TK was confused about some of the technobabble I spewed out in my last post. So I’m gonna translate this to simplese for you. The Opwdimwits have this thing called “Self-Direction” for people who need supports and services as well as other medical needs. It’s also supposedly for people like me who don’t fit their service pigeonhole. However, trying to get things started has been a real pain in the ass. Getting someone to write and support this thing called a “life plan” has been difficult. This is supposed to be a blueprint for your lifetime goals. However, if not written the right way it can lead to the wrong services and not being taken seriously. The hard part for me was finding someone one, willing to write it, two, know what their doing while they are, and three, actually get them to listen to how you want it written so YOU can be taken seriously. Especially, with the biography part of the document explaining your goals and health issues. If it’s not worded right to the tee, you ain’t gonna get jack squat! The people who write this bullshit are called “care managers,” pfft! She ain’t managing me well if she can’t write and use grammar like a decent human being! If I had to tell her four plus times what I want her to put, she really doesn’t have any brains and isn’t interested in getting some either! I’ve been though half a dozen of these shlubs and I STILL can’t get them to do what’s right! She can’t even find the right support staff for me, and these programs for my needs are outside the Opwdimwits ideals and funding. Therefore, I’m stuck paying a lot of dough because they don’t take insurance. “Oh it’s a lot of money!” No shit Sherlock! Why do I keep on getting people that have donkey dung for brains?!🙄
UGH! This is like the fourth fucking time I looked over my lack of life plan only to see that Scudderbutt STILL didn’t listen to how I wanted my life plan worded. Do you want people to take me seriously or not? If you keep writing like this, society surely won’t. Didn’t anybody teach you how to write a paper the right way? Obviously not if you keep on writing my life plan bio like someone who skipped or dropped out of high school. WHY ARE ALL THE CARE MANAGERS I GET END UP BEING SO FUCKING STUPID?!?!?! DIDN’T YOUR TEACHER TEACH YOU GRAMMAR? OY VEY!
Due to the broken system of the OPWDimwits, I’m stuck with people not getting the fact that I’m not like the rest of them and to stop shoving shit that doesn’t work in my face to make me leave them alone! I know what I want why won’t you listen to me!?! I wanted that specific person for a reason due to her nursing education not this dimwit studying psychology who has Day Hab experience. I’m not looking for a glorified adult babysitter! I want a degree in Veterinary Technology, not be taken to day care for grown ups! Why do they keep on giving me unqualified people? They should have a staff registry. But they don’t wanna listen to me, I’m the dumb Autistic chick. They think they’ve got AAALLLLL the answers. HAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BULLSHIT!!!!!! They’re full of it!!!!
I hate trends they can sometimes be SO annoying! What’s the use of it if old things become new again? Plus what if you like what you wear just the way it is? What if the newest thing ain’t too great? I have to get new glasses and my frames are over five years old. I’m very attached to them. I like the thick earpieces because they don’t cut into my ear and metal frames make me look sophisticated and not childish. I also like purple anything. I was lucky that was able to get these specially ordered. I liked the look but not the color (why do people like tortoiseshell colored glasses so much? Yecch!). However, this time is different. Now the latest trend is to return to those awful plastic frames I hated wearing as a kid, wear glasses with no bottom frame, or wire glasses with the thin earpieces that I hated cutting into my ear (in addition to it being flimsy looking). They’re also going back to the 50’s with cat’s eye glasses. I love animals but those are UGLY! I love my current frames just the way they are but the five year limit prevents me from putting new lenses in my old frames. 😭
In my last post, I frequently used the terms neurotypical and neurodivergent. Though I briefly defined them, these convoluted phrases deserve their own post and that is what they’ll get.
Neurodivergent stems from the word neurodiversity, a sociological term coined in the late nineties by Australian sociologist Judy Singer, an Aspie herself. The idea being that while autistics may have a different or divergent neurological make-up compared to the rest of society, we aren’t necessarily disordered. Prior to Singer, many in the psychology and sociology fields subscribed to the “Refrigerator Mother” theory, a rather sexist concept, claiming that a lack of adequate maternal affection led to conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.
