Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Advertisements of Autism Eye

Trigger Warning: Ableism, institutionalization, curebie nonsense

I reference Amanda Baggs piece on institutions a few times, you can and should read it here. 
Actually, you should probably read her whole institutions tag. And maybe her whole blog.

The first inside page is an advertisement for Acorn Care and Education's new house in Lincolnshire. It looks like it might be one of the institutions that Amanda Baggs wrote about, talking about how they build the institution in your head instead of drugging and physically restraining you. It might be a little better since they are talking about achieving increasing independence as an explicit goal, but I'm not convinced. I think that the mention of behavioral improvement and the fact that they are talking about the grounds as how autistic young adults are maintaining active bodies and minds is nudging me in the "not good" direction, along with "the community in which they live" possibly meaning the house community, not a neighborhood with actual inclusion. I don't really trust that the people who live there will get to make uncoerced and decisions about their lives without being constantly guilt-tripped, either.
Next I see an advertisement for the Sutherland House School, which is run by a Nottingham reigonal group. It says there is an emphasis on communication, interaction, and emotional well-being. Communication is good, though I worry that it will be conflated with speech. That happens a lot, and it's bad. AAC is communication, behavior is communication, speech is communication, writing essays is communication. If they understand that there are lots of different kinds of communication and are just working to get any kind of consistent communication up, this could be good. Otherwise, we could be looking at people taking away AAC devices in an attempt to get oral speech to happen or just never having provided them. Both of those are really, really bad. Interaction can be nice, but I don't think it's a smart place to put the emphasis because forced interaction is horrible and meltdown-inducing and needs to stop being a thing. I know of places that have demanded a person spend time with their abusers in the common room because it was interaction, so this worries me. Emotional well-being is important, and I like that place of emphasis. It can be messed up because of people assuming that the prerequisites are different than they really are and then gaslighting the autistic person who has different needs, but if we're actually talking about real emotional well-being, this is good. The commitment to working in partnership with parents and other agencies is nice, but I notice that they don't say anything about partnerships with the students. Which is bad, because that's important.
Then advertisements for tough furniture, which is useful with any kids in the house because kids are kids and for some books (The Panicosaurus, which I have not read but sounds like it might be OK, The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules, which could be very good or very bad, leaning towards decent since it talks about standing out in addition to blending in, Inside Asperger's Looking Out which I read and found very cute, and It's Raining Cats and Dogs, which would have been useful for me as a kid and might be useful now if it is what it sounds like it might be.)
The next ad if for assessment software that looks more applicable to professionals. It's a half-page ad, and below it is an ad for Sunfield, yet another residential program. Seriously, what is it with this magazine and advertizing residential programs (an institution by any other name is still an institution, folks.) This one brags about a working farm and a sensory integration studio. It also talks about family focus and how it can do family visits and family members can stay overnight when they come for visits. Which is a nice touch, but it's just another coat of paint.
The next pair of ads is once again assessment software (this one is apparently focused on things like checking readiness for colleges and employments, which is potentially useful) and a fourth residential program. The Whinfell school is for boys age 11-19, and there isn't much to distinguish it in the advertisement. It says it's dedicated to autism, which is content-free.
HELLO, quack cure. The headline is that 15% of us can now eradicate autism using GcMAF, which is supposed to be a director of the immune system that autistic people lack. (Yeah, I'm going to want some citations on that. All of it. That it's got anything to do with the immune system at all, that all healthy people have it, that autistic people generally don't have it.) It claims that this GcMAF rebuilds the immune system and that the immune system then eradicates autism, which doesn't even make sense since autism isn't a virus or a bunch of foreign cells or anything that the immune system has the ability to target. They have a website, and I'm going to have to check that out since I am still thinking about my "None of your cures work, people" thing and that one is in dire need of logical destruction.
