eyes are ears and other myths

This article is lovely, especially in regards to my own conversations on expanding the dominant paradigm versus forcing autistic individuals to conform to one that is unnatural and quite frankly unhealthy for us.

a diary of a mom

Last night, I posted the following on Diary’s Facebook page:

Oh, Brooke. I’m so sorry. I saw that worksheet that came home in your backpack. The one on which you’d so diligently parroted back the lessons about what’s necessary to convince people that you’re listening to them, writing in “eye contact” so neatly, right there on the line.

I promise I’ll talk to your teachers, kiddo. We’ll make sure that they all know what it means to “respect your autistic identity,” just like it says in your IEP.

You see some people – a lot of people – have, well .. I guess a kind of disability. For some reason, they perceive eyes as ears. I know that sounds bizarre, baby, but it’s a very real challenge for a lot of us. Even for your mama.

You see, we don’t have the same innate ability that you do to understand…

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I did not wear blue today…

I did not wear blue today…because I feel the conversation is about us more than with us.

I did not wear blue today, because I do not wish to invite intrusion into my life.

I did not wear blue today because it is a color associated with sadness and pity, and I am neither sad nor pitiable.

I did not wear blue today, because I live with who I am everyday.

I did not wear blue today, because it seems more for them than us.

I am not represented by a color, an appeal to emotion over an appeal to reason, I am far from being blue.

Thoughts on Religion and Church from my psuedo-vacation

Been extra quiet this month as I had to go to Florida for 17 days for a family medical issue, and trying to get any real work done outside my personal space is really just not likely to happen.  I did go to church with my mother one day though, and that got the old gears going in many ways, so I figured I would share this bit, as it was a novel but also strangely familiar experience.

Going to church was every bit as stressful as I could have expected it to be, but not because of the content or message (the church is very very liberal, we are talking quips about Palm Sunday and Gay Pride Parade sort of liberal, actually was quite amusing), but the very nature of the use of space and expectations for socially sanctioned ritual.  In regards to that specific experience, I pretty much went into shutdown mode not long after entering the space.  The congregation was warm, friendly, and welcoming, which for me was extremely uncomfortable since there were tons of hand shakes, hugs, pats on the shoulder and back, way more physical contact than I was mentally prepared for actually, too touchy and that was just the beginning.  The space was acoustically a nightmare, this church was actually in a dance studio, so everything echo’d and amplified. Finally, an entire wall was mirrors and the Pastor stood in front of that, so I was able to see everyone every single time I looked up, I spent almost the entire time hunched over staring at my feet and desperately wanting to cover my ears to reduce the noise. To say it was a sensory nightmare, was an understatement, I wish I could have kept my sunglasses on too, anything would have been a small blessing to use some church parlance here.

The experience also had me thinking back to my youth, and how I am conditioned to not see a church as a sanctuary where all are welcome, but instead a place of ridicule, judgment, and suffering.  I can recall in childhood the stares when I could not hold still, how my feet would burn with pain having to stand up, how the noise was a cacophonous roar, all the time I was expected to make eye contact, because failing to do so consistently got me labeled as being untrustworthy.  Over the decades that tainted and damaged my view of Church, for a long time it led me down a road not too far off from the view of Richard Dawkin’s and Christopher Hitchen’s, angry anti-theism, attempting to place the ills of the world at the feet of the Church.  I was wrong in that, a person’s religious views do not inherently make them rigid and judgmental, it just happens to be a very common occurrence in my life experience and in the churches I attended over the years. As I have stated before, rigid ideology and belief is the underlying issue, religion does not have a monopoly on that, and not all religions are equally rigid in their worldview.

In turn this has had me thinking about autistic meltdowns and church, I had a few in church, many would label it as me being a spoiled brat, some went as far to claim I was or was at least at risk for possession.  And it is not just the meltdowns after all, the skeptic in me wants to question and challenge, to seek more data, and when the expectation is that one takes these things on faith, I became inherently flawed as well for not just doing so.  One thing I loathe about sermon’s is that the congregation must sit there and just listen to the sermon, it is horribly one sided, this social conformity that assumes a great deal about the person giving the sermon being an authority on the matter being discussed. Listening and absorbing, approaching a religious leader after with questions but never feeling able to actually challenge them for fear of retribution from them, the congregation, or my own family.

