Friday, March 27, 2009

demonizing autistics

my last post was about a very strange woman who has autism. today, i bring you a different case of autism, one far more sinister. the son of regular contributor ann bauer has autism, and while she has written several articles about other subjects, about half of her articles for have been about her autistic son, whose name is andrew. her latest article is where to start, describing how he has turned into a violent “monster”. it is the fifth article about her autistic son andrew. here are the previous articles (read them after the fifth one if you are actually interested, but the fifth-one is the only must-read out of them all): first, second, third, and fourth. now i found her latest article to be incredibly shocking and disturbing, as i have asperger’s syndrome myself, and asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder and is often thought to be the same as high-functioning autism. she even says that her son has high-functioning autism. then i started reading all of the many, many responses to her latest post, and some of them made me feel even more upset. ann bauer is blaming her son’s autism for him being violent, but plenty of men (and women too) who do not have any autism whatsoever are also violent. most people with autism spectrum disorders, such as me for instance, are not violent. while her latest article is quite personal and i am sure accurate (ann bauer even admits that she has been stockpiling lots of sleeping pills and planning on committing suicide if her son ever kills anyone), i think that it sends a dangerous and misleading message about autism spectrum disorders (which are sometimes also called pervasive developmental disorders, a less explanatory name). the most dangerous form of mental illness is, in case you didn’t know, antisocial personality disorder. anyone who has antisocial personality disorder is pretty much guaranteed to be a criminal, and very likely a violent one, since people with it have no morals, do not care about anyone except themselves, refuse to follow any authority or rules, and are impulsive, often in violent ways. as for my asperger’s syndrome, i think my case of asperger’s is quite mild, and mostly it is just social anxiety disorder (that later worsened into panic disorder when i started having panic attacks in college), combined with avoidant personality disorder. i am not 100% sure whether i actually have or don’t have asperger’s syndrome or avoidant personality disorder, but what i can be 100% sure of is that i have panic disorder, since i sure as hell have had some nasty panic attacks. panic attacks are caused by the “fight or flight response”, which, in the case of panic, is the flight response (wanting to escape from a scary situation). sudden violent outbursts are the other side of the “fight or flight response” coin: they are the fight response. my brain seems to be hardwired for anxiety, not fighting, when i find myself upset. so perhaps the violence of this autistic man andrew can be explained as a fight response. or maybe he is intentionally malicious. it is difficult for me to speculate about what may go on in the mind of someone with more severe autism than the incredibly mild version that i probably have. i am so much more like normal people who don’t have any form of autism whatsoever than i am like people with severe autism. still, i feel badly for them, and the ones that behave badly give the rest of us who are on the autism spectrum a bad name. i do not understand them at all, but that is a problem for all of us on the autism spectrum: we do not understand other people. the mother of andrew, ann bauer, seems to have a bit of mental illness of her own; in fact, i can say it as a factual matter that she suffers from mental illness, because she is suicidal and that is by definition mental illness. perhaps her mental illness is simply plain old depression, or depression mixed with anxiety (i have anxiety too, like i said). in any event, somebody who has no mental illness cannot be suicidal, because of the way mental illnesses are all defined and because psychologists and psychiatrists pretty much all agree that being suicidal indicates mental illness. anyway, depression and anxiety are mood disorders, and are not actual insanity. insanity, or, as it is now called in the psychological and psychiatric professions, psychosis, involves a person being disconnected from reality, and the most common type of psychosis is schizophrenia. autism spectrum disorders, personality disorders, and mood disorders are all outside the realm of insanity and psychosis. people who have them are still sane; they observe the real world, they can think logically unless they are too retarded to do so, and they are not lunatics. autism is a rather curious condition then, and it is primarily social retardation along with a few quirky eccentricities. i suppose that andrew, if he is autistic and does not have any psychosis, is most likely someone who is just frustrated with his life and the way things have turned out, who hates himself, who cannot understand other people, and is just very very upset. what people without autism spectrum disorders often fail to understand is that people who have autism spectrum disorders are mostly people that want to be social creatures just as much as everyone else, if not more so, but they find themselves unable to be social, and instead they fail utterly in this regard. throughout my lifetime so far, my experiences have been exactly that: wanting to be just as social as others, if not more so, but finding my own social abilities and my