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.


At 3:49 PM , Anonymous christschool said...

Ed, I really liked this post for obvious reasons. What is so disheartening to me is that I assume everyone feels the same as me, when they don't. What seems obvious to you and me isn't to other people and how do we change that. How do we influence for the better. I'm really struggling with that.

I can't stand how I treat people that I see as friends and at the same time treat people who work against me as friends. I don't understand why I do these things. Its very disheartening and I constantly feel as though I am a failure.

At 4:49 PM , Blogger Ed said...

Of course the reasons are obvious. You were the one who gave me these ideas and inspired this post.

C'mon Christschool,
We ARE changing things and influencing things for the better. You are no failure! Quite the opposite. Besides that, you're my hero.

I know you are struggling but you are not alone and you are not alone in this effort and.... it ain't over....not even close.

At 7:40 AM , Blogger Suzanne said...

Thanks BOTH of you, for helping anyone to better understand autism. You are important to my life, and to my children's future.


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