I wonder then, based not just on my own experiences, but the experiences of others on the spectrum in church, or parents who are now trying to advocate for their children to a congregation that sees them as a distraction, as individuals flawed and unworthy of being there, how many of us in the past have suffered at the hands of a church’s judgments and assumptions.  How many children on the spectrum who had meltdowns have been thought to be possessed? How much have we suffered at the hands of neurotypicals who in their honest ignorance could not and did not know any better, and thus applied their limited worldview in judgment upon us?  How many of us have suffered true religious trauma and still do so today? Ostracized, judged, pointed out and denigrated for things outside our control, especially when the very space, the very nature of how we congregate for worship is a horrendous sensory and cognitive nightmare for so many of us on the spectrum, and yet again the onus of our actions is upon us, the focus on the flaws in an individual vs the flaws of the socially accepted ritual and paradigm.

I fret and worry about non-neurotypical children in religious settings constantly, and the judgment faced there diffuses out into the communities as well. In a way, a church can be an epicenter, not just for a solid sense of community, but for the judgment and suffering of those who do not fit into the dominant paradigm, who through no inherent moral fault of their own, cannot thrive in that particular environment.  I then see a possible solution as well, through education, through combating ignorance, where the Pastor’s, Priests, and Clergy have the power to disseminate real knowledge and understanding on autism, real compassion, to expand the dominant paradigm’s understanding of who we are and how we unintentionally more often than not are made to suffer in those pews and outside the church doors.  And if they can welcome and embrace these children, find time to create a space for them to avoid overstimulation without fear of judgment or damage to their self-identity in the form of feeling they are wrong, unworthy, or even in my personal case, made to feel I was actually evil and flawed beyond words.  This would benefit not just the congregation, not just the people of faith, but the overall community as well, it could help address issues of bullying based on ignorance of the difference, it could help mitigate suffering within the community, if only they could see that it truly is not a flaw or fault to simply be different and unable to thrive in certain environments. To understand how both in the Church and in greater society as well, the very environment can be harmful and damaging to those of us on the spectrum.  And in doing so, find a bit of redemption as well for themselves, for the untold generations who have suffered for just being different and having difficulty coping, for being wired to not always take things on simple faith, but by their very wiring must question and try to understand.

For all the harm that has been done, that same mechanism could now be a powerful tool to expand the conversation and the dominant social paradigm, so help further tolerance and understanding more in line with the views of Jesus of Nazareth, the church could again help unite community instead of being used by some as a mouthpiece to spread intolerance out of fear of the erosion of their views of morality.  I do not understand how so many people of faith pick and choose intolerance, swear the Bible is infallible, yet consistently no longer practice or judge based on many Biblical references, how is it we manage to so blindly cherry-pick our ideology.  Homosexuality is an abomination to so many, because of the the Biblical references, but tattoo’s, divorce, slavery, and a host of other Biblical references are now view differently. Logically, if one admits to some of these being flawed, then it is only logical to view other one’s as being flawed, that whether or not it was divinely inspired, fallible humans wrote, edited, translated, and altered this work over time. I suppose this is a topic for another time, the myopia of religious institutions, that overshadow the words of Christ in favor of Leviticus or Paul.

Getting at my inherent brain wiring

So, I have spent a lot of time of late thinking about…thinking, pretty much my favorite past time when I am not engaging in avoidance behaviors so that time will just tick by and leave me alone. Recently went over an older post by #musingsofanaspie and it got my brain going again on the question of empathy which I have addressed and speculated on before.  That question being, am I empathetic and is my ability to easily read people natural to me or is it learned?

Well, I think I was asking the question partially wrong, I am naturally cognitively empathetic, that means I can use my intelligence to relate to folks feelings and circumstances. This connects back to my writings on being compassionate writ large, or a good choice of word here would be sympathetic.  So, i am a very compassionate and sympathetic human being, but I am not particularly high empathy in regards to affective empathy.  I feel sympathy pains for people, but that is synesthesia, I read that someone is in pain and as someone compassionate I want to help, but I do not feel with the depth others do in such regards, my rationality means the depths of my reaction is limited.  Which, makes me a decent person to come to with problems if you want a good ear and solutions, I have found a balance there, I may not feel that pain or joy with the same depth, but I am able to cognitively relate to it. This is quite probably tied into my tendency to provide personal experiences which may come across as egocentric as a way of demonstrating my ability to …well empathize.  For good or ill, I have had a host of horrible and traumatic experiences in my life, loss, suffering, physical pain, I have drank deeply from the well, and as a result of this, I have the personal experience to bounce my cognitive empathy off and thus, I am able to create a kindly and compassionate demeanor that Neurotypicals don’t find offensive or alien.  But…it was not natural, not part of my inherent wiring, so in short, I have issues with empathy, but we need to stop confusing that with folks not having any feelings at all, I am not a psycho or sociopath, I just respond to these things differently, a bit distant, but still able to sympathize, and frankly, I consider that a blessing, a bit of both worlds, since I have had to straddle that for my entire life.