The origins of neurotypical are a bit murkier. My research (admittedly limited) failed to uncover the first use of the term. What is abundantly clear however, is that neurotypical arose from the online autism community, and despite what some may say, was used as a pejorative to describe non-autistics. Often, Aspies will define neurotypical by contrasting it with common traits of autism: i.e. “neurotypicals can pick up on social cues,” or “neurotypicals look people in the eye when they speak.” Because of this, some in the autism community have adopted the more inclusive term alltistic when referring to those without a neurological disorder.
Neurodivergent has come under some flack as well. Artemislevina, the co-author of this blog, has expressed her misgivings about the term. A few weeks ago, she published a post titled I’m a Person, Not a Maltipoo! It’s brief–only ninety-eight words–so I’ll quote the whole thing here:
In the new world of so called PC and inclusion, the Ables thought it was cute 2-3 years ago to change the way WE are addressed and that just offended me to the core! The word itself just makes me cringe! I HATE being called Neurodivergent! It doesn’t solve anything! It’s just a big fancy name to scare people with! It doesn’t help us get better services and supports at all! Stop prancing us around like a show dog! Or worse, turning we disabled mutts into fancy designer breeds. I’m a person on the Spectrum, NOT a Maltipoo!
I agree with Artemislevina to an extent, but to play Devil’s Advocate, picture for a moment that you, my readers, were born different from most of those around you. Picture that you’ve known you were different for as long as you can remember, and for as long as you can remember, your parents, teachers, doctors, therapists, have worried over you like there’s a horn growing out of your forehead. They’ve reprimanded you for things you do, like flapping your hands at random, as well as for things you don’t do, such as looking people in their eyes when you speak to them. Words like disabled, different, and retarded have swirled around you like a typhon, following you wherever you go. Wouldn’t you want to believe that instead of being disabled you’re just divergent? Different, but in an interesting and sometimes advantageous way.
For the sake of clarity, I will continue to use both neurotypical and neurodivergent in my writing, but I’m a bit uncomfortable with both terms, for the simple reason that they imply that there is a such thing as normal. I’ve met so-called neurotypicals who were barely functioning alcoholics, and I’ve seen Aspies graduate college with honors and land lucrative jobs in the heart of New York City. There are NTs who are socially tone deaf and NDs who can read a crowded room with precision. I’m none of the above. While we may share some common traits, Aspies are as neurologically varied from each other as neurotypicals are.
Paul Gilmartin, the creator and host of The Mental Illness Happy Hour, a podcast that focuses around disorder and trauma, has a line he says at the end of every episode. It resonates heavily with me and was the inspiration for this post. Everything I’ve just written can be condensed into these words.
“Everybody I know is bizarrely, beautifully fucked up in some weird way.”
Shana Tovah to all those in the Spectrum community who are Jewish like myself. However, I find that unless they aren’t religious or decided to convert to being Jewish from another faith, I don’t really get along or connect with my own that well. It breaks my heart that I can’t have the best of both worlds.
I have attempted many times to try and connect. Most of them were really bad experiences. Whatever I was wasn’t good enough for those I tried to connect with. It just hurt me to see my own shun me for such stupid things like not knowing how to read Hebrew, not going to Yeshiva as a kid, and worst of all because my last name was one type of cultural Jew and not the other. I just felt so alone. Even signing up for Birthright was a big to do. For those who are not familiar, Birthright is when you are sponsored by Jewish organizations to go on a free trip to Israel. I wanted to go with this specific group because they were planning a side trip to Greece afterwards. However, I didn’t get to go with them because the organization they chose to go with had an Ableist attitude and separated me from them forcing me to wait until December. I also went with another group that my sister chose (which just happened to be a reform group). Reform, although more loose in tradition, were still religious and even though they were a nice bunch I still felt the disconnect and I got all perturbed when they started to talk about Jewish summer camp as if it made a difference. (Mom told me she went to Jewish summer camp and said it’s nothing special.) I cried a lot because of how lost I felt. I observed the sabbath or Shabbat as we call it for the first time. I felt so lost. I wanted to connect but couldn’t, I just felt so empty inside because my parents didn’t raise me this way. I hate when someone tries to teach me a concept and it doesn’t make any sense. I felt so stupid.
