to quote a wonderful friend, It Doesn’t Get Better. You Do.

We have numbers but those numbers don’t matter if we let them keep us down.

Is this easy? No.

Is this a mindset that you’re a bad person if you can’t keep up all the time? Absolutely not, I feel sometimes like I’m barely clinging on.

Will we accomplish anything? I feel like we are taught to value big acts but in reality this is a fight in people’s minds, and thus every share every person who hears us is someone who has changed, and when you add that up it’s a lot…if you speak up.

Isn’t it difficult to start up a blog (if this is the type of speaking out you want to do)? My goal with this platform was to make it a place where any of our voices could be heard, I would only need your email and name to add you to this (message me at Garrett Winters and I can easily set you up with an account on here…this platform does have ads, when the balance gets to where the money actually will deposit I plan on dividing the revenue equally between writers…I can’t pay you per article but it would be something).

We need to fight no matter the difficulty, to get back on when we can, because the only alternative is to let them get what they want unhindered.

And when what they want is us dead, there’s no choice at all.

 

Our Tools, Your Toys: An Autistic with ADHD perspective on the Fidget Spinner Debate

Fidget Spinners

Multiple fidget spinners in different colors

Something…interesting has been happening recently, a phenomenon that shows the effects of when something that is ordinarily meant to be a tool for people of my neurologies becomes a mainstream toy.

But while it’s interesting to someone like myself who likes analyzing cultural changes, it has also become incredibly harmful to my kin, hence writing an article hoping to give some understanding of what these are to us, what the effects of mainstreaming it have been, the pushback against it, and who this actually hurts.

Obviously, I’m talking about fidget spinners.

First off, what exactly are fidgets to us? Fidgets, like the spinner or the fidget cube I have which also has become rather popular but hasn’t seen such an attack, help us focus, as well as providing something to stim with (stimming refers to the things we do to deal with overload and focus [read A Cognitive Defense of Stimming for a more scientific defense for why we should be allowed to do so and the effects that stopping us from doing it have] and also just feels good, all of us have different stims, and everyone does it not just us, things like pencil chewing or doodling in class are the same exact thing…it only becomes a problem when we’re autistic). As you can see, that’s rather important. It’s a multifunction tool that helps us cope with the world, focus on class, and just makes everything easier for both us and the people around us (because it is better for everyone if we can focus and deal with everything better not just us).

We’ve always had stim toys, sometimes just things we pick up (I like messing with a shoelace between my fingers) or more speciality items, like stuff found on Stimtastic. Because they are designed for us specifically, they are much more limited in selection, harder to find, and often more expensive because they can be, and often can only be found online because there isn’t exactly an autistic store chain.

However, fidget spinners changed all of that, and this has had both positive and negative effects.

The positive one is that, much like how the gluten-free fad helped people with celiac disease find food that they could eat easier because suddenly every brand of food capitalized on the fad instead of being a speciality item sold by few, fidget spinners can be bought everywhere in different colors and shapes and prices, which is cool to be able to do.

The negative one is that, much like people with celiac disease ended up being lumped in with people who bought into the fad (the dangers of which can be found in this article), we have been lumped in with those who use it as a toy, and that’s what has caused the huge pushback.

There’s something that is…darkly humorous about something that helps you becoming the center of a nationwide controversy. Reading articles calling it dumb but also a metaphor for 2017, called cigarettes for kids and saying that “it encourages the abdication of thought…at a historical moment when the President has proved himself to be pathologically prone to distraction and incapable of formulating a coherent idea” (imagine having a tool for you called encouraging selfishness and…comparing it to Trump when the neurology the tool was made for is a pre-existing condition under the AHCA…I don’t know whether to get angry or laugh), and seeing Forbes advertise metal ones as the office toy for 2017 when all you really want is society letting you use something that helps you is…unique. But beyond the endless thinkpieces, schools are banning them because they are becoming a distraction to people who aren’t autistic/have ADHD, with some students throwing them and doing other stuff. It doesn’t help that the overall tone of every article completely makes the fact that it extremely helps us just a quick aside before they address how what matters is that it’s actually a huge problem and a passing fad, to where this CNN article just says special needs, a term that, while problematic in itself, in context completely removes who it actually helps from the conversation by being vague instead of specifically mentioning us.

