Matthew Bell
May 27, 1994 (age 24)
OxFord Mills, ON, Canada
Algonquin College, Carleton University

Matthew Bell

Hello, and welcome, to The Audacious Aspie. Here, you will discover the many perspectives of what it’s like to be a student on the Autistic spectrum at University. From the ups to the downs, from the deep to the shallow, from the normal…to the extraordinary. And everything, in-between. Be ye on the spectrum, or someone who’s just curious, what you will find on this blog might be of great assistance to whatever task you have in mind! So please, join me, and together, we’ll see just how far down the rabbit hole goes. To help dig the hole and make it wider, deeper and brighter, contact me at if you want your own experience to be posted on the blog.

Oh Dear, What a Dilemma

Welcome back! This week, we will tackle a problem concerning labels (and no, it's not that they exist), but rather two certain types of labels. One fellow blogger has called it the “Autistic Dilemma”, though it affects both people diagnosed with either Autism or Aspergers. What is the “Autistic Dilemma”? Put simply, society either declares you to be A) too Autsitic/Aspie, or B) not Autistic or Aspie enough. But wait, there's more! (there’s always more. No one ever says “but wait, there’s less!”).


Less Is More Quote White Sentence Design Desk

Un”less” it’s one of those commercials that tries to shoehorn the saying “less is more” and trying to turn it into some kind of lame joke. (sigh), commercialists, don’t quit your day jobs.


Now according to Autistictic, the negative effects of the dilemma are thus: people can be “more” or “less” Autistic/Aspie, much the same way as telemarketers can be “more” or “less” annoying, and I know what I’m talking about: I’m the son of an insurance salesman. Being either/or means that society can justify itself treating you differently compared to someone else, who is also Autistic/Aspie. And last but not least (you'll love this one), society has more of a right to “designate how impaired the person is rather than the people themselves” (Autsitictic, THE AUTISTIC DILEMMA-FUNCTIONING).


What does this mean? Will, from what I understand, it’s a tactic used by our detractors to try and silence us in the discussions about Autism/Aspergers, to ignore whatever we have to say on the subject. As will, I believe that it is an attempt to cause a rift within the Autistic/Asperger’s community, an imaginary conflict over who is “better”, people who are “more” or “less” on the spectrum. In either case, by taking a look at the dilemma, we can begin to see not only how wrong and disenfranchising it is within the Autistic/Asperger discourse, but also come up with replies to individuals who might attempt to use such a tactic. But first, let us understand some of the aspects about the dilemma.


Concept Man Papers Person Plan Planning Research

Knowing if only half the battle. And after all, research is fun right!? Right?


First off, according to the dilemma, if you are “not Autistic/Aspie “enough, you are: supposed to be silenced in discussions around A/A (Autism/Asperger) spectrum because you can’t understand what “real” Autism/Asperger’s is like. You're not diagnosed because you don’t seem A/A enough (not sure if this diagnosis is, in this context, coming from the internet troll or a psychiatrist or such). Denied support because you are able to do some stuff that, stereotypically, people with A/A are not supposed to be able to do (this is also the reason, according to the article, that you could be denied adequate healthcare). Or finally: be talked over in online (or, assuming, live) discussions by someone who is “voicing their own opinion” (Autistictic, THE AUTISTIC DILEMMA-FUNCTIONING).


However, if you are “too” A/A, than: you are to be silenced because you supposedly don’t have the capacity to understand the topic of discussion, or to communicate what you want. Automatically assumed incompetent  because you can’t speak or perform some daily tasks without assistance. Denied the opportunity to partake in, or perform an, activity because you are supposedly unable to do it. Denied adequate healthcare because, will it’s just your A/A showing. And finally: you need someone to speak for you, without even considering your own views about the topic being discussed.


Well, that does it for this week's post. Next week, we will continue to discover more and more about this dilemma of ours, and how we can solve it (much like solving a 1000-piece puzzle: all the frustration and consternation, twice the fun!). Until next time, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.


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A Change of Tack Part 2

Welcome back! This week, I will pick up where I left off last time, talking about the situation facing people with Down syndrome, and realizing that there are some similarities with our own problem. Namely, how society has come to a strange conclusion that we: those who are neurodiverse, disabled, or diverse in any way, shape or form (I remember hearing about how the trans community got sick and tired of everyone thinking that just because they are different from the norm, their lives are somehow immeasurably worse. We hear you). Also the shared pain of driving in the city at night. Or during freezing ice, heavy rain, with other people who don't know how to drive. Driving man, it’s a struggle.


