The traditional term for not speaking is ‘dumb.’ That says it all. If someone can’t talk then they are ‘dumb.’ I am dumb, apparently. The thesaurus offers these synonyms for dumb: among them mute, speechless, silent, and then fifty additional synonyms for stupidity, including the colorful pinheaded and dim-witted. The bias equating intelligence with speech…Civil Rights for Nonspeakers — Ido in Autismland
Trigger warning: descriptions of abusive practices.
Annoyance warning: this post is really long–sorry about that . . .
In November 2018, Alex Campbell, 13 years old and autistic, travelled to Washington, D.C., where he spoke to congressional staffers and disability activists about being physically restrained and secluded in his elementary school. Alex is a seasoned advocate—he started talking to legislators in his home state of Virginia about these abusive practices at the ripe old age of ten, and the trip to Washington in 2018 was his second visit with federal legislators and staffers. He plans to be a civil rights lawyer when he grows up.
But back when he was seven years old, Alex attended a private elementary school for children with disabilities. He remembers being repeatedly dragged from his classroom to the school’s “crisis room,” a converted storage closet with black-painted walls and a tiny window. The teacher or administrator who took him there would shove a heavy desk against the door to prevent it from opening and then leave him alone, confused and terrified. “When I asked for help or asked if anyone was still there, nobody would answer,” Alex said. “I felt alone. I felt scared.” At the time, Virginia had no law requiring such schools to inform parents if their children were restrained or secluded, and the principal of Alex’s school threatened to confine him to the “crisis room” for the rest of the year if he told his parents about what was happening. However, his mother and father soon noticed that their son had unexplained bruises, and that he was becoming more and more anxious. Eventually, he broke down and told them what was happening to him at school.
Sadly, Alex Campbell’s history is far from unusual. Shortly after Alex spoke in Washington for the second time, another autistic thirteen-year-old, Max Benson, was held for a prolonged period in a dangerous “prone restraint” by staff members in the private school for children with disabilities he attended in California. Max later died in hospital from his injuries. The use of prone restraints in schools is against the law in California, but the school in question (which has since gone out of business) frequently used them anyway.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection reports that roughly 124,000 students were restrained or secluded across the country during the latest period for which data is currently available, the 2015-16 school year. But this is certainly an undercount, and perhaps by a large amount. Many school districts do not collect the relevant data, or they fail to deliver it to the Department of Education as required. Even when they do make a report, the information provided may not be accurate. For example, the internal records of Cedar Rapids Community School District in Iowa showed that there had been 1,400 restraint/seclusion incidents from 2012-14—but none of these was reported to the U.S. Department of Education. Iowa’s two senators launched an investigation into this underreporting. Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia likewise reported zero cases of restraint or seclusion during the 2015-16 school year. However, following an investigation by a journalist from American University, Fairfax County Schools reported 1,700 cases in 2017-18. In the CRDC survey, roughly 70% of all school districts nationwide reported zero cases of restraint and seclusion in 2015-16. If their reports were anything similar to those of Cedar Rapids or Fairfax County, then many, many cases of children being restrained and secluded have probably been kept hidden from the Department of Education’s view.
Children with disabilities (primarily children with autism and ADHD) are much more likely than those without disabilities to face physical restraint and seclusion (isolation), as well as other forms of discipline such as suspension and expulsion. According to the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection for the 2015-16 school year, while children with disabilities represented only 12% of students nationally, they represented 71% of those suffering restraint and 66% of those facing seclusion. Children of color are especially likely to face restraint, seclusion, and even arrest, for minor infractions of school discipline. After eleven-year-old African-American Kayleb Moon-Robinson, who is autistic, kicked a trash can during a meltdown in 2014, his Virginia school’s police officer filed charges of disorderly conduct against him in juvenile court. The punishment imposed by the school was that he was only allowed to leave the classroom after his classmates had done so. A few weeks later he broke this rule by leaving with the other kids. The school principal called the police officer, who grabbed Kayleb and tried to take him to the office; when the child resisted, he was slammed down, handcuffed, and taken instead to juvenile court, where he was charged not only with a second count of disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor) but also with “assault on a police officer” (a felony). A judge later found him guilty on all charges, and Kayleb faced doing time in a juvenile detention facility, but in the end the case was dropped and he transferred to a different school. The Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection does not break down data by both race and disability, but it does note that while African-Americans make up only 15% of the student population in the United States, they represent 27% of students restrained and 23% of those secluded.
Children have few legal protections against these practices. A 2012 resource document from the U.S. Department of Education explicitly states that restraint should not be used “except in situations where the child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others.” Yet as of December 2016, only 22 states required that a child must pose an immediate physical threat to her/himself or others before restraint can be used. Elsewhere, restraints could be applied in cases where a child simply disobeys a teacher or acts out in non-threatening ways—as, for example, in the case of Thomas Brown of Denton, TX, who had a meltdown when he couldn’t get his shoes on and disrupted his class by swinging a computer mouse around. Eventually Thomas hid in his classroom cubby and refused to come out. At this point—when he actually posed no threat to anyone—his teacher and the school police officer dragged him out of the cubby, down the hall, and into the seclusion room, where he was handcuffed by the police officer. David Sims, of Conroe, Texas, who is also autistic, was not even having a meltdown when he was restrained. Instead, he was pretending to point an imaginary rifle at his art teacher. Nevertheless, he was handcuffed and taken to the local Juvenile Detention Center and held there for several hours.
As of December, 2016, only 24 states forbade the use of mechanical restraints such as handcuffs or leather straps. Many others continue to permit tying children to their seats with handcuffs, straps, duct tape, and other materials—a significant safety hazard in case of fire or other emergencies. Only 20 states forbade the use of sedatives (“chemical restraints”) to keep children under control. 17 states continued to allow the use of physical restraints that impede breathing (such as prone restraints). Only 23 states banned non-emergency seclusion of children with disabilities—elsewhere autistic children can still be locked in “crisis rooms,” storage closets or even bathrooms, sometimes for hours, for minor infractions. Only 32 states required that disabled children remain under observation while in seclusion, even though lack of observation could and can lead to the injury or even death of an overwhelmed child. As I write this, there is still no federal law regulating the use of restraint and seclusion in schools (this is what Alex Campbell has been lobbying for).
