To the woman who accosted me on my way to the para transit van tonight.

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I agreed to meet you tomorrow.

That was before you made it clear that I really do not want to meet you tomorrow.

It is not ever okay to demand that I look at your face, especially not by getting in my face. For the record, I didn’t see your face even when you did that. I saw a weird swirl of blue and brown. Since your skin is pale and you have blonde hair, I’m pretty certain none of that was your face. That’s what happens when you seriously overload a person with bad visual perception. I was using those eyes before you wrecked them like that.

It is never okay to demand that I hook pinkies with you and “pinky swear” that I remember your face and will meet you tomorrow. Especially after I have done everything in my power to pull away from you when you held out your pinky in ever more intrusive ways.

It is not okay to then, after I have had a clearly negative reaction any time you got near me, come after me and demand a high five.

Most of this conversation happening in the tone you use to talk to a little kid.

It is doubly not okay to respond to my terror and attempts to back away from you and cover my head and face, by saying “YOU SHITHEAD!”

To be perfectly clear:

I do not want to meet you tomorrow. Or ever.

I do not want to talk to you.

I do not want to touch you.

In fact, of the three, I want that one the least. So don’t, ever, make another attempt to touch me. Don’t lean towards me or get in my face either. That makes me feel like you’re inside me somehow.

Because of you, I may not make it back tomorrow. Not for fear of you. Although that’s a consideration. But rather because your actions turned a good but tiring day into overload and excruciating pain.

My mind is running in circles. I could not answer some very simple questions when I go home.

I was barely able to get to bed from my wheelchair because of your actions.

Because doing that all to me had actual consequences towards my ability to think, understand, and move.

I might not get to sleep in time to go back tomorrow. It takes my brain time to recover from that kind of assault and sometimes it takes that out of the time I need to be sleeping. Or I may be too overloaded by tomorrow. Or too tired. And you would be the main reason for that.

I’m not a child. I don’t pinky swear. I don’t do patronizing sing-song voices. I don’t like to be touched by strangers and I don’t like strangers trying to force me to look at their faces, touch them, or promise them anything. And I don’t like being called a shithead for not responding to these things or looking terrified by these things. That goes double if you said shithead in the same light-hearted, patronizing way you would to a cat who just put their teeth on you for petting them too long. So don’t think that “I was just joking” would change my mind.

Oh and if you wonder why I didn’t just type this when I was with you? Because your presence rendered me unable to type from the get-go. That’s always a very bad sign for any future interactions. It doesn’t just happen around random people, it happens around people who are peculiarly invasive.

If I see you tomorrow and you have read this: DO NOT talk to me, touch me, joke with me about what happened tonight, hang around near me acting huffy, or any other direct or indirect interaction with me. I can’t take it. I couldn’t take what you did already. Enough is enough. FFS.

Also? If you hadn’t put me through all that, I wouldn’t be refusing to talk to you anymore. I would meet you tomorrow, or not, and either way things wood be fine. So don’t blame me. I’m just trying to watch out for my health. (Yes, literally. Which is why I’m not budging on this.)

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.

39 responses »

  1. Her behavior sounds truly shocking. I know that there are cultural differences regarding how socially forward one is supposed to be, but I don’t know of any system of etiquette where it’s considered socially acceptable to attempt to force physical contact on near-strangers who are clearly Not Interested or to verbally abuse people who don’t respond to one’s social overtures the way one would like. Honestly, some people and their sense of entitlement.

  2. How appalling. I do not understand why that woman would do such a thing. That’s completely overbearing, insensitive, abusive and completely immature. I hope you do not have to see her again. She sounds like a complete nightmare.

  3. Sorry that this is off topic for this particular post — please feel free to delete or move elsewhere or keep or whatever you deem suitable. Just thought you might be interested in being aware this publication had been released:

    Today, the U.S. Department of Education issued a publication that outlines principles for educators, parents and other stakeholders to consider when developing or refining policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion. The goal of this resource document is to help ensure that schools are safe and healthy environments where all students can learn, develop and participate in instructional programs that promote high levels of academic achievement. The document also provides a synopsis of ongoing efforts by federal agencies to address national concerns about using restraint and seclusion in schools, and includes links to state restraint and seclusion policies and procedures. To access this document, click here http://www.ed.gov/policy/restraintseclusion

  4. Gah! This woman needs a restraining order taken out against her. Note to /everyone/: If someone reacts badly to the way you are treating them, stop treating them that way. Period. No further explanation or qualification or justification needed.

