(TW: Filicide, ableism, Disability Day of Mourning 2017
Disclaimer: These tweets aren’t meant as a personal attack on anyone. Though they are meant as a personal attack on an ableist system that decides that it’s better to be dead than disabled. So if you happen to be that ableist system that lurks in our society at every corner, then yes I guess I have to say “fuck you.”)
I was actually going to write something, but since writing blog posts is something that I struggle with, I put the thoughts into a Twitter thread instead. I’m really posting it here so that I don’t lose it to be honest.
Okay, so here's the thing: If you're abled, imagine the person who is closest to you. Maybe they're the one you look to if you need help.
To be honest, I do not support the idea of trying to diagnose the president-elect with mental illnesses, especially personality disorders.
Yes, I Find That Doing So Reinforces Stigma Surrounding Mental Health and Neurodivergence.
I’m speaking on this matter as an autistic person, as someone who may struggle to avoid a week in the psychiatric ward, and as someone who doctors tried for nearly a decade to explain as possibly having a bipolar disorder, for which I don’t even meet the diagnostic criteria.
Let’s talk about how non-autistic people look at autism from a pre/post-diagnostic standpoint. Of course, they’re looking primarily at our behaviors as symptoms. How else can they identify a neurology that isn’t theirs? But with a focus on behavior means the belief that a person, mainly a child, can learn to lose their autism diagnosis by masking their behaviors. The truth is that minimizing behaviors that may appear odd does not change the fact that our brain works differently, responds differently, and can still need support that is now no longer available.
The point of this is that to armchair diagnose someone, you are likely doing so based on the behaviors that you see of them. But a neurology is far more than what you are seeing of it. Please reconsider your need to find a diagnosis for our president-elect. Besides, I Already Have Him Diagnosed For You, And The Results MAY Shock You.
It is my expert opinion as just about a lifetime psychiatric patient that President-Elect Donald Trump suffers from being… Continue reading “A Diagnosis for POETUS”→
In the autistic community, we have to keep in mind that our thoughts on certain matters are based on our life experiences and basically our relationship with our neurology. We will not have the exact same relationship with our brains as another autistic person. In turn, we will not agree with one another on everything. For example, an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis can sometimes precede an autism diagnosis. This can mean different things for those of us who may share this experience. Some of us may believe that ADHD was a misdiagnosis. I, however, find my ADHD diagnosis to be comorbid with my autism diagnosis.
No two children are alike, even among three. However, neither of my sisters could prepare my parents for the bouncing fetus that developed into the jumping child that they’ve known to be me. My mother was shocked to hear the doctor “prescribe” a glass of wine every night as a way to settle me down. And given every other warning she heard about alcohol during pregnancy, it was not a prescription that she had any interest in filling. The hyperactive baby just had to exert their energy. However, given that we lived on slab foundation, she didn’t want her energetic toddler to risk joint damage later on. As a result, my sisters and I were briefly enrolled in gymnastics as a healthier way to exert that energy. (Briefly because she couldn’t balance gymnastics and Girl Scouts.)
I was diagnosed with “severe ADHD” when I was 6. No, nobody was going to diagnose me with autism in 1997. ADHD seemed to fit since I was ever so fidgety and I was always on the move. Not to mention that I was a very verbal kid. Autistic children weren’t known to be told that they talked too much. But I was told so since kindergarten. I also was seen as gifted even though I wasn’t a fit for the school’s gifted program. Autistic children weren’t seen as gifted unless they “had Asperger’s.” But again, it was 1997. Who ever heard of an aspie girl in 1997? Boys could “have Asperger’s” and ADHD, as far as the psychiatric world was and still is concerned.
Of course my ADHD diagnosis left me far too many questions growing up. What was going on with my issue with bugs, most notorious being harmless butterflies and dragonflies? I always knew it was linked to my issues with public bathrooms. However, I remember my parents thinking that my issues with bugs was a side effect of Adderall. As an 8 or 9 year old who didn’t want to address these “shameful” issues or to continue taking these nasty pills, I allowed them to believe this. I guess I tried to lie my way out of the fact that I still couldn’t deal with either of them regardless of what medication I was on or not. And it made matters worse on me. As an adult with an autism diagnosis, I can now acknowledge that I was having meltdowns.