So what’s the net result, who is really getting hurt, and what should we do? Personally, the net result of good and bad isn’t at all easy, as those two aspects of them becoming mainstream are both important from my side. However, it is really hurting us, as bringing them out in any situation even ones that they would help a lot seems like we’re just messing around, and the idea of them being a kid’s toy makes it so it might have a negative effect on adults who use them. I can understand the effects on teachers from neurotypical students using them (before I wrote this article someone asked me what I thought about gatekeeping and saying that only neurodivergent kids should be able to use them ever. To be completely honest, my first snarky thought was, “Well, we’re the only ones who use them right”), but an outright ban seriously stops us from being able to focus as well (what I said before as snark may in reality be the solution in school situations, allowing only us to be able to use them in class settings because we won’t be using them as a distractor), which makes us worse students. I really don’t feel I’m demanding much when I say that our focus should be less dystopian Trump metaphor more helping humans function in a world that is difficult for them based on their neurology, and saying that schools could be a bit less reactionary and more considering of the needs of their students when it comes to these tools. I also have no idea what will happen to the accessibility and availability of these tools if the “fad dies out,” as this is something which has caused such positive and negative effects and I have no idea what the consequences both societal and material would be if the focus goes away.

I have seen the total joy when a friend gets one of these and talking about how much they help them, and my only goal here is to make it so our voices can become part of this conversation, because what everyone considers a toy is actually a tool for us and I don’t think I’m being too selfish when I say I wish that our ability to function was a priority.

 

Pick a side

picture of a wooden post sticking out of water, up above in white text it says "This is a "non-political" post. You're welcome." with the post having a speech bubble that says "My refusal to engage with politics is in itself a political position, and one that inherently supports injustice!" (the original version of the picture lacked the quotation marks and the bubble just having the post and the caption, however someone edited it to show the problems with that position)

picture of a wooden post sticking out of water, up above in white text it says “This is a “non-political” post. You’re welcome.” with the post having a speech bubble that says “My refusal to engage with politics is in itself a political position, and one that inherently supports injustice!” (the original version of the picture lacked the quotation marks and the bubble just having the post and the caption, however someone edited it to show the problems with that position)

“You can turn your back, but it won’t go away

And you don’t look scared, but you should be afraid

You can shut your mouth, but you still have a say

And you just don’t care, for tomorrow, today”

Turn Your Back, Billy Talent (feat. Anti-Flag)

Yesterday the American Health Care Act, informally known as Trumpcare, passed the House of Representatives. If this law passes the Senate, anyone who has the conditions in this list has a rather likely chance of death if their premiums rise to the point where they can’t pay for them.

My feed on Facebook has had multiple friends tallying the amount of conditions they have on that list (which this article has more of), one of them is autism meaning that my whole community no matter what else we have is fucked over (bipolar is there too, they’re missing ADHD to complete my neurological trifecta). It’s also going to majorly affect trans people, mentally ill people, and people with cancer.

It is literally low key genocide and they literally want us (us, because as I’m autistic and bipolar #IAmAPreexistingCondition) to die.
I can see you rolling your eyes through the screen considering this hyperbolic and an appeal to emotion, but while I’m not going to lie and say I don’t want to make people feel, I don’t lie and it’s simple logic.
They were cheering as it passed the House. If it passes the Senate, it’s going to kill us because a lot of us are poor. They want something that will kill us if they happens, they want us to die.
Now, genocide, huge word, but…this is a program they know is bad, which is why they made it so they keep the protections we lose (the article links to an article that says that loophole will be closed, but the linked article was updated to say that’s a lie). Anyone who has one of those pre-existing conditions is likely to have their insurance spike and if they are poor they will not be able to pay and will die, and considering that systemic prejudice against POC, LGBT people, and disabled people makes it so we’re a lot less likely to be rich, and thus are more likely to die as a result than those who aren’t minorities.
According to the dictionary genocide is the deliberate killing of a group…which is what that is. You can’t say that they don’t know that this is going to kill people because they deliberately made it so they kept those protections, they’re keeping themselves safe and killing us.

Under the spectre of looming death I’m…more angry than usual, and then I saw this tweet when a friend posted it on Facebook:

When I Googled it I found article after article after article saying not to shame the poor Trump supporters.

