Double standards.

Standard

Has anyone noticed something?

When people in general do something destructive, and that thing is considered a normal part of what “people” (defined as, NT, dominant culture, etc, although of course other people might do these things too) do, then people spend a lot of time and effort researching and justifying why this thing exists. For instance:

Gossip is the human equivalent of ‘social grooming’ among primates, which has been shown to stimulate production of endorphins, relieving stress and boosting the immune system. Two-thirds of all human conversation is gossip, because this ‘vocal grooming’ is essential to our social, psychological and physical well-being.

(From Evolution, Alienation, and Gossip.)

Yet when other people (including autistic people) do something that may not even be all that destructive, may serve a purpose, etc, it’s considered a symptom.  And when we do (or even are imagined to do) something destructive, it’s considered twice as bad as anything destructive that non-autistic people generally do.

Case in point:  Violence.

Violence is close to universal among humans, I don’t care what designation they’ve got.  When autistic people (or any of a number of other people) do something violent (or even just something perceived as violent), people see it as utterly horrible, “for no reason”, and a sign of something about all autistic (etc) people. When non-autistic people do things that are far more violent, often towards autistic people (for instance, school bullying, murder, etc) out come the explanations of why these sorts of things make sense in the scheme of things, or the ways in which autistic people are asking for it.

So let me get this straight.

When we do something violent (or perceived as violent), it’s because we’re doing something wrong (even if there was genuine provocation, self-defense, etc).  And when other people do something even more violent to us, it’s because we are something wrong (our very existence is provocative and needing defending against, or something…).

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

46 responses »

  1. this is why right & wrong shouldn’t be decided by democracy or committee, but by universal values outside of majority vote.

  2. Funny you should say gossip…I work with a couple of yappers I’d like to stuff a sock in sometime.

    Isn’t it a matter of “who is in control?” The “top-dog”, “king of the mountain”;in any respect, the neurotypical equivalent to success is the one who decides how others are treated. We can have leaders who are responsible for the death of thousands if not millions—yet they are heroes.

    Boggles the mind…

  3. Gossip is, in fact, not only not engaged in 2/3 of the time by most people, it is classified as a sin of detraction. It is considered one of the most uncivil of all behaviors.

    Studies like that can be wildly off base by setting up meaningless parameters and misinterpreting data. I once heard of a study undertaken by a well known New England university that claimed that 3/4 of information gathered by people was perceived through sound, and not sight.

    For someone to claim gossip is constructive is beyond the pale.

  4. Another thing I notice, is that autistic people are actively taught to lie.

    Not that autistic people can’t figure it out on our own, but if we don’t figure it out, quite often someone will teach us that “social skill”.

  5. The gossip thing is to do with confused definitions. The sort of gossiping which is good for people is generally just an exchange of news – not necessarily putting anybody down, but merely telling one another what’s going on in our lives just now. To say that ‘two-thirds’ of conversation is gossip would require using the widest definition imaginable.

    That having said, I agree about violence. Our culture very much has a code where what one person can get away with in one circumstance is unacceptable in another. One of the reasons that far more women than men are diagnosed with mental ill health is because women are allowed a much narrower scope of self-expression before it is seen as pathological. If women shout, break things or harm themselves in anyway, they are seen to be mentally ill, unfit parents and so on – when men do this they are merely seen as upset.

    And of course as disabled people of all variety, our role is to be as passive as passive can be.

  6. The amount of bias inherent in most discussions of autistic people (when nobody involved in the discussion is autistic, or when nobody in the discussion has ever gotten to know an autistic person as a person rather than a patient) is astounding. All of our strengths become “compensations” or “splinter skills”, and our difficulties become reasons as to why we ought to be cured or eliminated from existence.

    Also, as a bit of a personal anecdote: for years people tried to get me to “be more assertive” and “show more confidence”, but whenever I actually did assert myself, that somehow became “belligerence” or “noncompliance”. I don’t get it at all.

