Category Archives: All other stuff

Autism : “language matters”–yes indeed.

I have a particular pet peeve and I know I am not alone :  Nazi analogies. Upset me. Every time.

Now I have been told before that my personal sensitivity to people “playing the Nazi card” for emphasis – or as a playful hyperbole! – comes from the fact that it was indeed ‘my country’ that caused the 13+Mio death (non counting war casualties) during the 3rd Reich. The idea being that some kind of inherited, collective guilt-shame makes me cringe or irritated when I am reminded of it.  Not so.
I am quite aware of my country’s history, thank you, and I even know how my own family was involved and victimized by the Nazis. I have grown up to “never again” and “fight the early signs”. And also : “language matters”.

As history moves on, new genocides and war crimes happen, still it is generally agreed that the Nazi terror is the ultimate superlative of horror and calling someone a “Nazi” is the non plus ultra insult. Or is it? Because by the end 90s, I started to dive into the Anglophone internet – and came across the word ‘breastfeeding Nazi’. Hang on, what!? Wow. And then, people would literally say about themselves : “I am a bit of a grammar Nazi” to express how much they cared for proper use of language. Is that so?
Well, let me be the Thundering Goddess of Linguistics and tell you – there is no semantic shift for “Nazi”. You need to shut up!

“Nazi” is the colloquial expression for members of the NSDAP during the 3rd Reich. Out of respect for the tens of millions of victims of persecution and war, the survivors and descendants – you cannot use the word for emphasis or comparison. NOTHING compares and will ever compare.

nazicard-150x109And this also goes for the use of nazi-isms for the politically or socially outraged. Yes. Unless there is a real connection to 3rd Reich persecution, your argument will not be more convincing by adding shock value with holocaust comparisons, “reductio ad hitlerum” or using Nazi as a prefix. As a matter of fact you will certainly lose credibility and support.

I have expressed my thoughts before on the division in what some call the ‘autism community’, especially when it comes to different approaches of parents. Here is what happened:

Yesterday, in a tweet, someone compared the “autism epidemic” (sic)  to the holocaust.

Look. I see the pain of parents and autists alike.  I know we are lucky. Lucky to manage ‘so so’ with a child that has good (not perfect) support in Australia – and ‘only’ high-functioning autism. I do not compare myself to the parents that are lost and confused and feel abandoned by their governments (in the example: the US).
But while the use of shock talk might get you some attention, I doubt it will get you more support or understanding. Autism is and will never be an “epidemic” (=outbreak of infectious disease). And comparing a government that you judge too inactive in the face of exploding numbers of diagnosis to those responsible of actively murdering millions and millions of people in death camps? Just – no.

Thoughts?

{image }
Read : “Godwin’s Law” and “reductio ad hitlerum
and “fallacy” in wiki

talking about racism

There is a debate on racism in Australia this week, and for good reason.

I have often been stunned by the Australian way to discard and excuse racially motivated remarks as “larrikinism” or “Aussie humour”. So I wasn’t surprised by the incidents and am glad there is a debate that now actually involves historic context and the voices of those concerned and victim by racism. Every single day in their life.

I am careful about the amount of “news” I let into my son’s life – and in his brain. He isn’t particularly drawn to television, preferring all types of electronic games and books, but we watch the news in our house and sometimes this collides with dinnertime.

I try to avoid this : Nemo gets sucked into the shocking images we see – on all channels – when something horrible happens in the world.  Or does anyone remember how we all laughed about ‘narrowly avoiding’ the END OF THE WORLD last year due to a misinterpretation of the Maya calendar ?  Except that it was not funny for my son who has difficulty picking up humour and irony – and wasn’t expecting it in what he had understood to be news shows. We had to do A LOT of explaining to help with the anxiety that ensued.

I was watching ABCNews in the kitchen this week and the reports on the racial slur against Adam Goodes came on (the FIRST racial slur of the week for him, the one by the 13yo in the stadium).

Nemo walked in on that and I thought it’s a good occasion to talk to him about racism.
Now, I am quite protective of Nemo’s online identity vs in real life, but lets just say that he has a part of mixed ethnicity and there might be a day where actually someone might pick up on his very “black eyes”. As a reminder, he is 7, has Asperger’s syndrome and we live in a middleclass dominantly white suburb of SE Queensland (Australia). We talk.

I asked him : “ Do you know what RACISM is ?”

He said : “Yes. It’s when people are mean to someone because of the colour of their skin. So if one is light skin and the other is dark skin. Mostly it’s against people with dark skin actually.”

Very right.  (Nemo says ‘light skin’ and ‘dark skin’ because in his mind, and quite factually, people do not come in either the colour WHITE or BLACK)

white-golliwog_l

things are not always black and white…

I asked him what he thinks WHY racism is mostly turned towards people with dark skin and not the other way around. Here is his answer :

“I think there is MORE RACISM AGAINST DARK SKINNED PEOPLE because there are MORE LIGHT SKINNED PEOPLE on Earth. “

Wait..What ?!

