(Image description: A partial screenshot of a blog post. The title reads “How I reduced screaming and verbal stimming in my child with autism”, and below that is a colour photograph of a hand holding a rectangular plastic “clicker” device.)
I think I may have mentioned this blog post, and the sadness and confusion I felt when I came across it, in one of my videos. This screenshot is from the blog of an “autism parent”. Yes, that is a clicker. Yes, she is encouraging the use of animal training methods on Autistic children. Yes, she considers any kind of vocal stimming, not just screaming, to be a “bad behaviour”. To top it all off, her blog banner reads, “Discovering SOLUTIONS to the Everyday Problems of Living with AUTISM”. Here is an excerpt from her tutorial on how to train your disabled child like a dog to have a “Quiet Mouth”:
Third, I sat back and watched my child. Since he was making bad noises, I decided to reinforce Quiet Mouth (i.e., lips together, no sound). Whenever he had a split second of Quiet Mouth, I immediately tagged (made a click-sound with the device) and handed over a treat. Every time his mouth was Quiet, I tagged (clicked) and treated. Soon there was much more Quiet Mouth behavior. When doing this it is important to ignore and pay no attention to vocal stims or screaming. Do not look at the child, do not speak to him/her or explain. Just say nothing, and immediately tag and treat as soon as there is even a split second of Quiet Mouth. You can also tag and treat a child for any appropriate vocalizations. If he/she says a nice word, or makes an appropriate comment, then tag and reinforce that. Your goal is to increase Quiet Mouth and appropriate vocalizations.
And sadly, as bad as this attitude and treatment of Autistic children is, this is a relatively tame example when compared to the other unethical treatments, therapies, and methods of discipline that Autistic children are being subjected to every day (all in the name of making them appear less obviously Autistic). This is why we need Autism Acceptance Month and not the fear-mongering, negative, misinformed “awareness” that Autism Speaks and its allies are pumping out this April.
We need acceptance because Autistic children should be loved and accepted wholly and completely for who they are, not hurt and mistreated in their parent’s frantic search for a “cure”. Because Autistic people deserve to be treated with respect and listened to, not silenced and forced or coerced to conform to an ableist, non-disabled ideal. Because Autistic children need accommodation and understanding to live healthy, happy lives, not sketchy “treatments” and intensive, soul-crushing “therapies” to try to make them appear more neurotypical and less Autistic.
For more information on ASAN’s Autism Acceptance Month, see the about page on the website here: http://www.autismacceptancemonth.com/about/
Reminder this Easter season that while chocolate is awesome and half-price next-day chocolate is even better, proceeds from Lindt products are going to Autism Speaks, a definitely not-awesome and actually anti-awesome organisation, and they don’t deserve your chocolate money.
Autism Speaks: The Name, The Symbol, The Rhetoric
April is on its way soon, and April is Autism “Awareness” Month… “Acceptance” month would be much nicer, though. Also, it would be nice to not have buildings lit up blue for Autism Speaks, because of everything below. Please do not light it up blue this April.
TW: Ableism, other offensive Autism Speaks rhetoric
Key Points (for those who prefer less lengthy text posts)
Autism Speaks attempts to appropriate autism, and does not listen to actually autistic people.
Their name is problematic. Autism is not an entity that communicates – autistic people do.
Implies that speech is the only acceptable way to communicate, and that those who do not use verbal speech need non-autistics to assume their agency.
Created the video “I Am Autism,” a highly offensive and appalling video portraying autism as an entity which destroys every aspect of the lives of people around autistic people. (link in main body of this writing)
The puzzle piece was created by non autistics and used to portray autistic people as mysterious and confusing.
Only 3-4% of their funding provides supports for autistic people.
Senior leadership of Autism Speaks includes no autistic people.
They continually manipulate statistics about autistic people.
And, the lengthier version:
Autism Speaks generally produces negative propaganda on autism. They attempt to appropriate autism as something that autistic people could not possibly know much about, and therefore it’s their job to speak for autistic people and misrepresent all the information they can to try and get rid of autism.
