Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What's kindness got to do with it

I've seen a number of news stories about autistic employees who work at McDonald's. The views expressed in a recent article in Brandweek (which is not getting an active link from me, but you can find it at brandweek.com/bw/news/spotlight/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003051771 if you really want to trudge through it) are typical of such stories:

"Not so long ago, these kids weren't expected to work anywhere or do anything. Most have trouble learning, completing tasks and engaging with other people socially... Amanda Fabio, then, is special. But so is the McDonald's in Medway, Mass., for its willingness to give her a chance."

Autistic workers are depicted as humble, hardworking peons who are so delighted to find a job within their limited mental capabilities that they are eternally grateful for the wonderful kindness of their employer in compassionately hiring them.

This stereotype doesn't reach the same level of blatant hate speech as when autistics are described as undesirable eccentrics, or as unstable sufferers prone to sudden acts of violence, or as potential serial killers. However, it is every bit as false, and it significantly increases discrimination against autistic applicants who seek anything other than low-level positions.

To put all of this into (relatively recent) historical perspective, the Asperger diagnosis did not exist 20 years ago. Almost all of us attended mainstream schools and were considered mentally healthy. Many of us earned college degrees. We got jobs, paid taxes, and were accepted as part of society, just like everyone else. It's only in the past decade that the Asperger stereotypes have spread like a toxic fungus all through our society, rewriting history with a vengeance, redefining millions of productive citizens worldwide as a tragic horde of misbegotten zombies.

Let's kick that garbage to the curb and get one thing clear: An autistic employee is not a cute little workplace mascot or a charity case. He or she is a rational human being who is exchanging labor for wages, like any other employee, and who is entitled to equal employment opportunity, reasonable accommodations (when necessary), and nondiscriminatory working conditions. That has nothing to do with kindness or compassion. It is, quite simply, a matter of basic human rights in a civilized society.

Apparently McDonald's understands that. It's unfortunate that there are so many employers and journalists who do not.

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27 Comments:

  • "To put all of this into (relatively recent) historical perspective, the Asperger diagnosis did not exist 20 years ago."

    Well, it did in a round-about way... Lorna Wing was using the term. But as a category in ICD or DSM, absolutely right: Asperger Syndrome did not appear in those tomes until the mid 1990s.

    "Almost all of us attended mainstream schools and were considered mentally healthy. Many of us earned college degrees. We got jobs, paid taxes, and were accepted as part of society, just like everyone else."

    Yeh. I went to mainstream school. Hated it. Had nothing in common with my so-called 'peers'. Mostly a bad time for me. But it wasn't the being autistic that did it: it was the fact of others wanting to be nasty towards the 'strange' kid. Purely because they could get away with it.

    "It's only in the past decade that the Asperger stereotypes have spread like a toxic fungus all through our society, rewriting history with a vengeance, redefining millions of productive citizens worldwide as a tragic horde of misbegotten zombies."

    Sadly, yes. Even my success in applied educational psychology would be seen by most of these re-writers as being 'part of the disease' (yuck... but some ill-informed people still think it is a 'disease').

    I sometimes teach psychology (wearing, of course, my 'Asperger-Carlsberg' t-shirt) and, when I introduce the areas of psychology (cognitive, social, abnormal, personality, etc), I talk of 'abnormal' psychology as being the psychology of why people like me are fucked up, and I then talk of social psychology as being 'the psychology of why the rest of yous are fucked up'.

    I believe in level playing fields.

    Hardly likely that the establishment in Finland will take seriously, though, an applied educational psychologist who happens to be Asperger-autistic. Progress is slow here. The major providers of autism services have no formal assessed training in autism issues, and the only theory they are aware of is a horribly vomit-like notion of 'The Theory Of Mind' (there is no Theory of Mind, as there is a Theory of Relativity; it was an idea stuck out for discussion by Simon Baron-Cohen). When my ex-wife (still a wonderful colleague) and I were teaching staff at Finland's prestige unit in Malmi, near Helsinki, it soon became clear to the staff and to us that we - the 'talking monkeys' (as I'm sure many would see us as being) - actually surpassed the top educational professionals in the country in terms of our knowledge and understanding of autism generally, and AS in particular. But, even though we have this wonderful specialist training, nobody wants to employ the Asperger-autistic professional here. Not even the Finnish franchises of McDonald's.

    Nice post, ABFH. The two disparate steroetypes you mention are equally harmful: they detract from the fact that all we'd like is a fair day's wage for a fair day's work. And the same chances as everyone else has to get on in life.