Restraint and seclusion are dangerous practices, both for the children subjected to them and for the staff implementing them. They expose children (and staff) to physical dangers: bruises, bloody noses, broken limbs, and—in the case of the children—even death. Still more disturbing, however, are the psychological effects. Remember that autistic children do not “choose” to have meltdowns. They are unable to control themselves during a meltdown, and are usually very frightened by what’s already happening to them—even before they are “punished” by an exasperated teacher or an untrained police officer. When that happens, they usually don’t understand why this is happening to them—they just know that they are being manhandled and locked up, and as a result they fight back even harder. Hannah Grieco reports that her son needed a year of “intensive therapy” to recover from the restraint he suffered at school. An autistic blogger remembers being secluded in school for hours at a time as “torture.” Many children who have been subjected to these practices suffer from PTSD. They may cry, scream or hide when they even see their school; they may beg their parents not to leave them there. Some have committed suicide during seclusion (when a school has failed in its duty to keep children under observation) or at home, after repeated incidents of seclusion.
Finally, it is the case that restraint and seclusion are completely ineffective as forms of discipline. As former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put it: “there continues to be no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective in reducing the occurrence of the problem behaviors that frequently precipitate the use of such techniques.” The techniques may teach children to fear their teachers, aides, or school resource officers, but they do not teach them anything at all about controlling their own behavior—which is out of their conscious control anyway. If anything, they tend to make autistic students more anxious, more stressed, and therefore more likely to suffer meltdowns, creating a vicious cycle of stress, classroom disturbance, punishment, escalating stress, further disturbance, and so on. In dealing with meltdowns, immediate resort to restraint and seclusion represent “worst” practice.
There are better ways.
 Hannah Rappleye and Liz Brown, “Thirteen-year-old Activist with Autism Wants to Close Seclusion Rooms at Schools,” NBC news report, November 23, 2018: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/education/thirteen-year-old-activist-autism-wants-close-seclusion-rooms-schools-n935356.
 Sawsan Morrar and Phillip Reese, “School Where Student with Autism Collapsed and Later Died Violated Restraint Rules, California Regulators Find,” The Sacramento Bee, December 8, 2018: https://www.sacbee.com/latest-news/article222799470.html.
 U.S. Department of Education,“2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection: School Climate And Safety,” p. 12: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/school-climate-and-safety.pdf.
 Susan Ferriss, “Virginia Tops Nation in Sending Students to Cops, Courts: Where Does Your State Rank?” The Center for Public Integrity website, April 10, 2015; revised February 19, 2016: https://publicintegrity.org/education/virginia-tops-nation-in-sending-students-to-cops-courts-where-does-your-state-rank/ ; Susan Ferriss, “Virginia drops felony charges against sixth-grade boy with autism,” Reveal (published by the Center for Public Integrity), March 15, 2016: https://www.revealnews.org/article/virginia-drops-felony-charges-against-sixth-grade-boy-with-autism/.
 U.S. Department of Education, “2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection: School Climate And Safety,” p. 11: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/school-climate-and-safety.pdf.
 National Disability Rights Network, “School Is Not Supposed to Hurt: Investigative Report on Abusive Restraint and Seclusion in Schools”: https://www.ndrn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/SR-Report2009.pdf.
 U.S. Department of Education, “Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document,” 2012: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/seclusion/restraint-and-seclusion-resource-document.html.
 “Denton ISD Faces Scrutiny After Officer Seen Handcuffing, Pinning Down Autistic Child,” report on the Dallas-Fort Worth CBS affiliate: https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2018/08/11/denton-isd-officer-seen-handcuffing-pinning-down-autistic-child/; see also Tom Steele, “Autistic child severely bruised after school officer handcuffed him, Denton parents say,” Dallas News, May 15, 2018: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/denton/2018/05/15/denton-parents-say-autistic-child-severe-bruises-after-school-officer-handcuffed.
 Matthew Martinez, “12-Year-Old with Autism Arrested for Using ‘Imaginary Rifle’ in Art Class, Family Says,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 10, 2018:
https://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article210879114.html ; Maria Perez, “Texas Student with Autism Arrested for Allegedly Firing ‘Imaginary Rifle’,” Newsweek, May 12, 2018: https://www.newsweek.com/imaginary-rifle-autism-texas-923316.
 These and the following numbers come from Jessica Butler, “How Safe is the Schoolhouse?: An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies,” published in 2017 for the Autism National Committee: https://www.autcom.org/pdf/HowSafeSchoolhouse.pdf.
 See for example, the cases of a little girl in Indiana: https://www.apnews.com/6c1bf5670c23465c9d48ce4a77634131;
And a little boy in Florida who spent all day strapped to a toilet training chair with his pants down around his ankles: https://www.jacksonville.com/article/20090320/NEWS/801237594.
 Jenny Abamu, “Children Are Routinely Isolated in Some Fairfax County Schools. The District Didn’t Report It,” on WAMU radio, updated March 13, 2019:
 Erin Jordan, “Senators Ask Federal Probe of School Seclusion Reporting,” The [Cedar Rapids] Gazette, June 3, 2018: https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/education/senators-ask-federal-probe-of-school-seclusion-reporting-20180603.
 Jenny Abamu, “U.S. Schools Underreport How Often Students Are Restrained Or Secluded, Watchdog Says,” All Things Considered, on National Public Radio, haveJune 18, 2019—based on a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office: https://www.npr.org/2019/06/18/731703500/u-s-schools-underreport-how-often-students-are-restrained-or-secluded-watchdog-s.
