Monday, March 31, 2008

How We Respond

The social model of what is expected of us all is presented to the decision making population of voters all time. This model of how everyone should look, act, dress, eat, purchase, etc. is on billboards, TV,and the Internet all the time. When people fail to meet these standards, the cycle of rejection serves no one.

Of course everyone will not be able to meet these standards and it is important to look at what can happen to them when they don't and be able to adjust our personal standards of them in order to better include them.

The ways and speed that someones nervous system evolves cannot be determined in each individual person. However, it can be better encouraged when someone's nature is better understood.

There are some things that are understood about the nature of autistic people that can be helpful to everyone.

Too often the societal demands of conformity can prevent people from understanding how what to encourage and at what speed.

How we were originally designed will become more evident as we get older. However, we will also learn from our environment what is acceptable and what isn't and it is everyone's nature to develop habits.

Reacting impulsively to our environment is partly determined by the ways we have been taught to respond and whether we can access such a response to the situation. It also makes a difference how that response is accepted.

There are several things that I have learned are NOT likely to promote a healthy response from an autistic person or promote better ways for us to learn to respond. Adult autistics and children are at different places and may learn at different rates but we never stop learning.

The conforming box of the social model is more likely to place unrealistic demands on anyone but even more so when someone who is designed differently.

I can't see how anyone can be encouraged by hearing that society sees them as unwanted.

When everything about what others describe as acceptable and best is contrary to the best and most reasonable goals based on who someone is, it is likely to be discouraging.

When classrooms are designed to accommodate only a narrow set of skills that anyone is not likely to acquire, this is also discouraging.

No one will be likely to conform to the ever-changing and unrealistic expectations if they continue becoming more narrow.

Learning to encourage diverse types of expressions, skills, and responses will create a more healthy environment for everyone.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

United We Stand

I'm hoping that our next U.S. president will make the changes needed to find value in what more people can do so that more people's efforts can be recognized and utilized.

Although there are many things that I don't know about what would be required to restore the U.S. economy, I have seen some things that don't get factored into nearly enough politicians discussions of the issues and I don't feel it is discussed enough on the Internet.

As an autistic person, and just as a person, I reject many of the stereotypes that I think society uses to try to rob people of their status of being a person. Trying to rob people of this status works against all efforts to understand people that are treated as less than people and it prevents society from understanding the best ways to empower them.

Too often people are taught to believe that those who are not listened to really have no voice that is the cycle continues.....

It seems that often the ideal of having the best formal education and the best status in the community before people have something valid to say prevents too many people from ever achieving those things because they are never recognized in the first place.

Too often it seems to me that people want people to be more responsible and all they show to those people are the obligations of responsibility. That doesn't encourage responsibility. It just puts more division among everyone. With power comes responsibility and with responsibility comes advantage. People won't be encouraged to take responsibility if those who seem to have the advantages that come with it only use those advantages to should on those who are seen to be less responsible. That doesn't seem like a very appealing ladder to climb.

From my view, humanity is often not served when people who have economic status are not willing to listen to those don't. While this unwillingness is of course two-sided, it often does seem to me that people who have the better status (whether earned or unearned) have more opportunities to influence public opinion. I feel that needs to change to provide everyone more opportunities.

I don't think that complaining and having a bad attitude is any more likely to be the result of any level economic status.

People who are provided public assistance have more opportunities than those who are not provided that on either side of the economic ladder. Unfortunately, what I see that doing is creating strife among those who work for low wages and those who have no wages or get an organized type of public assistance. It doesn't need to create strife. I believe what is needed is unity and more understanding. It has become too convenient to believe that it is overly idealistic to think this is worth working toward. I think it is overly idealistic to believe that the human race will survive without it.

Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is very rare in today's economy. While I know there must be financial status incentives to encourage everyone to do their best, what are considered entry-level jobs, shoestring businesses, and small reasonable loans are not seen are rarely considered.

It seems completely impractical to me convince one person that they are actually considered part of the same human race by society when they have little or no opportunities when they see other humans elevated to the status of royalty and seemingly unlimited financial resources.

I think it is unfortunate that many have been convinced in the United States and in other countries that the average middle class American lives in suburbia and has a reasonable working income. Too many people are not factored into that average.

Most people know that the ideal of empowering people with disabilities in the U.S. using government funding was heavily influenced by the physical injuries that soldiers got on the battlefields during wars. However, those in the psychiatric system are given little if anything other than being labeled as unworthy. However people get into that system there has to be opportunities to move beyond it. Otherwise it seems safe to assume that this is not the goal.

It seems to me that if the goal of psychiatry was really to promote mental health, our present psychiatric system would have already be evolved enough to be better equipped to deal with the post traumatic stress of soldiers, we wouldn't have military vetrans living on our streets, big Pharma would not have the kind of influence that it does in over medicaiting and so many people, and more than one quarter of those in our country who are considered disabled for psychiatric reasons would actually be choosing the psychotherapy that is offered to them based on the merit of that therapy.

