Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Things ableists say — Yenn Purkis Autism Page

Yenn has some very good points about how ableists treat people with disabilities – often in ways that are infantilising insulting or demeaning. I don’t view myself as disabled, but there are certainly times when society effectively disables me. Unfortunately many fully-abled people don’t realise how ableist their words and actions can be…

I recently had an unpleasant experience where a person gave me a hard time for using the accessible seat on the bus. I need to have two seats to myself due to sensory and proximity issues related to my autism. Apparently – according to this person – I didn’t ‘look disabled enough’ to use this […]

Things ableists say — Yenn Purkis Autism Page


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Press Release: Judge Rotenberg Center Threatens NeuroClastic with Defamation Suit — NeuroClastic

I am autistic, and over the 12 or so years since I discovered the truth about myself, I have come to the position where I can state that not only I am autistic but that I am proudly autistic – I am an Autist. After first coming to terms with my neurology, I have gradually become more and more aware of how autistic people are treated worldwide – Abysmally, and often horrifyingly. Treatment such as the administration of powerful electric shocks that are deemed inhumane when applied to animals, terrorists or criminals is, apparently okay when applied to autistic people, and in some places permitted by law! This includes the state of Massachusetts in the USA, where the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) subjects disabled and/or autistic children and adults to GED electric shock “treatment”.

Trigger Warning: description of abuse and torture. Read the terrifying experience of one JRC survivor on Aspiesforfreedom’s Blog

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC, founded in 1971 as the Behavior Research Institute) is an institution in Canton, Massachusetts, United States, housing people with developmental disabilitiesemotional disorders, and autistic-like behaviors. The center has been condemned for torture by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. The JRC is known for its use of the graduated electronic decelerator (GED), a device that administers electric shocks to residents through a remote control. The device was designed by Matthew Israel, the institute’s founder.[1] While the FDA issued a formal ban on the GED in 2020, the device continued to be used on some residents pending an administrative stay for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] In July 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FDA could not issue a “partial stay” but must issue a blanket ban or no ban at all, thus allowing the JRC to continue subjecting 55 people to shock in the meantime.

Judge Rotenberg Educational Center – Wikipedia

The article linked to below deserves to be read by every human rights advocate, especially in light of the attempt to stifle the voice of criticism by the very people who are affected the most – Autistic people.

For decades, the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts, has been using graduated electronic decelerators (GEDs) to shape the behaviors of children and adults. The GED delivers a powerful and extremely painful electroshock and is worn by students 24 hours per day, every day— even during sleep and showers. The GED looks like a…

Press Release: Judge Rotenberg Center Threatens NeuroClastic with Defamation Suit — NeuroClastic


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Are you Aprilness-aware? — transponderings

It’s still (just) April in parts of the western hemisphere and I’ve only just now stumbled across this (in my opinion) well written article, so I have no hesitation in reblogging it at this point in time. Anna writes what I have felt for some time but have been unable to put my thoughts together on this matter. Thank you Anna for explaining what I feel deeply.

It is, thankfully, nearly the end of another month with Aprilness. Another Autism Awareness Month – or as the ever-so-slightly-more enlightened have started to call it, Autism Acceptance Month. These are not labels chosen by the Autistic community (and I use a capital A here intentionally). This month of awareness- or acceptance-raising isn’t something any of us asked for.

Are you Aprilness-aware? — transponderings


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Autism “awareness”

Ngā kaipānui kia ora

When I tell people about Autistic Pride they say, “how can you be proud of something that you have no control over? That doesn’t make sense? How can you be proud of being Autistic?”

Lyric Holmans, Neurodivergent Rebel

April is Autism Awareness month, and today, Saturday 2nd April is World Autism Awareness Day. It’s a time when many autistic people “go into hiding”. Why? Because autism is still portrayed as a bogeyman – something that is undesirable, that destroys families, causes misery to “sufferers”, that needs to be eliminated. No it’s not. From my perspective, autism describes a way of perceiving and experiencing the world that is different from the way the majority of the population perceives and experiences the world. It’s not so much about deficits and disabilities, it’s about an alternate way of being. The bogeyman, if there is one, is that the non-autistic world writes of the autistic world as something undesirable.