Below that is a fifth program, which can be residential for up to 17 people and have 23 total students. It's called iMap, which stands for "individuals Making autism postive." I wonder what Apple would have to say about their capitalization choices? This one doesn't say much either, and it only shows people in half the pictures, all in therapy settings. I'm going to go with institution trying to brand itself as good and send you back to Amanda Baggs piece.
SpeechNutrients is supposed to be a supplement that provides "nutritional support of verbal and motor skills." It's also supposed to reduce oxidative stress, which isn't a great sign. (Remember, oxidative stress is the "cause" associated with the hyperbaric "cure" and it's mentioned as a factor with the miracle mineral solution "cure," also known as bleach.)
Below it is yet another ad for a program. Prior's Court is both day and residential, like iMap. It lists that it is developing independence and life skills, with the young adult program supposed to be a transitional step towards a more inclusive life. Which is a nice statement with no meat in it. No, seriously. None of this has much meat to it. These advertisers really like their content-free and low-content marketing for these autism programs. Probably because they don't really want to say that they are institutions by another name.
And now we see an ad for the Royal School for Deaf Children. Um, why a school for Deaf children in an autism magazine? It sounds like they are specifically trying to advertize to parents of autistic kids, since they are talking about supports for communication problems and "additional needs." Makes sense for Deaf autistic kids, but not as much for autistic people who are not also Deaf...
And an ad for Autism Anglia, which seems to be a local autism organization. One of the services they feel the need to advertize is... you guessed it, a residential program. They also have day programs and weekly programs for younger people and supported living for people who need some help in their own homes. This is the first time I've seen anything about supported living, independent living in this magazine (I've just been looking at the ads, so far,) and we're about two thirds of the way through it.
Conferene ad. "Inspiration for independent living." It's a must-attend for parents, carers, and healthcare professionals, but apparently not for the people who would actually be doing independent living, autistic people ourselves. Which is sad, because it looks like the stuff they are presenting there could be useful. Innovations and tricks for independent living are useful, but apparently they are for the parents and carers who are helping us to live independently. (That makes so much sense /sarcasm.)
Oh hey, finally an ad that is potentially relevant to me. Well, it would have been if I lived in the right country and hadn't missed the deadline. I like deep pressure, and a giveaway for a deep pressure vest would have been cool. The company is called Squease, and they even used a girl for the picture, which I think is nice since a lot of people don't think about the fact that autistic girls exist.
It looks like the next thing is for a transition service, aiming to transition people to residential placements (seriously how many residential placements have we seen here...) and supported living. This one does seem to be actually looking at people over the age of 25 as part of their audience, but still. Everyone seems to be getting tracked into residential programs (institutions) from a young age as far as this magazine suggests, and that's creepy.
And... yet more residential programs. Portfield School is run by the wessex autistic society, and yeah, they offer boarding for up to 52 weeks.
Kidz in the Middle, which already happened, seems rather focused on the children, but that's to be expected since this is a parenting magazine. They actually list children with disabilities as part of the target audience, so that's something. Their exhibitions sound like there could be some useful stuff there too.
A DAY PROGRAM. Oh, my goodness. A school that is not offering to take your kid all 52 weeks of the year. This shouldn't be shocking, but it is. Maybe the hope is to actually teach the kid as opposed to segregating them off to the institution for the rest of their lives and calling their increased compliance (and skills of certain types) independence. I'm not sure, but it's possible. Maybe. The upper school has access to the national curriculum, which sounds like trying to let the students learn the same stuff everyone else learns.
Of course, we needed to offer a ninth residential placement advertisement. This one is run by parents, which actually... kind of scares me that they think that's going to ease worries. Like, "Oh, we're worried about letting our daughter out of our sight, so we made a residential program ourselves and our daughter is in that now." That's not comforting.
And two more schools. Possibly residential, possibly day. It doesn't say. At the end of this magazine, which is only 48 pages including both covers, there were advertisements for at least nine and possibly as many as twelve different residential schools or homes, with some other ads mentioning preparing people for residential programs offered by others, too. Talk about segregating people when they fail to magically turn neurotypical. I'm reminded of one of Julia Bascom's essays from the Loud Hands Project. A child is sent to a residential program, everything is packed away, and she says that thirteen is too young to die.

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