social courage to both be severely lacking, to the point where i have had very little success socially. i also understand why andrew would be upset: as a young person who his loving mother kept insisting was intelligent and had a bright future ahead of him, he most likely had set up very high expectations for himself, and when he ended up in living conditions where he no longer had any freedom, he probably became quite upset. however, i also think andrew may have antisocial personality disorder, as evidenced by his criminal activity (such as eating at restaurants and not paying, or assaulting women). he may very well have developed antisocial personality disorder “comorbid” with his autism, meaning that he has both conditions at the same time. when you read the articles by his mother (including the other articles on by her that are not about her son), it also becomes clear that she led a very chaotic life, including a rather chaotic divorce with her first husband, and then a messy series of relationships and periods of being single, ultimately resulting with a second marriage that seems to be going well so far. the mother seems quite obsessed with her autistic son and helping him out, and while it is natural for mothers to want to help and protect their offspring, it is perhaps advisable to remember that there can be too much of a good thing. while, as i mentioned earlier, we who have autism spectrum disorders often want to be social, we also often want to be left alone, just like regular people often want people who are bothering them to leave them alone. autistic people are not especially different from normal people except for things like the lack of communication skills. of course, severe cases of autism are often comorbid with mental retardation, and i think the reason for this is that the learning process, wherein one person teaches new information to somebody else, is in some ways a social interaction, and someone severely disabled socially as well as with communication may be unable to learn things from other people. in this case, such a person would need to learn everything on their own, and they may not be lucky enough to possess a keen enough intellect to figure things out without the aid of others, the end result of this being retardation. or perhaps in the severe cases, the mental retardation exists from the beginning. anyway, if you look at the comments for the article, you will run across a number of people who have worked in jobs where they had to interact with people with autism on a daily basis, and both people who dealt with autistic children as well as those who dealt with autistic adults said that some of them could be quite violent. so a great deal of people are actually coming forth with firsthand accounts of how they witnessed violence carried out by people on the autism spectrum. a lot of people talk about people with autism as if they are animals or just things, and some of them recommend castration as a solution! we are being objectified and treated as subhuman, as animals, by some of the people who commented on this article. i certainly do not have full-blown autism, but these are human beings we are talking about here! men with autism care just as much about their balls as any other men, and sure as hell don’t want a bunch of assholes castrating them. castration used to be done to the mentally ill, but luckily that horrific practice was stopped. if you take away a man’s testes, his manhood, you may as well just take away his life and kill him... and in fact some of the people commented that the most humane solution might be to euthanize people with autism. other people commented that there should be some kind of eugenics to prevent anyone with autism from being born in the first place, as if autism is some kind of horrible disease that needs to be eradicated, and not just a natural personality type that many people happen to have. it was very chilling reading people’s reactions to it, how so many people dehumanized not only andrew but everyone with autism, and how they seem so ready to deny the basic human rights that we hold so dear to people with autism spectrum disorders just because a small percentage of autistic people end up violent (probably around the same percentage of non-autistic people who end up violent). it makes me think of how the jews were discriminated against by the nazis, and i know that whenever anyone brings up hitler and the holocaust, this is supposed to indicate that they have taken the argument to an absurd level and therefore lost the argument. i am not saying this is anything like the holocaust whatsoever, just that it made me think of the holocaust, and it made me frightened for my own safety, as someone with an autism spectrum disorder. of course, no action anywhere near that bad has been taken against us on the autistic spectrum so far by angry mobs with pitchforks and torches, and if i think about it realistically, i sincerely doubt that anything like that ever would happen. but just reading what some people write about people with autism frightens me. then again, i am frightened easily, since after all, i do have panic disorder, the one disorder i can be completely sure that i have, because my numerous severe panic attacks over the last 9 years are proof beyond any reasonable doubt. it is pretty obvious that i am overreacting to this article by ann bauer about her son and the comments posted on about it. i feel badly for both her and her son, as well as everyone else who has been involved in any way (anyone her son did bad things to, for instance). in the case of her son, it is clear that andrew is