I was a bit surprised. I started telling him in my usual factual approach with my fact-loving kid how the population of our planet is composed of big batches of people who may not be all equally DARK skinned (we had to discuss the colour of Asians and Indians, i mad the mistake to mention ‘redskins’ too..). But they are all constantly the target of racial discrimination while they are most certainly NOT a minority on our planet when compared to the light skinned (as in Caucasian/western European ancestry). I really need to get some data on this..

But then I thought – He is not so wrong! One of the big problems with racism from white to black, as opposed to the other direction (which totally exists in both comedy and as a dangerous mindset) is that the prevalence of white racism is so strong and the voice of their victims has been powerless for SO LONG that you might really get the impression that they are actually a minority Worldwide.

Well, they are not and they definitively hear it all. People of ALL colours are listening, watching and hurting when yet another idiot makes a racist joke and then he, or others for him, finds all kinds of excuses. When this happens in Australia towards the indigenous population which has indeed been reduced to a minority – by the hands of the white settlers – and has clearly not recovered from the invasion of their country.. this doesn’t only make waves here. The world is listening too.

This is not about punishing this or another behaviour of a teen in a stadium or a public figure on the radio. It’s about taking REAL ACTION in the key sectors of our lives – schools, sports, media, culture – to change this attitude and make very clear to everyone, that casual racism is simply NOT OK.

I am hoping that my son will grow up seeing Australia change these things. Because a society that turns real issues into a joke and minorities into a laughing stock has a serious problem.

autism warrior mum : how I was right on the internet.

images (10)I have been around on the internets a little and I know better than to engage in flame wars on public blogs or forums. I really can’t be bothered fighting it out with a stranger. I don’t even mean mindless trolls, just people who are wrong. Chances are, they have more time and energy to go on forever, they will get rude and personal and are not interested in actual arguments.

But there are some topics that are close to my heart and I will make a statement or a comment. Domestic violence is one of them. Environmental issues. And autism.

Yesterday I watched this video from Greenpeace on youtube. Read the description. I think it is awesome.
Then I read the comments.

A mistake, of course, because you should NEVER read the comments on Youtube. Commenting on Youtube has become, for some reason, a sort of training ground for upcoming trolls. They are present in every thread under any video with their silly, obscene comments and personal attacks. (Any parent needs to be aware of that when they think
“oh, kiddo’s only watching funny videos” but that’s another topic.)

In the comments, while some people were shocked and others were actually discussing recycling schemes, some young guns were upset about the eco attack to their drink of choice (oh i drink the stuff too! but still..) or they were just being stupid, and someone posted something like this :

“ d’uh! video makers totally retarded, message not  clear.
are you autistic ?? “

This put me off a little to say the least.

So I replied to the comment. It’s true, I was patronizing. I asked the person if he was only little or a senior or maybe mentally disabled himself not to get it and why use the R word and autistic in this unrelated context and as insults?! Stop Coca-Cola trashing Australia - YouTube - Google Chrome 8052013 95911 PM.bmp

It went a bit back and forth. He wasn’t happy, accused me of insulting him and using disability and age in derogatory terms. I had not. Did I even have a point or was I a troll – did I just want any reaction?
I told him I didn’t care what he thought about the clip really (even if it was awesome). But I repeated my point about the derogatory use of the Rword and autistic in a public discussion. That was my point.

In the end I actually got this :

Sorry, maybe I should not have used the word “autistic” as an insult. That was going a bit too far.

Wow. People, seriously, this made my day.

I have seen many blogposts – here is a fresh one from autismum – about language and it’s mostly exasperated, angry posts. I was angry too. But for this brief moment, I am holding on to the thought that sometimes you can really make a difference and make someone see the light if you try.

Have you been RIGHT on the internet lately ?

The a.card or how not to make friends.

I am not ok. yeah, #fml !
Lots of stuff has happened already this year, health things, money things, no-job-for-me things, and I feel that it’s getting all a bit much.

I know it sounds whingey, but after soldiering on for well over a decade now, at the moment, I feel my life has simply a little bit too many obstacles to be an adventure. And I feel alone.

Yes, I know, the best remedy for some of my problems would be to MINGLE, make friends, get out.. but, unfortunately, that’s not that easy for me.

In my mother tongue, there is an expression for a situation where you are somewhat handicapped so you can only lose :

you have been handed the “arsehole card.”

three_acesThe origin isn’t quite clear, maybe soccer, maybe card games.. For really desperate cases, people will sometimes say : that’s a double a-card !
Well, let me present you :
my personal TRIPLE arsehole card pack!