  7. i think the thing about gossip is very complex, and i will note that in my academic jobs, gossip has been (1) the only way in my present job that i could have any hope of knowing what’s going on in the campus, because i couldn’t figure it out myself and noone would explain it except a few colleagues who break the rules of professional decorum or something, and (2) the way some of us in my previous job got mixed up into some really bad department politics, by trusting good friends whose gossip unfortunately came from an untrustworthy source.

    so, i guess what i mean is it can be extremely useful (if you were “out of the loop”) or extremely harmful (malicious or even unintentionally untrue gossip) and you have no idea which until you see all the facts, which may in some cases be never. if only there would be more transparency about SOME things in academia (and other fields, too, I’m sure), we would not have to depend on gossip to know what’s going on and to know why our superiors are suddenly agitated…

  8. PS: i see i have gone off-topic again, but it’s true about the double standard and i should not have said “majority”, rather, “those in power”, because whether it is a minority of powerful leaders, or a majority whose characteristics determine what is normal, they are still likely to lose the difference between right and wrong. (And if aspies ran the world we would probably screw it up, too.)

  9. Zilari – well, I think there are specific ways of asserting yourself that actually work, as opposed to others that are just belligerence (note that I’m quoting neurotypical discourse here). Of course, that is not in itself very helpful for autistics.

    n – “this is why right & wrong shouldn’t be decided by democracy or committee, but by universal values outside of majority vote.” Isn’t this a bit dangerous? It just begs the question as to what these universal values are. And there are plenty of people claiming to be acting out the will of God, or some other ‘universal values’ that have caused trouble in the world. Majority vote is certainly not flawless but it’s probably the only realistic way of going about things.

  10. Also, as a bit of a personal anecdote: for years people tried to get me to “be more assertive” and “show more confidence”, but whenever I actually did assert myself, that somehow became “belligerence” or “noncompliance”. I don’t get it at all.

    Similar experiences over here. I suspect this happens to a lot of women. There were people who punished me for asserting myself or thinking too differently from them about a certain issue, after encouraging me to have more self-esteem and to not allow myself to be led by others. They would say “stand up for yourself” but then people accused me of being hostile, mean, unpleasant, etc when I did so.

    On the original issue of double standards, the one that particularly gets to me is self-injury. When autistic people self-injure it’s seen as a “co-morbidity” or as something intrinsic to autism and a reason to “find a cure,” but if, for instance, a teenage girl considered “normal” in all regards begins cutting, or starving herself, people blame the culture, rather than talking about cures for normalcy.

    Not that I’m saying the culture isn’t a part of it. But in one case, the person’s neurological makeup is blamed while in the other it isn’t. (My experience is that a lot of self-injurious behavior in anyone often has similar origins, but someone considered “normal” is more likely to use an easily concealed method so they can continue appearing normal.)

  11. Zilari, I guess those who wanted you to be assertive wanted you to do it with others, not with them.

    I totally agree with the comments Goldfish made about women and self expression.

    As for gossip, most people are guilty of that at sometime and it is not an NT thing. Autistics gossip just as much as anyone else.

    I do agree with the basic idea of the blog. If you happen to have depression, autism, ingrown toenail, fat hips, then everything that happens in your life is “because of the depression, autism etc.” Don’t bother to tell your doctor you have a pain in your gut because he will say it is a symptom of your depression, autism etc. My father has found that out with his diabetes. As a white male he spent his life being taken seriously. Now he is elderly and diabetic and no one (who matters) listens to him anymore. He is now going through what some of us spend our lves living.

  12. In addition to what zilari said, I’ve noticed that anytime someone who’s autistics displays a trait that is considered to be non-desireable, others place the blame on autism (for instance, in the video called “Autism Everday” on the Autism Speaks website), instead of looking to the individual. People have different temperments. While autism cann’t be separated from the person, some people, as Temple Grandin is fond of saying, “have lazy genes”.

  13. As far as gossip goes – I dislike it but I have a much stricter definition of it. Generally (and this may be my black and white interpretation of it) I don’t think it is productive but becomes self indulgent. That is what makes it differ from a general exchange of information. It is that trying to reveal something about someone with inferences and innuendo without relying on the facts. Or finding outrage with what the object of the gossip is doing when the person doing the gossiping may be very well doing the same thing. That is why I don’t prefer to use NT society as the model for any kind of social conduct.