As a kid, I couldn’t actually identify with kids who were also diagnosed with ADHD. Maybe it was because they weren’t the self-hating and suicidal mess that I was. Maybe they didn’t have self-injury tendencies that they just couldn’t control. Maybe it was because they didn’t find themselves “walking a line between gifted and disabled” only to find out that my internalized ableism was completely wrong on this matter and that there can be overlap. Maybe their parents didn’t have to fight the school to place them with a teacher who could actually tolerate them. Or maybe it was because those peers just had ADHD.
As an adult, I can find a better fit with my autism diagnosis than I could with just an ADHD diagnosis. And I find that the diagnostic criteria for both can overlap. However, I still find that my ADHD is comorbid rather than a smaller diagnosis that can be completely covered by my autism diagnosis. In my experience, I find that not every autistic person is able to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, similar to the way that not every autistic person has gut issues or epilepsy. I find them all to be separate conditions that may accompany one autistic person but may not accompany another. On the other hand, as mentioned, not every autistic person shares this experience or this view on the two diagnoses.
I’m feeling exhausted. Self-advocacy for the most part, or on my part at least, is comparable to banging my head against a brick wall over and over again. I love organizations like Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and Autism Women’s Network because we do need to be able to give input on our behalf in order to better meet our needs. However, things are far too polarized between non-autistic parents and autistic adults. And I will admit that both parental advocacy and autistic self advocacy can tend to drop the ball on some much needed issues due to the polarization. What I think is needed is an organization that can and will do the following:
Must Be Founded By Autistic People.
Yes, non-autistic parents, we do need to be able to provide the biggest voice in autism advocacy. From where things stand, we can’t speak on our own behalf where our words can be processed by the mainstream without a neurotypical present; either speaking for us or disagreeing with what we have to say. Society has been lead to believe that we’re either incapable of self-advocating or that those of us who can are not autistic enough to understand autism. Therefore, it’s far too often believed that “we need neurotypicals to speak on behalf of autism.” This isn’t true, and we need to get this myth out of the way before it continues to hurt people. No, we’re not “locked inside ourselves by our autism”; however, we are metaphorically locked in a soundproof room by neurotypicals who don’t want our input, and this needs to end now. Put An End To Applied Behavior Analysis Once And For All.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of ABA or behavior therapy in whole, here are the facts:
In origin, it was believed that we weren’t psychologically human, and had to be made into humans by becoming “indistinguishable from our peers.” Sounds great (sarcasm intended) but in honesty, being made indistinguishable from our peers requires an exhausting amount of unnecessary work that could be much better spent. By the way, we are psychologically human, and if we do achieve that goal, that puts us at high risk for autistic burnout. NOT great!
Lovaas had been known to use shocks to punish the children. The Judge Rotenberg Center, which follows the teachings of B.F. Skinner, LOVES using shocks on their students.
“But that’s not real ABA” is a nice thought, but the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) has the late Lovaas listed as a fellow (for the significance of his contribution to ABA), and has the Judge Rotenberg Center as an exhibitor at their annual conventions as recent as this year. According to them, whatever horrors they’ve inflicted is ABA, and they’ore okay with it.
At the time behavior therapy became used in autism treatment, the alternative was institutionalization. Seeing as we no longer have to worry about institutionalizing autistic children, then pretending that they don’t exist simply because of their neurology, it’s time to take a moment to breathe, then to find something better than “better than institutionalization.”
Please stop comparing ABA to chemotherapy “because it’s lifesaving.” Autistic people will not die from their autism, because autism is not a disease.
Yes, intentional injury and destruction of property is a difficult matter to work through, but behavior therapy is not the way. As someone who does self-injure during a meltdown, it’s not a matter of correcting or redirecting the behavior that can help. The behavior is an outlet most likely providing relief to them, and needs to be replaced by something that could provide that similar relief.
For example, in that state where I self-injure (primarily by biting), I can’t simply replace it with biting chewy jewelry. It’s not the biting that provides relief, it’s the pain that provides relief. The problem is that channeling that need for pain into something productive is not too easily achievable. I thought about redirecting the need for pain into a tattoo, though that’s not realistic. For one, I can’t afford to, and the artists’ personal preferences have to factor in as well. Not to mention that going to the parlor, and waiting on the stencil alone would take too much time in order to get that relief as needed. And witholding the relief from myself does leave me painfully exhausted. The point here is that while not a realistic alternative, getting a tattoo could likely provide a similar relief for me to self-injury.
Overall, there are better ways to help autistic people than behavior therapy, which for the most part is comparable to dog training and/or conversion therapy. Physical and occupational therapy are generally helpful, as can be speech therapy. However, we need to ensure that aumentative and alternative communication (AAC) and facilitated communication (FC) methods are better available as well. Not everyone is able to communicate by mouth, and I find that pushing on the issue rather than accommodating the issue and possibly revisiting at a later time can be counterproductive.
