Categories
Life Love

The Last Post of the Decade

I know I said I was going to address the opposing viewpoint at the end of my last post, but… well, you’ve read enough of this blog to know how I feel about that. So, that would be kind of redundant to do so.

What I wanted to talk to you about tonight (it’s not quite midnight at the time that I’m typing this) is a bit of a personal story.

Earlier tonight, I was picking up a few extra hours at work during a musical performance, when a particularly emotional memory came to mind. I’ve mentioned to friends a few times about this specific memory, but it never carried the same emotional weight as it did tonight.

To explain, I’ve spent much of my life in a bad mood. This could mean anger or depression. This memory occurred during a period of depression.

I remember I was very depressed around this time of year in 11th grade, so it’s possible that this moment may have coincided with that particular bout of depression. A bit of context: I was depressed because I sought companionship through attempts at dating, but nobody seemed interested in me.

I don’t remember how it started, but one of my teachers knew I was depressed and why and somehow got the entire class singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Being in the depressed mood I was in at the time, I wasn’t participating in the singing.

At one point, while the rest of the class sang, this teacher (I should clarify this was a history class) turned to look at me and said, “Remember that, JD.” Or some similar line to that extent. I remember the subtextual meaning of that sentence more than how it was worded. And it means a lot to me, even to this day.

For whatever reason, this memory hit hard tonight. I just wanted to share with you what I’m feeling in this moment. I want to make it a goal of mine to pay it forward. That moment came at a time when I really needed to know I was not alone. That’s a moment of healing I want to focus on paying forward for others who need it in the next decade.

This decade was drenched in so much anger and negativity. We all could use some emotional healing right around now.

It’s not Journey, but maybe it will help someone heal a little when they could use it the most:

It’s not “Don’t Stop Believin’,” but it gets the point across.

Happy Winter Holiday Season with love. May you find peace with yourselves, within yourselves in the new decade. I’ll see you on the other side of New Year’s. Rock on, Spectrumites.

Categories
PSA

We Need Another Talk…

Now, I’m as much for patient rights and autism acceptance just as much as I’m for acknowledging the capabilities of all Spectrumites. All as much as the next Spectrumite. And that’s why I’m starting to get angry at a certain myth wafting around the Quora forums like that bad stench you can only get from a fake-news burrito wrapped in uneducated conspiracy theorist fecal matter.

I’m, of course, referring to the ongoing (unsubstantiated) claims that ABA (or Applied Behavioral Analysis) is some kind of torture NTs use against Spectrumites to get us to “comply.” The usual criticisms I see floating around the aether is that ABA uses electroshock as a primary method, or that ABA somehow causes emotional or physical trauma to the Spectrumite by attacking what it means to be autistic.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll try to keep this rant concise. I don’t proclaim to know everything about neither ABA nor ASD, and as a Spectrumite, I do understand that what works for one does not always work for all. This is my opinion. Solely. I do not project to speak for all the ASD communities out there in Web-Surfy-Land. Nor does it necessarily represent the opinion of the Aspie Dialogues.

The first myth I have to debunk – both because I’ve at one point in my life work studied at a center that primarily adheres to ABA and because I’ve experienced it, myself, during my early childhood – is that it involves electroshock or otherwise similar physical tortures. It doesn’t. I don’t even know where that myth even came from, but it’s 100% FALSE. I could say the pope is a green frog wearing a poofy, rainbow wig and a pair of parachute pants, but that doesn’t make it so. (Although, as a general aside, that is something I’d like to see in real life, someday…)

Likewise, just saying ABA is physical torture on the internet doesn’t mean it actually is. I’ll clarify for those of you in the back row: ABA IS NOT PHYSICAL TORTURE. PERIOD.

I don’t buy into the strictly Neurodiverse argument that it’s torture because we’re all different and we should celebrate our differences because we’re autistic and we’re just that special that we get to do whatever we want just because. I get it. We’re good at some things, but here’s the flip-side of that coin: we’re also not as good at some things and could stand to improve in those areas.