 Jenny Abamu, “U.S. Schools Underreport How Often Students Are Restrained Or Secluded, Watchdog Says,” on All Things Considered, on National Public Radio, June 18, 2019—based on a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office: https://www.npr.org/2019/06/18/731703500/u-s-schools-underreport-how-often-students-are-restrained-or-secluded-watchdog-s.
 Schools general deny that restraint and seclusion are used as punishment, but it is hard to see how aversive actions that do not teach children anything (see below) are anything else.
 Hannah Grieco, “Restraining Students with Disabilities is Harmful,” The Baltimore Sun, April 22, 2019:
 Anonymous, “Seclusion as Punishment,” in the “We Always Liked Picasso Anyway” blog, October 3, 2013:
 U.S. Department of Education, “Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document,” 2012, p. iii: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/seclusion/restraints-and-seclusion-resources.pdf.
Trigger warning: discussion of suicide, psychiatric abuse
It’s been five weeks now, and beloved daughter is still locked in a nightmarish “mental health” ward, with a sadistic psychiatrist who refuses to believe that she’s autistic (she was first diagnosed at age 3 and multiple times thereafter) and who punishes her for acting autistic (“you’re just looking for attention”).
Seven months ago she was raped while asleep in her own bed in her own apartment. So the asshole psychiatrist, who knows about this, assigns male techs to watch her shower and use the toilet, and sometimes to “observe” her overnight. On those occasions she forces herself to stay awake all night because she’s afraid of what will happen if she sleeps.
Her only comfort in the ward is a little stuffed dog toy—so they punish her by taking it away from her if she’s not “compliant” enough.
The idiot psychiatrist seems unable to grasp the fact that she is suffering the aftereffects of multiple traumas, and has decided that she must have borderline personality disorder—despite the fact that she doesn’t come close to meeting the DSM-V diagnostic criteria. So they have started hounding her to admit that she’s “manipulative.”
She wasn’t in very bad shape when she went into this place—she had made a kind of half-hearted suicide attempt. But now she is in a really terrible state of mind, and I’m afraid she really will kill herself from the trauma of this hospitalization.
We WILL sue the hospital. Any suggestions about individuals or organizations that would like to join in?
Trigger warning: bullying, anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts
Many autistic adults have written about the long horrors of their school days. They remember (unfortunately, they sometimes can’t STOP remembering) being poked and prodded, scratched and kicked, punched, doused with noxious liquids, and pushed down stairs. They remember being choked unconscious, set on fire, waterboarded, stabbed with knives. They remember being the one not invited to the birthday party, not picked for the sports team, not wanted as partner for a class project. They remember sitting alone on the bus, sitting alone at lunch, standing alone on the playground. More than anything, they remember the mockery and humiliation, the insults and cruel imitations, the echoes of savage laughter. And this is why there was such a visceral reaction when speech pathologist Karen Kabaki-Sisto published a piece called “10 Perks Kids with Autism Get From Bullying” on the Autism Daily News, in October, 2015. Kabaki-Sisto presumably meant well (something along the line of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”), but her piece was jarringly tone deaf to actual autistic experience. Most autistic adults (and many neurotypicals, including myself) who read “10 Perks” were outraged that anyone would suggest that their traumatic experiences and those of their children had any “positive” side at all.
The Impact of Bullying Internalized
Bullying causes such severe distress in schoolchildren that it may cause or exacerbate psychological disorders, especially what psychologists call “internalizing” disorders (ones that are not easily seen by others because emotional distress is directed inwards). These include loneliness, anxiety, poor self-image, depression, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Prolonged bullying (the type most autistic kids endure) erodes trust in other people, leaving the victims feeling alone and helpless. By-standers fail to help, friends drop away, school staff refuse to believe reports of bullying, or give useless advice. Responding to Kabaki-Sisto, Jennifer reports that her bullying experiences left her with
A complete inability to trust others: This is due to never knowing who is actually your friend or who is setting you up to be the butt of a joke and/or using you for their own personal gain. You also realize your peers don’t give a damn about you enough to stand up for you, when they see you being harassed, made fun of, and physically abused by others.
Kabaki-Sisto had suggested that bullying might lead to increased independence for autistic children, but Purpleaspie did not view that as a positive thing:
In a twisted way bullying did increase my independence, as it taught me that I couldn’t rely on anyone to help me, certainly not the school principal or vice-principal or any of the teachers or counsellors, so I had to depend only on myself.
Lack of trust often leads to increased social withdrawal: “to avoid exposing yourself to betrayal in the first place, or because you lose the confidence and self-esteem you might have had before.” Kabaki-Sisto had suggested that being bullied might lead to new friendships, but this is not what autistic adults remember:
A bullied child will feel isolated from his or her peers, not drawn to new peers. When social interactions – already a situation that makes those with autism nervous – becomes associated with all of the negatives of bullying, a child with autism is more likely to withdraw within himself or herself and not try to make new friends.
Social withdrawal, however, only worsens the situation, as it removes even the tiny amount of social support that might be have been there before, making bullying even easier.
Lack of trust can result in intense anxiety. When Kabaki-Sisto suggested that bullying might make autistic children more aware of the people around them, one autistic adult described the kind of awareness that might result:
. . . she will grow to be afraid of everyone around her. She will be constantly afraid the next person walking down the street will take umbrage with her behavior. She will be afraid of doing anything that isn’t “normal,” and will question her own behaviors and thoughts to the point of near nervous breakdown.
School rapidly becomes a place of terror for children who are bullied. School refusal is a common outcome: Alex Forshaw is not alone in having bolted when being told it was time to go to school. Others, as we have already seen, may act up in school on purpose, to get suspended and thus avoid being there. Even those who can bring themselves to go to school suffer from debilitating fear. In ninth and tenth grade, my own autistic daughter used to vomit every single morning before going off to face the bullies. By the second part of tenth grade, she could only go at all if she took along a tiny stuffed animal, hidden in her pocket, to “be her friend” at school, and her arms were raw from anxiety-induced scratching. IndieSoul used to “shake and sweat from anxiety in school and hide in the bathrooms during recess.” Another victim reports fainting “just out of fear.” Anxiety is already high in most autistic individuals, but years of bullying in childhood ups the ante, laying the foundations for anxiety disorders continuing into adulthood. IndieSoul continues: “I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be completely rid of the anxiety.”