Too many of us have been hurt really bad by the psychiatric industry. Encouraging people to not start down this path is good but don't forget that along with this ideal there are too many people who are on these meds to take them away tomorrow without serious consequences or some practical alternative.

Rehabilitation needs to be reserved for those who have been traumatically injured or convicted of crimes. Learning disabilities and learning differences don't require rehabilitation, they just require aid. Why would it be called rehab if system that failed to meet the need in the first place is not looked at or asked to change? That puts all of the responsibility and blame on the person so that the system isn't seen as needing to change.

Minimum wage jobs cannot be considered entry-level jobs if most of the people who have those jobs change jobs at least four times a year.

With a failing economy, many of the problems in our society that had been conveniently hidden will become much more evident. People who had previously survived without the aid of government resources will be asking for it. This can't be ignored. Serving each person according to their needs and encouraging responsibility along with recognising more diverse abilities is the answer. However, nothing like it already exist.

Too many of the resources that are needed have only become financial resources because people have been using money to deal problems that they should be using their hearts and minds to deal with.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Learning Difference

There are so many ways that people think, learn, and express themselves, it is not practical or even possible to place value judgments on every action, reaction, and expression. To attempt to do this only seems to objectify people and what they do in a way that would ultimately make us into nothing more than products or commodities to buy sell and trade instead of being recognized as people. Looking at people in this way robs us of our humanity.

While I can't say what percentage of autistic people are seen as having valuable skills by others within their community, autistics are likely to have a combination of diverse skills. This can (and often does) lead autistics to have a better understanding of how those in our environment (and those in society at large) evaluate performance.

No one such as an employer, teacher, diagnostician, or intelligence quotient tester, has ever described my skills as anything other than substandard. I feel that knowing their evaluation of me was inappropriate has led me to find more creative ways to evaluate what I see in myself and in others.

Also while it may seem that having skills that are marketable may make some people immune from societies performance evaluations that are unrealistic and that promote exclusivity, that does not seem to be the case at all with autistic people. If there are autistic people that feel as though as though they don't need to promote a healthier view of autism within society because it seems as though somehow the negative evaluations don't effect them, they may want to consider more futuristic planning. Furthermore, ANYONE who feels as though they are immune to the attitudes that so much of our society has that are exclusive may want to be careful about such thinking. It is important to remember that when the few and the elite set exclusive and subjective standards, those standards will eventually change to exclude everyone.

I think that advocates for the acceptance of diverse experiences, behaviors, and skills need to focus more on the unity and empowerment of each other. We don't empower ourselves or anyone else when the standards that we have set for ourselves are no different than the unrealistic and exclusive standards that our society has mislead us to believe are valid.

These beliefs DO affect how we see ourselves and how we see others. Also these collective views DO ultimately influence societal standards.

Conformists have always threatened diversity by the unrealistic expectations of how they define inclusion. In this way inclusion becomes nothing more than a newer more deceptive method of exclusion.

Someone with the agenda of exclusion may use the value judgments they attach to labels to exclude people in physical and/or emotional ways and one will ultimately lead to the other.

What I think it is important to remember is that someone with aspirations of valadating inappropriate labels can do so by finding better ways of viewing more diverse ways of thinking and acting so that every individual is able to support each other.

When our value is instead limited to how we are presently seen to serve the conformists view of our society, more adults and more children will be warehoused, numbered, as nonhuman objects. This limits our most valuable resource in ways that no society can afford.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Out of this World

This morning I was reminded of reports of UFO sightings. I wonder why people describe such things unidentified flying objects? The main question that I'm thinking about as it relates to this, is how we as a culture deal with what we can't define.

While the lack of strict definitions for all that we see allows some people to explore infinite positive possibilities, others will look at what they don't understand and be bound by the fear of all the negative potential that this could be mean.

The difference in how we see things DOES influence how we view people and no one can afford to fear the people in their lives that think and act in ways that are unfamiliar.

The closer (geographically) we are to these people and the more responsibility we have or assume for them, makes our view of them even more important.

Being close to people IS a commitment rather than it requires one. We don't have to want to be commited - we just get to be. What one doesn't decide will be decided for them. Our choices about how we view people will define how we treat them. This will influence how they see themselves and how they expect others to treat them. These personal decisions have an influence on our culture.

Too often we look at what is wrong with people, how severe we see this wrongness as it relates to how we see the severity of this wrongness in others, or even where the wrongness originated. Seeing ambivalent behavior as wrong can be used to distance ourselves from that effort and responsibility that is required to relate to people. It starts in the home and ultimately becomes a part of our culture. Our culture cannot afford this and no one can personally afford it. The price is paid by both the viewer and the viewed.

What I'm writing about here doesn't just relate to just one type of person that is viewed as being in need of fixing, one type of person that seen as flawed, or one age group of people. This ultimately includes everyone and affects everyone.