    David N. Andrews MEd (pending submission of practitioner-research thesis)
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:12 AM  

  • Two factual points I'd like to take you up on here:

    First of all, I very much doubt that the people who are now diagnosed with Aspergers were all in good jobs twenty years ago and are only now being consigned to the waste heap. More likely is that they were socially marginalised then, but not given a 'label' as they are now.

    The other thing is - I really wouldn't agree with you on McDonald's benevolence here. I'm sure they're all in favour of the kind of sentimental coverage you're talking about, as it makes them sound like they're 'good people' giving autistic people 'a chance' when actually they regard their workforce as cheap menial labour. This is, after all, a company that bans trade unions!

    Incidentally, anyone who is actually in a job, or about to get one, please join a union. Very, very important that.

    By Blogger Redaspie, at 7:20 PM  

  • David: The psychology classes you teach must be very memorable for your students, LOL. If other instructors also made a point of challenging the students' preconceptions, the field of psychology wouldn't be the worthless wasteland of stereotypes that it is today.

    I hope all goes well with your research thesis.

    Redaspie: I didn't mean to suggest that we all had good jobs 20 years ago. Some of us had lousy jobs or were unemployed, and yes, there was discrimination against people who were seen as "weird." However, the curebie revisionist history propaganda machine has no basis whatsoever for claiming that none of us were expected to work or do anything.

    As for McDonald's, they may be a capitalist exploiter and all of that, but they do seem to be an equal-opportunity exploiter, in the United States anyway. (Although that may not be true of franchises in other countries, as David pointed out.)

    By Blogger abfh, at 8:27 PM  

  • It's pretty clear to me that to some of you folks, nothing will ever make you happy. You get real jobs, then you bitch about the newspaper article someone writes about you. Check out this link to get a grip on just how far the world of mr/dd services has come in the last 30 years. Yeah, we've got a long way to go, but in relative terms, you should consider yourself quite lucky. (this is an offshoot of the Creative Loafing story that brought me into this general discussion, but an interesting perspective nevertheless). I will try to respond to some of your comments after you read it.

    Behavior analyst

    http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A114404

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:33 PM  

  • Abfh, I have tagged you for one of those 'meme' things. It's about books you like. Go to my website for more details.

    By Blogger Redaspie, at 5:59 AM  

  • Behaviour Analyst - that is precisely the kind of thing that Amanda Baggs talks about in her site (ballastexistenz, link on the sidebar). And if you listen to her experience in institutions, which were all much later than the time the article is talking about, there is a good deal of doubt that things have 'moved on' that much. The very existence of a place like the Judge Rotenberg Centre should show that.

    Incidentally, excuse my ignorance of technical matters but if you could just explain what mr/dd actually stands for, as I don't recognise the acronym?

    By Blogger Redaspie, at 6:21 AM  

  • Behaviour analyst...

    "It's pretty clear to me that to some of you folks, nothing will ever make you happy."

    Um... not quite. If you think that the employment game for autistics is a level playing field, then you obviously haven't had to live it. Clear from your opening comment though... you don't actually give a shit. Not a very good attitude from someone trained as a behaviour analyst. Analyse this:

    1) autistics get a crappy time of getting into real employment (I mean, *real* jobs, not just made up things or jobs that everyone else wishes to avoid... I mean a real job, commenturate with one's education... well known that autistics are very much under-employed);

    2) autistics bemoan this fact (and quite rightly... there is a lot of discrimination against autistics in teh labour market);

    3) you come on here, being abrasive and insensitive to the autistics who experience this phenomenon (which is exactly how your post comes across);

    4) autistics become antipathic towards you (which is certainly the case here);

    5) you get told to have something constructive to say, or shut the fuck up.

    Not a very good behaviour analyst if you couldn't prevent that antipathy, are you?

    "You get real jobs, then you bitch about the newspaper article someone writes about you."

    Um... would you call it a real job if an autistic with a university degree was consigned to a cleaning job? I certainly wouldn't. And the way in which the papers write about autistics is mostly very demeaning. Maybe we should start doing that about behaviour analysts - see how you lot feel. Actually, we know that there are many BAs who - unlike you - are capable of empathic engagement with autistics (Jonathan Semetko and Janna-Louise Hoskins to name but two); so my question to you would be this: what is wrong with you?

    "Check out this link to get a grip on just how far the world of mr/dd services has come in the last 30 years. Yeah, we've got a long way to go, but in relative terms, you should consider yourself quite lucky."

