Daily Archives: May 8, 2006

Everything I need to know in life I learned in institutions.


(Warning: Facetiousness ahead.)

When told to do something, do it. Don’t ask questions. No matter who it is. No matter how much of a stranger they are. When told to do something three times, with rising amounts of annoyance, by staff, do it right away and then run off and hide.

It is perfectly reasonable for a stranger providing a service to say “I’m not going to argue with you,” when you’ve asked (not argued) why they haven’t provided the agreed-upon (and paid-for) service for the past three days. And then it is reasonable for said stranger to tell you what to do. And then to tell you how they’ve been becoming more reliable over the past three days, when in fact they have been becoming steadily less reliable.

The proper response to all of this is either to shut your brain off and accept everything they say as fact, and to do what they tell you, no matter how nonsensical, or to internally flog yourself repeatedly for having the forbidden thought that they are being patronizing and bossy.

Never, ever ask questions like, “Why should I do that?” “Can you explain the rules to me more clearly so I don’t screw up again?” “What did I do?” Etc. Just do what you’re told and it all becomes very simple. Even if you’re being chastised or yelled at for what would in anyone else be ordinary behavior. Even questions that are very deferent and assume that you’re the one doing something wrong, are out of line, because they’d require explaining things that nobody wants to explain.

Apologize. Constantly. Even if you don’t know what you did, or don’t think you did anything. If you’re lucky, you’ll get an approving, condescending smile and nod, and a compliment on your excellent social skills.

Don’t ever, ever talk about any of this once you get out, or compare any community services situation to an institutional one. Be grateful you’re not physically locked up. In fact, be cheerful all the time if you can manage it. Anything less is a clear sign that you’re in bad emotional health, and all comparisons of power dynamics out here to institutions can be explained by your own personal shortcomings rather than the fact that usually the comparisons are valid. Don’t ever show that you’re displeased with anything related to this, because then it will be assumed that you are perpetually unhappy.

All political activity is likewise pathological in some way. Trying to make sure others don’t experience what you’ve experienced is a sign that you’re not as “over” it as you should be rather than a sign of commitment to friends you left there or dedication to human rights. (People who were never institutionalized, on the other hand, can safely be praised for any work they do in this area.) The best sign of “adjustment” is complacent assimilation with as little reference to various periods of your life as possible.

And don’t ever mention, in public, that on a perfectly good day when everything else is going well, your mind can be tied in all kinds of knots by a simple interaction with staff, because this will surely be taken as proof that people like you are behind other people your age, can’t cope with the demands of the outside world, and are in general doing something wrong.

And, always remember, no matter how long you’ve been out, you’re just on probation.


Got curious again about book statistics…


I have trouble with arithmetic and several other things involved, so don’t take these as perfect. This is only about the autism-related books, not about, say, Temple Grandin’s books on livestock. And I know there’s stuff I still need to add to the booklist, so, yeah, this is not exact. (And I also don’t believe in the exact category splits described here, but a lot of people who keep track of these things do, so they’re in here.)

And, yep, I made mistakes (how did I get “one female diagnosed with Asperger’s” instead of “16 females diagnosed with Asperger’s”???) so I corrected some just now.

There are 125 books by 70 authors.

40 of the authors are male, 1 of the authors is intersexed, and 29 of the authors are female.

73 of the books were written by males, 1 of the books was written by an intersexed person, and 51 of the books were written by females.

33 of the authors are diagnosed with autism, and 37 with Asperger’s.

67 of the books were written by people diagnosed with autism, and 58 of the books were written by people diagnosed with Asperger’s.

Among authors, there were 19 males diagnosed with autism, and 13 females diagnosed with autism. There was 1 intersexed person diagnosed with autism. There were 21 males diagnosed with Asperger’s and 16 females diagnosed with Asperger’s.

Among books, there were 36 by males diagnosed with autism, 30 by females diagnosed with autism, and 1 by an intersexed person diagnosed with autism. There were 37 written by males diagnosed with Asperger’s, and 21 written by females diagnosed with Asperger’s.

16 of the authors diagnosed with autism could not speak (17 could speak). 12 of the non-speaking authors were male and 4 were female.

25 of the books by authors diagnosed with autism were written by people who could not speak (42 by people who could speak). 21 of them were written by males and 4 were written by females.

So… basically… there’s somewhat more males than females writing books. There’s somewhat more books by males than females. (There’s only one intersexed person that I know of, who wrote only one book.) And among non-speaking autistic people, there’s a LOT more males than females writing books. There’s slightly more authors diagnosed with Asperger’s than autism, but somewhat more books by people diagnosed with autism than with Asperger’s. Among authors diagnosed with autism, there’s a fairly even balance among speaking and non-speaking authors, but somewhat more books by speaking authors than non-speaking authors.

I keep hearing that there’s more books out there by males than females, but no matter what time period I try to figure out, they’re always either even, or slightly more males than females. (Except when you get down to non-speaking autistics, in which case suddenly there’s tons of males and very few females.)