“My New Year’s Eve Toast: to all the devils, lusts, passions, greeds, envies, loves, hates, strange desires, enemies ghostly and real, the army of memories, with which I do battle — may they never give me peace.”—Patricia Highsmith
“Memoirs on autism also frequently mention the parents’ distress at seeing the spark gradually go out of the eyes of their child as language skills regress and he or she retreats into a self-enclosed world—the dreaded prison of autos, the root meaning of autism.
We took my son on a pilgrimage to the Bronx for an evaluation three months after he had a frightening regression in March. He had been receiving early-intervention services for three months and was improving, and then the light in his eyes began to go out. He stopped looking in my eyes, and when I caught his chin in my hand to look in his , there was nothing there. He was irritable and spun in circles most of the time, and when he did sit down, he kept pushing the same button on a musical toy over and over and couldn’t be engaged. He didn’t even like his beloved books anymore. My son was gone—there was no spark in his face, no sign of life, just dead eyes.
I’m a so-called “regressive autistic”. I lost language skills when I was a small child. I also experienced something rarer, in that I also lost a bunch of different skills including speech, gradually starting in early adolescence.
Thing is, I’m still here. I’m not dead even though people have described my eyes in that and even more offensive ways. I would still be here even if I lost the typed language that I still have. The essence of who I am does not depend on facial expression, on my ability to command my body and have it do my bidding, on whether I have access to using or understanding any language at all. In fact, during the time period when I began losing skills, something else was going on. I was getting more in touch with who I really am. The skills that I find the most important — skills most people can’t even fathom existing — have been honing themselves more and more over time. Some of this is not coincidence. Some of what is required to use those skills is the absence or lessening of others.
But even if the things most important to me were not becoming stronger. Even if who I am was not being distilled down to a more and more intense essence with every passing year. Even if I was not becoming happier, more ethical, more in touch with the world around me in ways most people can’t imagine. I would still be a person. I would still be myself. I would still have life, heart, love, and soul thoroughly intact. And it would still be really fucking offensive to refer to people like me as if we were dead, not really there, and losing ourselves, just because we move or communicate or think in ways different than we used to.
To quote a good friend of mine, also autistic: I’m the one who has to live with the stereotypes you are trying to build. I live or die depending on whether people think I’m actually still here or not. No really — live or die. Already survived one attempt of murder-through-neglect by people who were tasked with taking care of me. They thought the real me was gone too. They wanted me to not be in their mental institution because they would rather treat people who were going to get better. They said these things openly in my presence because I was not enough of a person for them to care. Across the world, autistic people die all the time. Often at the hands of caregivers and parents. When you make us sound less human, less alive, less ourselves, that has the same effect it has on any other group of people: Our lives matter less. People openly kill us because we are not the people they think we used to be, not their real children anymore. So when you say things like this it’s just one more piece that tips things in the direction of our unpersonhood.
And even when not life and death… some of the worst things anyone has said to me were things like “I want the old you back.” The me who was able to do more things. Because people want me to at least seem less disabled. And there’s this thing where who I am now is never good enough. They want the old me. Even if that’s the me who was truly lost and confused. Even if that was a horribly unhappy time in my life. Better to be unhappy and “higher functioning” than happy and “lower functioning”. It tears my heart to pieces when people want the “old me”, no matter how innocent they think it is. (It also suggests they value form over function: Someone who can speak but barely communicate is apparently better than someone who can communicate but barely speak.)
This is all so close to home that it terrifies me. In a world where people like me are already dehumanized. Which leads directly to abuse and murder even when the dehumanization is unintended as such. We can’t afford for people to be spreading this idea that when we “regress”, we lose who we are and all signs of life. And seriously… have you ever had anyone tell you your eyes are empty and dead, your face shows nothing there, you are clearly missing out on what life has to offer, you have the cognitive functioning of an infant, there’s no person inside you, you’re just an empty shell? Because I have, to my face, and it’s more horrifying than any loss of skills could ever be.
Undercover police officers routinely adopted a tactic of “promiscuity” with the blessing of senior commanders, according to a former agent who worked in a secretive unit of the Metropolitan police for four years. The former undercover policeman claims that sexual relationships with activists were sanctioned for both men and women officers infiltrating anarchist, leftwing and environmental groups.
Sex was a tool to help officers blend in, the officer claimed, and was widely used as a technique to glean intelligence. His comments contradict claims last week from the Association of Chief Police Officers that operatives were absolutely forbidden to sleep with activists.
The one stipulation, according to the officer from the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), a secret unit formed to prevent violent disorder on the streets of London, was that falling in love was considered highly unprofessional because it might compromise an investigation. He said undercover officers, particularly those infiltrating environmental and leftwing groups, viewed having sex with a large number of partners “as part of the job”.
When I turned 18, I felt I was grown up. Then when I was 21, I reflected, ‘Boy, I was just a kid then; now I’m grown up.’ The same thing happened when I was 27. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that I realized it was a futile goal to have. You’re never grown up. We’re all still dealing with the same hopes, same fears, same dreams that we had as children.
Books are not banned because they are inherently dangerous, or actually malicious, or even purposefully damning. Books like those are already avoided by those who do not agree with them. No, books are banned because there are people with power who fear the power of words. They fear the ideas and challenges put forth by such "dangerous" books. They hate the thought that their ideals could very easily be questioned or destroyed by simple ink and paper. And they wish to control, so they hate and they ban.
Because that’s the thing about Scooby-Doo: The bad guys in every episode aren’t monsters, they’re liars.
I can’t imagine how scandalized those critics who were relieved to have something that was mild enough to not excite their kids would’ve been if they’d stopped for a second and realized what was actually going on. The very first rule of Scooby-Doo, the single premise that sits at the heart of their adventures, is that the world is full of grown-ups who lie to kids, and that it’s up to those kids to figure out what those lies are and call them on it, even if there are other adults who believe those lies with every fiber of their being. And the way that you win isn’t through supernatural powers, or even through fighting. The way that you win is by doing the most dangerous thing that any person being lied to by someone in power can do: You think.
That’s what was so great about these older cartoons, they taught kids to trust their instincts because the world is filled with grown ups who lie to get what they want and who disrespect the special intelligence a child has to see through a lie. Because they aren’t jaded yet. And it taught adults the same lesson, don’t steal, lie and cheat like the bad guys, be good and innocent like children. (even though these children were supposed to be about 16 years old)
So, I’ve decided to break things off with my…whatever the hell he is.
I thought I was in control of the situation—but I’m not…I wasn’t. I’ve come to the realization that I hold anything or anyone I’ve ever wanted at a distance, or ignore it/them. That I have come to not trust anyone. Not even my “close” friends and family. I think it’s from my inability to cope with disappointment from broken promises and trusts, repeatedly.
I sought attention, but I balked at anything more—physical contact, being emotionally close, honesty—for fear of rejection, ridicule, betrayal, or whatever. I want to trust again. I’m tired of being used to fill someone else’s self-esteem, and trying to use people the same way. I feel so hollow.
I lost a chance with the only guy I have ever felt so strongly towards, and now it’s probably too late. At the very least, I will be moving towards more inner strength.