Give Neurotypical Family Actual Emotional Support.
We can’t deny that it’s hard raising someone whose brain significantly differs from yours. And parents are indeed marginalized, but by society, not by us. And we need to be able to give neurotypical parents a safe space among us. We need to be able to give them emotional support. I’d imagine that most would be scared to find out that their precious child has… you know… the A word! Rather than leave the “NT parental safe space” to the organizations who feed into the “gloomy” autism mentality, we need to be the people that take these parents by the hand and tell them that it will be okay. Because with the right supports, things can be okay. In the event of tragic filicide, we need to be able to put our emotional support out there for these frazzled parents. We as a society need to stop letting organizations point their finger at the lack of services while they prioritze services the least. We need to be able to tell these distressed parents to please contact us (or a person capable of crisis management) before they reach that point of crisis. The idea here is to give support more in the metaphorical hand-holding and reassuring sense than in the standard “look at how miserable this ‘autism family’ is” sense.
Create a department within the organization that is geared toward non-autistic family.
This department would be managed by non-autistic family… preferably family familiar with redspace/autism acceptance.
Concerns and needs of non-autistic family could be managed through this department.
Include A Multiply-Accessible Crisis Management Helpline Service.
Phone communication is typically a barrier to autistic accessibility; therefore a crisis management helpline would ideally be accessible through phone, text/instant messaging, email, video chat if preferred, or any possible form of communication for the matter.
Examples of services ideally provided through helpline:
Accessible suicide hotline (common issue among autistic people)
Parental/family crisis assistance
Include A Customizable Care Package System Meeting Variety Of Needs.
This isn’t a must, but it’s been a fantasy for me to include in an organization inspired by various Tumblr giveaways. Self-care is important but often ignored or forgotten. The idea is where you could pick and choose a variety of things for your care package (at no charge to you) or as a gift to someone you know (possibly for a small fee in order to keep the system going.) Items that would be included in the care package would ideally be anything obtainable from stim toys, gift cards/coupons/vouchers, soft plushes to cuddle, soothing bath products, or anything just to indulge in. For example, the care package could hypothetically include a stim toy, a spa voucher, some candy, and a soft blanket; I think that including a positive message along the lines of “You’ve got this” within the package would be great as well. The positive message would be something that’s not overly inspirational, but to give the needed boost of emotional support.
In addition to the above mentioned, I would also love for this hypothetical organization to be able to collaborate with existing organizations founded by autistic people. This isn’t to say that it shouldn’t collaborate with neurotypical-founded organizations, however, that likely wouldn’t happen for decades. Willing neurotypical collaboration would be welcome, given that all of this is meant to work toward breaking down the polarization and in turn improving on the skewed progress that we as a society currently celebrate. These ideas are clearly incomplete, but they are a start.
(Disclaimer: All of these images are taken from search engines and MapQuest screenshots. I do not own them!)
Because we have THREE of them! Three in the same region, at that!
There’s so much water within the area. The wide-mouthed James River meets the Chesapeake Bay, and then the James River is fed by smaller rivers, such as the Elizabeth River, which separates the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth (all cities in the state of Virginia are independent cities, therefore not a part of any county.) And the geography means that we have a heavy use of ships here, for naval purposes as well. I mean what wouldn’t people do for their ships? 😉
Hampton Roads Beltway
Let’s start with the Hampton Roads Beltway, which is made of Interstate 64 and Interstate 664. Yes, a beltway is a highway that forms a circle around a major city. But in our case where our metropolitan area is made up of multiple independent cities rather than suburbs that serve a city or two, the beltway forms a circle in a way that serves the metropolitan area.