a menace to society and cannot be allowed to roam free or to ever have the chance to physically attack someone who is weaker than him. i hope he can be rehabilitated somehow so that he is no longer dangerous, but otherwise, he ought to remain behind bars, in a mental institution preferably, or else in jail. being autistic is no excuse for his behavior, and even if it is a valid excuse, that does not mean society should just let andrew continue attacking people. however, he is just one person and every person is different. we should not generalize about everyone with autism just because he is a violent criminal. the virginia tech killer was asian, in fact south korean; however, we have not seen asians or south koreans demonized as a bunch of crazy killers... i mean, we actually have seen that, but it did not last very long, and it was just a few people on the internet anyway. i suppose there are groups of people that continue to have an image problem when it comes to violence. men, for instance. black people. arabs. muslims. all have been stereotyped as violent. however, if you look at the statistics, men really are more likely to be violent than women, and african-americans are more likely to be violent than european-americans (i am using that to refer to white people since, after all, we white people are of european ancestry and are not native to america like native americans; also i am hyphenating both with americans to indicate that i am only referring to people in the united states, since i am going by those statistics). i need not go into the various debates over why violent crime is more commonly carried out by african-americans than european-americans, because those debates are unrelated to the subject of this blog post, so suffice it to say that i think the primary reason is economic inequality. as for the level of violence carried out by arabs or muslims, the overall number of people killed or percentage of people who are violent or kill people is not something i know the statistics for, but certain types of violence, like major terrorist attacks, are almost exclusively done by muslims, usually muslims of arab ancestry. this does not mean that muslims are more violent, since after all, non-muslims have plenty of ways to kill people, such as using military force. anyway, that is not the main topic either, and i was just trying to point out that sometimes people with autism spectrum disorders are demonized, and that is not cool with me at all. that type of discrimination is like racism, sexism, homophobia, age discrimination, or any other type of evil bias against those who are different from you. many of history’s greatest geniuses are thought to have had asperger’s syndrome, the milder autism spectrum disorder that i have. this includes people like isaac newton and albert einstein, among the many great names. among people alive today, we have stephen spielberg, bill gates, and al gore, just to name a few. and ok, i have to mention the encyclopedia dramatica entry on asperger’s. everything on encyclopedia dramatica is meant to be as insulting, negative, and offensive as possible, regardless of who or what it is about. the first time i read that article, maybe 3 years ago or so, i was very very upset, and the article was actually quite different then but just as offensive and insulting, mainly just with less pictures and videos, and not as long. i did not quite understand the purpose of encyclopedia dramatica or what encyclopedia dramatica was all about. now that i have read a whole lot of articles on encyclopedia dramatica, and enjoyed most of them, even learning a lot from them, i know that the article at encyclopedia dramatica is all in good fun and they insult everybody, and i just need to have a sense of humor and not take it too seriously, because encyclopedia dramatica is a fake encyclopedia full of offensive humor designed to produce “lulz” such as my initial reaction to the article about asperger’s. lulz are basically laughing at someone else’s misfortune, as encyclopedia dramatica explains quite clearly. since the entire purpose of encyclopedia dramatica is lulz, it makes no sense for anyone to take anything on that site seriously, and it is good for everyone, especially those of us on the autism spectrum, to have some sense of perspective and a sense of humor, and not take things personally when they are just jokes. the article on and its responses, however, are not jokes or lulz, and are what the humorists at encyclopedia dramatica refer to as serious business. so when someone is serious about demonizing autistics and denying basic human rights to fellow human beings, when people talk about castration, euthanasia, and eugenics, and talk about people who are different from them as if they are subhuman animals, that is when i have a serious problem with them. it would be bad enough reading comments like that on some wacko conservative website, but is a haven for liberals, and it appalls me to think that my fellow liberals would have such discriminatory and intolerant attitudes towards autistics. does allow people of all political persuasions to comment, however, and it does have its fair share of libertarians, republicans, independents, and other non-democrats among people who comment, although they are very much in the minority. more than half the comments were ones expressing sympathy, which is good, and some of the comments were ongoing arguments between various commenters there who hate each other and argue all the time. there was some foolish bickering between a wacko who hates psychiatrists (but is not a scientologist) and people who