I am autistic. Autism awareness can go to hell. Unless…

2 April is World Autism Awareness day. This post is my Autism Awareness contribution.


A recent South African movie, Raaiselkind (Puzzle child), was about parents who struggled a lot with their autistic son. The producers said they wanted to help with autism awareness. A good thing, you think?

Well, some autistic South Africans gave them advice about changes they could make to represent autism better. They could, for example, mention that not all autistic people are like the child in the story. And that there are some actually autistic people who can shed light on why autistic children behave the way they do. Continue reading

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The Rose McGowan incident shows the trans community are wrong about feminists

Imagine, for a moment, a women’s shelter advocate in the USA named Trudy. Trudy has never done anything in particular for abused women in Latvia. She has never been in Latvia and did nothing there. She does not speak one word of Latvian.

Now imagine a man saying:

“Latvian women’s issues are women’s issues. If Trudy is not fighting for Latvian women, Trudy is not fighting for women.”

It would be complete nonsense. The first sentence does not lead to the conclusion in the second sentence.

Trans people make an equally silly claim. Here, I quote the words of Andi Dier, a transgender child sexual predator who harassed Rose McGowan at a book promotion at Barnes & Noble a week ago:

“Trans issues are women’s issues. If we’re not fighting for trans women, we are not fighting for women.” – Andi Dier 

Others claim Continue reading

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Children’s ministry: Illustrate the creation lesson while you tell it

Many lesson series for teaching children has a creation lesson at the start of the year. This is a stick figure drawing, easy enough for the artistically handicapped among us, to help children remember the days of Genesis 1.
I am not trying to tell you how to present the lesson or what application you should have for the lives of children, so the wording will be short. (Refer to your Sunday School/ children’s church manual for your lesson message.) Some explanations – what a cloud is, the meaning of “separate” – is for younger children and may not be needed in your class.

You need: A writing board or large piece of paper stuck to the wall/ to corrugated cardboard; 2 colors of pen/ crayon for the type of board you use (use the brighter color for the numbers, the other for the rest.)

The beginning: God made the heavens and earth. This circle side (show on the picture) is earth, the rest is the heavens. The earth was empty and dark, but God(‘s Spirit) was already there.


Day 1: This long red line I am drawing is a 1, for the first day. (Color to the right of the 1 with a dark color. If you use a blackboard, leave the dark side and color with the side of white or light blue chalk on the left side.) God separated light and dark. To separate things is to take them away from one another. He put darkness on one side and light on the other side.

Day 2: (Draw a 2 with clouds above and water lines on the earth.) God separated – took away – the water in the air from the water on the earth. Clouds are water that is up in the air.

Day 3: (Draw 3 as a line between land and sea, and a few plants on the land side.) God made dry land appear, and He made plants.

Day 4: On day 4 to day 6, God made things to live in the places he made the first 3 days. On day 4 he made things to live in places made on day 1, on day 5 to live day 2 places, on day 6 to live in day 3 places. On day 4 he made the sun for the light He made, and the moon and stars for the darkness. (Notice how two fours are used as lines for the sun and for a star.)

Day 5: (A 5 in the air makes a wing and part of the tail for a bird, and a fish’s side fin is the rounding of another 5.) On day 5 God made birds for the air He made, and fish for His sea.

Day 6: (Draw a few animals with sixes as faces or bodies.) God made animals to live on the ground. This is a cat face and a lamb. Up to now, God called it all “good.”
(Draw two stick figures with sixes as faces and a part of hair.) Now God calls it “very good.” The earth with humans is better than the earth without it.

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What 50 Shades of Grey (and other romantic stories) really say about women – it was not what I thought

When “50 Shades of Grey” came out, I did not want to live on this planet any more. In my mind, women were reading about a woman getting beaten and stalked – and enjoyed hearing how she suffers. I read excerpts like these, and was horrified. Continue reading

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Actual autistics at the Autism Stakeholder Engagement – how could they make the most of it in future?

“Dress up pretty”, said my mother when I told her I am going. “Just be yourself” said Melt Olckers, the autism self advocate who invited me, when I wondered if I could be of any use there.
I was recently invited to an Autism Stakeholder Engagement (ASE), where parents, professionals and a few people on the spectrum discussed autism. This is the event for which Mom and Melt gave different advice.
Autism South Africa wanted to pay travel fees for 10 people on the spectrum to attend, but found only four who would come.

Here is what I think they did right:

1) They actually invited autistics, specifically seeking them out and paying for their travel.
Too many autism organisations have nobody autistic advising them, or on their board. You could – and some of my online autism friends would – argue that Autism South Africa is not even close, at the moment, to where they are supposed to be for including autistics. In that case, this is a step in the right direction.

2) They offered to do the practical work of travel arrangements for the invited autistics.
My first thought, when invited, was how hard it would be to organize.
If I go by plane from Bloemfontein, I have to organize a friend to take me to the bus stop for the Welkom-Bloemfontein bus. And a taxi from the Bloemfontein bus stop to the Bloemfontein airport. And a plane from Bloemfontein toe Cape Town. And a taxi from there to the hotel. And a hotel stay. And travel from the hotel to the conference. And everything in reverse for the trip back.
This could be overwhelming for someone without own transport, even more so if you, like many on the spectrum, struggle with executive functioning. They were willing to take much of that organizing out of autistic hands, leaving me to organize the getting to the airport and getting a hotel part.
To be honest, I organized a bit more than that myself, but the reason is that I did not properly read their offer, not that I could not have used the support.