    What? Consider ourselves lucky that we still get treated like shite and talked of as incomplete people? You had to train as a behaviour analyst to be able to be that stupid with just one head? Or were you born with that 'gift'?

    "I will try to respond to some of your comments after you read it."

    Keep wishing. You are really interested in our viewpoint anyways... can't expect us to bother with yours.

    "Behavior analyst"

    Yeh, right.

    David N. Andrews MEd (pending submission of thesis)
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:31 AM  

  • redaspie...

    MR/DD is 'mental retardation/developmental disabilities'

    David N. Andrews MEd (pending submission of thesis)
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:32 AM  

  • Fair enough. You know, we only have this guy's word for it that he/she is a behaviour analyst of course. S/he could be some special school classroom assistant or just a parent, or a mere troll, for all we know.

    By Blogger Redaspie, at 8:46 AM  

  • Behavior Analyst: You're living in a fantasy world if you don't think hellholes like that still exist. As Redaspie said, go read Ballastexistenz to learn more. You're obviously the one who needs to get a grip on reality.

    And while we're on the subject of history, there were plenty of bigoted white folks 50 years ago who told blacks to quit bitching about civil rights and to consider themselves lucky they weren't slaves.

    By Blogger abfh, at 11:20 AM  

  • "S/he could be some special school classroom assistant or just a parent, or a mere troll, for all we know."

    To be honest, this crossed my mind too. However, I'm going to take the title seriously until otherwise informed... purely because if the person isn't a behaviour analyst, that will come out in later discussion ... if there is any.

    Also, it would - at least one hopes - give real behaviour analysts a bit of impetus to make sure that they keep their number in check, with regard to how they themselves treat us as autistics.

    A true behaviour analyst would know that such a post as we saw by this person would be as provocative as a red rag to a bull (as the saying goes). On that basis, the person was definitely trolling, whether or not s/he is a behaviour analyst. Someone who did not figure that such a post would cause offence here is clearly not someone that the BACB would wish to call competent (having failed to conduct a pre-action forecasting ABC-analysis regarding sending the post). ABC analyses are antecedent-behaviour-consequence analyses, and form part of the stock of functional behaviour analysis tools available to behaviour analysts and psychologists alike... the aim being to find out the environmental triggers and maintenance factors for behaviour that causes concern.

    Some behaviour analysts, knowing what can be used to bring about 'challenging behaviour', can and do end up precipitating events that lead to flare-ups and - having goaded the person into this mode of action - then punish that person for reacting in what is in fact an entirely predictable way. Our 'behaviour analyst' may well be one such person. It is for BACB to ensure good conduct regarding interactions with people, not for us to remind them. I understand that most BAs are reasonably okay as people, and that only occasionally does one get the sort of person training up to be the kind of BA that our example here seems to have become.


    David N. Andrews MEd (pending submission of practitioner-research thesis)
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:16 PM  

  • And many autistics avoid being "out" about their autism precisely for fear of losing their jobs, or at least losing respect at work. A label can give a medical-sounding excuse to marginalize people.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 4:18 PM  

  • I wrote my post late last night when I was quite tired, and perhaps my wording was a bit harsh, so I apologize if my tone offended anyone. However, my point is that the general trend here is that any gains in transformative cultural change that brings the autistic population and "normals" closer together would seem like a good thing to be celebrated and built upon. What I read from the posters here is the perception that any social change that is not radical is worthless. Many of you seem to be demanding an immediate and absolute transformation, which is simply impossible. As I have stated in other posts, collaboration and open dialogue with others is much more conducive to promoting the sort of social change you seem to desire, and those changes will be gradual.

    And I am very aware that in some places institutions still exist, however if any are like the example described in the article, they are the rare exception, and no longer the norm. I began working in mental hospitals in 1978, and have served my time on the front lines. My experiences in those settings were a strong impetus for me to choose my career path - I knew something had to be done differently, and it took getting an education and becoming an advocate. Please understand that in no way do I condone institutionalization or the sort of neglect/abuse described in the article.

    I am again troubled by the rhetoric on this blog wherein all autistic individuals are spoken of as a homogenous group, which appears to be a rather egregious generalization. In regards to employment, there is an obvious difference between a person with AS who has a college degree but has some social skills deficits, and a person with profound MR due to Autism who cannot communicate through normal means or even contact the current environment in a manner that demonstrates any ability for self care and survival. For the former group, the difficulty in obtaining meaningful (fulfilling?) employment may be due to the lack of social skills or the "intangibles" that our culture puts so much emphasis. It is right or fair? No, but it is an essential component of our culture and society, and expecting the entire world to change just to suit someone with autism unique needs is totally unrealistic. If you are incapable of remaining at a worksite for 8 hours, then you are not able to perform that job, are you? Now, I believe that accommodations are acceptable and often necessary, but there are practical limits as to what these accommodations may be. Where does accommodation cross over from "equal opportunity" to "preferential opportunity", and is that fair ot the rest of the workforce?

