Posts tagged ‘aspergers syndrome’

RCAD 17, 18: Discrimination, Stigma, Preferential Treatment

redefining-disability2

Redefine Disability Awareness Challenge by Rose Fischer

My non-linear brain prefers to answer these in a random “what appeals to me today” order, some repetition may ensue.

17) Have you experienced discrimination because of disabilities? Discrimination comes in many forms, from refusal to employ or accommodate a person with a disability to treating that person with disrespect because of it

Possibly, but it’s hard to tell for sure (let alone legally prove!) since my disabilities are hidden/invisible. I do tend to strategically reveal them to employers *after* they have hired me, (often after scoping things out, and possibly allying with a co-worker who has a learning disability, or a kid with one) but before some social, emotional or sensory issues pop up that might endanger my job if I don’t develop a strategy to cope with them. I often figure out these strategies and coping mechanisms on my own, without consulting with anyone, but my ability to do so may depend on the structure and expectations of the job, and how flexible and open-minded the supervisor and co-workers are willing to be.  I’ve felt rather annoyed with the conventional disability services complex because the professional helpers seem to have this naive faith that the ADA- Americans with Disabilities Act will always magically protect you from discrimination, and you should just go ahead and reveal your disabilities.  I think this is due to shortcomings and assumptions from how they are trained, and professionals who actually are familiar with Asperger’s and ADHD are far more helpful. With more generic disability professionals, I end up spending as much- or more time educating them about my disabilities than actually getting relevant help and suggestions from them.

18) Have you experienced preferential treatment because of disabilities? —By preferential treatment, I mean situations where you were treated better or differently from your peers even though there was no valid reason.

I’ve gotten the condescending kindergarten teacher voice from people- and being treated as if I were “slow” after people found out about my label(s) or picked up that I was a little “different” or “special”. I wouldn’t consider any of that preferential! Honestly, if there were more companies that practiced active recruiting of people with disabilities- and didn’t limit that definition to only certain conditions (as the federal government does) I think that would be fantastic. I know that doesn’t fit with the mainstream disability rights movement’s “we want to blend in and be treated like everyone else” agenda and raises the oh-so-scary specter of affirmative action that makes middle class white people run away screaming, but I don’t really care. Their strategies haven’t been working very well, its time we tried something else.

30 Days of Mental Illness Challenge by Marcy

14: Have you ever experienced stigma? 

Yes- mostly from people making cluelessly insensitive comments in front of me about autism and mental illness, often while not realizing I have either such experience. Sometimes I challenge them while staying “in the closet”, sometimes I come out if it feels safe and appropriate to do so. Often it’s a “Eeeww, I don’t want to be associated with Those Crazy People!”. Maybe this relates more to the pseudo-preferential treatment discussed above, but I’ve especially noticed this stigma when mentioning my past seizures/epilepsy. Sometimes with mere mortals, sometimes with doctors and other Experts ™  who should “know better”. I’ve gotten “back away slowly before she explodes!” style reactions, being treated like I’m a porcelain doll, need to be told what I’m capable of doing and how to take care of myself and “Oh, you poor dear, there but for the grace of God/the Universe go I” and other crap. This is very similar to a lot of the complaints I’ve heard my friends with more visually apparent physical disabilities talk about how they’ve been treated, and I’ve also witnessed some of that nonsense myself while around folks with physical disabilities.

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June 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm 2 comments

RCAD 2, 3: Collecting Labels Like Pokemon

redefining-disability2

Redefining Disability 

Question 2: If you have a medical diagnosis, do you see yourself as having a disability? Why or why not? If you don’t have one, how do you view the concept of disability or the people in your life who have them?

Depends on which one- I see the epilepsy as an impairment, as in its inherently disabling by its nature rather than due to social/political structures.

The most inherently disabling thing is probably the anxiety and depression, when I have those under control, and find the best ways of adapting things to suit my brain (autism/Asperger’s, ADHD, dyscalculia, possible giftedness) then they are more like differences and uneven social/emotional abilities, development and intelligences and a unique and intense way of experiencing the world. Whether I identify as a person with disabilities kind of depends on the social context.

