popping and pushing through abstraction

the dangerous stupidity of standardized testing

Today my amazingly wonderful son had his second speech-therapy session with a new SLP during which she decided to administer an assessment test.

After some repetitive prompting to get him to obey her command which consisted of dropping his much beloved activity of browsing through iron man pictures and joining this stranger that he had only met briefly on a previous occasion at the table , she deemed his level of functioning low and went on to criticize the type of therapy I have chosen as being inappropriate because it is not structured enough ( ABA enough) to work effectively on him .  

 Next she pulled  an intimidating looking form along with a small booklet of pictures that she placed on the table and began her evaluation  comprised of asking him to point to pictures designating different actions . The question, apparently, had to to be asked in the specific wording of “point to the —” and only once , not ” where is the –”  or ” which one is –” which he is more used to hearing . 

No , it was “point to the boy holding a ball”, and if Kylian manifested his interest in puppies by his attention inevitably getting caught by the picture of “the boy with the puppy” instead , his answer was deemed incorrect, regardless of whether or not it was an actual answer. 

After a slew of similarly rigid tasks , she finally  informed me that his skills are well beyond delayed , that he had tested to a social and communication processing delay which places him on the level of a 2 year old ( he is 5).

To say I was heartbroken at hearing this is an understatement. 

I felt the need to impart my opinion at this point that while he does have certain skills  that would need some boosting, he more than makes up for it in his well rounded cognitive skills , to which she found it appropriate to remind me that he is in fact all around delayed , that speech and social awareness are part of his cognitive processing leading to a global cognitive delay . That he will not be able to function in a mainstream classroom among his peers or understand the teacher. That he is much too delayed and needs intensive therapy to get him up to par.

Even if that were true, this is clearly not the most diplomatic of wordings used to inform a parent . In front of the child in question no less . Words that could possibly contribute to a very dangerous and negative perspective that parents can fall into when dealing with unfit therapists or professionals whose influence on future interactions between parent and child is so indelibly marked. 

I went on to explain that while I fully realize his difference in development , that I am not in denial over it but choose to accept him as he is instead of trying to alter his behaviour to fit the mould deemed appropriate by society , and that I did not wish for him to view himself as lacking in any way , thus my reticence to employ certain therapeutic approaches . She went on to reaffirm that he has strong ‘delays’ that he is probably already aware of compared to his peers . 

Barring her lack of patience and negative general disposition , the terminology employed alone pushed me into terminating her services .

I admit I was not immune to the surge of doubt caused by her irresponsible and cruel words . I questioned my parenting choices and wondered whether i was doing right by Kylian by possibly resisting certain ” treatments” that were recommended by the medical community. I want the best for him obviously and I would be disconsolate if I were to have inadvertently risked his possible future success , but a quick play session , a chat with my husband and some re-grounding restored my faith in my ideals , restored my faith in my son . 

How dare she try to make me view him through the narrow scope of her misinformed and bigoted perspective ? How dare she attempt to steal the wonder that he offers me ? the joy which springs to my heart every time his beautiful eyes, full of intelligence and joy and wonder , look into mine in the most spectacular form of communication ever manifested ? What a horrible human being it is that deprives a parent of the joys and wonders on the parenting journey of getting to know their child , that brings a child to hate themselves and resent the world they were born into .

The language of psychiatry and medical mental diagnosis . How horrible and insidious they are . At the root of the stigma and unacceptance they lie , at the root of this ill-held belief that anyone who does not fit into tiny rigid brackets automatically is tainted and broken and sick , that they need curing and changing . 

Why are these professionals so fast to conclude that he is ” developmentally delayed” based off of some standardized rigid test created to suit a neuro-typically developing person anyway ? it might as well be in an entirely different language for him !

And yet on top of being placed on an alien planet so to speak and having to learn to speak an alien language without any effort on their behalf to meet him halfway , he is also expected to conform his behaviour and development to theirs or else be shamed and stigmatized  in clear inconsistency to the encouragements and rewards that society bestows upon originality and individuality in other wakes of life . 