actually are psychiatrists... he seemed like one of the libertarian ron paul supporters. anyway, amid all of those comments were the ones that i personally found disturbing, the ones that threatened bad things for people with autism. i would have left a comment myself, except i do not have an account at or any of these other websites where i look at the comments. it is too much of a bother to register at all these stupid websites, just to post comments. so i don’t do it. i only register at a website if i have a good reason to do so, and if there is not a way around it. so anyway, i doubt any of the people from will find my response here, but at least people who read this blog entry can find what i am responding to, since i linked to it at the beginning of the entry. i am not sure if anyone will read this or even care, but frankly that does not really matter to me anyway. i just felt like saying all this, and i don’t too much care whether this blog is a private journal that nobody reads or a really popular blog that everybody reads. my preference, if there is one, is that a few people read this blog, more than 1 or 2, but not like thousands or anything, because that would probably be too much. anyway, i think i made my point in this post and i am getting kind of lengthy and repetitious so i should quit while i’m behind. also, i need to sleep. now. good night, or whatever time it is now, wherever you are. you are probably on earth, but who cares? it would be cool if an astronaut looked at this blog from the international space station, i guess, but whatever. i am not sure whether astronauts have the internet up there, but who cares? that is just something completely irrelevant that i just brought up at the last moment because i am tired and my mind is wandering, and it has nothing to do with anything. my thought process is non-linear. in keeping with my thought process, let me briefly pretend time is going backwards, for the sake of silliness: hello and welcome to this blog post.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

an interesting lifestyle choice

most people’s lifestyle choices are fairly boring. there are a few different choices people make about how to live their lives nowadays but basically most people operate in the same way as a large percentage of other people. for instance, some people graduate high school and others are dropouts. some people decide to go to college and others don’t. some college students get all the way through to a diploma and others drop out or fail out. some people party a lot and others are at home most of the time. some people have jobs and other people live off of welfare, either from the government, from charities, or family/friends. some people are sexually active and others aren’t. some people are straight and others are gay. some people are into sports, some people are into video games, some people watch a lot of television, and some people spend a lot of time on the internet. people like or dislike different kinds of foods but we generally agree on what things are considered food and what is not considered food (e.g. broccoli is food and plastic is not food). most people are fluent in at least 1 language that is spoken by their fellow humans. all in all, there are many possible combinations, but the array of choices people have for lifestyles nowadays is not terribly vast. of course, the above comparisons of lifestyle choices are typical ones you find in the united states, and in many other countries the array of choices would be very different, quite often even narrower.

however, there are a few strange individuals out there who boldly live lives so utterly bizarre, they are truly unique. one such example is a woman who calls herself faye kane. i read a comment by her at about a article i read. both the article and faye’s comment condemned republican hypocrisy, and i agree with both the article and her comment on it. but at the bottom of her comment i noticed her “signature” (something that is automatically added by people to their web postings on certain websites):

I'm an autistic savant. I live naked in the woods because I'm disgusted with grotesquely-misnamed "humanity". I steal electricity to run my wireless internet. Yes, really. Read more of my smartmouth opinions at

as someone with asperger’s (the same as autism only milder, and probably what she actually has), i know firsthand that people on the autistic spectrum (myself included) tend to be weirdos. but let’s just get a few facts about faye kane out of the way first: she is an intelligent person on the autistic spectrum, which probably means she has asperger’s syndrome instead of leo kanner’s classical type of full-blown autism. she lives in a cave in the forest (or rather, a tent covered in branches and leaves to hide it). she proudly proclaims that she is hot, that she is naked all the time, and that she spends most of the time masturbating. she mostly avoids interacting with other humans in real life, but she has managed to steal electricity from the electric company and hook up her cave with power, where she has a computer with broadband internet access. she forages for garbage in dumpsters and then sells it on ebay. basically, she is a very strange individual who is, at least as far as traditional society is concerned, an insane pervert and a criminal. however, i don’t really think there is much of anything wrong with what she is doing, and i find it fascinating that a homeless person like her would be so advanced. now, if you want to know why she ended up living such a bizarre lifestyle, read this. that is her explanation, at