Moral Compass: Boycott Autism Speaks

Moral Compass

My moral compass leans more toward how I treat others than personal beliefs. I do not feel I have the right to tell others how to worship, whom to love, or what to spend their money on. Yet this same compass also impels me to insist on the fair and ethical treatment of others. Equality, empathy and dignity should center the civilized soul and direct future generations.

To pursue social justice, I volunteered years of service to non-profit organizations. Alas, I discovered not all charities are benevolent organizations.  Some are self-serving profit machines, more concerned with lavish salaries than philanthropy.  I deemed Autism Speaks to be such an organization a few years ago.

Organizational greed becomes infinitely foul when it stigmatizes the people it serves to earn pity dollars through sensational claims. In November of last year, the co-founder of Autism Speaks, Susan Wright published “Autism Speaks to Washington — A Call for Action.”

She describes autism as a thief, a dire illness that steals millions of children. Further, she implicates autistic children as the source of broken families, bankruptcies, and endless adversity.  This inflammatory missive contradicts my views absolutely, yet the insinuation that autistic people are unworthy offends the most.

Protesting Autism Speaks is protesting their negative portrayal of autistic individuals for cash.  The following quote captures the need people have to protest, boycott, and campaign against this organization:

quote

I urge you to take action by sending a loud message to Autism Speaks. Boycott their corporate sponsors. Do not let Autism Speaks profit from their false and offensive campaign.

I urge you to take action by promoting Autism Positivity. Spread articles that humanize and depict the experiences of actual autistics. Do not let any person be misrepresented or stigmatized.

We can create an inclusive and accepting future. Follow your moral compass.

To learn more about the Boycott Autism Speaks Movement visit the Boycott Autism Speaks website or their Facebook Page.

Links below redirect to articles by my blog roll authors. Please comment to include other articles or if I missed someone.

30 Days of Autism

Autism Positivity Flashblog

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Autistic Women’s Network

Emma’s Hope Book

Married, With Aspergers 

Not The Way It Seems

Paula C. Durbin-Westby Autistic Advocacy Blog

Raising Rebel Souls

S.R.Salas

The Autism Wars

Think Inclusive

This Is Autism Flashblog

Thoughts of an Introverted Matriarch

Tiny Grace Notes (AKA Ask an Autistic)

Unstrange Mind

This post is participating in the T-21 Blog Hop.

Night of the Living Stim

Night of the Living Stim

No, I haven’t been bitten by a zombie, but rather this my state after suppressing stims!

“Stims,” autistic slang for “self-stimulating behavior,” is a misnomer.  I am not “stimulating” myself. Before I rock or spin or sing I am overstimulated to begin with!

“Self-stimulating behavior” is the sort of label scientists give behaviors they don’t fully understand. You could file it away next to “Refrigerator Mothers” or embrace its irony and make a night of it.

So here I am, two weeks late, celebrating the “Night of the Living Stim,” a delightful event where stims are celebrated by their owners. I hope sharing my experience opens your eyes and makes you smile. Perhaps you might try stimming yourself!

Stim-planeWhen I stim, I am an airplane.

I inhale deeply and stretch as if to embrace the world. Thus positioned, I am ready for flaps or perhaps a foray of wild spins.  Exaltations of “woo” complete my whirling celebration of toads, cookies, or wilderness walks. I stim most often when I am happy.

Stims represent many things to me.

My stims are a dance. I don’t need a beat or bass line to keep internal time. Emotion is the pulse that swells the tide inside my mind.  I am over-excitable and celebratory in a lively, visual way.

My stims are transcendent. I go where shamans go; to a self-generated euphoria of thought so intense it becomes movement. The divine is sublimated into circular motion and sinuous courses.

My stims are a weapon. At times, intense anxiety pushes my body to flee or fight, with no enemy in sight. I duck and dodge, rock and swing to placate primitive instinct. I battle ferociously when I sway like a boat.

What is stimming like?

Picture yourself at the edge of a cliff, breathing in the fear of a plummeting descent.  Whoosh! You have been pushed over and find yourself zinging toward the earth. Without thought, you flail your limbs and to your surprise, you are uplifted by wings you never knew you had. The rhythm of beating wings is your stim, your tool to save yourself from rocky chasms or to hoist yourself heavenwards.

Remember this when you see us soar.

Soar

Please visit the event follow-up for a summary of Night of the Living Stim articles by autistics and allies.

