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AspergerSimpleLife

Autistic people never get the slack that other minorities are given

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AspergerSimpleLife

I typically hear the words “Don’t use autism as a get out of jail” card or excuse because of the belief that autism is “merely a difference” in humans, not a reason to fail. They say everyone has difficulties in dating, work and other aspects of life.

Try saying this to blacks: “We all experience racism, stop acting like you have it harder than other”. Chances are they’ll get mad and assume you have “white privilege” (which doesn’t exist, ask people of Kentucky/W. Virginia) because somehow their problems are “unique”.

 

Recently, Jussie Smollett got off the hook for faking a hate crime from two “Trump supporting” Nigerians. If any autistic person did the same thing about someone who supposedly bullied them, they’d be behind bars. But Smollett is black, so he gets acquitted.

Try to apply for a college or work position and assume your diagnosis will give you preference to make up for a skills or academic gap. Not much luck there. Be a minority or LGBT applicant and you are obligated to affirmative action.

 

I’m not trying to politically coerce anybody here, but as an American, I think the Republicans have more sense in our generation because they’re not hypocrites in the sense that they reward every other minority and ignore one. Speech towards any minority should be taken seriously. The N-Word is just as bad as the R-Word. Autistic people used to be exterminated during the time of Nazi Germany, but the past shouldn’t be used to forge a revised agenda for the present.

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Dr-David-Banner

I think part of the problem is the confusion that surrounds autism. To be honest with you, the working class view I hear from time to time is indeed an idea that autism is an excuse. Or perhaps a politically correct label. Most people don't understand how high autism differs from Forest Gump type autism (although Forest did exhibit some high performance traits). The bottom line is with high autism, you can appear smart and articulate but fail to communicate instinctively, inspire confidence, say and do the right thing or be popular. This leads to under employment for some and zero employment for others. Nobody has explained to employers, welfare staff and even doctors what high autism actually is and the severe and real limitations it will have. Absolutely people with HFA can do many skilled jobs and be employed, but this employment must be realistic to the condition. Journalism perhaps or even proof reading. Personally I can relate I am currently working for the first time in years and, although the work is OK, I could have done the same work today had I never bothered with qualifucations or a degree. The State and system as a whole failed me miserably from school and onwards. Neither a teacher, nurse, doctor or even State psychiatrist explored high autism. I was sent off with various drugs (around mid 1980s). Today there is more awareness in psychology but not among bureacracy and employment.

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Sanctuary

The core issue is that autism is an "invisible" condition and not evident in the same way as differences of physical disability, ethnicity and gender. It is also a relatively "new" condition in terms of diagnosis with only a tiny number of people diagnosed before the 2000s. Scepticism and even downright denial of "new" conditions - or "new" things of any kind is very common. Many people still have little or no understanding of autism and - as David suggested - little accurate awareness of how it affects someone's life and their capacity in areas such as employment. Autism, even in its "higher functioning" forms, has real effects. There can be real difficulties living as an autistic person in a neurotypical world but that doesn't mean autistic people can't, for example, be very successful and productive employees if their condition is properly understood and appropriate support given. 

Some of the issues affecting people with autism also afflict those with other invisible conditions such as anxiety and depression (and many with autism also have these co-morbid conditions). Although anxiety and depression are better understood among the wider population they are also subject to considerable stigma and inaccurate views about what those affected can achieve. In common with autism many people are sceptical of diagnoses and believe that the conditions are exaggerated or even imaginary and concocted, used as "excuses" for under-performance, failure or bad behaviour. There probably are some individuals who have misused diagnoses in this way but they are a small minority who are used against the vast majority of affected people who are struggling and often facing discrimination. 

Clearly there needs to be better education of how autism affects people's lives and stereotypes challenged. It will be a long process though. Maybe a key problem is the desire of many people for all sorts of reasons to look down on others who are different and their desire to find scapegoats. This desire unfortunately often proves resistant to forms of education but it does need to be done and can lead to better attitudes and support overall.  

