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Tahitiii
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27 Jul 2009, 12:54 pm

This started as a response to "Aspie Elitism" and other such conversations about divisions within the Autistic community. (It was an interesting read, but don’t bother re-awakening it. No one’s going to read a post at the end of a fourteen-page thread.)

It’s all about “Divide and Conquer.”

Imagine living a couple of centuries ago. Imagine yourself as a house slave and imagine me, a field hand, saying to you that the whole system is wrong; that we should be allies; and that our real enemy is that guy up in the big house.

You would undoubtedly think that I was insane and back away slowly. Everyone knows that this is the way things are, the only way it can be. You can be one or the other: a field hand or a house slave. Those are the choices. That’s it. That’s the universe.

But I’m even crazier than that. I don’t want to be a field hand or a house slave or a master. I reject the whole premise. The whole system. I envy some of the privileges the master enjoys – good food, shelter, and the fact that nobody can bother him. But that all comes with a price. You need to maintain and defend that position by oppressing others. Basically, you need to sell your soul. Even if I inherited the position, I would lose it in a matter of days because I’m not mean enough.

From a distance, the difference in status between a field hand and a house slave seems microscopic. To them, it makes all the difference in their tiny world. Protecting one’s status in the quo, pathetic as it might seem to us, requires constant vigilance. That line must be maintained at all cost. Violence is a given.

If you don’t have the sense to stay with your own class, your friends will be happy to instruct you. Your own parents, with the best of intentions, will beat you before the master feels a need to do worse. If you still can’t understand that fraternizing with the lower class is bad, your own group will kick you out and you will join that lower class.

Some people were born knowing how to get in line and stay there. Some of us needed to learn the hard way. In general, if you want to get anywhere in this world, you need to internalize the rules and sell your soul. Once you do, there’s no turning back. Most people are fully invested and would rather eat their own children than admit that the emperor is naked.

The various waves of immigrants learned the game quickly enough. The lower rungs on the social ladder are always the most hateful and violent toward those they perceive as being on the bottom rung – or on the floor. They used the lower classes as a stepping stone to acceptability. And it worked. It always works.

It worked the same way with homophobia. The condition itself might not have been contagious, but the status certainly was. If you showed any amount of respect or compassion to someone so unacceptable, you would have been seen as a traitor and your fate would have been worse than his.

Women have also had their turn. Every generation brings a new crop of little savages who need to be educated but, for the most part, western culture gets the idea that women are people.

People with physical disabilities had their turn. We’re still working on that in some areas. In Mexico, the public schools still don’t accept handicapped children. If their parents can’t pay for a private school, the kids just stay home. Public buildings don’t have ramps. As a culture, they’re working on awareness and changing laws.

Funny, how every civil rights group that has come along has said, “Don’t pick on OUR people,” which is always taken as an invitation to “Go pick on SOMEONE ELSE.” Find some easy target. Someone nobody cares about. Someone who doesn’t have the ability to speak for himself, or to speak in a language the mainstream is willing to hear.

Meanwhile, as the traditional scapegoats are dwindling, the need for scapegoats is increasing. As this irrational, outdated, unworkable economy nears the absolute breaking point (2015?) the competition for jobs and basic survival is becoming more desperate.
(Competence is no longer a consideration in the hiring game. There aren’t enough jobs to go around to consider such a trivial issue. Why hire some despicable, unacceptable, undeserving person when sitting right next to him is a pretty, perky, acceptable, deserving person? No contest.)

People concerned with the mental health field are working on their civil rights, too.
Autism/Asperger is not a mental illness, but with all the co-morbids, there’s a lot of overlap. And the mainstream sees it as all the same anyway. You’re not allowed to be diagnosed unless you have a problem that is understood and officially categorized by the powers-that-be. You’re allowed to suffer, but that doesn’t count for anything.

Power corrupts. Always. Especially in anything that resembles an institution.
See: “Staff Personality Disorder 601.83” http://isnt.autistics.org/dsn-staff.html

(sarcasm alert) I’m feeling degraded, powerless, threatened. I don’t like being targeted.
Hey – guys! I have an idea! Lets draw a line and create a group that’s even more degraded, powerless and easy to target. Let’s call them “LFA.” You know you wanna. God hates them even more than he hates us – the evidence is everywhere.