Autistic people are being attacked in various ways and there is a power base that has a lot of influence on how we are seen. Not everyone who makes unfair judgments or treats people unfairly does so consciously. In fact, I believe that most people who do this have not really thought it through or are too bound by their emotions to choose a better way of responding to us.

To those of you who have autistic people in your lives, I would like to remind you that we are not aliens. We are available in ways that you may not have thought of or may not have explored. We need you just like you need us and neither of us afford to forget it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Escape from Paradise

A community represents what is home to most people. What we see in this home shapes our veiw of the rest of the world as well as it shapes what we want to have and what we want to be. However, we are not all designed the same way so we view things in different ways and make different choices about what we look at it in (what may be considered) the same environment.

Some people may be described as more interested in exploring when they choose to seek more environments to focus on. However, the more environments one person looks at may be preventing them from having a good understanding of the universal laws that are present everywhere but require a more narrow focus that comes from being in only one place.

In a similar way, I see formal education as an alternative to exploring life randomly. Learning in traditional ways by others who have been educated by the same method can create discipline that can lead to a more creative imagination. A structured environment or a structured method of learning can provide a great deal of attention to detail that defines a subject or a story that cannot be comprehensively understood otherwise. The ability to understand something in this way can also provide for an opportunity for this to be more effectively communicated to others because it is better understood. Nothing else but this structure can provide this creativity, or the attainment and development of these ongoing progressive skills.

We will all be influenced to some degree by the decisions and actions of other people in our environment whether we repeat what works for them or ignore it. We will all make the same mistakes that others do or we will learn to avoid those mistakes.

Society and science will give us ways of looking at ourselves and others, they will label us all, and they will make value jugements based on the labels given to us by these influences.

The point I'm trying to make in this post is that convention can provide us with structure for good and creative change. Society and science has screwed up the way they label many behaviors and the way the label many people. However, we can use many of the same conventional labels as a structure for how we further define them, better define them, and (in some cases) redefine them.

How I see this as it relates to the label of autism is that while society and science may have created the label, defining how we see and describe that label is up to us. In order to do that in the best way, we may need to stick to certain conventions of society and science that allow us to define an autistic culture that will preserve autistic people. Without us using the already established conventional labels to define an autistic culture, we are in danger of allowing society and pseudoscience to repeat their same mistakes.

Autism is a package. Every person (and every type of person) is born with different sets of abilities and difficulties and different things are nurtured or discouraged throughout of our lives. When it comes to disabled people and the unified decisions that disabled people have made about what they want (based on being disabled people) we need to remember that their focus has mainly been on asking society to adjust who they are as people and make accommodations for their disabilities rather than focusing all societal attention on fixing and changing the ways they are disabled.

When it comes right down to it, it seems that most people would rather be treated with dignity, respect, accommodations, and equal opportunities, rather than having society see them as less than as they focus on what they can't do and how they need to be fixed to meet societal standards. I think most people are basically the same in this regard. The difference is mainly that some people are afforded the luxury to escape having to decide what is really most important to them.

When autistic people define ways that all of society can treat autistic people with more dignity and respect and what we say about that is met with undignified and disrespectful confrontation....well, that futher demonstrates why we need to be involved.

The main questions that I see as being important are these: If society no longer sees autism as a disability, how will people be accommodated or how will the way they are presented as being a differently packaged person (that doesn't allow them to be accommodated) help them to reach their goals? My answer to that is:

Don't allow the words autism, disability, and the need for accomidations be illiminated because they are defined inappropriately. That takes a lot of time to change and many of us won't survive during the time it takes to persue the attainment of such high ideals. Instead work to redefine the words. The best intentions CAN lead to the highest ideals.

If the autistic spectrum is divided so that the part of the package that is seen as a negative part is described as nothing more than a set comorbidities that are accompanying the package of persons with Aspergers syndrome, what will eventually happen to autistic people once people start stripping away the parts that are seen as bad? It seems to me that we have already been shown what the goal is for people who claim to just want to eliminate part of the package. It seems the same as the goal of those people who ONLY want to eliminate what they see as a the negative part of the package that is the collective population of humans altogether. A decreased population of what they consider better people. An ideal world.

What some people seem to not understand is that such ideals will include more and more inappropriate and prejudiced views about benevolent behaviors that just seem odd or uncomfortable to the people making these decisions. It's not that the people making the decisions don't have some of the same behaviors or even that they are not similar types of people. This unfortunately doesn't stop them from wanting to eliminate what they don't like and ultimately who they don't like.

What we decide individually will affect us all collectively. Especially when what we discuss and vote on that we want is really the only way we'll have the power to make positive changes. This collective effort gives us the structure that we can use to make those changes.

The ideal of perfection has gone too far when we are seen as units or a collective sum of units that require ongoing perfected change in order to create the perfect person or the perfect society.

This illusion of paradise is an escape that will prevent us from looking at realistic situations in comprehensive and reasonable ways that allow us to make realistic changes that give us all what we really need.