but inside they are uncomfortable

Jordyn’s Rocky Journey is a beautiful short film that will make you cry:

These are some of Jordyn’s typed statements that stood out to me:

To explain what friendship means to me I must first share what it is like to be alone.

Deciding to be alone is sometimes easier because I can feel when I am not truly accepted. Being with people who don’t get me just is so hard. They want to, but inside they are uncomfortable, not fully able to accept me for who I am.

21:15 [mother speaking]
What I would say as one of his and probably a lot of autistic kid’s abilities, is they know what’s going on with you.

My mission is to prove that people with autism and speaking issues have actually both an ability to communicate and a deep understanding of the world.

No more therapies trying to normalize us, we are here to bring joy and real wisdom back to to the world [sic]. Autism is an evolution of consciousness. Stop removing our gifts and support our healing the world. However, I believe the world is not ready to hear this yet.

This is going to be a discussion of how Reddit’s autism board reacted to the film. I believe it illustrates hows how we struggle with normal people’s lack of empathy and impaired communication every day.

This is by far the most upvoted response, from BurntPaper:

I get this perspective, I really do. As an ABA therapist I try my hardest to avoid stigmatizing the aspects of personality that make them unique, or even “weird”. If a supervisor wants to run a program to diminish a behavior that isn’t harmful or makes it difficult to function in society, I will ALWAYS question it.

BUT, people need to realize that some people with autism simply can not function due to aspects of their diagnosis. It’s easy for someone at the higher functioning end of the spectrum to say “Don’t try to change us!”, But when you’ve seen people with autism that can’t be in a mildly noisy environment without screaming and injuring themselves, you have to step back and realize that sometimes intervention IS necessary for them to live a real life. Could they possibly get by with an excessive amount of accommodations and live with their family their entire lives? Maybe! But that’s not fair to the person with autism, and it’s not fair to make their family endure that for the remainder of their lives. And what happens if that support system falls through?

Autism therapy should focus on providing them with life skills, self help skills and the ability to persevere in situations that might be uncomfortable, along with giving them the opportunity to become independent so they’re not a burden to those around them when possible . We’re not trying to take away their interests or their quirks. Or at least, we shouldn’t be.

They don’t get this perspective; they really don’t. They also don’t say “I try my hardest to avoid stigmatizing autistic people.” The whole comment is about stigmatizing autistic people and whining about how they’re a burden you can’t take anywhere.

The underlying problem is that BurntPaper has left major parts of their reality unexamined. This leaves them with immature, naive, and cartoonish social schemas. What exactly are autistic people supposed to be functioning at? Help operate the death machine that’s killing everything? BurntPaper has never considered that it would actually be great for society if everyone just stayed home on welfare and didn’t destroy the world at their jobs. They struggle to understand that sometimes other people use their imaginations when they think about society and how to live.

The whole point of the film, directly explained in the film, is to speak up for nonverbal people BurntPaper would consider “low-functioning.” The whole film is about Jordyn having issues with things like crawling. This is a perfect illustration of the fact that “high-functioning” is a reflex used to silence people. Jordyn expressed ideas BurntPaper found threatening, so now he’s “someone at the higher functioning end of the spectrum.” The person using “high functioning” against someone has NOT made an impartial analysis that person’s strengths and weaknesses.

What’s most offensive about BurntPaper’s response is the implication that autistic people should feel sorry for even being born, which a lot of them already do. The autistic child’s birth is the result of decisions made by the parents themselves. Everybody knows, or should know, that their child might be born with medical problems. It’s morally irresponsible to have children without being comfortable with the possibility that you have to take care of them for the rest of their lives.

Children aren’t morally responsible for their own births, but punishing children for the actions of their parents is deeply embedded in Western culture. It’s grotesque to shame autistic people for needing “excessive accommodations” and forcing their parents to “endure” them. This is ACTUALLY STRONGLY RELATED TO SUICIDE IN AUTISTIC PEOPLE. IT IS NOT A SMALL THING. Even your hardworking therapist AGREES you’re a waste and a burden and everyone hates you and they’ll be better off without you and nobody will miss you because you’re a mistake in the first place. It’s not just that adults shouldn’t say those things to children. They shouldn’t convey them to children that happen to be very perceptive.

