About People Who Self-Diagnose as Autistic

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Hello everyone! So today I’m going to talk about a subject that might tick off some people, especially those who tend to hang out on Tumblr a lot. I’ve noticed that it has almost become fashionable or a cause for pride for people to research mental health or psychological conditions (or in this case a neurological condition) and then decide for themselves that they suffer from said condition. This worries me for several reasons which I will discuss here.

#1 – What if you are wrong? Put simply, many psychological conditions share almost the exact same symptoms. Even among professionals, misdiagnosis is an enormous problem in many people getting the help they need. I have no issue with people saying that they suspect that they may have autism. I just wish people wouldn’t say they have it for sure unless they have been adequately evaluated and diagnosed. I do understand that in the US at least, it can be an issue getting diagnosed because health insurance is a crap-shoot, and many people don’t even have access to regular health care, let alone psychological healthcare, but if you don’t know for sure whether you have autism, bipolar, another mood disorder, borderline, sensory integration disorder, or one of the other many conditions often misdiagnosed as autism, please don’t make definite claims.

#2 – You can actually do damage to the Aspergers or autism community. You may not think of it that way, but if you DO NOT actually have autism and yet go around claiming you do, you are likely feeding into certain stereotypes about autism that are already a problem or you are inaccurately portraying what it is like to be autistic in this world. Some of us who live with autism every single day can tend to get a little annoyed about that. Although some in the community have no issue with self-diagnosis, we are ALL different and some of us don’t like the whole self-diagnosis phenomena.

#3 – People who self-diagnose sort of have a reputation for being attention seekers. I do not think this is the case all the time, like I said, I think some of it has to do with lack of adequate healthcare, but I do believe there are a few at least that are doing it for the attention and that is really irritating.

#4 – Unfortunately, some people already see high functioning autism as a BS diagnosis, and when they see people just randomly deciding they have it without any kind of actual medical oversight, it tends to feed that destructive belief. Yes, they are the assholes to feel that way in the first place, but we don’t want to feed the assholes any more than we want to feed the trolls.

As a final note, I want to reiterate that I do not condemn people thinking or suspecting they have autism, just claiming an actual diagnosis without one. If you do suspect you may be autistic, doctors that diagnose adults can be hard to find, but they CAN be found, so don’t give up. It took me quite a while to find one who would test adults, and I only found him by contacting a professor at a local college who specializes in autism research and asking him if he knew any doctors who diagnose adults, so that might be a way for you to seek out a diagnosis as well.

Also, there are self-assessments made by professionals that can be useful in deciding if you might have autism, but they are NOT meant to be diagnostic material in themselves. However, they can help a great deal in figuring out if you might be autistic and are often used by professional doctors to assist in diagnostic criteria, so using them can be helpful in narrowing down whether you display autistic symptoms or not.

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Political Posturing and Endless Arguing Do No Good

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As I watch the massive amount of political posturing and relentless fighting come across my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages daily, I get sick of all the mudslinging, unfair attacks and hateful commentary that accomplish absolutely nothing. I’m not saying that it is wrong to have political ideas and feelings or to stand up for what you believe, but when both sides become so rigid that they won’t work together at all, everyone suffers in a multitude of ways.

When I see all the pointless arguing and hateful vendettas waged by certain politicians and their followers on both sides, I often think of a poem I wrote a while ago and included in my last book “Searching for the Truth“. I would like to share it here in hopes that people begin to keep the bigger picture in mind and not get bogged down with every ridiculous detail or distracted by every political tantrum.

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The labels we give ourselves –
Democrat, Republican,
conservative, liberal –
why do we let these
names
fool us
into believing
that’s all we are?

The truth is
we need each other
like it
or not.

Left to ourselves
and those of our kind,
we lose balance
and perspective.

We forget

that there’s a whole world
outside
of our own narrow view.
A world of trouble,
a world of tragedy.
A world that
desperately
needs our help.

A world
that doesn’t benefit at all
from another pointless debate.

Sexism and intelligence – I am not stupid or inferior just because I am a woman

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This may surprise some people that know me, but I tend to tick people off. Not intentionally of course, but it still happens. I think it may be partly because I am honest and sometimes even blunt. I try to be politically correct and polite, but I am also someone who gets to the heart of the matter quickly and tends to see things with unusual or unpopular views. I try to never stoop down to personal attacks or name-calling, but I won’t hide who I am either. One thing has started bothering me though and that is the fact that sometimes I think the majority of the anger directed at me may be because I am female.

I hate to play the “sexism” card, but there are things that have happened repeatedly that make me wonder. For instance, some folks at our old church and a few extended family members have disagreed with me on different subjects, which is fine. However, they took the disagreements to a personal level that hurt. Some of them said some pretty awful things about me – some of them publicly. However, what made me think that their anger may be due to me being a woman is that my husband said the EXACT same things I said and sometimes even more controversial things but he didn’t get the same hate and anger I got. In fact, the most negative thing they would say to him is that they don’t understand why he doesn’t “control his wife”. Of course, my response to that is what do they expect my husband to do? Beat me until I shut up and agree with them? Sometimes that is how it came off.