Constructive criticism is NOT emotional torture. If you’re doing something socially unacceptable (for example: hitting other people and screaming when angry), you need to stop. Being autistic does NOT give us a free pass to harm ourselves or others. ABA reinforces the idea that we are not excused from society just because of our ASD. That’s probably why the Neurodiversity movement wants it gone; it’s easier than doing the work it takes to learn techniques for managing one’s anger.

We are currently only sitting at a one-in-59 prevalence ratio. That means that we’re barely 1.7% of the population. Until we outnumber the NTs, just remember who has the majority in a world where majority rules, especially when it comes to society and social expectations.

That an NT may expect better behavior from you isn’t abuse; it’s the expectation that you have the ability to make more socially acceptable choices, which in most cases, I’m going to suggest that you probably do have. We may be special, but we’re not demigods or the like. We’re just different people with different needs. And ABA therapy is just one way of offering techniques for fulfilling those needs without breaking society.

Quite frankly, most of the authors of the posts I’ve seen online seem to be of a younger generation than I am. Most of that generation had much more resources available to them than my millennial generation had, and we had to fight tooth-and-nail for every ounce of help we got. Sometimes, it wasn’t anywhere close to enough. Sometimes, we didn’t even benefit from the resources we fought for, but at least you were able to. And here you are, throwing all those resources back in our faces because somebody suggested that you’re not a perfect being. No human is. No living thing is. Therefore, nothing we conceptualize or create will be. Ever.

If there’s a part of the system that you feel isn’t working, work to fix it. Don’t just scrap it and feign perfection. Believe me. There is still SO much more wrong with the current system, but if we give up on it, it won’t get better. Let your needs be known, but don’t spread myths and hypothetical situations wrapped in propaganda. We can fix the system, piece by piece, together. Let’s work with each other instead of against each other.

Because if I don’t know or understand everything there is to know about ASD and the various resources out there for it, then it stands to reason that not everyone else might, either. And if you don’t know something, learn about it from a reputable source. No, Google is NOT a reputable source.

Tune in next time, when I tear into the opposing side of the Great Schism of Autism. It’s not that I oppose Neurodiversity, but I do oppose the idea that we should get to do whatever we want just because we have ASD as our crutch to fall back on. I’ll get off my moral high horse when everyone else does the same. Pointing fingers and playing the blame game is not going to solve anything.

…And that is my unpopular opinion. May you find peace with yourselves, within yourselves.

Categories
FAQ Life

Coming Out… As Autistic

A little bit of personal history about myself, but I’m curious to get your takes on it, as well.

There are many overlapping areas between ASD communities and LGBTQIA+ communities (forgive me if my alphabet is inaccurate, please), although I’m positive there’s more than I can be aware of as a single, white, heterosexual, male aspie. The point I’m trying to make here is that revealing one’s ASD can often times feel like coming out of the closet.

[Cue a bunch of tasteless Will & Grace jokes here!]

Aw, hell! I can’t resist. Here’s a gif of Jack McFarland:

I know… I know… I’m disappointed in me, too…
(Gif courtesy of Giphy.com)

Before you click away, I’m being totally serious here! Think about it:

You feel a certain disconnect between your own self-identity and the identity you feel the world expects from you. It’s not until you “come out of the closet,” perse, and reveal who you really are to someone, that you truly feel like you’re living your own life.

…And there’s always that nagging vulnerability that the people you’re coming out to are going to respond with some form of negativity. It’s a very sensitive issue for everyone. You know going into it that the public knowledge of your diagnosis will create extra challenges of its own. You don’t want to put others on the spot, but you want them to know, right?

So, I first really became aware of my ASD around 2002-ish. At that time, it was still clinically known as “Asperger’s Syndrome.” Keep in mind, this was an era before people really started paying attention to the prevalence rate of ASDs, and thus, it was considered a negative thing to be associated with. It wasn’t really until 2006, that I fully accepted that yes, I am autistic. I will always be autistic. And there’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself.