Car Audi Auto Automotive Vehicle Sports Car

Ever stop to think that, on an almost daily basis, we are driving, or sitting in, large, fast-moving machines that have the power of a hundred horses or more, outrun any other land-based mode of transportation, is either made entirely of metal or plastic, and with the simple turn of a steering wheel can turn a fast moving killing machine?


So what specifically is the problem we, people who are neurodiverse, disabled, and other, is this: our society has a rather weird idea on what it’s like to be, well, not normal. And this idea is not new (and also a chance to show off some of what I learned in my media communications class! Hooray for showing off!). We all take something for granted, like for example, sight. Does not need a wheelchair, prosthetic limb, or the like. Or having a neurology that fits within society's definition (this might be an odd way of trying to mention neurodiversity, but I think we all know what I mean). And to someone who perfectly understands the rules of society, has sight, and does not need such devices like a prosthetic limb or a wheelchair, that way of life can seem like the best way, perhaps the only way, to live.


Than, when someone comes in (is born, immigrants from somewhere, etc.) that is not, in your view, lucky to have all the same abilities that you have, their life must be somehow worse with no benefits at all, and therefore deserves your undying (and incessant) pity. Or is a life form of lower stature than you, and plans to usurp you and everyone like you through their devious, none-normal way of life (shout out to the eugenics movement, you forcefully-sterilizing chums you). Either way, they’re not like you, and that's bad.


And this is where the which came first, the chicken or the egg/nature versus nurture debate comes in, concerning media-communications of course. See, there are a few theories about who is the bigger influencer of society. Either public personas (think local politicians, celebrities, popular media personalities) believed in these negative stereotypes of the diverse members in their midst, and used their influence on the common folk to teach them how to behave towards them, how to imagine them (poor, unfortunate, can't do what we can do), and on and on. From here, the media is influenced by the public personas, which is in turn influenced by the mass population (this, in media-savvy lingo, is called the 2-step approach).


Icon Steps Shoes Icon Shoes Steps Footprint

Though, to be honest, it sounds more like a dance move than anything media-like. “Okay everyone, were going to learn how to do the 2-step approach now”.


The other major theory is this. The public personas decide to cut out the middleman altogether, and either directly influence the media themselves, or create their own media, and use the/their media to pass on messages to the public about how those who are diverse deserve pity because of, well, you know. The public than consumes these messages and acts on them, believing the messages in part or in whole (this is called the Hypodermic needle approach. You learn new stuff everyday, like how hypodermic needle sounds more frightening than it does educational).


You can see the dilemma. The point is, the bias that, from what I read, society holds towards people with Down syndrome seems to read parallel, word for word, the same bias that society holds towards people with Autism/Asperger’s and others. So, during this holiday season (or regular season but with just more snow and unforgiving cold), while you about your business buying groceries, working, keeping on top of school work or taking advantage of opportunities cropping up for you (Or both). Or even fighting to change your societies views of whichever oppressed group you belong to/sympathize with, spare a thought for others like you who are facing the same kind of problems. Perhaps even reach out to them, form an alliance, and push for social change together.


Strength in numbers. Until next time, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.   


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A Change of Tack

Welcome back! This week, we are diverting a little bit from the usual path of ASD-only content, but still talking about a topic that affects us just as much as it does on my new target of focus. Think about it like we are driving on two different lanes on a highway: we are on a different lane than our usual one, but we are still heading in the same direction with little variation. Also, we get to avoid all the morons who drive like they’re sonic and gotta go fast to some place, all the while weaving in and out of the traffic in the two lanes as if they are in a movie running from the cops or something (which they soon will be). Or we’re driving at night in the city. Ever try to drive in the city at night? You’d think that all the light from the cars and street lights would help improve visibility, it doesn't. Just feels like you are driving through a rave and can’t see the road markings...or the road.


 Football Stadium Highway Night Taillights

Like this pic here. Perfectly captures what it looks like driving at night in the city. Sick party, poor driving experience.


Back to the topic. A while back, I heard on the CBC radio, or Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, about an interview with someone who asked a question that, admittedly, I had no idea was a thing: why is society, or at least Canadian society (though after a quick google search I soon found that we are not the only ones with this problem) trying to eliminate Down syndrome? A major reason I found in an article by the Washington Post titled “People with Down syndrome are happy. Why are we trying to eliminate them?” is a misconception regarding the quality of life.


