Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Big Push

I have been quietly contemplating some disturbing events. I am seeing some very frightening ways they can create what is known as a "Perfect Storm".

It started when I noticed the cataloging,identification of Autistic People. The so-called "Autism Registries". The rationale is that they need to figure out how this non-disease disease is spreading. The Bush administration wanted to screen everybody for signs of ASD. All I can do is think of Nazi Germany. They screened people for signs of Aryan heritage or not. Looked for the hook nose or the circumcised penis. Of course we are more sophisticated. Just don't whatever happens, let people see your child lining up blocks or chatting endlessly on some obscure subject. He will be cataloged and processed for the greater good.

I noticed there were interviews from "high functioning" autistics in the "group homes" run by organizations such as ACLD. Now, has anyone met anyone IRL or online that be shown from one of the group homes? They can talk. But what crimes have they committed to scurried away only able to talk to approved people like reporters. These autistic ghettos need scrutiny.

I notice that as the autistic/aspergian movement gets stronger stronger, there is a push to tell people they only have the symptoms of ASD but psst it is really something else. A lot of us desperately want that promise land of living NT. Oh , to have friends, job, money and Yes! even girlfriend. All very seductive. All that is required is to deny who you are. I have no problem with the term autistic but I would rather a term that has no bearing on any professionals talk about. Hence I use the word aspergian. I have seen even within our own community an over emphasis of "getting a diagnosis". That empowers professionals. How can our community be effective when we are not even the gatekeepers? It is simply wont work. Anyone who feels they should be part of this community then they are. Official diagnoses be damned.

I notice professionals now talking about ASD as a "mental health" issue not neurological. I guess people are okay with it just as long as we don't blame mother, the mental illness fell out the sky as if some evil wrought by the devil. You don't think it is all that bad?? seen this article on Once they officially and incorrectly identify ASD as a mental illness then we would have lost. They can round us up and medicate.

Our only hope is to disempower the so called professionals and that wont happen by working with them.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Myth of Prometheus

Creativity. There has some much written about creativity. It is often within the context of its relation to madness and (perhaps contradictorily) how to be more creative(nobody writes or reads books on releasing the inner madman). However increasingly there is an upsurge on the subject of autism and creativity. For instance, There is a book by Mich Fitzgerald Autism and CreativityThat explores this in depth. Creativity does seem a defining aspect of us on the spectrum. This was clear to me in a striking way reading passages from Rollo May's Man's Search for Himself. It is in the section entitled "Adam and Prometheus".

Speaking concisely, Prometheus (meaning foresight in Greek)was a titan that against the orders of Zeus, gave man fire. Fire being symbolic for creativity. Zeus punishes Prometheus by chaining him to a mountain. Zeus commanded a vulture to feast on his liver. Also when the liver regrows during the night the vulture returns everyday to eat the liver again. Dr. May related the torture that Prometheus endures is symbolic of the "anxiety and guilt to which-as creative figures like Michelangelo, Thomas Mann, Dostoevsky and countless others have told us-the man who dares to bring mankind new forms of life is subject". Tho perhaps Prometheus should have his gut eaten to be even more consistent. Zeus here in his punishment for the audacity of Prometheus can be seen to represented by the group that so often punishes us for being different. I looked up some associations to Zeus. I saw one entry was intestine/liver so perhaps we are making a distinction an ancient would not.

Zeus punishes man by sending a box and Pandora. According to the myth Man was created by Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus (hindsight) which was breathed into life by Athena.The box was opened thereby releasing disease and now man has to work for his living. The upshot is that while we enjoy the benefits of creativity the "punishment" isnt all that far away.

It is significant that Prometheus is tied to a mountain. Zeus comes from the mountain. A word for god in Hebrew (there are a few) is Shaddai el Chai. I quote a website. Shaddai El Chai has been translated as Almighty Living God. Interestingly, Shaddai translates literally as Breasts or Mountains, El translates as God (without gender affiliation so read Godhead or Divine One) and Chai is Life.
There is a tradition not popular for a few reasons. It stands the traditional view of Yahweh on its head. The imagery of a goat leaping to and fro effortlessly on a craggy mountain represents the same freedom from an all powerful or so it seems being. The to and fro representing mastery of one's situation. Of course I cannot let this go, In the tarot the magician is sometimes represented by the fool. And No there is no conflict in meaning here. The Magician is the goat. Look its picture in by a popular Deck.

