BOOK REVIEW: “CAN I TELL YOU ABOUT PATHOLOGICAL DEMAND AVOIDANCE”

Just found out about this and it seems to fit why some things are different about my aspiness than other aspies. It’s exactly the things listed on this site (http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-an-introduction/what-is-pathological-demand-avoidance.aspx) that fit where a straight ASD diagnosis with SPD doesn’t. Go ahead, click the link. Subscribe to her blog. It’s all interesting.

BOOK REVIEW: “CAN I TELL YOU ABOUT PATHOLOGICAL DEMAND AVOIDANCE”.

Aspies for hire… or not!

There’s been a lot of hubbub about hiring autistics in technology or STEM fields.

As I scroll through Facebook, I see many articles in my feed. For the most part they fit a trend–especially when I follow so many pages and groups on autism, aspergers and self-advocating. One of the recent trends has been about Microsoft and other companies like it hiring autistics specifically. I have to say, I’ve avoided reading anything regarding this trend until today.

In November of 2014, I was hired on as an intern Grant Writer. When my project management and research skills shone brighter than my writing skills, I was diverted to Grant Coordinator/Project Manager Intern. I gathered info about our current projects, current grant makers and our budgetary needs and assessed which grant maker to match the project with. There was one thing that got in the way: the directors complete inability to stay on task and finish projects in a timely manner. Now, this wasn’t my first conclusion. I made excuses for how busy she was and how soft some of the deadlines seemed. But, when the internship ended and I got my review, I realized that she assumed she was making accommodations for me. Because I’m autistic. Wow! I wanted to tell her, “you mean to tell me that all that waiting around I did was because you didn’t think I could handle the job?” I didn’t. I left, gladly to be ridden of a place so ablist. (side note: I will not be disclosing my SPD, autism or PTSD to future employers from now on)

This is why I didn’t read the articles until today. This is why I scrolled past without a concern or care for what was being said about this issue. I was afraid for the people who would fall prey to this targeted hiring practice, but couldn’t bring myself to get involved in the discussion. Today, I felt an urge to say something. To add my peace to the mix. To tell my side, my perspective. If someone finds it here on my lonely little blog, then great. If not, I will not say another word about it.

If autistic people are hired for their gifts, they will only be seen for their gifts. What happens when the rude truth happens and a meltdown makes everyone “uncomfortable”? What happens when they decide that one meltdown a quarter isn’t worth all the skills they are gaining from employing an autistic? What happens when they say, “oh, we cut back on your work because we didn’t think you could handle it” because of that one bad day you had last quarter? Can we scream discrimination after receiving special treatment in the first place? Can we say, “I don’t like being treated like a special case anymore” when we’re tired of the ablism? Will we only be seen only for our gifts which would make some autistics less hirable? (hint: not all of us are good at math, spatial reasoning and logic)

I learned a long time ago not to present an issue with also presenting a solution (this doesn’t count when just venting about bad shit). So, here’s my solution… stop the interview process. Hire people based on their resume and application. Change the resume format to ensure that strengths are highlighted. Train HR to pick out the best applicants. If there is a hiring interview, then have it be a hiring party/luncheon and have all the candidates and employees mix for an 30 mins to see who they “feel” they can get along with the best (everyone is expected to act natural, NOT on their best behavior). If the best candidate has the worst resume, throw it out. If the worst candidate has the best resume, throw that one out too.

See, the issue is people not giving their instincts enough credit. You know before you even talk to someone that you don’t like them. Even when you try hard to like the person and things go well, something ALWAYS happens to prove that first instinct. Why not go with it? Why not change the hiring process to fit that natural born ability? The best jobs I’ve ever had were given to me by people who followed their gut. The worst jobs I was never offered were also denied by people that followed their gut.

I shit you not, a potential employer said to me during a second interview, “I just don’t think it’ll work out. It’s not that I don’t think you could do the job. I feel you’d be an amazing asset to our purchasing department. I just don’t feel like your strong personality would fit well with Phyllis.” “Who’s Phyllis?” “Oh, she’s our company secretary. I just think she’d have a real problem with you.” A look of “boy did I make a bad decision hiring that woman” crosses his face and he says, “It will be a couple months before we find the right candidate. If something opens up before then, I’ll give you a call.” We parted and I was thinking, “jeez, if this woman is so much trouble, why is she still around? And I get fired for having an attitude?” Then I wondered if he was thinking she was going to die or quit soon. Maybe he was hoping. O_o Go with your gut.

Is that the best solution for this problem? Nope. The best solution will be the one that works. Will my solution inspire someone else’s solution? Well, there’s no point in sharing if you don’t think someone might be inspired by it.

