In Search Of The Autistic Frauds

Since I read the now deleted (by the commenter, when both Kieran aka The Autistic Advocate and I questioned them on it) comment on The Autistic Advocate’s Page, claiming that there is a fraud in the autistic community, I have been unable to stop thinking about it. I have googled the names of several well known autistic activists, with the word “fraud” at the end. Boy oh boy.

What I uncovered was just what I expected, except worse than I ever imagined. I’m not going to share the names of these activists as they have been subjected to enough abuse already. Anything from private and intimate images of them being shared by ex-boyfriends intent on smearing them, to whole blog sites stalker-ishly dedicated to “proving” these people are frauds. All based on so many assumptions and falsehoods about autism that I cannot take a single word seriously.

And what are these assumptions and falsehoods? Which are made by all the accusers, no matter who the accused happens to be.

“She has a mental illness but is pretending to be autistic because that’s trendy” She may have a mental illness as well, she may have been misdiagnosed with a mental illness before realising she was autistic, autism is not more “trendy” than having a mental illness. Why don’t you stop your armchair diagnosing and speculation and crawl into the sewer where you belong.

“Her childhood friends say she spoke just fine when younger so she can’t be a non-verbal autistic now” Buddy, you have no idea. Autistic regression exists. Burnout exists. Selective mutism exists. There have been times when I could barely string two words together. I can envision a time when that may happen again and for a longer duration of time. Funny but these same people have no trouble believing that a non-verbal autistic can learn to speak. If they were consistent, they should be insisting that those people were pretending to be non-verbal before they started speaking. Since our linguistic abilities are so static and all that.

“She is part of the Neurodiversity Conspiracy” This is usually followed by a rant about how these autistics are harming non-verbal children by being opposed to curebie rhetoric. And then a mention of Big Pharma that makes no sense to me.

“Her actions are more consistent with drug abuse” First of all, I have no time for people who shame others for using drugs. Secondly, they usually have no hard evidence that these people are/were “abusing” drugs. And thirdly, many autistic self-medicate with drugs. Using drugs in no way means you can’t be autistic.

“She disagreed with me and was abusive to me. She is not autistic, just a manipulative bitch” I’m not about to judge whether the accused are bitches or not. People fall out, disagree, have squabbles. But I will say this, you can be a manipulative bitch, and still be autistic. I’m sure many people think I’m a bitch, this does not make me any less autistic.

Note, I say “she” because invariably these “frauds” are female-presenting (and often have short and/or brightly coloured hair). Not saying autistic males don’t get accused of being frauds, as I did see one or two mentioned, but not to the same extent. And, so far, every single one of the accused has been in favour of The Neurodiversity Paradigm. Funny that. I can think of one or two “anti-Neurodiversity” autistics I could accuse of being frauds, but I won’t do that. Because it’s such an ableist thing to do. Other people’s diagnoses or lack thereof is no concern of mine.

And who are the accusers? They seem to be either ex-friends/ex-boyfriends who hold grudges, people who have a personal vendetta against the accused, or those (both autistic and NT) who are on a crusade against “Neurodiversity”. Not very inspiring of confidence in their accusations, are they?

And so, after intensive and obsessive searching, I’m hoping writing this blog post will lay this particular bee in my bonnet to rest. At the end of the day, I don’t actually care if these people are indeed frauds. I like their words, I like their thoughts and I like them as people. And rather than being the abusive, harmful people their accusers claim they are, their actions so far prove otherwise.


Us Vs Them

I’ve often been accused, mainly in my dealings with NT bullies, of having an “Us Vs Them” attitude. I’m not about to deny it, I do. I used to feel shame about this, especially as people so often linked it to my autism.

But today, I read an article in National Geographic Magazine that shows that humans are actually hard-wired into having an “Us Vs Them” attitude and that it’s been essential for our survival as a species. And while we do have to move beyond certain social constructs, such as race, that have been used to distinguish “us” from “them” , there is still a role for making some sort of distinction based on other categories.

In my case, “them” consists mainly of “those who don’t respect me or others of my neurotype”. In other words, NT bullies. Or autistic bullies too for that matter. And I’m not going to apologize about that.

Labels do define me, your interpretation of those labels doesn’t.

I am really angry right now. Yesterday, a professional made reference to my autism and made a judgement of my abilities based on that label. The thing is, I never disclosed to them that I am autistic. For this very reason. In fact, I tried extra hard to mask my autism in my dealings with this person. Seems like my mask slipped.

So, I’m angry. Angry that they assumed my neurotype (even if correctly) and angry that they used that to claim I’d be unable to do something. I find it unprofessional, ableist and just plain rude. I’m being asked to speak to that person but I’m just too angry.

Yes, I’m autistic. Yes, I’m proud of my neurotype and my label. But it’s bullshit like this that forces me to hide behind a mask and reject the label in certain circumstances. Autistic people come in all shades and hues, with as much variation between them as non-autistic people. We are not a monolith. And we cannot be judged as one. Maybe some autistic people would not be able to do the thing that was the subject of the conversation. But making assumptions about me based on that? Based on your interpretation of what it means to be autistic?

Today I’m adding another label to my collection. Angry. I am an angry autistic.