3) At the engagement, they showed how the interests of parents, professionals and autistics differ, which taught all about the needs that autistics want met.
Autism SA asked different stakeholders about their priorities. Based on that, they showed statistics and pie charts. Not one professional mentioned promoting/ facilitating/ listening to self advocacy as a priority in autism goals. Meanwhile, not one autistics mentioned education as an important priority. (We all did have some opinions on education, though, and passionately discussed it. But we felt there are more pressing needs. Interestingly, several of the Aspies I know of like to teach and are good at it.)

4) The group discussion was truly interesting in my group.
I loved the discussion in our group (the one with four self-advocates), and saw our ideas on especially the education topic as practical and able to help more children than just autistics. The teachers for autistic children who shared our table felt they sure chose the best table for the ASE discussion, and I agree with them.

Here is where I think they could improve:

1) Include more and more varied autistics.

When making a speech at the ASE, Melt Olckers said that statistically 70% of those on the spectrum are non-speaking, 25% are Aspies, and 5% autistic savants. Yet all 4 of us who attended were speaking, working Aspies. While Melt regards us as friends and like us, we are not the only ones who should get the chance to represent ourselves. I agree: Effort should be made to include others unlike us in these forums.
(I cannot testify to how much or how little effort they made to find autism self advocates. But we – Autism SA and South African autistics – need to put heads together on how to get more of us involved.)

2) Communicate better with us.
I got invited to the ASE by Melt, who is a Facebook friend of mine. I did not see it advertised in any online community that I am part off. Since many autistics do a lot of their “talking” technologically, Internet groups for autistics is a good place to advertise for autistics who want to attend.
Nobody told me what will happen or what the program is. I like to know beforehand what will happen. I would even have liked to know beforehand what the rest of the conference was about – even the topics of the next two days which was not part of the ASE and to which I was not invited. If I know what people want to discuss, I could better understand where I fit in and what tiny role I can play in the system.
Also, since I saw no advertising for the ASE in groups where I hang out, I did not even know the organizers are willing to help with travel arrangements. I am probably not the only one who gets overwhelmed at the idea of organizing something like that. Perhaps knowing that earlier will help some of us.

3) Hold an “Ask me, I am autistic” panel discussion where professionals and parents ask us questions.
Some on the spectrum communicate technologically but not by words. (None of us at this conference did.) Some may need a bit of time to process questions and give a thoughtful answer, rather than answering right away. But advocates certainly have opinions and ways to explain it.
Let the therapists/ teachers/ moms/ dads ask questions at the start of the conference. Our group get the questions, can discuss among ourselves and the organizers schedule us to talk (or give written opinions, reading it to the audience/ printed out to the audience where applicable) later. If three different members of the autistic group wants to add to the answer (or give three different answers on how they experience it) on (for example) sensory issues, let all three answer before moving to the next question.
Do not give us only a three-minute report back time by one person, speaking on behalf of the entire group, to answer all questions. Give us a reasonable time for answering one question at a time. This way, you enable everyone at the conference to metaphorically share our table.

PS: My compromise between dressing up pretty and being myself was to wear the skirt, top and sleeveless lace jacket my mother suggested, but to slip on canvas shoes. Dressing pretty when I am in the mood and when the clothes are still comfy is part of “being myself” on at least some days. But uncomfortable shoes are not me – even more so on rainy days like the one at the ASE in Stellenbosch.

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Join the club! A word game.

I wanted to join:
> The social anxiety club, but I am afraid they would hate me.
> The psychics club, but they should know that.
> The “Learn to Organize your Paperwork” club, but I can’t find their number. (It is here somewhere, under the clutter in my living room. Or in my dining room. Or…)
> The insomniacs club, but I lost sleep worrying about whether to apply or not.
> The dog owners’ club, but my dog ate my application form.
> The anti-patriarchy club, but my husband won’t let me.

Any other ideas? Post them in the comments.

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The boy and the witch

Bastian and Xayide

It is an old story. It is told in many versions, by different writers:

> Kay (in “The Snow Queen”) gets enchanted by the evil snow queen and his friend Gerda saves him.
> Edmund (in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”) gets enchanted by the evil White Witch, who makes it to always be winter, and Aslan and his people saves him.
> Bastian (in “Neverending Story 2”) gets enchanted by Xayide, a sorceress of emptiness, and his friend Atreyu saves him.

Kay and the Snow Queen (artwork by Vladyslav Yerko)

It is always a boy who gets enchanted, and always a woman who symbolizes evil and emptiness. (Cold is the lack of warmth, like emptiness is the lack of contents).

I understand what human truth this type of story conveys. But why does this kind of story always portray the male as the boy who almost innocently strays from what is good, and the female as an evil adult with the power and will to knowingly deceive? What quality inside humanity views women as the ones to blame?

Edmund and the White Witch

I think I know the answer. But I put it as a question to get others thinking, and to hear more answers.

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