Two days ago, I participated in a program called Reactor Room. I spoke in front of a panel of business leaders, social workers, and psychologists about my talents, skills, and experience in the workforce. I also talked about my current projects. Then I took questions and comments aimed at helping me to develop all of that into a successful career. It was nerve wracking, and I spent all day yesterday recovering, but it was a very positive experience overall.
Reactor Room is run by Dr. Heidi Stieglitz Ham as part of Spectrum Fusion, which is her vision of a community of adults on the autism spectrum who support each other and serve the global community with our abilities. She believes that we all have the potential to do great things, and I agree completely. That’s why I’m so glad to be a part of what she’s doing.
Unfortunately, some people don’t see autistic adults that way. The other Reactor Room participant is a writer/editor who is seeking opportunities in that field. A member of the panel he spoke to by the name of Denise Hazen voiced opposition to what Dr. Ham is trying to do, saying that my fellow Reactor Room participant will never find a job in writing. She thinks that Dr. Ham encourages unrealistic goals, helping autistic people find employment in their area of interest.
So what does Denise Hazen think is a realistic goal for adults on the autism spectrum? Manual labor. She employs them to produce trinkets that she sells in her program called Aspire Accessories. In return, they get training in a variety of retail-related skills and “fair wages.” Does that sound like minimum wage to you? It does to me.
And the stuff they produce isn’t cheap. Check out this leather, Texas-shaped keychain. Normally, you would expect a keychain to cost, what, about $5? Maybe $10 if it’s really nice? Well, this one costs $20. Sure, each one is hand made (by someone whose boss thinks they’d be lucky to have a job collecting grocery carts), but $20? Seriously?
Denise monopolized the conversation in order to promote her business, because that’s what she came for. She wasn’t there to help autistic people.
I got my first job when I was 16. I worked at Whataburger, and overall, I hated it. I felt trapped when I was there, and I hated being in a position where I had to do whatever someone else told me. In the vast majority of the jobs I’ve had since then, it only got worse, especially when I was pressured to make sales.
I had more than a dozen jobs here and there until I was about 27 or 28, and it wasn’t just the jobs themselves that made me miserable. It was having to always have a job and thinking that that was just going to be my life. It made me unhappy, and it turned me into a paranoid narcissist. The only escape I had was believing that I was special and the world was trying to keep me down.
After Hollywood Video died and my job there died with it, I gave up on that kind of job. I could no longer even bring myself to fill out a job application. I still can’t. My girlfriend, Michelle, encouraged me to get my official autism diagnosis so I could get on disability for the freedom to explore what I wanted to do, and it has been so much better.
Now I have a number of different projects I’m working on, and though I haven’t struck gold with anything yet, I’m enjoying these beginnings of my journey to success.
There are many voices in the autism community talking about how we have a hard time being understood by non-autistics. Mine is among them. But it recently really began to dawn on me just what the differences in our ways of thinking entail. And as I ponder this, it seems to me that I’ve had difficulties understanding non-aspies in the same way that they misunderstand me.
Unlike many aspies, I’m pretty decent at socializing. It tires me horribly, but I can get into “social mode” and make it through a social function, coming off to everyone there as “normal,” maybe even delightful. (I’m pushing it, I know. :p) But this is a persona based on imitating what I’ve observed as appropriate and entertaining behavior in others. It’s a mask made of my own genius.
On a much more fundamental level, the processes that take place in my mind as I take in information are very different from those in others. I don’t feel the way others do about things. I’m not patriotic, I’m not a sports fan, I’m very nonreligious, I’m not a feminist or an ally, I’m not outraged by the injustices that people bring up every day on Facebook, and there are many other things that seem to define a normal way of thinking that are totally alien to me. It’s as if I was born on another planet, and I’ve always felt that way. My sisters could tell you about the years of my childhood when I fantasized that I’d been born on Mars. Even back then, I picked up on the fact that there was something different about me.
And even though there are also differences in the way even individual aspies think, feel, and process information, I think we all know what it feels like to be different. In my opinion, the best way to begin fostering understanding between us and non-autistics is to work to understand them. It might make an interesting academic study.
I once went to a counselor about some mental/personality issues I was dealing with, and she told me to look into this thing called “indigo children.” I looked into it, and do you know what I discovered? I am a wizard! I have supernatural powers and I am omniscient! I can leap tall buildings in a single bound! Obviously, that’s not true.