Autism and Early Death, specifically highlighting Suicide

I wrote yesterday about the statistics surrounding autistic people and suicidal ideation. And was asked by someone “but how many actually die as a result? And how does that compare to non-autistic people who die by suicide?”

This question can be answered with a simple graph, taken from a Swedish study into causes of the shortened lifespans exhibited by autistic people.

I may write a longer blog post in the future, about other interesting observations that can be made based on that study. But right now I’m just going to leave you with this graphic, while it’s still fresh in my mind.

World Suicide Prevention Day

I dedicated yesterday to those autistic people who have lost their lives through suicide. And then today I found out that it’s World Suicide Prevention Day. A coincidence, but one that was bound to happen as, these days, every day is a day in which I think about the huge numbers of autistic people who die in this manner.

I have written about suicide many times in this blog, for example here , here and most recently here.

Studies have shown that autistic children, especially those from racial minorities or lower socioeconomic status, have up to 28 times the rate of suicidal ideation or attempts compared to non-autistic children, and that over 60% of adult autistics have considered suicide.

In fact, the latest study put the suicide risk amongst autistic adults at 72% and cited “camouflaging” (aka masking) as one of the main risk factors. As always, these studies don’t count in the number of undiagnosed autistics in the population.

Taking these statistics into account, I really hope autistic people are not forgotten about today. You cannot have a “World Suicide Prevention Day” if you don’t include the population most at risk of Suicide. And especially when a lot of the traditional advice on Suicide Prevention does not apply to autistic people eg we may not be able to simply “talk about it”, to phone a helpline or show the more “obvious” signs that people look out for.

The best ways, in my opinion, to try to prevent suicide amongst autistic people is to improve acceptance of our neurotype, to stop bullying us and forcing us to mask, to stop the stigma and ableism we face every day. Until that happens, the statistics are sadly unlikely to change.

9 is not a Magic Number

Someone once told me that today, 09/09/18 was a significant date, because nine is such a special number. (18 being two nines)

And in a way, yes it is. I have always loved the number nine. Nice and round but with a “tail”. 9

An upside six.

999 for emergencies.

The last single digit before 10.

And there’s of course the cute maths trick of the number nine. Multiply it by any number, add up the digits of the answer, keep going till you have a single digit, and that digit will be the number nine.

Eg 9 x 5 = 45. 4+5=9

9 x 15 = 135. 1+3+5=9

9 x 276 = 2484. 2+4+8+4= 18. 1+8=9

And so on. Try it. It works every time, no matter what number you pick.

But there’s nothing “magic” about it. It happens to work for number 9 because we use the decimal system, which uses 10 as a “base” (B) This “mathematical trick” would work equally for other numbers if we used systems based around other systems other than the decimal one. The number in each of those cases would be B-1.

For example, in a system based on sixes, B-1 would be 5 and hence 5 would be a “magic” number. For those based on 12, 11 would be “Magic”.

All of this is better explained by this blog post . Do please read it for an explanation of how this all works. And shows other curious properties of the number 9.

But, seeing we live in a world that uses the decimal system, I suppose today could be some sort of significant day. And since I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the tragedy of the massive suicide rate amongst autistics, I would like to dedicate today to all those autistics who could no longer stand being in this world and who opted out.

Yeah, quite a morbid way to end this post but sometimes I’ve no idea the twists and turns a blog post will take until I write it.

Why I can’t have short, purple hair.

All my life I’ve wanted short, purple hair. I never told my parents, as I was sure my dad would disapprove. There was that time he made fun of me when I had black nail varnish. But he didn’t lose the plot when I came home with my nose pierced. I probably didn’t give him enough credit for being open minded. And my littlest sister has had a whole rainbow of hair colours over the years, though the closest she went to purple was dark blue. So, I probably should have been braver and just gone for it back then.

I did dye my hair though. A safe shade of blonde. I was born with shockingly blonde hair. Shocking that is, for a Turk in Turkey. But over the years it darkened to a light brown. So dying it blonde was a way of reclaiming my lost childhood. I stopped dying it when I lived in Japan though. I couldn’t read the labels on the home-dye kits and no way could I have gone into a hairdressers who I couldn’t converse with. And I haven’t dyed my hair since.

I seem to be the only female-presenting person I know who doesn’t dye their hair. I really don’t mind my grey hairs showing. Wanting to now dye my hair is nothing to do with fear of growing old. It’s just wanting to finally do something I’ve always wanted to do. Plus I’ve noticed it’s now really easy to get safe hair dyes in all sorts of vibrant colours.

But I don’t think I can. It doesn’t feel safe. Even if I never left the house, it wouldn’t feel safe. Unless I made sure nobody, even online, especially online, knew.

Because, I feel I wouldn’t be taken seriously as an autistic activist if I had short, purple hair. “Manic pixie dream girl” anyone? And especially since I read a recent comment, by an autistic person no less, saying they have recognised a pattern amongst the “outspoken” autistic advocates that they dislike, the ones they are suspicious of: they all have short, brightly coloured hair. And I have to admit, that is indeed a pattern.

And I just feel so awful. That I’m letting those kind of comments get to me, and dictate how I have my hair. Hopefully I’ll get over this silliness and just go for it one day. Perhaps for my fiftieth birthday? Who knows.

[image of a rectangle filled in with the shade of purple I would want to dye my hair.]