So back to the question “How can you be proud of being Autistic?” I’d answer by saying “In the same way one can be proud of being gay or black or trans or Māori or Native American or…”. It’s a way of saying “Even though society devalues me for being who I am, and puts obstacles in my path that limits my ability to develop to my potential, I deserve to be recognised as a worthy and valuable member of society, and my rights and needs are no less important than the rights and needs of anyone else”.

I object to having an Autism Awareness month for the same reason I’d object to a Gay Awareness month of a Māori Awareness month. Look at it this way: there isn’t anyone who isn’t aware of there being gay people, trans people or people of colour, but that does not prevent the likes of racists, homophobes and transphobes from spreading hate and disinformation about them. It doesn’t prevent normal, intelligent people from failing to appreciate the social barriers that are placed in the way of individuals who are members of minority groups – in other words intentional and unintentional discrimination.

Likewise, I doubt that today there is a single person who isn’t aware of autism. For goodness sake, in some quarters, there’s panic about an “autism epidemic” being accelerated by vaccines or 5G or plastics or the New World Order or GMOs or… something. In fact it’s nothing more that a growing realisation within the health sector of what autism actually is. What is sad is if they had consulted with actually autistic people instead of making lab rats of us, they would have had that “Ah ha” moment long ago.

What we need is not awareness, but acceptance at a minimum. Better yet would be valuing the alternative perspectives that autistics and other other forms of neurodiversity bring to society. Because Autistic people perceive and experience society and the world differently, we express our experiences and understandings differently. Accept that our differences are not deficits, but are a valuable and important part of the diversity that makes the human species what it is.

Embrace diversity!


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Trigger warnings

Trigger warning: <sarcasm> this article may irritate some people who lack empathy. </sarcasm>

Today in the comments section of a post of one of my favourite bloggers was a comment by one reader that they were irritated by trigger warnings that occasionally precede online articles. The reader made the comment that “[E]verybody needs to put on their big boy/big girl panties and deal with it“. This to me seems to be very inconsiderate, lacking in empathy, and downright harmful. It triggered prompted me into composing this article. Let me elaborate.

Personally, I approve of trigger warnings. They are not there for the benefit of the typical reader/viewer. They are there for the benefit the reader/viewer whose circumstances are less than typical.

Many people struggle with life for a variety of reasons, beit temporary, medium term or for their entire life. Some people will, from time to time encounter that proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back causing anguish, despair, a breakdown, a relapse, or even contemplating whether or not life is worth the struggle. I cannot know the circumstances of my readers so I shouldn’t presume that none of them are facing difficulties that are stretching them to breaking point. I would not want to be knowingly responsible for loading them up with that proverbial straw, at least without giving them the opportunity to decline it. I’ll attempt an analogy.

Imagine you come across a cafe you haven’t seen before and decide to go in for a Flat White (or whatever your favourite hot beverage is). You’re about to take your first sip when there’s an extremely loud bang that startles you and you spill some coffee onto your lap. After you recover you notice no one else in the cafe has reacted as you did. It turns out this particular cafe fires a cannon on the hour throughout the business day, and regulars are aware of this. On the other hand you weren’t. If you had been warned before purchasing your coffee, you would have been forewarned and could have chosen whether to stay or go elsewhere.

Which would be more reasonable: (a) to provide a warning at the entrance, or on the drinks menu on the wall that a cannon is fired on the hour, or (b) to be told that you need to put on your big boy/big girl panties and deal with it when you complain that the cannon fire caused you to spill your coffee?

What triggers me about comments such as “deal with it” is that it’s a situation I find myself in regularly. I’m autistic and my ability to communicate in a way that non-autistics demand is not always successful. I can communicate perfectly well – with other autistics or with people who are prepared to meet me part way. Communication is a two way street, yet I, and other autistics, must bend over backwards to conform to the confusing, chaotic and illogical communication style of non-autistic people. All. The. Time.

It’s uncomfortable, unpleasant and exhausting, and frequently in social situations I find it necessary to escape, at least temporarily, to avoid shutting down. Such escapes are often considered rude, anti-social, inconsiderate or arrogant, and when I explain why it’s necessary I’m informed that no one else has a problem and I need to learn to “deal with it”. Why is it that they don’t ever need to learn to “deal with it” – the fact that I need to take frequent breaks during social activity?