3) What have your experiences been with medical treatment and/or therapy been like? Do you have positive, negative, or mixed feelings about your experiences?

I mostly talk about being autistic/Asperger’s Syndrome but the truth is I have a whole collection of medical/psychiatric labels. I collect them the way some people collect Pokemon cards! Except, they tend to be more expensive, and you don’t keep them in album and show them off to people! They are more like credit cards that I only reveal when I need a specific service, accommodation or treatment, that only my special cards will get me.

As a child it was noticed that I had emotional problems, and when my mother took me a doctor he said I had “fragile moods”. Not especially helpful! In the 1980’s autism was not very well-known, especially for children that were verbal and intelligent. Later on, after we moved to another state my brother and I were both given a bunch of tests and labeled with autism- “high functioning autism” in his case, Asperger’s Syndrome in mine. At the time these were both considered rare conditions. Throughout my life, I’ve experienced problems with depression and anxiety, which are somewhat related to autism and other learning disabilities- I am more easily stressed out by changes in my environment, schedules, sensory input, and interactions with people. Being worried about doing the right thing socially and figuring out how I will make it in the world leads me to have anxiety problems.  I can’t remember when I was diagnosed with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, since I wasn’t really “in charge” of my care until I was an adult.

To be frank, especially when dealing with psychiatrists I’ve often felt very dehumanized. The problem of course is that if you describe such feelings to a mental health “expert” they will often dismiss it and attribute it to your depression or other issues. Yes, you can have depression to begin with, but persistently being viewed as a walking case file and list of symptoms is also pretty depressing!

One psychiatrist I had seemed to not understand the difference between Asperger’s and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- they have overlapping symptoms, and some people have both, but they are still different things. So he kept medicating me for OCD all thru high school and thru part of college until I did some research and realized that the medication might actually be making my anxiety worse, so I tapered off of it.

Another psychiatrist I saw thought the mix of both depressive symptoms and hyperactivity meant I had Bipolar Type II (a “milder” form of Bipolar Disorder in which a person has shorter periods of depression and hypomania, rather than full-blown mania. I researched that, and found the description didn’t fit what I was experiencing.

I suspected instead that I had ADHD, and I saw a therapist who evaluated me for it, and it turns out I was right! They had only used one type of test for AD/HD when I was a kid, a Tova test and I barely “passed it” (or is it “flunking”?) but my father and brother were both diagnosed with ADD. It’s interesting, because most people I know my age were diagnosed with ADD or ADHD as kids, but didn’t get the autism/Asperger’s label until their teens or adulthood, because it was less well-known. I guess I just confuse the “experts”, now don’t I?

I have also struggled with math, telling time, a sense of rhythm and other issues which all fall under the term dyscalculia, a learning disability that no one has heard of, though it’s about as common as it’s more well-known cousin, dyslexia. It seems people consider being “bad at math” less noticeable than having trouble with reading, even though they both very important skills. I actually flunked PreAlgebra…in college- though I did fine after I had a tutor!

I also have epilepsy- grand mal seizures, which commonly overlaps with both autism and depression and other types of mental illness. Fortunately that is now under control with medication.

I like the therapist I have currently- she respects me as an individual with my own opinions/interests etc. without trying to box me in based on any labels I have, but she also recognizes my challenges and helps me learn to deal with them. I also see a psychiatric nurse rather than a psychiatrist, and while this may not work for everyone, I recommend this option if you’ve had trouble with psychiatrists. Nurses are trained to have a better rapport with people.

