The original start of the title was Master Mind Fu** . . . Which still works.
I abide by the philosophy of take what you need and leave the rest behind. I was taught manners and live by the golden rule of treat others how you wish to be treated. I take pride in my ability to steadfastly stand the high ground. Never have I used my influences to discount another person’s actions or works: regardless of the temptation. Never have I called out an agency or organization in a public blog post. Never have I chosen sides in the eyes of many. Some might see my acts as weakness. As people pleasing. As avoiding conflict. That’s fine. I truthfully don’t care. I know myself. And that is what matters. But I challenge anyone to live like I do for a year. To not lower yourself. To not turn one wrong into two.
It takes little to no effort to act based on a reaction. That’s how we live each second.
It takes huge reserves of strength to stop from reacting in extremes, when we believe we’ve been wronged. It takes character and self-control not to buy into gossip and not follow suit in action, with someone who is degrading and belittling you. How good it feels to shout: Fuck YOU!
I am a very strong woman. I have no doubts about that. And indeed I get angry. I feel outrage. But online, with other sensitive and/or ticking-bomb autistics, instead of acting on anger, I let the anger move through me, and then release. I use my sparks of discord to turn something uncomfortable into something new and creative. Like this post. I imagine going back to anything I have ever written or said, and being able to be at peace with what I put out in the world.
I recognize not everyone is like me. That’s a given. I recognize not everyone is kind. That’s a given too. (You don’t need to remind me!) I’ve been around the block. I learn the most from people who don’t see things the same way I do. I like quirks. I like differences. It makes life interesting. I like to be rubbed the wrong way, once in a while; if for no other reason than to smooth out my edges. You can find me seated around the dining table with a mormon, pagan, agnostic, Christian, and witch. Just happened, Wednesday night. And I am okay with it. It’s interesting. I find discrepancies build character. I try to learn and grow, expand if you will, from other’s perspectives. I’ve also learned, that at times, it’s best to say: “Thanks, but no thanks.” Not everything out of everyone’s mouth is something I must digest and ponder.
Yes, I am good at biting my tongue when verbally attacked, publicly (on social media) or when I’ve faced an encounter that wasn’t very comfortable, (while I hastily text a friend for emotional support). Where the major challenge comes into play, is in watching autistics call out other autistics. Whether it be accusations, slander, rumor, threats, or the like. I fear that nudge at a vulnerable autistic might be all it takes for one vulnerable to lose all hope or to shut down to the possibility of friendship and/or support. I see how one riled up person can affect the rest of someone else’s life. And that’s hard to watch. Real hard. Hard to hear about. And hard to forget. Given that autistics have challenges with emotional processing and regulating, autistic groups can be a potential mine zone. That’s why it’s particularly important to practice kindness and not over react. Unless one craves drama, of course.
Particularly repugnant (to me) in autistic circles, are the debates filled with gas lighting and attempts to attack a character trait or personality, instead of the subject matter at hand. Just happened to me yesterday. Smart minds can be dangerous minds. Anything out of my mouth was twisted and turned by the recipient. No amount of kindness mattered. Reminded me of dating in my early twenties.
Sometimes it feels like everyone has an opinion, and that they think theirs is the absolute right one! And how dare you ask that they stop their “rant.” Because they have a “right” to be heard. Like I say to my son on the autism spectrum: Autism doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole. (Yes, we’ve been hurt and oppressed, misunderstood, battle with emotions, etc. Preaching to the choir.) At times of major discord, (seeing we all have our own comfort-zone, and right to it), it’s best I just pull back and not add fuel to the fire. But then that is often interpreted as admitting defeat, being immature, or huffing off. It’s a no-win situation, when dealing with an irate or set-on-certain-path person. Always is. Best to just not look back. Hopefully, forgive and forget, because we have all been there. Some of my favorite people are self-admitting assholes.
Beyond the drama of autistic groups, as of late, it’s arduous to take in the hypocrisy in activist groups, even those on a large public scale, with big websites. I see individual members of well-intentioned activist groups, who are accomplishing extremely admirable strides for marginalized minorities, also calling out the wrongs of other autistics or professionals in the field. They defame other’s ideas and works on the agency’s personal blog or in public social media. And this is tolerated, if not supported, by the agencies. The thing is, how can someone, whose entire platform is about inclusion and acceptance, call out another person in a public setting? Do you see this is illogical? Or is it just me? If it is just me, I’m open to that. Would be a quick end all to the dilemma!
Then it gets complicated, as the autistic brain likes to do. Like right now:
Am I fully accepting the above activists, in that scenario above, or am I calling them out for discrepancies that rub my values the wrong way?
You see what I mean.
From there, I think to myself: Is it logical to shout out about the rights of a minority, while at the same time picking and choosing who in that collective minority isn’t quite living up to par? The par a given group has agreed upon, of course.
It’s a damn, mini-social system reflecting back the exact ideologies that upset the collective minority to begin with! (My mind hurts.)
I mean, isn’t that exactly what non-autistics do to autistics? Claim how we are not living up to societal expectations of normalcy? So now as an autistic, I am expected to live up to norms of the autistic culture, as well? That’s TWO unwritten rule books. Just when I thought I was going to gain support and camaraderie, I’ve added on a whole lot, of another, something or another, I don’t quite understand, but need to follow through with, to ensure I belong!
Oh, brother! And, if not to abide by the activist powers that be, then how to respond when called out for any minor infraction they deem unworthy ? Like those that snarled at the word “Aspie “above; I know they are out there. Or perhaps they couldn’t even push themselves to move forward, after judging the validity of my whole post based on one word.