But one thing on that trip did make me happy. Something I was supposed to get at 13 but got while I was there. – Getting Bat Mitzvahed. I was told all because 13 was tradition, didn’t mean I had to. It was worth the wait though, I was Bat Mitzvahed in Israel and that stuck it to my MIA extended family that always think they’re better than me because they’re “more pious”. 😅 What a bunch of losers! I’m lucky if I even hear from them let alone getting a card! Pfft! The one year that I couldn’t make it for Passover because I got hurt, they showed their true colors. The first relative who came to visit me in the hospital wasn’t any of them. Nope! It was Grandma Levine. Yeah take that! My dad’s side rushed to me first! Only one relative on mom’s side came. Nobody else. No hello, how are you feeling, nothing! That broke my heart because I saw them more often. I still cry about it. They’ve disgraced what Mima tried to do for all of us, which is keeping us together as well as having a memory of her to go by. They disgrace her legacy. She didn’t survive the camps to be treated in this way.
I could tell you all the other stories about trying to connect but this is a blog post, not a memoir. – And it just plain hurts.
In this post, I will be using terms like neurotypical and neurodivergent. This is for the sake of clarity because I am responding to a blogger who uses those terms. A neurotypical is someone who hasn’t been diagnosed with, or presents any signs of a neurological/behavioral disorder. A neurodivergent is a person who has been diagnosed with one or more neurological/behavioral disorders, such as Autism, ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc. I’ll go into more detail next week.
A few days ago, I was sitting on the can, surfing social media, when I saw a Facebook post by Jaime A. Heidel, an autistic blogger who goes by the name The Articulate Autistic. In a question aimed at neurotypicals, she wanted to know why many NTs assume “malice, ill will or just plain jerkishness” when a neurodivergent person presents certain atypical behaviors?
That got me thinking. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s pissing off neurotypicals. The words I say, my body language, and in some cases, even my very existence seems to anger NTs, along with many ND people as well. I don’t go out of my way to anger anyone…usually, so why are there people planning to protest my funeral? Well, the answer’s simple: Like many NDs, I do and say a lot of socially unacceptable things.
Which is why The Articulate Autistic’s question caught my attention. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly interested in what the commentators had to say, (though, I did read a lot of them). What intrigued me was how Ms. Heidel asked her question. I quoted part of it earlier, but here’s the larger context:
NT’s…the recurring theme seems to be that malice, ill will, or just plain jerkishness is the first thought that comes to your mind when anybody, no matter the neurology, does or says something you find offensive…OK, so if NDs are more prone to take people at face value because that’s how WE are wired, do NTs assume that other NTs have ill intent because that’s how you are wired?
That seemed like an innocuous inquiry, but the underlying implication is that NTs are wrong in being offended. She later went on to wonder if social conditioning or abuse makes NTs so inconsiderate and mistrusting.
Maybe this is why myself and several of my ND friends have struggled to socialize with NTs and other NDs alike. In fact, let’s look back on a few of our past kerfuffles to see where NTs misjudged us.
When I was a freshman in college, I took an introductory philosophy course in order to fulfill a general education requirement. During one of the classes, our professor attempted to illustrate one of the Aristotelian principles (I forget which one), by creating an analogy between the subject matter and her violently abusive ex boyfriend. She told us that once, her ex had gotten so angry that he punched a hole in the wall of their apartment. She explained that it had taken every ounce of his restraint to simply punch the wall instead of her. Burning with curiosity, I raised my hand. When she called on me, I shouted my question loud enough for all eighty students in the lecture hall to hear me.
“Professor,” I asked, “what did you do to piss him off so much that he wanted to put your head through a wall?”
The professor stared at me, wide-eyed and slack jawed, as I patiently waiting for an answer, oblivious to the dead silence that had fallen over the room.
I’m sure NTs would say that comment was highly insensitive at best and rampantly misogynistic at worse, but because I meant no ill will, the professor should not have been offended, right?
