Why Bullying isn’t Healthy for ANYONE, a post intended for Karen Kabaki Sisto (Trigger warning for everyone else also I cussed a bit))

I know I have not posted in some time but the surgery I had and slew of failgivers and bad agency issues took my writing spoons for survival. I am just getting settled with my new carer from a new agency and this article has come out that I cannot even finish. This post like most of what I write has a trigger warning for a reason.  Here is the article by the person I am chewing out below.

Dear Karen-

I am calling you out. The initial title of this post? You better run bitch. Why? The internet is coming for you. You see you did something stupid. You wrote an article that promotes bullying. The idea that bullying is acceptable for anyone is already disproven. Children die daily because they cannot endure bullying and the pain it is caused. These are not just autistic children but children across the human spectrum, some of whom fall into the category of normal. People of all ages are bullied for skin color, eye color, hair color, weight, ability, and so many things I cannot list it all. Bullying is always arbitrary and boils down to psychological trauma that sometimes never heals. It shatters confidence.

The article, as far as I could read sounded like my mother. I deserved to be bullied because it would make me stronger. I was weak because I couldn’t take the pain. That is bullshit. I am not weak. Medically, I admit I am, but mentally I have dealt with things people should never be able to imagine coping with, and I am still alive. I have spent my life aware of death itself because of my body and more so my family. My family of monsters. I am angry this was written because there will be people who do not think before they act, and will traumatize already fragile people. Autistics get bullied all the time, this simply removes potential resources. Of course this is also from the people who created the ABA system of abuse. They call it therapy but I mean mother fucking abuse.

In the end I cannot stand by and be silent on this. Bullying caused me to cut myself. With my medical conditions this could be fatal. I thought between my parents and the other children I deserved pain. I thought that if I cut myself maybe they would stop. If I hurt just a little more I would be purified by that pain and worthy. Some of this is through the lense of absurd religion but not all of it is. I am crying as I write this because I know out there people are dying a slow death from bullying and this article will cost them dearly. I am crying because I cannot protect them if I am silent. So I am roaring.

Here are ten effects of bullying regardless of autism.

1. PTSD- Post Traumatic stress is not a choice there is no pushing through it and it can forever undermine self confidence. Avoiding triggers is the treatment, and like avoiding allergens to not die or spontaneously combust into hives and anaphalaxis this is not really effective because its impossible. Anything around at the trauma from a scent, lighting, touch, voice, words, or even clothing can become a trigger and you will not know until you find out the hard way.

2. Lowered Confidence- Confident people succeed. We do. I had to rebuild myself and am lucky I could but not everyone is able to do that with or without help.

3. Depression- This too can feed lowered confidence and can get you bullied. Don’t feel u p to anything because you hurt so much and are sad? People WILL bully you for that. Depression is hard to live with and bullying is a cause. Depression is also painful and often causes people to kill themselves.

4. Lower grades- You do notlearn when afraid, you learn less when stressed. There must be a safe place for people to go to learn. Living without one creates a priority of survival not education. You can’t focus on algebra because you are focused on not sitting wrongly, or the physical threats that bullying can entail. Sometimes people even drop out.

5. Social Isolation- Bullying makes it harder to make friends. Cliques aka human herds are social. While not every autistic is social many are, and this deprives them of the opportunity to make friends, to learn because a bully takes out your friends too. No one wants to endanger themselves for a stranger. Sometimes not for people they know. Bullies are dangerous, predators even.

6. Health issues- Bullied for weight? Well you may just end up anorexic. Bullied with physical violence? You could end up with serious physical trauma that disables you. It can also be BOTH THINGS. Bullying can even cause sexual dysfunction, increase the trauma of having puberty, and living in stress is also just bad for you. Hypertension, heart issues, bad diet, inability to sleep just to name a few.

7. Violent Retaliation- I have written about it before, but I nearly blew up my high school to kill everyone so allthe pain stopped. I also realized this was not healthy and stopped myself. Not everyone has that ability and sometimes these victims make more victims in a violence chain reaction. School shootings, the shooters are often bullied. This isn’t once or twice. Its not “Just Columbine”. Its also not always so clear cut. I became so afraid of bullies and had no safe home and ended up hurting the only friend I made before I was an adult because I didn’t have the ability to think past the fear and she touched my food. Yes I was also abused at home but a lot of bullied kids are, not just the bullies and sometimes those bullies have healthy home lives despite what the Film Industry/TV Industry tropes are.

8. Alchohol and Drug Abuse- Oddly bullies tend to be more prone to drug and alchohol abuse in some studies than their victims but compared to non bullies/bullied people both parties are much more likely to drink. Bullying is not just bad for the victim but creates bad mental hygiene for a life time.

