Friendship from the Aspie’s Viewpoint (Response Letter to Karen Willis’ Blog)

 

7/24/2014

 

Good afternoon Karen,

My name is Timotheus Gordon Jr., also known as Pharaoh or T.J., and I am a freelance writer, blogger, and event photographer in Chicago. I’m also an aspie…well technically I have high functioning autism because my communication abilities regressed around age 2 1/2.

I read your post, “Moving Forward in Life with True and Real Friends“. I was so moved by your post that I decided write a response/commentary to it. Being autistic myself, I definitely can relate to struggles with finding and keeping true friends. The following quote in the blog stood out to me:

My advice to you on this subject is that be on the lookout and be careful because people deserve to have friends that treat you right, accept you for who they are, and they give you a chance to socialize. A real friend is someone who accepts you for who you are as a person, they’re always there for you, and they treat you with respect. If someone doesn’t treat you right and be respectful to you, that person isn’t worth your time and not a real friend to you.

I should take advice and apply it to my own life. I agree with you wholeheartedly that real friends accept their friends for they are and be loyal to you. They don’t try to change people just because they don’t like lifestyles or ways of thinking that are different from their own. And true friends support you no matter what, even if they have to be honest and tell you the truth out of love.

Your post speaks to me. I go through a similar thing with my friends. In each stage of my life, I end up with only a handful of loyal friends. I start off with a lot friends and associates, but by the time I transition to a new phase of my life, my friend circle shrinks dramatically. I don’t know why. Perhaps most of my “friends” were only people who used me for my knowledge or wanted that chance to interact with someone on the autistic spectrum. Maybe I was unfit to hang out, because I rarely get invited to stuff. Or possibly life just happens and sometimes things happen. In some cases, my friendships did end with disagreements or conflicts-of-interest. I really don’t know why my friend circle is small, but I don’t worry about much. I know who would go to war with me and lead me to the right direction. Those are my true friends.

We, as people with autism, struggle with finding and keeping friends. They can be cruel to us or use us for our talents and information. Sometimes, we may not understand why some friends don’t want to deal with us. It can be due to our struggle to understand unspoken & complex social cues or follow certain social norms. We can’t read people at times. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t know about finding and keeping loyal friends. In fact, I would like to add something to your advice: a real friend is someone who can tell the truth and cares about your well-being. He or she doesn’t lie to your face or say things just to make you feel good.

I pray that you continue to blog and inspire those with autism; we sure need more voices in that community that can speak to the masses about what we go through on a daily basis. It’s time for us to tell OUR story on autism acceptance. I’m sure that you are inspiring people through your blog and book; I know that you’ll continue to do so after the book hits stores.

Best,

Timotheus

P.S.: I am looking forward to your book release. In fact, I think I’ll write a review for you once I get my hands on a copy of the book. :)

 

Pharaoh’s Principles: Navigating Worlds

world

  • the earth, together with all of its countries, peoples, and natural features.
  • all of the people, societies, and institutions on the earth.
  • denoting one of the most important or influential people or things of its class.
  • another planet like the earth
  • the material universe or all that exists; everything
  • a part or aspect of human life or of the natural features of the earth, in particular.
  • a part or aspect of human life or of the natural features of the earth, in particular.
  • a region or group of countries.
  • a period of history.a group of living things.
  • the people, places, and activities to do with a particular thing.
  • average, respectable, or fashionable people or their customs or opinions.
  • a person’s life and activities.
  • everything that exists outside oneself.
  • a stage of human life, either mortal or after death.
  • secular interests and affairs.

One word, but so many definitions to consider. That’s how a world works. You may be living in at least three worlds at one time. You can be in the world we call Earth, in which it is governed by universal rules. Then you have a world where you’re living in a local environment and society is according to that place. Add on your viewpoints based on factors such as upbringing, dramatic events, ethnicity, medical condition, etc. Add all those and you’ll have multiple worlds that may collide with each other at one point in time.

I’m writing about worlds for two reasons. The primary reason is that I’m starting my non-fiction book and the introduction will focus on how people can live in worlds within a world, based on circumstances and beliefs. Additionally, I want to show people that not everyone can fit into another person’s world. The second reason behind the post is my own personal viewpoints on living in multiple realities.

