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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