Namely: some parents believe that a family member with down-syndrome will live an unfulfilled or a bad life. This view is (perhaps unsurprisingly) shared with certain societal beliefs. An example of this is given in the article, an opinion of a biologist in Oxford (not sure if it’s the university of Oxford, or the city of Oxford, just that he’s form a place called Oxford) which states “it would be ‘immoral’ to give birth to a child with Down Syndrome if the parents had a choice” (People with Down Syndrome are happy. Why are we trying to eliminate them? Paragraph 3). Whoa, that one comment hit the trifecta of points when coming up with an opinion targeting your least-favorite social group: dark, uncaring, and uneducated. Most people only hit one or two points.


And that’s just one example of the many depressing examples around the world the article lists of, examples like the one above, but now let’s move on too the more positive and uplifting side of the article: that people with Down syndrome are anything but living a “bad life”. There is opposition, naturally, against the unfulfilled-life argument and others like it: that people with Down Syndrome are actually a happy lot who can live pretty fulfilling lives. But not only are they living happy lives, but, the article states “they also bring a great deal of happiness to their friends and family members.” (People with Down Syndrome are happy.)


Smiley Yellow Happy Smile Emoticon Smilies Face

Usual story it seems: a dark, perpetually moody force tries to wipe out a beacon of light and happiness, to ensure that everyone is as miserable as they are. It reminds me of the Blue Meanies in The Beatles movie: The Yellow Submarine.  


Will, that does it for this week's post. Notice a similarity here? If not, don’t worry. I’ll explain later in next week's episode were I will also shine a light on the more positive side of the issue, hinted at in the last paragraph. Until next time, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.           


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How to Provoke and Aggravate Your Thoughts

Welcome back! This will be the last post concerning SPD/CD (for now anyways), from here we will move on to another topic, and I already have one in mind. If it pans out, i.e the article I am using as a citation does not disappear halfway through the investigation, my computer continues to work (I had a little bit of trouble of late, which accounted for the sluggish rate of posts being uploaded) or, the thumbnail that I thought was a link to an article, was really a link to a video. Technology, it really is a wonderous kind of tool. Makes me wonder why we have not given up on the whole 21st-century living thing and moved to the hills, to live a simple kind of life, considering how much stress it causes me whenever something goes wrong. It also makes me wonder how I could ever live without it, whenever something goes right. (sigh), the problems of living in the modern age.


Architecture Skyscraper Glass Facades Modern Facade

It is an age of both convenience, and inconvenience. Of progress, and regress. Of a bright new world, or the beginnings of the end (the timeline for the last one is in constant flux, it seems).


But let’s get back to finishing this post eh? Last time we left off, the article was about to talk about intervention, asking a deep, thought provoking question that we as a society need to answer: “So what is intervention?” (Sensory Processing Disorder: Signs and How to Cope, paragraph 11). But obviously we’re only interested in only one particular angel of the question. Namely: what is intervention for children with SPD/CD and ASD? (what, you thought for a minute there that I would dive deep into the pool of thought and ideas, and start pulling out thought-provoking answers to such a perplexing question only somewhat related to ASD? Not a chance).


Will, according to this particular article, occupational therapists reportedly work with the kids, rather than against (thats the teachers job) in, as the article states, a sensory-rich environment. The only environment with natural resources that oil tycoons are not heck-bent for leather on exploiting. The activities there are supposed to be fun, challenging and tailored to the child's individual needs. What's more, there is a cornucopia of sensory opportunities for the child to partake in, things like: swinging, spinning and visual along with the usual sensory gang (not sure if swinging and spinning are considered sensory, unless the child likes the sense of nausea, hitting the ground after taking a flying leap from the swing, or all of the above).


Trees Away Nature Eddy Turn Dizzy Fall Over

Look deeeep into this picture, do you feel it, the feeling of your very environment starting to tumble and twirl everywhere, your lunch fighting to escape the confines of your stomach? Your welcome.


Why would the occupational therapist subject themselves...I mean your child, through so much chaos? They have a very specific goal in mind: to help your child “develop a greater tolerance to the world around him, learn to advocate for herself and meet his or her needs in an appropriate way” (Sensory Processing Disorder: Signs and How to Cope, paragraph 12), not necessarily in that order. In short, to cultivate a healthy-dose of self-esteem and independence over their lifetimes, all the while appreciating their own quirks. And that, to me at least, seems to be a worthy goal indeed.


WIll, that does it for this week's post. Sorry for the lack of posts last week but things have gotten really busy on my end. So many balls to juggle that I suddenly feel like a circus clown. No, not a clown like the Joker, or the one from IT, though that would be very cool, than we’d all float down there, putting a smile on our faces. Until next week, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.           


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