    Also [e-hugs]: I hope you recover from this experience as quickly and smoothly as possible.

  5. I too struggle to invasive people who seem to crawl inside of you in a very negative fashion and make you feel disconnected and fragmented as a being have many who broadcaste they work with many with autism but they create of this in me so it makes me feel sad for the others they have been so called working for…

  6. Even if you at one point agreed to meet someone, this while you were under duress and attack, that fact that you were under duress and attack renders your agreement null and void. You have no obligation to this person and do not owe them any explanation. This person has used inappropriate behavior. I am so sorry it has happened and you will need time to recover. I hope you have found someone there who can offer you some insight into this woman’s behavior because it seems so very peculiar and out-of-line.

    Healing Hugs, Mom

  7. So sorry for your horrible ordeal. She is ignorant and selfish. Your writing is helping enlighten people. I wish you would write a book, you are an amazing writer and it has helped me a lot with understanding.

  8. Mom: It’s not that peculiar. There are people who love hanging out with DD people because they think they won’t have to act like adults themselves, and that we don’t need to be treated like adults. They act like they are little kids and so are we. There are also a lot of nondisabled people who feel entitled to interaction with us and become enraged if we don’t cooperate. If you look at what power does to people it makes a really twisted sense.

  9. So the very fact a person has a disability draws these people towards them like a magnet. Then there needs to be a way to handle them when this happens that can be pulled out to deal with them. Not easy and it shouldn’t be necessary but indeed it sounds like it is needed. I know sometimes a person will ask me a question I don’t feel obligated to answer so I don’t and they act indignant but it doesn’t change my response. This has happened with phone calls from telemarketers. I hang up the phone and don’t converse because I feel like they are the invader. i have used the same response many times so it is rote to me. I don’t answer a single question.

    Likewise this woman was invading your space and trying to get you to talk to her and pinkie swear and all sorts of things. I wonder if others might step up to help you if you had a pre recorded message that clearly states boundaries maybe interspersed with a loud sound like a horn to get attention. This would free you from having to think on the spot for the right words. It could be something like “STOP! It is not ok to touch me. Back off. Please respect my privacy.”

    I also have a distant family member who has talked baby talk to me. When I called that to their attention and requested they stop they got mad. I try to understand the mind set but it is difficult. In this case I think they think they are cute as a little kid doing it but I want to converse on an adult to adult level. I find it disrespectful when used in talking to another adult and I see this used inappropriately often when people are dealing with the elderly as well as you pointed out people with disabilities..Disrespectful it is for sure.

    Thanks for explaining, Mom

  10. When I have to deal with intrusive people, it ruins my day too. I get so angry and embarrassed that I can’t think clearly for an hour or so.

    One day, I was being given a routine checkup (for stuff like heart rate, blood pressure and eye examination) at the doctor’s office, and I said “Ouch” when he ran his hands along my abdominal area. He laughed and said “Come on, that didn’t hurt!” I reluctantly agreed with him. He then checked my heart rate, telling me it was at an unhealthily high level. After leaving the room for a few minutes, he decided that his measurements didn’t add up, and went back in to check my heart again. The rate had gone down to a normal level. Together we deduced that I had calmed down from having my body examined during the time he was out of the room. Then I cried in shame, and my heart rate went up again!

    It DOES hurt me to be touched. I understand that the doctor’s job, by definition, involves procedures like this, and that he was not maliciously invading my personal space. But he somehow did not get that I was in actual stress until it was scientifically proven. How could this man (who by the way knows I am autistic) think that his cold fingers on my exposed belly would not cause fear and discomfort?

  11. What an absolutely rude person! It’d be rude if you were NT and it’s still rude when you’re autistic. You don’t get in someone’s personal space like that, you don’t patronize them, and you don’t push yourself on them when they are tired and obviously trying to withdraw. It’s a wonder you didn’t smack her. I seriously might have. Well, that or just made a run for it. That kind of thing totally freaks me out.

  12. She didn’t understand what that experience was like for you, and how could she? She was trying to be nice and friendly. It is good that you are sharing what it is like to be you but, for your own sake, forgive people who mean well but have no concept of what the world is like for you.

    • (Assumptions made on my part are based on similar experiences.)

      I wouldn’t say “she didn’t understand”. I think it is probably more like, “She thought it was okay to act this way”. The distinction is small but significant. Because she was interacting with somebody who is disabled, she didn’t categorize her actions as wrong; because she at some point bought into the idea that disabled people aren’t quite as human as the rest of the human race–there’s “people” and there’s “disabled-people”, and the second is a totally different category from the first. Because she didn’t put “disabled people” in the “people” category, she didn’t think about what she was doing in the context of “How I am treating a fellow human being.” She thought about it in the context of “How nice a person I am to be interacting with a disabled-person”. And that mindset left her free to do some rather nasty things.