So I have decided that i will hold firm to my possibly unrealistic ideals , because I refuse to allow my son to succumb to the self-loathing and shame that failing a stupid test could cause , I refuse to allow him even for a brief fragment of a second to believe that his worth is measured by some silly tools that idiots created to make sense of their falsely constructed beliefs . He is as he is and he is perfect.

My son is autistic, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. 




I am not depressed


Everything was so much more defined then .


Moments razor-sharp , focused and separate and shining . Dense . Measured by the colourful abundance contained within a millisecond.

Vivid, they stood alone , each a star by its own right , a spectrum of every conceivable emotion , haughty and flamboyant and incorrigible , every moment : a lifetime


Not like now…

A jumbled mess now ..

A blurred blob of haziness now

of fleeting emotions .

Shadows of thoughts . diluted . Compressed and grey . calling past glories in a never-ending cycle of sour nostalgia-

bitter nostalgia- dull and prickly

never sweet


and then the loneliness kicks in


And I recall I was never alone then.

Forever surrounded by kindred confreres

sharing the earthly journeys

The deepest of companionships , fickle and flimsy , yet true-

unspoken and undistorted by the misrepresentation of speech

adventure beckoned and like brave warriors we followed ,

a game of tag the ultimate epic battle

Television ? a mere shadow in the face of the magnificence of our collective imagination


but slowly it dimmed down (as the screens became brighter)

slowly, the ties broke ( as the gaps became wider)

slowly, the epic battle became a game of pretend ,

and slowly, the game came to an end


Their names buried deep within the wrinkles

and Death , easing eraser of the unforgotten


By my window , alone , I sit .


This grey world belongs to the new .

I grasp at the fine filaments of fleeting joy passing before my unseeing eyes , lost to everything that’s been , to aborted moments , to the faces of my fallen peers , blurring and diminishing as my spirit , and I close my eyes and I diminish,


The fact that something as inhumane as prenatal testing for down syndrome  exists at this day and age is completely beyond me .

So it’s ok to kill an unborn child if it tested to having an extra chromosome on the 21rst set ?


Because people who have down syndrome are lesser humans and do not deserve a chance at life , is that it?

I mean …

it’s time to reassess our values as human beings if such a thing as an extra chromosome leading to a few differences in development and behaviour brings about prenatal genocide.


W = m*g

warning: Frivolity ahead.

 I’ve recently observed the most bizarre of behaviours  among my fellow homo sapiens , one which had me scratching my head and furiously turning the cogs of my brain in the hopes of posting a hypothesis or discovering a theory which could explain this odd turn of events.

It went as follows : Upon meeting another , the homo sapiens’ eyes join together to form a single window which contains the spinning digits designating the kgs/lbs associated with the person facing them , followed by their energetic exclamations of surprise and shock upon their quick calculation of weight lost/gained since the last encounter.

By some odd twist of evolutionary mutation , or maybe a spiritual metempsychosis that took a wrong turn, it would appear that a new sub-species of homo sapiens has manifested itself , the homo-balanceus , who seem to share the aspect of having been reincarnated into their current bodies from …  SCALES !

Upon closer examination , it was found that those with predispositions to this particular evolutionary tactic mostly hail from locations which share certain geographical characteristics : high heat ,humidity and close proximity to a large body of water– with a few exceptions of course , as is the case with most inquiries into the human species.

Moreover, this behaviour seems to extend beyond the temporal boundaries of the first few moments of interaction , reinforcing the hypothesis that these humans are indeed reincarnated from scales as they present an inability to engage their acquaintances in any topic beyond that of weight loss or weight gain.

So engaged by this particular theme the homo-balanceus seem to be , in fact , that when one attempts to route the conversation to a different subject matter in an effort to restrict the awkwardness that such frivolous and boring topics give rise to , or to limit the redundancy one feels at the repetitive explications of how the activity levels offered during the summer season compounded by the newfound desire to eat healthily could potentially bring about weight loss , the homo-balanceus seems unable to cope with the change in conversation , switching back to confirmations of weight fluctuations as the main topic of exchange , and further affirming their complete shock at ” how much you look better ” , as if one were that fat and ugly previously ( it’s only a few kgs people ! not that shocking really) , with complete disregard for the receiver’s nature as not lending themselves to frequent displays of vanity.