9. Criminal Records- I can vote because my mistake of assaulting my friend came at the right age but not everyone is so lucky to get help and both violent responders to bullying and bullies still have to live with the consequences of their actions and reactions for life. I can’t forget, even with two brain injuries, the realization that I nearly killed my friend. I have to live with that feeling forever. Any time I think of her, it is there. A reformed bully joins me there but often they continue to escalate into other criminal behaviors, as bullying is another word for assault in MANY areas.

10. Missed Opportunities- Bullies and their victims both miss opportunities. Later in life the victim may be successful, needing to hire someone. The bully applies and… I would not hire them if I was in HR. This applies to non work things too. I have forgone games and social outings because an abuser/bully was there. Sometimes I tell the bully/abuser to fuck off, but I am an adult and aware of my power. I am the rare person who despite all of the crap they endured is able to do so. Its not common.

I am I think the sort of person who inspired this false and illogical article. I am strong. I am tough. I kick asses and take names. I push myself and sometimes I can’t get past the bullying. It still hurts me. That isn’t stronger. Stronger would be less of that. If I had not been bullied at school I would have had a refuge. Not having that? I tried to kill myself a few times and failed. I didn’t get found or helped, I just didn’t do it right. I am glad of that but telling me that I am stronger because of this is an insult to my intelligence, common sense, and every autist on the planet. I understand the writer wants to justify their being a bully, but I hope ANYONE with children near them runs, because this isn’t a red flag. This is a sign that reads: I am an abuser. I will hurt you. I will hurt the ones you love. I will forever scar the minds of innocents. I am also not qualified for anything. Not even McDonalds.

No one should be bullied. Autistic children are much more vulnerable, as we still cannot even be guaranteed education, access or care. We are discriminated against at all levels. I have been denied access to medications because of autism, endangering my life. I have been denied access to necessary law enforcement. Autistics are already trained to obey everyone, by ABA which the author supports. We can ill afford more of the same. It is much arder to stand up and say no. A lot of the reason Autistics struggle with these things swings back to being bullied. Bullying is abuse. Calling abuse healthy is assinine. A lot of this post was edited to remove the word fuck and many other unfriendly epithets to the originator of that piece of shit article. I am still cursing in it because frankly, that fucking piece of trash article deserves to be called exactly what it is.

Karen Kabaki Sisto M.S. CCC-SLP I hope you read this. I hope you understand that this paragraph was originally cursing and I hope you learn something. Bullying doesn’t give any perks. Putting the burden of the victim on making it about team work, autism awareness every month, claiming we learn verbal skills when we are terrified of being harmed, grow stronger, gain friends, and a better well being shows me you have NOT looked at the effects of bullying at all and are either high or stupid. Self Esteem is often low in autistic children because of bullying. Please, quit your job. This is not said lightly but quit your job. You don’t belong near vulnerable people.

I will be blogging extensively about your article and I hope you get this on your “other folder.” I also hope you read my article. As an autistic adult I am more qualified than you are to deal with autism and you have proven to be the least qualified hack  since Jenny McCarthy. For your education here is a link from me to you, about the risks associated with bullying. I didn’t consult it, because I know them by living them.

Voices Rising from Silence (PTSD Trigger Warning)

As an advocate for myself and when I can other people I run into a question a lot. “How do you do this?” This question most often comes from my fellow autistics. As someone diagnosed as an adult I find a lot of my experiences without diagnosis mirror the “medical treatments” others on spectrum who were diagnosed have. Child abuse in disguise as therapy in order to teach control reigns the autistic childhood, we learn silence. We learn stillness. We are erased with in our own bodies as much as possible. We are punished for existing. The best autistic parents even do parts of this because there is no voice that they hear, yet, from the autistic community. Our song has just begun.

The autistic culture is one of enforced shame, it is one where we deal with a lot of hate just for being. This is in part due to a lot of hate organisations like Autism Speaks, who sink their budget not into helping people but into quackery, negative ad campaigns and convincing newly minted parents of autistic children that their children are a burden. That their children will never live on their own, get married, have a “real job”, or anything that is valued as productivity. These parents are convinced that there is only pain in the life of the autist. So they create more of that pain, feeding it. I do not deny that a lot of things with autism really suck but I LOVE who I am.

How does one learn to speak? I think this how to might apply to survivors from many types of abuse. It is about regaining the voice. This process is not universal and is a general guideline to what I answer the most often when people ask me how I blog, how I advocate, and how I risk going out of my house being so far from the norm. I think I hide less and less of my abnormality. I celebrate it now, but it is an on going process and journey.  I wish there was a universal answer but here is what I worked out as far as what I do subconsciously and consciously that I can put to words.

1. When I want to be silent out of fear, I speak up and risk the consequences. This to me is the basis of self advocacy. Oppression is born in a culture of fear, so I must not obey the fear that tells me to be quiet. “If you are good and quiet nothing bad will ever happen.” If that was true I would be a far different person, because being “good and quiet” only lead to pain. It leads to secrets. Good and quiet would mean still being with my exhusband, it would mean watching my father murder my step brother with a frying pan, and it would mean condoning every act of rape, malpractice and other harms brought to me by people who tried to take advantage of my selective mutism, of my physical fragility and of my silence. Sometimes it is a small noise, other times it is a roar. Sometimes it is actually words. Sometimes a song. I am not silent. Not anymore.