      • Victoria Ferrante, you are kind of hitting an something because children are one of the largest groups of people that are regularly treated as less than human and not worthy of making their own decisions or having their own boundaries respected.

        I was talking to someone the other day and we both are leery of the idea of having children, even though the other person would really like to one day. What we’re worried about is the power dynamics relative to adults and children and there is this question of if we even COULD relate to our hypothetical children in a respectful way while living in our current society. We’d want to, but maybe no matter what we did the children could end up feeling like we didn’t.

        Obviously it would not be totally appropriate to treat disabled people like children, but it shouldn’t be more wrong than it would be to, say, treat women like disabled people regardless of ability. There’s nothing wrong with being disabled and there’s nothing wrong with being a child. When people compare me to children as a way of trying to shame me I say as much, that I consider it a compliment to be compared to that group of people.

        When a group is not respected that is when they start getting lumped together and treated like the same kind of thing. So we see women or racial minorities being told that they’re cognitively or otherwise biologically inferior (like disabled people), we get disabled people being told that they’re like children, we get white people with inconvenient beliefs being compared to racial minorities (“indian lover” was once a very difficult thing to be considered), etc.

        And then kind of what I’m saying is just that a child shouldn’t be treated like Amanda Baggs was, either.

        (also, response to your response to me: You are pretty nice.)

      • Why,thank you! And I agree with you, whatever the person’s motivations are (innocent, ignorant, or malicious), treating others as “less than” is discrimination.

      • “What we’re worried about is the power dynamics relative to adults and children and there is this question of if we even COULD relate to our hypothetical children in a respectful way while living in our current society. We’d want to, but maybe no matter what we did the children could end up feeling like we didn’t.”

        It’s possible to treat children respectfully. My parents are proof of that. My earliest memories, at 3-4 years old, are of them treating me as an equal, explaining things to me, and negotiating with me. They still had veto power, but I definitely had a say in how they ran my life. The key is that whenever the kid protests about something, you stop and listen to what they’re trying to communicate and find something workable for both of you. My sensory sensitivities didn’t cause me nearly as much trouble as they do for most late-diagnosed autistics, because my parents – though they didn’t understand why those things bothered me – were willing to accept my word that they *did* bother me.

  13. I am sorry that you had such a hard time with someone who clearly did not honor you or you specific abilities in this life. To corner you physically, emotionally, and verbally was just cruel and outrageously insensitive of her. I am finding it hard to defend myself in these situations as well, people seem to sense my fatigue or think they can get over on me and treat me like I am an infant. I have been there in my own way, since I am not you I obviously cannot totally understand how you felt. We know each other and have shared some small time together, I know you like myself are active in our community to the extent our bodies allow, when someone does what this person did it diminishes us all. (I loved the purple manual by the way, hope your day at the conference went well). I hope things in your travels go better for you, MR

  14. Nope, sorry Victoria, I’m perfectly capable of differentiating a person who is trying to be nice but doesn’t know how, from a person who is intrusive and demanding and patronizing and sees me as a little child. And so did everyone I talked to who witnessed the scene, from the van driver who drove me home (who doesn’t know a thing about me and had never met me before), to the staff person who was pushing my wheelchair (who was a sub, and therefore had barely had any experience with me). When my case manager heard the story from the guy who was pushing my chair, she tried to look through the whole conference the next day just so she could write up a report on this person if she happened to work for the agency that provides me services. And she decided that before she even talked to me. The guy who was pushing my wheelchair was so shocked by how this woman treated me that he was literally socially immobilized and unable to intervene.

    People who are “just trying to be nice” don’t look really really terrible, to the point of “let’s report this person for misconduct”, to multiple nondisabled bystanders who know little of the person being socially assaulted in this way. (Seriously, there are several levels of “bad” that random nondisabled people rarely even notice in approaches to disabled people, so if they notice, it’s really bad.) Nice people also don’t push themselves at someone who is clearly indicating terror — even if they don’t understand why, they have some sense of boundaries that tells them not to invade further. (And if they do persist in talking to the person, it’s on the order of “are you okay?”) Nice people don’t call people “shithead” when the other person resists attempts to touch them.