    However – in regards to behaviors – once a person is “labeled” then generally all of their behaviors are someone refocused through the lens of their label instead of just being considered what every other person would do.

  14. Exactly, Goldfish. Kate’s basic misassumptions in the course of setting up an experiment casts all news as gossip. “He went to the store.” is classified as gossip and is no better or worse in the author’s mind as chatter intended to do damage.

    What’s more deranged about the article is that it suggests that if such conduct makes the active participants happy, then it’s nature’s way of saying it must be socially healthy and serves a constructive purpose (aside from the ridiculous stretch of comparing it to primate grooming–something even people physically do for each other regularly).

    She’s saying, effectively, “If if gets those endorphins flowing, go for it, society.”

  15. Double standards plus “Perceptions Matter Most” is a grating issue on my existence too. Also, there is a “Damned if I do and Damned if I don’t” issue when it comes to my interaction with managers. If I bother them or don’t bother them enough for example. It is mostly because I’m X in their mind when I do it but when Y in their mind does it, it’s no problem.

  16. You know, having seen this sort of double standard in action many times recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s usually a case of obliviousness on the part of the “perpetrators” at first. However, once it’s been brought out in the open and discussed and it still continues, it either has to be deliberate or people who are so used to being in a majority situation, whether through culture, politics or NT status, are incapable of understanding that others are allowed to express perspectives that are different from their own. How else do you explain someone who makes insensitive or even derogatory comments regarding a person or group of people (with impunity in many cases) and then turns around a moment later and rages at the target of their attack for daring to defend themselves? I don’t know guys, I’m NT and I can’t figure most people out most of the time; my hat is off to you all for trying, and for managing not to figuratively (and perhaps literally) strangle everyone you meet. If there really were disproportionate violence within the autistic population, at this point, I am definitely starting to think it would be justifiable.

  17. On an extra separate subject, I just found out that starting August 9, 2006, someone on blogspot started going by the name of Autiemom. I don’t know what to do, and I’m freaking out. I don’t want other people thinking her writing is my writing. As I said in my group, imagine someone taking the name of “Autism Diva” or “Ballastexistenz” or whatever and posting all over the place with that name. People who really know these people would know, but a lot of people would not know, that these two names were not the same person. Anyone have any ideas about this?

    **

    Re: “violence” as self-defence, thanks for posting that on my blog: I posted back to you with not only agreement but an example.

  18. Give a dog a bad name and you may as well hang him. I learnt that at school, learnt it even better in the psychiatric system, and I’ve seen it in many places since. Any perceived-to-be-large negative acts as a sort of black hole, attracting more negatives to it and growing.

    Re. assertiveness, I think the real requirement is that one should be acquiescent in an assertive manner.

  19. Majority rules is a very dangerous thing because the majority could decide to victimize those in the minority who would have no recourse. People praise the idea of majority rules but in reality it is also an avenue for propaganda artists to sway the population to do their bidding. And the idea that oppression is exclusive to those who hold to some sort of religion or universal values is innacurate.

  20. Autiemom: The person using the same name on blogspot may not even be aware of your writing. You should contact her and let her know about your concerns. She may be willing to use a different name or to place a disclaimer on her blog explaining that she is not you.

    You may have noticed that I have a disclaimer on my blog stating that the title is not intended as an attack on jypsy. I put it there after she pointed out that some people might interpret the planet imagery as a criticism of her site. Before she said that, I hadn’t even thought about that possibility.

  21. Well, of course. When they can’t understand us, it’s because we’re broken. When we can’t understand them, it’s because we’re broken. When they can understand eachother, it’s because they’re not broken, and when we can understand one another, it’s ignored, questioned or denied (because we’re broken).

    That seems to be the prevaling attitude, at least.

  22. “On the original issue of double standards, the one that particularly gets to me is self-injury. When autistic people self-injure it’s seen as a “co-morbidity” or as something intrinsic to autism and a reason to “find a cure,” but if, for instance, a teenage girl considered “normal” in all regards begins cutting, or starving herself, people blame the culture, rather than talking about cures for normalcy.”