2. When I am threatened, I do not revert to silence. Making noise leads to punishment. It leads to the threats that come in a variety of forms. I had a medical professional threaten and then withhold my pain medications on more than one occassion, because she did not believe I was not addicted. I suffered. I was then told if I kept speaking up to her boss about these threats and punishments she would have me black listed. I took that threat to her boss and switched doctors. I have a doctor now in the same facility. I wanted to be silent. She is no longer my doctor but treats others, thus I also am in the process of number 3.

3. Do not let the threat harm others. This is a mixed bag. The threatening person may be someone you cannot stop. This protection must never come at a cost you cannot live with. This means do not chase the axe wielding halloween monster, go for more qualified help. It means talking to someone’s boss, documenting issues. This is often what gets me to perform step 1. If the doctor was allowed to bully me with medications I needed and threaten my life that way, she would be allowed to do that to other people who may not be able to endure it, be able to adapt and if someone else spoke up without documentation I had, then I was harming that person. Thus i went to her boss in step two. As you can see these steps are not in order because they are more a mobius strip how to guide for living.

4. Document the threat. Little notes from my exhusband, recording the doctor without her knowledge as it is legal to do in my state, pictures of bruises. Those parents who send their autistic kids to school with hidden cameras and find out that not so shocking to any of us, abusers aer out there ready to harm your vulnerable chiild for being who they are.

The same process applies to why I write. I cannot put on a super hero cape, race about the world and fix it. I must slowly advocate for myself and then when I can on bigger projects.  I cannot advocate for others if I do not come first. i think back to my first few tries at blogging. I threw on a secret identity, I tried to hide who I was. Yes, there were other blogs before Textual Fury caught fire. I stumbled, I struggled with my words out of fear. Then I realized that was what i was trained to do and the rebel that lives in the core of my being took over and I wrote the first post here. As I wrote more and more the tone of my blog changed and I let out the “monster” i feared. It turned out that person is pretty darned cool and I began to push further and further out in the world as myself. I never hide anymore.

So how does someone conditioned their entire life to a culture of silence learn to speak? By doing. The posts I never share, those still happen, the poetry saved on my hard drive instead of published, facebook and talking to friends, gathering with other autistic people. Knowing what I know now those are just little things. It has to be something you want, so you have to stop hiding from the desire to write, to sing, to speak, to shout to be. The thing is? Just wanting to IS enough. When people ask me for help it makes me proud, not of me but of them. I am proud of every single person who takes on the difficult journey of learning to speak for themselves. This is not a challenge exclusive to autistic folks, though the culture of silence caused by shaming and abuse seems to be so prevalent among my people that there are no autists I know without PTSD or that they know. There are no autists without pain, suffering and a knowledge of abuse that is intimate and too close, that I know of… except perhaps those children being born right now. So we are learning to speak so that they do not face the battle of a life where our words are forced back down our throats until we choke on them. That is why I wrote this out. The how to on blogging is the same as other things. Baby steps, do what you can and try to do a little more each time. Cry, laugh, feel happy, feel good, struggle with it. Live.

I think of the others who came before me, for I was hardly the first blogger with autism out there. My brain does not want to write names but I can see faces, words piled up before me that create a beautiful sky and world. I remember the first moment I read something by autism speaks and it broke my heart and filled me with fear. Was I seen as such a monster? Did i deserve the abuse? I was a baby back then, not yet a woman and lost in a world of flying diagnosis where everything seemed to stick. Then I decided to find adults on spectrum too. Now I have loving friends who hold me close, even if it is just as text. Better as text since I can enjoy that. The diagnosis that stuck saved me so I could find out that no, those descriptions of horror are wrong. Even if I had never been able to live on my own, they are wrong. There  should be no shame in having a need. There should be no shame. So i am writing this for the people who inspired this post by speaking,by learning to speak, by asking, and by being.

The Right to Remain Silent (Trigger Warning)

I have so much going on that I have been silent, because writing hurts. Typing sends sheets of agony down my spine.  My belly is swollen and lopsided and no one knows why. I might have a brain tumor or a billion other things making my testosterone levels skyrocket. (Meaning if you think testosterone makes you a man I am more man than you, if you are indeed a dude.) I have been fighting for access to the same care a non disabled woman would have gynecologically, while being torn for a pap by the speculum because the doctor decided that I did not have the right to a less painful exam. THAT has never happened to me before medical fragility or not.I have been struggling. I have also seen every day in the news a murder, maiming, medically questionable treatment usually reserved for animals., continued institution and many other horrible things being done to autistics.  This is true of other disabilities but not to the degree that autistic children and adults have been deprived of the empathy that their victimization should have.  Here is where I should link you to a few brilliant pieces I read but I cannot handle the triggers to read the truths again.