    Everything that happened to me is a sign of a person who doesn’t care about their effect on others, and who is too selfish to understand that sometimes people don’t want to interact, which is kind of the opposite of a nice person. (The selfishness comes in when they refuse to accept clear signs that the person isn’t interested in what they’re up to.) And nice people never, ever, ever demand to touch a stranger and react with hostility when the stranger resists, except in rare emergency situations where they are providing CPR or something.

    And nothing I said above says anything about whether I forgive her. It just says what she did was wrong, and obviously wrong to every witness I’ve talked to or heard from. But it shouldn’t even take other witnesses to show it, usually disabled people ourselves have extremely accurate radar for when we’re being treated as little kids and when people are just trying to be friendly. Because we get it all the time. And what’s more important than my forgiveness is whether she learns from her actions before she really does damage to another disabled person who is is either stunned or too physically impaired to pull away. Unwanted touch can harm people on many levels, in fact disabled people who learn to accept unwanted touch (in any context) are far more likely to be victims of abuse. So the touch thing is a huge deal.

    Also, although I doubt you’ll believe this, I’ve never become suddenly unable to type in front of a nice person who isn’t invasive in some manner. It’s not something that happens often. But when it does, it’s a massive warning sign that I need to get away before something bad happens. Unfortunately I was too shocked to remember that until after I got home. I couldn’t type all the way home and the van driver was seriously worried about me. She made a point to talk to the staff person who was with me, about how upset I was and how he might want to ride with me next time to help me out with that. Which is… actually a potential sign of a nice person showing care and concern after watching an outrageous display of disablism.

    • Hey Amanda Baggs, I just wanted to comment to tell you that you are right and what that person did is wrong. I am autistic too and it’s not okay for people to treat us like that.

      I know you know this already, but I was reading some of your stuff from a few years ago recently. You are like me in that trying to detach and focus on the logic/issues is one way that you try to deal with things, even though the self doubt and fear is still there underneath. If the fear is there now it’s wrong though, you are not a bad person and we (meaning you but also the people like you) really do not deserve that kind of thing.

      Oh, to Victoria Ferrante? I don’t think you’re a bad person either. I’m skimming your blog thing and it says you have two autistic children. I bet you love them a lot. You just missed something that you’ve been trained not to see.

    • I never said or thought you were in the wrong. The other person certainly was. The tone of your post came across as very angry. You have a right to feel what you feel, whatever it might be. My concern was with your wellbeing. If you’re already dealing with sensory overload, anger will make your situation worse. Of course, I was assuming you were angry. So, I apologize if my assumption was incorrect.

      My daughter is profoundly autistic and this sort of thing happens to her often. You did not give specific details about your incident, so I imagined it to be similar to the situations my daughter experiences. Workers at the school she attends often will come up to her and talk in a high-pitched squeaky voice (like women talk to babies) and use baby talk, and touch her. This happens out in public too. My daughter is extremely sensitive to sound and wears earphones when she is out in the world. You would think people would see those and get the idea to be quiet, but, I think it is an instinct for neurotypicals to want to communicate and so they speak even louder when they see her hoping to be heard. These people are trying to be friendly and are uneducated about her and autism in general. That is why I thought it was good that you are sharing your experiences. unfortunately, the people who need to read what you are writing (NTs with no experience with autism) are not reading about autism. I think anyone who works with the autistic community should be more educated about hypersensitivities and the intelligence of all people with autism.

  15. No doubt in my mind here. If she’d done this to a nondisabled person it would have been wrong. The only difference with disabled people is that more nasty power dynamics come into it. My only doubt here is in my ability to convince a someone of this who seems to think that the only reason this person’s actions were unacceptable, are because of traits in me that the person didn’t know about. It’s really hard to communicate through the kind of confusion it takes to believe I’m the one doing something wrong here. 

    I just watched a Dave Hingsburger video that gets at some of the power dynamics present in this interaction.  It’s called “The Ethics of Touch”. 

    Before he even gets to touch, he talks about personal space.  How most people can recognize intrusion into their personal space and that serves as a warning to them before any abuse takes place. And how many disabled people don’t have that boundary. So the first time we notice intrusion is when someone is already touching us.  It has taken me years of work to gain any sense of personal space.  And I have to fight to keep that awareness because as someone who gets intimate care, I have people touching the most private parts of my body on a daily basis. 

    He talks about staff behavior that can make this more difficult. And how this staff behavior both makes us more vulnerable to abuse, and more likely to be seen as abusers in other contexts.  One of the things he actually mentions is getting up in our faces when they want to tell us something important.  And anything that makes it seem as if it’s okay for people to be up in our personal space or touching us whenever they want.

