First of all, it has been a long while since I posted something here.
I am being bombarded again with invites from hypocritical elitist “advocacy” groups that claim to promote an “inclusive” society yet obscure real voices of autistic people and their parents.
Again, before everyone goes “Bitter pa more” and “Eh, ‘di wow,” let me reiterate my previous point I had posted in my post titled, “I’m Not Walking: Action, Protest, Moving On, and Other Things“: Which is better, three minutes of fame for your showcase “performers with autism” or a lifetime of empowerment to allow them and their fellows to stand on their own?
The second option, my friends, is something that has never been done by some of these groups — they prefer to concentrate their clout among themselves and a few of their “friends,” and when the people for whom they claim to advocate stands up for themselves and stands up to these elitists for their BS, they treat those people as if they were lepers and actually exclude them from being part of the advocacy. So much for their claim for “inclusion.”
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I owe apologies to no one, not in what I say or do here or anywhere in the ecosystem of autism advocacy (include the entire biosphere of disability advocacy as well). Demanding apologies from me for criticizing unethical and hypocritical practices and voicing my insights is ridiculous, arrogant, senile, and corrupt.
Do your egos get hurt by what I say here? Oh, that must have awfully sucked. But come on, now. Creating drama doesn’t work, especially if you people know you’ve wronged someone — and now you have the audacity to demand an apology from me and command me to shut up. No, that doesn’t work that way.
Again, I owe no apologies to anyone. Enough said.
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Okay, enough ranting. Or so it is.
I have been receiving some correspondences from readers posting on my Contact page, and one of them was somehow unsettling. This post came from a certain Mike R., who claims to work for Autism Hearts, an organization that I mentioned has a connection with Autism Speaks, which is another group I hate for its “cure”-focused, eugenic, and autistic-exclusive policies. The writer was promoting a project by that group, together with a corporate social responsibility program (more of that in a moment).
Here is the photo of the email that they sent:
Hi, I’m Mike R., the admin for the Autism Hearts Foundation’s new blog, “The FAAB Project”. It’s a blog specifically dedicated to AHF’s new program, FAAB (Fashion Arts Autism Benefits), which aims to harness the skills of five artists diagnosed with autism, to decorate and help create special clothing articles These garments will then be paraded at a fashion show and auctioned off; the proceeds will go to the artists and their families and helpers. It’s a new blog so there are no published posts yet, but I will be launching it very soon with the first few posts. I hope you will like it, and I’d like to stay in touch! (P.S. My real name’s Mike, but I prefer to be referred to as “The FAAB Intern”, mainly because this blog might have other contributors or admins in future, meaning it won’t be exclusively my personal blog, but rather an organisation blog connected with Autism Hearts.)
At that time, I didn’t know why they sent me this letter, but I had a bad feeling about this. I responded with this:
Thanks for your e-mail, Mike. I hope you were able to read the contents of my blog, and understand its nature and my cause.
I would like to ask some questions:
– How did you come across my site?
– Who are these “five artists diagnosed with autism” you are taking about?
– How much do you know about the group for whom you work?
I may ask more questions in days to come.
Until then, cheerio.
I was expecting a quick reply, because I replied as soon as I received the message. I hadn’t, so I took the liberty of finding the identities of those “five artists diagnosed with autism” myself. Basing my research from social media and from contacts, I had deduced their identities, many of whom I happened to know personally. I guessed I answered my own question.
Two weeks later, Mike responded. His response was:
1) He was looking for other autism-themed bloggers and sites to network with, to raise awareness about creative opportunities for those with autism. He started the said project as an exercise in blog and social media marketing, from a seminar he attended.
2) He claimed that he is not at liberty to reveal the artists’ actual identities, and chose to have their names altered and their faces blurred out. He claims that they are “just five young artists who happen to be on the autism spectrum,” whom he said aren’t famous and that I won’t know them from anywhere. (Wrong. I do know them.)
3) He claimed to work for the Autism Hearts Foundation on a semi-contractual basis, as a marketing and publicity assistant, in a sense.
He then proceeded to promote links, which I will not be posting on this page.
Okay. My gut-feeling told me right — there is something wrong with the project. I used to work with one of these groups, and professionally, they are not really good clients. But I will delve with the details in a later post. Anyway, it seems that my previous points were unanswered, so I responded with this:
Thanks for the response. Not as quick as I expected, but okay.
My response to your points:
1. I understand that you were looking for autism-themed bloggers and all that, and that you attended a seminar on social media marketing, but I feel that my question was left unanswered. So I will ask the question again (NB: Due to some clerical issues, the question I was supposed to ask, which was“How did you come across my site?” was not inputted.)