The wand is symbol of the thunderbolt of Zeus among others things. All these myths talks about how either Yahweh or Zeus are angry that man is now like them. All part of the symbolism of this card.

Perhaps one day I will delineate my own spiritual journey, my quest for meaning.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cultural Capital

I do see the inevitability of a cure as in pre-natal test. We simply do not have the resources at this time to stop it. It is a shame the internet wasn't around longer before the curebies got so powerful. Our culture or "communitude" (if you will) is in its infancy still. Our survival may rest on one powerful commodity, however - "Cultural Capital". I borrowed this term from Thomas Sowell from his last book in a trilogy -Conquests and Cultures. While I do not agree with him on many things. His notion of "Cultural capital" is invaluable. Cultural capital is the reason why even after 2,000 years there is a state called Israel. The common bonds of history, religion and language held this community together and enabled it to survive. They had tremendous reserves of cultural capital to draw upon. Cultural capital can be translated into other resources. We need to build and create our own vast reserves of cultural capital. It is imperative.

A vibrant community of autistics would preclude many from having a prenatal test. It would encourage autistics to have children with each other. Thereby growing the community. I have seen how Kwanzaa invented in academia has become such important part in the cultural lives of many black people in the US. We need a Kwanzaa for ourselves. A holiday celebrated around the solstices or equinox at the end of the year. It will be small at first. But this along with autistic pride day is key to our survival, the survival of the autistic distinction.

I know I say this a lot but Autistic Pride Day is and can be more than a PR campaign. It can serve as one of building blocks for our vast reserves of cultural capital.

The First Protest and Protest Diary

====As I posted on AFF after the walk=====
On Sunday October 24, 2004, I protested the NAAR walk here on Long Island. I was nervous. I am fairly sure I was the first person with aspergers to challenge their beliefs openly. They all see themselves as the autistic community. We are the *REAL* autistic community and it is time to set the record straight.

At first I was hesitant. Why walk?. A majority of people doing the walk Have LFA Children. But as I read thru NAAR's web site,I became even more convinced that to protest was the right thing to do. For Example here is a link:

The article supposedly takes the viewpoint of a younger brother of a child who has aspergers. The tone and character of this so called letter was disgusting. It describes the horror of the parents realizing their child has aspergers. How they dread that the younger one might be as well. You see NAAR groups us all as the same, whether you are LFA, HFA, aspergers as defectives not humans. NAAR will point to us and say "see they are crazy, they want your child to be LFA" Which is far from the truth We are protesting lumping HFA/AS as something to be cured along
with LFA. Totally off the wall.

This event was held on jones beach which is on a very small island off of Long Island.

There is a 4 lane highway (with a median) that stretches across the islet. It is very long with a small width. The beach is on both sides. There various underpasses that connect both sides.

I had three large posters. And small number of leaflets. The posters were the following

Say NO to NAAR


Autistics Are Intelligent





"Theory of Mind" is the new appendix.


I held them up switching between them. I was first all very concerned with my safety.

I decided to protest from outside the fence. I went to a place where I could be seen by a number of people. Most importantly I was facing the stage. The Co-Chairs of the event saw me. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and a local celebrity Jim Watkins. They saw all of my signs. One guy gave me "the finger"- A gestural obscenity. One lady came by. She
mentioned she was a nurse at a hospice. She tried to convince that "why wouldn't some body not want a cure?". She also said now if a cure was available Why shouldn't they take? Dont you want to be normal?". She was looking at me and talking to me like "oh you poor thing". I told her my position. She would not listen. The typical arrogance of the self righteous. I finally told her bottomline I am drawing a line in the sand. "This far and no father". I held up sign between me and her until she went away. A couple guys came up . Remember there was a fence in between us. They told me to get out of here. They refused to take a flyer. The previous lady told them to leave me alone. They grudgingly left. They called me a couple of obscenities.

