Nightline, and why I can’t tell you a lot about it.


I have been asked to blog about a particular topic: The show on “Nightline,” ABC, tonight, called “Paul in Love”. I have not been specifically asked, but asked as part of a group.

Aside from pointing out that there’s something really wrong with grown adults having their (real or otherwise) faults dissected on national television by their parents, and the fact that very few people of any type would (or should) consent to that, I can’t blog about it.

I know what I want to say, and I know that it will probably only get translated into words after the show has aired, if then. My brain and deadlines, or even demands (my own or others’) of what topic to write on, are not all that compatible.

That probably isn’t what the person asking us to write on this had in mind. It’s rarely what anyone asking me (whether alone or as part of a group) to write things has in mind. It’s quite inconvenient at times. But there it is.

I’ve encountered several areas of pressure to write, or respond, faster than is possible lately. I’m not super stressed out about it, mainly because I’m refusing to at this point even entertain the idea of conforming to that pressure. I don’t blame the people doing it, because they probably don’t know what they’re doing.

But as I am discovering, my brain and the demands of a world not designed for this particular slower wavelength of processing, are not compatible. The more I stress and force-focus, the less useful work I can get done. Occasionally it’s necessary to use that kind of forceful focus, but it comes at a pretty high price for awhile afterwards, so it has to be reserved for particular occasions. The rest of the time, I’m starting to think that force-focusing based on most demands for it is counterproductive, given that I get more done when I don’t do it, than when I do.

So meanwhile, I can tell you all about assorted inner workings of the writing process, but I can’t tell you what I think of the entire premise of the impending “Nightline” episode. And so it goes. Maybe I’ll tell you about “Nightline” tomorrow, maybe by the next time an episode like that occurs, maybe never.

But I do think I’m going to try to stop getting into situations where people want me to, or even depend on me to, Do Things Right Away, because it’s not just a matter of not wanting to, it’s a matter of really not being able to sustain that kind of thing for long enough to be useful, the majority of the time.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

9 responses »

  1. Well, thank you for putting us onto this show. I am watching it now, and it is very patronizing. It makes my head explode when they’re saying things like “Do autistic people love the same as you and I do?” and “And yet autistic people can seem to be so at sea when trying to understand feelings.” and “He may never be ready for a sex life.” At least they now admit and show that we have feelings. Sort of.

  2. I saw a webcast of the show earlier today, and the correspondent opens the segment by using the “special” word. Oh sh-.

  3. Explain to people that while they live at a twenty-first century pace, suitable for e-mail, you prefer to live at a nineteenth century pace, suitable for fountain pens and sailing ships. Or (this is actually something I read in one of this morning’s comic strips), your mind is on dial-up mind in a broad band world.

    And remind them that everything can be improved by being thought through thoroughly.

  4. Today, I talked to another friend about the facilitation I am doing for Amorpha at their university. We had a faculty conference with their professors, but this week one of them treated Amorpha as if they were just another student, expecting them to intuit things on very little explicit information — after we had made it quite clear in the meeting that Amorpha could not be expected to do that.

    In the course of the conversation my friend mentioned that he saw the Nightline feature and thought the main impression people are going to take from that piece is “Autistic people can’t communicate or have difficulty communicating.” Since most people draw their impression of what autism is like from what they see on TV (same as what they think about multiplicity — bleh), Amorpha’s professors when in standard professor-autopilot mode (as it seems this man was) may not remember that they are dealing with an autistic person, because Amorpha do not fit the TV-profile. They are able to speak “normally”, do not have an impeded or unmodulated voice, and are comfortable talking about their chosen subject.

    I had chosen an “I am autistic” pin for them from Winged Turtle to wear when dealing with professor types. My friend suggested that if that didn’t get the message across to the professors, we substitute one that says “Not all autistics are alike,” and/or the slogan “Autism, it’s not like you think”, which I believe was originally an sticker.

  5. Whether our voice sounds ‘normal’ depends on who you ask, really, but I notice that it gets much more stiff and ‘flat’ when we’re speaking with a person who sees us as having something wrong with us. It’s an unconscious thing that we don’t seem to have much control over, but it’s frustrating because it’s like in expressing that attitude, even non-vocally, they provoke a reaction from us which causes us to look more like the stereotypical image of that ‘problem.’

  6. I sometimes wonder if I’m *really* autistic because I can read nonverbal signals fairly well and most of the time emit fairly normal nonverbal signals. However, every so often I get a hint of some aspects of social interaction I miss. Once I was asked if I had any siblings, and said I had a younger brother and an older half-sister who was put up for adoption before I was born. The person I was talking to gave me this odd look, and I realized it was not considered normal to mention this to someone you’ve only just met. But since her son’s autistic and I’d mentioned I was, I think she figured out that I hadn’t intended to cross some social rule.

  7. I watched your show on Asperger … and lately there has been numberous shows on Austism. WHY is there NEVER anything about Klinefelter’s Syndrome? This is what my son has. No, I never hang with other mothers who have this in their family … because I know no one close. Klinefelters Syndrome is an extra sex chromosome. My son, Kevin, has 2 extra sex chromosome, XXYY. We are totally alone because this is NEVER shown or discussed. If you know a tall boy, with bad teeth and a huge dental bill, who has a hard time fitting in with his peers, has a hard time figuring out the social working of his world … you might have known a Klinefelter boy. I wish it were more well known because I know there must be one close to us … if I could only find him! My son has never had a true friend. He used to have a short Cambodian boy to hang with. Too bad he moved to CA. We only see others when we go to a confention once a year or to the NIH every 2 years. The NIH is studying Klinefelters. That is the only fun part of this, we have got to see DC several times. Please! have Nightline profile the Klinefelter boy!!

    Margie O’Neill

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