At that point, I just decided to run with it. It became a very large part of my personal identity that I am autistic, and look at what I’m able to accomplish! Nothing “wrong” or “negative” about that, at all. After a lifetime of trying to hide my differences and “fit in,” I felt liberated that I could finally be myself BECAUSE OF my differences.

So in essence, identifying with my ASD was like I came out of the closet. And I’ve never looked back on that decision. I’d rather be hated for who I am than be liked for who I am not.

So, here’s my question to the rest of you spectrumites out there, reading this post:

Have you come out yet? What was the reaction? How did you feel afterward?

I’d love to read your stories in the comments.


Before I go… Real quickly, I want to share with you some more Jack McFarland gifs that illustrate my point. You have NO IDEA how hard it was to pick just the one before. Here goes:

You tell ’em, Jack!
(Gif courtesy of Giphy.com)
We are easily amused…
(Gif courtesy of Giphy.com)
Some of our special interests are more special than others…
(Gif courtesy of Giphy.com)
But at the end of the day, we’re just as human as everybody else.
(Gif courtesy of Giphy.com)
Find peace with yourself, within yourself.
(Gif courtesy of Giphy.com)
Rock on, Spectrumites!
(Gif courtesy of Giphy.com)
Categories
Reviews The Role Star

The Role Star: Atypical Review!!!!!!*

*And some format changes…

From now on, The Role Star can exist in the form of a written review. Let’s face it; the video version just wasn’t going to get done. I have failed. …And I’m sorry.

So, without ANY further interruption… OOOOOOOHHHH, shiny…

FOCUS, JON!!!! *claps hands*

Today, we’ll FINALLY take a look at the first two seasons of Atypical.

Season 1: The Horror…

Zahid and his influence over Sam

I mean, I get it… Every person needs a friend like every protagonist needs a down-to-earth confidant to keep perspective over the series of events unfolding throughout the show. And, in case you were wondering, I hope you’ll be as disappointed as I was to find that Zahid is not that down-to-earth confidant.

I absolutely hated Zahid this season. Not only is he giving spectacularly bad dating advice, but he’s keenly aware that he’s giving spectacularly bad dating advice… or even just spectacularly bad advice. Period. A strip club?! Are you serious?! Would they even let a high schooler in like that? *No, really. I have no idea. I’ve never been.*

I know Zahid means well. He only wants to help Sam with his social life, but how oblivious does Sam have to be to not notice how deep that rabbit hole goes… or loyal to not care that Zahid’s handing him some pretty tall boots?

Sam and Paige

Paige is too good for Sam this season. Nominate the girl for sainthood. It’s not like Sam really understands the relationship he’s committed himself to. And she’s with him by his side through all of it despite that!

…At least, up until he tells her he doesn’t love her in front of her entire family at the dinner table.

He keeps a list of pros and cons of dating her; she convinces the entire PTO AND school board to make the Snowball dance sensory friendly. That’s… love? No, actually. That’s… pretty messed up. Girl, you deserve much better treatment than that from anyone you date.

Like, Netflix made Sam to be a jack-ass for the sake of being a jack-ass. But it’s okay because he’s supposed to be autistic.

There are so many things wrong with that statement. If you still need help finding them, then welcome to The Aspie Dialogues! Feel free to poke around until you become a decent human being.

And speaking of being a decent human being…

Sam and Julia -or- How I Stopped Caring About Ethical Patient/Therapist Obligations and Became a Flaming Ball of Conflicts of Interest

Yeah, no. …With a capital NO. Sam’s plot line, here, is just… NO. I’m not even going to dignify this with a response.

Moving right along…

Where’s the Autism in the Show ABOUT Autism?

Hello… Any autistics home?

This was supposed to be a show about autism, right? So, why does it feel like Netflix forgot to bring the actual autism?

