quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)

I was supposed to write this back in April. WHOOPS.


Oh well, it's long overdue for an RL update from me anyway, so here we go. This'll focus more on personal things that have been going on, though I'll throw in some work stuff too because quite a bit happened in the past three and a half months.


••• There was quite a bit of drama at work this past spring, which sucked because it's such a small and usually drama-free place. :PPP It had to do with the employment pilot program I mentioned in my previous entry; a lot of the problems had to do with the man we hired to train/coach the autistic adults in the program, and act as the go-between between us and the data analytics company that contracted out to us. First of all, it seemed he was hired partly because he's the boyfriend of the president of our board of directors. >_>; And from what I've been told, while he's very good at the technical side of putting together programs such as ours, he's not so good at actually working with people. He was stressing out the autistic adults to no end -- taking away their phones, making them sit with their eyes glued to the screen and fingers on the keyboard at all times for hours on end, talking down to them, etc. Thankfully our executive director is not the kind of person who would let anyone get mistreated on her watch, so this issue was resolved relatively quickly. (It helped that one of the adults in the program was the bookkeeper's son, and she made her displeasure very much known.)


The thing was, most of us in the office weren't really being kept aware of what was going on with the pilot program. Which was understandable, since technically if we didn't have anything to do with it then it was none of our business. But what happened as a result was that rumors ended up flying around, which made the above situation (and a few others) sound worse than they actually were. One of the people who was sensitive to these rumors was our chief administrative officer, who was hired last year to a.) help run the office while our ED went into semi-retirement, and b.) research and write grants. The thing about her that's important to this story is that she was very passionate when it comes to disability rights issues. Like, the once-got-into-a-blowout-with-the-CEO-of-the-Hartford-chapter-of-Easter-Seals-because-they-still-run-sheltered-workshops kind of passionate. So naturally when those rumors reached her ears she was upset. Not to the point where she was talking about it constantly to anyone who would listen, but there were plenty of times where she told our IT guy, who got along really well with her and was the only other autistic person in the office besides myself, that he should "do something about it."


Now our IT guy was extremely smart -- he has a computer science degree, and could fix any computer problem in our office in a matter of minutes. Most companies would love to hire a guy with his skill set. He was also painfully sensitive and shy; you could be sitting next to him in a quiet room and still have trouble listening to him speak. He also had a friend in the employment program who told him stories about what was going on (said friend once got so stressed out he just took a nap on the floor right then and there, and he was let go early because the work was too tedious and complicated for him). So needless to say, with his friend in one ear and the CAO constantly in the other, IT Guy became very confused and stressed out.


In late May our CAO was laid off. She was let go because the board deemed her position no longer necessary, and they needed to be more cautious with how they spent their money. (Although from what I could gather, it was also partly because she was one of those people who wanted to "fix" how the office was run even though there was nothing that needed fixing, and because we didn't see a dime of new grant money during the time she was there.) IT Guy must have mistakenly assumed she was being laid off because she spoke up about the drama in the employment program....so he decided to quit. On the same day.


Naturally everyone in the office that day was trying to convince him to stay, but at one point while he was in the parking lot, packing his belongings in his car, he told one of them -- much more loudly than you'd expect of him -- "I'm afraid I'm going to do something to [the job coach]. I don't trust myself around him."


Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. Given the choice between letting him go and having the police called to your office, it's a no-brainer.


Thankfully I wasn't there when this happened, and I'm just guessing as to the reason why he quit -- it's possible there were other factors involved, he's never given us a reason why, and I doubt he ever will. When the ED called me into her office the next day to tell me, she was on the verge of tears -- she worked with him for the better part of a decade, so to see him act like that was naturally hard for her to handle. And she had to wait two months for an apology on top of that. Even though it helps that it could've ended so much worse, and the fact that I didn't witness this myself, it was still upsetting.


(For the record, the pilot program ended last month; the bookkeeper's son quit the month before because he found a better job doing video/TV production work [which is what he wants to get into as a career], and because the job coach told him to lie to the data analysis firm about him being away on vacation. We sure picked a real winner right there, didn't we. XP In any case, we're supposed to run another pilot program sometime in the future, but before that we're supposed to be getting a report on how this one did, and I have absolutely no clue when that's going to come out.)