In an effort to stop this epidemic from taking over the world , it is recommended that everyone stop talking about weight.

So if you feel the need to answer the compulsion of wording the blatant knowledge of my weight loss in the future , don’t .  My need for a visit to the mall to replace too loose pants as well as the ACTUAL scale I possess are informant enough of the state of my body’s characteristics . So please stop mentioning my weight unless it pertains to the conversation we are having as a SECONDARY topic . Else I shall find the need to adopt a defensive stance which will consist of going into a detailed account of my latest bowel movement and how I believe it has contributed to my weight loss . I promise I will make you very uncomfortable.

Thank you for your understanding.

PS: on a similar note, I wish to make known my extreme displeasure over the urge some people seem to have of imparting their personal beliefs on nail biting . I am completely accepting of this wonderful habit which helps me think and de-stress better than any pill would , and absolutely adore my stubby fingertips . so please restrain yourselves from telling me to stop biting my nails.

Madness and Civilization

“modern man no longer communicates with the madman […] There is no common language: or rather, it no longer exists; the constitution of madness as mental illness, at the end of the eighteenth century, bears witness to a rupture in a dialogue, gives the separation as already enacted, and expels from the memory all those imperfect words, of no fixed syntax, spoken falteringly, in which the exchange between madness and reason was carried out. The language of psychiatry, which is a monologue by reason about madness, could only have come into existence in such a silence.”

from the preface to Michel Foucault’s 1961 edition of Madness and Civilization .

Autistic people are people too, you know V.2.0

After a re-examination of my previous post , I have concluded that perhaps my anger clouded my articulation in reinforcing my opinion , possibly compromising the point I sought to establish with regards to the predominant reaction to the events surrounding the attempted murder of the autistic girl Issy Stapleton by her mother Kelli Stapleton . Consequently, I wish to explore my own reaction to the general consensus and expound upon the rhetoric which led to the formulation of my opinion in a clearer and less judgmental manner , and hopefully illuminate the different points of views which divide the autism community .

I briefly entertained the idea of deleting my previous post due to the aggressive nature of my discourse, but have decided against it in acknowledgment of my own frustration and anger upon learning of the ableistic reactions that dominated the media outlets . It’s this alone which I had hoped to articulate in my previous post , and not my opinion on Kelli Stapleton , as I know nothing of her character and person and do not wish to extend my opinion publicly . Rather , it’s the frightening onslaught of support and understanding towards the perpetrators which this attempted murder and the murder of the autistic teen Alex Spourdalakis by his mother have elicited , hinting at the underlying troubling public perception of autism and the multiple issues surging from the medias’ misinformed portrayal of autistic individuals .

But while my reaction and indignity were informed by my own perception of autism achieved through hours spent pouring over information begotten from autistic individuals and interaction with my autistic son , the same cannot be said for most people with no autistic relations whose knowledge of autism is rightfully limited to the public information available , which is unfortunately highly unreliable : A narrative centered mostly around the perspectives of the caretakers and medical community and NOT autistic individuals themselves , or occasionally, the view that autism is a superpower with savant skills , both views placing autism in the “otherness” category without seeking to provide understanding into what it means to be autistic in order to offer insights that would bridge the understanding and relational gaps between autistics and non autistics .

The dominant view on autism is one dictated by those with similar opinions to the people asserting that autism is an illness which needs curing , an epidemic taking over the world, a burden to families, and a depletion of monetary resources .

Autism Speaks, one of the biggest autism organisations in North America , explains autism in their video entitled  “autism everyday” with a series of interviews with parents of autistic children complaining about the children’s shortcomings and their own hardships while showing them during various moments of distress as they exhibit symptoms of tantrums . One woman states at one point that she sometimes wants to drive herself and her daughter off of a bridge during the interview with her daughter playing in the background within hearing distance .

As disturbing as that comment is , it’s representative of the mass mentality with regards to autism as being a burden to parents and fails to take into account the opinions of the autistic people , many of whom address this disparity by opting to become self-advocates, taking to blogs to have their voices heard , asserting that they are here and trying to communicate their humanity , their person-hood and their depth of feeling in light of the false belief that they lack any of these . And yet their voices are quelled by those manipulating the media’s content as they falsely speak on their behalf and promote the notion that autism is “the other” , bolstering the barriers of understanding between autistics and their neuro-typical peers and dehumanizing autistic individuals by reducing them to a set of common behaviors , when they are anything but.

