appropriation

Communicating in ASL means communicating within the Deaf community

Anonymous said to realsocialskills:
I’m autistic and struggle with spoken language. I’m verbal, but my communication is often slow or I fail to express myself properly. I’ve often thought about learning sign language as a better way to communicate, but I’ve been told by several friends it would be appropriation of deaf culture as I am a hearing person. Is it okay for a autistic person to learn ASL, if only for themselves? And what’s the best way to be respectful of deaf culture while learning, if it’s appropriate at all?

Realsocialskills said:

It’s not appropriative to learn ASL, even if it’s just for your own use. It’s ok to want to find a way to communicate that works for you.

That said — it’s important to understand that ASL is a Deaf language. ASL isn’t similar to English, at all. It’s a minority language used by a minority culture that is very different from English-speaking culture.

If you came to communicate mostly in ASL, the overwhelming majority of people you’d be communicating with would be Deaf people and people who have Deaf parents. Your life and cultural reference points would become very different than they are now. You’d be assimilating into a minority culture that you’re not already part of — one that has every reason to be cautious about hearing newcomers. (Especially hearing newcomers who don’t have Deaf relatives.) That’s not impossible, but it is much easier said than done.

If you’re looking to learn a few signs that you can use with friends and family when your communication breaks down, that might be possible without changing your life too much. It’s important to understand that learning a few signs is not the same thing as learning ASL. (Just like there’s a difference between knowing a few Spanish words and knowing Spanish). 

(Also, don’t give yourself a sign name. It’s considered rude and appropriative, especially if you only know a few signs. You don’t give yourself one, Deaf people who have accepted you as integrated into the community give you one.)

If what you’re looking for is the ability to communicate more readily within the English-speaking culture you’re already part of, ASL is not likely to be very helpful. (For the same reason that no matter how much easier you find it to pronounce Spanish words, learning Spanish probably won’t help you to communicate with English speakers.)

If you’re looking to communicate more readily within English-speaking culture, English-based AAC is more likely to be helpful. If you’re comfortable with typing, a well-designed text-to-speech iPad app could make communication much, much easier. The best app I’m aware of is Proloquo4Text.  It has good text-to-speech voices, and it also makes it easy to communicate by showing people your screen. P4T also has good ways of storing phrases, and it’s highly customizable. If you find that typing doesn’t always work, you may find a symbol-based system helpful. (For instance Proloquo2go, LAMP, or Speak for Yourself.) (Good apps cost money, and they also solve a lot of communication problems that free and cheap apps don’t solve. And even the most expensive AAC app is cheaper than learning a second language).

Tl;dr ASL is a Deaf language. Communicating in ASL means communicating mostly within the Deaf community. Learning ASL probably won’t help someone with a communication disorder to communicate more readily within English-speaking culture. English-based AAC is likely to be a better solution. It’s important for people who want to learn ASL to respect it as a language and to respect the Deaf community as linguistic minority culture.

Listening to me is not appropriation

People sometimes worry that reading my blog is somehow appropriative or inappropriate. I’ve been seeing people say this a bit recently, so I thought I’d say again that I don’t want people to worry about that. 

I don’t expect everyone who reads my blog to be like me. I’m assuming that y’all are different from each other and coming from a lot of different perspectives. And that’s how I want it to be.

I hope that people will find what I say useful. I want people who learn something useful from me to use what they learn, regardless of the reason they find it useful. One of the things that I’ve found most rewarding about writing this blog is that many of the things I’ve written with autism or something in mind have been useful to a lot of other people for a lot of other reasons.

I want people to listen to me. Not just autistic people or disabled people. Anyone who is willing to listen.

Listening means thinking seriously about what I say, which means that you may or may not agree.

I don’t want people to assume that I’m right because I’m disabled or whatever else. I want people to listen to me, and think for themselves. There is no real listening without the possibility of disagreement. And sometimes I’m wrong, and when I’m wrong, I want to learn and understand things better.

tl;dr: You don’t have to be a particular kind of person to read my blog, reblog from me, or have opinions about what I say. Please don’t worry about appropriation. 

"There's nothing worse than seeing your child suffer"

I’ve heard a lot of nondisabled parents of disabled kids say things along the lines of “there is no worse feeling than seeing your kid suffer.”

This has always bothered me, and recently I figured out why.

That sentiment implies that disability and pain are harder on parents than they are on disabled kids. I don’t think that’s true. I think this wrongheaded sentiment has done a lot of damage. (I don’t think that all parents who say this mean it literally. Many people say this just kind of because it’s what it’s customary to say. But a lot of them do, and it’s a sentiment that’s encouraged.)