It’s actually better for autistic people to hear Terence McKenna. That’s what happened to me in 8th grade, when debaters came by to recruit next year’s freshmen to the team. A group of fucking awesome smart people came into my English classroom and started talking about McKenna and the “mushroom counterplan.” It’s a known fact that psychedelics increase openness to experience. The mystical experience itself seems to be the key. Scientifically speaking:

Psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences have been linked to persisting effects in healthy volunteers including positive changes in behavior, attitudes, and values, and increases in the personality domain of openness. In an open-label pilot-study of psilocybin-facilitated smoking addiction treatment, 15 smokers received 2 or 3 doses of psilocybin in the context of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for smoking cessation. Twelve of 15 participants (80%) demonstrated biologically verified smoking abstinence at 6-month follow-up. Participants who were abstinent at 6 months (n=12) were compared to participants still smoking at 6 months (n=3) on measures of subjective effects of psilocybin. Abstainers scored significantly higher on a measure of psilocybin-occasioned mystical experience. No significant differences in general intensity of drug effects were found between groups, suggesting that mystical-type subjective effects, rather than overall intensity of drug effects, were responsible for smoking cessation. Nine of 15 participants (60%) met criteria for “complete” mystical experience. Smoking cessation outcomes were significantly correlated with measures of mystical experience on session days, as well as retrospective ratings of personal meaning and spiritual significance of psilocybin sessions. These results suggest a mediating role of mystical experience in psychedelic-facilitated addiction treatment.

Fuck yeah, Terence McKenna set to house music. The word “modulo” has to do with circles. We love circles! The song is on loop, repetitively. I like to get high and do that and stim by myself. I recommend it to everyone. The resulting mindset really is the seed of life.

Moving on, ladygoodgreen conjectured that it’s impossible for us to enjoy our lives. In grad school somebody once asked me if I ever did anything fun:

You’re suggesting that the people who are incredibly distressed, screaming and banging their heads against walls, might like feeling like that? Or, that they enjoy being autistic despite those awful episodes? It’s hard for me imagine that the former could ever be true; pain and distress looks the same in any human being’s eyes, and I have seen that look in more than one young child’s eyes. They do not like feeling that way. For the latter scenario, I suppose I would accept that, but still consider the safety aspect (it is not safe for anyone to bang their head against a wall repeatedly, and these same events can also be dangerous to others). Something would have to be done, therefore, to ensure everyone’s safety. Not to change the autistic person, but to help the underlying causes for those particular violent, harmful behaviours.

I don’t like the fact that being autistic means the world subjects me to that much stress on a regular basis. When people invoke stories about “low functioning” people, I feel like I don’t have enough information to judge the situation. Abuse can be unintentional, and abusers know how to make their families presentable in public.

One way of describing my symptoms would be to say they’re like Jordyn’s, but less intense. Not like I can’t live by myself, but enough to be very uncomfortable and highly inconvenient at times. For example, driving places often involves a bunch of nail picking and nail biting, so my nails are raggedy and scratchy by the time I get out of the car. I don’t do that unless I’m stressed out. Driving is stressful and dangerous. I could get pulled over and have some misunderstanding and get beat up by the police. Aggressive normal people that think they’re in a video game instead of a giant death machine might crash into me. They threaten my safety by tailgating. Constant adjustments to stay out of people’s blind spots. Constant frustration being stuck behind people driving too slowly for me, on the other hand. It’s often because of some clearly evident sign of self-absorption (e.g., texting while driving). Cars are loud. Headlights shining in my eyes. Can’t move my legs or use the bathroom as needed. Often too hot or too cold. Morning or evening tiredness.

I have driven up and down the West Coast. I have lived in Los Angeles for 6 years.

Chronic stress is not a good feeling, and it generally degrades your health. It fucks with your relationships on top of the autism and even makes your behavior more habitual:

Previous findings indicate that post-training administration of glucocorticoid stress hormones can interact with the noradrenergic system to enhance consolidation of hippocampus- or amygdala-dependent cognitive/emotional memory. The present experiments were designed to extend these findings by examining the potential interaction of glucocorticoid and noradrenergic mechanisms in enhancement of dorsolateral striatum (DLS)-dependent habit memory. In experiment 1, different groups of adult male Long-Evans rats received training in two DLS-dependent memory tasks. In a cued water maze task, rats were released from various start points and were reinforced to approach a visibly cued escape platform. In a response-learning version of the water plus-maze task, animals were released from opposite starting positions and were reinforced to make a consistent egocentric body-turn to reach a hidden escape platform. Immediately post-training, rats received peripheral injections of the glucocorticoid corticosterone (1 or 3 mg/kg) or vehicle solution. In both tasks, corticosterone (3 mg/kg) enhanced DLS-dependent habit memory. In experiment 2, a separate group of animals received training in the response learning version of the water plus-maze task and were given peripheral post-training injections of corticosterone (3 mg/kg), the β-adrenoreceptor antagonist propranolol (3 mg/kg), corticosterone and propranolol concurrently, or control vehicle solution. Corticosterone injections again enhanced DLS-dependent memory, and this effect was blocked by concurrent administration of propranolol. Propranolol administration by itself (3 mg/kg) did not influence DLS-dependent memory. Taken together, the findings indicate an interaction between glucocorticoid and noradrenergic mechanisms in DLS-dependent habit memory. Propranolol administration may be useful in treating stress-related human psychopathologies associated with a dysfunctional DLS-dependent habit memory system.