Furthermore, this type of media content promotes parents to avail themselves of similar displays of self-pity and martyrdom to view themselves as victims , and to render acceptable the notion that suicide/murder as a resort is possible and/or justifiable , opening it up as an option.

While It’s not my intention to undermine the hardships of parents who are burdened by the stress of worrying over their children’s futures , constantly find themselves in distress while forced to fight the world to secure a place for their children within it , and acknowledge that everyone is entitled to bouts of bitterness over the disappointments and frustrations in life , my previous opinion stems from the trend that some parents have adopted of documenting their tribulations on blogs where they display their children’s shortcomings along with video support (without regard to the child’s privacy) corroborating the nefarious distortion of autism’s public image .

It might be considered presumptuous on my part to assume competence with regards to parenting a child on the spectrum and pontificate on these issues , especially seeing as how each person’s experience with parenting an autistic individual is their own ; my thoughts and opinions , however, reflect the many discussions , blogs and articles written BY autistic activists fighting against the public perception that they are ill, need curing, or are in any way incomplete . Most of them are accepting of themselves and only wish to be treated with the same respect and acceptance that any other human being deserves without making assumptions about their mental condition and person-hood based on their neurology.

Amy Sequenzia , an autistic activist, writer and poet who is nonverbal and communicates using facilitated communication , responds to the question of the most common misconceptions people seem to have upon meeting her with

That I am ‘not there’ , that I am not smart or that I cannot think by myself, that I am a child and that I deserve pity. None of these are true .

And when asked what she would like people to say to her upon meeting her, she replies with  Not what they would say, but how they would approach me. With respect and interest. Not ignoring my disabilities or how I look and act — I am not ashamed of that — but wanting to know what I think, how I feel.

Amanda Baggs , another non-verbal autistic who made this must-see short film entitled “In my language” , presents her opinion that just like the existence of different verbal languages , there are different forms of communication , and that lack of conventional communication does not imply that someone lacks depth or is unable of communicating , but that emotions and thoughts are expressed differently and consequently need a different means of interpretation.

Many other autistic individuals , both verbal and non verbal who have articulated their experiences provide evidence against the previously held assumptions that “low-functioning” autistics are intellectually challenged or lack emotion . (And on that point, labels such as low-functioning are highly offensive and detrimental to autistic individuals’ self esteem because it insinuates uselessness .)

When a woman’s husband leaves her and she stabs her two children , when a man driven by poverty and deplorable socio-economic conditions murders another for his wallet , when a refugee driven from his home and country during war goes on a killing spree , does the initial reaction consist of examining their motives and asserting that “we can understand how they got to that point ?” or “we cannot judge them for we haven’t walked in their shoes?” or is the reaction more along of the lines of “those poor kids, how can someone do such a thing?”

The circumstances leading up to the atrocious acts are not taken into account when forming a judgment on them , so why not extend the same courtesy to the autistic victims ?

Why were they seen as a contributing factor to the acts instead of being mourned as the victims they are ? Is raising a child with autism worse than poverty or the effects of war that it should warrant justification for murder /suicide ?

When Dorothy Spourdalakis stabbed her autistic son and when Kelli Stapleton attempted to poison her daughter with carbon monoxide , the public reaction veered towards sympathy and attempts at understanding how these women could be driven to such extreme acts of violence with no regard to the HUGE gap which exists between thinking something and actually doing it . Many people think of suicide at various points of their lives for instance, but the step from thought to action is so wide and complex that claiming to understand someone who has attempted suicide based off of the fact that they themselves have entertained the notion is completely unfounded . The MOST important factor is that last step , the translation of thought to action , from abstract immaterial and inconsequential fantasy to concrete reality which marks the final progression towards psychosis and dissociation and which distinguishes mental illness , not the social or economic stressors leading up to the act . If that were the case, suicide rates would be much higher than they are .