1. I am foreign. That isn’t a problem as such, it makes for a good conversation starter. But expatriated twice now I have found confirmed what expats told me before and it was the same in the first country I lived. Here is how it goes : You meet new people. First it’s kind of exotic that you are foreign and they want to know lots of stuff. You tell. (Europe is very far and different for Australians). THEN people get used to you and get back to talking about other things. Now you need to find something concrete that you have in common with your new friends (parenthood alone doesn’t usually cut it), or you drop out of the gang. Because you cannot relate. You do not share the collective memories they have, you are not fond of those particular cookies, you don’t know that tv series!  You might throw in an anecdote about your stuff and your memories.. but their interest  only goes so far and in reality, now you create more distance. You might unintentionally criticize something they cherish since their childhood. You start to get those empty glances that mean “don’t know, don’t care”. Retreat.

2. I have been into hell and back.
Now without trying to sound dramatic, and certainly without giving any details, I had some VERY extreme life experiences in the past, in the context of and following domestic violence.
I have ‘survived’ ,as they say, long-term physical and mental abuse. I also have PTSD.
When we make friends (or try to) at first, we basically keep it a bit light and casual, and as I said under point 1. already that isn’t without difficulties for me.

But then, sometimes, I just can.not.small.talk.

I will make a “friend” one day, then see her again and, while she might be open for another chat or maybe even wants to have a coffee somewhere – my on-board mood regulator being instable as it is, I won’t be able to deal with it, and will back out, hide away, cancel.
Or I will just talk a LOT, and I mean TOO MUCH, so that I don’t have to really talk, if you know what i mean. Either way, I am not extremely good, or simply no company at all.

finally, 3. My child has autism.
Please don’t think that i am BLAMING my son – who obviously struggles with social interactions – for my own failure to connect with MY peers. But! I am desperately trying to get at least some loose friendships going with mothers of kids in his grade so that HE can also profit from it. Don’t all kids find friends in school ? Sadly, this just doesn’t work, as in addition to my own problems (a-cards 1 and 2) the kids aren’t overly keen to hang out with Nemo either. Oh, he has really progressed with peer integration during the last year and spends his lunch break with a group of boys he calls friends. I am thrilled about that. But there are still incidents on a daily basis. I have been exchanging mobile numbers like a needy teenager with some of the mums, and honestly, without much result.
No child is begging their mum to have my son over after school or for a sleepover. We do not get invited for birthdays or barbeques.
This is actually why I hurt most.

Thankful Thursday / Letting go of parental envy

A post at AboutABugg made me think today.

Milestones of childhood development. Naplan.. Should a child with Asperger’s participate for the sake of inclusion, fairness or even to have an objective(?) assessment of your child’s academic level through these school tests?

I still haven’t made up my mind about it. We have a year to go before I have to, I guess..
But it made me think about my own competitiveness as a parent.

As a baby, Nemo started sitting at a normal age (is it 6 months?) and went on to crawling. For a quite a while. It always bugged me a little when parents boasted about their kids walking at 8 months and insistently asking me : “does he walk yet ? does he?!” I thought ‘geez, give it time, he certainly will. He’ll be a talker.’

When he was finally walking at 16 months, I still was relieved. Coincidently, he had delayed teeth and was chubby enough to pass as a giant baby (I am only 5’3). Strangers now complimented me on his early steps. Whatever!

Fast forward 6 years and my son is diagnosed Asperger’s, and I know there are certain things he will learn only with difficulty, later than others or never. It does hurt a little. Mostly for him.

But I have to work on myself not to be envious our ungracious with parents that praise their NT kids achievements, or worse, take them for granted. And I thought of my mum..

My mother was a complex creature to say the least, and there were things in her life that she longed for and things she missed out on that she regretted. But these things were always attainable goals or objects that she could have afforded, had she taken the right decisions, or had life not turned another way.
I have never seen or heard my mother envious of a professional position, personal possessions or a relations that were completely out of her reach.
Mum would throw her hands up and – not naively, but sincerely – admire the beautiful villas people had at the waterfront when we were taking a walk through the rich suburbs of my hometown. I would probably mutter something like ‘they got it easy’ or ‘.. should share their wealth!’ as the socially critical and righteous teen I was. And I would not enjoy the view at all.

52099456

But the lesson I take from it today, is that I want to be able to enjoy watching other children progress and thrive in ways my son will never do, without comparing him or me to these families, because acceptance is the first step to being able to reach your own goals, your own milestones. At least some of them.

My son deserves this focus. And he will have his very own milestones and his own achievements. And we will praise him for it with all our heart.

I am thankful today to Renee to make me think about that and to my mother for her healthy attitude on other people’s riches.

So I am actually linking this as a Thankful Thursday, even if it’s just after midnight already…