Categories
Definitions & Characteristics

Atmosphere – Streaks (Part 3)

When social communication fails, this does not mean the person we are trying to communicate with, trying to reach intersubjectivity with, trying to extend our own agency with… does not have a mind, does not have agency, is not human. What we think of as the ability to mentalise, to ‘read someone’s mind’ then, is perhaps the rather less impressive coincidence of happening to possess a similar mind, and what we think of as intimacy and a shared-humanity is nothing more than mirror-gazing.

Sophie Vivian

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If we start from the assumption that neurotypicals are ‘normal’, and Autistics are ‘disordered’, then poor connections between neurotypicals and Autistics inevitably get blamed on some ‘defect’ or ‘deficit’ in Autistics. If an Autistic can’t understand a neurotypical, it’s because Autistics have empathy deficits and impaired communication skills; if a neurotypical can’t understand an Autistic, it’s because Autistics have empathy deficits and poor communication skills. All the frictions and failures of connection between the two groups, and all the difficulties Autistics run into in neurotypical society, all get blamed on Autism.

Nick Walker

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But the way that things like this normally go? […] When nonautistic people can’t read autistic people, it’s either because nothing is there to read (we’re just assumed not to be giving off nonverbal cues because the cues we give off aren’t always the same as nonautistic people), or because autistic people have a global social skills deficit […] Even though it’s the exact same problem going in both directions: A difficulty reading people whose experience of the world fundamentally differs from your own, which may be a nearly universal social skills deficit in both autistic and nonautistic people.

Mel Baggs

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No one is born knowing the rules. Everyone has to learn the rules, and everyone has to learn some of the rules explicitly. […]

For neurotypical people, the need to learn social skills [e.g.: in business, in personal relationships, and in the area of disability] is treated as normal, expected, and honorable.

For autistic people, our need to learn social skills is treated as disgusting, defective, and in need of normalizing therapy.

Ruti Regan

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Stop romanticizing neurotypicality

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Learning to be good at social interactions isn’t a matter of Learning the Rules; it’s a matter of learning to develop your judgement.

Ruti Regan

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I don’t think social skills exist. Or, if I do, I think they exist like God exists – in everyone. They just may not always be apparent. […] Social skills are not contained in a person – they require the right other person.

With work, I think a lot of people can learn to develop their mindfulness and modulation skills so that they can have good social skills (i.e., capacity to connect) with more people – or, so that more people can have good social skills with them. It’s the same thing.

Some people – disabled or not – may not be able to learn how to do that, but they will still sometimes meet a person who is exactly like them, or who is very good at mindfulness and modulation, and they will have good social skills when they are with that person.

Other people will just not let other people in. […] Such people may have good social skills when interacting with people who aren’t different. But with people who are different, they [as well as the person who is different from them] will always have no social skills […]

Amanda Forest Vivian

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Categories
Definitions & Characteristics

Atmosphere – Snowflakes (Part 1)

Yes, I have social problems, but honestly I feel that the idea that autism is a ‘social disorder’ is putting the cart before the horse, and really missing the point. Autism is primarily a sensory and information processing and filtering difference, and the descriptions of autistics written by allistics are simply descriptions of the differences that allistics can see, and think are important.

Kirsten Lindsmith

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Differences in sensory processing do of course affect what might be called ‘social skills,’ for example many autistic people don’t integrate incoming visual information in a way that allows them to easily notice the tiny subtle differences in body position and facial expression that are used in neurotypical communication […]

Sensory integration also affects motor movements, and so many autistic people may not show the body language that non-autistic people expect for the way they are feeling. […]

Quincy Hansen

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In recent years the narrative has shifted from saying that autistic people feel too little – usually due to a purported empathy deficit – to saying we feel too much.

Perhaps the most worrying thing here regards how this new framing leads to autistic suffering being blamed on autistic oversensitivity.

In this regard it is worth drawing attention to a form of psychological domestic abuse sometimes called ‘gaslighting’. What this refers to is the systematic undermining of the victim’s sense of reality in order to make them think the abuse is their fault rather than the fault of the abuser. Very significantly, one of the core ways to do this is for the abuser to convince the victim that they are just too sensitive, meaning that any hurt they feel is not down to their abusive environment but rather due to their own inability to cope with the world. […]

With this in mind, I am wary of all accounts that frame autistic suffering and disablement stemming from us being hyper-sensitive. Far from reversing it, all this does is make the pathologisation of autism more subtle, more hegemonic.

In fact, the issue is that the sensory world is designed for the neurotypical, and so has by and large failed to accommodate the autistic sensory-style. That is, whilst it is true that we suffer from ‘too much information’, this stems from the neurotypical-centric way in which the world is organised – not due to how we process the world as such.

Robert Chapman

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So I’m sort of bad at figuring out how I feel about things, or just how things are, objectively. This is probably due to growing up with gaslighting although I also think that not being able to identify your feelings is supposed to be normal for people with ASD.

Although maybe it’s normal for people with ASD as a result of gaslighting.

Amanda Forest Vivian

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[…] But it is also a context where many of the things – such as eye contact and physical contact – often used by parents to show affection for their children either panic us or cause us physical pain, and where our ‘emotional growth’ might be measured by others in terms of how much we can deaden our bodies and emotions and allow ourselves to be subjected to terror and pain on a regular basis.

Imagine growing up somewhere where to be hit upside the head and locked in a room with a large predatory animal are the two highest forms of affection, and your emotional development is gauged on how well you learn to put up with those situations.