Seldom, if ever, is there an attempt by neurotypicals to make any accommodation for the needs of autistics. Who’s lacking empathy? According to popular mythology, including much of the medical profession, autistic people lack empathy. I would argue no more so than non-autistic people do. In fact there is a growing body of evidence that suggests autistics may actually be highly empathetic, but expressed in a way non-autistic people can’t even recognise, let alone understand.

When needs are not met, people suffer. If you are irritated when empathetic people try to accommodate the needs of others by way of trigger warnings, you’ll not get any sympathy from me.


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Arresting Ableism; Insight and Experiences of a Nonspeaking Autistic — NeuroClastic

Inside my mind there are a myriad of thoughts about the way autism is perceived and how autistic folk are treated. I have more than a dozen drafts on this subject that I am unable to complete as every time I try I feel a churning in my stomach and my thoughts fly in all directions – so much so that I can not organise them into paragraphs, sentences and words. I don’t know what that churning represents – anger, frustration, impotence – perhaps all of these, perhaps something entirely different. What I can say is that it makes me very uncomfortable, even more so when I’m unable to articulate what I really want to say.

Is is because I lack the language skills necessary to express myself adequately, or is that words themselves are incapable or expressing what I feel? I don’t know. But I do know when someone can articulate what I feel. The following article by Sabrina Guerra, a non-speaking autistic, speaks volumes quietly. Her specific experiences are different from mine, and yet (to use a Quaker phrase) she speaks to my condition.

Wisdom doesn’t flourish impeded by people’s egocentrism. Supremacy reigns unless we fight diligently to educate. Question all that you’ve ingested on a human’s worth. When the rights of abled people take precedence over those of disabled people, our great shame is evident, and we must not consider ourselves a modern, progressive society. I am passionate…

Arresting Ableism; Insight and Experiences of a Nonspeaking Autistic — NeuroClastic


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Open letter to the Lancet Commission on the future of care and clinical research in autism — Neurodivergent Rebel

Up until very recently, autistics have been excluded from the field of autism research apart from being subjects. Research by, and input from autistics has largely been ignored, and the interpretation of research data has been largely in the hands of non-autistic researchers. Gradually, ever so slowly, there’s the beginning of the realisation that neurodiversity is not a pathology, but part of the natural diversity of the human species. And in this respect it’s pleasing to see the Lancet Commission on the future of care and clinical research in autism is recognising that autistics should be collaborators instead of just subjects.

However the Global Autistic Task Force on Autism Research (a committee comprising autistic advocates, researchers and representatives of organisations by and for autistic people) has identified areas where there are shortcomings leaving autistics marginalised once more. I thank Lyric for bringing this to my attention, and I urge everyone to consider carefully the concerns expressed by the task force. I will do my bit by letting the Lancet commission know my views.

I STRONGLY URGE others to publish, share and cosign the original message below as I have done, as well as send a message to Lancet. We wish to address the Lancet Commission on the future of care and clinical research in autism on behalf of the Global Autistic Task Force on Autism Research, a committee comprising autistic…

Open letter to the Lancet Commission on the future of care and clinical research in autism — Neurodivergent Rebel


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Speaking silently

Advices and queries E:4 “Obey the laws of the state, except when they conflict with your inner conviction“. My thoughts go out to those in Russia, who have chosen to protest the invasion of Ukraine, knowing the sure consequences – arrest by an authoritarian regime. Choosing to put oneself in harm’s way by the state when they could remain silent takes much courage. I can understand those who wish to defend their family and way of life, after all, they are directly affected. But to take stance on a matter of moral conviction knowing the inevitable consequences takes a special kind of courage. Let us hold them in the light as well as the people of Ukraine.

Ministry offered at Meeting for Worship 27 Feb 2022

Today I have been having one of those migraines that affect my ability to string together a spoken sentence that will be comprehensible to others. Nevertheless I can still have an urge to communicate. That happened this morning during Meeting for Worship. Usually when I have an urge to offer ministry I resist. In perhaps the last 30 years I’ve offered ministry no more than a handful of times.

My resistance is not because I feel I have nothing to offer. It’s because experience has taught me that by expressing myself I make myself vulnerable and open to misinterpretation. A fact of life that every autist is painfully well aware of, but of which the non-autistic community write off as rudeness, stupidity, or social ineptitude on our part, worthy of being written off as inconsequential or ignored at best, or worthy of ridicule and/or retaliation at worst.

