Today on Tumblr I saw this lovely positive article about a woman with Down syndrome who is entering the Miss Minnesota pageant. She’s also a dancer, it’s generally an awesome and happy article. But part of it made me choke, not because there’s anything negative about it in itself but because of what it reminded me of:
Born six weeks early with Down syndrome and without an esophagus, a condition that required surgery, Holmgren has always been a “go-getter” who has never been defined by her disability, said her mother, Sandi Holmgren.
She was born with the same conditions as “Baby Doe” in this euthanasia case.
Baby Doe died at six days old, of aspiration pneumonia, because his parents refused to allow his esophagus to be surgically fixed. Their doctor encouraged them to think that Baby Doe would only be a burden, that because of his Down syndrome, he would never accomplish anything even if he grew up physically healthy.
Some 30 years later, here’s a girl born with the same set of disabilities, in college, competing in a pageant and described as a “triple threat” talented dancer, actor and singer.
We often talk about how beneficial it is when parents support and encourage their children’s interests in things like sports, art and music, how parental belief in a child’s talents enables them to excel. It doesn’t usually mean the difference between life and death though.
The difference between a funny joke and a cringeworthy mistake is entirely dependent on your opinion of the person who said it and your willingness to recognize their point of view (which is not the same as agreeing with their point of view.)
Holding up part of a person’s statement as cringeworthy is a great way to shut down a discussion and discourage anyone else from defending them or even understanding what they were trying to say. It’s just another form of self-perpetuating uncoolness: once a person is labelled as uncool, then everything they do is worthy of mockery, even totally unremarkable normal things.
I don’t like it. Either say something about what’s actually wrong with what they said, or don’t get involved. You can win the argument without fighting dirty and you can leave it without insulting them on the way out. I don’t care if the person truly is awful. This isn’t about what they deserve; it’s about what tactics you consider acceptable, because that affects everyone you talk to, not just awful people.
When somebody makes a resource about a problem, and their attempts to make it understandable to people who don’t have that problem, directly make it less accessible to people who do have the problem.
I mean things like:
— articles about PTSD that begin with a graphic description of a traumatic situation
— videos about / fictional TV or movie depictions of sensory overload that use enough bright lights and loud noises to cause sensory overload in the audience
and the thing that prompted this post, a video about how to cope with vertigo that began with a good sixty seconds of the camera being swung wildly back and forth. For the very same reason that I would like to watch the rest of the video, I don’t want to watch that.
Honorable mention goes to articles about trypophobia that include a bunch of pictures of things that are likely to trigger it.
(I think this is post six? This isn’t particularly explicit, but it is about attraction and deciding whether or not to have sex with someone.)
Continue reading “Things about my sexuality 6”
I had been thinking that I don’t have the attachment-to-objects / empathy-for-objects thing that some autistic people do (basically treating objects as if they have feelings. Feeling like you should apologize to them if you damage them, grieving when you have to get rid of them as if you were losing a friend, things like that.)
It’s true that I don’t feel like that very often or very strongly now, but I just remembered there was one object-empathy-ish thing that I felt really strongly about when I was a kid.
It’s not something you would expect, like ascribing feelings to dolls or stuffed animals.
I used to think that the way balloons slowly lose their helium, stop being able to float, get smaller and wrinkled and damaged-looking, was really sad. I didn’t like having balloons in the house for parties because I knew they were just going to (I felt) die, in a few days.
I felt the same way about glow sticks. We used to get them on the Fourth of July, and after we got back from watching the fireworks and I went to bed, my mother would put my glow stick in my room “so I could see it while I fell asleep.” As soon as she shut the door, I’d get up and cover the glow stick up with something, because I hated the thought of watching its glow slowly die.
So yeah. Single-use things that run out. That’s my object empathy thing.
I’ve been thinking about fasting– not in the sense of “considering whether I should do it,” just thinking about the topic– and I think I can now (months after I started thinking about it, yeah) explain why the idea fills me with Nope.
So. Eating, actual meals, regularly, is something I struggle with executive-function-wise. In fact, it’s one of the few situations in which I actually feel… vulnerable / helpless / not-able-to-cope re: being autistic, is when I’ve gotten hungry enough that it impedes my ability to get myself food.
Why does hunger impede my ability to get food.
- physical fatigue/weakness
- on top of executive dysfunction, makes getting up & doing things even harder
- executive function goes down
- makes it harder to stop doing other things & start looking for food
- makes it harder to follow a long series of instructions to get / make food
- sensory issues / need for familiar things goes up
- limits my choices for foods I can eat
- makes it harder to get / make food (going to a noisy store, touching unpleasant textures)
- general emotional fragility
- makes managing my phobia harder
- which may further limit my food choices and may also make cooking & eating take longer
- makes me start fucking crying instead of just going “ew!” when I touch an unpleasant texture, which is not fun
I didn’t used to have as extreme a reaction to low blood sugar as I do now, I think, but… I do now. It affects my mood pretty dramatically, and it also makes me physically weak, a lot faster than I think it should at least.
tl;dr I associate not-eating with meltdowns.
Not only do I get stressed out about making Important Phone Calls myself, just listening to someone else make an Important Phone Call also makes me uncomfortable and anxious on their behalf. Not horribly anxious, but still, it’s a thing that happens.
You have two main strategies for responding to anxious thoughts:
“But that’s not actually going to happen,”
and “If that does happen we’ll be ok.”
To be really effective you need to use both of them.
You consider doing something (X). X is something you could do if you chose to, but not something do very often if at all. You would have to go out of your way to do it. You imagine what would happen after you do X. One of the results is something that would be dangerous or unpleasant (Y). You imagine that you would be scared or upset if Y happened. You can easily and reliably prevent this unpleasant thing Y from happening by not doing X. You don’t do X. You stop worrying about Y.
You remember what happened the last time you did something (A). You thought A was a harmless thing to do, and you did it almost without thinking, but then something else (B) happened because of it. B happened suddenly and unexpectedly, and it was very hurtful and/or scary, and you were terrified. Thinking about it now, you’re still terrified. What if you do A again by accident? And not only that, if something as harmless-seeming as A can make B happen, what if other things you do cause B to happen, too? You are constantly on alert to keep from doing A. You are constantly afraid of B.
Both of these things could be described as “learning from the consequences of your actions,” but they are not the same thing.