Tahitiii
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27 Jul 2009, 12:55 pm

I need to qualify that one. The divisions are useful for a couple of limited reasons. Temporary reasons.

1) The mommies don’t like that dirty word. You need to bring them in gently, with a word that doesn’t sound so bad. They can wake up to the rest of the story later, but no one wants to start with such a rude awakening. It makes people panic, and people in a state of panic do stupid, harmful things.

2) Society needs to understand that it’s a spectrum, that the range is huge. The Einsteins do exist. It’s not a life sentence. It’s just a new way of understanding something that’s been around all along. If Einstein is considered a person, and if Einstein is linked, arm-in-arm with Rainman, then they’ll have to accept Rainman as a person, too. And everyone in-between.

3) We would never get it. I actually worked as an aide with Autistic kids, long ago. I never would have seen the connection between them and me.

We need each other, divided in some ways and together in other ways. Now that I’ve seen it, the whole world has opened up. I get it now, because of Autistic people I’ve known. Also, understandings and strategies that could be useful to LFAs come out when we talk to each other. An undiagnosed Aspie has coping mechanisms and memories that would never have been shared because they’re just a “dirty little secret.”

We need the “higher functioning” people to bust through the barriers, but not at the expense of other people. Not by using others as a stepping stone. Once the way is open, we need to bring the whole gang with us.



fiddlerpianist
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27 Jul 2009, 1:35 pm

Well, that's an awfully pessimistic way to view the world...

What can I say? There is so much in there I don't agree with, so I'm not going to even bother to take up the cause.


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Prof_Pretorius
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27 Jul 2009, 1:36 pm

Divisions ?? What divisions??

Here on these boards we're all on the same team ...


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TitusLucretiusCarus
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27 Jul 2009, 2:16 pm

I think I see where you're trying to go with this. The house/field slave is something Malcolm X used a lot so I'm guessing your calling for something similar, a civil rights movement of some sort for all of those on the spectrum, high and low functioning. I'm not convinced aspergians/auties suffer quite the level afro-americans did though it is often bad enough, the sheer level of degradation and even outright assault I've experienced has been bad and I don't know the worst of it. I'd go so far to say that such behaviour based on issues around/resulting from my having asperger's has led to severe depression and psychosis, which is enough to make me think you are correct, in a general way at the least. Something must be done. What that is could be the subject of both intense debate and serious schism. Hence, I suppose, the field and house slave analogy.

hmmm, thought provoking. But, given the diffuse nature of the autistic/aspergian 'diaspora' (not a very good use of quite a specific term I know but for the time being....), would it not be difficult, even impossible, to mobilise a group with that kind of politico-economic clout?



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27 Jul 2009, 2:28 pm

Well written, and good point. The divide-and-conquer high versus low functioning or autism versus mental illness or high IQ versus low... it keeps everybody down, not just the designated "lower" group.

For the purpose of this discussion, let's say "LFA" is "an autistic person who needs an aide most or all of the time"--that is, extensive or pervasive support. There are some people here who fit that definition. That's good. We need people from all perspectives to chip in on these discussions.

The idea that Aspies are somehow "better" than "LFA" is ridiculous. Most of us agree on that point--that both groups have the same human rights and the right to keep your own brain the way you want it, make your own decisions, and direct your own life.

We definitely need to stick up for each other. Those of us who require limited or intermittent support need to stick up for the rights of the people who need more than that. Those of us who need a lot of help shouldn't devalue the importance of proper services for those who only need a little. Neither group should say the other is "not really autistic"--yes, autism is a huge, broad spectrum, a big group, and it makes sense to say just how diverse we are; but since when has diversity been a reason to deny rights to anyone? Oh, it's been an excuse, sure, but it's not a reason.

Two more divide-and-conquer strategies I can see: Autism versus disability; and autism versus mental illness.