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Dr-David-Banner

The question I had to address was why, having come so far, should I ever involve specialists in my case history? By this I mean that surely the system should have picked up upon these issues decades ago? At school they did notice a lot wrong so examination centred around blood tests and tests of that nature. In the 1980s there was no A.S. diagnosis available so the outpatients psychiatrists never questioned me. Yet recently I found AS was understood at that time in Germany and the USSR. Often it was referred to as Schizoid Disorder. It has been known of since the 1920s. Very recently I find I identify totally with those case studies. So back to the point: How many other people were let down by a system where neurologically deviant people are somehow supposed to just "get on with life" as if everything were normal? Clearly the discrimination starts there. Having gradually taken steps to "manage" my HFA condition, the truth is it still gets noticed (a lot). The people who wonder why your life isn't as simple as their own really have no understanding of how HFA works. They take the support they get from being in a team or group for granted. They assume it's the same for everybody. It is not. For my friends, mostly it is easy to simply turn up at work (as generally they fit the stereotype normality). Simple things for them are indeed simple. With autism I find simple things are not at all simple but an uphill ride. Really all I can suggest is there needs to be awareness and that awareness must start at school. Doctors and even psychologists need more specialization. Added to that, never should untrained and unqualified job centre staff be put in charge of jobseekers who have these issues, or other issues that require specialised assistance. I did likewise hear of ond person with AS who apparently turned over a table in a job centre. Not long ago there was an incident where another man with autism hurled a box across a shop as management had tried to put him on the till permanently. For years prior to that he'd been only on the shop floor.

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Sanctuary
12 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

The people who wonder why your life isn't as simple as their own really have no understanding of how HFA works. They take the support they get from being in a team or group for granted. They assume it's the same for everybody. It is not. For my friends, mostly it is easy to simply turn up at work (as generally they fit the stereotype normality). Simple things for them are indeed simple. With autism I find simple things are not at all simple but an uphill ride. Really all I can suggest is there needs to be awareness and that awareness must start at school. Doctors and even psychologists need more specialization. Added to that, never should untrained and unqualified job centre staff be put in charge of jobseekers who have these issues, or other issues that require specialised assistance. I did likewise hear of ond person with AS who apparently turned over a table in a job centre. Not long ago there was an incident where another man with autism hurled a box across a shop as management had tried to put him on the till permanently. For years prior to that he'd been only on the shop floor.

People are much more willing to accept the impact of physical, unchosen characteristics on a person's life, e.g. gender, ethnicity, age, disability and illness. This doesn't mean they necessarily understand or appreciate the impact but they see it as "real" all the same. However when it comes to differences of personality and psychology attitudes are often very different and there are feelings that a person can simply "choose" to be different. This misconception afflicts those with ASD but also those with anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD and many other conditions. Many people still feel that those with autism can choose to act differently or that their claims to see or experience the world differently are exaggerated or even false. Because there is this problem of "putting oneself in autistic shoes" attitudes are often unsympathetic and unsupportive, or efforts are made to understand the condition but they end up being stereotypical and unhelpful. A different, more sympathetic approach does tend to be taken towards those with the lowest-functioning, often non-verbal autism but in these cases they are often just seen as part of a broader group of those with severe learning difficulties who cannot choose to act differently. Higher-functioning autism is likely to be largely misunderstood and inadequately supported for many years to come.

The fact that autism affects individuals in so many different ways makes matters even more complex. For example some with ASD have severe sensory issues while others are largely unaffected. Some have intense interests while others do not and even those with intense interests are interested in very different things. This can mean that even among autistic individuals there can be difficulties in appreciating the experiences and difficulties of others with autism. For example an autistic person with a "normal" diet may feel another who has a very restricted diet is just being "difficult" and "fussy" while another person's interest may seem "pointless" and "a waste of time". What seems odd or even senseless to us may seem perfectly natural or even essential to another and vice versa.

As regards employment and job centres there are very big problems. As you suggest there are major difficulties with lack of understanding of the specialised employment issues affecting those with autism. Staff may be inadequately trained but unfortunately some are actively unsympathetic and may believe that autistic job-seekers are just being "difficult" or are "shirkers" or "scroungers" not interested in working. Part of the problem though is the pressure put on job centre staff just simply to get job-seekers working in order to meet government targets. This may push staff towards a less sympathetic and unsupportive approach against their wishes. It can mean directing autistic job-seekers into almost any job with little consideration of its suitability simply to get them off the claimant figures. This though is often misguided as it can result in job failure and a return to the job centre where the cycle continues. It really is essential to help autistic job-seekers towards jobs in which they can succeed and prosper, not just jobs they can fill on a short-term basis. Indeed this is true for non-autistic applicants as well - the aim should be the right job, not just "any job".

