They never call restraint “violent behavior”.
They call flicking a paper clip “violent behavior”. They call snapping a pencil “violent behavior”.
They don’t call throwing a kid to the floor “violent”.
Our breaking is less important than that of a pencil.
Because, you cannot hurt an unperson. You cannot be violent to someone who doesn’t exist.
Because, when you are crazy, autistic, disabled, to exist in space is violent. To exist in space becomes an act of war.
So yesterday my teacher – Mr. Math, let’s call him – who is usually very very easy going, cursed at a student and said he was going to keep us all after class (at the end he changed his mind and only kept the people who were actually being disruptive). At this point it occurred to me that Mr. Math was going to grab me and throw me and when I tried to use logic and tell myself I had never seen him do that and teachers at this school don’t do restraints, I thought that I had also never seen him curse before, and the logic just didn’t work. I also became unable to ask for a break, ask to use the bathroom, or ask for clarification on a math problem. I reverted back to the singular goal of Don’t Make Adults Mad or Something Horrible Is Going to Happen. Last week, when I had a panic attack, I asked to take a break and a teacher pretty much let me hide under her desk while I ate lunch. It was horrible – I kept thinking I was an awful person and I was going to die, I kept going hot and cold and hot and cold, and I could feel my heart beat making every single specific bone shake – but I talked myself through it and asked for help and did everything right because I was able to hold on to the fact that the adults were not going to hurt me and so my goal could be ending the panic attack instead of making sure adults didn’t hurt me. I think I figured out why it didn’t happen this time: I have, subconsciously, lists in my brain of things certain people do, when they like you or are angry with you or get worried about something or excited about a particular subject, etc. I also have lists – again, subconscious and deeply ingrained – of things certain classes of people do: police officers, teachers, little kids, adults. When Mr. Math did something that was not on the list of Things Mr. Math Does When Frustrated, I, subconsciously, went to the list of Things Teachers Do When Frustrated. This includes throwing kids, pinning them to the ground, screaming at them, “You’ll be crying by the time I’m done with you!”, Etc. The switch from list to list when Mr. Math acted out of character was not illogical. And it just doesn’t make any sense to me not to have violence on the list of Things Teachers Do – violence is a thing teachers do; I’ve seen many different teachers do it many different times. Maybe the problem is to categorize violence as something Special Teachers/Therapy Teachers/Behavior Modification Teachers/Special Ed Room Teachers do. I will be attempting to modify my database using this sub–list. There is also the problem of thinking that even nice people are going to make an exception and hurt me because I’m weird/bad/etc. This was basically what I was told and for a long time pretty much every adult I was around hurt me or threatened to (there were a couple who, thinking back on it, actually might have been safe people, but I thought they weren’t hurting me because I wasn’t being Bad) so I have to remind myself pretty much constantly that we are playing a different game now. It’s not dodgeball, it’s basketball, and if I get hit by the ball, it’s probably a mistake. (My list of Things Adults Do is a pretty big problem though.) (However, it seems like I don’t count writers as adults, so this is good.)
Trigger warning: abuse, discrimination, gas lighting
I am angry. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of an autistic person I know who has not been abused. I saw children thrown to the floor by screaming adults for rocking their chairs. By special ed teachers. So I sat still I had quiet hands I closed my mouth and chewed my tongue into corned beef and I went home and tore apart the skin that had been cinching tighter and tighter around me all day. They didn’t believe my friend who loved dressing up like a princess or my friend who loved computer programming or me. Oh, I finally thought of an autistic person who wasn’t abused. And another. Out of the dozens and dozens of autistic people whose memoirs/blogs I have read – autism is my “special interest”. (Oh, you said “special-interest” instead of “perseveration”. You get your disability positivity points for the day, now you can pat me on the head and call me a savant and have a nice little debate about whether I am real.) The thing is that my mom is the Perfect Advocate Parent. The thing is that she does this because she cares about me. The thing is that she does this all to teach me to be socially appropriate and to fix my behavior problems. The thing is that she kicked me over and threw me to the ground because she knew that I could sweep better than that, that I was actually refusing to sweep by saying I was doing the best I could, and that it is Not Okay to not do what an adult tells you to do – downright dangerous, in fact. That could generalize to me running out in the street or seriously hurting people or mouthing off to a police officer. (I got bruises from where she kept me safe.) I knew I deserved it because she ended her dragging me by the hair and twisting my arm by hugging me and forgiving me for making her do this. She’s a Good Parent. She was only following the plan. She was doing the best she could. I have PTSD. (So common as to be almost routine in autistic adults.) (When you’re autistic, it’s not abuse, it’s therapy.) More than 90%, it is estimated, of people with developmental disabilities will experience sexual abuse in our lives. I couldn’t find statistics for physical or emotional. If you are a teacher, or otherwise one of the Trusted Adults (registered trademark) of a disabled person, and they report something that sounds like abuse – it probably is. Even if they don’t report anything, they are probably being, or will be abused. Isn’t that terrifying? Aren’t you angry? All the therapists and autism experts or whatever didn’t believe us/believed anything was justified and even necessary so we wouldn’t end up murdering people/ending up in an institution (of course stigma and negative stereotypes don’t do any harm! You know you’d have to be retarded to think something like that!) Please stop teaching compliance. Please stop teaching compliance. Please believe us. (One of the major differences, often, between a person who experiences traumatic events and develops PTSD and a person who doesn’t develop PTSD is that the person who doesn’t develop it has a support system. Of people who talk about it with them. Who don’t say, that never happened, or, that’s all your fault.) (She was a Good Parent and I got bruises.) (90%. We are not alone.)