What else about my inherent brain wiring? Well, I am literal, a very literally minded person, but I have been able to intellectually and cognitively get around that.  For example, I know when I am tired or stressed, I should avoid posting on facebook, I miss subtext at those points and thus find myself getting into trouble or causing a bit of drama.  Now, I still like to tear things apart from the literal perspective, why I dislike so many generalizations and also makes me the natural skeptic I am.  But, I also had to move away from that, how does one cover up for a natural tendency to be literal, the literal interpretation of things still comes to me first, my inherent wiring dictates that. But like so many other things in my life, I found a work around, and those who know me personally would be able to see and understand the cornerstone of my sense of humor, not coincidentally very much like Maine humorists in general (where I live most of my childhood and teen years).  So I make jokes based on the literal interpretation of things, for example my wife says “I’m taking a shower”, my response is frequently “Oh yeah? Where are you taking it too, seems a bit heavy” or something along those lines.  My brain takes it literal, I then filter it and put it out as a form of joke instead, and oddly enough I almost have too, if I don’t speak these things out loud, that bounce around inside my head, it connects back to me mumbling and talking out loud, it is not just conversation for the sake of conversation, it is a powerful tool for me to process data and move on.

What else about my inherent wiring then? From the Meyers-Briggs, it has been well stated before that I am an INTP, and I will re-iterate that I do not see this as some form of biological determinism, just a useful tool that folks can look up and get an approximation of my personality, so I am guilty of using folks as sounding boards, always. As a matter of fact, I fail to thrive when I do not have access to good sounding boards, and so lately I am having some issues between avoiding social pressures and stimuli, which reduces meltdowns, but without my sounding boards my mind feels sluggish, I need that witty bit of conflict to force me to double check my thinking and get new perspectives, new data, and new questions, and I love questions more than anything else in this world, I am after all a creature of extreme curiosity.

So, I have sensory processing issues, a complex relationship with empathy and other people, I am literal but not rigidly black and white, instead I am an extreme grey person, or as I like to think the world is not grey at all, but full of colors and vibrancy.  It is hard for me to focus my energies, because my interests are so expansive and my mind wants to learn it all, know it all, so I am scattered and unfocused, and this frustrates me to no end.  And I am still failing to do what I wish, I cannot function in too much structure with too many asinine social rituals, but at the same time, left to my own devices I cannot focus and get things done, how strange it is to realize how much I am a product of the environment I am in.   But the more I learn about my inherent way of thinking and then the creative workarounds I have developed over the years, the closer I come to being able to cultivate the right environment to maximize my potential productivity.  So I am still torn, I have greatly mixed feelings on pursuing a PhD and trying to fight my way into academia, I suppose I could contemplate work for a think tank, but the ideologically driven nature of many of them would likewise not be particularly fulfilling to me.  But I still need to be productive, it is an imperative to me, a constant pressure that leads to depression and self loathing when I cannot get things done that I know I am capable of, I just don’t have enough structure for someone with my inherent brain wiring, and that ties back to my last post about feeling like being only half a person.  I suppose we shall see what comes in the future, but I cannot continue on my current course, it is eating away at me and that leads to meltdowns, and I loathe having meltdowns.

Relative Rituals

I am in a lot of pain these days, so my thoughts are more fragmented, winter is a rough spot for me and it makes it hard for me to focus on things and keep things straight when dry skin and painful joints and sinuses keep tugging at me, honestly I would really just like to hibernate and get past this season and get on with my life.  A warmer climate is sadly not an option, my wife’s work and my dislike of places where folks legally have the right to shoot me if I have an autistic meltdown kinda make me want to never visit most southern states again…ever.   But, I digress, before I even got started, one thing I have thought about a lot recently though is rituals.