    I have told some people lately that according to non-speaking people I had read, the reason they self-injure(d) is often in response to some stress and frustration when they don’t have a method of communication available or their communication method is being denied them at that moment, so they do that as a way to “get attention” to their problem, (not in the sense of attention-seeking as a bad thing). ie, that it is not as simple as hurting yourself becos you are autistic, rather usually it is due to some outside stress that if you could change those outside stresses, let the person “talk” about it, figure out how to deal with it or maybe get it solved, they wouldn’t need to hurt themselves or others.

    What I want to know is: Is this pretty general? I mean, have I correctly understood that what I read about this (from you Amanda here and in comments on other blogs; and from some teenager who just learned his FC a few years ago, only I don’t remember his name, but you linked to him and I was reading his blog a while ago; and from 1 or 2 others that I don’t remember who they were), can I correctly assume that this is the usual reason why non-speaking (or non-speaking at that moment) people do self-injuring?

    I have never been non-speaking (although I think my husband would rather I were, sometimes!) and don’t want to make misinformation if I have not understood correctly.

  23. abfh, thanks. I did post to her, but I was too nervous to ask her to actually forfeit her (that is, my) name. We’ll see what happens.

    Re: SIB, I would like to know if anyone has heard the theory bandied about by OTs that certain autistics are in a state of “understimulation” so that they cannot feel pain or don’t react to pain the way normal people do. I wonder if OTs and other therapists look on SIB such as headbanging as certain autistics’ way of feeling something, even if it hurts, because without that level of intensity they are walking around numb all the time.

  24. Wow, Julian and n. that is a great point. I never thought of it that way and I would be very interested in the answers of those who know about this. As a former cutter no one ever suggested I was cutting because of some inate ‘illness’, ‘neuro’ problem or anything else. To be honest, nobody really addressed it at all or tried to stop me in any way. I did it till I stopped of my own accord and that was that.

    LB you too make a great point. One of my favourite sayings goes like this, “if the minority act with enough authority, the majority will walk like lambs to the slaughter.”

    No matter what the issue, disability, gender, race, etc, we have to be true to who we are. If we don’t know who we are we have a responsibility to ourselves to find out.

  25. This may be getting really off on a tangent, but, the issue of SIB is really making me wonder about something in myself. I didn’t exactly self injure, but…I under-registered pain my entire life and haven’t thought about it until my writing about it in post #28. For instance, I once split my head open on a metal NYC radiator and didn’t feel it even though there was blood gushing out of my head. I told my mother in a straight voice that I think my head is bleeding. That was it. Another time I sliced open the palm of my hand by bending a soda can back and forth until it creased. After it creased real good I was able to bend the can so that I could make the can turn into a metal, spiraling ribbon. I did not notice that while I was doing that my hand was bleeding. I did not feel the pain of it. I came to my mother calmly with my hand dripping blood and she was freaking but even that didn’t really register with me. Another time I was outside barefoot and there was the bottom of a broken glass bottle on the ground. I stepped right on it and didn’t feel the pain of the glass going into my skin. Again, I didn’t cry but just stood still or something and watched the blood gush out of my foot. Another time I accidentally blew up some old gunpowder I had found on a field (it was 1976, so there was something comemmorating 1776, some kind of reenactment, and I was stuffing spent shell casings into my pocket when nobody was looking) and burned my hand. I knew I had done something probably dumb but again even though my hand was burned, I didn’t feel it as much as I should have. Finally, but I’m sure there are more stories like this that I will remember as they come back to me, I pierced three more holes in my ears using nothing but ice cubes and a sewing needle.

    I want to know if autistics as a group have a certain subset of people who under register pain, and if this is related in any way to SIB. If nobody has any idea, then that’s okay. Never mind.

    I’m just glad I’m starting to remember these things. All kinds of stuff I did as a child are all of a sudden coming back to me. I must have repressed a lot of things because I walled off most of my childhood due to sexual abuse.

