Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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Autism, Assumptions and Perpetuating Misperceptions | Jul 24th 2012

I was going to write something about the Aurora shootings, but I think it’s better if I give some links to things others have written.

This link is from Lydia Brown on her blog Autistic Hoya – All I Want to do is Weep.  She wrote it last Friday, July 20th before Joe Scarborough, whose son is Autistic, weighed in with his damaging, destructive words, needlessly adding fuel to the flames of ignorance and misperceptions that roar whenever the word autism is spoken.

Then, just as Lydia and others within the Autism community predicted, Joe Scarborough said,  ”As soon as I hear about this shooting, I knew who it was. I knew it was a young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society — it happens time and time again..”  He added, “Most of it has to do with mental health; you have these people that are somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not.”

His words, so predictable, so incredibly stupid it would have been comical had it not been so very harmful to so many.  When I read his comments I thought, people will read Lydia’s piece and assume she’s psychic, because that would be the only explanation for her ability to predict such a thing.  Right?

Kassiane Sibly wrote on her blog Radical Neurodivergence Speaking – Open Letter to the Media in the Wake of the Aurora Shootings

Paula Durbin-Westby wrote: Autism, Aurora Shooter, and Actual Crime Statistics

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg wrote: Despicable: Joe Scarborogh’s  Words on Autims and Mass Murder

And finally here is the petition Rachel started, demanding Joe Scarborogh retract his statement.  Please sign.  This is too important.

Sign this Petition

These “theories” and it seems they are always “theories” which appear to be code for “opinion” are doing damage to people who are living their lives in a society that not only does not understand, seems unwilling to understand and even actively refuses to understand despite all the people who are trying to help them understand.

Autistics are saying – LISTEN TO US!   And we look around and say, huh, I don’t hear anything.

Autistics are saying – STOP SAYING THINGS ABOUT US WITHOUT INCLUDING US IN THE CONVERSATION!  And we look around and say to one another, Huh.  Did you hear something?  Nah.  Carry on.

Autistics are saying – NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US and we say, I don’t understand.  Why are they so angry?

Autistics are saying – YOUR MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT US ARE HURTING US and we say, oh those autistics are not like my child, that’s not what my child would say.  My child is nonverbal.  My child can’t type.  My child doesn’t have a blog.  My child can’t say the things those Autistics can say and do.  My child is different.

How do you know? 

How do you know?

Joe.  You made a mistake.  Retract.  Apologize.  Make amends.  Have an Autistic on your show.  Listen to them.  Listen to your son.  Do the right thing, educate yourself.  You have a massive following.  You could make an incredible difference to so many lives including your son’s and your own.

I will end with this thought. I choose to presume competence, not just in Emma, but in myself and in my fellow human beings.  We ARE capable of listening to one another.  We ARE capable of shifting the perceptions of autism and Autistics, one person at a time.  I believe that, because to do otherwise is to live in a world I cannot and do not want to be a part of.

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