Ok, so when talking to educators and other’s who pride themselves as being “in the know” on spectrum, one thing that comes up is what are my rituals.  First, based on the current social paradigm, one would think that question would be considered rather rude, as it is certainly prying into my personal life.  Frankly, I don’t care, but it is telling that strange repetitive behaviors I have are classified as rituals in a way that is abnormal.  Yet to me, societal rituals and religious rituals are nonsensical to me, and our society has many rituals we are expected to observe.  In my case, with functional mirror neurons so I can read people’s reactions, but the “socialization issues” of being on the spectrum, it is directly connect to my very logical and rational way of thinking, and I see so much ritualized behavior every single day, and yet folks are not challenged on those rituals.

The dominant paradigm sets the acceptable vs deviant notions of rituals, so when you do not fit the dominant paradigm, when you think so differently that you are honestly confused as to how folks accept and roll with certain socially expected behaviors, you are forced to try and understand the highly ritualized behavior of the culture you live in.  And the dominant society has so many, sometimes at odds with different worldviews and sometimes taken so for granted that it is assumed it is part of the natural human condition. When one is part of the dominant paradigm and the world makes sense, that position of cognitive privilege means you do not have to hone your assessment skills. An example of this is being a native English speaker in this day and age, though many choose to learn another language, most don’t and many even get offended that non-English speakers can’t seem to learn English well.  The dominant paradigm views the world through a cultural and personal lens that their privileged position allows them to never have to develop a cognitive toolkit to navigate the world, the world is expected to navigate around them.  Another example is general knowledge of the happenings in the US, in many ways folks in Europe and Asia know more about what is going on in our nation on a macro-scale than the residents in our nation, we take for granted how things function and because we do not perceive other’s as a potential threat we don’t have to take the time to understand them either.

So, when the dominant paradigm exists in an interesting position of privilege that allows them to wear rose colored glasses in regards to their own actions and demean those who are different or even against their worldview.  It is easy to label “the other” as flawed, backwards, or barbaric. Instead of understanding, that culturally, as well as inherently through neurology that folks value and prioritize things differently.  This comes back to the notion of rituals, societal mores and values, and the inability to see their own rituals whilst constantly pointing out perceived deviancy from these norms as somehow making an individually morally inferior.  I am not going to engage in small talk, I am not going to say something polite because it is expected, when I say something nice it is because I mean it, and I often do, I am quite a nice person, I hold no ill will towards people in general. Don’t get me wrong, I am often frustrated with people, and often feel like I want to defenstrate them for being obtuse, but this is a personality conflict stemming from different ways of thinking, not a inferiority/superiority issue. You see, in many ways, I have fewer rituals than society writ large, because I see irrational and illogical action constantly and choose to not take part in it, I disdain cultural detritus and archaic holdovers, even though I respect their origins and intent.  Add into it that I can read micro-expressions well, and I am often frustrated, I hate lying and I see lies constantly, little white lies, grey lies, or big whoppers of lies.  I don’t want someone who does not feel a certain way telling me they feel another way to spare my feelings, my feelings are hurt by deceit, never truth. Certainly if someone attacks me with micro-aggressive language I might get irritated myself, but it is honestly not that hard to be direct and honest without being insensitive, simple statements like “this is not meant to be an insult” or “hey, have you thought about it this way?” can go a long way in making speaking the truth an relatively painless task.   Likewise, we are conditioned to assert ourselves as always knowing what we are doing, the extrovert ideal for leading, a culture of everyone seeing being the alpha as more critical than any other role.  And when you have a society of alpha’s, you have a mess, you have in fighting and violence, when you demean the omega’s who are trying to create a social accord, perceive them as weak. In many ways, it is a warrior society, be it a physical battle or a business one, the take no prisoners approach to crushing the opposition and silencing it becomes the culture of the bully.  Ritualized warfare in the form of modern business practices is one way to look at things, one ritual society writ large takes for granted.