This pushed me even farther to the left because this is bullshit (to be fair most of the replies were disagreeing but the 1,215 hearts still say a lot).

No, I don’t feel bad for them, because the people they are hateful to are…people like myself.

They chose this. The only thing that Trump clearly articulated was his hatred. He said he would do this, he had the goal, they chose everything happening.

We knew how bad he was before he was elected, we saw the effects that I described in Wait and see? Really? in the very first days after the election (I’m hoping all the people who told us that are enjoying the effects now that everyone can see that we were right all along, actually worse than we thought possible…if only the results weren’t likely to kill us then I could be happy to say I told you so).

They might not be a bigot, talk about sexual assault being fine, or anything else that he does personally…but they looked at someone who believed all of that, who articulated his hatred of us, and decided that he should be in power (also, stop using the “but the white working class” stuff it’s nonsense).

They chose this, and they deserve to be held responsible for their actions.

It’s time to pick a side.

Us or them.

You definitely know someone who is going to be screwed over by the AHCA, for two reasons: one the list is so long that I find it impossible that you wouldn’t know someone personally who has at least one and, well…you’re reading the words of one of them.

You can not simultaneously love us and feel sorry for the people who voted for the person who caused this thing that will kill us if it happens, who promised to do it.

That doublethink isn’t possible. You can turn your back on the issue, on us, but this isn’t going away, and by doing so you are choosing their side, letting them continue instead of challenging them.

For simple self-interest alone you should be afraid because you or someone you know might end up getting one of these things.

If you shut your mouth and don’t act (which is as easy as sending texts to this bot, text RESIST to 50409 and it will help you), you are saying that you are fine with this happening.

And if you care about the people who are doing this to us, you don’t care about the Outcast, because you can’t actually simultaneously support the hateful and those they hate.

You need to choose a side, and as the picture says not choosing and being “apolitical” is choosing them. Lives are on the line because they chose the person who pledged to act this way. A person who considers me subhuman and whose plan is going to cause massive death.

There’s no neutrality in situations like this. You might think otherwise, that you can stay out of it, agree to disagree, but they literally chose something that is possibly going to kill us and if you don’t think that’s a bad thing that you should stand against, something that is literally threatening our lives, what does that say about how much you care about our continued existence?

It says that our lives aren’t important enough to you to stand against things that threaten us, that you think views and actions that threaten our lives are good and should be allowed to continue unopposed.

Our lives should be more important to you, important enough to fight for, speak out for, and if we aren’t, no matter what you claim, we know who you have chosen.

The Revolution Needs All Kinds of Minds: on Slacktivism and Ableism

photoshopped blue and white disabled sign with a facebook anger react and a Russian hat as its head with the hammer and sickle on its chest and spoons in its hand

Delightful picture from Bobby Whittenberg, the spoons come from Spoon Theory (communism is my political ideology but not necessarily any other writers that may come on here, a good friend made the picture)

(As I am punning off of her The World Needs All Types of Minds speech, I would feel remiss if I didn’t also call attention to the issues with her, especially when most people think she’s an excellent authority…the articles here, here, and here cover that in detail. If you are a disability activist and want to fight back I’d recommend Resisting Fascism While Autistic, Disabled, Housebound, or Otherwise Human)

A couple of days ago something truly beautiful happened.

On the campus of UC Berkeley, people rose up against Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay Nazi (I call him a flaming Nazi, he’s a terrible human being) who, when allowed to come to a campus in Milwaukee outed and shamed a trans student.

The students said never again, rose up and took the streets (watch the beautiful live video here and an on the ground account here), rose on wings of fire and broken glass to defy the hatred that Milo represents (and by doing so apparently saved undocumented immigrants from being outed).

This was marvelous, but I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be there. I would not be anywhere near the protests. I honestly would probably be inside with my headphones on, covering my ears while watching the tv or on my computer.

Why is this? I’m autistic with sensory overload issues, and despite the fact that the protest was important, being outside with that hell would probably leave me in meltdown. In fact, I can’t handle phone calls either, both of which are considered traditional activism.