The good thing to come out of this mess is that I have more responsibilities now. In addition to what I've been doing before, I've taken over some of IT Guy's duties, like maintaining our website and Facebook page, editing the weekly e-mail newsletter, and a few other things. It's great because I've been picking up new skills and working more hours, which I've been wanting to do for a while now! Overall I'm feeling pretty confident about my abilities and good about how I fit into the office, and for the most part I look forward to going into work, so I should think that says something, no? XD


Also, the "Autism Job Club" I talked about in my last post is also definitely happening! I left it on the metaphorical back burner over the summer, but now I have a first meeting scheduled for the 19th and already I've had over 25 people sign up. Which doesn't help with my nerves at all, since I've never actually been in charge of anything before and I have absolutely no plan as to what I'm going to do beyond the first meeting right now and what if this doesn't work out or I royally screw up somehow? But I still think something like this is necessary and a creative idea, and I've been working on this for too long not to see this through. And I do have enough confidence that I'll do a good job facilitating the group anyway. Besides, as I've kept telling myself, when something scares you, that's all the more reason why you should do it, right? ^_^;


••• My work-at-home side gig has also been going well! Not only have I actually gotten paid so I know for a fact it's not a scam, but my picture and bio is on their website! Yep, I'm moving up in the world, no doubt about that. :D This summer was very quiet in terms of work; the woman in charge was struggling to acquire some documentaries that we would be responsible for distributing, but now that we've either picked up or are about to pick up a few I have some actual research assignments, the first one of which I finished up this weekend. So even though things have been moving slowly, it's been working out so far!


With the two jobs I have starting to pick up, this means that I've quit going to BRS. Not only did they have a hard time trying to figure out good jobs to place me in, but the counselor I had there essentially told me, "You'll be very lucky if the job we find for you pays more than $15 an hour." The main focus of an agency like BRS is to get people with disabilities out and working, full stop. They're not in the work of setting up long-term goals for a career; they just want to get their customers in a job, even if it's something they won't necessarily enjoy, and hope that it will be a sufficient "foot in the door" for other, better jobs in the future. This approach certainly works for many people, but it doesn't work for autistic adults, and it definitely doesn't work for someone like myself. The jobs we were thinking about having me do a working interview for weren't nearly as interesting or involved as what I'm doing right now, so I finally decided I was doing all right on my own, and that if I absolutely needed them in the future I'd call them. Oh well, one less thing to worry about.


••• Yet another shakeup at my therapist's office -- Last year I had to switch therapists and psychiatrists because the former had to leave due to budget constraints and the latter sucked. Now my current therapist is going to be leaving this month! Talk about not being able to catch a break. =_=; She had given birth to twins this past winter and was out on maternity leave until June, so even though she's been very good I haven't had a lot of time to really get comfortable working with her. And not only is she leaving because she wants to work closer to home to take care of her kids, but she also wasn't happy with the relatively new policy that all appointments have to be 25 minutes long -- even though they cost the same as full-hour appointments. (I never said the psychiatrist who runs the place wasn't an incompetent shitweasel.)


So once again I'm considering my options. The practice has hired two new social workers in the meantime, but I'm not sure if I want to start seeing another therapist, considering how I've gotten bounced around from person to person over the past four years. I'm not sure how much therapy I need at this point, anyway. I don't feel like I'm struggling with anything right now -- I'm working and taking on more responsibilities with my life, and I feel that's helped considerably. I've grown to accept that I'm an even-keeled person by nature, not prone to emotional extremes, and more often than not I was confusing that with depression. And I'm more comfortable in my own skin and more in touch with myself and those around me. There's a lot I still need to work on, obviously -- some executive functioning issues, moving out of the house, and making new friends -- but nothing I truly need a therapist for. I might even want to wean myself off the meds I've been taking; the less medical expenses I have to worry about, the better. All I know for sure is that when you go to therapy and think to yourself, "Wait, why am I here again?" then that's probably telling you something.


••• All throughout 2014, whenever I tried to get in touch with N. (the friend from college who's really into meteorology and climatology), he never got back to me. In January, I found out why:


He was in jail.


