Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Simple repetition was supposed to be enough

It was first grade and they were determining what books we were able and allowed to read. We were sorted into levels, to make it easy for the teacher to know what we wouldn't be given something too difficult.

"Read a page, and hold up a finger when you can't say the word, if you reach five words go down a level". It didn't matter if I know the meanings.

Later on they put me into speech, but by then my book level was already decided.

Someone came once a week and took me down to an office. The flip book set up, read the words. They were always the same words. Like simple repetition would make me start speaking properly.

"No, that's wrong, say this"
"That's what I just said"
repeat after me - elongated sounds - like that makes a difference
I say exactly what I've been saying, because I hear no difference.

Like simple repetition would make me start speaking properly.

Why should I expect things like actually telling me more than that I'm wrong? Like how I'm different than you, or how to do what you want me to do? Or anything at all more than, you're wrong, try again, say the same words. You know the list. It's time to tell me that people like me are wrong. Simple repetition should make me start speaking properly.

Years pass, with weekly sessions. I get used to people telling me my speech is wrong, in speech therapy, bullies who want to find anything different about me, people just saying it without thinking about the affects of their words.

They want to fix my speech, make it normal. I'm getting tired of not even knowing why I'm going. Apparently sometimes I can't say "cold" different than "cod" or "thhhh" different than "ssss" but those I know because people have commented on them being better now. Nobody tells me what I'm doing wrong, just that it's wrong.

Telling me it's wrong should be enough to make it better.

Is it like they think I'm choosing to speak wrong? Willful disobedience? Is that why it's not important to give me details of what I'm supposed to do.

Years pass.

Nine years after my first speech therapist, someone listens to the fact that I don't hear a difference between what I'm saying and what they're saying. She starts using a tape recorder in some of the sessions to let me hear the difference.

Nine. Years. Later.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Professional vs. Autistic

So, Theory of Mind. This "how people think about others thinking" or whatever. It's claimed autistic people can't do that. There are so many different things out there claiming that people like don't have the ability to think about how others think - their thoughts, their perspectives, their needs.

And I teach. I teach neurodivergent people. Frequently autistic. And teach neurodivergently.

And I talk to people about autism.

So I can tell you, people don't listen to an autistic adult. It doesn't matter how interested in autism they are, they don't care at all about hearing voices of an adult who actually lives this life. I tell people about my life and I've been told things like "It doesn't matter that people don't do anything for autistic adults because they do so much for children" (yes, that's a quote, in response to me not even requesting things being done for me). I'm told "that can't be true" (heard that many times.) I'm told that I'm just an exception, so I don't matter. I'm literally spoken over, have people start ignoring my presence, have people start trying to make sure nobody else can speak to me, am followed around purposefully triggering migraines.

People don't listen to an autistic adult.

They do listen to a professional.

I'm someone who works with autistic students? Awesome! I know so much about autism! I'm one of the first people to ask! Question after question comes at me. Can I teach these people with my free time that I don't have?

As soon as I'm seen as a Professional, I'm knowledgeable.

As soon as I'm Autistic, I'm too "High Functioning" to know what Real autism is like"

Professional, help fix this problem of nobody knowing anything!
Autistic, you can't know how to work with people.
Professional, teacher.
Autistic, broken.

Let's circle back to that theory of mind I mentioned before getting into this.

When I'm seen as autistic, I'm seen as not being able to understand autism. I'm seen as not being able to understand myself.

When I'm seen as a professional, I'm seen as being able to understand others.

An autistic professional, I'm seen as necessarily not only having this theoretical Theory of Mind concept that is thrown around in order to kick down autistic people because of us thinking differently, I'm seen as I should theoretically understand others better than I understand myself. I should understand others so well that I can speak for them (which isn't a thing ANYONE can do, but I'm told I should be able to). And yet, I can't speak for myself.

Everything is backwards from what it's "supposed to be". Because both sides are broken and wrong, and I'm able to think about myself and able to think about others, and can be an autistic person who teaches autistic people and it's not contradictory. But, with how I'm treated, you'd think it is.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Passing is erasure

People talk about "Passing Privilege".
Or there's "High Functioning" that is defined so frequently on how disabled you look.

There's this overarching idea in the language used, that passing is something that is desired. Looking less disabled, more neurotypical is better, because disabled is wrong.

1. Disabled isn't wrong
2. Passing is being erased.

Being passed means being told you aren't really yourself. Being forced into an "us vs them" scenario on the other side of the us vs them - the side for the non-disabled. You're "high functioning" - one of them who's role it is to hold the others down, by lifting you up to almost human.

Being passed means being told you don't really need support; you're just lazy. Those words aren't your words, those labels are for "real disabled people". Being passed means denial of culture, denial of community, denial of social supports, and being left alone.

Being passed is lonely, and exhausting. It's not knowing when to say, but this isn't me, I really am disabled. It's not being believed when you claim that, because why weren't you "disabled" all along, lazy person. It's needing support and not getting it.

And at the same time, being passed means safety. So there's the question of what's safest, because there's safety and lack of safety at the same time.

So there's questions and choices of when to erase oneself, because passing is erasure.

And there's knowing that you're seen as "acceptably disabled" and people try to use you as almost human and that your role is to be the acceptable disabled ones, and fighting that is fighting the safety of passing.

And there's knowing that safety is always at the expense of safety.