Instead of Sam and his diagnosis driving the action and the plot, it feels more like he’s reacting to everybody else’s plot lines. And what kind of school district only has one — count ’em, ONE — diagnosed student in the entire school?

I think Netflix forgot the most important part of a show about autism… Three guesses what that might be…

It’s like they used Sam’s autism as an excuse to make the most unlikable main character they could think of.

It’s like Pinocchio telling Geppetto he wants to be a real boy, and Geppetto just dismisses him while reading the evening newspaper.

“That’s nice, son. Sure you do… Kids today, I tell ya…”

If you’re going to make a show about autism, at least do the community the decency of committing to it.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Role Stars

Season 2: The Fix-ening…

Improvements Over Season 1

For Season 2, I love how much of the feedback Netflix took to heart from Season 1!

The characters, now established, have room to grow. Sam’s perspective now runs the show. He joins a support group and starts making connections with other students like him. But the best part of all? Get ready for this…

They fixed Zahid.

That’s right. Zahid now has a method to his madness, however flawed it still may be… We see him start to mature, and for as much as he inspires Sam, Sam inspires him to do right by himself and go for his dreams.

So, okay… There’s that thing about the lying, but Sam took that way too literally.

It becomes so much clearer why Sam and Zahid are friends.

Doug… Just… Doug…

Okay, so it’s great that Doug’s starting to connect with other parents. In one case, he and Elsa reconnect with the parents of another student who scammed Sam out of $700. After enduring half of a season of tension between the two, it was nice seeing Doug start to forgive Elsa for the affair with Nick.

What wasn’t so nice was Doug’s obsession with Nick and getting even. Please don’t be that guy who has an affair to get back at his wife. Even if Elsa misunderstands it as such, I don’t want another season of what is essentially the same plot line from Season 2, this year. Can we agree to that much, Netflix?

Casey ❤️ Izzie?

Tread carefully, Netflix… This is not a plot line to go into haphazardly… I wonder… what’s the prevalence of autism in the LGBT+ community? Can someone in the comments answer that for me?

That Law Enforcement Plot Line…

Wow… We’re just going for it, this season. Aren’t we?

As accurate as that plot line was, I really advise caution to Netflix going forward. This is an opportunity to start bridging the Great Schism of Autism.

Deep in my gut, I feel like this is going to end up on one side or the other with zero middle-ground. Law enforcement is a polarized topic in any community. Again, Netflix… Tread carefully.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Role Stars

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

Sam and Paige

I didn’t like them as a couple for much of this season, but in the time since it started streaming, I feel like their relationship has grown on me. I want to see more of that dynamic in Season 3.

Elsa, the Ice Queen?

Everybody just comes down hard on Elsa in Season 2, and they just refuse to let up. Maybe, if we had seen more of Elsa’s lies and manipulations throughout the series, it might be pseudo-justified, but… I just don’t have the capacity to suspend disbelief over this.

She seems like she’s putting in an honest effort to make amends for her actions during Season 1, but nobody’s even hearing her out.

Just let me be perfectly honest, here. She was a real ice queen throughout Season 1. But the way everybody treats her during Season 2 seems a bit disproportionate and harsh.

Please Let Sam Grow Awareness

I really want Sam to grow as a character, and as a person, as the show progresses. Season 2 Sam seems like he’s forgotten every lesson he’d learned from Season 1’s events.

Let me be the first to say this: The college plot lines going forward are going to try Sam to the core. I know this from experience. Believe me. It’s about to get real for Sam.

Wishlist for Season 3:

  • I want to see Sam and Paige attempt a long-distance relationship. This would be a very interesting angle to explore for the benefit of the autism community.
  • Can we see more of Sam-O-Vision™, please? The first-person perspectives we get from Sam’s point-of-view are unique and could be better utilized (read: do this more) throughout the series. We’re often shown the daily lives of autistics as a general audience, but we never really get to experience what it looks and sounds like to the actual autistics. Sam-O-Vision™ is a potential game-changer and can give Atypical a distinctive look and feel if executed properly.
  • Will Zahid actually go to nursing school? As the brother-in-law of a registered nurse in Ohio, I’ll be watching this developing plot line closely.