  26. LB – yes tyranny of the majority is always a danger to be avoided, which is why you have written constitutions in most democracies. Nonetheless in reality you have to choose ultimately between rule by majority vote or rule by a minority. And I stand by my early comments about universal values – someone has to end up deciding what these values are because so many are contested. Let’s face, the idea of equal respect or equal rights for all people is *not* universally shared by anywhere near everyone. So unless you go believe that we can find some truly wise group of people to make all these decisions (and I don’t believe you can) then we’re back to majorit rule.

  27. LB – yes tyranny of the majority is always a danger to be avoided, which is why you have written constitutions in most democracies.

    Which would make it NOT a pure democracy – just like the U.S. is not a democracy but a republic because the founding fathers saw the inherent dangers in just allowing pure majority rules.

    And I stand by my early comments about universal values – someone has to end up deciding what these values are because so many are contested. Let’s face, the idea of equal respect or equal rights for all people is *not* universally shared by anywhere near everyone. So unless you go believe that we can find some truly wise group of people to make all these decisions (and I don’t believe you can) then we’re back to majorit rule.

    Again though that example is making the assumption that the majority is either willing or cabaple of making fair laws. Having majority rules does not in any way protect the minority because the majority through prejudice may very well be quite content to supress or destroy the minority. It happens all over the world in places with racial, ehtnic or religious minorities. That is why I prefer as little “rule” as possible – not necessarily a minority which could become dictatorial or a majority which has proven before to easily become a mob.

  28. “I want to know if autistics as a group have a certain subset of people who under register pain, and if this is related in any way to SIB.”

    I have read a lot of autistics mention that they are way less sensitive to pain than the usual. I think there are also a lot of us (sissy auties) who are extra-sensitive to pain. (just kidding in the parenthesis … if anyone else is over-sensitive like me, please don’t be offended)

    Not sure about the 2nd half of the question.

  29. autiemom, my parents once followed a trail of blood all over a 3 storey house. I’d hurt myself enough to bleed lots but hadnt noticed. I also hadn’t responded although they must have called and called.

    I was also not particularly bothered by contractions so strong they went over the top of the chart, yet was in agony post caesarian from internal bruising. And I’m a bit of a weed over minor bruises or paper cuts or little burns…

    I’ve also had SIB’s although I didnt recognise them as such until last year- oops! oh and the can thing made me giggle… the number of times I’ve cut my mouth by chewing ring pulls, paper clips… also used to have a thing about licking the inner part of metal pencil sharpeners…

  30. Okay… non-speaking people self-injure for the same range of reasons anyone else self-injures. Inability to communicate something is only one possible reason (and that can be shared with people who do have usable speech/typing/whatever some of the time).

    There are a whole range of reasons that some auties don’t appear to register pain, but only one of those reasons is having a high pain tolerance. I’d write about it now but I just discovered why a person doesn’t go out and run around in the sun getting overheated while recovering from a cold, and I’ve just helped out an even more-crashed neighbor with printing and mailing some stuff. (I think I’m turning into a secretary, except there’s no way I could sustain it enough to get a job.)

    At any rate the reasons for differing apparent pain responses aren’t as simplistic as some people make them, and the “They don’t feel pain the way we do” thing has been used to justify atrocities towards more than just autistic people so shouldn’t be used generally and lightly and shouldn’t be totally assumed. There are a ton of reasons and again one day I might get into them.

    Anyway, the “self-injuring just to feel something when you feel numb” thing is a common reason given by non-disabled people who self-injure. Although they usually mean emotional numbness, sometimes they mean a sense of detachment from their body, and self-injury brings them back into it. (Whereas others self-injure because they find their body intrusive and hate it and want it to go away so they punish it.)

    Auties self-injure for all sorts of reasons, just like non-auties. Some of those reasons may be related to some aspects of how being autistic works out at that point in time for that particular person etc, and some of those reasons may be due to tics or something, but even then, these things are generally shared with non-auties.

