To clarify, I only want feedback from people who are autistic themselves. I don’t want to hear anything from family members of autistics or people who work with autistics or people who take care of autistics. Allistics need not apply. I sucks that I have to put this disclaimer here, but if I don’t then I am probably going to mostly get feedback from non-autistics and that isn’t really helpful to me right now.
Mainly, I am trying to wrap my head around this and the implications of the research as well as how it is being handled. I have some issues with it personally and am mostly looking to see if any other autistics say the same things that I am feeling. So if you do respond, feel free to mention anything at all about it, whether it is the research, the way the project is being presented, problematic language in the video or interview, etc.
It seems pretty okay. As an Autistic person who actually plays World of Warcraft regularly, I really can see where Lissanna is coming from. World of Warcraft and before that Ragnarok Online filled my need for friends, in a way that was comfortable to me: Without face-to-face contact.
World of Warcraft has also greatly helped my teamwork skills (in dungeons and raids, if you don’t work together, you can’t progress, simple as that), and my idea of work (I can now pick a goal for the day and accomplish it, whereas before I didn’t really understand the idea of step-by-step, it just wasn’t taught to me).
While there was some problematic language, I can chock that down mostly to the interviewer, and while I don’t like person-first language, that’s sadly the standard, so I can overlook that.
My main beef was the claim that “scientists and parents ask kids and adults with Autism what they need and about their experiences” which is wrong, wrong, wrong. We’re barely, if ever, considered important to the process of Autism research except, maybe, as guinea pigs. Nobody has EVER asked me about my needs, I was just placed into program after program of what my parents and teachers -thought- I needed, and was punished for objecting if it wasn’t what I needed.
Other than that, I’d say I actually want to meet Lissanna sometime, whether on the forums or in-game, and see what I can do to assist with her project. I do think she’s on the right track, but she needs neurodiversity advocates looking over her shoulder so she doesn’t step into Autism $peaks style dogma.
It’s sad, but I just cannot trust non-Autistics when it comes to Autism research.
Okay. Thank you!
I kinda had similar feelings about it. Like, the research seems to be aimed at providing assistance to autistics who want to learn better facial recognition. Some of it is problematic (“if we can make autistics look more normal than they will be more normal!”) and I couldn’t help but notice that she keeps slipping up and referring to autistics as “kids” even when she was just talking about their coworkers and classmates and whatnot. Mostly, I was a bit frustrated that they kept talking about WoW as if it wasn’t something autistics actually played. Like, before she came along, no autistic person had ever played a video game before? *grumble grumble* In a better world, she would have also been asking for autistics who play WoW to provide their insight and personal experiences with the game and how it has helped them.
But I guess the thing that was really bothering me was on the fundraiser page. She keeps talking about facial recognition problems, then saying how autistics are unlikely to find jobs or make friends and how hard it is for us, and then seems to be making the case that the entire reason we have trouble in those areas is because of lack of facial recognition and social skills…. >.< Completely ignoring the social stigmas surrounding autism and the fact that if employers had decent accommodations for people with disabilities, holding a job wouldn’t be quite so hard. Or that if autistics weren’t treated as subhuman and there was a greater awareness in society about neurodivergence and whatnot, being singled out and mocked for being different might not happen as much and we would be better at making friends.
Mostly, I am just frustrated that whenever it comes to autism, the solution to making our lives better is always to change us to better fit into society, rather than trying to adjust society to be more inclusive of us as we are.
Anyways, thanks for the feedback! I’m still trying to formulate my thoughts on this and it really helps to have other people share their views =)
‘You’re not an autistic person, you’re a person with autism.’
Comparing axes of oppression is often a terrible idea for many reasons. That is why I’m not attaching this to anyone else’s post; one of those reasons is that in those discussions, certain people’s voices get heard and other people’s voices are silenced, and I don’t want to do that to anyone, or have it done to me.
But when I came across this article by the mother of a trans man, the excruciating parallels of dehumanization from a parent with the overwhelmingly dominant narrative of “autism parents” in the media was horrifying, all-too-familiar, and triggering as fuck on a few levels for me.
To be clear: I’m a genderqueer (two-spirited; a specifically Native/Indigenous gender identity) person but I am still privileged over trans folks, especially trans women. I’ve been the target of quite a bit of abuse and awfulness specifically for not “conforming to gender”, especially as a child. But I cannot claim the trans experience because mine has been different in some important ways.
I’m also autistic as fuck.