Two nights ago before bed, due to a technical glitch I had a talk with another autistic advocate and we both acknowledged that as children we were taught to be compliant, pliable and to NEVER say no. We were taught that certain abuses, things taught to even children with good parents who are taking the advice that is being given in the form of ABA and other wretched training methods that use violence and pain as therapy, have been used to silence us. Every autistic advocate I know has PTSD from treatment, abuse, and some of that abuse was preventable if they had known that NO was an option. I am not always the most vocal advocate, especially when things are as bad as they are medically, I focus more on staying alive since that is very helpful with the whole fighting for your rights thing. So I am always relieved when I know that other advocates ARE out there. They are persistent, present and even if one of us takes a small step back for our own needs others are there to help with the event horizon of advocacy. Autistics are not seen by most people as people. We are not seen to have pain, rights, or needs. We are seen as a burden, an imposition and a chore.

This shouting anthem should be read with as much loud punk music as your brain can conjure.  It is as close to stating how I feel about all of this as I can manage. My words skim the surface like a waterbug. I want to scream. I want people to HEAR it. To feel it. Take the punch in the gut, take the flag, rise up and listen. No one knows more about autism than we, the autistics. Not the parents of autistics, even the ones who DO listen to us. No one can speak for me. No one. Now if people just listened when I do speak we’d be golden.

The Right To Remain Silent

You have the right to remain silent
That is what they say to the criminals anyway
but being born with an autistic brain
doesn’t make you a bad person
Not unless you maybe rob a bank.
So I am writing this out in the hopes
That you will hear the song behind the words
Flap your hands, look away from their eyes
Defy their toxic works.

You have the right to shout
You have the right to rock
you have the right to sing
you have the right to be
You have the right to no
You have the right to live
You have the right to no
You have the right to remain…

Don’t take their word for what you are
You have value even if they can’t see
Our words are taken through violence every day
but being born autistic doesn’t mean it has to be that way
Trained from birth to take abuse
We are people
Gonna rise and shout
Scream it
Say it
flap it
rock it
paint it
feel it
breath it
SHOUT IT OUT

All the people we see and hear
don’t seem to think we should speak and say
I am not a doll
I am not a toy
I am not a dog
I am a human
I am a human

Raised to say anything but what I really feel
Taught that my words cannot be valued
Do they rape me?
Do they break me?
Do they beat me?
It’s just therapy
Do they drug me?
Make it hard to think?
Make me want to scream?
Do they cause me pain?
It’s just therapy
Silent hands
quiet hands
eye contact
scrubbed skin
Get used to it
Cause it’s just therapy
Don’t say no
Don’t say pain
Don’t say truth
It scares them
Less than them
That’s a lie
Its the lie
Fed to us

So shout it out
tell the truth
Since when does the abuser get to say
What is right
For their victims
We’re the survivors and we’re going to stand to say

I am not a doll
I am not a toy
I am not a dog
I am human
Where’s my equal rights?
Fuck the ADA
I’ll take the social equality the hard way.
I may not stand
I may not speak
I may just breath
I may sing out
I may write out
I may say it too
I have the right to expression
I have the right to truth
I have the right to bodily autonomy
I have the right to … everything you do.

The first chorus has risen, the second chorus too
Remember that you don’t have to be silent
They threaten to cage us
They threaten to maim us
Sometimes that is where our lives begin

I am not a doll
I am not a toy
I am not a subhuman
I am not a monster
I am not a freak
I am probably a geek
I decide my identity

Say No
Scream NO
Live NO
Fight
Fight
FIght
Advocacy
Freedom
Equal rights

You have the right to not remain silent
You have the right to bodily autonomy
You have the right to medical care without fear of being

silenced.
You have the rights everyone else does
We are people
We have thoughts
We have feelings
Fuck you’re empathy excuses for infringing on our CIVIL

RIGHTS

Don’t tell me to be silent
That isn’t very civil
Don’t tell me to keep my hands still
That is an act of aggression
Don’t tell me my anger is invalid because it isn’t yours.
Who fails to see
The human in me?
You are the nightmare monster underneath the bed
The shadows in the closets in every autistic child’s fears
You are the screams without answer when we have no words
You are abuser. You are wrong.

So listen, hear this. Read it. See it. Tactile paintings were

just not enough. I am going to keep shouting because it is ME

who I love. Selfish? fuck yes! Survival! I did it.

Say No
Scream No
Shout No
Live No
Fight
Fight
Fight
Advocacy
Freedom
Equal Rights
This is LIFE

 

Advocacy: Lets Help Amanda Baggs

Long ago when I first started this blog I received comments from several people. It startled me. THe idea people would read this blog. Then I had to put it away and found out people didn’t quit following. So with that in mind I am writing the first advocacy post in two years. A great deal of what I learned about advocacy I learned from Amanda Baggs. She was kind enough to email with me for a short period when I had just survived my exhusband and I found comfort in her words. I was able to keep going because I did not feel alone. I didn’t feel trapped by all the things in my mind or the way I see and think anymore. Amanda is one of the most powerful advocates I have met, not in the sense others see power but in her effect that I can see.