You see, I think that people on the autistic spectrum get ridiculed a lot for not understanding the neurotypical world. Sure, we may not get social cues or expectations on how to survive in the NT world. And their world may be scary due to triggers that aggravate over-stimulated senses. But we can say the same thing to NTs about not understanding OUR world. For instance, I can blog all day about people not understanding why I choose to talk about societal topics more than reality TV shows. I can lament about NTs’ failure to understand my thoughts without expecting me to communicate through feelings (I normally rely on events, facts, and tangible things to convey my points, not societal norms or complex emotions).

At the end of the day, and in any group on Earth, people aren’t meant to convince others to accept a particular way of life or thinking. Otherwise, we would argue about how to each a sandwich “correctly”, which varies from person to person. It would bore people and maybe even cause unnecessary conflict. If more people want to understand autistic people, then would it be better if more people can stop and explore the aspie world in depth? Matter of fact, don’t just limit it to just understanding aspies. Try applying this rule to any one you may not be familiar with. The more you listen and understand another world, the more giving and respectful you’ll be to that person. You might even begin to change perspectives on how you interact with things and people with in your own world.

Practicals:

  • Never preach to a person if your opinions differ from those of the person you’re interacting with. Give wisdom after looking into his or her world first. Also allow the person to explain the viewpoint(s) in question.
  • Research the aspects of a person’s life. In my case, I would appreciate it if you can ask my inner circle about how autism affects me. Reading credible books on my condition helps too.

Otherwise, that’s all I have for looking at different worlds…for now. Heheheh. No worries, I’ll be more in depth once I finish the introduction to my upcoming book.

Pharaoh’s Principles #2: Anime/Cosplay FB Group Trolling

Pharaoh’s Principle #1: Toni Braxton’s Former View on Autism

 

Good evening everyone!! After months on hiatus and a messy end to Abilities of the Arts (my project that I helped grow for a year), Pharaoh’s Principle has returned. I will be doing this weekly for now on.

Before I go on, please read the following articles on Toni Braxton’s former view on how her son became autistic and the Christian response to it

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/24/toni-braxton-autism-son_n_5385477.html

http://guardianlv.com/2014/05/toni-braxton-says-sons-autism-is-gods-judgment-for-previous-abortion/

Braxton’s comment hits home to me in two ways. Though I’m spiritual and don’t like to prefer a religion over another, I’m strongly influenced by Christian beliefs. I’m also autistic myself; I was diagnosed at age 2 1/2. Both can be polarizing topics to talk about, since they are some controversial undertones to it. Autism and its role in the church is one of them.

I will give Ms. Braxton the benefit of the doubt. She mentioned that Diezel’s autism was God’s punishment for aborting a child before her second son came into the picture. But according to the Huffington Post, she has since changed her viewpoints. Braxton admits that her son is “is special and learns in a different way.”

As long as she learning that autism is not a curse, then I’m cool with her expressing her prior guilt in her memoir. Also, I understand her initial concerns because my family had that similar reaction when they first found out that I am autistic.  My father probably didn’t know how to approach me at first or was wondering if I would ever be the All-American son who can drive, play sports, and get married. I’m pretty sure that my mother would’ve hypothesized that my autism was a result of her past mistakes she thought she made. I can’t make further speculations because I didn’t comprehend either one of their thoughts back then, but I know that they were scared one way or another. But like Braxton, they don’t immediately go for the autism label. To them, I’m their proud, artsy son who loves his sports, social topics, cartoons, and adventures.

At first, I hated Braxton’s admission. It sounded like how the congregation can sometimes see my autism, as an impediment or curse from the deities. Yet I backed off after seeing that she was referring to the initial diagnosis, not a continuing belief.

However, I do want to pray for those who continue to think that autism is sin or punishment from God. And sadly, it’s not new. From the beginning, some linked any disability to the fault of the family or some kind of curse. It was brought up in the Bible, when Jesus’ disciples asked if a man’s blindness was a result of his parents’ sin. He replied:

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:2–3).

From what I read and know in my own life, autism happened so that God can work through people on the spectrum. It also happened so that God can inspire people to do God-pleasing works, no matter what condition you have or background you’re from. I believed that God worked through people like Temple Grandin, Anthony Ianni, Jason McElwain, Donna Williams, Blind Tom, Stephen Wiltshire, and even 50 Tyson (though we can question his lyrical content and delivery). And perhaps Ms. Braxton is slowly realizing that her Lord his working through Diezel to become a great person in the future.