When the walk started I found an excellent location from which all the walkers could see my signs and yet help ensure my safety. (safety is key folks!). I stood at the edge of one the underpasses where the walk went thru. I waved the signs. I was given the finger yet again a few times. I was told to "go home", I responded - "I am home, This is my world too" .I was called countless obscenities. "Get a life". "Get a job".That one puzzled me. What do they know about my situation?. I looked all around constantly. I did not want someone to sneek up and hurt me. Remember they are looking for an excuse to call you "handicap" so do not act on any agressive displays. They are trying to get you to do something that they can use against you.

In America, Protesting is a protected right. Be peaceful and cooperate with the police. The idea is to be heard and be noticed not to earn a police record. DO Not be araid to run away if you feel threatened, I know was ready to run if I had to. Be aware of your surroundings.

At the end of the walk I stood at the exit when they were leaving. I stayed there till the lot was almost empty and the park workers had shutdown all but one exit. I had a few cars come by stop and ask me questions. When they stop I was nervous and ready to run. I again was
called names and obscenities. Twice a car stopped , and the guy in the driving seat tried to spit at me. NAAR knows now. Dont think they are not thinking about what happened. They are preparing to prevent it again, if they can.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Minor Annoyances

I wonder how many of us experience these minor annoyances?
I sometimes watch the music video channels or listen to music (audio only) channels. They present the information for each song imo haphazardly. Usually like this :



To me this is a mess. It should range either from most inclusive to least inclusive or vice versa. Song < Album < Artist or Artist > Album > Song. Like the below.


In the 1980s when MTV was new, They used have a solid tilting triangle that spun. A triangle has only 3 faces. But yet this thing displayed 2 images one after the other. An impossible object. A rotating object of even number of sides is required. It was MTV with the little space man and the other was the words NEWS. It annoyed me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

ArcheTypes and Social Learning

Carol Gray's social stories have been widely acknowledged as successful. I don't really think anybody has stop and given them a critical look. After all it is helping autistic children how could anyone decent critique it? Nevertheless, I think it is prudent.

At first blush, it is simply brilliant. Parents, professionals create made up stories that deal with everyday life. These stories outline appropriate and inappropriate (all judged by our culture and the story writer)reactions to these made up situations. Children read them , learn them and refer back to them as necessary. It does what good piece of literature does expose the reader to novel situations and lets them see how the writers sees the characters deal with it, thereby we learn hopefully something about the world and ourselves.

The private nature of these stories is a big liability. The situations may be universal but professionals and parents will invariably draft different responses to the same situation, unless the story revolves around some trivial and if that is the case why bother with the story in the first place?
{Notes delinate more here}

A better and more sophisticated solutions is available. It is hinted at in this news story. Substitute Stereotype with symbol or archetype. There are traditional or archetypal roles for men and women. Perhaps if they saw it like that they could teach and add more sophisticated stereotypes for more abstract categories as they get older. A long time ago, I devoured books on Taoism and the I Ching. At the basis there is a similar idea that the ancient Greeks had of 4 base elements. In Asian thought, There are 5 elements. Earth, Metal, Fire,Water and Wood. I don't know if you remember the game called rock, paper, scissors. No one element is primary. It all depends on the relationship with others.
For example, Wood feeds fire. In ancient China the 5 elements were associated with emotions positive and negative. Like fire - negative rage water- positive calmness. Water quenches fire by the traditional diagram. So to handle rage become calm or symbolically throw water on the fire. I dont see why many autistic children couldn't be taught the "stereotypes" of fire (positive- passion, negative-rage,anger) or water etc. To provide them with more sophisticated tools to reason and adjust to novel situations. It would be better than highly specific social stories.