In fact, most of what I actually can do is what is called slacktivism. I can text, share articles, press the like button, and hopefully write, but I’m unable to do traditional activism without severe mental stress.

That doesn’t make my convictions or actions less valid, however.

While my I will not fade article was specifically about my journey, it does represent a current trend. The disability community is rallying against Trump, and it’s been a beauty to behold as my community rises against the regime, standing for our kin under this new threat.

However, the issue remains that our ways and abilities are vastly different from our activist peers. There’s an honest fear that the ways we can act aren’t going to be considered as valid because they don’t fall into the set mold of True Activism™.

However, the revolution needs all kinds of minds. The playing field has changed, and will change even more. We need people of all different skills and abilities, and if those abilities are different than the norm or we don’t have the ability to do the norm, that’s not a bad thing. What would be wrong is shutting us down if we end up acting in a way that’s different from you. We’re extremely diverse in our capabilities and we’re doing the best we can…our lives are on the line, after all. Just because you’re capable of other things doesn’t make what we can do less valid.

Rebellious Joy: On Pride Movements

(Dedicated to the trans women of color who made it so Pride month is possible and who are fighting to this day.)

While the article is the same as the one from April, I'm changing the picture to Philly's new pride flag with the black and brown stripes which I feel (though it was unintended) do something to acknowledge the trans women of color who made this month of Pride for queer and trans people possible

While the article is the same as the one from April, I’m changing the picture to Philly’s new pride flag with the black and brown stripes which I feel (though it was unintended) do something to acknowledge the trans women of color who made this month of Pride for queer and trans people possible

The key thing that makes minority pride different from majority pride is that society tells minorities that they should be ashamed of being such. For instance, this month is what many people consider Autism Awareness Month, where people are donating and corporations are going to make partnerships with an organization which had an ad which depicted my neurology as a sinister force that breaks up marriages, bankrupts our families, robs families and children of their dreams, and many other fucked up things (back when I wrote autism stuff I wrote this article on autism acceptance, our movement this month). Autism $peaks controls the narrative of autism, even Trump will be lighting the White House up blue (though nobody is surprised considering that he also thinks we’re broken).

A$ wants us down, to be ashamed and feel like we should be cured. Being proud of being autistic in the face of that narrative which is a constant bombardment year round but becomes the focus this month is total defiance.

For minorities, being out and proud of ourselves can actually be extremely dangerous as well. Yesterday was Trans Day of Visibility, but many of my trans friends talked about how being visible is a privilege, a fact that the murder rates of trans people show. In a much lesser effect I was personally targeted by someone for my internet activism with a video (much much much lesser, the video was utterly ineffectual as were the two after it which had screenshots of my page, but it did make me realize that if he had a larger audience or I had more personal information I would be fucked).

And of course, being proud and open about who we are always gets people running to shut us down and tell us to stop. There’s always someone there to ask why not straight pride, why not white or men’s history month (as someone who studies ancient cultures and some historical stuff, I can tell you that most history is about and written by white men so having 30 days where we put some effort in recognizing the history of people who aren’t that is hardly much to ask). These people are coming to in effect silence our voices, not allowing us to speak and be proud of ourselves by asking when we do it (and only when we do it, it’s always a refutation never starting it themselves, making it obvious that their point isn’t to have pride in themselves but to silence us) why can’t they do it as well.

But if you’re having pride in being the majority, it doesn’t have those aspects. Being proud of being white or straight and making movements of such doesn’t have any rebellion in it, any defiance, but is taking pride in your privilege in this system. It’s taking pride in that which gives you power over us based on how this structure of oppression works, and that’s what makes it so much of a problem. We’re doing it as an act of defiance claiming what makes us devalued by the system and rebelling against that which tries to keep us down, while those who take pride in being the majority are celebrating the power they have by doing so.

Right now, standing up is hard. Being proud in the face of such oppressive forces that would rather us be gone is making trying to exist a challenge. But I feel like now it’s more important than ever to stand and be ourselves, be defiant in the face of oppression if we can, especially because there are so many who can’t safely. The need to call for acceptance and to make people accept us by being impossible to ignore is ever greater the harder it is, and I don’t have any easy answers on how to do that or how to manage the pushback. To all my fellow Outcast, all I can really say is that I stand by your side. I wish there was more.

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