This is how the Hampton Road Beltway works; it starts as I-64 goes east into Hampton and goes to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel at Fort Monroe. It enters Norfolk at Willoughby Spit, a narrow tract of land that extends out into the water at Willoughby Bay. As I-64 East goes south from the spit, it goes near Naval Station Norfolk and the base as a whole; therefore I-564 marked in purple branches off for commute to the base. As I-64 east continues, it passes Norfolk International airport and gives way for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, marked in yellow. In orange is I-264, which serves the downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth going westbound, and its eastbound serves Virginia Beach in a straight-shot route to the tourist-bound beach. It cuts across the Beltway, creating a smaller belt within. The blue line connecting I-264 and I-64 is I-464, which serves a northern community in Chesapeake known as South Norfolk. This interstate ends at the I-64 interchange and becomes a state route 168. Following the I-64/ I-464/VA-168 interchange, I-64 east continues westward and becomes I-664 North when both sides meet the western end of I-264. From here on, the Hampton Roads Beltway continues north as I-664. Here, the Beltway serves the Western Branch community of Chesapeake, as well as Suffolk before it crosses the James River as the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. On the Newport News end of the MMMBT, it continues on to meet back up with I-64 on the peninsula. This being said, please note that on the south side, I-64 east will be traveling west, while I-64 west will be traveling east.
Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel
So the oldest bridge-tunnel in the area is the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. It’s very well-known in the area, mostly for its traffic though. It opened 01 November 1957 to connect the peninsula by the city of Hampton to the south side by the city of Norfolk. However, very little, if any, of the bridge-tunnel is actually within Norfolk’s city limits. This bridge-tunnel is an eastern portion of the Hampton Roads Beltway, carrying I-64 across the James River.
Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel
So this image below is of the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-tunnel, connecting the city of Suffolk, on the south end to Newport News on the peninsula to the north. The bridge-tunnel is a part of Interstate 664 (I-664), and completes the Hampton Roads Beltway on I-64. It opened 30 April 1992 in the hopes of reducing the strain on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. However, both bridge-tunnels end up suffering in high traffic time.
Its name is given to honor the iron ships that battled in within a mile of the modern bridge-tunnel during the American Civil War’s Battle of Hampton Roads. The basic history of the battle goes as follows. Monitor was a Union ship, as was the Merrimack. However, the USS Merrimack was burned but the Union Navy, then taken by the Confederate States and reconstructed as the iron ship CSS Virginia. The Virginia suffered an explosion off Craney island in Norfolk, while the Monitor later shipwrecked off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. While no side technically won the battle, the significance of this battle was that it was the first battle to use iron ships.
Depending on the time of day, one or both of the tunnels at once will see heavy traffic. But given the HRBT’s proximity to Naval Station Norfolk, the odds aren’t exactly in favor that the HRBT will be the preferred route. But rest-assured, the Monitor-Merrimac may experience high traffic, likely resulting from an accident in the tunnel. In recent years, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) put out signs giving estimated time comparisons before highway interchanges in order for the driver to make a better informed decision on which route to take, but not only for the tunnels.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel below was the second of the three to open 15 April 1964. This bridge-tunnel isn’t like the others. It connects the south side by way of Virginia Beach (independent city) to Virginia’s Eastern Shore by way of Cape Charles in Northampton County. It also runs a police division that is independent of both Virginia Beach and Northampton County. And yes, this long bridge-tunnel takes tolls.
Taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel from Virginia Beach
From Interstate 64, you take Northampton Boulevard to get to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. On Northampton, there is a Wawa gas station /convenience store where you can fill up on gas. Afterward, Northampton Boulevard will take you straight to the bridge. After paying the toll, you start on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel’s Northbound lanes. The first tunnel to encounter this way is the Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel. There is a restaurant and gift shop on the southernmost man-made island as well before you enter the Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel. There is also a fishing pier with information here. The second tunnel (north) to encounter is the Chesapeake Channel Tunnel. Further along, the bridge will rise, and when you first find yourself on land. This portion is only Fisherman’s Island, which is a national wildlife refuge. Just once more over water, and you will finally arrive on the Eastern Shore.
The toll rates for the CBBT are currently $15 during peak season for class 1 vehicles, and $13 during off-peak. The CBBT offers discounts for return trips within 24 hours of the first trip, at $3 during peak season, and $5 during off peak season. E-Z Pass is accepted by the CBBT, and only through that can discounts be processed. But this is for an ordinary vehicle not pulling a trailer of any kind. More information on the tolls can be found here, and for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel as a whole can be found here. They also have a Twitter account that tweets travel updates, if you wish to “follow the gulls.“
Some Scary Facts About The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
The goal of this portion is for you, the reader, to make a very careful decision on whether or not driving across the bridge-tunnel is ideal for you. That above image is of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and it is a 17.6 mile (28.3 km) bridge over a wide portion of the bay. The water is very deep ranging from 25 to 100 feet (7.6 to 30.5 meters), and each tunnel is 1 lane on each side. This is a long, narrow bridge that is shared by tractor- trailers. Drivers, mostly tractor-trailers have gone overboard, unfortunately, which most likely results in a fatality. The bridge is both beautiful and terrifying, and you may need to make a thorough decision ahead of time on whether or not you can make this drive yourself.