    ...And the way in which the papers write about autistics is mostly very demeaning. Maybe we should start doing that about behaviour analysts - see how you lot feel. Actually, we know that there are many BAs who - unlike you - are capable of empathic engagement with autistics...

    Obviously, you haven't kept up or read much of the anti-behavioral literature that has been pouring out since the early 1940's have you? Ever read "A Clockwork Orange"? Behaviorists have been psychology's whipping boys for almost a century, but as the science becomes more precise the concepts of applied behavior analysis are proving to be the most solid and empirically effective treatment modalities for many previously frustrating behavioral and psychological challenges. And regarding my ability to empathize, Mr. Andrews, you have no clue what I am capable of. I think you would be surprised. Your quick judgement of my clinical skills based on one snarky post troubles me, if you intend to follow through with your career choice.

    And Mr. Andrews, you are most likely aware of the fact that to place degreed initials after your name BEFORE you have actually earned the degree is unethical, and in many places, illegal. You are misrepresenting yourself, and I have a real problem with that. You need to stop.
    Finally, regarding my own credentials, I am a licensed psychologist with a PhD from an APA approved program, and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Before you go singing the praises of your other BCBA's, look into the current Master's level diploma mills popping up across the US, where people are being taught how to pass the BCBA exam, with the required BCBA coursework and practica crammed into a 12 month program. The graduates of these programs are, in my opinion, more dangerous than effective, regardless of how empathic they can pretend to be. Beware...

    thanks,
    Behavior analyst

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:26 PM  

  • Many of you seem to be demanding an immediate and absolute transformation, which is simply impossible.

    It may seem impossible, but people should not be discouraged by that. At one time, abolition was called unrealistic and a fringe movement. So was women's suffrage.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 5:36 PM  

  • It may seem impossible, but people should not be discouraged by that. At one time, abolition was called unrealistic and a fringe movement. So was women's suffrage....

    I'm not saying the complete transformation is impossible, and I hope it happens in our lifetimes. My point is that it is a slow process, and small gains in acceptance and recognition are better viewed as progressive (even if diminutive) victories and positive steps instead of "not enough". Don't give up the struggle, but play wisely.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:45 PM  

  • "I'm not saying the complete transformation is impossible, and I hope it happens in our lifetimes. My point is that it is a slow process, and small gains in acceptance and recognition are better viewed as progressive (even if diminutive) victories and positive steps instead of "not enough". Don't give up the struggle, but play wisely."

    No, I don't buy that at all. History has shown that *any* group fighting oppression has had to resort to militant tactics to get its way. Women had to throw themselves under horses to get the vote in my country, and black people in the US had to riot to get civil rights (and four decades on, Katrina clearly shows why that battle is *still* nowhere near from one). The kind of nice, non-threatening, non-militant attitudes you are talking about, whereby we're all thankful when the system throws us a few extra crumbs from the table, will get us nowhere.

    On your other points:

    The reason why we speak of autistics as a homogenous group is because of political solidarity, nothing more or less than that. Since the movement for autistic pride carries a wide variety of autistics, including both 'high-functioning' and 'low-functioning' (a term I don't agree with anyway) that seems only right and proper. Incidentally, on low-functioning autistics, Amanda Baggs had a story on her website about a low-functioning autistic man with no capacity for speech or writing, who had, with some support, bought his own house. There is really no reason why anyone, no matter how disabled they are (or thought to be) should be able to participate in the world. Finally, this point:

    "...expecting the entire world to change just to suit someone with autism unique needs is totally unrealistic. If you are incapable of remaining at a worksite for 8 hours, then you are not able to perform that job, are you? Now, I believe that accommodations are acceptable and often necessary, but there are practical limits as to what these accommodations may be. Where does accommodation cross over from "equal opportunity" to "preferential opportunity", and is that fair ot the rest of the workforce?"

    ... is a red herring as far as I'm concerned. When bosses start talking about the needs of other workers in in order to justify some unfair or oppressive practice, they tend to be really concerned about their needs. And these come down to profit maximisation. So that's really what's at the heart of it - the bosses prefer not to hire disabled people because of the expense. Unless, of course, it's crap jobs like working at McDonalds.