Social anxiety and panic disorders linked to bullying during childhood are very common among autistic adults, but particularly severe or long-lasting bullying may also result in post-traumatic stress disorder. To my knowledge, no researcher has examined how many autistic adults suffer from PTSD as a result of school bullying, but many individuals report having been professionally diagnosed with the disorder, and some describe their symptoms online. Flashbacks, or moments when remembered trauma seems to be happening in the present, are common: “Lately I’ve been having flashbacks of the days when I got bullied in school. They range from the typical teasing, to having things thrown at me, gossiped about, falsely accused of vandalism, being called mentally challenged, ‘roasted’ by the entire classroom when I had done nothing wrong or didn’t say anything at all, and eventually ignore by adults when I complained and after that, beaten up.” PTSD produces many other symptoms beyond flashbacks. Jellybean reports: “I suffer from panic attacks, palpitations, hallucinations, nightmares, physical sickness (rare) and have an overactive responce to potential dangers, even if the ‘danger’ doesn’t really exist. It is absolutely horrific to suffer like this.” Individuals suffering from such debilitating symptoms find it difficult, if not impossible to achieve a decent quality of life.
The most dangerous lesson autistic (and other) children learn from bullying, however, is that they deserve it. This is what the bullies tell them, this is what parents and school staff may inadvertently reinforce, this is what they eventually internalize—that they are somehow less than other people, unworthy of decent treatment, inherently flawed and deserving of punishment. “The assistant principal at my old school told me it was my fault I was being bullied and that I should change what ever it was I was being bullied about.” “. . . when I was made fun of pushed around etc in school I always thought I deserved it because I ‘asked’ for it, not being normal etc.” By high school, Kirsten reports, “my self-esteem had been damaged to the point that I couldn’t even conceive of the notion of self-love. In the back of my mind, I thought I was slow, stupid, ugly, a loser, and any other unwanted adjective I could think of.”
Children who have absorbed these lessons often develop clinical depression: “I got bullied at school and was depressed all of middle school/high school.” “I got a major clinical depression because of bullying. I’m on meds now.” Depression itself is severely debilitating, hindering both social and academic achievement, but it also often leads to thoughts of suicide—one study has found that suicidal ideation is 28 times more common among autistic than among neurotypical children. The problem appears to be not autism itself, but the experience of being bullied: the same study found that children with autism spectrum conditions who have been bullied are approximately three times more likely to think about or actually attempt suicide than children with autism who have not been bullied. A fourteen-year-old with autism who had already made two suicide attempts reported that the bullying “made me feel sad, depressed. It made me feel like people don’t care anymore because when I got bullied I felt like well if they cared about me they would have done something.” Bullies, and especially cyberbullies often encourage suicide with messages such as “you should just go kill yourself” and “everyone would be happier if you were dead,” but some autistic children simply find their lives in school unbearable and look to death as a relief. “I would have killed myself if my parents didn’t take me out of public school. The bullying was that bad.” Not only suicidal thoughts, but also suicide attempts and successful suicides are more common among autistic than neurotypical children. ”If I had not been bullied at school I would have had a refuge. Not having that? I tried to kill myself a few times and failed. I didn’t get found or helped, I just didn’t do it right. I am glad of that but telling me that I am stronger because of this [as Kabaki-Sisto did] is an insult to my intelligence, common sense, and every autist on the planet.”
Ultimately, after years of bullying, autistic children—like other bullied children—may simply lose their sense of self. However happy, engaged, and enthusiastic they may have been as young children, their experiences at school have turned them into angry, fearful, depressed and bitter adults. As the author of one response to “10 Perks” asks
Am I a better person for [the bullying]? How would I know . . . the girl you are talking about died thirty years ago and again and again yet she never gets to rest.
 It was later pulled from the Autism Daily News website because of the outcry against it.
 Jennifer, “A Response to the Ten Perks Children with Autism Get From Bullying,” on the Autistic Giraffe Party Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/autisticpartygiraffe/posts/429266380617441.
 “There Are No Perks to Being Bullied,” on the Purpleaspie blog: https://purpleaspie.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/there-are-no-perks-to-being-bullied/. See also Ian Nicholson, “Ten Things THIS Autistic Kid Learned from Being Bullied,” on the Digital Hyperlexic blog: https://thedigitalhyperlexic.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/ten-things-this-autistic-kid-learned-from-being-bullied/.
 S.M. Neumeier, “Bullying is abuse, and abuse has no perks,” on the Silence Breaking Sound website: https://silencebreakingsound.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/bullying-is-abuse-and-abuse-has-no-perks/.
 TechyDad, “Perks From Being Bullied? I Don’t Think So!” on the TechyDad blog: http://www.techydad.com/2015/10/perks-from-being-bullied-i-dont-think-so/.
 On the high levels of anxiety among autistic children and adolescents overall, see J. Wood, and K. Gadow, “Exploring the Nature and Function of Anxiety in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 17 (2010), 281-292.
 J.T. Dabaggian, “Why Karen Kabaki-Sisto’s 10 “Perks” for bullied autistic kids is bull.” Medium magazine, 10/16/15: https://medium.com/@jtdabbagian/why-karen-kabaki-sisto-s-10-perks-for-bullied-autistic-kids-is-bull-7f14d97aabf4.
 Alex Forshaw, “Bullying: Resurrecting Buried Trauma,” on the My Autistic Dance blog: https://myautisticdance.blog/2015/10/18/bullying-resurrecting-buried-trauma/.
 We home-schooled her for her junior and senior years, because we just couldn’t watch her suffering anymore.
 IndieSoul, in the “Aspergers and Social Anxiety Disorder,” on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=202798.