June 19, 2015 at 1:55 am 2 comments

Reclaiming Autistic Identity

To give a little more background about my experience growing up autistic- I had been mainstreamed all throughout my schooling- with an aide from 4th grade thru junior high. The aide was mostly there to help me keep calm, or whisk me out of the classroom if I had a meltdown. (Before then, my mother was sometimes called in!) In Northeast Iowa there is a separate agency- the Keystone Area Education Agency. My parents said this had worked really well for them and other parents and their kids for advocacy purposes because it was independent from any one school district. As my dad putting “Having the school district in charge of allocating special education resources is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse!” When we moved to Minnesota, my brother and I both had personal aides as required parts of our IEPs (though neither of us had them in high school) whereas we knew students with similar labels who were denied that option because the label of Asperger’s in particular was deemed “too mild” to need an aide. (This is one of the reasons the Asperger’s Syndrome label was removed from the new DSM)

My parents explained the labels to us, but we rather rejected them as they mostly sounded so negative, it just seemed like an insult from doctors who thought they knew everything. My parents even held a school assembly to announce our status without our frickin’ permission! (They claimed that students and staff were more accepting as a result, but I still think that was a horrible choice. I’ve forgiven them since then!)

When I had the opportunity to go to Camp Discovery, a summer camp run by the Autism Society of Minnesota for ASD kids ages 10-21, this changed as I got the chance to be around others like myself. One of the biggest things for me was that each cabin had a Mentor, an adult with ASD who working there. Ruth-Elaine was the one in my cabin. This was incredible! I had grown up with an autism community that only acknowledged as us non-verbal 5 year olds that were seen as a “terrible burden” and “tragedy” (with of course parents rushing to reassure listeners that of course they still loved their child) The only person with autism that had, apparently managed to reach adulthood was Temple Grandin. These are still obnoxious tendencies that I encounter, but things have changed a lot!

Anyhow, after attending camp my view of autism changed. I no longer saw it as a disability, but as a difference, though one with some aspects that were easier for me (and others!) to deal with than others. I reclaimed it as an identity from the know-it-all doctors and scientists and parents, and made it my own. At some point I discovered other autistic adults with similar views online, on the Autistics.org website, writings by Amanda Baggs (now Mel) Laura Tisconik, Jim Sinclair and many others. What was also cool is that many of these writers/activists are also queer-identified! I became a participant in what later became known as the Neurodiversity movement, advocating for a view that there are as many types of minds as there are people, and that we should be included and understood on our own terms, rather than expected to conform to a narrow concept of “normality” (or neurotypicality).

I attended Camp Discovery a couple of times as a camper, as did Dylan, my brother, and I also became a Mentor myself for 7 years! I decided to step away from that position to allow others to take it, as for many of us it is the first job we manage to get, or the first one in which we can really be ourselves. I was also asked to speak many times by Kari Dunn-Buron, the director of the camp and a professor at Hamline University’s autism education program. I spoke on (paid) panels about my experience on the spectrum at autism conferences and classes at Hamline. When Kari retired a few years ago, I lost that key connection, and I’ve been meaning to re-connect. However, I am really interested in doing speeches rather than just panels where I answer certain questions, as there are many issues which are not addressed. I want to focus more on discussing transition and employment issues, and dating, sexuality and relationships. I also would like to tailor speeches for different audiences- parents, education professionals, social work & healthcare workers, and so forth. And yes, I’d like to get paid, though I do not expect to make my entire living doing this! (Getting my driver’s license will make this work a lot easier!)

See also: Against Parent-Led Autism/Disability Organizations

April 1, 2015 at 12:46 am 2 comments

Cultural Diversity thru Autistic Eyes

One of the reasons I, as a person with white-skin privilege, enjoy and prefer being in culturally diverse environments is because I’m autistic. One of the reasons for this is that, when you are in a culturally diverse setting, everyone’s a little more autistic! That is, since people are coming from different backgrounds, with different social norms and expectations, everyone is going to feel a little awkward, and the shared culture that develops has to be more flexible by necessity in its expectations. I find the diversity functions as a slight “camouflage” to my social oddities. I’m a bit of a “foreigner” within my own culture.