He got busted for heroin possession, which....yeah, I really should've seen that coming. I mean, I didn't really think it was going to happen, and I was hoping it wouldn't, but..... :/ Thankfully he got out with nothing worse than a broken foot and arm, and it was only a misdemeanor charge so he hasn't lost any of his substitute teaching gigs. And the last I heard he's doing outpatient rehab, so that's a good sign at least. It's still tough to hear about anyone you've been close to getting incarcerated, though.


To be honest, the whole thing has made me reevaluate my friendship with him. Not because I feel uncomfortable associating with someone who's been in prison -- far from it! It really sucks that there's a stigma on former inmates in our society, and I don't want to help perpetuate that. Rather, it's just that we rarely speak to each other anymore (he always tries to contact me on Facebook, which I hardly use outside of work), and when we do I never know what to say to him, and our conversations are really boring in general. We both have different lifestyles and mindsets, and I feel like we've been drifting apart for a while now and there's nothing either of us can do about it. So just because I'm desperate for human connection doesn't mean I should hold on to a friendship that's fading away. Right? O_o;


(Speaking of friendships, let me take the time to say I'm really really sorry for not connecting with you guys more often! Work and personal stuff have taken up so much of my brainspace in general that I practically forget about everything else. Even though most of you have moved on to Tumblr, I had to drastically cut back on using that site because it was affecting my mental health. Plus, if I can be perfectly honest I don't think I can relate to a lot of you like I used to; it seems we all have different interests and priorities these days, and trying to make relationships work when so much has happened in our lives and there wasn't much connection to begin with might not be worth it. Still, if any of you would like to start talking with each other more often, I'm available on AIM, Skype, and Facebook, so let me know what you'd like to do. ~_^


In the meantime, I want to try to focus on joining more groups on Meetup, or starting over on Tumblr. Right now K. is the only IRL friend I have outside of work and family, and trying to meet new people and [hopefully] make new friends would do me some good. Except every time I seriously think about it, I freak out and get really self-conscious, and so I never get around to doing it. Ugh. :PPP)


Since this entry is (as usual) long enough already, some bullet points on other things I should mention:


  • Since last December I've been writing these entries on a new MacBook Pro! I had my old MacBook for four and a half years, and while it was still technically working it was also really slow and, due to a stupid SMART error, wouldn't let me upgrade to the latest OS. This one is much faster and more robust, which is great because I really want to start getting into a routine of playing video games. Except that over the past nine months of having this thing.....I haven't played a single one. Even though I own far too many as it is. Like I said, brainspace. >_<;

  • I have, however, been playing Two Dots on the iPhone 6 I also got as a Christmas gift to myself. I finally beat all 410 levels this weekend! Of course, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to feel proud of this, or utterly pathetic for having wasted so much time on it. ;_;

  • This summer my sister graduated high school, and just finished her first week at college. She's going to Wheaton College in Massachusetts to study history and Italian; my mom and I helped move her in to her dorm last weekend. Naturally she was crying when we had to leave her (even though we didn't see anyone else do the same -- I'm guessing it was because she gets emotional when she's tired, and she's a really flighty person to begin with), but from what I can gather she's settled in very well! And she's only a two-hour drive away, so she's far enough away so that she's in another state, but close enough so that we can reach her quickly in case the unforeseen happens. In any case, it's going to take some time getting used to not having her in the house. Not that I mind, obviously, but still. :DDDDDDDDDDDD

  • My cousin graduated college this past May as well, so my mom, sister, and I went up to Boston to visit her and her mother the Sunday before -- we didn't want to go the day of because practically every other college in Boston does their graduation on the same day, and the city would've been mobbed. We got to meet my aunt's new boyfriend (who from what I can tell seems like a keeper, finally!), and we spent the say on Newbury Street, where I bought a few CDs from Newbury Comics.