These links are PTSD trigger alerts. Simply put, Amanda has been tortured by the hospital that should have helped her and is being bullied into a dangerous and potentially deadly situation. Here are the links and they do include how you can help. Sharing this post or these links will also help.

http://paulacdurbinwestbyautisticblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/no-anesthesia-for-disabled-woman.html

http://webmuskie.tumblr.com/ This tumblr has an entire series of documentation posts about the event. This is the first hand source of the info.

Please do what you can to help Amanda get her needs met and not be punished for the malpractice of her medical team. I am going to go curse into a corner and figure out how to make the calls around my brain tomorrow.

Update: I redid the links to the blogs, they should both be working now. I am not sure why they weren’t since the links are the exact same. If issues persist please let me know.

 

Reality of Choice

It is unfair that we must bear a responsibility to take up slack for people who want life spoon fed to them. It is wrong that we must be better advocates than anyone else around us. It is wrong that we must fight for our basic human rights constantly. No one chooses to be disabled but here we are, fighting anyway. I am tired of wearing the Super Cripple label. I am tired.

Today I was reminded that it is important to be human. I didn’t know I had been working on being Super Perfect again. I do this without thinking. It comes from the need to survive. Growing up without a diagnosis for any of my differences including Autism left me with a need to be extra normal. I used to fail on purpose so that no one would hate me for being smart. They hated me for being me anyway.

I have spent my life trying to blend in with the able bodied and normal. I have never quite managed. Even when I am trying to seem normal, passing as if the only disability I have is my spine, something other shines through. Maybe it is the way I wince at something no one else can hear. Maybe it is the way that I curl my hands up and hold them at my sides. I try to not. Maybe it is the way I look at people, without looking at them. I haven’t made real eye contact in years. No one notices… or do they?

The first paragraph came from my responding to a post on another blog, the blog that forced me to begin writing. It is a post that commiserates with the service animal users, and offers support. Every day every disabled person has to advocate. People tell me often to not get angry. I am tired of not being allowed to have a real emotion because it might upset the normies. I really want to cuss right now. I want to let those words fly out because that’s what the normies would do. They use weird language, from my vantage point. Awkward tones, words that can make less sense because to them the idea of making sense to someone else is ridiculous. The idea that someone could be prejudiced because you do not use a word improperly is foreign.

Today was a good day, if exhausting. I woke up to illegal action by my apartment. The apartment is supposed to give a twenty four hour warning before entering my home. We had three. We also had to avoid being here due to the risks of exposure to allergens and their pesticide use. William spent the entire day in a carrier, just as panicked as I felt at the squeal of brakes, the cacophony of traffic. Sprite was her usual self, thoguh she panicked a few times too. My head still hurts from being next to a bus that had squeaky breaks. I can still hear it, over the TV, over the silence if I turn it off. There is no choice for me there. I cannot escape the overwhelming sounds. I cannot escape the pressure in my head.

I cannot escape the texture of my blanket. Tonight it feels like sand paper. Yesterday it was the softest cloud. The reality is, others have it worse than I do. Others cannot coherently string words together to express themselves. Lately I have been wondering how much “real” autistics suffer. I have been wondering if any other autistic person feels as normal as I do. I don’t feel like I am anything but normal. Anyone else knowing me might not think so but that is due to work.

The reality is I spend every day choosing between fighting for my civil rights or acting normal. I can’t do both. If I act the way that the dominate, able bodied men want I give up my rights. If I do not fight for my rights I will starve. Today I found out that Section 8 is no longer taking applications. This means thousands of people are going to be homeless. They are trying to close the program. Don’t we need more help with housing not less? I am tired of living in fear. As a minority, the disabled face their funding being cut. Do we have a choice? Yes. Is it a good choice? No.

What is the reality of choice? The reality of choice is simply that there is no choice. If you are disabled and able to push for legal accommodation it is a duty. You might not like that idea, but, think about it. Every time someone oppresses you, they oppress a dozen others. Every time you fight back and calmly advocate for your rights there is a benefit, there is a decrease in the oppression of others.

I do not know any disabled person who is unaware of their oppression. Those who face the fear of institutionalization. Those who have the memories of it. Those who try to ride a bus. Those who try to buy groceries. Those who wrok. Those who want to work but are not able to train for the job due to discrimination. All levels of intellect and worldly awareness. We all know we are being oppressed. We might not know the words for it, but the feelings are there. We all feel the changes when someone becomes educated as well. We all benefit from even one moment of advocacy.