    He says these boundaries are especially important to keep with disabled people because we are far more likely to experience abuse, and yet we are socialized to accept intrusion of any and all kinds.  And abusers look for people who are unfazed by intrusions into our emotional and physical boundaries.  So it’s vitally important, both for our mental health and for protection, that disabled people learn not to accept these intrusions.  Both intrusions into our personal space, and people actually touching us without our consent. 

    And he also says something else that people usually get backwards. The more severe the person’s disability, the more important that boundaries are respected.  Because there is more potential for abuse and more potential it won’t get reported.  And the way you go about it is by respecting our boundaries so that when they are not respected, we respond, even if not verbally, with resistance. 

    So going up to a disabled person (and especially someone many people visually see as severely disabled — non speaking, being pushed in a wheelchair, etc.) and putting their face up to mine, demanding eye contact, trying to touch me while I squirm and pull away, and calling me a shithead when I refuse to touch them?  

    No. Not okay. Never okay. Never friendly. Never nice. The fact that I had it in me to resist even a little is due to a whole lot of people not acting like her for a very long time. Every time someone like her does something like that it erodes my ability to maintain that sense of boundaries. If she touched me it would have destroyed a large part of it that I would have had to rebuild. 

    I just finished rebuilding it a couple months ago, after close contact with a couple hundred people who touched me and got inches from my face while asking me things. That memory, of having boundaries not just crossed but shattered, is all that allowed me to pull away from her. Without having been thinking of that moments before, I’d never have had a chance, I’d have flipped into passive mode and she’d have damaged me.

    Her behavior would have been wrong with a nondisabled person. For a disabled person it’s even worse. For a person who has literally no control of the wheelchair they are in, can’t speak, and has few defenses at that point, it’s even worse.  And for anyone to claim that it’s wrong for that person to then go home and write about how wrong it is to have done this to them… I can’t even come up with the words for how messed up that is.

    Because these sorts of interactions are things that it’s vital that disabled people not experience if we are going to have any chance in hell of resisting mistreatment.  I’m talking about actual damage. I’m doing nobody any damage by saying how wrong this is, but the person doing it did real tangible damage to me, and would to any other disabled person she met, especially if she managed to persuade anyone to go along with her just to be nice.  That’s a kind of nice most disabled people can’t afford to be. 

    So I am not going to apologize for standing my ground. I am not going to apologize for doing anything in my power to avoid being touched, to avoid getting dragged unwillingly into an interaction, and telling the world about it later so they can learn the consequences of actions like hers.  And by the way, even if it was unintentional on her part, that doesn’t actually remove any of her responsibility for what she did. If anything it suggests she needs to learn how not to have damaging interactions with disabled people. And the only way to learn is for people to say things like I have said. 

    And if anyone thinks I’m doing this to put someone down or something, they’re way off base. I’m doing this because she hurt me and I wanted people to know why this hurts people and that it does actual damage, not just the figurative kind. Nobody can know this if we don’t say it when things like this happen. And to put someone’s potential hurt feelings at the same level as the damage being done by their actions, is not right. Mind you, I don’t believe anyone is above harming people in situations when they have power over someone, and I don’t think they always mean to, but none of that removes the damage. All that removes the damage is not doing it again. And if one disabled person avoids getting hurt because someone took this post to heart, that makes everything worth it. Including getting comments suggesting that the main problem here is my presumed lack of forgiveness.

    • I am actually really really glad that you ARE learning to put up those boundaries. In the three or so years I’ve been following this blog I’ve been seeing you get more and more vocal and more and more certain about the need to do that. It’s really great to see you have as much as success as you have in standing up for yourself and every time you do it gets easier for the rest of us too, so I hope you will keep doing it as best you can.

      I think the difference for you is that most women at least in the US grow up with those kinds of boundaries but being afraid that someone will violate them. There is a sense of being “under siege” or that no matter what they do they will be a victim eventually because of the kind of person they are. But the idea of not even having those kinds of boundaries is outside of most people’s experience and so it’s hard for those people to think about the kind of person who tears it down.

      That kind of person is almost seen as not a real thing but more like a mythical creature. I’ve seen people excuse some of the most creepy, violent, etc stuff just because someone is a parent. And we all know “parents love their children,” so there starts to be an idea that, for example, forcing sexual situations or physically hurting a child and then getting mad at them for being hurt is actually this pure motivation and the parents don’t “mean it like that.” Mothers are just doing their best, don’t you know (says the Masked Mother Defender).