So, my conclusion is that this hiring of autistics is a slippery slope. One that I hope all the kinks are worked out of by the time I graduate university. You’ve got two years America. Two years (maybe 4 if I push through to my Masters before looking for work in my field) to get this ironed out. I won’t expect special treatment and will be wary of accepting any.

Beautifully Written

I was shown this blog post today and cried as my SpeakIt! read it out loud to me. This is an amazing story and not completely unlike my own. My mother wasn’t as bad as this, but she was pretty damn bad. One day I’ll write about it, but for today, read someone else’s story and get the feels. Go on! Click the link!

http://fivehundredpoundpeeps.blogspot.com/2014/03/aspie-in-narcissist-jungle.html

Theory of Mind – a reflection

Last year, when I found out I had autism–more specifically aspergers–I read and read and read every list of symptoms, traits and attributes of the disorder. Well, I’m an aspie after all, so why wouldn’t I obsessively research the hell out of something? Anyhow, one of those traits is Theory of Mind. It’s a relatively easy way for psychologists to diagnose children as young as 3-4 years old with autism spectrum disorder. I have my own thoughts about it.

Theory of Mind Defined

First, what’s theory of mind? As it’s defined by Google

Theory of mind (often abbreviated ToM) is the ability to attribute mental states — beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc. — to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own.

When dealing with autistic kids, this tends to be true. They don’t understand that you don’t know what they know. But, in hind sight, normal kids struggle with theory of mind, but have to actively remember that not everyone knows the same things. It’s the number one reason mom and dad cease being cool in your teens. Your theory of mind has developed and your experience has removed itself from your parents, so they’re no longer impressively knowledgeable. /tangent

I have been an active participant in quite a few groups on Facebook that facilitate interaction with other autists. I have noticed over the past 8 months that it’s not adult autistics that struggle with theory of mind. It’s adult NT’s (NT stands for NeuroTypical, which accounts for the other 67 people). I have interacted with a lot of NT’s in the world and the common underlying factor is they expect you to read their mind, experience what they experience, do what they do, see things the way they see them, etc ad naseum. It’s quite frustrating really. Especially when I go to my autism groups and chat with my lady friends and there’s very little misunderstanding, lots of asking questions and not much arguing (if any at all). We come from all walks of life with very different interests and beliefs and we tend to take people at face value.

How do NT’s have 0 theory of mind?

All I can give are examples. Ranging from the very rich commentary during Katrina “Why didn’t they just go to their summer homes?” to the idiot on facebook that says “everyone knows who Jim Parsons is, he’s on Big Bang Theory, played in [some obscure Broadway shows] and [some other really really obscure random fact about Jim Parsons].” As if that’s a reason for me to know him at all let alone recognize his face. I’ve only seen one episode of BBT and thought it was droll. I have no desire to watch it and probably never will.

Honestly, though, I don’t recognize faces very well and if I haven’t developed a way of recognizing you, I won’t. I still have to map my mother-in-laws face every time I see her because I only remember her by her short pudgy build. You should have seen me when I used her hair as a mnemonic… haha, I would look at her completely confused whenever she dyed her hair or changed the style. She’d ask me if there was something wrong with her hair and I’d have to tell her no, but really I wanted to say “you look like a completely different person.” I had to find another feature to recognize her by. She loses weight or starts walking more elegantly and I’ll be lost.

So, another example would be a lawyer I’ve dealt with recently. When you live in the city, as a woman, it’s kind of a running joke to carry a weapon with you when you’re out alone at night. Women are 10x more likely to be raped than a man. Especially at night, especially in the city. A weapon is a necessary thing. It doesn’t make the neighborhood unsafe for children to grow up in. Children aren’t going to the store by themselves at 10pm and they’re not playing outside by themselves. So the point is moot. But he says, “why did you have to carry a knife to the store with you at 11pm if the neighborhood is so safe?” Mind you, the neighborhood my ex lives in has survived 3 murders during the day within the past 4 years. The guy was never caught. So… How does this question even get asked? For one, your white male privilege is showing and two, you’re completely oblivious to the real world and how it works. Honestly, he got the idea from a tweet I posted. If you take a tweet seriously, I got some tweets to show you that my ex posted to a 17 year old girl. I’d love to bring those up in court and use his complete lack of theory of mind against him. But I’m not petty.

Plus, there’s just about every republican or rich person who doesn’t understand poverty. Michelle Bachman, this chick… “It’s so bad being homeless in winter. They should go somewhere warm like the Caribbean where they can eat fresh fish all day.”  —model/socialite Lady Victoria Hervey. It’s really a matter of theory of mind here. They assume the whole world is like them and lives like them.