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Dr-David-Banner
6 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

People are much more willing to accept the impact of physical, unchosen characteristics on a person's life, e.g. gender, ethnicity, age, disability and illness. This doesn't mean they necessarily understand or appreciate the impact but they see it as "real" all the same. However when it comes to differences of personality and psychology attitudes are often very different and there are feelings that a person can simply "choose" to be different. This misconception afflicts those with ASD but also those with anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD and many other conditions. Many people still feel that those with autism can choose to act differently or that their claims to see or experience the world differently are exaggerated or even false. Because there is this problem of "putting oneself in autistic shoes" attitudes are often unsympathetic and unsupportive, or efforts are made to understand the condition but they end up being stereotypical and unhelpful. A different, more sympathetic approach does tend to be taken towards those with the lowest-functioning, often non-verbal autism but in these cases they are often just seen as part of a broader group of those with severe learning difficulties who cannot choose to act differently. Higher-functioning autism is likely to be largely misunderstood and inadequately supported for many years to come.

The fact that autism affects individuals in so many different ways makes matters even more complex. For example some with ASD have severe sensory issues while others are largely unaffected. Some have intense interests while others do not and even those with intense interests are interested in very different things. This can mean that even among autistic individuals there can be difficulties in appreciating the experiences and difficulties of others with autism. For example an autistic person with a "normal" diet may feel another who has a very restricted diet is just being "difficult" and "fussy" while another person's interest may seem "pointless" and "a waste of time". What seems odd or even senseless to us may seem perfectly natural or even essential to another and vice versa.

As regards employment and job centres there are very big problems. As you suggest there are major difficulties with lack of understanding of the specialised employment issues affecting those with autism. Staff may be inadequately trained but unfortunately some are actively unsympathetic and may believe that autistic job-seekers are just being "difficult" or are "shirkers" or "scroungers" not interested in working. Part of the problem though is the pressure put on job centre staff just simply to get job-seekers working in order to meet government targets. This may push staff towards a less sympathetic and unsupportive approach against their wishes. It can mean directing autistic job-seekers into almost any job with little consideration of its suitability simply to get them off the claimant figures. This though is often misguided as it can result in job failure and a return to the job centre where the cycle continues. It really is essential to help autistic job-seekers towards jobs in which they can succeed and prosper, not just jobs they can fill on a short-term basis. Indeed this is true for non-autistic applicants as well - the aim should be the right job, not just "any job".

Lately, I am not yet sure whether I ought to actually do something within the area of promoting awareness. I say this because I was one of the statistics in a system that plainly failed to address the issue of HFA. For people on this forum, it was probably a bit different as by the 1990s there was a sudden recognition of Asperger Syndrome so probably easier to receive some support.

Going by my own experiences, I think HFA ought to be detected at school. Amazingly when I was at school, they divided students into about seven groups with "7" being the bottom tier. There was no concept of poor school performance having some neurological cause or special need requirement. The lower groupings of students were just assumed to be "thick" and better suited to woodwork and metalwork. For HFA autistics, this makes a bad situation even worse as we are pretty limited in mechanical skills.

"Many people still feel that those with autism can choose to act differently or that their claims to see or experience the world differently are exaggerated or even false."

At the moment I've been having further problems. I had the opportunity not long ago to do some DIY/restoration work, which I mentioned. It has not been going very well. Although I feel pretty confident my work has been more than adequate, there are personal communication difficulties developing. Part of it is caused by the simple fact I tend to carry out work differently or using different approaches. The older guy working with me tends to get upset and frustrated if I just do something my own way. One comical incident happened two days ago when he continued to shout and yell instructions and I started to "overload". I didn't allow my anger to spill outwards but did end up tearing up the concrete floor with my bare hands in one huge tug, so half of the entire floor started to lift. And it did lift. The old man stepped back with his mouth open and couldn't really say much as the whole idea was to remove the floor regardless. Here one thing that did surprise me was despite the negativity, it seems lately I have no problems doing physically demanding work. I seemed to be quite tireless but, despite that, I doubt my attempts are valued and it isn't going so well at all. Last night, I pondered all of this and think really it's a problem I will have to solve - that of employment. Time will tell. I had two friends I knew to be HFA and only one of them earned a living. Despite having two degrees she only had the option of doing DIY such as painting and gardening. Her occasional shouting in the streets when throwing a tantrum and her scruffy clothes didn't help but, then again, that too is typical with HFA.