I ponder: How is it acceptable (or conducive to open discussion) for autistic professionals, affiliated with, and representing an autistic agency, (or guest bloggers/whatever guise you want to wrap it in) to pick apart another autistic’s hard work publicly, just because it doesn’t quite match someone else’s (or agency’s) given ideology or point they are trying to prove? (And I don’t mean mine; hasn’t happened to me . . . yet.)
Do other members of minorities do that to their people? Personally, when I see someone nit-picking an autistic’s work or words, I learned from (even if minor learning/and even if I found it wrong/offensive) then the want of connection and collaboration with that someone, kind of fizzles out, like hot air from a balloon. (red balloon). This all circles back to “treat others like you want to be treated.” I don’t want to associate with someone who might use my years of work on autism, as the subject of their next article, to prove a self-serving point or agency’s agenda. Do the means justify the end? I am visualizing which autistic heads we should cut off and put on the podium for the cause. Any volunteers?
Are there no boundaries under some forms of activism? If there are, can some one spell them out?
Perhaps I am missing something here??? Or then, again, perhaps I am taking in the whole to the great extreme. For of course, it is a blatant contradiction in and of itself, to call out and exclude another, whilst standing on a platform of inclusion. Or is activism, by nature, non-inclusive? I need that damn rule book! Or a calm, rational person to explain it to me, without first shaming me for my naïveté, or assuming I should know better.
Fortunately, I have this autistic brain, and there are questions I am learning to ask myself about autistic groups and activist agencies, in order to determine if they might potentially cut off my head. I’d like to avoid being a target (chop, chop). Ideally, (if I can find the rule book) I might be an accepted and valued community member with something to offer, despite my use of “Aspergers.”
I’m starting to see the line in the sand more clearly. To see the subsets of autistics. Blame it on my INFJ, idealist personality, but a part of me truly thought autistics, for the most part, were inclusive of their own people. I was up until 4:30 this morning, contemplating and grieving the fact that indeed they are not. Big sigh . . . single tear . . . soft tissue (pink).
In considering my list of questions, sometimes it’s effective to follow the question with a why or why not? Sometimes one answer says it all.
QUESTIONS to PONDER to avoid potential dismemberment of head.
Do the members treat other autistics and non-autistics kindly?
Is there room for compromise and forgiveness? Or is there the adamant ‘we’ versus ‘them’ mentality?
Are they tolerant of different perspectives? (I attended a local conference in the fall of 2016, and a representative from a women’s network accused me of “othering” as soon as I self-identified. Hello! Major red flag.)
Do they expect me to be an activist?
Do they stand by someone in their agency/group who is a known bully? (Sadly, this happens.)
Is the tone of their social media feed mostly fear-induced? Do they present topics they may not completley agree with or only stick within a rigid arena?
Do they come up with constructive solutions to disagreement, maturely?
Is there sensationalism? Is there bias? Do they allow two sides of the story?
Is there a greater cause? (Beyond a self-serving agenda?)
If I affiliated with an agency or person they didn’t like, would I then be ostracized or removed from the group? Would I be bad-mouthed? (I wrote an article for an autism agency many do not like, for their own valid reasons; I did so because writing articles for agencies is part of my job at my place of employment. As a professional, I must remain neutral to keep my job. How many would jump to conclusions and take that as an opportunity to lash out?)
If I chose to self identify as ‘Aspie’ or ‘Aspergers,’ would that be okay? Or do they dictate how, on page one, I need to identify? Is the word Aspergers viewed with disdain? Will I have to use excess energy to feel like I belong? Or will they accept me as is, unconditionally?
Are they a bunch of angry people gathered together to rile up people? Are they blind to their own ways?
Do the participants support a list of rules of what words I can and cannot use? What happens if I mess up?
Do guest articles support inclusion or do they call out particular autistics’ or non-autistics’ faults?
Can they present an argument without name calling and dissecting one’s character, personality, or style of communication?
Is the overall tone about acceptance, or is it really segregation masked as inclusion?
The End. Now argue amongst yourselves. I will be watching Netflix: Damages. You can learn a lot from a back-stabbing crime show.
Marcelle Ciampi (aka Samatha Craft) is a respected autistic author and community advocate, is best known for her writings found in the well-received book Everyday Aspergers. A professional educator, she has been featured in various literature, including peer-reviewed journals, Autism Parenting Magazine, The Mighty, Project Aspie, Art of Autism, and Different Brains. Marcelle works as the Recruitment Manager and Outreach Specialist at Ultranauts Inc., an engineering firm with a neurodiversity-hiring initiative, and is a consultant for Uptimize and Spectrum Fusion. A contributing author of Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, Marcelle speaks globally on the topic of neurodiversity. She also serves as the founder of Spectrum Suite LLC, the co-founder of the Spectrum Lights Inclusion Summit, co-executive of LifeGuides for Autistics (neuroguides.org), and a contributor and advisor to autism organizations and conferences internationally. Some of her works, especially The Ten Traits, have been translated into multiple languages and been shared in counseling offices around the world. She resides in the Pacific Northwest U.S.A. with her sons and life partner.
“Everyday Aspergers is an unusual and powerful exploration of one woman’s marvelously lived life. Reminiscent of the best of Anne Lamott, Everyday Aspergers jumps back and forth in time through a series of interlocking vignettes that give insight and context to her lived experience as an autistic woman. The humor and light touch is disarming, because underneath light observations and quirky moments are buried deep truths about the human experience and about her own work as an autistic woman discerning how to live her best life. From learning how to make eye contact to finding ways to communicate her needs to being a dyslexic cheerleader and a fraught mother of also-autistic son, Samantha Craft gives us a marvelous spectrum of experiences. Highly recommended for everyone to read — especially those who love people who are just a little different.”
~ Ned Hayes, bestselling author of The Eagle Tree