So politeness, competitiveness, ritualized warfare in business, the constant need to label things as sacred for one person or another and thus being angered or indignant when someone fails to observe your notion of the sacred, all these things are social rituals.  Standing when folks enter a room, giving someone who has no common interests your complete and undivided attention, rote learning of facts over thinking about them, more social rituals.  I could certainly go on and on about such things, the layers and layers of expected behaviors that when you do not think that way, makes every social interaction an exercise in walking on eggshells because you don’t want to offend.  In a lot of ways, I envy those who are wired to not care if they offend, to be so direct and blunt that they do not even consider the others, but for someone like me, I think of all the possibilities, social analysis paralysis on a large scale, granted it is what makes me a social scientist, scene violations, testing hypothesis, and breaking taboo. I try to not offend or manipulate folks over much with these, but honestly that does come naturally to me, everyone I meet informs me about the world and cognition, and thus by default become part of my massive social testing and experiments, nothing personal folks, just how I am wired, especially when I must understand the dominant paradigm in an attempt to navigate it.

So, I think everyone could benefit from thinking about their own rituals and societal rituals, what is the underlying purpose and function for them, they are not totally meaningless, they exist for a reason, but often they are bandaids based on a faulty understanding of human context and the extreme diversity of neuro-make up’s found in the world.  My rituals, may sometimes be bizarre, especially the ones connected to making sure my sensory functions are uninhibited, it may sometimes seem crude, but there is a logic behind it, even when not readily apparent to others.  And if I can take the time to follow some of societies rituals, then society should be able to understand some of my own as well, and that of many other people as well, for being just rituals, we all have them, and if they are not harming others, then there is no moral judgment to be had, no malignancy, nothing noteworthy at all, move on and let folks do what they will.

A (not so) short blurb on being genuine and normalizing harmless behaviors

So, I have been reading a lot of autism advocacy related stuff today, many of the points I support, sometimes the delivery seems counter productive, but by and large it is well done, and the intent is absolutely what needs to be said.  In essence a great deal of it comes back to needing to expand the dominant paradigm, normalize behaviors that folks fear or worry about out of ignorance, understand that nurture is ever so important.  I mean seriously, when you read some of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum, mental illness is so common in the population that it is believed and accepted to be a normal part of being on the spectrum.  It really is not the case, it is the hijacking of a healthy sense of self identity from being labeled, demeaned, bullied, and often abused because one happens to think and interact with the world differently.  Those of us who are verbose and extremely verbal can often pass un-noticed, but the cost can be substantial as we keep forcing ourselves to act in appropriate manners, suppressing very natural tendencies that are in fact…harmless.  Yes, we need to learn a few rules of etiquette, just like everyone else does, understanding of personal space and personal property are important concepts, but when the kid messes it up, the last thing they need is to be insulted, demeaned, or yelled at.  Violent words or violent physical acts are expedient, and in our time obsessed society expedience often trumps healthy nurturing techniques.  Even I slip up sometimes with my daughter, when I am stressed or overwhelmed myself, I can be short, because I can see the eyes looking, I have spent my life fearing the judgment of others, but  I work hard to be my genuine self everyday. I am also getting better at not being reactionary with my daughter as a result of working to be more at ease with myself. An example of being more genuine occurred today; I went shopping for a few things, instead of pulling down my hoodie, taking my hands out of my pockets where I am fiddling with things, and removing my sunglasses, I kept them on.  I kept them on because even though I dislike people judging and making assumptions, I cannot prevent their ignorance, but I can keep myself from being over-stimulated by doing things that are in fact, in my best interest. And I have heard the dominant assumptions many times before, folks who have something to hide, or are on drugs, etc. When in many cases, it has nothing to do with any of those things. But the dominant paradigm favors assumptions based on what they perceive in object reality, filtered through a ignorant worldview…and once again that is not an insult, and it is why it is imperative we expand the dominant paradigm to stop judging what they don’t understand, by educating them on both the reality of folks on spectrum, or a host of other social issues based on assumptions, and by working to normalize these things so they are not strange, frightening, etc.