    In my view, if the world of work is incapable of accomodating people because they have certain disabilities or conditions, then there is something wrong with the world of work as it is. And really, considering the alienating nature of the wage slavery that most people experience in their working lives, I think there's a good deal of space for change in that regard anyway.

    By Blogger Redaspie, at 8:35 PM  

  • "I wrote my post late last night when I was quite tired, and perhaps my wording was a bit harsh, so I apologize if my tone offended anyone."

    As a licenced psychologist, you should have thought BEFORE you hit the submit button. Your wording was harsh and offensive. And your note to me, dealt with below, was - in the absence of any kind of question as to why I might designate myself as I did - was a bit fucking abrupt. IF you are a proper psychologist, you would realise that without the full facts your note to me would be entirely inappropriate.

    "However, my point is that the general trend here is that any gains in transformative cultural change that brings the autistic population and 'normals' closer together would seem like a good thing to be celebrated and built upon."

    So why did you not say that instead of "... It's pretty clear to me that to some of you folks, nothing will ever make you happy. You get real jobs, then you bitch about the newspaper article someone writes about you ... "


    "What I read from the posters here is the perception that any social change that is not radical is worthless. Many of you seem to be demanding an immediate and absolute transformation, which is simply impossible."

    Wrong. Ever since Kanner's first studfy AND his follow-up, autistics have been wishing that people would stop pathologising us and give us some proper appropriate support. We are still waiting. Why? As a licensed psychologist, you should have an answer for that. I suspect that you don't.

    "As I have stated in other posts, collaboration and open dialogue with others is much more conducive to promoting the sort of social change you seem to desire, and those changes will be gradual."

    The changes never come for us. In fact, as time has progressed, the depiction of autistics in the media has become worse. That is hardlgy anything that we can call positive change. And., to be honest, your initial post here did absolutely fuck all to help matters.

    "And I am very aware that in some places institutions still exist, however if any are like the example described in the article, they are the rare exception, and no longer the norm."

    Wrong again. Ask Amanda, and others with her experience. And there is also the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts... no less nasty a place than anything I have ever heard of. And run by... someone who calls what he does there Behaviour Analysis.

    "I began working in mental hospitals in 1978, and have served my time on the front lines. My experiences in those settings were a strong impetus for me to choose my career path - I knew something had to be done differently, and it took getting an education and becoming an advocate."

    Why then did you say: "It's pretty clear to me that to some of you folks, nothing will ever make you happy. You get real jobs, then you bitch about the newspaper article someone writes about you." That is nowhere near advocacy.

    "Please understand that in no way do I condone institutionalization or the sort of neglect/abuse described in the article."

    You just like to think of us as underlings, right? You said: "It's pretty clear to me that to some of you folks, nothing will ever make you happy. You get real jobs, then you bitch about the newspaper article someone writes about you". That was basically a very (at best) condescending attitude.

    "I am again troubled by the rhetoric on this blog wherein all autistic individuals are spoken of as a homogenous group, which appears to be a rather egregious generalization."

    I am troubled constantly by the way in which my so-called colleagues in the clinical side (such as, apparently, *you*) consistently speak of autistics as being in states of deficit rather than in states of difference. You do nothing to amend that situation, do you?

    "In regards to employment, there is an obvious difference between a person with AS who has a college degree but has some social skills deficits... "

    See what I mean?

    "and a person with profound MR due to Autism who cannot communicate through normal means or even contact the current environment in a manner that demonstrates any ability for self care and survival."

    An approach based on person-centred needs-based support planning might give ANYone what they need in order to get by. Every person alive has needs. Some people's needs are greater than other people's, but other than this, the autistic spectrum is nothing more than a term for collecting all the different existing autistic people under one label.

    "For the former group, the difficulty in obtaining meaningful (fulfilling?) employment may be due to the lack of social skills or the "intangibles" that our culture puts so much emphasis."

    There is also a resiprocal lack on the non-autistic side of what we could call 'autistic social skills'... but, as a behaviour analyst, you probably wouldn't think of such a thing: the autistic is always deficient, right?

    Bullshit.

    "It is right or fair? No, but it is an essential component of our culture and society, and expecting the entire world to change just to suit someone with autism unique needs is totally unrealistic."

    Funny, that... because most behaviour analytic plans for autistic people consist of reinforcement schedules designed to make the autistic person behave as everyone else in society does... for society's comfort: trust me, very few behaviour analysts give a shit about autistics' viewpoints.