I like this quote(not) from frith tho:
Professor Frith said: "Autistic children's knowledge of race and gender stereotypes is astonishing given that they lack interest in people."
Is it really that astonishing? First autistics many not all *do* have an interest in people, they just don't understand the social structures (frith knows better too). These stereotypes that are learnt may merely mean autistic children are not dumb, just clueless to what others take for granted.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Combating Autism Act Video

This is my favorite video with respect to the act. It is fantastic.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Myth of Race

Race is a construct fostered by history and convenience. There is scientifically speaking nothing to the concept of Race. In fact it was the WHO (World health Organization) that recommended dropping race from its queries. What race is- is a set of inherited genes that may or may not depend on each other. The genes for leukemia present at a high rate in the black population has nothing to with the melanism. There are people in parts of china who live in areas with high rates with malaria who pass on and have leukemia at higher rates.

So if I call the collection of inherited autism genes a race it is every bit as valid. The only context you could argue is historical. So Even if you eliminate environmental triggers that may or may not exist the child or adult is still autistic.

I have included an Amazon Link to one of the seminal works in this area below


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Henry & Victoria

Henry worked in the market. He sold fish. Every morning victoria would bring him the fish to sell. Victoria was once a happily married woman. Long flowing blond hair once graced her head. A lovely rounded face that beamed. Now all long gone. Victoria worked with edward at the docks. She wears a bandanna catching the sweat from her forehead. At times, the random fishhook placed there for expediency would catch and blood would trickle. The twins blood and tears founded her world. Wrinkles layed their claim to her beauty. She ached.
Henry would setup his tent at dawn. He would wait until victoria came by with the morning catch. He would sometimes see her far up the walkway coming into view. She was hunched over. The basket of fish carried on her back was heavy. The old women who were once jealous, were now quite satisfied. They would jeer as she made her way down the main walkway of the market past them. They were cruel in way only another woman could be. Henry would watch her as she made her way down. The sun rose from behind her. She walked in light. The morning light would glisten off the sweat and blood. She was beautiful. Henry knew she was even more beautiful now than she ever was.
Victoria's husband was a fisherman just like edward. The fishermen fed the village. They braved the seas. They were heroes in the eyes of the village folk. Only the bravest and strongest worked the nets. The village's main staple was fish with assorted vegetables and the occasional meat.
Henry dreamed the dreams of heroes. He was the mighty fisherman that fed the village. They would have starved without him. He would come home to his beautiful wife. She would be hunched over such that in order to kiss her he had to sit down first. In his dream, He could even pick up the child in arms despite the child's size.
The rock that gouged her husband's head was huge. Despite the blood loss he survived. Ever since then she worked for edward. She would prepare the lines. She would untangle them adding hooks and sinkers if necessary. She enjoyed these tasks at the start of her day. It was the easiest on her. Later she would reel in the lines. She had deep well worn grooves in her hands. "The fish line cuts cleanly." She said aloud. No response was required. "The salt water naturally heals the wounds."
Henry had a gentle face everybody enjoyed. He worked until the fish was gone, sometimes till dusk. He was always amazed to realize that at the end of the day, the very people he knew his whole life would mistakenly miscount their change or hand the wrong money or foreign currency. They went to school together in many cases. He imagined the rocks that hit their heads must have been very small. "Victoria was smart. She never made a mistake." he thought. Everyday he wondered if edward was to make his way down today. He never met edward.
Victoria's day started when most people's ended. It was a ritual. A ritual that validated her love, their marriage. She fed him.She faithfully clothed and washed her husband. No man should know the humiliation of being changed like a baby. Her husband didn't know. She would smile with bitter tears watching her husband play with the toys meant for their child. She has the child she never wanted. She never thought of throwing him off the bridge killing him. She loved him. His love for her though now un-nuanced and simple, was strong as it ever was. The pain of what could have been is integral to the purity of the love she practiced everyday. They are inseparable.
Henry loved victoria. He understood her love for her husband. He imaged them together with her child. Henry knew he could be a good father. He made a place for her in his home. The extra bed next to his was always clean and untouched. It was adorned with flowers for her time to time. Henry knew she would never abandoned her child. Henry knew patience. The bed next to hers was extra long with walls affixed to both sides.
She never did move in. She understood the love henry offered. She already had that kind of love.
Henry knew pain. There were days victoria never showed.
Many years later henry still dreamed of being a fisherman capturing fish. The place set aside for victoria was ready as it ever was to receive his love. He, one night after capturing his mighty fish, in his sleep died happy. He lived happy.