I have seen so much speculation on “why are we seeing more ASD diagnosis”, part of that is the diagnostic criteria of course and a increased understanding of these things.  But, we also live in a world that is far more stimulating and overwhelming than anytime in human history, our very use of public space is inherently harmful to many on the spectrum who struggle with hyper-sensory issues. You add in a healthy dose of rigid thinking that fails to recognize certain behaviors as being something far different than what they assume they are seeing, and you have huge levels of frustration.  It is why I do not lie to my daughter, lies have been so damaging to me, being demeaned and bullied for being simply curious, when folks assume some nefarious purpose.  I recall as a child I was at my friends house, they were very welcoming over all, a nice Mormon family.  I was in the hallway staring off into space and their eldest daughter, who was two years younger than me had her door open, and apparently she was getting changed…whatever, I was not remotely a sexual being then, even though this was around the time another peer had started abusing me.  I don’t even think I was particularly looking at her, I was waiting for my friend Sean to get something.  Well, his mother, normally very accommodating, let me know in no uncertain terms she thought I was being inappropriate, and I made the situation worse by countering with my matter of fact answer “what? I have sisters too, not like this is anything new” I paraphrase of course.  Well, she did not take kindly to that, scolded me, and because I was so angry, embarrassed and frustrated that she assumed I being deviant or doing something wrong, I promptly started bashing my head into the wall.  I did that a lot as a child, but it was rooted in anger, embarrassment, and frustration, when people judged me and made assumptions, it not only frustrated me because they clearly did not understand what they were seeing, it made me feel deviant, bad, that there was something grossly wrong with me.  See, some of the “social” issues are related to mirror neuron function and missing cues, but plenty of them are because the dominant social paradigm is itself ignorant, they see something and thus they “know” what is going on, without ever asking, without ever wondering about how folks can think so very differently. I am logical, I am rational, I am curious, to the point that when denied knowledge I would try to find ways to seek it out.

Another example…feminine hygiene products, these things baffled me.  My mother will tell you that on my 11th birthday the first thing out of my mouth that day was “what are tampons used for?”, I had been asking for YEARS, because…I was curious, nothing more, nothing less. As a matter of fact, for a long time I thought I was deviant because I even stole a few maxi pads and wore them for a few days, but at that age, as I look back, I understand now, that kid who I once was, who was so long ago beaten into submission, was once again, just curious, and they had a pleasant light fragrance that I enjoyed, a baby powder scent.  I was not some sexual deviant, I was not gay, I was not even experiencing gender issues in that particular event, I was freaking curious.

Curiosity still defines me, it drives me to try and learn so much about everything around me, I may be bad with names and dates, things that can inhibit testing for many, I happened to develop some generalized ideas of era and chronology so I could normally get the numbers and answers off the tests, but when I fail to produce these things folks assume I do not “know” something, but I know a tremendous amount of data on so many subjects that most folks I know have at many points called me the “smartest” person they know.  I am not of course, I am just an information sponge with a few perceived disabilities, but honestly it is what people say and how they act that defines them, not some name given to them at birth.  Interestingly enough, in the world of online gaming, I tend to remember people’s handles quite readily, because they pick names that define them, it is an extension of who they perceive themselves to be or an image they want people to believe, and it is much more real to me than the name on their birth certificate, it informs me about who they are in a way a normal birth name never will, save for maybe details on cultural or ethnic background, which I find mostly unimportant as I respect people of all origins and backgrounds, it is mildly insightful if they have an accent and show some cultural traits related to it, otherwise it is just a holdover from immigrant ancestors.

So many of these behaviors, like swaying or head rubbing, are harmless. It is when the dominant paradigm makes judgments and hasty assessments based on a lack of knowledge and understanding that harm, demeaning, and even trauma ensues.  It is the failure to understand that for some people, these behaviors are perfectly natural, they are not nefarious, they are not perverse, they are not deviant, they are curious, or they are spacing out and not doing anything related to what they assumed.  I cannot count how many times I was chastised for failing to show respect, not because I would not have naturally wanted too, but because I was lost in my head, the ole “head in the clouds”, thinking, questioning, pondering. So in a way, my very intellect began to be harmful to me, I was not always free to think in a way that was natural to me, to learn in a way that is natural to me.  And somehow this defines me within the dominant paradigm, it is deficiency, disability, when it is none of those things.  Yes, some of the spectrum have severe quality of life issues, but we still denigrate, infantilize, or inhibit even their healthy sense of self identity, by labeling them as low IQ, or “non-verbal for life” and thus insisting upon only teaching them “life skills”, when that is one area they won’t flourish in, so stop wasting energy on the Band-aid approach and find their gifts, their joy, their healthy sense of identity. And maybe they will never hold down a job, but that does not mean they are without worth, basing someone’s entire worth on employability is myopic and limited in perspective, we need our difference, it pushes us forward.  Stop trying to re-write every bit of our genetic code with labels of deficiency, instead we need to understand how out of balance society is, and in the extreme cases, then and only then do we correct the genetic damage if the technology is available, but don’t cull the entire autism spectrum genes from the species, that is paternalistic eugenics, embrace neurodiversity, target only the severe and truly crippling genetic damage, and otherwise, make space for us, take the time to understand us, and for all those holding to rigid ideology in their “Christian nation”, listen to Christ, stop judging, after all, I have found plenty of room to forgive those who caused me harm, because I understand the patterns that have resulted in allowing people having things so very wrong.  And if the demeaned can forgive those that demean, then it is not much to ask, that those who are in the dominant position take a few moments to understand us, get past ignorance and fear, so that all us, through our own endeavors, in the myriad ways they occur, can contribute to the collective well-being and knowledge of our species, to ensure a better and brighter future for all, instead of just those currently favored as well adapted by whatever the dominant paradigm in that particular culture or nation is.  Let us be curious, let us comfort ourselves, let us be ok with who we are instead of saying we are defective, and watch as the frustration lessens, as meltdowns become less frequent, when folks listen with open ears and minds and hearts.