Cumulative Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Role Stars

Categories
JoaT_Pages The Jack of all Tirades

The Jack of all Tirades: Counterintuitive Behavior

Counterintuitive behavior…
Categories
JoaT_Pages The Jack of all Tirades

The Jack of all Tirades: All Bets Are Off

All bets are off…
Categories
JoaT_Pages The Jack of all Tirades

The Jack of all Tirades: Watching TV

Watching TV…
Categories
JoaT_Pages The Jack of all Tirades

The Jack of all Tirades: Introductions

Introductions…

Happy World Autism Awareness Day 2019!

I’ve been waiting a long time to launch this webcomic. I haven’t figured out a dedicated time or day yet, but I should be able to put more out at a pace of about once a week. From here on out, these will take the form of single-panel strips.

Also, the next three strips are ready to go, but in order to do that, I had to color them by hand… analog (as opposed to digitally). You’ll notice a difference for the next three, but at least it gives me more time to polish future pages.

I hope you enjoy The Jack of all Tirades as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Categories
Life Love Work

Election Day Is Tomorrow…

…And we’re political, already! We missed you, Jon…

Aww… I missed you guys, too. I just wanted to check in and give an update on where my head is at the moment.

Spoiler Alert: This post might get a bit heavy…

A number of… situations, I’ll call them… are affecting me recently. For starters… Okay, you know what? I’ll ease you all into this. Let’s start with the least complex and build from there.

Election Day

After I processed the 2016 Presidential Election, I had posted on this very blog, an appeal for readers to, at the very least, attempt to get to know members of opposing political parties and, at bare minimum, try to understand why they felt the way they felt about their stances on important issues affecting Americans. From the events that have transpired since then, it appears my words had fallen on deaf ears.

We’re more polarized than ever before. My calls for unity are not to imply I at any point approve of any of the egregious attitudes the current administration has displayed over the past almost-two years. My words are to insinuate that domestic affairs facing vulnerable American citizens are not going to improve if we’re all too busy in-fighting to improve them.

In American society, citizens used to come together and discuss issues civilly and make minor concessions and compromises with each other, even though they may not entirely agree with each other on every issue. Although this meant that nobody got absolutely everything they wanted out of the solution they would then enact, it would provide a starting point to build upon and improve from over later incarnations of said solution.

Every man for himself

At some point–I can’t necessarily say it started with Donald Trump, but I have noticed this has become the relative norm at an alarming pace since he announced his Presidential campaign in late 2015–members of society stopped caring about what is needed for a healthy society to function, instead focusing on their own finances. Where the collective focus was once the benefit of the greater good of the people (in general), that focus has now shifted to an “every man for himself” scenario.

Education

When students owe $1.5 trillion in student loans and don’t even have $1,000 in the bank each month with which to repay them, and the Secretary of Education cuts all programs designed to help these students be able to repay these loans without overextending their budgets… Is this really the society we want for our future? We’re willing to keep voting for the people who would give billions in tax breaks to corporations who don’t use it to expand the job market, but we as a society deem this acceptable?

Healthcare

Say what you will about the Affordable Care Act of 2009 (ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare), but that law gave the option of health care to millions of disabled patients who had been previously disqualified from having insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Cancer, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc. The key take-away from this is people were previously disqualified from having insurance because they held a diagnosis for a condition they had no control over having, but the ACA made them eligible for the insurance they needed to pay for the life-saving medical treatments they needed for the first time in their lives.