    "If you are incapable of remaining at a worksite for 8 hours, then you are not able to perform that job, are you?"

    You condescending piece of shit.

    What if someone can perform that task fo four hours? Isn't it possible to make on full-time post become a pair of part-time posts? Jesus Christ... don't tell me you didn't learn that people have different capacities for workload clearance in your psychology studies! I bloody did! And there's no excuse for you not knowing.

    "Now, I believe that accommodations are acceptable and often necessary, but there are practical limits as to what these accommodations may be.

    And autistics can be very realistic about this matter. You statement "... expecting the entire world to change just to suit someone with autism unique needs is totally unrealistic... " hardly suggests a realistic handle on the issue on your part, does it? Since this is not exactly what we'd like. Ergo, your statement was a straw-man argument, a logical fallacy. Get over yourself if you want to try and understand us: I can tell you that everything you have done so far would guarantee that I would refuse to talk to you in person. And as for your licensed psychologist status... carries no weight here, pal. Tough.

    "Where does accommodation cross over from 'equal opportunity' to 'preferential opportunity', and is that fair ot the rest of the workforce?

    As a licensed psychologist, perhaps you'd like to tell us. Since you obviously don't really think much of what we tell of our experiences.

    ...And the way in which the papers write about autistics is mostly very demeaning. Maybe we should start doing that about behaviour analysts - see how you lot feel. Actually, we know that there are many BAs who - unlike you - are capable of empathic engagement with autistics...

    "Obviously, you haven't kept up or read much of the anti-behavioral literature that has been pouring out since the early 1940's have you?"

    Who said I was anti-behavioural? I'm anti a certain type of behaviour analyst. Leave the straw people at the door next time, please.

    "Ever read 'A Clockwork Orange'?"

    No. Why should I?

    "Behaviorists have been psychology's whipping boys for almost a century, but as the science becomes more precise the concepts of applied behavior analysis are proving to be the most solid and empirically effective treatment modalities for many previously frustrating behavioral and psychological challenges."

    Why have you suddenly gotten so bleeding defensive? I haven't called behaviourism into question. I have called certain type of behaviour analysts into question. As a licensed psychologist, you should have been able to pick that one out!

    "And regarding my ability to empathize, Mr. Andrews, you have no clue what I am capable of. I think you would be surprised. Your quick judgement of my clinical skills based on one snarky post troubles me, if you intend to follow through with your career choice."

    Why should it trouble you? You made the post: it was YOUR responsibility as to whether you hit the send button or not, so don't try to evade the responsibility for the result. From this post, your lack of empathy is pretty damn clear. If you wanted to demonstrate empathy, your discourse would have been hellishly different.

    "And Mr. Andrews, you are most likely aware of the fact that to place degreed initials after your name BEFORE you have actually earned the degree is unethical, and in many places, illegal."

    Actually, my usual designation is:

    *BA-status (which postgraduate regitration at a university entatles me to)

    *PgCertSpEd (pending) (which means that teh postgraduate certificate referred to is in the bag but going to be subsumed into the MEd for which I registered initially)

    "You are misrepresenting yourself, and I have a real problem with that."

    Have your read John Best Junior's blog? And what he says about me, regarding the 'pending' issue? And me about to graduate MEd in any fucking case? I don't care about your problem if you can't be arsed to investigate why something happens (and - incidentally - should a behaviour analyst be bothered about why I would make such a statement as I do?).

    "You need to stop."

    Stop being a patronising bastard and I'll consider your suggestion as worthy.


    "Finally, regarding my own credentials, I am a licensed psychologist with a PhD from an APA approved program, and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst."

    You ARE a BCBA? And you cannot be arsed to find out first why people do what they do? Not a good advert for the BACB, are you?

    "Before you go singing the praises of your other BCBA's, look into the current Master's level diploma mills popping up across the US, where people are being taught how to pass the BCBA exam, with the required BCBA coursework and practica crammed into a 12 month program. The graduates of these programs are, in my opinion, more dangerous than effective, regardless of how empathic they can pretend to be. Beware..."

    Red herring. John and Janna went to recognised schools for their training. You?

    "thanks,
    Behavior analyst"

    Sod off until you can be a bit more... what's the word...

    EMPATHIC!

    David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending, to be subsumed into the MEd degree I'm about to get inside the next three fucking months, you supercilious bag of crap).

    If there's one thing I hate, it's professionals who think it's their right to lord it over us. I think we just found one. I saw no sign in this one's post of any contrition or interest in the autistic point of view on things. All I saw was what can only be described as arsey rhetoric.

