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What Would Help? - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
What Would Help?
I've been watching all the Autism Awareness/Acceptance stuff, and noticed something missing.  Nobody is asking: What would help?  What are YOUR goals?  When you were growing up and learning to use your neurovariant brain/body, what would have made that easier?  What things do you know now that you wish someone had taught you a lot sooner?

Because that's how to compile a good toolbox for improving people's lives.  You ask experienced ones in similar circumstances what helps for them, and then you offer it to others.

One reason I write what I write is because I've heard a whole lot of "representation helps" from many different communities.  It feels good to see characters who are like yourself, especially if they are happy, successful, and the hero of a story.  What else helps?

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kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: April 22nd, 2015 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll ask my son. He's pretty open about his neurology.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: April 22nd, 2015 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having things explained to me, instead of just being told "just because" would help. Like, it would have helped me to know that multiplication is repeated addition, and division is repeated subtraction. I didn't find that out until my 30's though. And getting a better explanation for why learning math was necessary to start with would have helped, too. My basic thought was "Why should I waste time trying to learn this difficult stuff when I can just use a calculator?" Didn't occur to me that you have to know what to put in the calculator, and that it helps to learn this stuff so you know when your calculator is broken. But no, everyone was just like "Learn this because I told you to learn it," which just made me even more resistant to learning it.

And while we're on the subject of education, making learning fun would have helped. I don't have the ability to learn things that are boring. But the adults just kept pushing me and pushing me to do boring shit, and finally I got fed up with them and just started memorizing shit just long enough to pass tests, just to get them to stop pushing me, which of course is not the same as learning. I suspect this is true of a lot of allistic kids as well.

What would also help is I would appreciate it if stores would stop playing music over the intercom. It's so damned annoying how allistics keep filling spaces with noise intentionally. There's enough damned noise in the world as it is without music every fracking place. What the hell is wrong with SILENCE?

Please, stop touching people without getting consent first. I don't care who you are or what your intentions are, or where/how you're touching me, I DO NOT LIKE BEING TOUCHED WITHOUT CONSENT. Why do so many allistics feel the need to violate my personal space like that??? HANDS OFF!

I'm too tired to go on right now.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 23rd, 2015 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

These are really useful. I share a lot of the same parameters.

I don't think stores realize how many customers they drive away with incessant noise. Music is bad enough, but ads! Fucking little televisions at the end of every aisle nagging and begging away. It's like trying to walk past a row of pickpockets. It just makes me want to grab what I came to buy and leave. It is no fun trying to browse while being pestered. Same with sales staff who hover and pry for personal information. I am outta there.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: April 23rd, 2015 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Some other things... One, bundled services. It annoys me when companies make it so that buying two or more bundled services is cheaper than using just one service. I know the reasons for it, but it still annoys me. One reason I love Clear so much is that it's JUST Internet, unlike the cable company that wants me to have cable TV *and* Internet, when I don't watch TV the old way anymore; I watch shows I'm interested in online, either on the station's websites, Netflix, or Hulu.
Now, if cable TV came through the Internet, broken up as on-demand episodes/movies in a way that cost no extra than the current cable/Internet bundle, I could get behind that. But for those who aren't interested in TV at all, they should still be able to get JUST the Internet, without paying through the nose for it.

Along the same lines, it should be easier for those who want it to get phones that ONLY do text, and no voice minutes at all. If it weren't for the fact that some things just plain require speaking, I would have done that myself, because I hate talking on the phone. I have 700 anytime minutes per month on my phone plan, but I'd be surprised if I used as many as 100 in a month. Probably wouldn't use even that much if not for the fact that my roommate is the opposite of me in regard to phones. (It's funny, we're opposite each other in a lot of ways, while still both being autistic. We're so different one would think we'd fight like mad, but we get along fine.)

Also, there should be some kind of universally-recognized symbol that means "I don't do smalltalk," that most people would honor. And on similar lines, a symbol for "I prefer people to be efficient with their use of words," because I'm one of those people who uses as few words as possible to explain things (in person anyway; I am more loquacious online), and I get EXTREMELY annoyed by the kind of people who take a half an hour to explain something I could say in two minutes. And even more by people who just talk and talk for no apparent reason other than to hear themselves talk or, in the case of extroverts, to connect to people. In all my almost 33 years of life, I've been able to tolerate maybe 2 extroverts' prattle; a girl in high school I was attracted to, and my roommate. I had/have a lot of patience for them, but not for most extroverts.