So why weren’t these cases against autistic children held under the same standards of morality ?

Because people are misinformed about autism .

Because autistic people are having their stories told by others .

Because the information presented about autism is highly bigoted .

Autistic people should be allowed to tell their side of the story too.

I urge everyone to question their initial reactions to such news , examine their beliefs and overcome presuppositions to try and make informed opinions before posting such hurtful and discriminatory comments against autistic people .

A poignant quote from a youtube user who goes by the name Xadreos:

If you use electricity, then you can thank Nikola tesla, inventor of Alternating current.

If you are using a computer, you can thank Bill Gates.

If your house is powered, it is likely partially powered by nuclear power, thanks to Einstein.

ALL of the people I have mentioned are believed to have been on the autistic spectrum, and if you really do appreciate what they have discovered, you can start by not trying to cure us.

Maybe we aren’t the broken ones, maybe those judging us are ”

Autistic people are people too , you know

A woman attempted to kill herself and her autistic daughter a few days ago.

A large number of people do not want to judge her because they claim they weren’t in her position , they cannot fathom the hardships she must have gone through having to raise an autistic person, excusing this horrific act by justifying that she had reached her breaking point .

Well you know what?


Even in my grey nietzschean subscription to morality, I can find NOTHING that would paint this woman as anything but a murderer. It sickens me that some people would try to find excuses for her horrific behavior, rendering her the victim and completely bypassing the REAL victim, her daughter Issy Stapleton , a 14 year old girl who depended on her mother and trusted her to take care of her, to keep her safe. But her mother tried to kill her! I cannot even begin to comprehend all the pain she must have felt , that she will live with knowing her own mother tried to kill her. This isn’t something someone gets over. And whats worse? Her future behavior is probably going to be blamed on autism rather than the horrific ordeal that her mother put her through.

And people are excusing this .

People are justifying this heinous act and feeling bad for the mother , refusing to form judgement and urging others to walk in her shoes as they find sympathy within themselves for someone who had an autistic for a daughter, blaming autism for the mother’s mental condition , and perpetuating the notion that children with autism are a burden to their families.

You know what a parent is ?

A parent is someone who realizes that having children is not about them, but about the children. It’s not about what you expect the child to be like , who you want them to be, but who they really are, and accepting them nonetheless , even if it means shattering the self indulgent bubble of expectation you have built in your mind . BECAUSE IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Parenthood is a bigger contract than marriage, for better or worse, in sickness and health multiplied by a million. No matter how much the child differs from the idealized image you have of them.

What , your kid didn’t say his first words as expected ? hadn’t reached a few of  the milestones that you had prepared your camera to capture ? behaves in an unexpected manner ?  should you be disappointed and sad just because you didn’t get what you wanted ? post the shortcomings on a blog for all the world to see and feel sorry for you ? sympathize that you had your hopes shattered  ? yea, that’s really going to help the child have a healthy self image .

Instead of trying to change the children ,  change your own expectations and ideas , that’s where the problem comes from . Not from autism , homosexuality ,  or any difference in development and behavior.

I wonder what the public consensus would be if the girl wasn’t autistic.

Noone would dare defend the mother if that were the case , not even a whisper of attempting to walk in her shoes . The only judgement would be that she is a sick sick woman who clearly needed the therapy that she sought for her daughter . Noone would blame the girl for causing the mother’s mental illness and subsequent actions, as a large number of people are doing now by saying they can understand how the mother could reach that point.

Did anyone defend the woman who drowned her 5 children ? did anyone sympathize with her or other murderers ? excused their actions by claiming that the stress got to them ? they had reached their breaking point ?  the system failed them ?

No . Noone thought it was the children’s fault that she drowned them , or the system’s fault  , or poverty’s fault that someone decided to rob and kill . Everyone blamed the murderers for their actions, held them responsible. In the case of the mother drowning her children, the mother’s mental condition was blamed deservingly and she was held accountable for her actions , NOT her children . And yet in this similar case, the first culprit found is autism . The autistic girl by the mere act of being autistic , is automatically blamed for supposedly causing the mother to break down and attempt to murder her.

How is that fair?

How is that moral?