    I'm not satisfied with that one's response. Not when said professional can't be arsed to find out from us how we feel about things... and only seeks to excuse him/herself before veiling his/her rhetoric.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:24 PM  

  • ...Why then did you say: "It's pretty clear to me that to some of you folks, nothing will ever make you happy. You get real jobs, then you bitch about the newspaper article someone writes about you." That is nowhere near advocacy...

    I said that was harshly worded and apologized for it. But sometimes a good advocate has to say "there is something wrong in the way you are going about promoting this change you desire. Let's look at other possible options" It's all about feedback and collaboration. I responded appropriately to comments on my tone, but you seem to keep fixating and perseverating on the negatives. I'm a psychologist and a human, and inevitably imperfect. Can you accept that?

    ..."Please understand that in no way do I condone institutionalization or the sort of neglect/abuse described in the article."

    You just like to think of us as underlings, right? ...

    No, I never said that, where did that nonsense come from? Is that what you want me to think in order to comfortably fit me into your own prejudices?

    ...Who said I was anti-behavioural? I'm anti a certain type of behaviour analyst. Leave the straw people at the door next time, please...

    I never said you were anti-behavioral. You seemed to indicate that behaviorists hadn't been criticized in a similar manner as autistic people. I was simply pointing out that you are wrong.

    ..."Ever read 'A Clockwork Orange'?"

    No. Why should I?...

    It's called "educating oneself" by reading books that are germane to the things we are interested in. It was a powerslam against behaviorism, a best selling book in the early 70's, and a notorious movie by Stanley Kubrick. A "must" for people in education, mental health, and with any interest in either.

    ...If you wanted to demonstrate empathy, your discourse would have been hellishly different...

    You think I am going to coddle you? I was invited to this blog, and the gatekeeper knows I will say what I need to say. I'm not doing therapy here, so I say what I think, and if that bothers you, don't read my posts. If you are going to challenge me without any substance to your arguement other than "You just don't get autism" and attack my character, you are going to get a similar snarky response, but without the profanity. Having AS or whatever you define your neurological difference as does not give you a free pass to be rude and obnoxious. Get over yourself. I have asked other posters to please tell me "What do you want?" and nobody has given me a direct answer. I could speculate that either they don't really know, or it's a secret. Either way, I don't have the essential information, do I?

    ...Have your read John Best Junior's blog? And what he says about me, regarding the 'pending' issue? And me about to graduate MEd in any fucking case?..

    No, why should I?

    ...David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending, to be subsumed into the MEd degree I'm about to get inside the next three fucking months, you supercilious bag of crap)...

    Nice language there my friend. you are certainly strenthening your sociopolitical stand with the power of dirty words. Not. And the operant word in your snazzy title is "pending". You do not have whatever sort of degree that is YET, and to claim it before it is bestowed is unethical.

    ...If there's one thing I hate, it's professionals who think it's their right to lord it over us...

    Yet you continue to rant on about your impending degree. Believe me, unless you legitimately earn and use the credentials in a productive manner, they mean very little.

    One thing I have learned from reading blogs is that individuals who are so intensely obsessed with a cause (regardless of what it is) have a tendency to ignore very important social factors when it comes to looking at their place in the big picture, and as a result of their intense focus on "just" that issue they often become their own worst enemies. And Mr. Andrews, regardless of what you think of me and my perceptions, I will continue to engage in discussions that promote a sharing of information and discourse. Some of what I say may offend people, some may not be so offended. But if it creates dialogue that leads to learning, it is worth it. I believe that growth and change comes from good and bad experiences. I have learned quite a bit from you, and it will be put to good use in my daily work. Good luck with your studies.

    Behavior analyst

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:01 AM  

  • this reminds me of that Rashid Buttar vid where he says autistics that don't get early biomed will flip burgers for a living...

    Ah, remember the days when people used to point out famous autistics/suspected autistics to their children, then tell them they can achive anything they want if they try hard enough.

    No?

    me neither...

    By Blogger Nathzn, at 5:54 AM  

  • "One thing I have learned from reading blogs is that individuals who are so intensely obsessed with a cause (regardless of what it is) have a tendency to ignore very important social factors when it comes to looking at their place in the big picture, and as a result of their intense focus on "just" that issue they often become their own worst enemies."

    This is *classic* radicalism-as-pathology stuff. People who have strongly held anti-system or anti-status quo views, are seen as suffering from something. Reminds me of the book I read once arguing that people with far left viewpoints had failed to develop a sense of self and all had borderline personality disorder.