Flirting, You’re Doing It Wrong
As I write about ad nauseum, I attended a high school that taught a large number of high-functioning autistics. One of my only friends at the time–let’s call him Zack–was an oddball. He was translucently pale skinned and had a crappy haircut that he proudly proclaimed was modeled after one of the Columbine shooters. His toothy grin was wide, and he cracked his knuckles incessantly. Zack thought precisely 1.5x faster than his lips could move, causing him to stammer. Me and him bounced around school like a couple degenerates, my booming voice preceding us for miles.
One day, while me and Zack were cutting math class, we spotted a group of freshmen gathered around a locker. At their center was a girl named Amber who was widely regarded as the most attractive girl in school. For whatever reason, and despite my protesting, Zack decided to approach her. He strolled briskly across the hallway, one arm pinned rigidly to his side, the other flapping wildly, like he’d suffered a stroke. The group consisted of Amber, another chick who’s name I don’t remember, and two dudes who served as her ever-present cockblocks. With all the precision of a sledgehammer, Zack crashed into the space between Amber and the other girl.
“Hi, my name is Zack!” he yelled loudly despite being uncomfortably close to both girls. The pair cockblocks circled around him, ready to pounce if the girls seemed troubled. “You k-k-know,” Zack stuttered, “I find y-you really h-hot and I just want to say t-t-that I’d t-totally gang r-rape you.”
I would have been shocked at that moment, the girls sure were, but I was used to Zack saying fucked up shit to people. What did shock me was how Zack managed to scurry out of the situation without getting his ass kicked. One of the cockblocks swung on him, but Zack, double jointed and deceptively quick, flattened himself out like a pancake, as the fist whizzed over his head. Rolling backwards, he bounded to his feet and took off down the hall, leaving me to deal with Amber’s two pissed off guy friends.
Before anyone comments, yes, Zack understood full well what the term gang rape meant. With that said, he saw Amber being violated by several dudes, plus himself, as the highest compliment, despite me telling him otherwise. If only neurotypical Amber was more open minded…
When I was younger, I thought group therapy was only used in AA meetings and prison. Well, in high school, the entire student body was subjected to it. The first group I was slotted into consisted of me and two NT freshmen. One of them was named José and the other was Michael. Because Michael was Asian, I decided it’d be a great idea to introduce myself by cracking a series of breathtakingly insensitive racial jokes. I squinted my eyes, stood to his side and asked if he could see me, pretended to have bucked teeth, the whole nine yards.
After listening to my bigoted bombardment for about thirty seconds, Michael suddenly stood up and demonstrated some body language that I interpreted as aggressive because it was accompanied by the words, “I’m going to fuck that fat retard up!” Our therapist, who was presiding over the meeting, leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. He silently hoped Michael would do to me, what my professor’s ex boyfriend did to their wall. Luckily for my dumb ass, José jumped between me and Michael, managing to calm him down.
“He’s an idiot,” José pleaded. “He doesn’t know what he’s saying.”
José was right. I didn’t have a clue what I was saying. (Not that that makes what I said any less inappropriate). I simply thought that being racist was a good way to break the ice. You see, I came from a household where casual bigotry was the norm, and my only friend was the aforementioned Zack. Instead of pointing north, the needle on my social compass just slowly circled the face, never stopping. Often, I’d just pick a random direction and start walking.
Despite appearances, I haven’t created a strawman to Ms. Heidel’s argument. I’m just approaching it from a different angle. There’s an unspoken dichotomy among many in the neurodivergent community that while most NDs are good people, most NTs are at best closed minded, at worse, malevolent actors. The idea behind the phrase neurodivergent is that we’re not disabled, we’re not lessor, we’re just different. If true, this means an ND individual is just as likely to be a douchebag as an NT.
It seems like I’m stating the obvious, but apparently, I’m not. Ms. Heidel’s question was worded in a general sense, meaning, in her mind at least, that most judgments made by neurotypicals on the intentions of neurodivergent people are misjudgments. I believe this is a self-defeatist line of thinking, because while it may be correct, us NDs have a responsibility to society, like everyone else does, to do no harm. In the examples I gave, it didn’t matter what mine, or Zack’s intentions were; we caused harm. As a movement, we need to stop expecting NTs to kiss our asses, and actually take responsibility for our words and actions.