Welcome back! This week, we will once again dive into unknown waters (mind the kraken), and explore the little-known island, called Cri du chat. A place that, not many, least certainly not me, has heard of before, but is akin in many ways to our own little cluster of islands that I like to call, the Autistic/Asperger Atoll (an island for each of us, lord knows we could use alone time sometimes). In fact, much like the island of Down syndrome the Cri du chat island is so close to our own island chain, that one might consider even consider it a part of the Atoll. But what is Cri du chat, despite a metaphorical island that I made up? Will, it is much more than just a fake island. Much more.
Doesn't all this talk about islands and atolls just want you to take a vaca to a real Island resort? Basking in the hot sun, being served hand and foot, holding on to dear life while trying to not be blown away by the blast from a nuclear bomb test...will, at least the first two.
Cri du chat syndrome is, according to SLATE, a rare genetic disorder that gives the person who has it with “multiple intensive disabilities” (SLATE, NOT MINE TO MOLD, paragraph 1). One of them being nonverbal Autism/Aspergers. This particular article of SLATE tells a rather sobering tale of a mother learning of the unique challenges posed, not by her son, but by the institutions who are supposed to care for people like her sons, and their families. Not gonna lie folks, it won’t be easy to make jokes with this one as opposed to the last one (which was all about our humorous side! Will, all about the myth that we don’t have a humours side but you get the idea).
So just what was it that the institutions suggested? Only the usual suggestions: leave him in a feeding clinic were a group of caregivers will put him in a room with a bunch of strangers and repeatedly encourage him to eat something over an extended period of time. Or, and I’m sure that this is one that we, or our parents at any rate, have been told at least once in our/their lives, that she have her son institutionalized (the world seems to think that we belong only in an institution. And they’re right. I’m in an institution after all. Okay okay, it’s a postsecondary education institution but it still counts as an institution).
Man, I wish my universities library was this fancy. I would never tire of walking around its seemingly endless levels than. Or until closing hour came and they chase me around the library until finally cornering me and catching me, after suffering some scratches and bite marks. (sigh), a man can dream.
But, her being the mother of the child, only had to imagine herself in her childs shoes in those situations, and know that it would be, will, a pretty poor choice to put it mildly. But there was one bit of advice that was suggested to them (by whom the author does not say): “seek out other parents of children with similar medical issues.” (SLATE, Not Mine to Mold, paragraph 4). A kind of community were a sense of belonging, tips on practically everything (examples given are going through the educational system and picking out wheelchairs), and commiserating over a shared struggle. Group healing, in other words.
Will, that does it for this week's post. Next week, we will continue our look into the article about Cri du chat, though probably not for too much longer, as there is so much sadness and depression in the world already, that if we really wanted to read about kids being mistreated by an uncaring system (an odd obsession I know but bear with me), we really only have to read the newspaper or listen to the radio. Hold on, I’ve just received news that it has always been like that. Will than, as an unlicensed and uneducated-in-the-ways-of-psychology psychologist, In recommend you read or listen to a happy story each and every day, or even go one better and get some physical exercise as often as you can.
On further reflection, you probably don't need me telling you that. But until then, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.
Welcome back! This week, we will continue to learn more about the misconception: do people on the spectrum get humour. We already know the answer (yes) but there are other factors of the myth that are important for us to learn as to why it came about, why is it still around and just how wrong is it really? Will, that is what we have been learning for the past two weeks now, and this week will be no different. Please welcome back to the stage to help explain the whole debacle, the BBC! (pre-recorded cheering)
Last we left off, we were talking about how last year was a big shock (to the BBC at least) of just how funny people on the spectrum can be, one way of which was having a special on an international streaming/film production/god-knows-what-else company. A lot of humour, in my opinion, is taking the mickey out of patterns of our daily lives, but how does someone with Autistic/Asperger’s view such patterns in our lives? Will, the creator of the aforementioned Netflix show Nanette, has her view on things.
Take this picture for example: is your life pattern one of a series of beautiful coloured glass steps leading ever upward towards success, or a nightmarish glass slide leading ever down towards a circle brightly lit by the ever-burning flames of the home of beelzebub? Could go either way really.
