Net Neutrality and Us

a map of the internet on a black background. it looks like neural connections

By The Opte Project – Originally from the English Wikipedia; description page is/was here., CC BY 2.5,

People are born, labeled, and self-identified with autism all the time, but the distance from there to “different, not less,” the neurodiversity paradigm, culture, community, and becoming Autistic is a bigger leap. It’s not an intuitive move because it’s downright counter-cultural in a society that often treats disability as a lesser, undesirable, less human way of living. Consider how you or your loved one covered the distance from diagnosis or realization to here. It probably had something to do with the internet. Some people find out about autism online, realize it describes their experiences, and come to identify with it or seek a diagnosis. Some people grow up knowing about their disability and eventually find parts of the internet where people teach them a narrative that has more to offer the Autistic individual than the mainstream assumption of inferiority and acceptance of the medical model. A lucky handful of people have had someone sit down and explain neurodiversity and Autistic identity IRL, but the people offering those things usually picked them up in Autistic regions of the internet.

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New Year’s Resolutions for the Autistic People

Ominous clouds gather and darken above a landscape.

A storm is coming. Are you ready?

We’re headed for hard times. Our movement is on the defensive. The ideas that animate these times don’t bode well for us. That had me thinking about what our absolute necessities are, what we have to have and do to remain ourselves. I only came up with two things:

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The Harsh Realities of Rudolph

an image of Rudolph from the 1964 claymation special

The holiday classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is timely this year. The (affiliate link) beloved holiday special has a facially positive message about disability and diversity, but the story contains an unspoken parable about disability in our society that may be a little too dark for the holiday season. The story tracks The Rudolph special, of course, describes how a young, magic reindeer from the North Pole finds a valuable role in his community despite being initially ostracized for an unusual physical feature: a glowing red nose. In the course of his journey to find a place in the world, Rudolph comes across the castoff inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys and eventually arranges their rescue. The story is surprisingly positive, surprisingly open to difference, considering that it is a commercial piece from the mid-sixties, in that it has a protagonist with a kind of disability, and he finds social acceptance because of, rather than despite, his abnormality once he manages to find a way to contribute.

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Unsympathetic Plaintiffs

A fence stands in a field, just wires strung between posts. The wire doesn't look electrified and has no barbs. It would be easy to climb through the fence.

Anderson Cooper, the ADA, and Sympathizing with People who Cross the Line

Sympathy for people who break the law seems to have an almost universally human allure. Most cultures have some stories about rebels and outlaws, some (affiliate link) Robin Hood figure who captures the public imagination. American history and culture offer some particularly colorful, compelling stories of people who, for whatever reason, just didn’t stay on the right side of the law from activists like John Brown to more selfish types like (affiliate link) Bonnie and Clyde. Sympathy for law-breakers usually comes up in the criminal context, where stories are colorful, and a big personality can really leave an impression, but it happens in civil law, too. The outlaws we pity or admire, the people we like even though they broke the social contract in some fairly major way, tell us a lot about what we value and what garners sympathy in our culture. Sometimes, our love of outlaws is less about the person who broke the law and more about the identity of the victim. If we’re sometimes disposed to like rule-breakers, we’re also not always concerned about the people who get hurt when someone doesn’t follow rules that are in place for a reason.

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2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Autistic people aren’t fundamentally different enough from the rest of humanity to justify the gift guides specifically for Autistic children that always circulate around this time of year. This isn’t that kind of gift guide. Instead, it’s designed to help you shop for the active, Neurodiversity-minded people on your list. Almost all links in this post are affiliate links, and your clicks and purchases are appreciated. They help this blog pay its bills and will bring you more posts in 2017.

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