  • My psoriasis is all but gone! For almost a year now I've been on methotrexate, which was doing a good job maintaining the status quo without the soriatane's side effects, and I haven't had to go for phototherapy in who knows how long now. Really the only spot of psoriasis I had left was this stubborn patch on the right side of my forehead, but thanks to some ointment the dermatologist gave me a couple of weeks ago, that might just about be gone too. ^_^;

  • Lastly, I have a couple of concerts I'll be going to later this month that I'm really excited about! I'll be seeing Low (again!) on the 25th in Hamden, and then on the 30th I'm going to see The Jesus and Mary Chain at this new venue that opened up in New Haven called the College Street Music Hall. Can't wait! \o/


And I'm sure there are a few other things I'm forgetting, but I doubt they're all that important anyway. XD



quadruplify: Amon (from the Legend of Korra) speaking at an Equalist protest, fist raised in the air ([LoK] Amon - revolution)
So because it's been so long since my last entry, and since so much has happened between then and now, I'm splitting this update into three posts. This first one is going to be about work-related stuff.

••• The autism nonprofit where I work has been putting together an employment pilot program over the past few months now. What this program will do is train autistic adults with little to no work history in mid-level jobs, with the ultimate goal of getting them competitive employment in a workplace where disabled and non-disabled people work together. In that way it's sort of based off of places like Roses For Autism, the Walgreens distribution centers, and Specialisterne, which give autistic adults more fulfilling jobs where they can actually use their skills, instead of the kinds of menial entry-level jobs they get "stuck" in by adult day centers and state vocational rehab agencies (like BRS, who I've talked about before). Right now the pilot project has hired a data analytics firm that specializes in patent research to train three people to be research assistants; I really don't know much else as to what's been going on, but from what little I've heard it's doing fairly well, despite the mistakes and mismanagement you'd expect when a big thing like this is just starting out.

I was supposed to be a part of this program; I even had an interview last December with the president of our board of directors, who's also the lead principal of the headhunter agency that's coordinating this program with us (and whose office is just upstairs from ours). And I've heard absolutely nothing since then. XPPP Which makes me a little peeved, because even though patent research doesn't sound like a field I want to get into, I could really use something where I can gain job skills and experience, and make more money than I have been right now. I did get a chance to talk to her last week, though, and she said that not only does the training take longer than she thought (six months instead of three), but they can only train two people at any given time, and it might be a few more months before they find a place for me in the project. Obviously I don't like not knowing when I'll be starting, but in reality it doesn't bother me at all because, as you'll soon see, I've been busy with lots of other things. ^_^;

In the meantime, the project needs grant money in order for it to actually work, and I was told to research facts and statistics about adults with autism and employment so they'd be that much more likely to receive an award. And, well.....I should probably just leave the results of that research here, because I think it just says it all. I kinda figured the job situation for autistic adults was bad -- it is for people of all kinds of disabilities, after all -- but I didn't realize it was this bad. Like, there are some estimates out there saying the unemployment rate for autistic adults is 90%? WTF?! Many of them are perfectly capable of holding down good jobs, and in some cases their autism gives them skills and advantages over neurotypical people; all they need, in essence, is some support and accommodations, but employers too often treat them as if they don't even exist. >_< I could go on, especially about how full inclusion is good for both the employee and the employer, but I think the outline I linked above should help explain that. What really gets me, though, is how little this is being talked about right now -- sure, there are a few articles about it here and there, and NBC Dateline did do a report on autistic adults the weekend before last [autoplay], but with 50,000 autistic kids turning 18 in the U.S. each year (and with this number likely to increase as ASD diagnoses do), this is going to become a serious social policy problem before long. But not as many people care because it's not as charismatic or controversial as, say, rape on college campuses or police brutality against black people. >_>;

(Unfortunately, I've gathered that we haven't gotten much grant money thus far, and it seems that the bill in the state legislature that would help fund our program is stuck in limbo. I just really hope our luck changes soon enough. =_=;)

••• While I was doing research for the pilot program, I came across something in San Francisco called the "Autism Job Club." It's a group of autistic adults who are unemployed or underemployed, who meet once a month to go over things like networking, interview skills, how to dress appropriately, how to get along with coworkers, etc., as well as share job leads and moral support. From what I can tell, sometimes they also bring in guest speakers, employers, and headhunters who are looking to hire adults with autism, or who need a little convincing that it would be a good idea. I found this to be really intriguing, especially since I couldn't think of anything quite like it near where I live. I mean, I go to a support group for young men on the autism spectrum once a month, but it's very informal and deals with a wide range of topics, not just jobs; and between adult day services, vocational rehab, and projects like the ones I mentioned earlier, there are many programs out there to help get people employed. But something that functions as both a support and a networking group, where people are there specifically to talk about employment, which they can't attain despite it being probably the most important way to help them? Something that could be really helpful to lots of people? Nope, nothing.