Another thing that makes me think that my gender may be a culprit is that when I engage in an intellectual conversation with other people and a disagreement arises, I often start getting called names like “bitch”. Some have claimed that I must think I’m a queen and should quit trying to rule. Again, these are simply over differences of opinion. None of these labels or insults are thrown at my husband or other men having similar conversations (at least not that I’ve witnessed). When I passionately argue a viewpoint I am “too opinionated” and “mouthy”, however, my husband can say the exact same things and he is “smart” and “intellectual”. The kinder people just call me “naïve” or say that I “misunderstand”, but that is still a way of patronizing someone.

I’m not saying that I’m not opinionated (I am) or that I am always right (I like to think I am, but I know I’m not). All I am saying is that the double standard for intelligent thought for men and women is unfair. The personal attacks are hurtful and unnecessary for a simple difference of opinion. I will not “sit down and shut up” or “go to the kitchen where I belong”, but if you address me as an equal, I will listen and consider what you say. I only ask the same in return.  

Admit that you can be prejudiced…

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I know this is a sensitive subject, but I want to be honest about it. First off, I know that the last thing anyone wants to admit to is having a racist or prejudiced thought. For some reason, we think that if we have a wayward thought or idea about this subject even once in a while that it automatically puts us in the company of the KKK or other hate groups. However, I believe that if we live long enough, all of us will have at least occasional prejudiced/racist/stereotypical thoughts or ideas. It is unfortunately a part of living in the culture we exist in. By pretending that we never have these ideas, we are actually making the problem worse, not better. If we could identify our prejudiced or stereotypical thoughts and recognize them for what they are, then we could consciously decide to change those beliefs and ideas. That is the way we could really get rid of the damaging effects of prejudice.

For instance, most of us have at least some stereotypical beliefs. Even positive ones (like that Asians are all super smart or that African Americans are better athletes) are still stereotypes. I admit that I occasionally have stereotypical beliefs, so when I do, I have to consciously grab them and think them through to decide whether they are really true or not. For instance, watching the news makes it easy for me to think that all conservatives look down on the poor and are greedy. Of course, this is not always true, but it is a stereotype I see frequently. On the other side, I know many people stereotype liberals as being wimpy and lazy. The trouble is that most of the time these beliefs are not critically analyzed and we only look at one side of the story (the one we happen to agree with). We are all victims of bias and perception, but we refuse to see it.

As a child, I honestly do not remember prejudice or racism. I grew up in an urban Indiana neighborhood that was very much a melting pot. My elementary school was probably at least 50% minority, although back then I never even thought about that kind of stuff. My mom dated guys outside of her race and for a while one of those guys was like a second father to me and lived with us. My older sister’s first real boyfriend was from a minority as well. I think my first real look at prejudice came around the age of 11 when I moved to a small town in Georgia. In this small town minorities were rare and in my middle and high school, racism definitely existed. Most minorities stuck to their own kind. There wasn’t a lot of intermixing and the town was almost set up in a segregated fashion (clearly marked minority neighborhoods and even a separate cemetery for non-whites). This new culture was certainly a shock to me, as were some of the hateful comments I heard. Of course, these people would have denied being prejudiced if confronted, but behind the scenes they were definitely not shy about their beliefs.

As an adult, I definitely try to be open-minded and not stereotype people or groups, but I will admit that I am not perfect. For instance, one night I remember my husband and I going to a local White Castle and noticing that we were the only “white” people in the crowded restaurant. I hate to admit it, but I experienced some momentary discomfort and just felt kind of “out of place”. However, as I sat there, I thought about the fact that minorities probably often find themselves in this kind of situation. I’m used to looking around and seeing lots of other people who look like me, but many others don’t regularly have that experience. Thinking the issue through, truly gave me an entirely new perspective and made me sympathize with those who often find themselves surrounded by others who are different from them in some way.

I’ll also admit that the first time we took in a foster child from a minority that I was a little more anxious than I should have been. When we accepted that foster placement, we didn’t even know he was from a minority, so when I first saw him I was surprised a bit and also a little worried. My first thoughts were to question whether I could do a good job raising someone from a different culture, however, once the child moved in and we got to know him it was soon clear that underneath the exterior differences he was just like every other kid we had taken in. Soon I was going to bat for him against others who were stereotyping him or treating him like he didn’t exist.

In the end, my point is that when we do have thoughts or experiences that bring out the “prejudice” or “racism” hidden inside of us, it can be an opportunity to learn and grow if we face it head on and think things through. However, if we just sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist, we only help to perpetuate the problem.

Stupid foster care stereotype #1

Sometimes it really makes me mad when I hear people make blanket statements  about foster or adoptive parents.  Such as the popular, “Most foster  parents only do it for the money.”  I don’t know who started this rumor,  but I wish they could really see the inside reality of what foster parenting is  like.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are a few lousy foster parents who  take in five or ten foster kids and then lock them in cages or closets just so  they can collect all the money, but those foster parents are few and far  between.

For the majority of us foster parents, taking in a foster child is almost a  24 hour job.  If you take in a child that isn’t in school yet, it is  definitely a 24 hour job…

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Doing it just for the money? – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/doing-it-just-for-the-money?fb_comment=33009086#ixzz1M4Xuyp00