    By Blogger Redaspie, at 7:56 AM  

  • ...This is *classic* radicalism-as-pathology stuff. People who have strongly held anti-system or anti-status quo views, are seen as suffering from something...

    I was not alluding to this "radicalism-as-pathology" stuff. I was looking at outcomes, and simply pointing out that narrow sighted extremists usually fail to achieve their goals because they fail to consider the social consequences of their activism. I stated in a previous post that I took that route as a young man and was unable to accomplish anything, but when I took the socially defined path of geting an education I gained a lot of power. Now I can make a difference, albeit usually for one person at a time.

    ...Reminds me of the book I read once arguing that people with far left viewpoints had failed to develop a sense of self and all had borderline personality disorder...

    You can't believe everything you read. Who wrote that, Ann Coulter? That's an absurd theory, and it is essential that radicals continue their efforts. I just happen to think that some of the strategies need to be refined in order to be more effective.

    Behavior analyst

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:04 AM  

  • It depends how you define narrowly-sighted extremism to be honest. Frankly I'm not at all sure what you're talking about.

    By Blogger Redaspie, at 10:25 AM  

  • ...It depends how you define narrowly-sighted extremism to be honest. Frankly I'm not at all sure what you're talking about...

    OK, I can see where there might be a problem there if we define the terms differently. I consider "narrow sighted extremists" to be individuals who are so deeply enmeshed in the particular issue they are advocating that they are either unwilling or unable to step back and look at the "big picture" from a more objective POV. In other words, can they acknowledge and visualize the long term effects of their cause on culture, social order, and other individuals? My experience has been that "narrow sighted extremists" usually come across as confrontational, self centered, unwilling to negotiate or compromise in order to make small to significant gains that may not match their ultimate goal, but are a step toward that goal. I am fully in support of individuals advocating for their rights, and when I see the extremists behaving in ways that negatively affect their purpose, I try to suggest alternatives. Social change requires collaboration, and the "in your face" mentality rarely works. I hope that helps explain my stance.

    Behaior analyst

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:39 PM  

  • "Mn, them auties are gettin all uppity!"

    Honestly, there's nothing "special" about getting equal opportunities and access.

    There's nothing "benevolent" about letting people do scutwork.

    Sorry, but I've no interest in being patronised for having bravely overcome the artificial hurdles that shouldn't have been there in the first place, all just to get a pissy low-rate job.

    By Anonymous andrea, at 8:43 PM  

  • BA: "I am fully in support of individuals advocating for their rights, and when I see the extremists behaving in ways that negatively affect their purpose, I try to suggest alternatives."

    What? Without actually trying to find out how those view came to be held? Since when was an 'extreme' view automatically a wrong one? Do you not even consider that the reason for such 'extreme' views might be to do with the sort of unjust status-quo that people with, for example, your qualifications do absolutely nothing to change and practically everything to maintain?

    David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending; soon to be MEd)
    Applied Educational Psychologist
    Kotka, Finland

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:14 AM  

  • "What's kindness got to do with it"
    Sigh! Kindness and compassion have much to do with it! It is my honor to be the Mom of this wonderful and unique young girl. She teaches me something new on a daily basis and I am grateful. In a world where the reality is... all aren't treated with dignity and given basic human rights then I am happy to thank those who do.
    Amanda was treated with dignity when she appraoched a teenage girl to ask "if McDonalds needed a helper", often teenagers will start to giggle or snicker, if you haven't been met with this then I am grateful for that too. As the proud and loving parent of Amanda, I do thank this young girl and the folks at McDonalds in Medway. This has been a very positive experience for Amanda, for me and hopefully for the people Amanda works with. I too am grateful for the article in the local paper and grateful for the article in Brandweek. I choose to concentrate on this very positive experience rather than tell you of the less than positive experiences Amanda may face on a daily basis.
    "It is a sign of mediocrity when you demonstarte gratitude with moderation." - Roberto Benigni
    Basic human rights certainly! Kindness and compassion in a world where both are extraordinary...well, I am happy to express my thanks. Denise Fabio

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 AM  

  • Thanks for commenting, Ms. Fabio, and I hope that Amanda will continue to enjoy her job. I also hope that the experience of being treated with kindness and respect by employers (and others) will not be extraordinary or "special" for autistics and other minorities in the future but will simply be a part of life in a more diverse and accepting society.

    By Blogger abfh, at 2:54 PM  

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