    Michelle Dawson has said that she thinks we self-injure for totally different reasons than non-autistic people self-injure, and that this is normal because we do everything differently than non-autistic people do. Just from the amount of auties I know who do self-injure for the usual reasons, that’s not true in any absolute sense, but the reasons Michelle talks about are certainly other possible reasons, and are discussed here:

    http://www.quicktopic.com/27/H/vJvhV4fDnBgw7?m1=535

  31. ‘sometimes they mean a sense of detachment from their body, and self-injury brings them back into it’

    I think that explains it for me very well. It isnt about pain or hating myself because actually I think I’m rather fabulous and I dont really like pain/ discomfort. I find stimming has the same effect if not suppressed. I have subtle ones for work!! yup, it feels like it stops my head spinning off somewhere scary when things are stressful.

  32. Holy cow, I just remembered that I did this for a long time:

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trichotillomania/AN00026

    I have no idea if this is considered a kind of SIB or more of an OCD, or if the two are related.

    I still pick at myself, practically all over myself, all the time, but I don’t pull out my hair anymore because I’m trying to hang onto it in my old age ;-)

    I first started thinking about this “under-registering” and “over-registering” pain a few months back, after answering several caregiver questionnaires given to me by my autistic 4-year-old’s occupational therapists.

    Ben is an “under-register” according to their questionnaires, whereas my other son is an “over-register” of pain. Not only that, but the same thing goes for fears. Ben is hardly scared of anything and will approach classically scary things, like people in clown suits and dogs or whatever, and David is phobic of a lot of things even to this day.

    I can definitely see how someone could look at someone’s OT profile in let’s say an institution (if even something like that would exist, I don’t even know), and see “under-registers pain” and use that as an excuse to inflict pain on that person.

    The other thing I was thinking about was this. On top of Ben supposedly “under-registering” pain, he has severe motor planning difficulties in the area of language. I wonder if it’s really a myth that he under registers pain; rather, maybe because of his motor planning difficulties, he doesn’t cry and scream as fast or as intensely as nonautistic/normal kids would because the signal is not getting to his brain at the same rate.

    In other words, perhaps the pain is just as painful but the outward behavior suggests otherwise, and because he can’t verbalize his pain it is just assumed that he is under-registering it. I can see how this can set somebody up for abuse.

    All I can do is speak for myself when I say, I did NOT and generally do not (I just remembered slicing my hand open on a catfood can in adulthood…it’s all coming back to me…) feel those things the way I “should have” felt them. It was like I was watching somebody else bleeding. Ironically, I can’t watch other people’s *papercuts,* let alone gushing blood. My stomach literally flip-flops when it comes to someone else, but I can inject myself and cut myself and it doesn’t really bother me at all. The cuts start to really hurt when they are healing, however.

  33. I remember the first time I heard of trichotillomania. I was sitting in an institution ripping my hair out, and a few staff decided to have a conversation like I wasn’t there.

    Something on the order of:

    “My cousin’s best friend did that… doesn’t that have a name or something?”

    “Yeah, it’s called trich-o-till-o-mania.”

    “Mmm.”

    “Yeah.”

    The odd thing is I don’t remember this conversation occurring only once. It seemed to occur rather frequently in my presence, and the fact that I was there was almost never directly acknowledged at all.

    I have bald spots but I have such thick hair that they don’t show up unless my hair is really short. (Shorter than it is right now.)

  34. Oh, and I find the over vs. under-sensitive stuff to be far too simplistic, even when applied to so-called “sensory issues”.

    And yes, feeling pain but not registering it the same way as everyone else outwardly is one thing. And there’s more than one reason for not feeling pain when you do get hurt. And then there’s expressing pain early in life but getting told over and over “that didn’t hurt!” until you don’t trust your perceptions. And there’s not being able to conceptualize pain very well despite feeling it. And there’s feeling it and reacting to it but not consciously noticing it. And there’s having a chronic pain condition that by comparison makes other pain feel like nothing, or that actually results in diminished touch sensation in some areas but increased in others. And… so forth. There’s a lot of things, and I can’t do them justice right now.

    What I meant, with regards to abuse, was that whole entire kinds of people get declared unilaterally incapable of pain, and by extension incapable of suffering when abused. That’s one reason why I wouldn’t classify “all autistics” that way, nor even “all nonverbal autistics” (Tito has done that and it’s one of the few things he’s said that has really pissed me off, because he basically says that if an autistic person can’t speak then you shouldn’t worry about hurting them because they won’t feel their body much anyway, which is only true of some, and not all “innately”). It’s just not true in any universal sense and sets people up for abuse.