I often hear parents disparaging their disabled children with in earshot. Sometimes they do not bother to try and hide their loathing. They all want a cure. This is very common with autism. The people wanting a cure want me to die. I would not be me without my autism. I am not sure what the suffering is that I am supposed to endure. All of that suffering comes from outside. Some of it is not actual violence against my person, some of it is just the experience of the world itself. It can be painful. Most of it is however the doing of man. My parents sending me away because I was different, drugging me to try and make me appear like they wanted. This was painful. It still is. I am familiar with pain. I am not finding any specific pain that Autism caused.

Some people may feel pain. I know that some autistics are violent. Some harm themselves. Instead of curing the entire mind, throwing out the person, shouldn’t we focus on trying to help them to learn how to not hurt themselves? Spending years without a diagnosis because I could do what it took to not die, I could blend, my perspective is different. Who would I be with a diagnosis and proper developmental treatment?

That is the reality. I chose to blend in. I choose daily to advocate. I choose every moment. I am hyper aware of my choices  but are you? What is the reality of the choices you make? Do your choices oppress someone else? Do your choices free someone else? What balance can you offer the world by making good choices? This is the reality of choice.

Sharing the Dream

I have a dream. It started small, with the idea of teaching other women with disabilities how to get their doctor to adapt to their needs, to make certain that they have proper medical care and it grew. A part of this is the rumor that in California there are accessible facilities for medical care. This access should be for all women and men with disabilities as well as those who are aging. A second portion is a discussion I recently spent two weeks taking part in. The third part is my own experience and the frustration that is omnipresent with my current medical needs.

I am sharing this dream with you for two reasons. The first is that I want your input. I am not an expert on all disabilities and I want to make this dream a reality. The other is that this will be my platform when I make my run for Ms Wheelchair USA. So, here it is, my dream.

I want to create not just an accessible doctor’s office but an accessible facility that has several purposes. First and foremost I want an accessible mammogram, one where you do not have to call, beg, and push to get access but where it is expected that you will need access. This will be furthered by a program to teach you how to adapt to your bodily changes and limitations while being able to fulfill the self exam for breast health. If you cannot adapt, either due to paralysis or other limitations then I want to offer the option of having a doctor or nurse perform your exam for you. Breast cancer risk does not magically vanish the minute you are suddenly disabled. It often goes up!

This goes further, I want accessible exam tables and facilities to offer every woman regardless of function and mobility a pap smear. I have an annual cancer scare, something tries to trick us into thinking it is cancer yearly. This year’s cancer scare surrounds my pap and it’s abnormal results and other tests that scream, “You might have cancer!” I am more worried about the high table, embarrassing lack of hospital gowns that actually fit, and my physical issues hampering the test than the actual possibility of cancer. I am loathing the idea of half climbing half being shoved up on that table, half naked and without any chance at privacy because I need help at times to even move my hips. There are accessible tables. Other forms of accesibility will be needed. I want to hear from any persons of short stature, what are the needs you face in the doctor’s office that are not being met? Even the most accessible table for a tall person will fail you, so please tell me what you need so that you are not excluded from my dream.

I want accessible facilities for rape victims with either severe injuries due to the actual rape or a previous disability. Writing these words has me panting with fear, but, how many women could be protected with evidence that is not obtained? There is enough of a violation with in rape itself, but being violated and treated like you do not matter after is a crime as well. This alone could be my platform focus, this alone could impact the lives of countless women. Accessible rape kit access with proper training for those taking the kit is a must. this is the part of my dream that is frightening, this is the part of my dream that feels the most out of reach. I must reach this goal however, for every victim and survivor that exists now or may exist.

I also want a center for adaptation. The Center for Adaptation would include a kitchen, a bathroom, and other areas that the once-abled take for granted. I still have not managed to cook a meal without harming myself in years, but a place where I had the safety to learn without being in danger of literally killing myself would help. This adaptation center must include potential assistive devices so that before the money is spent by the individual they know if the device will work. I wasted so much money on items that I cannot even use. Everyone does. Most persons with disabilities or freshly disabled persons have a very limited income, therefore this is a key component to creating universal access. Imagine learning how to cook around your limited energy, ability, and strength? Imagine learning how to clean again, and imagine too learning other things such as crafts, or finding ways to adapt so that you can create art? Dream with me and see it, a place of learning for all levels of ability.

Not just learning but socialization. I want people of all ability levels to commune together. There need to be varying support groups, socialization groups, and even a place to coordinate activities for the single individual and the couples. There needs to be a safe place to discuss sex with in ability, there needs to be a safe place where intersetion occurs. If you are gay, bisexual, a lesbian, or a transgendered person with a disability you deserve this just as much as someone who does not overlap two subgroups with in the realm of minority. The able bodied need to be welcomed here too, so that they can learn, assist, and so that there is a lack of segregation.

There needs too, to be a place to work with Service Animals. This facet will have to have answers to questions about the legalities of service animals in the given area, certification challenges, and training suggestions. Although it will not be a place to get a service dog, there needs to be a place where safe support can be found easily. Safe support that can come and help you advocate, safe support that teaches you to self advocate, and safe support for the process of accepting your animal partner.