The funny thing? Even their name doesn’t make sense. Apparently, they haven’t figured out that autism doesn’t communicate as a shapeless entity. Autistic people communicate, though Autism Speaks would rather pretend we can’t. The name is also offensive. It implies that speech is the only acceptable way to express anything, and that anyone who does not use verbal speech needs a non-autistic to speak and assume agency for them. What’s even more offensive is the (TW: link leads to extremely ableist and triggery video/propaganda tool) I Am Autism video they produced, using autism as a shapeless entity who apparently has an “I” consciousness. (TW: link leads to extremely ableist and triggery transcript of previous video/propaganda tool) Here is the written transcript.
On that same vein, their puzzle piece logo seems to indicate that we are mysterious and that our very being is full of jigsaw puzzles that don’t fit together, until a non-autistic comes along to try and put together the puzzle, but it does not work all the way because there are so many “unexplainable features” about us. This is why they need funding: to research ways to understand our mysterious beings and find something to fix the mysterious “disease” we have. It would be nice if they would take the 44% of their funding used for research and try to find a cure with, and use it to supplement the meager 3-4% spent on actually providing supports for autistic people. Early autism rights activist Jim Sinclair wrote “Do Not Mourn for Us” and advocated against the causation-cure research. Autism is not separable from us. It is inextricable. Autism is part of our identity. It is not all of us, but we would not be the same person anymore without it.
This energy and funding they put into research of causation and cure may, in part, be the fact that Autism Speaks includes no autistic people in their senior leadership. Well, okay, they did have one, but John Elder Robison resigned in November 2013. He was protesting this, which states that autistic people’s families are not living, merely existing; that the nation has lost touch with three million American children, analogizing it to three million children going missing, or becoming gravely ill.
Speaking of three million, Autism Speaks also apparently doesn’t know how to count. They manipulate the three million statistic to erase a large amount of autistic people who don’t match with their agendas. One of my friends also wrote:
Not every autistic looks like Autism Speaks’ favorite image, and not everyone who superficially does is a miserable child with no agency. Perhaps the three million figure and the adjoining assumptions are smoke and mirrors. Maybe we crop up in all walks of life, and one of the few things virtually all of us have in common is that AS has done nothing to help us.
Autism Speaks wants a world without us. They do not want a future for us. They tend toward eugenics, which had its peak in the 1920s and 1930s. Followers and scientists of eugenics believed in eliminating the bad genes: the disabled, those with mental illnesses, and a variety of other targets. They wanted a higher race of human beings, one that would not be dragged down by the burdens the disabled, those will mental illnesses, etc. placed on society. Now, in modern times: We are still the problem, Autism Speaks says, and we shouldn’t be here. But we all have a place. Autism Speaks does not speak for us.
Ari Ne’eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, spoke at Emory last fall, which is a university near my college. I had never known such a revelation, had never considered what I could do at large to join the movement for neurodiversity. We have value. I could quote from this so many times. The entire transcript is up there, though.
Please do not light it up blue, but do participate in Autism Acceptance, not jus t Awareness.
More links and information on Autism Speaks can be found here:
i like how abled people think about the ~real world~ like…
"In the real world, you won’t get coddled like this!"
Who the fuck do you think runs the “real world”? Space aliens? Lizards? The only reason that we don’t get “coddled” in the real world is because you refuse to actually respect our basic human rights!
imagine if there was an LGBT awareness day
and it was sponsored by an organization that treats non-hetero sexualities and non-cis gender identities as a disease, and that has paid for the legal defenses of parents who murder their gay children, and that promotes researching a cure that will fix us all and make us cis and straight
and most of the posts in the LGBT tag are “I am a mother/father/brother/sister of an LGBT person, and I want you to know that they’re human despite their disease.”