On that note, if people would learn to not take it personally when someone says they're not interested in talking with them, that would be great too. Which would require, I think, schools to explain to kids about extroverts and introverts, because it's astounding the number of people who take it as a person insult when you tell them you're not interested in talking. Like, they look at you like you're an alien for not wanting to natter away with just any random schmuck on the street. I actually almost got into an actual fight once from some dingbat at a bus stop who just didn't get it; against my better judgment, I tried explaining introverts to him, and his takeaway from my explanation was to say "If you don't like people, why do you ride the bus?" in a tone that sounded like he thought I was lying. I was an inch from screaming at him or something when the bus came. Like, WTF? I don't fucking know you, dude, and you don't know me, so why do you feel entitled to my time?
fayanora From: fayanora Date: April 23rd, 2015 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you! (pt 2)

I think comprehensive diversity training in school would help for a lot of things. One thing off the top of my head, is that things like face blindness and trauma-induced memory loss need to be explained. I have partial face blindness, and it takes me about a dozen times seeing someone's face in a "I must remember this face" context before I finally memorize it, and then sometimes changes people make to their appearance can render them unrecognizable without them pointing out who they are. And if I only see someone in one context, and then I meet them in another context, I may not recognize them. At least part of this is because my vision is so acute that I have to filter as much non-essential sensory data as I can or else my brain overloads, and one way my brain does that is to render humans out in public as autonomous inanimate objects by default. It takes something triggering a brain gear shift to switch to "this is a human" mode.
Basically, I would be completely useless as a witness to a crime. They'd be like "Describe the person you saw shooting the victim." And I'd struggle, but I'd probably be like, "Um... male? I think. Yeah, male." "And...?" "Um..." "Race?" "Uh... well he wasn't black, I know that much. Um... not Indian, either. Nor Pakistani. White... ish? Could have been light skinned Hispanic, but wait... no, I think he was white. Possibly." "Is this the man you saw?" "Um... could be? Sorry, I'm shitty at faces." "How tall was the man?" "Uh... neither midget nor giant. I guess average height, then." And so on.

And from being bullied all my childhood by my peers, my memory was damaged by the emotional stress and emotional abuse, so my memory is a bit like a sieve... with several large holes torn in it. Names, numbers, potentially important details of what I've been doing during the day, my very sense of time, it all slides away to varying degrees. Because of my shitty memory, after years of using my phone number and certain bus stop IDs, I still occasionally transpose digits or completely forget the number.

Oh yeah, and while I have a great visual memory, and I'm pretty good at moving things around in my mind's eye, I cannot translate measurements into anything useful. Even something as simple as "six feet," which is an inch shy of my height, doesn't mean much to my brain. Someone says something is six feet and something else is 10 feet, and my brain is like, "???" And while I can see everything perfectly in my imagination to describe it in my writing, my brain struggles to translate other people's words into images. I prefer books that have a lot of exposition in the dialogue, because I can process dialogue as a voice in my head, but the narrator's voice describing things... not so much. For instance, before the movies came out, my brain's translation of the Harry Potter books was these small, vaguely person-shaped, constantly shifting blobs, being taught magic by larger blobs, in a landscape that was barely recognizable as a landscape. Oh, I tried saying "fuck the descriptions" and just substituting something that worked from my own awesome imagination, but it wouldn't stick. I read two, maybe three books that way before the movies came out. Suddenly, after seeing the movies, reading the books was different; the landscape looked just right, most of the blobs were kids and teachers now, and I could follow the story better. I still get lost trying to figure out the layout of the castle, but whatever. Oh yeah, and then when I came across a character I didn't have an actor for, that character would be a blob. So I started doing my own casting for characters to turn the blobs into people, which is how you ended up being cast as Trelawney. :-)

Anyway, so I guess the point of that last paragraph was "Some people can't translate words into images very well, even if they can translate images to words extremely well, so that fact might be relevant to learning and schooling." I think that's why I hated assigned reading, because most of the books they assigned had a lot of exposition in the narration, so I struggled to follow the story. And even if I managed to follow the story well enough to enjoy it, I would miss or forget so many details my book reports always sucked.

Anyway, all for now.
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