A child’s disability is about them. They’re the one experiencing it directly. They’re the one experiencing any associated physical pain. They’re the one experiencing struggles to do or understand things. They’re the ones facing intense discrimination, hate, and exclusion. They’re also the ones facing a scary future in which services they need once they outlive their parents may not be there.

Parents experience a much more mild version of that. What nondisabled parents of disabled experience is big, and it’s difficult. What people who actually have disabilities experience is much bigger, and much more difficult.

Parents need respect and support, and they don’t get nearly enough of either. People with disabilities get much less respect, and much less support — even though the problems we deal with are bigger; even though we need more support than nondisabled parents do. (And people who are both disabled and parents of disabled children get almost no support or respect at all.)

tl;dr “There is no greater pain than watching your child suffer” isn’t true — and it leads to ignoring the fact that disability is the hardest on people who are actually disabled. Nondisabled parents don’t get enough respect or support; they do get the lion’s share of it. People with disabilities need more and get less. This needs to change. (For everyone’s sake.)

You can't appropriate your own mind

i briefly self dxed as autistic, but i met with my psychiatrist yesterday and she told me since i noticed social deficits and tried to compensate, and managed just like an allistic person, it was just social anxiety bc if i were autistic, i wouldnt have noticed or been able to learn so well. she didnt mention the cognitive things i brought up so im guessing they were normal /insignificant. how do apologize on my tumblr for fucking this up and appropriating?
realsocialskills said:
You don’t owe anyone an apology. Anyone in our community who has suggested that sincere but mistaken self-diagnosis is appropriation owes *you* an apology. 
Thinking you’re autistic and being wrong is not appropriation. We all make guesses about ourselves; some turn out to be right and some turn out to be wrong. Thinking you’re autistic and being wrong is not appropriative and it is not fucking up.
That said, from what you described, it’s not even clear to me that you are wrong about being autistic. I’m not a diagnostician and I don’t know you, so I can’t say one way or another. But it sounds to me that your psychiatrist is basing their response to you on stereotypes rather than professional knowledge of autism.
Not all psychiatrists are competent to evaluate autism, particularly in adults. Psychiatrists are primarily trained in mental health; autism is a developmental disability. Mental health training does not imply expertise in developmental disability. It’s entirely possible that your psychiatrist is disregarding your cognitive issues not because they are normal, but because your cognitive issues are outside their area of professional competence. 

Most autistic people notice social deficits and try to compensate. Most autistic people generate effecting coping strategies for a lot of things, including social situations. All autistic people can do some things that neurotypical people can do. Being able to notice and compensate for problems does not mean you’re neurotypical.
It’s fairly common for people who think they’re autistic to be told by mental health professionals that if they’re self-aware enough to ask, they can’t possibly be autistic. Or that if they can do anything at all, it must mean they’re not autistic. Those are perceptions based on stereotypes, not accurate understandings of autism. People with advanced mental health training are just as prone to a stereotypical view of developmental disability as anyone else.
If your doctor is responding to your concerns in a way that might be based on stereotypes and misinformation, it’s probably a good idea to find someone else (perhaps a neuropsychologist) who has a better understanding of autism and is familiar with adult diagnosis. 
You may or may not be autistic, but it sounds like you could benefit from investigating further. And ultimately, the opinion that matters most is your own. You know your own mind better than anyone else does. 
And whatever conclusion you or any professional ends up reaching, you have done nothing wrong or appropriative. It’s ok, and important, to try to understand yourself and figure out what you need to make your life work.

geasseeker:

Social skills for autonomous people: maaoh: the-real-seebs: realsocialskills: Anonymous asked: Is it wrong…

maaoh:

the-real-seebs:

realsocialskills:

Is it wrong for me, as a neurotypical person (AFAIK, there have been hints that I might have something undiagnosed), to use terminology coigned by atypical people? The way f’example stimming and…

Sensory overload also happens for me with PTSD. When I was at Sheppard Pratt, my psychiatrist said it’s something she sees a lot in trauma patients.

maaoh:

the-real-seebs:

realsocialskills:

Is it wrong for me, as a neurotypical person (AFAIK, there have been hints that I might have something undiagnosed), to use terminology coigned by atypical people? The way f’example stimming and overloading have been explained to me describe things that I do and the reasons behind them really well, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to call them that.
Most people who stim a lot and get overloaded a lot are autistic. Most. Not all. Some people with ADHD also experiencing stimming and overload. So do some neurotypical blind people. So do other folks.
Overload and stimming are words that describe particular experiences, not a particular diagnosis. If you have those experiences, it’s ok to use the words.

Or if you are referring to them in other people who have them. I really don’t want people thinking that they can’t refer to me as overloaded just because they don’t experience overload. Or that they can’t refer to “stimming”. Basically, they’re words. The words exist to refer to things. They aren’t “slurs”. It isn’t “reclamatory usage” which has to be under special restrictions to keep bigots from using the words too.