(posts by actual gay, bisexual, and trans* people are fewer, because there are fewer of us.)
and half of them are also about ‘the struggles of growing up with an LGBT family member’ and how ‘dealing with an LGBT child can put a strain on your marriage’
and some of them are links to ‘encouraging’ news about how scientists are close to finding the genes for gayness so you can abort your child in the womb if they test positive for gayness
when LGBT people speak up about this they are told they should be glad that people are raising awareness for them and that they aren’t, in any event, the ‘type of gay people’ the others are talking about
and now you know how I feel about Autism Awareness Day
whenever people make fun of people with phobias and/or triggers by saying “how do you go outside”
it’s like. yes? you are beginning to see the problem here. thats the funny thing about disability, there are a lot of things people are unable to do without stress or pain, if they are able to at all. it’s an amazing concept really.
Autism isn’t something a person has, or a “shell” that a person is trapped inside. There’s no normal child hidden behind the autism. Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colors every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter, every aspect of existence. It is not possible to separate the autism from the person—and if it were possible, the person you’d have left would not be the same person you started with.
This is important, so take a moment to consider it: Autism is a way of being. It is not possible to separate the person from the autism.
Therefore, when parents say,
I wish my child did not have autism,
what they’re really saying is,
I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead.
Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces."
Alyssa from Yes, that too. Â Order 66. Order 66. Order 66. I know that reference. (Star Wars, order to kill the Jedi) Exterminate. (Doctor Who, Daleks) Well, eradicate is the word they use. They do…
My polling place is not accessible (the line to vote goes up an enormous staircase), so I have to use the “special” accommodations instead of voting like everyone else.
But if I didn’t know about that option, I would’ve just turned away. And what about all the people that don’t consider themselves disabled and wouldn’t ask for accommodations but also can’t stand in line for HOURS at a time, either because of their knees or their hearts or their kids or their jobs?
Not to mention these absurd “voter ID” laws that require people of color, poor people, old people, students, and disabled people - disproportionately - to stand in line at the DMV for hours on end just for the “privilege” (ahem shouldn’t it be a right) to vote.
just so we’re clear I’m pro-choice but I don’t think we should ignore the fact that the encouragement of abortion of fetuses because they would have been disabled children is ableist as fuck
Sadly this is something that most pro choice blogs on tumblr forget/completely ignore.
Well, not really. It’s more about quality of life and practicality than ableism, I’d say… Social justice strikes again.
the whole idea of ‘quality of life’ tends to be ableist like what are you even getting at
disabled lives are worth living
okay so there’s a post going around that says a lot but basically boils to this: “Instead of saying “the mentally ill man,” say “the man with a mental illness. Putting someone’s characteristics (especially negative ones) before them is dehumanizing and rude. Don’t do it.”
ding dong this is wrong for a lot of reason and i see it reblogged by people i like and respect in a well meaning fashion who seem to truly not get why it is bad
basically to put this simply and in a short bulletted fashion
- things like ‘disabled’ and ‘autistic’ and ‘mentally ill’ and ‘chronically ill’ etc are not negative things they are adjectives and they exist for a reason
- deliberately separating them separates the disability from the person like no i am not a person ‘with’ autism i am an autistic person i am a whole person whether i am autistic or not and separating that is what is dehumanizing
- it’s telling you that neurotypical/allistic/abled/etc people are the ‘people’ like that they are the baseline, the ‘norm’ and that anything else is extra or different or somehow wrong or a problem
- oh my god that is not a “”“”negative”“”” characteristic being mentally ill/physically ill/etc is not a negative thing and disabled people are told this all the time we are told that we are lesser and wrong and broken and that is a harmful negative that must be stopped
- i am sure there’s more
- silversarcasm (one of my fave blogs, she talks about ableism a lot) has mentioned this before multiple times
Americans with disabilities are rallying for the right to save more money without getting their government benefits cut off.
this is so, so important. as it is stands, you will lose your medicaid and social security benefits if you earn more than $700/month or have more than $2,000 in savings. that makes it nearly impossible to move out of poverty.
LOOK IT’S ABOUT MY LIFE