  35. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around anyone classifying a whole group of people as not feeling pain. I can’t even imagine someone like Temple saying that, despite all her other statements about how it would make sense to weed out the low-functioning autistics but not the high-functioning ones, like her, who benefit (rather than put a drain on) society.

    Re: trichotillomania.

    I didn’t know there was anything wrong/abnormal with this until about 2 years ago, when I stumbled upon an article on it. In other words, when I was bleeding and not feeling it, and when I was ripping my hair out and investigating how cool and slippery the hair root was, and how the tip of each hair root has a black dot on it, and how you can slide the hair root off the hair…I just did it, and didn’t think about it or wonder if other people did it. In other words, there wasn’t a “name” for it in my mind as a child.

    I wonder how many things do not become “sick” in a person’s mind until after they are told by someone else that it is “sick.”

  36. Amanda, thank you for explaining about SIB for non-speaking and speaking people. Sorry if my question was stupid, but I think I understand it better now.

  37. Pingback: Whitterer on Autism » Blog Archive » The art of disguise

  38. Very interesting points – from all angles.
    I came here from Whitterer’s blog – my granddaughter (age, almost 4) is autistic -PDD-NOS -high functioning, so they tell us. When she gets angry at us or upset, near meltdown at times, she may throw things, scratch, squeeze your arm or another body part or bite. Ok, these are not exactly desirable characteristics one wants children to use -regardless if the child is autistic or not. (And MANY, MANY “normal” children do these things too, ya know – and a lot of those kids, their parents, for whatever reason, do not try to discipline them against those actions.)
    Because, yes there is a double standard that often operates, sometimes it may seem it is autistic vs NT, but sometimes I think it is also that some parents disregard some of these actions too when they occur in their own children but place heavy regard on them when they crop up in others children -regardless of if the child has “issues” or not.
    Behaviors that can be or are harmful to others or one’s self, should be taught to be undesirable, at least in public. When my granddaughter has a meltdown at home, we try to calm her initially by simply getting her attention -which sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. In public, it is a bit different,as all too often people don’t understand that there may be something in her mind, unseen to us, that has tripped a trigger there – an elevator for example can at times set her off and she will lay down immediately and proceed with the kicking, screaming, crying, wailing. And, again, because most people don’t know her, think she is just a little child, uncontrollable, spoiled, etc.,or they offer their aid but have no clue about the cues we give her to try to re-settle her, when she gets louder, nastier (yes, I said that word), they look at us with this look that says “You are raising a terrible child.” So do you just allow these actions to continue, try to calm, try to explain -to teach behaviors that are more acceptable or what?
    I know some of her behaviors are coming from the disorder, but if they are allowed to continue, where does one draw a line in the sand on discipline? On what constitutes acceptable vs non-acceptable behavior whether the child is autistic or not? I’m just asking here – not trying to cast judgement – but some seem to say that these actions are ok because it is the disorder, others say autistics are the same as NTs and on and on it goes. I guess what I mean is we don’t like double standards in any aspect of life and yet -at times it does seem that it is acceptable too.

  39. Hi…I’ve been through some deep deep depression for the past 5 years of my life. Believe me, I have told my mom and she feels bad for me. We have no money for counciling or anything like that. I hate hearing the “Close-my-eyes-and-breath- deeply act”. Please…I need help. I’m not suicidal but it’s ruining my life. I’m in my teen years and it’s now a double depression for me and I need help. My mom and dad divorced like, many years ago and my mom found someone and she’s been with him for many years, also. I never liked my stepfather…He is super tough and is in the military and he always calls me retarded and messed up. I feel so alone because I have two younger siblings (boys) that drive me nuts and I feel that my mom is the only one who keeps me sane. I’m afraid to tell mom what mental abuse my stepfather has been putting me through because it will break up their relationship and it WILL ruin my life even more in many ways. I just MIGHT go crazy. Please help me. What am I to do?
    I am a boy, just so you know. I also hate my biological father and I DO know that others have it worse.

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