Furthermore, the higher powers may be working on your child to grow into a great leader too. It takes believing in his or her abilities though, not focusing on the “negatives” of autism.

On Trolling Autism Acceptance Advocates and People with an ASD

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hidden Layers to Bullygate: Mental Health in the NFL

Folks, Bullygate is worst than I expected. It’s not about bullying, being black, and the hazing culture anymore. The alarming issue that I took away is the teams’ and the league’s ability to handle mental health maladies among players.

Feel free to read the full Wells report and make your own judgments afterwards. From what I read, however, I don’t think teammates were prepared to handle Jonathan Martin’s mental health issues, especially since some of the players constantly taunt J-Mart. The front office and coaching staff seemed to turn the other way as well. Even an assistant coach joined in on taunting the assistant trainer, and who knows, he might have picked on J-Mart behind his back too.

Today, when we have have issues, we are recommended to go seek professional help. We talk to somebody about our problems. We do yoga or exercises or meditation sessions to clear our minds. We pray to high powers.

At least that’s what the workplace is teaching us to do for the most part. We may live in the 21st century, but the way NFL players deal with mental health issues is as archaic as how we used to travel 150 years ago. I never played a down in the NFL and college, but I played organized sports before. In some locker rooms, crying to people about your problems is a “bitch ass move.” It’s socially unacceptable to break down and cry. Either you toughen up and keep your problems to yourself or quit. To the Miami Dolphins, Martin is a punk because he chose to leave instead of confronting the situation head-on. Also, if you’re picked on, the unwritten locker room rule is: defend yourself, or else, quit.

I don’t know if that’s an healthy environment for players who prefer seeking help and alternative means of handling mental issues. No wonder why some players are beginning to dislike the NFL. You can feel alone, even in a team setting, if you’re different from the “typical, social” player and don’t respond as well to certain situations as other players.

I would love to dig in the matter further, because it’s intertwined with other societal topics, such as racism and classism. But even as write this brief blog, I think the report itself convinced me to speak out.

And this have even more scary possibilities. If NFL teams are inadequate in dealing with mental health issues, then how they will handle players with developmental disabilities, such as autism and Down’s Syndrome? I would like like to write about Bullygate’s potential impact on autistic people seeking to play college or professional sports.

Let’s hope the Wells report will open professional sports teams’ eyes to mental health topics more seriously.

Artists, Get Paid for Your Work

Silvered Orange

Silvered Orange (Photo credit: cobalt123)

 

Good afternoon everyone!!

Today, I read through comments from the SCAD-Atlanta Facebook group, and I came across a video/blog post that a fellow student posted. It contains a video where character designer and teacher Stephen Silver speaks out against companies who don’t pay artists to come up with art or concepts for their products.

As a freelance writer, event photographer, and a lover of the arts & entertainment world, his message hits home to me because I’m also a starving artist trying to make a name for myself. I’ve seen plenty of opportunities where companies would allow you produce work for them, but only as an “internship” or no compensation. However, they promise you that the job can help you get exposure.

That is called cheap labor, a.k.a. slavery. Sorry, I don’t like cheap labor. I do free work because of causes and topics that I support, up and coming artists that I want to help succeed, and personal favors. But even then, I’ll get something in return, like a gig or reference. I also write for free because I want to promote MY artwork under MY rules, preparing myself for bigger and paid opportunities.

If you do want to work for free, do it for a right cause or at least find free work that can benefit you. But don’t fall under the trap of making content for companies who refuse to compensate you for your work and don’t care about what you create.

The video also taught me another thing: the importance of entrepreneurship. Sure, I can try to land jobs where I write and take pictures for a living. But is that all I want? What if I don’t get that dream job, and how else can I spread my love for media while getting paid? I starting to understand friends’ advice on offering event photography services for certain rates. Besides, in this world, you’ll gain more recognition once you do more paid work (especially if it’s freelance work).

I leave you with Silver’s spiel on providing paid services v.s. working for cheap labor. Otherwise, enjoy your day and let’s break the starving artist myth.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy (Belated) International Day of Acceptance to Derrick Coleman

Monday was not only the American observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, it was also the day for disability acceptance, called International Day of Acceptance (IDOA). On that day, and any other day, we appreciate the talents of those with disabilities. Some have even influenced multitudes of peoples.

