Feminist Aspie

Ableism kills. Again.

(CONTENT NOTE: This post discusses murder/filicide and child abuse, specifically the Austin Anderson case, and its links to systemic ableism)

Another day, another murder. Austin Anderson, aged just 19, was left in a field to die from dehydration and lack of crucial medication. By his own mother. And the media and the public are sympathising with the killer rather than the victim, because the victim was blind and autistic. (For more information I recommend this post by Grimalkin)

I saw the news on Facebook, made the mistake of reading the comments, and it felt like a punch in the stomach. How can this happen?

Why, after so many other murders of disabled people by their caregivers and the subsequent backlash by disabled adults against these ableist views, do those views – and the murders – persist?

Why are the methods of killing always so, so cruel?

Why are they sometimes called “mercy killings” in spite of this?

Why, when Anderson was crying out for help for as long as he was able, do people still jump to the horrible conclusion that, because he was disabled, he was automatically better off dead?

Why is autism in mainstream media always framed not from the point of view of an autistic person, but from the point of view of a neurotypical caregiver? (Think about it – would we let men control the feminist movement on the basis that they have daughters and other female relatives? I certainly hope not.)

Why is so little thought given to autistic people, in discussions supposedly about autism, that autistic lives are considered so disposable?

Why is the autistic person erased from the picture to such an extent that people only have sympathy for the killer, and empathising with a disabled murder victim is viewed by abled people as a lack of empathy? (Because in their eyes, the only “real” person in the situation, the only person available to be empathised with, is the abled person.)

Why is autism called a burden, an epidemic, a source of unending stress and misery, something to be eradicated, without anyone even considering that these are people they’re talking about?

Why is it that the huge stresses and strains of raising any child are (like all forms of labour traditionally ascribed to women) constantly erased and ignored, but as soon as the child is disabled, all abled people want to talk about is how all that hard work must be so stressful that literal murder is “understandable”?

Why do abled people not consider that the same ableist factors that make raising a disabled child hard make being disabled even harder? (Oh yeah, because they don’t think disabled people are people.)

Why can people simultaneously hold the views that autistic people are not allowed to engage in harmless stimming to cope with the stress of being autistic in an ableist world, and that neurotypical people are allowed to engage in literal murder to cope with somebody else dealing with being autistic in an ableist world?

Why is disability seen as a debate rather than a group of people, to the point that Facebook commenters think it’s okay to “just play devil’s advocate” when somebody died?

Why do people think being objective in this “debate” means having sympathy for that person’s killer?

Why are autistic people who object to all this so often dismissed as “high-functioning” and “not like my child”?

Why do neurotypical people want to divide us based on our ability to look and act like them?

Why do neurotypical people think autistic people aren’t “autistic enough” to have an opinion, but they can have an opinion when by definition they’re not autistic at all?

Why, when we put ourselves through debating our own humanity just to show solidarity with the victim, when we read these awful upsetting infuriating scary things about us and fight through autistic emotional overload just to show solidarity with the victim, when I had to wait until I had certain special interest material to keep myself steady enough to write this properly to show solidarity with Anderson, when our brains and an ableist society are fighting us every step of the way and we still want to show solidarity with the victim, do neurotypical people still think they can say we lack empathy?

Why do neurotypical people use perceived common traits of autism from the ableist mainstream point of view – lack of empathy, lack of theory of mind, and so on – as weapons to silence autistic people?

Why do abled people still mock the concept of ableism and attempts to reduce it? Why do abled people still think ableism is made-up?

This is ableism. Ableism kills. Ableism keeps on killing. And I’m already bracing myself for ableism killing again.

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Calm Before The Storm: When the problem is over but my head just won’t let go

(CONTENT NOTE: This is basically an unedited list of panics about heatwaves, so if that stuff happens to bother you too then proceed with caution, and if you’re claustrophobic it turns out there’s a lot of overlap!)