 

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Scaly Piscine

I agree that there's very much a non-white privilege thing at the moment and Jussie Smollett was a great example. This non-white privilege is an extension of the left wing SJW (social justice warrior) narrative. They see society as a patriarchy and perceive oppression everywhere. They dive straight into identity politics, at which point things are no longer a rational debate with facts. So they'll see themselves as a white knight saving a minority from persecution from a horrible monster.

To explain more, SJWs see the world as male dominated, male controlled and for males (among other things). Because they believe that all groups should have equality of outcome. So for example if men on average earn more than women (they generally do) it's because of male oppression. Not because of dozens of other potential factors that could cause it (such as job choice, not putting their career on hold for kids, men working more hours and more dangerous jobs etc.) They are however not interested in things like more males being incarcerated, more men dying at work, shorter lifespan etc. 

So there's this one-eyed view of the world. The whole equality of outcome idea is important. Because it tries to pretend all groups are equal and the same. Which is clearly nonsense. What people should believe in is equality of *opportunity*. Different groups will have different averaged outcomes because they're different. And individuals are all different, they're not simply a product of all the different groups they belong in.

The problem with this SJW lens is you see oppression pretty much everywhere if you're looking for it - whether it exists or not. Yes autistic people generally don't have an autism card that they can play which has the same power as the race card or the Islam card or the homosexual card. But who would want that anyway? Do people really want to be defined by their identity groups and get special privileges as a result? Or do you want to be treated on your own merits as an individual?   

Edited by Scaly Piscine

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Sanctuary
15 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

Going by my own experiences, I think HFA ought to be detected at school. Amazingly when I was at school, they divided students into about seven groups with "7" being the bottom tier. There was no concept of poor school performance having some neurological cause or special need requirement. The lower groupings of students were just assumed to be "thick" and better suited to woodwork and metalwork. For HFA autistics, this makes a bad situation even worse as we are pretty limited in mechanical skills.

"Many people still feel that those with autism can choose to act differently or that their claims to see or experience the world differently are exaggerated or even false."

At the moment I've been having further problems. I had the opportunity not long ago to do some DIY/restoration work, which I mentioned. It has not been going very well. Although I feel pretty confident my work has been more than adequate, there are personal communication difficulties developing. Part of it is caused by the simple fact I tend to carry out work differently or using different approaches. The older guy working with me tends to get upset and frustrated if I just do something my own way. 

When I was at school (also many years ago) we were placed into ability groups like the ones you mention. I was in one of the top two ability groups but had some struggles early on and was very worried about being "moved down" into one of the "middle" groups. While in part this was because it would have been a blow to self-esteem I was also worried about having to do more woodwork and metalwork which the middle and lower groups had to do. My practical skills were poor and I built up a real complex about those subjects. I would approach them very differently now and would want to learn those practical skills. However I would need patient and sympathetic teaching to take account of my more limited skills as otherwise my confidence would be badly affected.

That then links to your more recent experience. Working with other people can be a great challenge for autistic individuals. As you state even if their work is good they may find they are viewed with scepticism or even hostility because they don't work in the "expected way". If though they find the work difficult and are slow to pick up skills they can be in an even worse position as other workers and managers may not have the patience and tolerance to help them develop, even though eventually they may learn the skills well and be very good employees. There is often a misguided belief that anyone can show someone how to do a job and "learn the ropes". However teaching a skill is a difficult task. In fairness to many workers they haven't been trained on how to offer support and teach skills and this can lead to them doing so in an ineffective and unsupportive way. Social anxiety may also play a part as a worker may "freeze" or become flustered when they are being observed supervised or monitored. Perhaps it's better for autistic workers - if they already have the skills - to have more opportunity to work alone or at least with minimal supervision. If though they are new to a job or need to learn skills they need support that is sensitive to their needs - this does not necessarily mean others have to know about their autism but that other staff are aware of the need for patience and genuine supportiveness. Withering looks, exasperation and harsh criticism rarely help someone to learn and develop their skills and self-confidence.