So I thought to myself, well, what if I helped start one?

Fast forward to last Friday afternoon, and I'm at the Yale Child Study Center meeting with both this woman, who just started a program for young women with autism that would train and then place them in various jobs, and the director of student services at the UConn Law School, who is also a co-director for a consulting firm that helps autistic students be successful in college. They were really interested to hear my idea, and we bounced ideas off each other to see how well a "job club" like this would work. Long story short, I'm going to spearhead this project, the two people I met last week will be providing me with names and e-mail address so I can put together a mailing list, and the first meeting will likely be within the next couple of months, at the absolute latest.

Guys. You guys. I have never done anything like this before. I wouldn't have minded if I helped start something like this, but I didn't think I'd end up being, you know.....in charge or anything. O_o; Still, I'm very excited about all this! This has the potential to turn into something really big, with multiple groups throughout the state or even a foray into activism. But of course, things like this have to start small and slow in the beginning, and it all depends on the needs of the people who actually show up. Oh man, I just really hope this turns out well; after all, this has the potential of helping lots of people (including myself! XD) who otherwise wouldn't get it. Wish me luck! :D

(BTW, the guy who wrote the article I linked to above co-wrote a book called The Autism Job Club: The Neurodiverse Workforce in the New Normal of Employment, which came out just last month. I read it last week and I highly recommend it! It's a great introduction into the issues autistic adults face when it comes to employment, and even if you're not autistic yourself, it still has a lot of intriguing [if depressing] information about the changing nature of employment in the U.S. in general -- namely, how a single, full-time job is becoming a thing of the past, and how most young people today will have to work multiple, short-term jobs throughout their "career.")

••• As far as the BRS stuff goes, I finally managed to do a work evaluation! That's the good news. The bad news is that it didn't go as well as I hoped.

I worked at the Meigs Point Nature Center in Madison, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for the last three weeks in February, for a total of 40 hours. The job coach and I spent the first week learning about the animals that live there and how to take care of them -- feeding them, cleaning their cages, etc. It was actually quite interesting working with them, and by the end I was way more comfortable handling the snakes, but after it was all said and done I realized it wasn't something I wanted to spend my life doing. (I kinda already knew that beforehand, but it was nice to know with absolute certainty. ^_^;) Most of the rest of the time was spent on my main project, which involved the educational programs they put together for school groups, kids' birthday parties, etc. There have a variety of "scripts" the people who work there use when they give their presentations, with talking points about the animals (or the habitats they live in) and how to demonstrate certain things to the kids; my job was to turn these scripts into outline form so it'd be easier for volunteers to learn, and to flesh them out with information we'd gather from the Internet.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it was, but it wasn't without problems. Editing the "scripts" was one of those projects they'd been meaning to do for a long time now, but because there are only two paid employees there and they had their hands full actually running the place, it kept getting put off. Not that it was a big priority in the first place, if you think about it. And the director, who was otherwise very nice and helpful to us, wasn't clear at all about what it was exactly he wanted us to do or how to do it, which made me suspect he didn't know and couldn't be bothered to figure it out. After all, he had places to go and TV appearances to make, and he was so laid-back and scatterbrained that it wasn't unusual for him to go a week or more without returning my job coach's phone calls. Not to mention the Internet connection at the place sucked, and the only other computer in the building we were allowed to use had no Internet access at all, so I had to go to my job coach's house nearby for a day to work. Eventually we figured something out, but I was still immensely frustrated with the experience. It felt like I was just doing busy work rather than anything meaningful. Between that and the not-fun of working with the animals, it really soured me on having any sort of job at a nature center in general.

And that wasn't even the worst part of it all.

The Sunday after my first week there ended (the 15th), there was a big snowstorm that forced the center to close, and since they're normally closed on Mondays they were closed the next day too. That Sunday, a window in the main room blew out, causing the snow, wind, and cold to get inside and move tables, knock things over, etc. A pipe on the main floor also burst, which meant there was a little bit of flooding too. It wasn't until the director came in that Tuesday morning that anyone knew how bad things got.

24 animals died. 30 if you include the fish.