 Iknewyouweretrouble, in the “Were You Bullied in School?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=32&t=231102&start=15; see also franknfurter’s contribution to the “What Were You Like in Elementary School?” discussion: “i also had panic attacks a lot, and was bullied, it was not a time i care to remember, only emotions about elementary/primary school i remember feeling was anxiety” (https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=226220).
 IndieSoul, in the “Aspergers and Social Anxiety Disorder,” on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=202798; see also Oten’s contribution to the “Were You Bullied in School?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=231102; NerdyKid’s contribution to the “People with Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165; Feminist Aspie, “10 Downsides Kids With Autism Get From Bullying (because apparently it isn’t obvious),” on the Feminist Aspie blog: https://feministaspie.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/10-downsides-kids-with-autism-get-from-bullying-because-apparently-it-isnt-obvious/. See also NerdyKid’s contribution to the “People with Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165.
 School bullying has been identified as one potential cause of PTSD in the general population: T. Idsoe, A. Dyregrov, and E. Idsoe, “Bullying and PTSD Symptoms,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 40 (2012), 901-11; T. Gumpel, “Prolonged Stress, PTSD, and Depression Among School Aggressors and Victims,” Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma 25 (2016), 180-96. Little research has been done on school bullying and PTSD among autistic individuals; see only C. Kerns, C. Newschaffer, and S. Berkowitz (2015). “Traumatic Childhood Events and Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 45(2015), 3475-3486. The authors include bullying as one of the potential sources of traumatic stress.
 Ameriblush, in the “Remembering years of bullying” discussion on the Aspies Central website:
 Jellybean, in the “Complex PTSD As Result of Severe Bullying” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=47533&start=45.
 This_Amoeba, in the “People Normalizing Bullying You Got As A Child” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: https://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=336587.
 Daedal, in the “People with Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165. See also J.T. Dabaggian, “Why Karen Kabaki-Sisto’s 10 “Perks” for bullied autistic kids is bull.” Medium magazine, 10/16/15: https://medium.com/@jtdabbagian/why-karen-kabaki-sisto-s-10-perks-for-bullied-autistic-kids-is-bull-7f14d97aabf4.
 Kirsten, “Bullying . . . The Real Problem . . . An Aspergian Woman’s Perspective”: http://wrongplanet.net/bullying-the-real-problem-an-aspergian-womans-perspective/.
 IHaveAspergers,” in the “Is Suicide Common In People with Aspergers?” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=280538.
 hello07, in the “People with Apergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165.
 S. Mayes, A. Gorman, J. Hillwig-Garcia, and E. Syed, “Suicide Ideation and Attempts in Children with Autism,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7 (2013),109–119, 2013.
 Cyberbullying Research Center, “Helping Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder When Bullied or Cyberbullied”: https://cyberbullying.org/helping-kids-autism-spectrum-disorder-bullied-cyberbullied.
 Autistic students are often targeted with such messages: see the “Why Are People Telling Me to Kill Myself?” and “I Was Jus Bullied, Called a Retard & Told To Go Kill Myself” discussions on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=341134, and http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=299688.
 PunkyKat, in the “People With Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165 .
 O. Shtayermann, “Peer Victimization in Adolescents and Young Adults Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome: A Link to Depressive Symptomatology, Anxiety Symptomatology, and Suicidal Ideation,” Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing 30 (2007), 87-197; Benjamin Zablotsky, Catherine Bradshaw, Connie Anderson, and Paul Law, “The Association between Bullying and the Psychological Functioning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 34 (2013), 1-8; S. Mayes, A. Gorman, J. Hillwig-Garcia, and E. Syed, “Suicide Ideation and Attempts in Children with Autism,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7 (2013),109–119, 2013; Danielle Ung, et al., “The Relationship between Peer Victimization and the Psychological Characteristics of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 32 (2016), 70-79. See also the personal accounts of Hello07, in the “People With Aspergers Don’t Care About Being Bullied” discussion on the Wrong Planet website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=149165; IHaveAspergers, in the “Is Suicide Common In People With Aspergers?” discussion on the same website: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=280538.
 Kateryna Fury, “Why Bullying Isn’t Healthy for ANYONE,” on the Textual Fury blog: http://snip.ly/oLlW#https://textualfury.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/why-bullying-isnt-healthy-for-anyone-a-post-intended-for-karen-kabaki-sisto-trigger-warning-for-everyone-else-also-i-cussed-a-bit/.
 “On the ‘perks’ of bullying . . . ,” on the Antigenic Self blog: http://theantigenicself.tumblr.com/post/131203829795/on-the-perks-of-bullying.
The efforts of advocacy groups such as the National Federation of the Blind, the National Society for Crippled Children (later known as Easterseals), and the Association for Retarded Children (today known simply as the ARC) gradually increased public awareness of disabled children and the difficulties they faced during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. Under pressure from these groups and from their constituents, Congress began investigating the lack of educational opportunities for the disabled, and then experimenting with legislative solutions, such as offering grants to school districts for the development of (segregated) educational programs for the disabled. These early legislative efforts met with only limited success, however. In 1971-72, it was estimated that only 17 states were educating even half of their identified children with disabilities; many other states were offering education to less than a third. At the same time, exposés of the horrible conditions under which disabled children lived in many state institutions were further increasing public demand for the placement of these children in real schools.
Changes were occurring in the courts, as well. After the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954), which highlighted the evils of segregating schoolchildren by race, advocacy groups and sometimes individual parents began bringing lawsuits against school districts for excluding and segregating children based on disability. Many of these lawsuits failed, but the courts found in favor of the plaintiffs in several significant cases in the early 1970s, establishing the principles that even children with severe disabilities were entitled to an education, and that local districts could not use the excuse of lack of funds to exclude disabled children from school.