The problem is when teachers and other professionals are teaching socially “normal” behavior, that using eye contact, body language, tones of voice, small talk and so forth are default neurotypical universal human behavior, when in fact they are specifically teaching *white middle class American* neurotypical behavior. When I go to autism conferences and organizations, this is very much the dominant cultural viewpoint, from both teachers, therapists and parents alike. Autism groups are typically about as white (racially & culturally) as the cast of Friends. In terms of training of professionals and education of parents on how to deal with autistic students and adults, this creates a very troubling paradigm for children and adults on the spectrum  and their families who come from other cultural and class backgrounds. Being “color-blind” and “culturally neutral” is a giant joke when the population of special ed teachers and autism therapists is overwhelmingly white (and female for that matter). I strongly support making an active effort to recruit people of diverse cultures into special education, therapy, social work and other professions that work with people with disabilities, not just for shallow skin-deep diversity points, but to actually include and integrate different cultural ways of thinking, learning and ways of being into these very culturally white professions. I also figure families and communities of color care just as much about their disabled members as white folks do, but we don’t hear from their voices enough in the mainstream media or disability-focused media and organizations. That really needs to change!

*There are also differences in how Black, Latino and Native children are labelled and treated, as compared with white and Asian children- I will discuss that further in another post.

December 1, 2014 at 11:44 pm Leave a comment

Helpful Videos on Autism and Disability

Thanks to Youtube, educating yourself about the autism spectrum and disability in general is easier than ever! Be warned that there also a lot of bad info online so be careful- avoid anything with language like “epidemic” “tragedy”, find things from the perspectives of people with disabilities themselves rather than people who claim to speak for us! Note: I tried to put this roughly in an order of basic to more complex ideas about autism and disabilities.

How Aspies Communicate: Literal Thinking & Bluntness

Ask an Autistic: What is a Meltdown?

Can We Stop Saying “High-functioning”? What are the problems with using high vs. low-functioning autism labels?

Ask an Autistic: What is Neurodiversity? Truths & misconceptions about the neurodiversity movement. Lots of links listed below video!

Undiagnosed Autism/Asperger’s in Adults– It’s often misunderstood that autism is a new “epidemic” when actually people with autism have existed all along, often struggling to get by. I feel all too this goes ignored by the broader autism community that is very child-centric.

Sh!t People Say to People with Disabilities and here’s a 2nd

S#!T Ignorant People Say to Autistics– Danger: satire and truth ahead!

Stella Young on Inspiration Porn & Objectification of Disability– Stella Young wittily explains how we have all been mislead (heck, lied to!) in our understanding of disabilities. (This is not literally about pornography)

Autistics Speaking: Self Advocacy in a Culture of Cure (Part 2 here)

Jo Case on Asperger’s Syndrome: Identity or Illness– a woman with AS with a son with AS explores changing views of the autism spectrum.

Ask an Autistic: What’s Wrong with Autism Speaks? Why many autistic people and their allies oppose Autism Speaks

October 20, 2014 at 11:23 pm Leave a comment

Comparing Autism & Borderline Personality Disorder

Recently, Pride in Madness posted some memes from a Tumblr called “Shit Borderlines Do” and commented on how they related to her own experiences. I noticed some similarities with autistic traits and commented about this, and someone else responded wanting to know more about autism and how it might overlap with BPD. I will preface this by saying that I am not that familiar with Borderline Personality Disorder, I’ve know a couple people (in-person or online) with that label, I get the impression it’s a newer one that is somewhat controversial (but then isn’t every mental health label?) Links for more info on BPD at the bottom of the post.

“You notice the slightest difference in how someone treats you, and it bothers you for days on end”

The autistic or obsessive-compulsive version of this would be more likely to be “a school or work policy, procedure, or the way objects, furniture etc. are arranged changes without explanation, and it bothers you for days on end”

“Just constantly feeling f*cking guilty for things that you know logically aren’t your fault” PiM mentions that her tendency of compulsive apologizing for random things. Because of my long of offending people without realizing it, messing up due to clumsiness, ADHD spaciness, etc. I tend to do a lot of pre-emptive “just in case” apologizing. It’s very insecure and paranoid. Which has the additional effect of making my apologies for actual serious things seem less sincere.  Some autistic or OCD people will develop a certain way of doing things that they believe they “have to do” or Bad Things Will Happen- like our own personal superstitions. This is a sort of coping mechanism for putting something tangible under our control for a world that seems out of control.