Night of the Living Stim developed by:

Monkey Pliers   @monkeypliers  
Renee Salas  @srsalas13
 
Ben Forshaw  @bjforshaw
 
Forgotten  @TwinsMa
 
Bridget Allen  @ItsBridgetsWord
 
lynnesoraya  @LynneSoraya

Bloggers supporting the event:

 Asperger’s / Autism Toolbox
S.R. Salas (blog) aka Renee Salas (on Facebook)
Snakedancing
Shaping Clay
Married, With Aspergers
Paleopix
One Quarter Mama

Autistic Warriors

Warrior

We have no autism warriors in this house. We do, however, have Autistic Warriors.

As the neighborhood mothers and children gather at the bus stop two houses down, two Autistic Warriors wait for their bus.

Autistic Warrior the Younger runs in circles and cries “Wooo!”

Autistic Warrior the Elder smiles. “Ahhhh, such ferocity! He fights a brave battle against the anxiety of imminent school bus arrival!”

At the craft store, Autistic Warrior the Younger dons fearsome headphones to shield himself from the horrifying banalities of cashier-induced platitudes.

He fights a more formidable battle another day. The sour faces of judgmental and prejudiced shoppers sneer. They expect silence and order as they purchase their bananas and frozen Celeste Pizzas. To defeat them, Autistic Warrior the Younger unleashes his greatest weapon:

“Hello! My name is Liev. Would you like to know a bit about me? I have autism, Tourette’s and OCD. I could read before I was two and I am profoundly gifted. Sometimes my Tourette’s makes me jumpy so I can’t be still. Thank you and nice to meet you.”

These are the Younger’s words–a script he wrote to relieve the inexorable internal pressure of not knowing what to say. He chooses when and where to use it.  More than one pretty brunette at Target has been startled by his impromptu delivery.  Scowling cashiers, previously confounded by chirps and defiant hops, soften their features.

His introduction often evolves into pleasant conversations about numbers or merchandise.  We hear, “My xxx has autism, too!” more frequently than you would predict. Once, a cashier with dangly earrings and sparkly eyes leaned forward and beamed, “My son is autistic, too.” I took a second glance, and noticed the warrior horns of a True Ally emerge, pointed and imposing.

Self-advocacy is potent weapon against Autistic Warrior’s foes, stigma and ignorance. And when the Younger Warrior is weary of the battle and chooses not to engage, I remember. People imbibe auras.  Emit calmness and confidence, I remind myself, never shame or exasperation.

Self-advocates and allies speak in many voices; some soft and peaceable, others loud and ferocious. Regardless of volume or style, connecting personhood to autism wins every battle.

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A Quiet Week Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things

1000 Ausome Things Title
Our progress as parents arises from positivity. We use words like “differences” and “strengths.” We look for coping skills and strategies. We tone it down, tune it up, and take life 15 minutes at a time. This makes our family strong.

But we are greedy.

We want to change the world.

So we join the flourishing tribes of allies, autists, and kin striving to eradicate outdated myths.

I would like to share autism positivity from three perspectives of the autism spectrum:

  • As the mother of an autistic child.
  • As the daughter of a father with Asperger’s syndrome.
  • As an autistic adult.

Here are some delightful slices of my life:

1000 Ausome Things 1

Liev

At six years old, Liev is a remarkable child. Most are struck by his intellect and vocabulary. Liev loves projects.  He embraces each one with unrelenting enthusiasm and meticulous design.  You can find him building LED displays or creating fonts on Fontstruct.  A language lover, Liev has taught himself Japanese hiragana and he can even read you  highlights from your Toyota manual. He is quirky in a charming, innocent fashion; endearing himself with unusual observations and out-of-the-box thinking.

1000 Ausome Things 2

Dad

Dad has always been a collector and an adventurer. Before marrying my Mom in the 60s, he split his time between working on his Ph.D.  (mathematics!) and collecting minerals. He even took a job in the Alaskan goldmines so he could add a few specific specimens to his treasury. After marrying mom, Dad became a collector of photographs. Their website hosts images from their trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Galapagos Islands, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and many other destinations.

1000 Ausome Things 3

Me

I blush to pat myself on the back, so I asked my husband to name my most positive characteristic.  Without hesitation, said “empathy.” I laughed. Empathy is a characteristic not often associated with autism.  He is correct, however. Autism boosts my empathy. Emotional regulation issues allow me to experience emotions intensely—I am a sensitive person. Processing the emotional states of others is hard work for me. Body language, facial expressions, and cues other than spoken words are continuously monitored.  This combination of effort and sensitivity opens my heart. I care how people feel and I long to nurture, soothe, and support.

Autistic People Are…

Autistic People Are...Worthy

WORTHY

We cannot choose our birth nor predict our health, intellect, or neurology. Even when born typical, mishaps can  snatch mobility and mental agility. Age propels us from acceptable norms toward frailty and infirmity.  Any one of us is potentially different.

Autistic people are worthy. Humble or grand, let our value be created by our actions and not by how well we match accepted norms and ideals.