      “Also how on earth can someone who wasn’t even there know the motivations of this person?”

      I’m 90% certain that being a caretaker of disabled people (in this case V Ferrente’s children) is a really important part of her identity so she just instinctively identified with this other disabled caretaker.* Then her own self doubt started billowing up along with her need to be a good caretaker (it’s good that she wants to be, of course) so she started defending this person without really knowing the situation. Since she didn’t know your history in particular or the stuff about disabled people you’ve been saying just now she, didn’t realize how harmful a thing that comment could have been to you or how much worse it could have been to the wrong person.

      All in all the comment was a bad action with a few good motivations behind it.I hope the fact that she’s reading your blog shows that she’s aware that there’s some holes in her perspective in regards to autistic people and that she wants to learn more.

      *The potential darker part could be what you’ve written about identifying with the oppressor:
      https://ballastexistenz.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/empathizing/

      Both of these things could be true here, though, and one wouldn’t invalidate the other.

  16. Well she’s explained her own motivations now so that helps. Sorry for 3rd person it’s hard to do pronouns when talking to two people. I might respond more later if I have the time and energy. Right now I’m too sleep deprived to trust myself on something this complicated. But she’s drying my bipartisan hose so if I sleep now it won’t be too restful. So I’m staying awake but not capable of heavy conversation. Except I will say when I get pissed about these things I don’t go around pissed forever, I just feel it and then it’s gone. Was just talking to a staff person the other day who said it’s easier than usual for him to deal with me getting mad at him because I don’t sit there trying to stay mad, The only time it’s prolonged is when the situation is ongoing or someone’s feeding into it or something.

  17. That behavior is definitely a “dealing with disabled people” script certain people have. It’s most common with people who have developmental disabilities, but it’s also used against people with physical disabilities to varying degrees. I’ve got a moderate physical disability, and growing up I got a fair amount of “It’s okay to be super controlling if I’m cute about it, right?” treatment. (Talking to someone like a kid is obviously a different matter when dealing with an actual kid, but treating an eleven-year-old like a four-year-old is not good.)

    As an adult I get that sometimes, but it’s much easier for me to stop that kind of interaction and get away. Which is, as Amanda pointed out, exactly where people get things backwards. It’s easier for me to discourage that kind of treatment and make it clear that it’s unwelcome, so people are more likely to be careful about subjecting me to that kind of thing, when they should be most careful about controlling and boundary-violating behavior when someone has a disability that might interfere with their ability to clearly communicate discomfort or escape the situation.

    I think it’s because it’s not really about mistaken ideas on how best to treat people, but about a person’s perceived value. Someone with a moderate physical disability, no mental disabilities, and a job is going to be seen as higher value and more deserving of respectful treatment, and unfortunately, someone with a developmental disability and/or serious physical disability is more likely to be seen as not worthy of being treated well. (Seeing someone as less value isn’t something that necessarily comes with active malice. It’s perfectly possible to be all “I like those people! They’re so cute and sweet!” and still see them as lesser.)

  18. Yes yes yes one of those armbands would be wonderful. Similar to the interaction control badges at Autreat. This is likely my last conference for the foreseeable future (every time I go where there are large groups of people I catch respiratory bugs, which are bad for my bronchiectasis and asthma) but I should buy something like that one day for everyday interactions. You never know when you’ll meet someone you need to say that to.

    Also when I feel up to writing the post, I will post what I made the night after this happened, to better handle unwanted interactions the next day. It worked great.

  19. Oh! My! God! That sounds awful! Going beyond patronizing into the realms of harassment! My son is nearly five years old (on the Spectrum) and I get really self conscious sometimes when I talk to him because I don’t know if I’m being patronizing to him, cause I know he’s smart, but it’s hard to know what tone to talk to him in, cause he’s still my little baby. I don’t have a lot of experience with this age group, so I know he’s slowly outgrowing baby stuff, but don’t know how fast.

    I can’t imagine doing stuff like that to an adult! And I never force my son to look me in the eyes or do physical stuff he doesn’t want to. The most intrusive I am is when I ask him to “use a nice loud voice” cause he mutters a lot and it’s really difficult to hear/understand what he’s saying…

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that and have to deal with such ignorance and condescension. I really hope she didn’t ruin it for you, and for the record? You totally rock!! I’m glad the thing you made to avoid unwanted interactions worked well for you. I hope you don’t come across that type of behavior from someone again!!

  20. Pingback: Communication page I used to handle that invasive woman I met. « Ballastexistenz

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