How can someone who tried to kill someone else not be judged as a murderer?

Every person who has victimized the mother or excused her actions is someone who believes that autistic peoples’ lives are less valuable than the lives of others .

Every person who sympathized with the mother is saying to Issy that just for being herself, she made her mother try to kill her , that it was her fault , deepening the cuts that the scars of this heinous act have caused with their resonating misplaced approval  .

I hope that she can find the strength and support to overcome this horrible tragedy and find some completion , self acceptance and peace when the whole world seems to be rooting against it.

on Identity and Authenticity

Personality quizzes are fun.

I haven’t met a single person who , upon mentioning a certain quiz, were not instantly compelled to try it out for themselves ,  hurriedly sharing their results with a pride that implied ” I knew this about myself already, but I just had it reinforced by an algorithm” ,  casting upon our interaction a subtle layer of connectivity which came from that of the juxtaposition of our results . All those qualities I knew about myself actually had a single name which reunited them !  how great is that?!

My own experience with personality quizzes came in waves , matching the tides of my evolution : the biggest  had been in adolescence ,  the time where my first encounters with myself were born . The next, at the onset of motherhood as I struggled to reconcile different aspects of myself into a single package.

Why do these quizzes , with their generic grouping results ,  satisfy the curiosity generated by trying to figure out identity ? Of what use is this cataloging , this reducing of an individual with all the complexity and randomness of a human being into a list of defining categories ? Is it easier to navigate life with these clearly established boundaries of behavioral patterns?

There’s a certain satisfaction which comes with the quantitative nature of cataloging identity into tiny rubrics of ” agree , disagree ” – with the occasional “slightly” for the hesitant ones whose lack of a clearly defined model upon which to reflect self-behaviors circumscribes their decisiveness – generating the supposed shared characteristics with a particular group .

” That’s soo me!” I often said to myself as I read the implications of my results , smiling as I felt the tug of camaraderie with an imaginary group of potentials who shared my identity, with whom I could relate , validating my existence and excusing – no glorifying- my odd behaviors . A feeling of security and a sense of self acceptance were soon to follow , numbing the uncertainty which came with the revelation of my alienation and loneliness on this planet .

I’m not so alone after all , if these questions on quizzes are any indication .

The latest excursion into the world of personality quizzes came in the shape of the autism quotient quiz, naturally .  And not  surprisingly- to myself at least-  the results reinforced my previously suspected status as an individual with autistic tendencies.

What does that mean for me , exactly ?

Should I identify with autistic people now,  appropriate this newly named characteristic  to the spectrum of roles I play  ? should I assume the catalog of behaviors that the quizzes spoke of , which I had checked as ” agree” , and which up to the moment of reading the questions , I  had no awareness could be anything more than the status quo of typical being ?

If the existence of nationalism,  gender groups, age groups, race groups etc. is any indication, subgroups of identity are a staple of human existence . When asked to state who they are , a diverse group of adult college students in a class I once attended all responded with a concise list of  ‘nationality’, ‘age’, and ‘gender’, respectively . The roles they assigned themselves within that setting . The facades they chose to assume for that particular occasion . A metaphorical first layer of identity which one encounters at the introduction.

After  personally meeting a few of these students later on and forging a slightly deeper connection  than that afforded by the setting of the classroom , their roles evolved to contain “mother” , ” nurse” ,  ” gay” and “psych major”, among other things , as the initial layers were peeled away , spawning a network of sub-identities for each which  I used to maneuver interaction . It was as such that when I met someone who shared my nationality, I activated  that sub-identity within myself to enable a more fluid interaction , or when speaking with an individual of the female gender , the initial common ground before getting to know anything else about them became what I believed were the shared characteristics of that gender.   Identity became a navigation tool on the quest towards belonging , a game show in which characteristics were nominated and sub-identities dropped in an effort to find that one matching element to unite , upon which conversations could be built and initial impressions made.

