Thursday, December 31, 2015

Rambles About Another Year Gone By

Goodbye to 2015!

It has been a tumultuous year for me in so many very personal ways that I am not able divulge in a blog post because that process would require telling some stories that aren't mine to tell. (and it would also be way too complicated)

But, to sum it up, 2015 was a year that life as I know it changed forever. Life has a way of doing that, though... changing, that is. It's not the first time it has happened and I'm positive it will not be the last. I don't do so well with change. I know not many people do well with change, but it is especially hard for me and it takes me a very long time to adjust.

I pretty much found myself in a midlife crisis of sorts in the midst of all the chaos that surrounded me. I found the safety and security I thought I had finally found after so many years, disappearing. This brought about a lot of tears along with increasing depression and anxiety. This went on for almost the entire year.


So, when I look back on this past year I see a lot of hurt, but I also see a lot of support from people that care about me, too. This is so different from previous times when I have struggled, I believe this is why I was able to climb out of the pit of despair with next to no scars. The support was authentic and catered to my needs. No one told me to get over it. No one invalidated how I was feeling. Sometimes people didn't know what to say to me, BUT they were there to listen and they gave me time.

If you were one of those people... Thank you <3 You mean the world to me.

During 2015 I've also have done a great deal of introspection, along with recognizing where a lot of my issues come from.

For example :

Misogyny.

 I did not ever want to connect a lot of my issues with misogyny. In my mind that was implying that I was influenced by outside forces, that I was not a competent, free thinking individual and most importantly it would mean I was a victim. I don't like being the victim.

However, once I started to learn what feminism and the patriarchy was, the more I understood. I had deliberately stayed away from the term "Feminist", because it is considered a bad word to so many people. Besides, the only time I had ever really heard it before meeting so many wonderful Feminists was through sources that used words like "femi-nazi". To be frankly honest, the word "Feminist" scared me. But, once I figured out that feminism stood for everything in my life that I had ever said or spoke out on that other people told me I was sooo wrong about, I thought maybe there was so much more than I thought I knew... and there was.

The day that my daughter was told to call home from school for a dress code violation along with about 50 other girls in her school, I knew I could never not identify as a Feminist ever again. That was the day she was told by the asst. principal they were trying to protect her from the boys and that her body was a distraction. That was the day she stomped her foot and raised her voice and said very proudly "It's not the girls' FAULT, Teach boys to respect us".  I never want her voice to be silenced like my own was and I want far more for her than what society is offering her right now. One of my greatest fears is my daughter being abused in some way and believing that it was her fault. So, with that said...She needs me to be a Feminist and my boys need me to be a Feminist, too.




 text reads: "And the day came when the risk to
remain tight in a bud was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.
-Anais Nin"
Text is on green textured
background with image
of a lotus bud.
(Image courtesy of Autism Women's Network)
I took the step of putting a tag line on my blog to signify the transformation I have undergone this year. It is the quote "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." by Anais Nin. I believe it fits quite nicely.

I've learned so much this year and I believe I know that is due to the wonderful connections I have been able to make because of my fellow mods at PACLA , AWN and the team at Boycott Autism Speaks. I feel totally empowered and some what in control of my own life because of them. I am a better person and parent because of them.

This year I've learned how to become even more comfortable with being uncomfortable when it comes to my own privilege. This means knowing my place and understanding when it's time to talk and when it's time to listen. 



And most importantly... I've learned that my heart always has room to love more people, even when it feels like it doesn't. In fact, I learned that my heart has infinite space.

I am ready for the New Year. My heart and my mind are wide open, ready to learn and love even more than the year before.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Letter to the Editor of The Mighty

There has been much criticism about The Mighty within the Autistic and Disability communities. All of this came to a head on Sunday Decemeber 20th when The Mighty published an article called Meltdown BINGO that was making fun of the meltdowns Autistic people have. After a lot of blowback, they decided to remove the article and the next day published a note from the editor apologizing (in a kinda sorta way) and asking for feedback. So, I wrote to the editor and gave her my feedback. If you would like to write to the editor of The Mighty her email is megan@themighty.com

Below is my email. I'm sure I missed some points others may make, that is why it is important that people send in their own concerns to The Mighty. 


Dear Megan,


I would like to start of by introducing myself and telling you a bit about who I am. My name is Kim (on Facebook I am Kimberly Faith, on Twitter I am K1mmyR0cks and I blog at Eccentricities and Introspection on blogger). I am a 36 year old Autistic mother to 3 teenagers with my oldest being Autistic. I volunteer my time with Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance and Autism Women's Network . I am also one of the major players in the Boycott Autism Speaks movement.

I am invested in Neurodiversity, disability pride, authentic inclusion, presumption of competence, intersectional activism, youth rights and so much more. I am also one of the critics of The Mighty. 