When A.W. Paul, the author of the awful “parent of a trans person” story, says a sentence like,
Now the issue was knocking at my door.
about her own child, the dehumanization and easy willingness to reduce a human being to an issue reads all too much like an article published last year in the same section of the same damn publication, in which the author T. Fields-Meyer writes about his son with autism:
So what’s the parent of a living, breathing autism specimen to do with the constant barrage of speculation?
And when Paul says this about her trans child, I just about cried because it was all too familiar:
A transgender child brings a parent face to face with death. The daughter I had known and loved was gone; a stranger with facial hair and a deep voice had taken her place.
This narrative is practically verbatim the same exact dominant narrative in the media about autistic people. If you don’t believe me, have a gander at this guide to grieving over having an autistic child instead of the “normal” one you think the universe owed you, straight from Autism Speaks, a multimillion dollar organization dedicated to ruining autistic people’s lives:
Many parents must mourn some of the hopes and dreams they held for their child before they can move on. There will probably be many times when you feel extremely sad. With time, your sadness may give way to anger.
Although anger is a natural part of the process, you may find that it’s directed at those closest to you – your child, your spouse, your friend or at the world in general. You may also feel resentment toward parents of typical children.
Then, when Fields-Meyer relates a comment from a *friend*:
Trying to make me feel better, she said, “When you have four children, you’re bound to have one who is a failure.”
It reads so much like every goddamn article from “autism parents”, the ones who utterly dominate just about every facet of media about autism. An excerpt from a fairly typical article barfed out in an internet search:
Then I realized: it’s not just about Tom. It’s about us: Tom’s parents.
In the long run, when our child is judged - and she will be judged - it’s us parents who are taking the brunt of the judgement, for better or for worse.All too often, of course, no matter what we do as parents, our child with autism will always be judged as not quite good enough.
And a gem from the comments:
It’s raining here, I’m likely taking in fewer negative ions, or I’m tired, today I will say autism is my personal failure.
Essential characteristics of both narratives:
- dehumanization of the child and reduction of the child to “an issue” that affects the parent more than the child.
- The “this is all about ME” perspective.
- Invocation of images of death; a “real” or “normal” child gone or disappeared and replaced by a stranger
- constant concern over public opinion towards the parent for having a child that does not conform to expectations
- speaking of the child as an embodiment of failure; either on the part of the parent or the child (notice A. W. Paul only gets jarred out of mourning when a “friend” implies a failure on her part as a parent, for fucks sakes)
That being said, it’s sad to note that either trans people or autistic people might be offended by comparison to the other group. Both are heavily stigmatized, and there is another effect of these specific narratives that manifests in the most horrible way possible:
That is the effect of dehumanization. Of literally being viewed as less than human, other than human, not a person.
The psychological and physical ramifications of being treated and talked about this way by our own parents, by those who created us and are supposed to love us, are nigh unbearable, and are in fact unbearable for so many of us.
Perhaps I’m stepping out of line with this comparison. I may be completely and utterly talking out of my ass on this. There are so many other overlapping issues that add to these oppressions, especially race. Being a person of color, and in particular being a Black person, adds so many attendant risks to just trying to exist…it boggles the mind.
Part of my perspective is shaped by having been a part of a LGBT community from 12 or 13 years of age, and understanding that transgender people are the most vulnerable among us, and that in many ways we must form a protective buffer around the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. Whether in the form of a couch to sleep on, a few bucks for food, a listening ear, or to fight tooth and nail against those who would do them harm.
My heart bleeds and screams and cries out for solidarity among those of us whose normal human variation leaves us without protection, betrayed by those who are supposed to love and cherish us, and to also point out that those of us who are both autistic and transgender (and genderqueer in various ways, and/or are people of color-especially Black people) are exponentially more vulnerable as these factors crowd and try to drown out our voices.
What I’m really trying to say is that I firmly believe that it is our moral, human duty to protect the things about humanity that are so worth protecting: those of us who are vulnerable. And so much of protecting those who are precious to us is about fighting; fighting tooth and nail for our right to exist, for our right to live without the constant barrage of dehumanization. I will fight every day to chew a hole in the world for myself and for those who can barely breathe in this world without being threatened with obliteration.
As an autistic nonbinary trans person, I thoroughly approve of this post.
Yeah, so, all of this right here.
The ways in which oppression is enacted on one group is often very similar to how it is enacted on other groups. Different reasons, but often following the same paths and methods of execution.
I have ceased being surprised at the offensive things allistics say in the name of “science”. Good Lord.