Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How To Explain

You go to the local shop. You walk instead of running. Why?

Was it a concious decision, with explainable reasons? The benefits of running for most people are clear, so the only reason not to is because there is a reason not to. Perhaps what you are getting from the shop requires you have the energy to make use of it when you arrive back home. But it doesn't seem that people think like this at all. A child might always run to the shop, just by themselves and they run for the same reason most adults opt to walk: it's simply their nature and no one questions it. Questions about such things seem awkward and pointless, it's just what you do- you don't need to explain yourself. Unless you are Autistic.

It feels like most things I do are questioned and it used to be that I just didn't have answers because I didn't think about them. Being constantly questioned forces a person to think and look inside for answers. I sometimes wonder if myself and others I know are naturally high on self-reflection or if it is a common experience that makes it so. Asked "why do you pull faces at random?" I have to enquire about what faces I am pulling, unaware that I have done so. The first instinct: say something socially acceptable even if wrong. It takes a while to resist believing it myself, so I can then start questioning it. I don't get 'stiffness', I don't have a 'tic' and it isn't hay-fever. It is a stim, I do it because I am distracted, annoyed and expressing a reflex like any non-verbal body language, except mine is shaped by my individual experience of my sensory input.

When I am a twelve year old asked that for the first time by another boy, even if I knew it I could not explain it. There would be consequences which I will carry for years and they will have forgotten a week later. Like other alienated adolescents, I imagined the day would come when I grew into a supremely able adult who could smack every such person to a sorry weeping heap and face no consequences. A reflection on the wrongs received, how they were perceived and experienced. That might seem an overreaction but children are not inherently virtuous: knowing that questions were awkward for me just meant they would ask them incessantly for fun, to see the reaction.

Even when something can be explained, finding the right listener is a factor in being understood and that unfortunately makes it pointless trying to explain anything to some people. There's no common ground on which they can relate.

There was probably once a time where an Autistic would be just as likely to run someone through with a spear as answer a question about what they are doing. Not for gain, or for fun or defence- but because it works as an explanation. The alarm, the pain, the dread of what happens next, that sense of unfairness and that there was no way you could have known. Experience shared has a unique clarity to it. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013


Sometimes subtle aftershocks are more sensitive than the initial quake. It begins in this case with Iain Duncan Smith being caught out telling tales about the effect of the benefit cap on behaviour, which in turn caused the UK Statistics Authority to eventually get round to expressing a view on it. But that itself has opened a fault that will grow into something bigger and as usual, journalists will ignore it. I only spotted it carried in the article for the Independent:
Oxfam's Katherine Trebeck, policy and advocacy manager for the charity's UK poverty programme, said: ”Not content with using rhetoric to stigmatise poor people, the Government has now been caught misrepresenting the figures. This is beyond the pale.“
Unfortunately this is a political intervention made on behalf of Oxfam, a registered charity. If they were asked to look into it, the Charity Commission would probably find it to be at fault according to the obligations that are placed on charities to not be political. What has limited the ability of charitable status organisations to assist grassroot campaigners may now be exploited to punish Oxfam unless it distances itself from Katherine Trebeck. I do not at all think the government and their SpAds are above being this vindictive. They have engaged in similar dirty tricks before, briefing against a charity who's representative had resigned from their advisory role on welfare reform because it was obvious they were being used as a fig leaf. The DWP press office said they had actually been 'fired' because they can't advise on reforms whilst at the same time campaigning against it. Remember it is the government who accuse campaigners of not being constructive.

Closest thing I had to a Tremors film pic
Either Katherine Trebuck or Oxfam will be made to pay. It won't make News until it is already old.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

How To Create Targets

There's been a segment on Channel 4 News about crimes against Autistics, citing the case of Adrian Palmer who was allegedly raped and later killed in a separate incident. His case is said to be extreme but all cases are extreme when allowed to run to their inevitable conclusion. Before it gets to that, it's a constant unending stream of 'low level' abuse that doesn't seem to warrant reporting and that is what the police say when they are called.

One of the infuriating aspects is the reason given by the CPS for why they did not take the rape allegation seriously: ""He was not a credible witness due to his mental health issues".
There is nothing to suggest Adrian was ever diagnosed with any mental health condition. His diagnoses was Asperger's Syndrome, which is no more a mental health condition than Diabetes is an eating disorder. The same applies to other conditions he had- ADHD, Dyspraxia and Raynaud's Syndrome. There doesn't appear to be any ethical of professional obligation on the part of the CPS to explain their reasons for making the extraordinary conclusions about Adrian that they do. Given that both the CPS and the IPCC couldn't even be bothered to check the correct spelling of Raynaud's sometimes, I'm presuming a lack of rigour even after the fact. Having been handed a flawed case file, I'm not criticising them for their decision not to prosecute- that seems to be correct. But in that decision they include unsupported claims about Adrian.

A further read of the IPCC report reveals that the CPS cited the ruling that Adrian was unfit to enter a plea in court when being prosecuted for vehicle theft, which was based on a psychologist's report. The IPCC notes:
The investigation into West Mercia Police’s investigation into
Adrian’s allegation began by obtaining a copy of the file submitted to
the Crown Prosecution Service. The file contained a number of
It then lists the documents. They do not include the psychologist's report. An attempt was made, but they did not see it. They made generalisations about someone's health and mental faculties without ever reading a clinical opinion on it, only a legal opinion based on one.

Throughout, a familiar theme is presented- an Autistic is someone who does random things at random times and for no reason that can be communicated and understood. In a report which is supposed to be one of those 'learning lessons' exercises, it makes damn well sure to unethically represent an Autistic person(and by proxy all Autistic people) in a light that makes them not only a target, but seemingly a justifiable target.