2. Between the time I sent my email and the time I received your reply, I took the liberty to look up and check who the artists were. Based on personal contacts and social networks, many of them are of legal age, and I happen to know them personally (which invalidates your argument that I don’t know them and I won’t be able to). What I do not make any sense of, however, is your claim that you chose not to disclose their identities and went so far as to blur their faces out (for “privacy” reasons, as you state) — which raises a lot of questions: How would these autistic individuals be recognized for their talent? Are they and their families aware conscientiously that this would be the setup, selling their wares without people knowing who made these masterpieces?
3. If you really have read what I have been posting in my blog (which I hope you did — NB: Looks like they didn’t), you would have known that I have a great distaste for the groups for which you work. I have said some statements on Autism Hearts before for being associated with Autism Speaks, a sham “charity” that has a bad reputation among many autistics themselves for being pro-“cure,” excluding of autistic individuals, and presenting autistics as poster children to extort more money from well-meaning and high-profile people, among others.
From what I am reading on your blog, as well as what this conversation is going, I am hesitant to consider your project as one of good cause and real benefit to autistics, because I am smelling prejudice, tokenism, and ableism at this point.
Nonetheless, I took time to check out the links you were sending me, and at the moment, I still have a lot of questions on the nature of this project.
Until then, cheerio.
A day later, Mike replied that he was sorry that I disagree with the aims and the methods of the “foundation” (wherein he was right), but that he does not share my feelings. He attempted to justify that he did not have the authority to reveal the artists’ names, because they client (who?) does not want their information to be shared.
I saw no point in continuing the conversation. Five days later (which is at the posting of this story), I responded:
Thank you for your time to respond to my concerns.
I understand that you do work for the group you are currently involved in, and you were correct when you said that I disagree with the methods they use, many of which are short-term and tokenist in nature. Either way, I can see that you are trying to be in solidarity with the autism community, albeit your cause and that of your group is not congruent with mine.
Though, when you said “the client may not want their information to be easily spread online,” my inquisitive side is wondering if that was their of their own bidding or your assumption. Either way, I won’t take it against you, since that is your opinion.
Nonetheless, I appreciate your contacting me for your project. Unfortunately, until a way can be found that the project and the organization for which you work matches the principles I stand for, which is empowering people with disabilities toward genuine inclusion and understanding, I am afraid that the project you work in cannot merit my endorsement, let alone promotion.
I hope you understand. Good luck.
There you go.
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At least the mail I received from Mike was professional. But some readers went below the belt, and to top it all off, they don’t know the concept of “think before you click.” I considered writing a post dedicated to social media in the next few days (when I have the time and the proper set of composition), but this one really set me off.
This was sent to me on Facebook, when I was in the middle of a meeting at work. This came from Carl, a former colleague of mine from a group I used to be associated with, but chose to abandon me due to me calling them out on their elitist and discriminatory practices.
By the way, he was this guy who commanded me to take down Autistic BigBro and stop calling out his group’s hypocrisy and elitism. I said no, and he spewed drama all over my Facebook ecosystem. Though, he got to unfriend me before I did, and I broke contact with him ever since. However, he came back at an inopportune time to try and taunt me. Here’s the post:
It read (verbatim):
Hey, Gerard, My mom found out that you will no longer be the board of trustees. You know if you embarrass someone, you will be unpopular. I heard you embarrass at Los Banos last Sept 17 i did not embarrass that. You know why, you are paranoid. CURSE YOU
Normally, I wouldn’t post this online, but the guy gave me no option to reply “I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.” Apparently, he chose to block me from his Facebook account, and I responded back. I reported his post as abusive, and blocked him back.
But at least let me answer this guy with a few points:
- First of all, I have never been a member of the group’s board of trustees, let alone me being the “board of trustees.” I once advocated for a seat or two for autistic self-advocates in the board (even if it didn’t have to be me), which the current trustees rejected (more of that in an upcoming post).
- I absolutely have no idea what happened on 17 September at Los Baños, Laguna, but I was at Vigan, Ilocos Sur at that date, meeting with local officials, and there was no way I could have wreaked havoc or created a ruckus from 500 kilometers away, so I am dismissing that accusation as hearsay, or should I say, plain bull.
- Me? Paranoid? Look who’s talking. I broke all contact with the guy since he spread Internet drama over me refusing to take down Autistic BigBro, but hey. You, me readers, be the judge.
I hope his mom have a real word with him, to remind him of the principle “Think Before You Click.” Until then, up his.
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