This garbage was recently brought to my attention, and I started refuting the bullet list point-by-point to my girlfriend when I realized I should post it here instead. First I’ll give you an overview of it.
Since the 1990’s, a growing number of medical professionals have dismissed the traditional ADHD diagnoses associated with long-term social and behavioral health problems, and have instead sided with their parents who insist that they possess supernatural powers.
I understand parents wanting to believe their children have no flaws and are special snowflakes for no other reason than that they are their babies, but that doesn’t justify eschewing real science and medical knowledge in favor of nonsense. The culture in the United States encourages people to value superstition and intuition over logic and reason.
So anyway, on to the bullet list.
How to recognise an Indigo Child
What are the behavioral patterns of Indigos?
They are born feeling and knowing they are special and should be revered.
Nobody is born knowing anything except that it’s frickin freezing outside of a uterus. If you encourage your child to believe he or she should be revered, you are raising a narcissist.
An indigo knows they belong here as they are and expect you to realize it as well.
Don’t even think about trying to help your child learn to get along with other people or get him/her medication so he/she can function in the world. If your child is a stubborn brat, just give him/her everything he/she wants. Then gaze in wonder at the narcissist you’ve unleashed upon the world.
These children are more confident and have a higher sense of self-worth.
These children are narcissists. How many times can I say it? Your child is not better than anyone else, so do not raise them to believe they are.
Absolute authority, the kind with no choices, negotiation, or input from them does not sit well. The educational system is a good example.
Your child is the authority, not you. He’s a wizard, not a narcissist. Bow to his every command.
Some of the rules we so carefully followed as children seem silly to them and they fight them.
We did not carefully follow rules as children. Every child tests limits and disobeys rules. They need boundaries, not magic wands.
Rigid ritualistic systems are considered archaic to an indigo child. They feel everything should be given creative thought.
To a child, ten years ago is the same thing as a million years ago. Children don’t know what archaic means. Not everything should be given creative thought. “Should I look both ways before I cross the street, or should I act like a chicken instead?”
They are insightful and often have a better idea of method then what has been in place for years. This makes them seem like “system busters.”
You mean than. They don’t understand the reason that rules are in place, and because they’re completely selfish, they would rather just do whatever they want. Kids break rules. It’s not a super power.
Adults often view an indigo as anti-social unless they are with other indigos. Often they feel lost and misunderstood, which causes them to go within.
Some kids are introverted. It’s ok. It’s not a superpower. It’s just a personality trait.
The old control methods like, “Wait till your father gets home,” have no affect on these children.
Don’t threaten kids with violence. That opens up a worse can of worms than the one you’re opening with this “indigo children” nonsense.
The fulfillment of their personal needs is important to them, and they will let you know.
You’d better buy that kid every toy he or she wants and let them have ice cream for dinner. If you don’t, you’ll wake up one morning having been turned into a newt. And no, you won’t get better.
There’s another bullet list that could be a whole other blog post, so I’ll just leave this one off here. Check out the link if you want to read some grade-A woo.
Michelle Vines’s new book, Asperger’s on the Inside, is coming out on April 8, which just happens to be Autism Awareness Month. Hurray! It’s not a dry textbook about the clinical definition of Autism. It’s a personal story about her life and how it was affected by her Asperger’s Syndrome.
I tend to find things to write about mostly when something is bothering me, so I thought I’d post something happy while nothing is bothering me. I don’t really have anything specific planned to write. I just wanted to wiggle my fingers on the keyboard for a bit and see what words come out.
Since I got my lens back from Canon and switched to Linux Mint on my main computer, I’ve felt very satisfied as far as my aspie obsessions are concerned. I take a lot of pictures, I get to use a variety of operating systems among my various devices (desktop with Linux, tablet with Windows 10, and Kindle Fire running Kindle’s version of Android), I’m not sick or injured, I’m in a wonderful relationship, and I just discovered that I have powers like Superman.
You would think that this would be the part where I confess that I’m just kidding, but no. I’m Superman. Deal with it. :p
Aspies and Minecraft go together like ham and cheese. I said I’d post some screenshots of what I’ve been working on in Autcraft, so here they are!