Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Real Person

I'm not a person to you if I'm only recognized when you see how much I can do. I'm not a person to you if you deny me my personhood when you only see the autistic spinning rather than the educator. I'm not a person to you unless I'm even a person curled up in the corner, rocking, and unable to communicate in any way that you request.

My personhood is not determined based on whether I'm inspirational, whether I'm successful, or whether I'm managing to be "useful" right now. It doesn't flip-flop on whether I'm seen as disabled or passed into personhood.

My personhood is a non-changing state of being. And if you don't accept it, you are the ones judging me because I'm not an inspirational enough story for your cause.

I'm actually a being here, not a story.

When you suddenly personize me, suddenly give me personhood, you're not suddenly opening up all of what is available to others. You're saying "but, only if you manage to be good enough"; you're putting requirements on my ability to be recognized. You're making statements about how I should be, how I need to be, in order to be accepted into Real People, rather than those fakes that are how I really am. And you're saying at the same time, that I'm not a Real Person, because I cannot keep up those requirements.

When you remove that personhood - it's a reminder again, of how I'm never good enough. How it doesn't matter what I do, I'll always be a lesser being in the minds of so many around me. I'll keep going, but I'll never be in the same class, always lesser, never Real. When you remove that personhood, I'm back with the others like me - those who make due, those who find their way.

When you change my personhood based on the eyes you view me with, you aren't making it easier, you aren't making it friendlier to face the world. Please, unless you can always recognize me as a Person, all of what that means - not in the way that makes you your own inspirational story for befriending "one of those", then realize that I'm not Real, our society disallows for that.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Burnout [aka Expectations]

Autism is expectations. And trying too hard. And people thinking they know more than you do, whether they are parents, or professionals, siblings, or friends. People being convinced that they know more about how your life is than your life is.

Autism is expectations about what you can do, and can't do. Whether its because you are supposed to do things because clearly you can, or supposed to do them differently, or supposed to not be able to, its people declaring what your life is able to be, whether they are sharing the statements explicitly or not.

It's expectations, and them being forced upon you. You need to be able to work a normal shift. You need to be able to cook. You need to be verbal always if you are verbal ever. You need to be verbal never if you have the label attached to you.

It's expectations, and them seeping through your life, people claiming to support, when they're not listening to you, but to what they think you should be like. People planning out their view of what someone like you looks like. People planning out what someone with your skills will do, creating inspiration porn of you before you've even gone and done anything for them to be "inspired" by besides be born.

It's expectations, and them making you try to hard, because its exhausting to have people telling you how much you let them down all the time. Exhausting to know how much they're building expectations, and then you're breaking them. Exhausting to know that you're failing them, over and over again. Because you've been taught you need to be normal. You need to meet these expectations. You need to do what they think of you.

It's expectations, and you failing them. Because you can't do it. You can't go out there and do what others have created - a perfect neurotypical life, for an autistic person. You can't go out and do it - a life where you don't run out of spoons, don't get sensory overload, don't lose speech, don't, don't, don't.

And then. You break.


And you fall.



Needing help, and unable to get it.

Because the expectation is that you're just fine.

Don't you know, you aren't really impaired.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The student you have; the person they are

When you put someone in a classroom and don't pay attention to who they are and their needs, you aren't including them, you're erasing them. This is not to say that you should separate; it isn't to say that "separate but equal", is superior. Separation, segregation, refusal to teach some students while you teach others, causes an enormous number of problems. But, taking someone and sticking them in a classroom and ignoring who they are ignores their existence. It causes problems, while only solving some of the problems of access.

It causes people to break, as they become pushed, further and further, through the inconveniences of their existence, aware of the "problems" they cause to others. It causes people to fail, lacking assumed background, assumed cultural reference points, assumed ways of being; because "everyone knows those things", even when "everyone" means "people like me".

When ignoring the students you have, rather than the students you want, the students you expect, or the student you were, you're preventing these kids from getting educated. You're denying education, just as if you'd denied them entrance to the classroom. You're allowing them to be there, but denying them the ability to access the material. Refusal to acknowledge differing needs, differing backgrounds, differing experiences, means refusal to allow these students the possibility of getting the same education the students you expected are being provided.

Instead, we must recognize the differences in our students. And we must do better than recognize these differences, we must do better than praise ourselves for allowing students to enter our classrooms when they are different. We must do better than praise ourselves for being "aware" of these differences.

We must recognize the differences in our students - and what these differences mean. We must take these into account, and interact with people how people should be interacted with. We must respect people, listen, and not assume that there is only one way to approach any given situation. We must challenge ourselves to do better.

Because, when we only teach one way, we aren't helping any student. We're not approaching education as a way to teach individuals; we're approaching it as a way to spread a message. Kids get hurt. Those who are already at a higher risk get hurt more, as they're already farther from the "average student" the lessons are built for. And the more people learn that they aren't learning in school, the more they don't learn in school.

No, we need to do better than that.

We need to listen, and learn, and teach, and pay attention to the kids we have. The kids that are there. Their baggage and silly behaviors; their backgrounds and methods of thought. Whoever it is that shows up, that's who we have, and that's who we teach.