Note, BTW, that there’s a lot of overlap between “some autistic people…” and ADHD, and “some ADHD people…” and autism, possibly because they have high comorbidity and people don’t always get diagnosed with everything they might possibly have.

I am 90% sure it’s also possible to induce sensory overload on neurotypical people, it’s just NT people have a higher threshold. I don’t remember where I heard it from but I could have sworn there was some scientific experiment where they were testing the senses and ended up overloading the NT people involved and it was a universally awful experience.

My guess (correct me if I’m wrong on this) is that nearly everyone stims to some degree (it’s just called “fidgeting” at low-key levels) and could experience overload at the right conditions. Just with some differently wired brains stimming is more frequent and intense, and the threshold for sensory overload is lower. Which would explain why there are people like me and presumably op who have a number of “autistic traits” but do not fit the ASD diagnosis. 

All of this. 

Is it wrong for me, as a neurotypical person (AFAIK, there have been hints that I might have something undiagnosed), to use terminology coigned by atypical people? The way f'example stimming and overloading have been explained to me describe things that I do and the reasons behind them really well, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to call them that.
realsocialskills answered:
Most people who stim a lot and get overloaded a lot are autistic. Most. Not all. Some people with ADHD also experiencing stimming and overload. So do some neurotypical blind people. So do other folks.
Overload and stimming are words that describe particular experiences, not a particular diagnosis.
If you have those experiences, it’s ok to use the words.

racismschool : 
 
 
  Text reads : Where would you say the line is between appropriation/fetishisation and wanting to learn about distant family? I’m white (UK origin) and very into geneaology and learning about the lives of those in my family before me. A great* grandmother in the 19th century was a WOC and I would love to learn about her home culture, but I’ve held back because I don’t know if that would make me like one of those “I’m 128th Cherokee princess, I can know/do/say everything of theirs!” types. 
 
 Learning about your own history is not fetishization. It would be great to learn more about where you came from. The only way it could be/turn negative is if you used whatever you learned to over step others and act as if you understood things in your current life that you very likely do not based on your skin color.  
 For example, if you find that you have a Native ancestor, don’t suddenly start talking about how you’re part of an oppressed nation because of it. You know you’re white/perceived as white. Learn more about who you are and don’t let anything you learn… well …turn you into an asshole. 

racismschool:

Text reads: Where would you say the line is between appropriation/fetishisation and wanting to learn about distant family? I’m white (UK origin) and very into geneaology and learning about the lives of those in my family before me. A great* grandmother in the 19th century was a WOC and I would love to learn about her home culture, but I’ve held back because I don’t know if that would make me like one of those “I’m 128th Cherokee princess, I can know/do/say everything of theirs!” types.

Learning about your own history is not fetishization. It would be great to learn more about where you came from. The only way it could be/turn negative is if you used whatever you learned to over step others and act as if you understood things in your current life that you very likely do not based on your skin color. 

For example, if you find that you have a Native ancestor, don’t suddenly start talking about how you’re part of an oppressed nation because of it. You know you’re white/perceived as white. Learn more about who you are and don’t let anything you learn…well…turn you into an asshole. 

Anonymous asked realsocialskills:

I have ADHD and I need to rock and twitch my hands to concentrate. Is it appropriate to call it stimming?  

I think that’s perfectly fine. That’s a really common reason autistic people stim, too. There’s a lot of overlap between ADHD traits and autistic traits.

I think that it’s actually good if we use the same words to describe things that are the same or similar. A lot of groups cross-disability have far more in common than we realize, and I think we could all benefit a lot from sharing concepts and coping mechanisms.

That said, calling it stimming might lead to some awkward situations. It’s a term mostly used by autistic folks. Sometimes when you (in my view accurately) refer to it as stimming, that might cause people to think you’re autistic. That’s something you should be prepared for if you want to start using words that are mostly used to describe autism.

Engaging with my ideas isn't appropriation

I get a lot of reblogs that say things like

  • I’m not autistic so I don’t know if this blog is for me…
  • I’m not the target so…
  • I don’t want to be appropriative…

And, then, proceed to describe something they’ve experienced that is completely relevant to the dynamic I was talking about.

And just – this blog isn’t an exclusive club. I’m talking about social dynamics. And it’s not appropriation to try to understand how things work. 

The fact that I’m autistic doesn’t mean that I’m only talking to other autistic people, or that the things I know are only relevant to autistic people.

I’m talking to everyone who finds what I say helpful or interesting. I don’t want people to be worried that they shouldn’t be listening.

I think it would be better if everyone listened.