Reflection

When reflecting on this, I start to think theory of mind isn’t an autism issue. Over the past 8 months, I’ve definitely figured out that I don’t have theory of mind issues. What I thought was a struggle with theory of mind was just being a considerate person. I assumed that consciously thinking about other people and their needs and emotions was struggling with theory of mind. After a few talks with both Aspies and NT’s I realized that this is the exact opposite of lack of theory of mind. I realized that people who expect you to read their mind, live the way they live, understand things the way they understand them lack the theory of mind. Only a few of the autistic women I know and none of the autistic men have this issue (I know way less men than women, so this is not a representative comparison). The idea that theory of mind is a way to determine autism is a joke. I think it’s a way to determine nuerotypicalism. And the more I interact with people who assume I know what they’re trying to say when they call a DVD player a tape deck and Facebook messaging texting, the more I am aware that, as adults, autistics don’t suffer from theory of mind issues, NTs do.

So, maybe it’s flipped. Maybe young Autists struggle with theory of mind and young NTs don’t, but because autistic children have to develop or be taught theory of mind, they don’t lose it like NTs do. It’s actually pretty rare for an NT to have theory of mind. When I find them, I am so refreshed and the interaction is so easy and smooth. I would love for everyone to have theory of mind. I wish they taught it in school so the kids don’t lose it as they get older.

Fight Club: a reading response

I got 100% on this paper. This is a reading response for Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. I’m actually pretty excited about this. This is my second 100% paper. Like I said in the earlier post, I usually get 48/50. It looks like the teacher is busy catching up on grading before the final tomorrow.

Part of the human spirit is to thirst for belonging. It’s simply human to create connection where none existed; to inject themselves among likeminded people. Their existence gains purpose and meaning. They identify with another person, and with that they gain empathy, compassion, a perspective that includes other people. They share something now. They belong to the same cause. They are family. It’s natural to follow the crowd and search for a greater purpose. The activities don’t seem to matter as long as they’re connected and part of something. “You don’t ask questions is the first rule of Project Mayhem” reinforces this standard of belonging, but you don’t try to understand why or how, just belong. Belonging to a group is their purpose. Without belonging they are aimless, lonely, dejected.

The groups represent a connection with a higher purpose. Their loneliness gives way to the purpose of the group. In their previous lives, before the meetings, before fight club, before Project Mayhem, when they were alone in the world working their remedial jobs, they felt isolated. They didn’t connect with other humans. They were islands. The narrator emphasizes this when he says, “I set to work playing solitaire on my computer” (128). When you take these lonely souls and put them together, filing them under a common trait—whether it be brain parasites, testicular cancer or an overall dissatisfaction with the state of the world—they reach out to each other, they embrace the lonely because they no longer feel alone. It’s in that connection that they abandon their loneliness, throw off their isolation and embrace community and intimacy. They’ve found their higher purpose.

The nature of society is reflected in the different groups represented in the story. For example, the support groups are full of illness and death, fight club is full of dueling and debasement, and Project Mayhem is full of anarchy and dissention. Society is sick and needs healing. Project Mayhem gathers to make a decision for the world. They then offer their style of healing, but at the potential cost of estrangement. Tyler says “The liberator who destroys my property… is fighting to save my spirit” (110). He feels justified in creating Project Mayhem and supporting their efforts to destroy humanities accumulated stuffs and, more importantly, their attachment to those stuffs. “I’d rather kill you than see you working a shit job” (155) Tyler says without reservation. He holds a gun to the head of all service workers when he holds the gun to Raymond K. Hessels head. He is daring them to live by giving up what they currently have. This violence is used to call attention to the sick and despondent society Tyler lives in. This is terrorism. They keep their terrorism under wraps to avoid the ostracizing society would inflict on them. Society doesn’t want to be healed. They would rather their own group be left alone to do the thing that makes them feel connected, whatever that is.

The purpose and meaning the men in Fight Club get from this comradery is dependent on the ritual and organization of the group. They find comfort, purpose, meaning in the regular activity. Weekly meetings “every Tuesday night” (34) means you have something to look forward to. You have purpose, even if your purpose is to show up every Tuesday evening. It’s the connection they long for and it’s the connection they find in those groups.

Africa: a reading response

Africa is a beautiful poem by Maya Angelou. This is my reading response after reading it. I got 50/50 points. First 100% paper. All the others were 48/50. Rad!

Maya Angelou uses personification and metaphors to create an image of a country under siege in her poem “Africa”. Imagine a beautiful woman lying vulnerable to the ravages of man. She lies there, as a mother, nurturing her children with her tears and laying riches at her feet for them to take. But others want her riches, her gifts. Others want to take of her bosom and pillage her people. They take them away, leaving her sad and aching for her lost children.