Recent events found me deep in the game of interaction , switching roles as fast as you could say  ” inauthentic”  to match my many opponents in the game of socializing , where I actively sought the help of Identity to determine the smoothest course of behaviors and actions in different settings . What struck me the most regarding this particular exercise , which I assume most people engage in whether consciously or unconsciously, is the inauthencity it entails. I scoffed at myself on multiple occasions as I found the need to censor a deeply rooted characteristic of my being in the face of opponents with clearly opposing views . Somehow , the aspects deemed offensive to the progression of smooth interaction got neutered as only the shared characteristics became evident to support the exchange . Later , when I was alone, I felt an unease  stemming from my lost  true self as it got obscured by the condensation of the soup of all the different roles I had to play .

Is my unease justified, or is it the outcome of useless speculation? The term “Identity” comes from the latin  word “ident” , meaning sameness . Identity is the common ground, the sameness shared with others , the tool by which we belong and by which an illusion of not being alone is created ,   yet it does so at the expense of the authentic self , reigning in the characteristics deemed detrimental to inter-social well-being . If the U.N. is at the macro scale of social interaction , then identity is its equivalent on the micro level .

This process of identifying reminded me of the behavioral exercises that I do with my son with regards to social scenarios , where social stories are constructed and told to the autistic person to teach them how to react to different settings , how to act in different scenarios, which roles to play. Example, after playing with a dog, my son took himself to be one and started licking people . The social story involved my son and a dog and delineating the differences between humans and canines to alter my son’s behavior to be more similar to that of humans .

I had to teach my son on multiple occasions, just like every child is taught in his youth , to quell certain behaviors which perhaps come naturally  and which manifest his authentic being in favor of the socially acceptable roles assigned- and assume other behaviors , no matter how unnatural they might feel . With time and repetition, he will learn to assume them automatically as the action becomes learnt.

But is this something that only autistic people do? Don’t neurotypicals use the same technique of social navigation , albeit in a more implicit/unconscious way ? Perhaps the models of identity they use is generated by the literature, movies , and television series they are exposed to ,  which they emulate and use as filters to guide their understanding .

My unease with this process probably arises from my previously held and applied belief that identifying with one group stops personal growth and evolution as it limits exploration and understanding of other sub-groups of identity, reinforcing illusions and simulacrums as reality gets filtered by artificial constructs .  Identifying as a woman will stop me from exploring and appreciating things which I believe to be targeted towards men . Identifying as being a certain nationality  will stop me from claiming humanity in all its shapes and cultures as being completely part of myself .  Identifying as anything in particular stops me from being whole and places me a step further from experiencing true authentic purely objective reality .

But is this possible? is it truly possible for someone to be completely authentic at every moment of their waking life , and assume every single sub-identity which exists so as to be truly complete ?  Someone once told me that there’s a correlation between happiness and the feeling of belonging . Is the question of authenticity an adolescent dream which I have clung to erroneously ,preventing me from connecting through identity and possibly limiting my happiness?

Maybe my beliefs are dated.

Maybe therein lies the reason for this post . Trying to reconcile myself anew to the opposing beliefs and actions as I try to justify to myself that identity is perhaps necessary , that what i’m doing with my son in the early intervention program and in altering his behavior and forcing identities on him isn’t so bad , in fact , its  quite necessary .

That my previous beliefs need updating in order to bypass a cognitive dissonance .



The first thing that came to mind was the Void.

Not that it had ever left , mind you . It was always there, lurking in the far depth of my being , only surfacing from time to time to remind me of its presence if ever contentment deceived me into believing it gone . It was fast to caution that all is illusory , its existence the only truth .
Its ubiquitous existence , by which my self was reflected and my identity conjectured.

It was my guide , the fuel that powered the propulsion of my present from one moment into the next , teasing me with the prospect of completion . A dream so surreal, so abstract and intangible … And yet so real, real by its mere none-existence inducing existence , a physicality I could feel inside the candent translucence of my white skin, pulsing with life , growing larger, wider and stronger , feeding off of the expanding literature ideated to potentially fill it up , unraveling along with the alternating tableau of speculations painted of all that could be …
All that would be,

All that I will be when I was finally complete.

And I wanted it filled.
I wanted it gone .
I wanted it terminated, butchered, assassinated.
I wanted to reach the finality , the big One , the promised One , the One they all spoke of, the One they all said would await me if I worked hard enough, was fast enough, was determined enough…

And I was all those things.