She herself “understands things a lot deeper than a lot of people” (Do autistic people ‘get’ jokes? Paragraph 14), and by “things”, she means feelings. But what is strange is that our good doctor Asperger is not only responsible (according to the article) for kick-starting the no-humour myth, but he is also known to believe that people on the spectrum lack both empathy and social understanding (wonder if he watched as many cartoons as his “little professors” have before coming up with these, um, “interesting” ideas).
However, not only did the no-humour belief have a huge upset last year, but so, it might seem, did the no empathy/social understanding myth. The article states that many of the people who watch Nanette seem to agree with her “analysis of feelings and emotions” (Do people autistic people ‘get’ jokes?), which kinda pokes a giant hole in the foundations of the myth doesn't it? Someone should really have it bulldozed as it’s a health hazard.
This guy's got the right idea. Or is it manure he’s shovelling over? Hard to tell the difference between the two.
Will, that does it for this week, and also (for now at least) my analysis of the myth: people with Autism/Asperger have no sense of humour. Next week we will be moving on to a different topic, as always, of which may (or may not) exclusively deal with Autism/Aspergers. But until next time, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.
“Approximately 15 per cent of British Columbians over 15 years old self-identify as having a disability. Our goal is to prevent and remove barriers so everyone can participate and feel included. This way, B.C. will be a better place to live, work and visit for everyone.” (Province of British Columbia, 2018)
According to the Province of BC website, we have committed ourselves to become a truly inclusive province by 2024 by implementing the following strategies:
While these action items may support a stride towards an inclusive province over the next 6 years, I would ask, how will the Province of BC be held accountable to its commitments? What should people with disabilities do if these values of inclusivity are not upheld? I can say with confidence that, despite the good intentions of the Province, individuals with disabilities are often rendered voiceless in instances of discrimination. I would suggest that this is largely due to the arduous process involved in escalating a complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
The Province of Ontario has established an Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This Act provides Ontarians provides citizens living with disabilities with the option to pursue legal action against their discriminators other than going through a Tribunal process.
I am hopeful that the British Columbia Accessibility Act drafted in May 2018 will give British Columbians the same option. It is difficult to comment on the current content of this Act given that there has been very little progress made. However, I anticipate that its intention is to offer an additional avenue of recourse to citizens living with disabilities who have experienced discrimination. Such an Act may also provide the citizens of BC a measure of autonomy in their pursuit for equity and an opportunity to address their complaint via litigation. Hopefully, this would alleviate the pressure related to the victim’s responsibility to prove and present their case to Tribunal decision makers and make way for case law to preside based on individual circumstances.
The Province acknowledges that there is a significant number of British Columbians living with disabilities and that we should be working towards being a truly inclusive province. Therefore, I hope we continue to find ways support equity and diversity and hold those who do not align with this goal accountable.
Canadian Law Faculty members debate over the provision of extra-time on exams for mental health-related disabilities.
The debate related to students with disabilities being granted extra time for exams continues in this November 2017 University Affairs article by Andre Costopoulos.
In his 2016 article published in the Education and Law Journal, Bruce Pardy, a law professor at Queens University, argues that “extra-time accommodations are not legitimate and should not be granted because they tilt the playing field against the best students.”
In response to this argument, Renu Mandhane, Ontario Human Rights chief commissioner, conveys a poignant response in an article published by the Huffington Post. In short, she asserts that “The hard truth is, not all subjectively desired qualifications are objectively essential. Just because a professor might prefer a student who does not require additional time on an exam, does not make the absence of mental disability an essential qualification. Instead, a careful, good-faith inquiry into the truly necessary qualifications must be undertaken to support the needs of our students.”
Likewise, in response to Pardy’s article, York University’s Benjamin Berger, Associate Dean and Lorne Sossin, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, respectively, point to the importance of universal design in a National Post article published in August 2017. “This is the idea that barriers are not in the individual but rather in the environment, and that appropriately designed environments remove barriers that are unnecessary.”