I’m not really sure if this is an autistic thing or not, but recently I’ve found that when certain Big Scary Things happen, I can remain fairly calm and in control at the relevant time only to make myself anxious by ruminating on the situation after it’s over. I think I find these thoughts more difficult to keep a lid on than the at-the-time thoughts because my usual thought-balancing mantras don’t really apply – I already know it’s over, I already know I’m safe (because it’s over), I already know I can deal with it (because I just did) so what else am I supposed to say back to my anxious brain? The two main situations that come to mind for this habit are when my ex tries to contact me again (which hasn’t happened in months now) and the one I’m going to talk about today – yep, regular readers please feel free to roll your eyes, this is another heatwave post! (If you’re new to the blog and/or the heat thing, here’s a quick summary of why heatwaves are overloading and terrifying and The Worst).

Last week, I decided to made a note of all the post-August-heatwave thoughts I had, couldn’t shake, and couldn’t really express much elsewhere, and then post it here with as little editing as I could, no matter how silly and self-conscious I felt (which is a lot, by the way…), in the vague hope that other (probably also autistic) people would “get it”. Weirdly, just doing this exercise has actually helped a lot; the act of filing away a thought with the promise it will be “dealt with” later seems to convince my brain it doesn’t need to do any more work on it, so I’ll probably write more of these lists in future, whether I post them or not! So without further ado, here’s my unfiltered autistic brain, fresh from dealing with its biggest and silliest fear and randomly throwing it back at me every so often:

That happened. That happened. I know it happened, it’s over, and I should move on, but I don’t know how, I don’t know what to move on to. That happened. And it’s going to happen again.

Here come the autumn posts. I haven’t posted anything like that yet because… I don’t know, I just don’t feel comfortable. I guess this is what they mean by “masking”. That, and it just never entered my head to do so. Will they think I was just faking or exaggerating the posts I made when I was panicking? What about the heatwave the other week,  when I just couldn’t articulate the thoughts I might have wanted to express – are they suspicious that I didn’t really acknowledge it?

“It’s been another belter of a day-” NOPE. “Too warm for me-“ NOPE. Fanning yourself – DEFINITELY NOT. Why? Why do I panic and freeze up and freak out at people thinking exactly what I’m thinking, at the people most likely to be sympathetic? I *initiate* these conversations all the time, why don’t I like other people doing it?

It’s September. This shouldn’t be an issue.
It was two weeks ago. It’s over. This shouldn’t be an issue.

Run the following scenarios: Stuck in a lift. Locked in a car. Generic fictitious heatwave scenario. Google things. Regret it immediately.

“We haven’t had a very good summer-“ Haven’t we? HAVEN’T WE? Later, I reason that most people probably care more about sunshine than heat, and maybe there haven’t been as many hours of sunshine, even though the sunshine we’ve had has been so warm. I’m such a mess.

I JUST SLAYED A METAPHORICAL ARMY OF ZOMBIES AND NO ONE NOTICED.

“Hottest day of the year, and we decide to go into an unventilated basement, hahaha-“ NOPE. Pause the interview. Breathe. You can do this. It’s just an offhand comment, skip the next 30 seconds or so and they’ll have moved on. In hindsight, I’m fine, they’re fine, everything’s fine – in a way I find it funny, because special interest, you had one job! But it’s so scary, and so fucking pathetic, that my brain can just *do* that. How do I balance my thoughts when the only thought is fleeting wordless terror?

I feel guilty for the rain. People are wet and miserable and I wanted it. At the same time, I kinda resent that misery – I want to snap “it’s not THAT bad, we’re ALL wet, you’d be moaning if it was sunny too” and see how they like it. But two wrongs don’t make a right!

WHY AM I LOOKING UP OLD POSTS I KNOW WILL MAKE ME FEEL TOO AWFUL TO READ THEM PROPERLY. WHY AM I DOING THIS. WHY.

The eternal balance of trying to appear calm enough that people don’t think you’re ~weird~ and draw undue unhelpful attention to it, but not so calm that they don’t take your anxiety seriously. Like everything else. Disabled enough but not too disabled. I don’t think it’s possible. I think it’s a trap.

5th September, and I’m still seeing scary heatwave articles shared in my news feed. It’s probably nothing though, right? Certainly nothing compared to what we’ve had, at least. Still, I don’t know how to properly react.

Have I actually got to do another sixty of these???????? I wonder if I’ll eventually just get over it. I must do eventually, surely. At least I hope so…

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