Monday, 4 November 2013

Monday Muster

Happy Monday, dear ones.  Have a beautiful photo by Ikhwan Zailani

Lonely by Ikhwan Zailani
Here's this week's roundup of interesting stuff going on around the internet:

Autistics Speaking Day
Disability as an identity versus an insult, as explained by Hagrid
Being one of Those People
How not to write an article about autism (and how, as a journalist, not to respond to criticism!)
Disability-friendly art experiences

In The Netherlands, there's a plan to "encourage" the elderly, disabled and chronically ill pay for their care through voluntary work.  It's being spun as a means of reducing isolation and loneliness, but it smells suspiciously like making people justify their right to exist.  I don't like the road this leads down, because people don't deserve care because they give back to the economy - they deserve care because they're human beings.

I grew up without a diagnosis, but let's get one thing quite clear: I knew perfectly well there was something "wrong" with me, and I wasn't like other people.  Finding out what was the greatest relief of my life.  So why do people not tell their children about their diagnosis?  That's something Chavisory wrote about recently, and uses an excerpt from Dante's Inferno to describe the feeling of growing up autistic and not knowing it:

How hard it is to say what it was like
in the thick of thickets in a wood so dense and gnarled
the very thought of it renews my panic.
It is bitter almost as death itself is bitter.
But to rehearse the good it also brought me,
I will speak about the other things I saw there. 

Some autistic people talk about a fellowship between people on the spectrum, an automatic 'clicking' where you understand each other and get along from the moment you meet.  Personally, I haven't experienced that.  There are autistic people I get along wonderfully with, but given that autism is so very big, overall I don't think I'm any more likely to get on with another autistic person than with someone who's not on the spectrum.

Autisticook has had a similar experience.  They recently had their first chance to meet other autistic adults in person - and found that the rest of the group's mindset was very different, and very concerned with passing and being "normal".

"Throughout the session, that impression was reinforced over and over. People were asking “If I don’t do things like that, then maybe I'm not actually autistic?” Looking for things that would prove they weren't doomed for the rest of their lives. Looking for hope that maybe some day they could be fixed and be normal. Only seeing the negatives. I felt like I was the only one emphasising the good bits, the strengths, the FUN aspect of autism, the connection with other autistic adults, the recognition and acceptance that comes from finally belonging somewhere.

"It was heartbreaking. It was exhausting." 

I doubt there's anyone with invisible disabilities who hasn't been told "but you don't look disabled!" at some point.  There's a bingo card on Disability and Representation which has some wonderful comebacks for that inevitable line, from laughter and awkward silence to "and you don't look ignorant, but here we are!"

Speaking of not looking like things, a radio presenter I used to work with did an outside broadcast from a big public event while she was in the later stages of pregnancy.  A listener, seeing the voice in his radio for the first time, stared in surprise before blurting out "but she doesn't sound pregnant!"

In fandom news, The Bloggess is on the same continent as me, potentially dressed as a koala.  Jenny also recently discovered the meaning of life, and it makes a lot more sense than "42", which was the closest we'd come til now:

"Cheese is the meaning of life.  Because milk is the beginning of life and you need milk when you’re a baby and you need milk to make cheese and that’s how the world is made."