“Feeling so much of everything so very deeply that it’s overwhelming”

I suspect that the reasons folks with BPD have this problem may be different than for those on the autism spectrum, though for person with both it may be a combination. For autistic folks, often sensory input (noise, lights, smells, touch) and constant social interaction can often lead to feeling emotionally overwhelmed and having what we call a “meltdown”. In contrast, I get the impression that people with BPD are to some degree picking up on the emotions of others and internalizing/amplifying them.

General Info on BPD

Psych Central description

Nat’l Alliance on Mentally Illness description

BPD & Autism

Apparently women and girls with ASD (whom as I’ve discussed before, are often later diagnosed) are often mis-diagnosed with BPD. BPD still may be a more accurate label for some people, and some people may have both.

Borderline Personality Disorder- a correct diagnosis?

Similarities & Differences between ASD & BPD

October 14, 2014 at 1:21 am 4 comments

More Recent Discussions on Mental Health & Resources

In addition to Camilla Laurentina’s post that I just re-blogged, here are some other posts on mental health- some related to hers, some not.

*Newly added as of 9/24

“If You Just..” .by Nornoriel Lokason

On Fibromyalgia & Spiritual Emergency by Beth Lynch

Pride in Madness: Suicide is Not Just a Depression Problem (response to a HuffPost article)

Loki’s Bruid (Heather Freysdottir) Let’s Talk About Mental Health

“I am a firm believer in the notion of using both holistic and western medicine to treat my own physical and mental health – and I still find it odd that we separate out mental – that is stigma, right there. Isn’t your brain in your head, which is part of your body? I have used both conventional and hypnotherapy to treat my PTSD, because my therapist uses both methods, and I picked her for her woo-friendliness. Yes, therapists can be asshats about mysticism. You know what? So can doctors and specialists. You know what you do to a doctor or a therapist who doesn’t respect your opinions about your body? You fire them and go find another.”

Let’s Talk About Health & Social Services Emergency & Community Resources PermaPage (PDF of social/health/housing etc. services in Central Florida)

Another resource I found useful is Chronically Skeptical, which is a forum/info page for folks with chronic illness and disabilities (including mental illness) that is free of alternative health treatment claims/magical/mystical stuff etc. Even if you are open to some of those things, this is a place you can do without having them shoved unwanted in your face. I think this would also be good for the autism/autistic community. It’s more of a problem in parent-oriented groups, but now and then I get people in the adults with autism communities who latch onto unproven “treatments” for autism. Blech.

A couple of useful articles I found via Chronically Skeptical: 6 Common Misconceptions about the Chronically Ill (Note: bad language use- should be “chronically ill people or people with chronic illnesses” not “the disabled, the homeless, the deaf etc)” Otherwise, decent article.

The Extra Burdens Faced by Young People with Chronic Illness A Sign of Strength? Commentary on a Facebook meme that seems well-meaning but sends misleading and harmful messages about mental illness. Unfortunately that describes a lot of Internet memes!

September 23, 2014 at 11:06 pm Leave a comment

Women-Only Space Does Not Mean Safe Space

I am really sick of the assumption by *some* feminists that women-only space is necessarily safe space. To begin with, I don’t want to have anything to do with all the transphobic crap that usually surrounds it, and furthermore even as a cis woman I don’t feel really welcome in the Girls Only Club. If these folks are so insistent on their narrow definition of womanhood, I’m sure at some point I’ll violate their pre-conceived notions. Too straight or too queer, too butch or too femme. Too something. I’m fine with participating in “anyone who IDs as a woman is welcome” spaces, but I do not go into them with the assumption that they’re automatically safer than spaces with men. 