The combination of increased public pressure, legislative precedent, and court decisions eventuallly led to the passage of the landmark Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) in 1975. The EAHCA mandated that all children, even the most severely disabled, must receive a “free, appropriate,public education”—thereby laying the foundations for our current system of special education. It required that school districts identify the disabled children within their borders and then develop a plan for them to receive the educational services they needed. In order to be “appropriate,” their education should come as close as possible to that offered to non-disabled peers (while still being tailored to the needs of the individual child), and should be offered in the “least restrictive environment” possible—ideally in the same classroom, or at least in the same school building as their peers. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act also laid out processes through which concerned parents could challenge a school’s decisions about their child’s education. In the decades since 1975, EAHC has been repeatedly reauthorized and refined (and in 1990 re-named, as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA).
Passing such a law was a challenge in 1975, but implementing it has proved even more difficult. To begin with, there have always been funding shortfalls. In the EAHC, the federal government promised to cover 40% of the costs of educating children with disabilities, but in reality the highest percentage of costs ever covered was around 17% and more often it has been around 11-12%. Even when the states fulfilled their own financial obligations (which has not always been the case), there has never really been enough money for schools to work with. One result is that the essential infrastructure for educating disabled children—ramps, accessible bathrooms, signs in braille, etc.—were missing from almost all schools in 1975 and remains substandard in many places even today. (Fans of the new television show “Speechless” will remember the scene in which the mother of a child in a wheelchair, who has been asked to use the same inadequate ramp used to move the school’s trash bins, sarcastically challenges the school principal to distinguish between people and trash.)
In 1975 most school administrators knew little about disabled children, and even less about the supports they needed to thrive in school; most teachers had no training at all in working with them. This situation has improved greatly over the decades, although there still remain many opportunities for improvement. In 1975, however, dealing with kids who were deaf or blind, or those who had motor challenges was considered a major challenge. The struggle to provide a “free, appropriate, public education” for a psychotic or mentally retarded child, let alone one with the still rare diagnosis of autism, was overwhelming. The fact is, when the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed, most educators had never even heard of autism. (Hence the appearance in education journals during the late 1970s of various articles designed to explain the condition to them.)
What, then, were teachers to do when they were assigned to teach some of the few children diagnosed with autism? At first, far too many settled for simply “killing time.” The author of a 1980 paper took a very dim view of the schedule in use in one autism classroom she had visited:
Following such a schedule, it seems assured that, after 11,340 hours of educational opportunity over 12 years of schooling, the students would realize 1,800 hours of bathroom; 2,340 hours of snack, choices, circles, and goodbye’s; 2,880 hours of playground; and assuming that ‘centers’ equals ‘instruction,’ 2,520 hours or 2-2/3 years of instruction. Unfortunately, approximations of such a schedule can be found in too many classrooms for students with autism and other severely handicapping conditions.
She proposed a much tougher schedule, focused on teaching speech and other “functional” skills to these children. “Functional” became a buzzword in the field of special education over the course of the next decade, a way of identifying useful life skills ranging from toileting to meal preparation to riding the bus. The adjective seldom referred to academic skills, because, as we shall see, these were increasingly viewed as inappropriate, or “non-functional” for those with autism.
In early state efforts at implementing the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, when autism was mentioned at all, it was typically listed among the emotional disorders, along with schizophrenia. This was in keeping with the traditional understanding of autism that had prevailed in the United States since Leo Kanner first wrote about the condition in the 1940s. When teachers and administrators in the late 1970s encountered a child who had actually been diagnosed as “autistic,” they were usually told that the child’s problems were psychogenic, caused by cold, withdrawn parents (more specifically “refrigerator mothers”). As late as 1985, a handbook written for teachers in mainstream classrooms in Minnesota listed autism as an emotional disorder, although the author noted that “the classification of autism as an emotional disturbance is currently being questioned.”
Its classification was being questioned by educators in the 1980s, because scientists’ views of autism had changed dramatically during the 1970s. Researchers like Michael Rutter in England and Bernard Rimland in the United States had come to see the condition as a developmental rather than an emotional disorder—as “biogenic,” rather than “psychogenic” in origin. References to the work of these researchers began to appear in educational journals in the late 1970s, but the new understanding of autism took at least another decade to achieve mainstream status. Nevertheless, as educators gradually began to accept the idea that autism was a developmental disorder, they also began to adopt scientists’ faulty assumptions about autism and intelligence. By the late 1980s, children with a diagnosis of autism were automatically assumed to be intellectually disabled (“mentally retarded” in the terminology of the day). What had been two separate diagnostic categories in earlier decades—the rare “autistic” and the much more common “mentally retarded”—began to flow together to form one. In educational circles autism came to mean simply mental retardation accompanied by what were usually called “bizarre” behaviors.
And this meant that even those autistic children who appeared quite bright came to be viewed as cognitively impaired—in other words, their apparent abilities were deceptive. It might look like an autistic child could read, but he was by definition unable to comprehend what he was reading; it might look like an autistic child could multiply, but she was merely performing rote actions, without understanding what those actions meant. Attempting to provide further academic instruction beyond what was needed to count change in a store or read a street sign was futile at best. And so the main subjects taught in classes specifically designed for autistic children were speech and language learning, and “functional” life skills—as evidenced by the frequent appearance of articles on techniques for teaching these subjects in educational journals during the 1980s, and the almost complete absence of articles on ways to teach autistic students academic skills such as reading, writing, or math.
The passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975 meant, then, that more autistic children than ever before were served by public schools. However, they were not served well by those schools, partly because of the faulty expectations mentioned above, and partly because of faulty diagnoses. Few doctors knew much about autism in the 1980s, and they very often misdiagnosed autistic children. In 2013, there was a brief discussion on “What were you diagnosed with in the 80s?” on the Wrong Planet website.  It turns out, as we might expect, that although many of the participants had been taken to multiple specialists in their childhood, almost none had been diagnosed with autism. Instead, they received a variety of labels. Some—those who had good verbal skills and the ability to disguise their autistic characteristics—were declared “normal” (if a little “weird”). They were often able to remain in general educational classrooms. A subset of this group was diagnosed with learning disabilities (especially attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and received some supports from their schools. Most, however, still struggled to learn without supports, suffered from severe bullying, and far too often dropped out. As one contributor put it: “Many people with AS back in the 1980s just struggled or coped as best they could without any diagnosis. Unless you had a ‘breakdown’, or were caught trying to commit suicide, or were in trouble with the police (‘delinquent’ or ‘troubled’) you were usually left to sink or swim.” Another reports: “I was just considered weird, strange, outcast, bullied and generally rejected by my peers. I just learned to function and survive by myself, for myself, with myself.” 
