Things to do when I grow up

Star Ford

This is what I want to do when I grow up. I want to take the saying “nothing about us without us” and make it real for the autistic community, at least here where I live. But instead of waiting to be invited to someone else’s table, I want us to go ahead and solve our own problems and make our lives the way we want it for ourselves.

In particular, this means going beyond advocacy and volunteering, and into the realm of the economy. When we help each other through trade and services where we have a stake in the organizations, we are empowering ourselves in ways that no one else can do for us. In principle, money we exchange with each other helps create an autistic village economy. Non-autistics may question this model, because they may wonder how someone with a “deficit” can help someone…

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Autistic education

I grew up not knowing why I was different. I only recently learned why I’m not built like other girls.

I’m an AspieGirl. A Lost Girl. One of those girls born before 1980 who fell between the cracks.

I’m a neuroAtypical.

Kids today are growing up knowing why they’re different…and being told it’s wrong.

There needs to be another way. A better way.

I think that’s what Star First is trying to accomplish (see reblog).

Do any of you remember an episode of Star Trek TNG (yes, I’ve a tendency to relate life to television and film, but much of my young adult life was very much influenced by Star Trek of one series or another) “Darmok”?

It was about the race that communicated only via metaphor. I remember he kept saying to Captain Picard…

“Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”, then: “Temba, his arms wide”.

Sometimes when I’m in social situations, that’s how I feel…like these people are saying these same phrases, but they hold no meaning for me.

I used to think…it all seemed like a game to me. I assumed everyone else was better at playing than me. So, I learned to keep quiet.

I thought everyone needed to learn scripts the way I did. But I’ve since learned scripts aren’t what everyone else uses to communicate. But that’s also likely why when I’m in a conversation I’ve not encountered before, often I’ll just stand their staring at the person or people, unsure what I’m supposed to say, cuz I don’t have a script memorized.

Sometimes I forget scripts and get yelled at…like starting a conversation with small talk. Or going on tangents about my obsessions and collections and not letting other people talk. Or not recognizing social cues…and interjecting comments at the inappropriate time.

But now I also understand why certain  colloquialisms don’t make sense to me.

Like…why would anyone not eat their cake if they have it? Why do people say…you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

That doesn’t make any sorta logical sense.

Or why do people now say call “out” to work?

You’re not calling “out” of work. There is no “out” of work to call. You’re calling “in” to work to say you’re sick..and will be “out”. That is the sequence of events which needs to be expressed.

When I was little, we were watching Wizard of Oz. My mom’s friend Dotty called. My mom said…if it’s Dorothy, I’m not home.

I answered the phone. Like I said, it was her friend “Dotty”. I said, my mom said if it’s Dorothy, she’s not home.

Dotty hung up on me…and stopped being my mom’s friend.

I didn’t understand what happened. I still don’t.

But my dad still thinks it’s hilarious to tell people that goddamn story. And no one will explain to me why it’s funny.

Everyone just shakes their head…like you’re all in on some big secret I’m incapable of comprehending.

I learned a long time ago not to voice such things.

But I digress.

Another common Star Trek episode was about the Kobayashi Maru. It is a training exercise in the Star Trek universe. The test is a sorta Catch 22, meant to denote a no-win scenario designed to test a cadet’s character, but is referenced on the series when a solution is needed that involves redefining a problem, which appears (at least on the surface) to be a catch 22 situation.

Captain James T. Kirk was the only cadet to ever have beaten the test, but he did so by cheating…and won an award for original thinking.

And it’s situations like this which remind me as to why I like the concept of the Archetypal Trickster Hero or Heroine.

There are the leaders: those in control. And the followers: those who submit to this control. Then there are those who prefer to choose another path.

The Trickster is the kinda hero who finds another way, tending to maneuver outside what is conventionally considered either right or wrong. They do not acknowledge the rules or limitations set by society. They do not accept the concept there are only winners or losers. Right or wrong. Good or bad. Leader and followers. Dominant and subdued (i.e. submissive).

So, if there are only two options available, then the trickster will devise a third. Because, to their way of thinking: there is always another course of action.

I think people on the spectrum are the third option in this topsy-turvy world. I think when the options are limited, it will be an autistic who will always find another way.

Star Ford

This paper summarizes my view of the education of autistic students.

On a recent trip to the library, I read a few dozen scholarly articles and teacher’s manuals related to autistic education. While all of the articles talked about measuring success, not one of them defined success. The unwritten purpose in that literature is to normalize students’ behavior, regardless of whether normalization benefits anyone. If this is how the world is handling autism, then to the extent that we are “successful”, we are breaking down, and spiritually asphyxiating the next generation. Autistic students need a whole different kind of education, as I will show below.

But first, what is school? I don’t accept the myth that schools exist to happily pass on the accumulated wisdom of the ages to serve the next generation. Schooling is compulsory; if it were so desirable, there would be no need to enforce it. Schools…

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