Monday, 20 January 2014

Monday Muster

Drop everything and go and read this right away.

If you're still here (why?) it's a piece from the Pacific Standard profiling cafe owner Giulietta Carrelli.  It starts off as a 'LOL hipsters' piece about artisan toast, but then takes a sharp turn and becomes the story of Carrelli's life with schizoaffective disorder, and the community she's built around her cafe that keeps her anchored and safe.  The community building work she's done sounds - from my shy, anxious, Aspie perspective - utterly terrifying and bewildering, but the article will give you plenty to think about re: community, connection and how reliant we are on others.  Also toast.  And coconuts.

Speaking of food, a lot of people on the spectrum have reputations for being picky eaters.  I'm one of them.  But what's not apparent from the outside is that it's often less about just not wanting to eat your greens, and more a defence mechanism to deal with sensory issues that make some foods genuinely repulsive.  This is something Autisticook has been looking at lately:

"Picky eating in autistic kids is not obstinacy or temper tantrums to get candy. It’s tied up with a whole boatload of sensory issues: not only taste, but also smell, texture and temperature. We are far more sensitive to these things than you realise. That’s why some autistic kids don’t like crisps, or ice cream, or bubblegum… things you imagine every child would like."

If you move and shake in disability circles at all, you've probably come across the phrase "inspiration porn".  If you're not sure what that is, or you don't understand why a picture of a kid on prosthetic legs with the caption "what's your excuse?" is skeevy and not particularly respectful towards people with disability, this explanation from That Crazy Crippled Chick might help.

Speaking of inspiration porn, We're Not Here For Your Inspiration is an older piece by Stella Young on the same topic.  The comments do contain a few rabbit holes of the "but how can it be wrong to objectify people and use them to make us feel better, if we do it in a nice way?" variety - something That Crazy Crippled Chick's explanation covers.

Here's an example from my own life: once up on a time, quite a few years ago now, someone from an autism support group suggested I should come and do a guest spot because I was "such an inspiration".  At the time my life was a bit of a basket case; I had no friends or meaningful connections of any kind, my health was a mess, work was... interesting... and my main hobbies were watching The Goodies and being miserable.  There are plenty of genuinely inspirational people out there.  I'm not one of them just because I'm at large and have Aspergers.

Do you have dreams of leaving the rat race for a peaceful retreat on a mountain or by the sea, to spend your days meditating and seeking enlightenment?  Yeah, don't we all, but Jason Miller from Strategic Sorcery says we've got quite enough professional guru-types already.

"It's a lot easier to be the Dalai Lama when you wake up in a world that tells you that you are, gives you all the time in the world to meditate, and as everyone treat you like you should be. Would HH the DL be able to maintain clarity while raising three kids and working full time like a single mom?"

Miller's argument is that we need more people who are spiritual and aware and caring, but who are also actively part of everyday society, working as bankers or cops or teachers or whatever else needs doing.