The reason for mentioning this is that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has a driver’s assistance program if the driver has a phobia. Provided that the driver calls (757-331-2960) ahead of time to arrange for it first, it can be arranged for an employee to drive the personal car across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel as a way to prevent a potential incident resulting from the phobia. However, the employees aren’t hired exclusively for the driver assistance program. Unless you call in advance, the employees have other work to do.
This isn’t the first time I’ve engaged in a discussion about water sharing to help with California’s water shortage. And it’s likely a costly and temporary fix were this plan implemented. Then again, I don’t see a better plan. But given that California isn’t getting a sufficient amount of rain, and some of the eastern states certainly are, I don’t think that it would be completely impossible to collect the rainwater in theses areas, then to transport it to California’s municipalities to be treated and distributed as a water supply.
No, not all of the eastern states are getting this excessive amount of rain, but I can vouch for Virginia and say that the southern part of the state is probably drenched. I live there, but I haven’t been there in almost a month. Last I knew, that ground wasn’t drying up, and I can imagine a similar situation in the Carolinas. The east coast has been seeing a lot of winter storms, however. I think it is at least safe to say that there is an abundance of rain for some of us out here, and it currently is a massive waste of a vital resource.
I’ve spent 24 years of my life as a Virginian, dividing up the time between two of Hampton Roads (or Tidewater)’s independent cities. That I can remember, we’ve experienced droughts from time to time, but none severe to the point where we actually had to ration out our water. I mean the region is situated right at the point where the wide James River meets the Chesapeake Bay, and just adjacent to the Bay and Eastern Shore, we have the Atlantic Ocean. This is an area not just with bridges and tunnels, but with bridge-tunnels, even. We have naval stations all over this area, our biggest being Naval Station Norfolk. And in that vein, this region boasts the first of the naval hospitals, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Our proximity to water is like no other. That’s not how any of this works, but if all we needed for a decent water supply was a nice geographic location in relation to water, then we would have hit the mother-lode in southeastern Virginia.
And there’s a reason that simple proximity to water isn’t enough to merit a good water supply. We’re not the only beings to depend on the water supply, after all. It was mentioned by someone in California that farmers are trying to drain the San Joaquin delta as a water source, which threatens the organisms that rely on the presence of that delta. This isn’t a simple matter of risking the future of a single species for human benefits; for every species that we harm by tampering with their environment, we also hurt the ones that depend on their existence to thrive. We’re hurting the vegetation, animals that rely on that or each other, as well as the microorganisms that rely on the animals, vegetation, or the water to thrive. This being said, we do need another way.
Now this is one of my favorite parts of being a Virginian, We are good for hot summer rains. We can see summers without a hurricane threatening our coast, but we’re not immune from storms. And yes, we do see tornadoes where I live; we’re vulnerable to them, living mostly without basements, cellars, or other proper shelters. We do see the occasional wildfires here, especially in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. But we’ve also seen the blaze of one almost entirely contained by Hurricane Irene in August of 2011.
No, it isn’t just a summer thing for us. Even while the east coast is getting slammed with blizzards, our minor inches are most often rained out. It’s just as well, because if our snow manages to accumulate, it’s more likely to ice over and kill local drivers. That’s not to say that we can drive in rain or sun, though. This being said, I believe that we have more than enough water to possibly share with water-deprived places such as California. And the more that I think it through, the more that I think this costly idea could actually work.
But to start, most buildings already have gutters and waterspouts in use that can collect water, rather than redirect the water. If residential places were to get involved in water collection, we already have a sanitation department in place that collects trash, recyclables, and the occasional yard debris. No, we can’t carry a 50-gallon cart of water to the curb every week, but we can have some form of collection in a similar format. Even if we set up water collection facilities similar to transfer stations for garbage, these could be set up in neighborhoods or districts. We could set locations up according to our school districts. They could be close enough for residents to give the collected water at their convenience.
As far as transportation, we already have trucks that are capable of transporting water, oil, or gasoline. If we have vehicles that are more than capable of transporting the water, then why don’t we elaborate on that?
Of course I’m not devising a plan to send untreated standing rain water to California, seeing as that can breed nasty microbes that are capable of rendering us severely ill. Localities have water treatment plants, and some areas have water towers and storage tanks that could store backup supplies of water for these currently dry communities. If not, these localities can start.