Ahhh…Regression caught in my blog

Been a few days since I posted, The national day of mourning/Thanksgiving or however you relate to that day has come and gone, hopefully folks found the time to do more than just eat and shop, but to connect or relax, or anything else that just helped break up the monotony of daily life.   During this time, I have been enjoying and laughing at how some of my blog posts have actively caught me in a regressive state.  Not sure how I missed that, funny how one can readily identify some things externally, but in one’s own internal world, totally miss the obvious.  On the upside, one can read through some posts and see this at work, and there is value in this to someone I imagine, and that is good.  Thankfully, being embarrassed by such things is not really in my nature any more, when one has frequent emotional outbursts throughout their own life and has stood in front of a class of 6th graders and taught, well embarrassment becomes a liability and the healthy approach is to learn to roll with the punches.

So recently, this whole regressive state culminated is a very very nasty verbal tirade via Facebook to my father.  It was definitely written to cause pain, to unleash upon him the anger and frustration, fear and self loathing, and a host of other things.  I feel terrible for the words, I do not feel terrible that I unloaded on him though, because I had in fact stopped communicating, and the result was a very unambiguous wounded child response that was still an attempt to communicate.  And as a result of this, my father, who I have tried to emulate throughout my adult life, when i failed at X I would ask myself what would my father do, and then I did it, at a much more accelerated rate, he was my road map when things fell apart, and though that road map was never one inherently designed for me, it proved adequate for a time, even if I still failed to thrive, failed to hold down a steady job that did not have a threat of repercussion held over my head (thus why I did well in the USAF, but pretty much bombed everywhere else).  But even then, I was overwhelmed and just did not understand what was happening.  Anyhow, I digress again, my father and I are now actively communicating in a way we have not …ever done.  He has been looking back at things done right and things done wrong, because there was never any malicious intent here.  Sometimes when I get writing fast I compress things together, and I realize that it may not always paint my family in a positive light.  But, my family did their best with the information they had, they did not stop trying actually, sadly I did, I clammed up and stopped communicating, just because I am highly verbal and can make use of words from an external point of assessment, does not mean I ever properly utilized that skill set as a means of authentic communication, instead it became a defense mechanism, a means of showing my intellect through verbosity, and a host of other things.  I have a long and troubled history with words and language, I continue to find it inadequate based on how it is chained down by social norms and conventions and how deviation from preferred speech patterns brings more of the one thing that constantly holds me back, fear of judgment.

I am hoping something far more beneficial will come out of this, my Father is keeping track of our emails in a computer program, making sure he stays on top of things, I find that fascinating, and potentially useful.  Our trials as a Father and Son could be useful at some point in the future, maybe a collaborative effort (just speculation, not signing my Father up for something like that) between the two of us could produce truly beneficial relationship advice for other families who struggle with such things.

Sometimes, when I hit rock bottom, I decide to fight, and sometimes it turns out that what I am attacking is what I am actually fighting for, in this case a better relationship with a man who I have such a complex relationship with, and until recently never even let him know.  So this blog is for him, I love you Dad, sorry for continuing to put you through the wringer, but I have faith that the results will be worth it, and maybe it is a decent first step in helping a family heal.