And Stimming With Rainbows of Every Design

Monday, April 23, 2007

The post I've been trying to avoid making

I had been trying to avoid writing about the VA Tech killings if at all possible, but I'm going to anyway, or at least write about some of the responses I've seen. Right now they just keep circling through my head, and I want to get them out. I want to say beforehand that I am in no way excusing the actions of school shooters.

I know some information came out in the past few days that Cho may have been diagnosed autistic, although I don't know if anyone's certain whether the translation was correct. Since then, I've heard people say that if Cho had received ABA therapy, none of this would have happened. I've seen the massacre turned into anti-vaccination propaganda. I've seen someone say that this is what happens when an autistic "goes off his meds," like if we're not drugged we're automatically homicidal. The last was from the one-on-one aide of an autistic spectrum student at my school.

Okay, so on top of the bullying autistic kids already receive at school, we should add on even more invalidation at home? Right, because that doesn't go against anything we've learned about the circumstances that make a school shooter.

Treating autistics like defective NTs isn't the way to prevent things like this. Almost no autistics are naturally violent. When we are, it's generally a reaction to an autistic-unfriendly situation, that might not be as visible to the NTs surrounding us, but nevertheless is still present. We're certainly responsible for no more violence than NTs, especially because there are more of them. Neurotypicals are responsible for almost all gang violence, but I don't see people going around talking about the importance of using behavioral therapy to "cure" NTs.

Here are some examples of invalidation. Aside from physical bullying, the statements on this page are some of the things that bullies tell us in school. Uncomprehending teachers and adults say the same things. The most widely accepted therapy for autistics, ABA, does the same. It orders us to look like someone we aren't, denies the validity of our perceptions, tells us how we "should" feel and act. Therapists and professionals say things about us right in front of us that they'd never otherwise say within earshot of the person in question.

I've been reading through "How to Create a School Shooter" at The Republic of T. I found this statement from Woodham, the person responsible for the shootings at Pearl High School in 1997.
"I am not insane, I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society, push us and we will push back. ... All throughout my life, I was ridiculed, always beaten, always hated.
Behavioral therapy of the sort that is most common today shouldn't be promoted as necessary for autistics in order to prevent school shootings. ABA is invalidating, it shows hatred for who a person naturally is, is often successful in teaching autistics to hate themselves. We're ridiculed and beaten down in the name of therapy, in cases where restraints and aversives are still used, literally. If this was Woodham's motive, how is applied behavioral analysis supposed to help us? How will neurotypicals' attempts at teaching us how to feel empathy by means of constant invalidation prevent us from doing the same as Woodham or Cho?

I'll just touch briefly on drugging, only to say it isn't required. The statement that we need to be medicated because of who we are naturally is just as invalidating, says just as much that who we are is defective. Medication might be helpful for dealing with anxiety and depression, but it doesn't have to and shouldn't be prescribed for autism in and of itself.

I know of autistics who were raised to accept who they are, and weren't forced through today's most popular therapies, weren't drugged every second of their waking life. I see them as some of the least likely people to kill even one person, let alone massacre thirty. So just stop using the tragedy at Virginia Tech as a means to claim your therapy is urgently necessary. It's not. What we need most is to be accepted as whole, healthy autistics, and not as broken neurotypicals.

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  • I agree about the medication. I'm on it for my depression and my depression only and have only been on it for the past four months. I am not violent. Anyone who knows me knows I can't even stand to argue. And it seems that doing yoga is helping my mood more than the antidepressant.

    By Blogger unashamed, At 5:46 PM  

  • Thanks for the link that explains invalidation. It expresses a lot of ideas that I've come up with on my own because of my own experience with bullying, being autistic and a "nerd." It's also introduced a lot of other interesting ideas to me.

    By Blogger Betsy, At 4:28 PM  

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