The first split is often touched off by the fact that some autistic people are not disabled and do not need any extra services. It's common enough to be in that category as an adult if you are on the border of diagnosis as a child. The problem here is that when non-disabled autistics disavow the rest of the spectrum or put down their very real disabilities as "comorbids", the disabled autistics end up being told, basically, "Let's cure you and turn you into an AS/HFA." That's just as bad as trying to turn an Aspie into NT, every bit as much of a violation. It also implies the very idea that the autism rights movement probably hates the most: Individuality and the right to learn and think as you were meant to isn't nearly as important as not being disabled.

Autism versus mental illness: Yes. We know autism isn't a psychological disorder; it's neurological. Fact remains, though, that like many mental illnesses, it comes out in behavioral and cognitive symptoms. And many mental illnesses are nearly as highly genetic as autism. No, we're not "crazy", but why the idea that not having a mental illness makes us any better than those who do? Many of us do have mental illnesses--there's enough vulnerability, what with the social isolation and vulnerability to abuse--but even those of us who don't shouldn't think that makes autistics superior to someone with a mental illness.

The fundamental difference between autism and some mental illnesses is that the mental illness happens after the personality is developed, an unwelcome intrusion, and the person would like to go back to thinking the way they did before. But the freedom to choose your treatment and be treated with respect by professionals, is the same whether you are autistic or mentally ill. People who are too psychotic to make clear decisions should be treated with the exact same respect as people who are too autistic to communicate their decisions--and the exact same respect as those who are thinking clearly and communicating efficiently.

The right to make your own choices, and to be taught to communicate your choices, exists whether you are mildly or profoundly disabled, whether you are autistic, mentally ill, or both. There is no reason why autistic people of all sorts cannot agree on at least that, and work together to achieve it.


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mechanicalgirl39
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27 Jul 2009, 2:59 pm

I agree with your sentiments Callista.


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27 Jul 2009, 3:11 pm

Of course mental illness vs neurological difference can get fuzzy as well. There are a lot of studies linking things such as bi-polar or schizophrenia to different neurological wiring. I think it would be a long time before the real reasons behind all of it will be completely worked out.

I think, and this is speaking from a non-AS viewpoint, that part of the reason that so called "NT's" are not wanting to be seen as "Them" in the "Us vs Them" equation is that most of the Non-AS people's parents here are just parents trying to gain better understanding of their children so that they do not repeat the mistakes made by the AS or HFA people that are here looking for help and understanding. Myself personally, I am here to understand my child and to get ideas on how to better communicate between the two of us, and also between my son and the rest of the family. No good parent wants their child to suffer abuse, or feel as an outcast. I know, I had two Very Bad parents myself. Although I wonder if I really count as NT with ADHD considering it is most definitely a difference in neurological wiring as well.

*I forgot to add the word parents in there at one point and it made no sense as to the message I was trying to convey so I fixed it.



Last edited by MorbidMiss on 27 Jul 2009, 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dilbert
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27 Jul 2009, 3:34 pm

This is just one aspect of a much broader issue. People, in order to feel like they belong, split the world into "us" and "them". They do this willingly, even though it makes the World a much less desirable place to live. It is downright diabolical.

So they create cliques, clubs, teams, gangs, countries, military units, companies, religions, ... whatever. And rivalry if not outright hostility exists beetween them.

Herein lies the problem: a division is fractal! A group can be divided and then divided again and again until an individual is all that remains.

We are all individuals. The entire business of dividing people into groups must stop. It practically invites the superiority of some at the expense of inferiority of others.

I can offer an example from my experience. Drivers don't like cyclists and cyclists don't like drivers. That's well established. However, the division goes much deeper than that. Racers on $5,000 road bikes don't like the mountain bikers because they aren't fast enough and are in the way. Mountain bikers don't like the roadies because they think they are a bunch of Lance Armstrong posers. Neither group likes the casual bikers riding department store bikes on a Sunday afternoon because those guys are slow and always in the way. No one likes the recumbent riders. Let's get back to road cyclists. The guys riding carbon fibre frames look down on riders on aluminum frames, while the auminum riders think that the carbon guys are crazy for spending so much money on a bike, and thus an argument and hostility begin.