Less medicalization of life needs to happen, and the focus on that aspect is a place to find good fashion, perhaps this could even become the funding source for my facility. The fashion needs to be adaptable to the wheelchair users needs, most likely this will require custom tailoring. The clothing needs to be affordable but also fashionable. Persons who have disabilities cover all age groups and the institutionalization of clothing is unacceptable. The clothing must also be in a broad range of sizes. Just as wheelchairs need to fit everyone from the small child up to the very large adults, the clothing must as well. Giving a place to access good, quality, stylish clothing for men and women with varying abilities will be a huge part of this, simply out of my own desires. I desire affordable clothing that works with my ability. I do not want to trip over skirts that are too long, I do not want to have my sleeves caught in my wheels if I use a manual chair, and I am presuming this is a universal frustration.

There need to be classes as well to train those with degenerative conditions to adapt, or those with compound disabilities to adapt. Perhaps the adaptation center is a new spin on the idea of an accessible home to learn in, yet, the focus on this portion includes teaching skills you might not have. What brought this to mind is my own degeneration. I lost my ability to walk and my sight is endangered. What adaptation can I have if I cannot see to drive my chair? I must learn and there needs to be a safe place for this. There needs to be a place where it is safe to feel the fear, the hope, and a place where there is hope. There is too little hope for the disabled demographic in this world.

A part of preventative care is dentistry, though I have yet to find a dentist who can work with my limitations. There needs to be a facility for dental care. I have a cavity I cannot get tended due to my combination of allergies and inability to bend backwards in their chairs. This cannot be. This is discrimination, yet to stamp out discrimination there needs to be action. If the facility cannot have a dentist, then it needs to have an office where accessible vision and dental care is listed, where referrals can be given, and it needs to be a place where there is acceptance that every body has a different need.

Disaster Safety is also a concern. During the disasters that hit the world, such as Hurricane Katrina, the disabled are often left behind. Their families may stay so that their loved ones do not die alone, and therefore these devalued people are murdered. It is murder to leave someone behind because it might be hard to deal with their wheelchair. A part of this facility needs to house a program that teaches people how to advocate, adapt, and prepare for emergencies. This program also needs to teach FEMA and other rescue organizations how to rescue the disabled. We are people, we deserve life, and being abandoned because of a wheelchair or cognitive disability is murder. It can be helped, it can be changed.

A lot of the focus here is on prevention and adaptation. My focus is not to cure disability, to wipe it out. That is impossible and I have gained from my own limitations. I cannot imagine a world without Autism as being beautiful, for without it I would not exist. Therefore the focus needs to be on preventative medicine, there needs to be a focus with in the facility on adaptive medicine, and there needs to be a focus on demedicalizing the bodies that have limitations. There needs to be a personalization of existence. I exist beyond my disabilities, though they are a part of me. We need to foster acceptance of self, of difference, and we need to offer a safe harbor for all people with all abilities to commune.

A lot of people are unable to work, are fighting for government assistance, and are dying without durable medical equipment. I want to offer rentals, loaners, and at times even the purchase of needed medical equipment such as CPAP machines, wheelchairs, and walkers. These are just examples. There would be a qualification process, and yet the freedom I felt that first time I sat in a manual chair and had more than three hours of coherent function haunts me. I have nightmares of being trapped without my chair now, I have nightmares that others feel that same terror. Those nightmares are realities. This program could use older equipment that was donated, purchased equipment, and could perhaps eventually include low interest/zero interest loans with minimal payments to allow people to obtain equipment. This could help those with a copay and a minuscule income to make ends meet. This could help someone who is choosing between homelessness and a wheelchair to get the chair and keep their home.

A second facet on employment is access to workforce training. There are already facilities yet at times access is denied based on a lack of visible potential, so, I want to coordinate with them to try and educate and prepare those who want to work but are being told they aren’t worth the training. An entire segment of this facility needs to be coordination with existing organizations to get people what they need, to get people connected with the programs that exist. A lot of people who ask me for help do so because they cannot find programs that fit their needs, even when they exist. A hub in the network could make their impact broader, while in a way delegating some of my dream over to their offices. I know one facility cannot possibly do it all.

This is my dream, this is also why I was so quiet this past week. I was dreaming, trying to put into a coherent idea what is needed. This facility will need funding but the insured can be charged. I do not see this as a fee free environment but money should not cause a person to not be able to participate. If a person can pay, or if their insurance can allow coverage then they should pay. Much of what is offered should be covered under Medicaid/Medicare and other insurances without issue. The rest could be funded via donations and grants. I have no idea what I would call this facility yet, but, that is not the most important focus at this time. Branding must come after a plan for action is laid out.