When you published the article explaining why you removed the Meltdown BINGO article you asked for feedback. I really hope that was sincere, because I don't like to waste my time. I am not looking to be featured on your site, I am just looking to help you understand where you all get things so very wrong. It is going to be very hard to get every explanation you may need to fully understand the concepts I am going to touch on in this email, so please ask questions if you need to. 

 I've read your bio on the site and followed the link to the HuffPo post on you being a [good news] porn producer. One of the problems so many have with the mighty is the inspiration porn you produce. Inspiration porn is the objectification of disabled people to make nondisabled people feel good and The Mighty is loaded with it. Are you familiar with Stella Young's TED talk? (I'm sure you are to a certain degree) I'm going to link it here and I want you to seriously consider all the things she says in the video. If you don't have time to watch the video there is a transcript.

http://www.ted.com/.../stella_young_i_m_not.../transcript...

One thing I believe you are trying to do right is include disabled voices. However, you are choosing the voices that still fit your production of inspiration porn. That is not equally representative of the community and it does not help. In order to shift perspectives you're going to have to shake it up and get off the ableism fence.  You can't advocate for the rights, the acceptance and inclusion of disabled people while also giving a platform to ableism. There really is no balance where bigotry is concerned, no grey area. It really is very black and white even though many people have a hard time understanding what ableism really is and/or looks like since it is so prevalent in our daily lives.

I think those of you at The Mighty have a problem seeing the ableism so many of us see and this is why you need what I would consider more radical disabled people on board your team. It’s also very important that you understand that just because someone is a disabled person or parent doesn’t mean they can’t be ableist.

I think another major thing you could have great impact on is changing the narrative surrounding parenting disabled children. As of right now your site plays into the same old narratives as every other parent centric site. Currently the narrative is doom/gloom, pity and martyrdom.


Parenting is super hard. I think it's the hardest job I'll ever have and I would never deny that it is challenging.  I've participated in many online and in person support groups for parents of disabled children and no matter how positive the environment is supposed to be, the same narratives apply and like I said, The Mighty is no exception.

I believe with all of my being that parents need and deserve support. But, they deserve the right type of support and I don't think many parents even know what that looks like. Toxic support is rampant in the disability community and it feels so darn good many don't even see the toxicity. It's akin to an AA meeting being held in a bar where everyone is ordering drinks while talking about their addiction to alcohol and how they really want to get sober but... and the members of the AA group give hugs and tell each other that it's okay it's just too hard. I mean, sure, those people in that AA group feel supported and it feels good, but the outcome of that support is not a positive one. Same applies to the *woe as me* support groups for parents.

Parents of disabled children are often allowed to get away with saying and doing some of the most heinous things because society refuses to tell them they are wrong. The support community built around parenting disabled kids tells everyone that we should never judge a fellow parent because it's just *so hard* This is dangerous. It really is important that someone stand up and tell them they are wrong. Someone has to stand up for the children, but many won’t.

Some other things I've noticed in these toxic support environments is that it is so very rare that anyone wants to learn anything. I've seen the same whining and complaining over and over from the SAME parents that never take any solutions and want to learn nothing. They don't care about their child's dignity or how to help them, they only want pity.

Your site perpetuates ALL those things.

There is a way to write about parenting disabled children without sacrificing the dignity of the child. I think one of the things The Mighty should start focusing on is the fact that parenting isn’t about parents, but it’s about the children we are supposed to be supporting. All too often parents take everything so personally and/or make their child’s struggles about them. I wrote a bit about that here if you’d like to further explore what I am talking about.

I think another thing that would be super important for you to do is to start touching on how parents help their children to internalize ableism. I also wrote a little bit about that HERE if you care to take a look.

You have a huge platform, one that could potentially change so much. So why would you want to be just like every other site out there? Is the popularity worth disabled people’s humanity? Because that is the cost.
text reads You have a huge platform, one that could potentially change so much.
So why would you want to be just like every other site out there?
Is the popularity worth disabled people’s humanity?
Because that is the cost.
background a dark red textured one


I will leave you with a few sites and bloggers you can look into for guidance.


Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance (a community)
Autism Women’s Network (a nonprofit)
Autism and Neurodiversity in the Classroom (a community)
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (A nonprofit)
Nonspeaking Autistic Speaking (links to all the blogs Amy Sequenzia has written)
Thirty Days of Autism (A blog by Leah Kelley)
Unstrange Mind (A blog by Sparrow Jones)
We are Like Your Child (a blog with various disabled writers)
Respectfully Connected (a blog)
We Always liked Picasso Anyway (A blog by Lei Wiley-Mydske)
Radical Neurodivergence Speaking (A blog by Kassiane Sibley)
The Giraffe Party (A blog by Jennifer Muzquiz)

Neurocosmopolitanism (blog by Nick Walker)
Ollibean (a community)

And so many more that I am probably forgetting. If you want to get a more extensive list you can reference this list on PACLA’s blog. You can also follow the AWN FB page, it is updated nearly every day with posts from various people.

I sincerely hope you are really ready to make a change.

Thank you for your time,

Kim



You can find my Follow Up On this HERE