Then came the current administration… For the first time since it’s enactment, the ACA had not enough defenders in the government to stave off repeal. When Donald Trump’s administration released the revised list of what it considered a pre-existing condition, it had included sexual assault–a criminal act involuntarily forced upon the victim–on the list. To this day, the administration has re-asserted its intentions to repeal protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Obviously, you’re interested in ASD if you’re reading this; you are reading this on a blog devoted to an autist’s life on the spectrum as written by said autist (Autist, aspergian, spectrumite… Whatever gets you through this post…). Chances are, then, you either know or love somebody with ASD who will be impacted by such a repeal or know of somebody with ASD who will be impacted by such a repeal. …And they will be impacted by such a repeal. …And at a prevalence rate of 1-in-59, you probably do know or know of somebody with ASD who will be impacted.

Vote. Period.

What I’m trying to get at here, is vote. I’m not going to try to tell you who to vote for and how to vote, but I am going to tell you to vote. Period. Vote like you have children whose futures depend on the choices you make now. Vote like you have people who are counting on you to make the choices you feel deep in your heart are the best choices you can make in their best interest. Ten years from now, will you honestly be able to tell them you did everything you can to give them the best life you honestly could? How about twenty years from now? Thirty?

Vote because you can make a difference. If nobody voted, nothing would change. By not voting, you are guaranteeing that nothing will change. If you do vote, you have a 50% chance that the person you voted for will win and make the changes you want him or her to make. Isn’t that worth trying? Have we given up on each other as a society that much that we don’t even want to try to make life better in the future? And this is only one issue weighing on me, lately…

Thirty… 3. 0. …

This month will mark my 30th birthday–or as I like to call it, becoming six five-year-olds in the same adult body–and I generally get emotional at this time of year as I reflect on my life. This year is different for me for the obvious reasons.

Barren promised lands

If I had been fully employed by SAP’s Autism at Work program from the very beginning–as opposed to being brought on as an intern whose contract timed out after 21 months–I’d have had my first promotion right about now. Things worked out differently, as they had, and that’s not the case. I’m having a hard time in my mind reconciling with that. It’s just something I have to learn to emotionally accept… however much it still hurts and feels unjust in mind is just the way the situation is.

I had so many goals for myself by the time I turned 30, many of which I am not going to be able to accomplish in 18 days. I wanted to be employed–and appreciated in my work–with something tangible to show for it by now. That never happened. At least not with the being employed with something tangible to show for it by now part. I’m on the cusp of 30, and my resume is a small list of internships that ultimately led to more unemployment.

Dystopian prognosis

All I have to show for my efforts over the past 10 years are two degrees (a bachelor’s and a master’s), a failed wedding engagement, and thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt. This is not the life I’d imagined for myself by 30. I don’t even get called in for job interviews, which doesn’t really surprise me given my lackluster ability to get a job offer in the past.

It’s not even a lack of effort on my part. Nobody ever calls me back, and there’s no contact information available for me to contact the hiring recruiter. As time goes by, it becomes harder and harder to explain to my family why I’m still unemployed. The current statistics, which suggest 86% of autists are underemployed or unemployed, don’t help my ability to find work either, but that’s little consolation at a time when the economy is supposed to be exploding with new job opportunities on the market.

Bringing It In for a Landing

This has been an exceptionally long post, even for me. I just wanted to check in and let you know where my mind is at, emotionally. If you’ve read all the way to the end of this post, I appreciate you taking the time to do so. As much as I wish my life had more… fulfillment… in it, this is what my life is at the moment. There’s not much more I can do to change my situation that I haven’t already tried.

No matter what happens tomorrow, I wish all of you the best, as I would hope you all are doing the best you can with what you have. May you find peace with yourself, within yourself, and I’ll try to do the same. Life’s a journey; enjoy it while it lasts, I suppose?

Categories
JoaT_Characters The Jack of all Tirades

The Jack of all Tirades: Characters: Jeff (and Daisy)

“Mew!”
“Hey, Jon… You got a second?”

Jeff is Jon’s father, who always seems to be asking a ridiculous favor from Jon at the worst times. Though Jon always tries to hide from him, Jeff always seems to find his son.

Daisy is a cat. Pet the kitty…