“Thus she has lain” is repeated throughout the poem to emphasize her vulnerability. She is not moving because she cannot move. She’s a continent after all. But eventually she moves through the empowering of her people. They move. She has nurtured them and encouraged them through the famine, war and pestilence that their country has gone through. They are stronger because of her support.

The poem transitions into movement in the first line of the last stanza “Now she is rising”. And emphasizes this by saying in the last line, “although she had lain.” This stanza is a call to remembrance of her rich history, of the pain she suffered and the cries of her children. And because she hasn’t forgotten all the suffering, she rises up and empowers her people. She calls them to take action, to take charge, to remember. Never forget or else it will happen again, she implies.

In the second stanza, she uses the rhythm of the words to emphasize the attack and torment of her people. The rhythm quickens here as you read the words aloud. I’m not sure how to describe the rhythm, it’s almost a waltz, with rules and emphasis on movement. Which reminds me of an army overcoming an enemy. Each movement precise and calculating. Each movement in response to the enemy. The whole poem reads in this waltz style rhythm, but the second stanza in particular is where the rhythm quickens. I believe it’s to create urgency and call attention to the woes of mother Africa. The quickstep of this stanza further emphasizes her vulnerability. It happened so fast, what could she have done? Thus she has lain.

The assault emphasized in the second stanza is foreshadowed in the first stanza by calling the country “black”. This is a strong use of metaphor to emphasize a challenging era. It assumes that it has been in darkness for a long time, “through the years”. That the pains and woes of the country are so bleak that no light can be sought. All at the hands of northerners from white seas and icy waters. A stark contrast to the warmth of the deserts and sugar cane. This contrast is also emphasized by the use of the colors black and white. Though, I feel the white created the black.

“Now she is striding” shows hope. She’s up, she’s no longer lying there in the darkness. She’s taking charge and taking back the beauty she once had. But not before they remember, remember where she’s been, remember the darkness so it doesn’t happen again. She is no longer vulnerable. And because her people remember, it won’t happen again.

The Silence of Women: a reading response

I got an A on this paper. Thought I’d share it, though, reading it almost two months later, there’s some changes I’d make. Stylistically, I like it.

The “Silence of Women” speaks to me in a way that opens my heart and bares my soul. The oppression and control of women through intimidation, diminished rights and subjugation shakes me to the core. I see it, even subtly in text and reply. I see it, permeating the books our children read. It saturates media, including those made for innocence. I see it, even when it’s not there. It has overwhelmed my senses and clouding my judgment. My life has played this record over and over. My mother sang me that song as a child, and again as an adult escaping that same oppressive torment. My heart aches for the suffered and for the time when it will stop.

Oppression is apparent in this poem when Rosenberg writes “the chicken hatching back into the egg.” A chick escaping the confines of an egg is converting from a prisoner to a free entity. This line reverses that image. It creates a contrast of reversal in its metaphor. Freedom is lost for the chicken when the egg envelops it. The egg hatches—or engenders—obtaining the woman for encasement, oppressing her, excluding her from the freedom the men inherently enjoy. This oppression, though not as common in 1994, is the chest we beat against and the egg shell we fight back.

In that “baritone storm” she loses her voice amongst the men’s. Her silence is lost in the storm of oppression, required silence—no matter how loudly she laments. The baritone is the man, the leader, the controller of her movement, of her voice. She calls out against it and loses the power she expels as the baritone storm swirls and encompasses her. I can imagine her voice (read plea) barely audible at arm’s length due to the gusts of men’s voices (read rights) overwhelming her.

The instrument she’s using to amplify her voice is disabled. It can’t persevere in the storm, the prevalence of men’s rights. It “must make music” or it’ll lose all hope. No matter how strong the storm gets, how overpowering and intimidating the baritones get, her voice can’t stop. Giving up isn’t an option. No matter how angry she gets. No matter how her bones get weak with age. No matter her frail state. She must call out against her oppressors and demand to be heard. Relenting means death. Relenting means finding herself encased back in the egg. Her instrument, though broken, cannot be forfeited. It must keep trying “any way it can”.

This poem calls to women to be the voice, to carry the instrument, to persist, to not be that angry old lady with osteoporosis snapping and hissing at her husband after years of compliance. Women must speak up, say the important things, even if it will fall on deaf ears. To not get to the point of being recoiled snakes ready to strike. And my heart cries for the women to speak up, to take back their lives, to stop the cycle of perpetuating oppression. The children, boys and girls, must not hear the songs of control and oppression. The cycle must end with us.