So not only did the director and his assistant have to deal with the fallout -- you could tell they were deeply affected by it because they had come to develop an affinity for those animals, and I can only imagine the responsibility they felt toward them -- but they also had to clean up as quickly as they could and pretend nothing ever happened. Most of the animals that died were rescues and rehabs with backstories, such as their unofficial mascot, a 46-year-old box turtle named Merlin who was hit by a car two decades ago. It certainly explains some of the director's scatterbrained-ness, at least, so I don't want to be too hard on the guy.

But the more I think of it, the more I think he acted somewhat irresponsibly by not doing enough to prevent it from happening. If you run a place where animals who can't fend for themselves live, and you need to close it down due to a snowstorm, the very least you could do is have someone check in on them regularly to see if they're okay, or prevent more animals from getting hurt or killed in case of an accident. Hell, at the animal shelter near me, sometimes people will volunteer to be snowed in so that they can keep the pets safe. Or have the windows wired to an alarm in case they break, not just the doors, even if you have a tight budget. If part of the purpose of a nature center is to protect wild animals, you should, you know, protect them. >:[

Oh well. I did get to see wild harbor seals for the first time, though, and I got paid minimum wage for my time, so it wasn't a complete wash.

••• I still look for other jobs now and again, and I've managed to get a side gig! Last November I applied for a work-from-home research assistant position at a place in New York called Outcast Films, which distributes documentaries to the educational market, with an emphasis on connecting audiences directly with filmmakers. When I didn't hear back from them at first, I thought the job had already been filled or they didn't think I was qualified enough, because that's usually what happens when you don't get a reply to your application. But a month later, out of the blue the executive director e-mailed me, saying she got my application and was reviewing it. After another month without hearing back from her, I e-mailed a follow-up -- I really did want this job because it seemed right up my alley, I could use the extra money, and it wasn't as if anyone told me no, right? XD I waited yet another month before the ED replied back.

Two phone interviews and a Skype call later, and she wants to hire me! All I'm waiting on is the contract I'll need to sign to make it official, although my parents want me to see an attorney to look it over before I do. The ED has been very busy; the company started off as a distributor of LGBT films until the Internet made it easier for filmmakers to distribute their work directly to their audiences, so lately they've been doing some restructuring to stay in business. Plus, they're working on acquiring two more films, and the ED wants to acquire six films within the next six months. Once they get some new documentaries, my job will be to look for teachers, professors, libraries, etc. that might be interested in screening them. I'd also be writing one-page outlines called SWOTs, which stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (Where would be the best places to screen this move? Who should we market this to?), and Trends/Threats (How "hot" is this topic? What competition does this film have?); I've already done one, which the ED was actually quite impressed with. :D

Once I start getting some work, I'd be working about five hours a week on an independent contractor basis, making $15/hour, and if I enjoy the job and the ED sees what I'm capable of, it might go up to 20 hours per week. She's really looking for someone who'll "grow with the company" because it's extremely small right now; I don't know how well I'd fit that expectation since I'm looking to get more work at my current job, but there's not much I can do about that right now except wait and see. I really hope it goes well. ^_^;

••• I've had a couple of other interviews as well; some of them were for this place in New Haven called Next Step Living, which conducts assessments of people's homes to see how they can become more eco-friendly and cheaper to maintain, and then sells solar panels, windows, HVAC systems, and anything else that would help with that. I really liked their business model, and I got excited because they were the first to reply to my application. But then I realized I had applied to, well.....sales jobs. As in working on commission, long work weeks, weird hours, traveling long distances, and risking getting doors slammed in my face after showing up on people's doorsteps unannounced. Nope, I am not cut out to sell my soul for that line of work. I still had two phone interviews and one in-person interview because, hey, I could use the practice, but I was okay when they told me I was passed up for the job.

I also had a Skype interview for an internship at a place in Massachusetts called the Dare Institute, which does a lot of psychological research, especially involving autism. And that went somewhat.....bizarre, actually.