Experience should have also taught me that there are exceptions to that rule – whānau and Friends (Quakers) in particular don’t jump to the conclusion that I might have some ulterior motive such as malice, ego, selfishness or an intent to offend. Whānau because they have known me all their lives, or for seventy plus years (whichever is the shorter), and Friends because they tend to be more considered in their communications – in “Quakerspeak”, seeking, and speaking to that of God in every person.

Before I continue, I’m convinced there is “that of God” (which I usually interpret as being a spark of good or a spark for good) in everyone – no exceptions – but I will admit that there are a few individuals where it seems so well hidden that I have been unable to find it.

Often when I have an urge to speak, beit during Meeting for Worship or any other time, I carefully construct the concern into a series of sentences that I feel are adequate, and then articulate those sentences silently. Unable to overcome the fear of what I want to say being devalued, but needing to speak nonetheless, I speak my words silently, with no movement of jaw, lips or tongue.

Speaking silently like this does ease the urge that has built up, but in practical terms it doesn’t do much in the way of communicating my thoughts or concerns to others. And yet so many times I when I do this at Meeting for Worship, someone will later stand and speak on the very topic I chose to be silent on. Perhaps if I believed in the existence of a divine being then I might explain it away as being the hand of God at play, but my rational self explains it away as more likely that within the community of Quakers, Friends have similar values and concerns, even if our experiences are different. Whatever is concerning me is probably concerning other Friends as well.

We’ve been fortunate on this country in that since the beginning of the pandemic there has been only six or seven weeks when covid mandates have prevented Quakers from holding Meetings at the Meeting House. During those times, Meetings were held via Zoom. That platform has since become part of the local Quaker environment, beit Meetings for Worship, Meetings for Business or discussion groups and seminars. Those who are unable to attend in person can now attend via Zoom. More often than not I’m the only person attending local Worship by that platform, but occasionally I’m joined by one or two others.

Today during Worship I had one of those urges to speak. Today I didn’t need to suppress it because the migraine prevented me from uttering much more than intermittent slurred monosyllabic words. I felt more frustrated than fearful. Then it occurred to me – Zoom has a chat facility. I could speak via the medium of typed words. So I did.

I practiced what I wanted to say, then typed those words into the chat box. Now that the migraine has somewhat abated, I can see that the spelling and grammar were atrocious, but nonetheless after Meeting Several of those attending asked if they could have permission to quote me at other events, so it seems my message spoke to some Friends today. Let’s hope they tidy it up before sharing it 🙂

From my perspective, the experience was liberating. I was able to express myself at my own pace instead of the pace that most people expect of the spoken word. In many ways today’s experience has been even more liberating than discovering the blogosphere. There, I’m more or less anonymous but communication is at a pace that suits me. Within local communities I’m not so fortunate, but at least now, within my Quaker community I have an alternative means of “speaking” when I’m motivated to say something.

The quotation at the top of this blog post is a slightly tidied up version of what I typed into the Zoom chat box this morning. I wonder if I would have the courage to make such a stand if I was a Russian resident?


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Conversion therapy: only partially banned

Last week, the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill passed the final stage of becoming law in Aotearoa New Zealand It’s pleasing to note that only 7 parliamentarians (all who happen to be members of the centre-right National Party) voted against the passing of this legislation.

So why was the passing of this law a disappointment to many in the autistic and neurodiverse community? The autistic community has borne the brunt of conversion therapy for decades, well before it became a “treatment” for those in the LGBTQI+ community. The practices developed in the “treatment” of autistic people are the very practices prohibited by the new law, but only when it comes to the “treatment” of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Conversion therapy for other “conditions” remains lawful.

During the Select Committee stage of the process, over 100,000 public submissions were received and considered by the Justice Select Committee. I know many autistic, neurodiverse and other minorities made submissions asking for all forms of conversion therapy be banned. It seems we didn’t have the numbers or the persuasive powers necessary for the Select Committee to expand the ban beyond gender identity/expression and sexual orientation.

Reading a random selection of written submissions (78,416 are available on line), it’s pleasing to see that the vast majority of submitters professing a religion supported the ban. What is disappointing is that so few submitters (religious or not) considered how harmful conversion practices can be outside the confines of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. When you consider that 80% of autistic children who are given conversion therapy in an attempt to make them “appear normal” exhibit symptoms of PTSD as adults, there is urgent need to ban all forms of conversion therapy. Now.