Etc etc....

Yeah the entire World is broken. I too reject their worldview and would like to please get the hell away from all this.



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27 Jul 2009, 3:48 pm

Linking HFA/Aspergers Syndrome and LFA/classical Autism helps both parties.

The differences between someone with HFA and a 'NT' are often subtle and difficult to pick out. Placing HFA on this spectrum leading to LFA highlights the differences, sort of a HFA saying 'hey, I'm struggling just like that LFA person, just less extreme'.

Conversely, someone with LFA appears so different it's easy to forget they are intellectual and potentially functioning humans. Linking LFA on a spectrum to HFA de-emphasises the autistic traits, sort of a LFA saying, 'hey, I can potentially function like that HFA person, it's just more difficult'.

All science is idealisation, both Aspergers Syndrome and classical Autism are generalisations portraying an 'ideal' instance of each disorder. Rather than having these sharp discontinuous classifications, positing an Autistic spectrum over emphasises Aspergers Syndrome to make the difficulties more obvious while simultaneously under emphasising classical Autism to remind us these people can potentially function as well.



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27 Jul 2009, 4:42 pm

Tahitiii,
I think you make some good points and your skepticism may be valid. And I had lots to say, and I may come back as my thoughts coalesce but in the meantime:

The difference between an aspie and the field slave is that if you decide to leave society and go live in the woods somewhere off in the wilderness and fend for yourself away from the evils of society, no-one has the legal right to hunt you down like a disobedient dog and drag you back. We all have choices. As long as we partake of what "this world" offers us, like the services and consumer goods you're using right now to read this, we are beholding to the social norms that holds it all together, the good and the bad. All of us. Not just the field slaves.

I tried this very thing for about 9 years of my life. I left "the world", completely disgusted, and went to live off the grid in the backwoods of Vermont. I was so far out there, it would've taken an hour to go to the grocery store if I had wanted to go. We raised our own chickens, grew a big garden every year, traded goods and services with other off-the-grid families, put up home made canned food, logged our own land and cut our own firewood, lugged buckets of spring water in and heated over the woodstove to take baths & wash clothes... and all the other things pioneers do. It was flippin' HARD work, not the lah-dee-dah vision of daisy chains and communing with Nature most neo-hippies think it is. Well one winter in particular, when all my firewood got caught in an ice storm and froze into one solid mass (unusable) it took the road crew 3 days to reach me to get me out of there. Thank gods my kids were staying over at a friend's in town the night it started., but I was all alone up there. I slept with all the clothes I could pile on my body, including my snow suit and boots and pulled the mattress over me like a blanket. On one of those nights, a state trooper got stranded after running off the side of the road in some isolated place like where I was and froze to death before they found him the next morning. He'd had all the emergency equipment they tell you to keep in your car and had the right training to survive out there and even had a radio and cell phone (which I didn't), but they just couldn't get to him in time. I did 4 more winters after that. I hate snow now. And gardening sucks!

Good luck with finding the "perfect" solution... for your life and your soul... because, chances are, you might have to give up one or the other to do what you feel you've GOT to do to be right with yourself.

Peace to you on this journey,
Feyhera


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Prof_Pretorius
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27 Jul 2009, 4:56 pm

Us, and them
And after all we're only ordinary men.
Me, and you.
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do.
Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end it's only round and round.
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside.


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Feyhera
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27 Jul 2009, 5:01 pm

Prof_Pretorius wrote:
Us, and them
And after all we're only ordinary men.
Me, and you.
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do.
Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end it's only round and round.
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside.


FLOYD! MORE PINK FLOYD! Great song.


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DaWalker
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27 Jul 2009, 5:06 pm

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ilPLwAkxxQ[/youtube]



sartresue
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27 Jul 2009, 5:33 pm

Tahitiii treatise topic

You can blame Autism Now for the separation of Aspies and the so-called LF people on the spectrum. Aspies have been called "Autism Lite" and are not welcome on their site.


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