>Jarrah of Gender Focus has a new series on nerdiness, womanhood, and feminism going up at Bitch Magazine. One of her first posts details the ever-so-popular stereotype on the hyper-male brain as it relates to autism, specifically, Asperger Syndrome, and nerdiness. What I find interesting, not about the post itself, but about one of the topics discussed, is that while Sheldon Cooper has been labelled as autistic by fans (I’m not disputing that, I’m a fan of the show, and boy howdy, as someone with OCD and autism…) his “friend who happens to be a girl”, Amy Farrah Fowler, played by the delightful Mayim Bialik, has not been given the same demand for diagnoses, even though she is essentially a female Sheldon. I relate more to her than to Sheldon, because she was more pragmatic, practical, less arrogant, and is shown, unlike Sheldon, to have a sex drive. I would say she is autistic as well, but because she is a woman, has learned out of necessity to juggle social situations better than him. This is common in women with autism, myself included.
>While I was sullenly contemplating the election results, I went out to lunch with a friend, a much older friend, who has been involved in disability activism since she was my age, so, for nearly 40 years, if my math is correct. She was keeping close watch on her phone, and showing me pictures and tweets from Washington, DC, of her friends and allies getting arrested while in Paul Ryan’s office, fighting cuts to Medicare. My friend was recalling all the times she had been in DC herself getting arrested to fight for the rights of the disabled.
I was in awe. I felt like humbled, because hours earlier, I had been contemplating fleeing Canada in order to find greener pastures in Sweden or Norway for the disabled, queer progressive and her disabled, queer, trans girlfriend. But these people, my elders, including my friend, who has been a mother figure to me while I have lived in Montana, was showing me the proof of what can be done if you stay and fight.
I will never judge anyone who decides to seek out a better life for themselves in another country. But I have decided, after fearfully leafing through a Swedish dictionary, that I can and will stay to fight for Canada up to 2015 and beyond. I’m tired of running, for one. And secondly, I began thinking of how people like Harper and conservatives had stolen and modified the word “patriot” and created this artificial dichotomy between “true” Canadians and everyone else.
I’m a patriot too. I’m a Canadian too. And this is my country as much as it is for a conservative anglo Christian who was born in Canada. And I can no longer passively allow such language, such ideas, such exceptionalism run rampant at the expense of the happiness, safety, and liberty of my fellow Canadians, my beautiful girlfriend, and myself.
My elders in the disability community, thank you for giving me a valuable lesson in courage.
>Many, many times in my life, I have been mistaken for a deaf woman. I am not deaf, I have unusually sensitive hearing, which makes certain environments with repetitive, high-pitched sounds a nightmare. I would think that me wincing and tapping my ears with my palms would be a clue that I’m not deaf, but oh well.
>Last night, I was doing my usual midnight-on-vacation activity of surfing the internet before bed, and came across an amusing cartoon on Alas, A Blog. The comic, which was hilarious, involved Bernie Sanders, someone whom I’ve grown to admire and whose guts and integrity make me glad he’s in politics. I posted it to facebook, with the message, “Love the bit about Bernie Sanders. Like a dear old coot like him would ever pick up anything more deadly than a pie chart.”
>I’ve blogged before about the topsy-turvy ride that Asperger Syndrome, the type of autism I am diagnosed with, has had in terms of diagnostic criteria and inclusion as a “mental disorder”. Earlier, it was mentioned in the media that Asperger Syndrome was to be taken out of the DSM in favour of an all encompassing label of autism. I was supportive of this, because I believed that it is more inclusive to just have the diagnosis be “autism” rather than trying to make an arbitrary distinction based on verbal ability and the talent for “passing” as neurotypical (albeit a possibly eccentric or “odd” one) Now I find that NPR is reporting again on Aspergers in the DSM, found here . Interviewed at home is Allen Frances, who first had Asperger Syndrome included in the DSM. Now, he is second-guessing his decision, and I find his logic, as an autistic layperson with no background in psychiatry, to be, well, odd:
It’s not that Frances doesn’t think that Asperger’s exists and is a real problem for some people; he does. But he also believes the diagnosis is now radically overused in a way that he and his colleagues never intended. And why, in his view, did Asperger’s explode? Primarily, Frances says, because schools created a strange unintentional incentive.”In order to get specialized services, often one-to-one education, a child must have a diagnosis of Asperger’s or some other autistic disorder,” he says.”And so kids who previously might have been considered on the boundary, eccentric, socially shy, but bright and doing well in school would mainstream [into] regular classes,” Frances says. “Now if they get the diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder, [they] get into a special program where they may get $50,000 a year worth of educational services.”
Let’s ignore the implication that Asperger’s is a “problem” for the moment and focus on the meat of this idea: That Asperger Syndrome (And the ‘autism epidemic’) is directly increasing as a result of unfettered greed and an eagerness to milk funds for socially awkward neurotypicals who don’t need all this fancy-shmancy help to get by in society and school.
I forgot to mention in my previous post about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that I was also diagnosed with Pica and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the time I did not point it out because while the diagnosis of OCD was new to me, I had already guessed that I had both pica and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The news was just that I was now officially diagnosed, and therefore perhaps could be taken seriously when I voiced my concerns about how they manifested themselves.
>Today, during what I thought was going to be a routine examination, I had a big piece of news dropped upon me by the doctor. She diagnosed me as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an anxiety disorder that is familiar enough to the general public by name, but remains as widely, if not more, misunderstood than ASDs.
>Last month, I moved into an apartment run by my university, as a way to get out of dormitory life and see if I could manage on my own effectively. I’ve always been really frightened, yet fascinated, by the prospect of living on my own. I am fully aware of my own limitations, but I’ve always had confidence in my ability manage, so long as I was given support.