Daily Archives: March 5, 2006

“So that’s the one that tells us what you want us to hear.”

Standard

A little background on how and when I was told that.

I was dealing with the San Andreas Regional Center, an agency whose real job is to withhold as much funding from disabled people as possible (I’ve even heard this from people who’d worked at the Regional Center), but who pretend to be about great humanitarians who fund us as much as possible. And hold big dinners about how wonderful and selfless they supposedly are. And so forth. But that’s a tangent.

The main background information they had on me was either:

  • Obtained from an hour-long interview with a relative who was under pressure from the interviewer to answer in certain ways and not others.
  • A few pages of diagnostic information from a psychiatrist.
  • Their own impressions from seeing me.
  • The inventions — out of her ass or something, I can’t figure out where else she would have gotten some of those “facts” — of a bizarre and scary case manager.

Needless to say, this was not a lot of information. In the meantime, I had a letter. The letter was from someone who’d known me for a long time and had been my primary caregiver recently. She knew a lot of things about me that would be missed by people hurrying by with diagnostic information and such. She condensed the most important things into a letter, sent from her position as an officer in an organization for helping autistic adults with daily living issues, and sent it to the Regional Center.

The letter contained more accurate information, by far, than people could have gotten from the other things. It contained a reasonably accurate assessment of my strengths and weaknesses and the kind of assistance I needed.

Anyway, at one point I told someone from the Regional Center, “Don’t look at the other stuff. Look at the accurate stuff. Look at the letter. It’s the most important one in there.”

The response, “Oh, so that’s the one that tells us what you want us to hear, I’ll bet.” Or something similar.

As if wanting them to hear the truth was a problem.

What kind of “service” are agencies providing if they trust the opinions of people peripherally involved, and trust short interviews and such and bizarre inferences, more than they trust the most likely source of accurate information?

And what kind of “service” are they providing if they refuse to see that what is important to me might just be the most accurate stuff?

I remember a video I once watched. Part of it featured a woman whose disability theory I’m not always fond of, because she has built it entirely around certain physically disabled people and left the rest of us out. But she said something important.

She said that disabled people are seen as manipulative, as needing to be pushed by non-disabled people into doing what’s right for us, as unable to understand that on our own.

Often we are seen as manipulative when we are only trying to run our own lives. Often when we do things that would normally be “manipulative”, what we’re doing is doing all we can under a system of power that prevents most other self-expression. But often, we’re just “manipulative” whenever we do something someone else wants, “unaware” whenever they want to emphasize that it’s their way that matters.

To SARC, who I am mercifully free of now: Yes, that was the paper that told you what I wanted you to hear. I wanted you to hear it for a reason. I wish you had listened instead of making power play after power play. I’m a real human being with a life, too, you know, and I bet you’d want accuracy and power in your own life too if our situations were reversed.

For people who claim we appeared in the thirties.

Standard

I’m reading around in some rather disgusting American eugenics literature for historical purposes. I have found a letter from Mary Dendy to Karl Pearson, dated 1912, that reads partially as follows:

Imbeciles – It is difficult to find a definition of these which does not apply for low-grade Feeble-minded. They may be described as low-grade F.M. who are not able to be taught the proper care of their persons and whose habits require constant attention. They are apt to be excessively restless, to “echo” (i.e. repeat words instead of answering them.) They are occasionally destructive and apparently cruel, though it is probable that their acts of cruelty are due not to an instinct to give pain, but an instinct to destroy. If able-bodied they can be taught to work, i.e. to repeat the same movement over and over again, in a purely mechanical manner. They often use repeated movements of some part of the body quite without purpose, as striking the head rhythmically with the hand. Their articulation is generally very defective and they sometimes have little or no speech.

She describes “low-grades” as “sometimes having special mental gifts, but more commonly low-grade all round”.

Hmm. It always amazes me when I run into this stuff and remember that some people actually believe that autistic people didn’t exist until Leo Kanner. We were — some of us anyway — spread out among a number of classifications of “mental defectives”, which is what they considered a broad range of people back then.