I was never really a part of your “sisterhood” or “shared girlhood“, so save your cutesy speeches about sleepover parties and announcing when you got your period to your friends. I was That Weird Kid. I did have friends, growing up, but as I grew into puberty being a girl became less about having fun on my own terms- dressing up, having tea parties- as well as catching bugs and playing in the mud- and more about a list of obligations and rules that I had to follow. A few of these things I learned from my mother, who is a feminist herself and not inclined to push me into forms of femininity that weren’t my thing. But most of them were proclaimed and enforced with bullying, shaming, staring and shunning by other girls. In junior high, I got bored with all the fuss over makeup, clothes, diets, boys (really is anyone impressed by junior high boys?) and dances. I retreated to my books. Same with high school. Boys, for most part ignored me, but girls obsessively enforced “the rules”. 

After taking women’s studies classes in college, and observing how my experiences compare to other women, I’ve realized how much gender performance is part and parcel of faking being neurotypical. It’s suspected that women and girls are less often diagnosed with autism, or are labeled later in life because we are often better at passing as neurotypical, often by mimicking others, and just being quiet and withdrawn. My partner jokes that I have “male pattern autism”- I threw tantrums, I expressed loud opinions. My behavior was impossible to ignore, so I was labeled at fairly young age (at about 8 or 9) Anyway, I’ve gotten to the point that whenever I see a book or article, or hear a statement that “women think this way, communicate or develop this way” or whatever, I just think “That’s neurotypical women they’re talking about.” And most of the time whatever generalization was made doesn’t fit me very well, and may not even fit a lot of neurotypical women, but least of all me!

Now, I have indeed been bullied, harassed and sometimes abused by men but those experiences haven’t taught me that men, as a category of human beings are to be feared. I’m equally cautious with men and women in general social settings, though more cautious with men when walking down the street. 

So really, I ask you is really so much better for womanhood, girlhood, femininity or whatever to be defined and enforced by women rather than by men? I think the nastiest tool of the patriarchy is not the average man, but rather other women, even ones who call themselves feminists. We are our own worst enemy. I’m not letting off the men off the hook here, certainly they should be held accountable *as individuals* for their actions, but let’s not pretend we have this glorious utopian sisterhood. 

From transwomen and transmen, and cross-dressers and all manner of gender-diverse folks, I’ve learned that there are so many more options of who I can be as a human being, I feel more comfortable with being a woman in my own way *because of them* They are not in any way threatening to my identity as a woman. If they threaten yours, I think you’re the one who needs to work on having a healthy gender identity, one that’s based on being yourself rather than worrying about how other people identify.

August 29, 2014 at 1:29 am 2 comments

Depression/Mental Health Pagan Links

When searching for articles, posts and books on Paganism and depression/mental illness, I found so much stuff that I decided to make another post to include these resources, in addition to the general Pagan/Disability resources post. I will make another post about distinguishing mental illness from shamanism/visionary/magical experiences etc.

Pagans, Mental Health & Abuse– extra kudos for discussion of related social justice issues involving shame, access to care etc.

Pagans in Recovery by Isaac Bonewits- Old essay- numbers of people with “issues” may be exaggerated…for one I will say as an Aspie, I have detected a noticeable number of Pagans who may be unlabeled Aspies, but I don’t think *most* Pagans have Asperger’s/autism.

Pagan Therapy & Counseling– blog last updated in 2013, but still has good info

Dealing with DepressionExhaustion, Bees and Depression by Nimue Brown This is advice for people who have depressed friends/family members in their lives- very helpful and not specific to Paganism, the second is social commentary. I also thought she wrote a book about depression, but I can’t seem to find mention of it!

Finding Motivation– (and other posts) by Nornoriel Lokason on the Staff of Asclepius blog (Depression & PTSD)

The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Level of Skepticism by Sarah Anne Lawless

“Almost everyone in the Pagan community has suffered from a mental illness at some point in their life because 20% of the general population (in Canada) has had mental health problems during their lifetime.” Err, not sure about that statement. It’s a lot though.

“Sometimes the (online and physical) Pagan Community is too accepting and accommodating of everyone’s own personal level of crazy. Because we are on the fringe, many think we have to accept anyone who identifies as one of us and take them as they come.  Sometimes we are too afraid to tell someone they are crazy (this is especially hard to do when the person in question is in a leadership role). After all, who is a Pagan (believing in many gods, spirits, and magic) to tell someone they’re nuts or are taking something too far? But when no one calls a stop or calls bullshit, then things do get taken too far and people with real mental illnesses end up being accepted as sane.”