To people who experience certain kinds of touch as pain and eye contact as a predator-style threat, that is some part of our experience growing up. And that is an experience we can have in the most loving and caring of families, if our families don’t understand what those experiences feel like to us (and not all of us show pain and discomfort by pulling away, either, so it’s not always possible to gauge our reactions by that sort of thing).

Mel Baggs

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Neurotypical kids’ social development is fostered by feedback from their parents, who mirror their behavior and thus model reciprocal interactions from an early age. As Morton Ann Gernsbacher and her colleagues pointed out, autistic babies don’t give the usual cues their parents are expecting, and the parents don’t necessarily mirror them or give them the social feedback that helps neurotypical babies.

So how much of an autistic person’s social disabilities come from their own characteristics, and how much from early differences in their interactions with caretakers?

Emily Morson

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culture, class and disability play such a huge role in how we show emotions

Mel Baggs

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Many autistic traits are a result of being so in tune with other people’s energy that it literally hurts.

Shutting down to others emotions and taking them on without discrimination are two sides of the same coin.

Briannon Lee

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Categories
Definitions & Characteristics

Atmosphere – Silhouette (Part 2)

Each individual who has an autism spectrum diagnosis got that diagnosis based on deficits. That isn’t good or bad, but rather, simply the way diagnosing works […] based on the social and expected norms exhibited by the majority of people.

Judy Endow

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[T]he way information is presented influences our judgement and decision-making: the framing effect. How we ‘frame’ information has an impact on how we treat it, and thus on outcomes. So if your research project is based on the assumption that your subjects have a disorder or a deficit, that presumption will be reflected in both your process and your results.

What we see in research involving autistic subjects is that autism is frequently framed as ‘non-neurotypical’, i.e. autistics are measured against people who are non-autistic and thus end up being defined by what they aren’t.

For a comparison, imagine a linguistic study of a Swedish-speaking community by French academics where the conclusion is “they can’t speak French”.

If ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture, then what we often see in these papers is a kind of neurocentrism, judging another neurology by the capabilities and standards of one’s own neurology.

In regard to these research biases, it’s revealing to look at how the same academics frame outcomes differently depending on whether their studies involve autistic subjects or not. […]

So, if you’re non-autistic and more rational, it’s because you’re good at regulating your emotions.

But if you’re autistic and more rational, it’s because you’re deficit in recognising your emotions.

Peter

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Our current biomedical approach to autism, which scans, studies, and reports on autistic people in terms of their differences, deficits, and disorders is actually making autistic people’s lives more difficult and their futures bleaker because we’re teaching people that autistic people are not like us.

Karla McLaren

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The underlying attitude [of some professionals] sometimes appears to be: “How dare you continue to attempt to think for yourself when I am here before you with my obviously superior knowledge, status, judgment, and insight?”

Out of context, Lundy Bancroft

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[W]ithin psychiatric theory, it does not matter whether a psychological difference is considered ‘hyper’ or ‘hypo’: either way, it is taken to be a matter of pathologically falling outside the norm.

‘Too much’ may be different to ‘too little’, but it is still considered just as inherently bad.

Robert Chapman

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how do we measure Schizophrenia, Autism, ADD/ADHD, other than in juxtaposition to normal[?]

how does one quantify normal?

Jenna, Elijah, Tamarjay, Derrick

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Categories
Spotlight

Truth Beacon – Advocacy

“Shut up and listen to marginalized people” isn’t quite the right rule […] We need to do better by each other, and start listening for real.

Ruti Regan

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[…] The whole thing is set up in a way where the only way to move forward is to find something to oppose and devour. There is never a point where the way you do things is good enough. You have to find more and more words and ideas to oppose. Words and ideas that mark who is in the know, and who is bad. These things constantly change.

[…]

Within this culture, you stop noticing your surroundings. Instead, you see a network of lines representing various power dynamics, bad words and ideas, good words and ideas, and the way this community responds to them. You stop being able to see that this is not the only way to respond to injustice.

Mel Baggs

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[It’s possible that one who] outwardly celebrates the diversity in labels, doesn’t necessarily celebrate the diversity of thought – not seeming to grasp that the two by necessity has to go together. A group of diverse people would take different routes to achieve a purpose. They would have different ideas on how to do it, when to do it.

potteresque-ire

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[…] Autonomy as a value of deliberative democracy is contested by non-disabled family members who advocate with their disabled family members in order to portray the interdependency of their interests. Charlie’s experience thus gives new meaning to the value of reciprocity in deliberative democratic theory, moving it away from mutual competence towards mutual dependence.

Stacy Clifford

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People everywhere, every day are trying to navigate {many} kinds of dilemmas, and {some of the time} are doing so in a culture that refuses to discuss {them}.

Partial quote, Sarah K Reece

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When new ideas emerge in society there is usually discussion about them. It’s a sound general principle –  the best way to evaluate new ideas is to explore them critically and freely.

{Plenty of} issues […] are of importance to society as a whole. […] Surely we can agree that {people, especially the referred groups} should have the right to discuss it?

This must be done in an atmosphere of mutual respect in which anyone is free to critically discuss anything they wish, using whatever (respectful) terminology they choose.

The underlying issues, {redefinitions, and introduction of new concepts} must be seen for what they are: nobody’s exclusive property.

Partial quote, Jonathan Best

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