Many other autistic children were labelled mentally ill (obsessive-compulsive, schizophrenic, severely depressed, bipolar, socially anxious, borderline-personality). In theory, the public schools were expected to serve the “emotionally disturbed,” but few were equipped to do so effectively, so most of these children had their educations interrupted by visits to psychiatric institutions. Still others were labelled “mentally retarded.” One highly articulate participant in the Wrong Planet discussion describes how she was originally thought to be autistic when she was examined back in 1986; however, her doctor eventually “settled on the diagnosis of Mental Retardation because I did not fit all the requirements for Classic Autism.” She spent years bouncing back and forth between special education and mainstream classes.
And finally there were the few who were actually diagnosed as autistic. They, too, were considered “mentally retarded” (usually “profoundly mentally retarded”) because intellectual disabiity had become an integral part of the educational establishment’s understanding of autism. The new educational outreach to disabled children had little impact on them. In many states, the autistic and the “profoundly mentally retarded” were still considered “ineducable,” and relegated to institutions where they received only a nominal education. As Mel Baggs, a non-speaking, multiply-handicapped autistic puts it: “I spent the majority of my teen years in either no school, institution schools, or special ed. And I knew that to the rest of the world none of us were real.” In other states, members of these groups were educated either in segregated schools or in separate special education classrooms within regular schools, that focused on communication and “functional” skills. This meant that many children who were actually quite bright—capable of learning and even excelling at academic subjects—were denied the opportunity to do so by the simple fact of their diagnosis and educational placement. The educational goal had become simply to have them exhibit fewer “bizarre autistic behaviors,” and perhaps learn a few self-care skills. And sadly, this remained the goal in many places well beyond 1990.
 Cited by Ruth Colker, Disabled Education: A Critical Analysis of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (New York: New York University Press, 2013), pp. 25-26.
 E.g., Burton Blatt and Fred Kaplan’s Christmas in Purgatory: A Photographic Essay on Mental Retardation (privately distributed, 1966; republished 1974 by Human Policy Press in Syracuse, NY); Bill Baldini’s television reporting on Pennhurst State School and Hospital in East Vincent, PA, 1968; Geraldo Rivera’s television reporting on Willow State School for the developmentally disabled on Staten Island, NY, in 1972.
 Pete Wright, “The History of Special Education Law,” on the Wrightslaw website: http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/art/history.spec.ed.law.htm.
 Ruth Colker, Disabled Education: A Critical Analysis of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (New York: New York University Press, 2013): see pp. 17-43 on the EAHCA.
 Marjorie Coeyman, “Leaving No Child Behind is Expensive,” Christian Science Monitor 12/26/2001, p. 19; Christina Samuels, “Special Ed. Law Wrought Complex Changes,” Education Week 35:12 (November 11, 2015).
 The statistics commonly used in the 1970s (based on research from the 1960s) placed the prevalence of autism at somewhere between 2 and 4.5 out of every 10,000 people. Compare this with today’s prevalence statistics, which identify roughly 1.5 out of 100 people as autistic: https://spectrumnews.org/news/algorithm-automates-efforts-estimate-autism-prevalence/.
 E.g., James McDonald and George Sheperd, “The Autistic Child: A Challenge for Educators,” Psychology in the Schools 13 (1976), 248-56; Glen Dunlap,Robert Koegel, and Andrew Egel, “Autistic Children in School,” Exceptional Children 45 (1979), 552-58.
 Anne Donnellan, “An Educational Perspective on Autism: Implications for Curriculum Development and Personnel Development,” in Barbara Wilson and Anneke Thompson, eds., Critical Issues in Educating Autistic Children and Youth (Washington, DC: United States Department of Education, 1980), p.58.
 Jean Mack, “An Analysis of State Definitions of Severely Emotionally Disturbed” (pamphlet), (Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children, 1980), p. 10; J. Gregory Olley, “Organization of Educational Services for Autistic Children and Youth,” in Barbara Wilson and Anneke Thompson, eds., Critical Issues in Educating Autistic Children and Youth (Washington, DC: United States Department of Education, 1980), pg. 13.
 Joan Schoepke, “Autism,” in Resource Manual on Disabilities, ed. Polly Edmund, Sue Peterson, et al., (Minneapolis: Pacer Center, 1985), p. 89. Oddly, in 1982 Hawaii shifted autism from the “emotionally disturbed” category to “other health impaired:” Memo from Donnis H. Thompson (State Superintendant of Education) to District Superintendants, Principals, Special Services Teams and Special Education Teachers, “Addendum to “Programs and Services for the Orthopedically Handicapped and Other Health Impaired” Section of “Program Standards and Guidelines for Special Education and Special Services in Hawaii” (September, 1982). The argument was that autism was distinct from mental retardation, emotional disorder, or learning disorder, and the only remaining category was “other health impairment.”
 Glen Dunlap,Robert Koegel, and Andrew Egel, “Autistic Children in School,” Exceptional Children 45 (1979), 552.
 See my earlier posts on “Autism and Intelligence.”
 Sam B. Morgan, “Understanding the Diagnosis of Autism: Initial Counseling of Parents and Other Family Members,”, Meeting Their Needs: Provision of Services to the Severely Emotionally Disturbed and Autistic: Conference Proceedings (Memphis, TN, 1984), pp. 48-49.
 “What Were You Diagnosed with in the 80s?” on Wrong Planet: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=243365
 Posts by One A-N and TalusJumper to the “What Were You Diagnosed with in the 1980s?” discussion on Wrong Planet: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=243365.