Note that I also take bupropion, so I have the option of being abnormal in two ways: depressed or rigid.

Back to Jordyn, he made GrammerPants angry:

This bullshit makes me so fucking angry. You do not speak for us all. Watching my daughter rip apart her arms with her teeth when frustrated is not her gift. Fucking get rid of it. The second there is better treatment she’s getting it, right after me.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that GrammerPants can be scary IRL. It makes me wonder if home life resembles this story:

Kobathesealion just wants to be normal.

This sub trying to paint autism as a good thing makes me depressed. Autism does not make me a better person or make my life better. I want my autism to be gone. If it could be cured I would do whatever it took, but that mindset might as well be heresy judging by the comments here.

Dr_Vesuvius tries to clarify, but not before calling a 13 year-old bigoted for appreciating that his autism is an evolutionary experiment.

I don’t think many people try to paint autism as a good thing. Those that do, well, one way of putting it is that they’re usually arguing without any reference to matters of fact. A large portion of them are essentially bigots.

What a lot of people do try to do is to paint autism as a neutral thing. It’s not necessarily worse than being neurotypical. Society’s assumption is that neurotypical is better, but actually it’s just the majority, and a large part of society is set up to serve the needs of neurotypicals at the expense of everyone else.

After diagnosing a number of cases, the communication breakdown invariably comes from self-hating autistic people and the normals. Jordyn has done his part and a half to communicate with these motherfuckers.

This is an important point: the movie itself says the world isn’t ready for the world’s message. At age 13, he could anticipate this sort of reaction. That means he’s knowingly doing something tragic and noble, simply because it’s the right thing to do. The Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t wrong to emphasize the persecution of early Christians.

This video about meth users makes a great point about “multiple minorities:”

Talking to the Great Wall of Normal People about autism is only one of the many similar problems I deal with. It’s just as bad talking about race, class, gender, or electoral politics. Or anything. The normals just won’t get it because my internal working model of reality is so different than theirs.

Good pattern recognition is associated with autism. There are lots of patterns in human interaction. I am genuinely bad at faces, and it’s partly from not looking at them. An earlier post described a “low functioning” autistic boy who classified everyone he met as some kind of animal. Normals love things like the MBTI that give structure to what they’re seeing. It’s hard to construct a complete understanding of social reality from first principles, but that’s closer to what nonverbal people must have to do.

I could read about everything and notice patterns in both speech and writing. Certain styles tend to go with certain types of people. Different groups have different talking points. It’s all language games. This post shows how I use language to read people.

Now imagine going through life knowing that the majority of people around you in many situations would agree with the most evil of these Reddit commenters and have similar opinions about black people, leftists, skateboarders, people in hoodies, people with tattoos, potheads, you name it. Staying “high functioning” also means trying not to absorb all this negativity and start to believe you’re subhuman and Untouchable. Stay uppity, people.

I felt just as dismissed at age 13. I was right, and the adults around me were wrong. I was in a bullshit situation, and I understood that to be the case. I was reading 1984 and Animal Farm and I understood them. I wrote one of those 9th grade writing assessments about how much it pissed me off that my Honors English teacher made us watch the movie of Fahrenheit 451. Isn’t that a fucking travesty? The teacher made me come up with a visual aid to give a book report presentation on Twilight of the Idols. I brought a hammer to school and wasn’t sure if I was going to get in trouble. See how fucking stupid schools are? Nowadays, I probably would be in the news as “Aspie psychopath nigger brings weapon to school.” After I tried not to. I think this blog demonstrates that I’m nevertheless capable of using visual aids when appropriate. I can’t draw, and couldn’t then, either. The correct tool for communicating about Nietzsche is a keyboard, not a Sharpie, and saying so is Oppositional Defiant.

So I read these Autism Parents that seem to blindly trust that the school knows best, and I can’t even…

For that matter, reading Nietzsche gave me the tools to understand how people’s ideologies are a product of their psychological issues. I wish I could remember the passage where Nietzsche describes himself as a psychologist. It’s highly relevant to what I’m doing on this blog, as an adult, with my writing.

Another thing that happened in 9th grade is that I made a judge laugh in a high school debate round by invoking Nietzsche to say that pity is bad. It’s like my English teacher suffered from a spiritual problem. In her class, I “misbehaved” because I thought she was a stupid bitch who was committing sacrilege against her profession. I cared about that enough to get in trouble. Antigone and the ethics of psychoanalysis.

So far I’m really liking The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory’s Defiant Subjects. Blurb from Henry Krips:

This is an amazing book for its comprehensively critical and masterly treatment of the field of queer studies. Butler’s relational anti-Lacanian ethics as well as Edelman’s Lacanian anti-relationalism come in for equally vigorous criticism. Instead Ruti makes a pitch for a new Lacanian relational ethics of, if not love for, then at least living with the inhuman awkwardness of your neighbor.