I was the fastest , the hardest working, the most determined of them all – Because I wanted it so badly… craved it … yearned for the authenticity of the transcendental connection it could afford my parched non-being .
The brief moments of doubt quelled fast by the constant flux of ideology prompting me to have faith, to keep going , keep moving forward, you’ll get there, we promise , you’ll get to the next stage .
And like a fool I believed them, molded myself to the image of some messianic archetypal figure , the one , the son, the transcendent.
And it was all done for the Void . My perpetual companion, my friend , my enemy.

If ever there was a god, the Void was He.

It had toyed with me,  promising fulfillment, urging me on , conspiring with the walls on my peregrinations , the red walls whose blood spoke of aborted histories , pulsing tunnels that breathed my presence , mystically patterned with the veinous inscriptions of the substance of life .
Told me I was on the right track , there was a light at the end , just keep moving .

And I did.

And I moved .

And I thought of nothing but the promise of realization, of actualization.

And I moved .

And I kept moving,

Until I stood at the brink of emptiness.

Its vacuous expanse a cruel testimony to my failure , the gruesome failure to subscribe to a more fertile illusion.
There , in the vast abyss in front of me ,
There , the Void dwelled .
There, where they said the Ovum would be . My Other half. My Completion.

But the Void was all there was,

All there is,

And it was the Void that I thought of as I perished.

Journal entry of a sperm cell on the wrong end of the cycle.

The mechanisms of empathy

Following my most recent venture into the world of blogging , I have spent countless hours pouring over the plethora of autism related blogs available , some by parents sharing their stories , some by activists striving to give a voice to all those considered different , but the most interesting and insightful had been the discovery of the blogs belonging to individuals who are themselves autistic, in which they wonderfully articulate their own experiences , from sensory regulation to perceptual processing , illuminating and rendering concrete the underlying configuration differences between the neurotypical and autistic brains.

Given the propensity for filtering another’s experience through one’s own model of understanding , it is easy for some to erroneously project  their own conclusions as to the mental state at the root of certain behaviors they encounter in others.

When my son starts yelling and running in circles as he hears the generator in the underground parking , I am compelled to filter his experience through the information I have acquired from the lists of autism symptoms I have come across which state that autism occasions some sensory regulation issues , often manifesting as over sensitive hearing . Consequently , the scope of his experience is lost on me beyond these few tidbits of objective information accumulated by non autistic people categorizing phenomena . I assume , based on my own logic,  that as soon as the sound is gone, he will recover from the momentary anxiety and hurry him into the car to get him away.

Last night, as I read through an autistic girl’s harrowing account of her experience with fire alarms , how unhinging it had been to have her world turned upside down by a violent  monster of a noise which attacked her senses, how she could do nothing but cower in a corner with her hands over her ears, or  how in dealing with hyper sensitivity to pain she lost control over her own body as it tried to regulate itself through hand flapping so strong the wrists almost broke , my perspective on autism updated itself to include this new information , so that now when my son reacts to sounds or behaves in a certain manner, when he starts yelling , running in circles ,or flapping his hands , I have a truer approximation of understanding of his subjective state , one which allows a more authentic glimpse into his mental condition through a better informed interpretation of his behavior .

Another post I read is a beautifully crafted piece exploring synesthesia ( crossing of senses) in the author’s ability to visualize mathematical functions and music ,  giving rise to an inherently intuitive and enviable understanding of math , all the while unable to pursue an education in either because of her inability to process visual cues such as those found on sheet music or math exams at the level which most education establishments demand . She states that should there have been an alternative for her in taking exams – being dictated the problems on a bigger surface like a whiteboard, for example, to space out the stimulus, she would have been able to , but as it is, there are not enough provisions taken to support those with differing operating systems .

The voices of these individuals is a treasure to behold, a gift imparted by them which is of the utmost importance in the road towards acceptance . Those are the voices I will hear when I interact with my son , the voices that will inform my decisions with regards to his future, his education, his happiness . It is through them that I shall be able to connect with my son on a deeper level , one which transcends my own views and perspectives . The voices that will hopefully guide the changes that will make the world all the more hospitable for him.