 “What Were You Diagnosed with in the 1980s?” discussion on Wrong Planet: http://wrongplanet.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=243365.
 MusicIsLife2Me, “My Possible Wrong Diagnosis of Mental Retardation” on Wrong Planet:
 Charles Martel Hale, Jr. “I Had No Means to Shout” (Bloomington, IN: 1st Books, 1999), p. 25.
 Mel Baggs, “Empty Mirrors and Redwoods,” published May 12, 2014 on the Ballastexistenz blog:
 See the data provided by Douglas Biklen, “The Myth of Clinical Judgment,” Journal of Social Issues 44 (1988), pp. 132-33.
The most widely disseminated public narratives about autism outline the “tragedy” of the condition—the despair and misery it supposedly creates, especially among the parents of children with autism. These narratives were brought to special prominence in the controversy surrounding Autism Speaks’s notorious 2009 ad campaign “I Am Autism,” but they are also extremely common in the titles of books and articles, as well as in everyday conversation. The fact is, however, that many parents of autistic children find their family life far from “tragic.” And more importantly, many autistic people describe their own lives in very positive terms, while still acknowledging the difficulties they face.
I wanted to start this series of posts on autism and emotion with a discussion of joy, because—although the word seldom appears in media accounts of autism, and although the emotion itself has seldom been studied by researchers on autism—autistic people themselves often write about joy, about the delight and deep pleasure they find in their special interests, in the sensory world around them, and especially in the practice of “stimming.”
Here is the incomparable Julia Bascom, in a blog post that has circulated widely within the neurodiversity community, entitled “The Obsessive Joy of Autism”:
One of the things about autism is that a lot of things can make you terribly unhappy while barely affecting others. A lot of things are harder.
But some things? Some things are so much easier. Sometimes being autistic means that you get to be incredibly happy. And then you get to flap. You get to perseverate. You get to have just about the coolest obsessions. . . .
It’s that the experience is so rich. It’s textured, vibrant, and layered. It exudes joy. It is a hug machine for my brain. It makes my heart pump faster and my mouth twitch back into a smile every few minutes. I feel like I’m sparkling. Every inch of me is totally engaged in and powered up by the obsession. Things are clear.
It is beautiful. It is perfect.
I flap a lot when I think about Glee or when I finish a sudoku puzzle. I make funny little sounds. I spin. I rock. I laugh. I am happy. Being autistic, to me, means a lot of different things, but one of the best things is that I can be so happy, so enraptured about things no one else understands and so wrapped up in my own joy that, not only does it not matter that no one else shares it, but it can become contagious.
If I could change three things about how the world sees autism, they would be these. That the world would see that we feel joy—sometimes a joy so intense and private and all-encompassing that it eclipses anything the world might feel. That the world would stop punishing us for our joy, stop grabbing flapping hands and eliminating interests that are not “age-appropriate”, stop shaming and gas-lighting us into believing that we are never, and can never be, happy. And that our joy would be valued in and of itself, seen as a necessary and beautiful part of our disability, pursued, and shared.
The very intensity of the autistic experience—the heightened sensory experience, the deep focus on special interests, the broad awareness of multiple stimuli—can cause considerable distress when beyond the individual’s control, but it can also give rise to astonishing experiences of beauty, delight, sensual pleasure, and joy when the individual can make use of that experience for her or his own ends.
Such moments of delight are achieved primarily through what scientists often describe dismissively as “stereotypic” or “repetitive” behaviors—hand flapping, rocking, spinning, bouncing, etc. For many years, autism therapists tried to eliminate these behaviors, in an attempt to “normalize” autistic people. The mantra “quiet hands” was regularly chanted in special education classrooms. More recently, scientists and autism professionals have begun to recognize the importance of “self-stimulatory behaviors” (another scientific term for these actions) as a calming response to stressful situations. It has therefore become less common for therapists to try to eliminate them completely, although it is still usually recommended that they encourage their clients to self-soothe in more “socially acceptable” ways (by playing with fidget toys, sitting in special chairs, etc.), rather than by the means of their own choosing. However, I have never seen a scientist, teacher, or therapist recognize the importance of self-stimulation as a source of positive, indeed deeply positive, emotional experience.
The value of “stimming” is, however, a frequent theme of autistic writing (which scientists and other professionals who wish to understand autistic experience would do well to consult). Rocking, hand-flapping, and spinning are not only responses to distress, but also, and much more importantly, forms of play. They provide intense satisfaction, mental stimulation, and sensory delight to autistic adults as well as children:
“When I flap I get a feeling of overwhelming joy and creative thoughts and images come from no where. My brain functioning becomes super fast and I can create perfect images or beautiful sentences in my mind.”
“I have difficulty regulating many of my body functions such as heat and cold or being overwhelmed by too much motion, light, sounds, etc. but I have access to a deep, deep, deep joy by manipulating movement, light, sounds, etc. on my own.”
“In the past year I have rediscovered the joy of stimming. I have unearthed a playfulness within me that I thought was lost.”
This “obsessive joy” is a wonderfully positive thing—that should be encouraged in autistic children and celebrated in autistic adults. It can, however, also have an addictive quality, which I will discuss in my next post.
 Julia Bascom, “The Obsessive Joy of Autism,” Just Stimming blog (https://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/the-obsessive-joy-of-autism/
 October 7, 2010 comment by “NothingsWrongWithMe” on “Understanding Hand-Flapping and What to Do (Or Not Do) About It,” on the Aspiring Dad blog (https://aspiringdad.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/understanding-hand-flapping-and-what-to-do-or-not-do-about-it/)
 “I is for Identity-first Language” April 10, 2015, on the Unstrange Mind blog (https://unstrangemind.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/i-is-for-identity-first-language/)
If we don’t use our words, we won’t be indistinguishable. (What’s wrong with saying, “use your words”? Many, many things, including the part where it’s ignoring communication that you actually did understand because you didn’t like how it was phrased. Thanks, Neurodivergent K.)But it’s not just about words, is it? Once we’re using words, you want…