least. apparently she had a series of jobs where despite her superior intelligence and technical aptitude, her bosses kept getting into disagreements with her and she kept getting fired. she ended up pretty much completely disillusioned with humanity, apparently. of course, it is easy for someone on the autism spectrum to become disillusioned with the rest of humanity, and it comes quite naturally to us. but usually we do not resort to such strange and fascinating lifestyle choices. there are those who think that asperger’s is just a way to classify intelligence as a disease. some companies actually go out of their way to hire people with asperger’s in the belief that people with asperger’s are smart, hard working, and the perfect kind of people to hire, despite the lack of social skills and inability of people with asperger’s to “sell themselves” at job interviews. and of course, here is a postmodern feminist critique of asperger’s symdrome, which is rather interesting. anyway, if you doubt whether faye kane really lives like she claims to, this is her rebuttal to all the doubters. personally i believe her story to be true, in part because people with autism or asperger’s generally do not lie, but more importantly because this story is too weird to be made up, there is photographic evidence, there are other people online who have actually been to her cave, her story does not violate science or logic, her story is just so awesome i want it to be true even if it is totally made up, and i do not care whether it actually is true or not since it does not impact me in the slightest. so anyway... if you thought i was strange, there are MUCH weirder people out there. and i find them interesting. don’t worry though, readers... i do not want to be like the ultra-weird... i am trying to “cure” myself of negative aspects of asperger’s to become more normal. but when it comes to stuff like faye kane, i just want MOAR LULZ!!!

update: i just found out she is a subgenius after looking through her newer blog entries. the subgenius advertisement she includes in that post has only had 36,390 views according to youtube, so the odds of a random person on the internet being one of the people who actually saw that subgenius video are incredibly low. however, rev. stang has described the church of the subgenius as “kook flypaper”, and it does seem to attract the weirdest elements of humanity. ok, so i have no evidence that she has actually joined the church of the subgenius, but clearly she has found out about us, and in a more recent post she derisively spake of the “normals”, so she is already adopting subgenius terminology. i doubt she would join the church of the subgenius, since she has been living homeless and unemployed in a secret forest hideout for years now, so she would have a hard time coming up with the $30 one-time-only membership fee, and would have no mailing address for her super-awesome membership packet to be sent to. so, she is one of the many non-subgenius subgenii, people who know about the church of the subgenius and agree with it but have not sent in the membership fee to become ordained subgenius reverends. i do not really consider this to be much of a coincidence, despite the seemingly low probability, because “bob” is everywhere, and the weirder someone is, the more likely they are to find out about him and become a follower of his. in her case, it is especially likely, since she is alone all the time in her “cave” in the forest and has a computer with broadband internet, and she has the same deviant tendencies as most other subgenii. i must point out, however, that there are many famous people who are members of the church of the subgenius, such as the actor who played pee wee herman, the actor who played dolemite, all the members of the band sublime, penn jillette from penn & teller, the lead singer of 80s band devo, george clinton (of parliament funkadelic fame), and timothy leary, for starters, and here is wikipedia’s list. for some reason wikipedia only has a list of american subgenii and a list of british subgenii, and the 2 british ones are people i never heard of, so i just linked to the american list since it is much much longer. anyway, this odd coincidence is not so odd when you remember 2 important facts: 1) people on the autism spectrum are weirdos. 2) subgenii are weirdos. so, the set of people who are weirdos has two subsets of its own, people on the autistic spectrum and subgenii, and those two subsets intersect each other, as i could easily depict in a venn diagram if i felt like it. i happen to belong to the intersection of those 2 subsets, and apparently this faye kane lady is also in that intersection. luckily though, i have a place to live and a job, and i have absolutely no intention of ending up like her, with neither. some argue that high-functioning autism is the exact same thing as asperger’s, and i agree completely. therefore, given the fact that she is intelligent and on the autistic spectrum, she has aspeger’s. unfortunately, this disproves the popular theory that only males have aspeger’s, a theory held by many people, including me, because i have only met guys who have asperger’s, and never encountered a female with it. another counterexample to the only-guys-have-asperger’s theory is temple grandin, inventor of the hugbox. however, george orwell developed a new type of logic in 1984. war is peace! freedom is slavery! ignorance is power! under orwellian logic, because females with asperger’s exist, females with asperger’s do not exist. therefore, i have disproven the existence of faye kane. q.e.d. signed, brilliant mathematician