Share the dream. Share what you see as a need. Please feel free to pass links to this post around, I want to offer a taste of freedom to a set of people that anyone can join, to the only equal opportunity minority. If we band together, we can change the world and create universal access. This plan is flawed, this dream is imperfect yet it is merely a start.

Cracks in the Facade

I had planned something else to write today. I even wrote it. My brain was going one way and I believed I had written my masterpiece. There was no wrong in it. I wound up passing out, sprawled across my bed with Sprite waiting for me to come back around. My brain misfired for about three hours this afternoon and I was online. I had conversations with people that made absolutely no sense. This tested a newer online friend’s ability to tolerate. He was very nice about it, but, I realized this has happened with more and more frequency. I also wrote a mess of gibberish that held no intrinsic value, except for comedy.

This occurrence usually fills me with dread. What have I done without being aware? What was real? What was false? This time, I am certain in my reality. I do not have someone whispering in my ear that I am crazy and forgetful. I just had a malfunction in my software. I am not sure if this is from uncontrolled pain, the Aspergers, or the Brain Damage that sometimes rears it’s head. Normally I have seizures around these times too. If I did, it was while I was already passed out. I also don’t usually remember everything intended, there are usually gaping holes.

This could be progress, I could be adapting to the new state of affairs in my skull. I do not know. The memories, while complete, do contain some oddities. For example, the real conversation with a friend went like this:

Me: http://ihasahotdog.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/funny-dog-pictures-wind-teef.jpg
Him: Ah hah.
Him: Before I click the link …what is that suppose to be?
Me: doggy
Him: Cheek flapping fun.
Me: ya
Me: yudpggy
Him: Is that a combination of a yard and a pig?

This is a small excerpt from the Instant Message, my coherency went down hill. What I thought I was saying was more like this:

Me: http://ihasahotdog.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/funny-dog-pictures-wind-teef.jpg
Him: Ah hah.
Him: Before I click the link …what is that suppose to be?
Me: A loldog, from the Failblog people.
Him: Cheek flapping fun.
Me: Yeah.
Me: Do you have a dog?
Him: Is that a combination of a yard and a pig?

Upon waking I noticed the tail end of that conversation, it was very weird. I had a unique reaction however. Instead of being told I was being an idiot, must be on drugs or being treated like crap, I was asked if I was alright. I was given kindness and courtesy. The internet is relatively new, in the realm of humanity and has so far shown itself to be prone to toxic behavior. There will always be pockets of this sort of problem behavior, anonymous bullying, and yet as the internet grows and becomes a normal part of what is expected in society, the need to be cruel seems to be shifting and changing. It feels drastic.

The complexity of my medical care throws up more and more barriers. My reality isn’t always what I think it is. I live in a world that is of my own perspective, but it must be one where I can interact with others. Each time something like this happens, brain static as I call it, I grow more afraid to function in the world. Of course, I have been told as have you, that anything that could be percieved as not normal is the worst ting in the world.

There are cracks in those lies of social normative behavior. There is no reason that we cannot exist in a world with gay marriage, there is no reason why we cannot accommodate persons of short stature, those with disabilities, and have lives that are free of complaint for those without the needs. There is no reason for us to go hungry. There is no reason to say that the status quo at this time is actually worthy of us. We deserve more.

There are people who get deemed insane because they have a bad day. There are people who are supposedly sane, but, later that quiet neighbor turns out to have been a person capable of great evil. The world isn’t as beautiful as I want it to be. I see the beauty more than the faults most of the time. I cannot over look the cracks in the facade.

They mean two things. One, the perception of normal is changing. This means of course that the extremes we see on TV, where people are called fat if they do not meet a rare body standard, where there is no mix of race without it being blatent and a token gesture, and where the disabled rarely are seen in a good way, are not always accepted by the viewer.

This also means that the advocacy that myself and others perform makes a difference. Every challenge, every pain, has been worth it because of this fact. People are learning, people are growing, and the acceptance of the humanity that exists beyond able bodied white men really is there. The internet helps with this too.

Beyond my fingers, as the keyboard responds to my touch, you cannot see my face unless I desire it. I can be any person online. This is frightening in the realm of sexual exploitation. It is also freeing, I am not trapped by my body. I can go onto a program such as IMVU and I can walk. I can also go onto that program and be a giant cat in a wheelchair. With the lack of visual, there is a greater chance of universal acceptance. Though the default presumption is still that you are a white man until stated otherwise, some of the people I have met become awakened to the very fact racism still exists because they have discovered that the person on the end of the wire is not a white man.

The world is changing, and it is changing for the better. This doesn’t mean Utopia happens tomorrow. This does mean we have to keep trying. This means that we have to advocate harder, these cracks were made by those beating their fists against the walls of oppression. We must continue to pound away, to pick at the injustice. Our lives may not reflect much change, it might be generations from now, but the change is happening. There are cracks in the Facade.

  • Polls

  • Ye Olde Archives of Fury

  • Top Rated

  • Top Clicks

    • None