My “primary” line with other people is when they want me involved in their “weird”. What’s my motivation? If people want to involve me in their personal weird/kink… they need to provide a reason for me to care.”- comment from Scylla

I feel that way too. I meet a lot of Pagans that are *so relieved to be accepted* that they feel the need to share everything (Hell, I’ll admit, I’ve probably been guilty of this at times too!) I’m pretty open-minded and accepting and non-threatening seeming so often I get Way TMI pseudo-therapy session info-dumps from people I just met. Umm, thanks for sharing. Some of these people just really need a friend. I understand that but *insta-friendship* share all your personal info at once is a good way to scare people off, not keep friends. It also leaves a person very vulnerable to manipulative people. Boundaries are a thing a lot of us need to work on.

Pagan & Crazy by Alexandra Chauran- “My Pagan path has led me to British Traditional Wicca, which can be a complicated route to follow when mentally ill.  Not only do I deal with the psychological issues inherent in any religious practice that involves the supernatural, but Traditional Wicca requires that I work with others who are historically cautious about the company they keep. In fact, Ed Fitch wrote a document titled “So You Want To Be A Gardnerian” that implies that the ideal prospective coven member is, “not currently in psychological therapy.” Coven of the Wild Rose does not accept people who take psychotropic medications or require therapy and writes as a footnote to the above document that, “if you cannot function as a fully responsible adult individual in the mundane reality then you cannot function effectively in the magical/mystical realities and should not even attempt to do so until you have all your oars in the water and they are working all in proper tandem.”- last part in bold seems reasonable to me.

I can understand if very disciplined, focused magical groups are more restrictive in their membership, personally I think people with mental health issues that are getting treatment and have been stable for a certain length of time should be included, a similar rule could be in place for former/recovering addicts & alcoholics. I think excluding anyone who takes SSRIs and such and/or sees a therapist now and then but otherwise lives a stable life is ridiculous.

August 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm Leave a comment

Deafness as Disability

I’m reading The Mask of Benevolence by Harlan Lane. In it he argues that various professionals that claim to help the Deaf community are actually harming them. I was reminded again by the book about how many Deaf people do not see themselves as disabled, but rather as a linguistic/cultural minority. That the Americans with Disabilities Act mandated certain changes, like mainstreaming of deaf students that actually held them back. Education of the Deaf might be more comparable to ESL/ELL than to other special education programs. If everyone knew ASL, maybe deafness wouldn’t be much of a disability. But as it is, though Deaf people can live very full lives and can do most things that hearing people do, they are still subject to inherent disadvantages of being deaf, and discrimination. The ADA protects  Deaf people from such discrimination but only if it’s classified as a disability. Sorry guys, you can’t have it both ways.

A few years back when I wrote a paper on the disability rights movement, I included a section on the Deaf President Now! movement at Gallaudet University. But was that appropriate? Are Deaf people part of the disability community or rights movement or should they be seen as separate if they want to be? DPN happened in the 1970s as other aspects of disability rights were emerging. Obviously, the Deaf movement is part of a larger social trend towards self-determination and changing social views of disability.

Another thing that bothers me about the “we aren’t disabled” argument is the sense that they see themselves as better than people with other disabilities. Now to be fair, there has been a similar tendency among the Asperger’s/high functioning autism community to reject the “disabled” label. I myself have questioned this.

We might actually have a better case for that- after all there is nothing that all AS/HFA people are incapable of doing, like hearing, seeing, walking, reading etc. However our brains are wired differently in a way that gives us disadvantages in society.

I’d like to reach out a hand to Deaf people and say, we would like to be your friends & allies. You have a distinct community, culture and movement that gives us a lot of inspiration. Most of us may be hearing but face other challenges, so we empathize with you. We understand what it’s like to feel excluded from society. So let’s work together.

May 24, 2009 at 6:17 am 1 comment

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