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Sanctuary
12 hours ago, Scaly Piscine said:

I agree that there's very much a non-white privilege thing at the moment and Jussie Smollett was a great example. This non-white privilege is an extension of the left wing SJW (social justice warrior) narrative. They see society as a patriarchy and perceive oppression everywhere. They dive straight into identity politics, at which point things are no longer a rational debate with facts. So they'll see themselves as a white knight saving a minority from persecution from a horrible monster.

To explain more, SJWs see the world as male dominated, male controlled and for males (among other things). Because they believe that all groups should have equality of outcome. So for example if men on average earn more than women (they generally do) it's because of male oppression. Not because of dozens of other potential factors that could cause it (such as job choice, not putting their career on hold for kids, men working more hours and more dangerous jobs etc.) They are however not interested in things like more males being incarcerated, more men dying at work, shorter lifespan etc. 

So there's this one-eyed view of the world. The whole equality of outcome idea is important. Because it tries to pretend all groups are equal and the same. Which is clearly nonsense. What people should believe in is equality of *opportunity*. Different groups will have different averaged outcomes because they're different. And individuals are all different, they're not simply a product of all the different groups they belong in.

The problem with this SJW lens is you see oppression pretty much everywhere if you're looking for it - whether it exists or not. Yes autistic people generally don't have an autism card that they can play which has the same power as the race card or the Islam card or the homosexual card. But who would want that anyway? Do people really want to be defined by their identity groups and get special privileges as a result? Or do you want to be treated on your own merits as an individual?   

Leaving aside the wider "social justice" debate I would accept that there are some occasions where discrimination or mistreatment is wrongly imputed. Sometimes a person genuinely (if wrongly) believes they have been mistreated; on other occasions their motivation is more cynical and centred on getting attention or even compensation or perhaps just to stir up trouble. However that is not to deny that there has been a long history of discrimination against certain groups and that discrimination continues to be a problem in certain circumstances. 

As regards autism I don't think there can be much doubt that almost all autistic people have faced mistreatment. In some cases this is because their condition is not known to others (or even themselves if they are unaware of autism) and therefore their behaviour is misinterpreted. In other cases though their autism is known about and that leads to knowing discrimination by others who see autism as in some way a "problem". 

I think it's absolutely right for those with autism to be treated fairly. it's also quite justified for them to campaign on issues and also to take pride in their autistic identity. There will be some individuals with autism who unjustifiably use it to excuse bad behaviour or see discrimination when it isn't there, or who pursue a dubious idea of autistic "superiority". However I think most on the spectrum have a measured view of their situation and don't make unjustified complaints. They take pride in their difference but realise that difference doesn't have to mean division from others. 

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Dr-David-Banner

On the topic of discrimination I will share something that came to my attention recently. A black girl I know has just lost her job after only a month. Although it's important not to use the subject of race as an escape clause, I do feel this case has at least some racial element involved. I am also kind of shocked and disappointed to be told of what appears to be victimisation. It started apparently by a customer making a complaint about the girl. It seems her boss was content to simply caution her employee without questioning the customer's motives. I have had this happen to me many times and, each time, it was simply slander. For example, I was accused of drug use or going AWL on a shift - all rubbish! The girl I refer to I chatted to a lot and she's not only religious but doing a PHd. She struck me as honest, educated and pleasant. Several reasons for dismissing her surfaced and she was dismissed. By the way, my gut feeling here is that racism probably wasn't the main trigger (apart from the suspect customer). I figure the main cause of conflict was her education. I have known people with a PHd victimised before because they obviously can't hide their intelligence or "dumb down". Even worse is the scenario where an employee is far smarter than the team leaders or managers. This in itself unsettles those in authority. Anyway, I am disappointed in people I figured  were above not standing up for a co-worker and considering the implications. Of course the same thing has happened to me many times. I recall once leaving a former place of employment and feeling like trash. There had been no awareness of my struggles or obvious difficulties. The whole approach is grounded in negativity with focus on the failings of the individual. The consequences when the pattern repeats itself is you may build up deep anger and resentment. This latter is important to address because it can be counter productive. In my case, a little psychology helped me to better manage anger and negativity. So, I guess the lesson here is lots of people are victimised for whatever reason. Some companies do take pains to ensure there is no discrimination whereas others appear to be amateurish and clueless. Despite the rhetoric and bragging of tolerance my view is the reality is one of intolerance and the slogans of political correctness cover up this reality. The only way to combat intolerance is via education and exposure to those who in some way differ.

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