What grander example of a person overcoming obstacles to showcase talents than Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks. Not only he’s their fullback, but he’s also the first legally deaf offensive player to be on an NFL team. And he’s going to the Super Bowl with the Seahawks in about one week from Sunday! Now that’s an amazing accomplishment from someone who became deaf at 3 years old, went on to star at UCLA, and made an NFL regular roster after going undrafted. If you don’t consider him an example of MLK’s dream and Anne Hopkins’ vision of IDOA, then I don’t know what else to tell you.

Check out his Duracell commercial and many of his interviews below, then share this post to all who believes in going above and beyond expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. King and His (Indirect) Influence on Aspies

20140116-001038.jpg

Good evening everyone!! Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, the man responsible for dreaming of a more united, peaceful society (similar to what The Lord envisions). He was not only calling for unity and peace, like he did in his famous “I have a dream” speech. Dr. King wished for us to fight against our respective oppressors and yearn for freedom, acceptance, respect, and human rights.

It’s fitting that Dr. King’s mission mesh with my mission and the mission of those for autism acceptance, even if we have different topics to cover. Like King, I dream of an autistic community that’s accepted and embraced by neurotypicals. I don’t want to see a fellow Aspie continued to be silenced by those who think autism is a curse. I hate our high unemployment rate and certain organizations’ depiction of autism is only a child’s disease, instead of a gift that the individual may utilize in the future. I want to see more professional athletes, artists, politicians, techies, ministers, priests, artists, rappers, and other professionals on the spectrum make a difference in people’s lives while redefining the mainstream view of the autistic person.

What are your dreams for autistic acceptance? Matter of fact…what are your dreams and plans for a more just society in general, regardless of background? Feel free to comment on those questions as we continue to keep MLK’s dream alive.

SN: Don’t use MLK to promote free parties that has nothing to do with him and his work. What would King say if you were using his image to bring girls to the party and encourage them to twerk? I think Dr. King would rebuke you.

Supplemental Links

Autism Acceptance and MLK

Autism Acceptance

Letter to White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free on Supporting Autism Speaks

December 20, 2013

Dear White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free Executives,

I applaud you all for taking the time and money to give back to communities in need. The media give you crap, along with other major companies, about only focusing on the bottom line: profit. However, supporting organizations like Autism Speaks show that you all have kind hearts and want to be good ambassadors to the public.

While the support of Autism Speaks may seem to be only that of good nature, I will have to disagree with the partnership because it doesn’t fully support the majority of autistic (namely adults on the autistic spectrum). Autism Speaks may help bring autism awareness to the masses, but from my understanding, it only helps children on the spectrum. The voices for Autism Speaks are usually parents, educators, doctors, and politicians. We don’t hear about autistic people talking about their experiences, triumphs, and struggles. To make matters worse, they support plenty of treatments and possible cures for autism, but focus less on providing the adequate resources for autistic people excel in mainstream high school classes, college, and the workforce (the area that we’re struggling in the most). I don’t even recall them recognizing accomplishments of Temple Grandin, Jason McElwain, Donna Williams, Stephen Wiltshire, or any of the people with autism who made immense, positive contributions to society through their respective works.

As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome and a part-time worker, this support of Autism Speaks is not got good for business. Think of the diverse groups of people who work for White Castle, Sevenly, and Spring Free. How would your workers feel if you supported the Ku Klux Klan, knowing that a chunk of your employees are of color? Or how about the reactions of workers in the LGBT community when they find out, for instance, that at least one of the companies donated to anti-gay groups? In both cases, workers may quit their jobs and possibly even sue you for supporting “hate groups”, while customers boycott the products each company produces. Same scenario applies to workers in the autistic spectrum. If you all support groups that doesn’t favor them, then those workers would leave because that can send the message that autistic people don’t belong in the workforce. I don’t wish to see that happen to solid companies like those I mentioned.

So instead of wasting money on Autism Speaks, try researching and supporting groups that are for the autistic community and allow autistic people to speak up. Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and Autism Women’s Network are great organizations to give to and support. Talk to autistic workers about any work-related things that needs to be changed, accommodations that can aid them in working successfully, and anything that can be addressed (work conditions, treatment from co-workers and bosses, daily life as person on the spectrum, etc.).  Read up on more material on why supporting Autism Speaks, and other groups like that one, may be a controversial and bad idea.

Sincerely,

Timotheus “Pharaoh” Gordon, Jr. (a.k.a. T.J. Gordon)
Proud Writer, Event Photographer, and Aspie