My interview was with the founder and co-director -- if by "interview" you mean him rambling off-topic, dropping names and concepts I had never heard of left and right, and me hardly getting a word in edgewise. My job would've been to help market what they called a "developmental task sequence" to autism schools and centers around the country, and then collect the data from those who use it to see how well it works, and if it can be used to detect autism in infants and toddlers. It sounded vaguely interest, and I admit the prospect of having my name attached to a published academic paper was tempting, but the guy had a lot of opinions that were stuck in the 1960s:

  • He's spent so much of his long career working with autistic kids with severe symptoms and serious behavior issues, that I can't help but think it's colored his idea of what autism actually is. I don't doubt that consciously he knows autism is a spectrum disorder (meaning it manifests differently in everyone who has it), but anytime he mentioned autism, in the same breath he would talk about headbanging, violent behavior, criminal activity, etc. It's almost as if he felt a person severely impacted with autism automatically meant they were extremely unstable time bombs with very low IQs. Some fit that profile, but many don't.

  • He thinks the term "developmentally disabled" is too "politically correct" and thinks "retarded," "slow," or "developmentally challenged" are more accurate descriptions. According to him, people with DD don't develop any differently than "normal" people, just slower than average, and it's ~~~very important~~~ to make sure they catch up. Because it's not like it's discriminatory to assume there's more than one "right" way for a person to develop or anything.

  • Worst of all, he has a lot of connections with people who work at the Judge Rotenberg Center, and has done a lot of work in conjunction with them. For those of you who don't know, the JRC is a school in Massachusetts that treats students with emotional issues and DDs like autism; they're one of the few schools in the U.S. that use aversives to condition students to stop behaving in certain ways, and the only one that uses electric shocks on a person's skin as a form of punishment. Yes, "treatments" like this are still being practiced in 2015, and many disability advocates have tried for years to shut it down. Dr. Commons, however, thinks that skin shocks are more humane and ethical than medication, because medication can have severe side effects. Never mind, of course, that using skin shocks will likely give the student PTSD, and in order to treat that they'll probably have to take medication anyway. Then again, he's a very strict behaviorist a la B.F. Skinner, and applied behavior analysis as a treatment for autism is fraught with many, many problems.


After all this, I wouldn't have taken the internship anyway, but the fact that a.) it was unpaid, and b.) it would require me to actually be in Cambridge while doing it, made my decision a hell of a lot easier.

••• Last but not least, since autism has come up so much in this entry, and because April is Autism Awareness Month (or Autism Acceptance Month, depending on who you talk to), I figured I might end this by sharing three articles about autism that I hope you'll find interesting:

President Obama’s World Autism Awareness Day Proclamation Is Right On
Autism Awareness Month – Autism is More than Autism Speaks and Temple Grandin
PayPal founder thinks people with Asperger’s have an advantage

And congratulations to all of you who made it this far. I told you I had a lot going on! XD
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
First off, in case you missed it, my last RL update is here in case you're curious as to how I'm doing. ^_^;

Also, one of my cousins recently opened up a jewelry shop on Etsy! I think some of you on my f-list would be interested, so if you'd like to support her (which would be awesome! :D) or just see the kind of work she's doing, feel free to check out her store. ;-)

Because I haven't done a linkdump in a while, it's another REALLY REALLY long one, so it's under a cut. Obviously I don't expect you to read all of it -- or any of it, for that matter -- but I've bolded the ones I recommend the most for your convenience. Enjoy!

Read more... )
quadruplify: ([LoK] Amon - mask)
So...stuff's been happening. On the minus side, seeing my dad's mother for the first time since she was admitted to the nursing home a couple of weeks ago -- rail thin, in a wheelchair, easily confused, hardly talking -- was rough. Cut for somewhat depressing details :( )

On the plus side, though, my birthday yesterday went well (I got two new shirts and an iTunes gift card, and we went out to eat -- it obviously wasn't much, but I don't need a lot of stuff and I don't like making a big deal of my birthday anyway), my psoriasis is slowly clearing up again, Dan Harmon is coming back to Community (which I honestly didn't see coming at all, but OMG YES SO EXCITED!!!!!!!! because now I can totally look forward to season 5 XDDDDDDDDDDDD), and overall my mood has been ever-so-slightly better than it has been. I was really disappointed with The National's new album Trouble Will Find Me -- I tried to like it, but all the songs sound pretty much the same, it seemed as if the band ended up refining their sound so much they sucked all the soul and life out of it, there's no lyrics that stand out or any other hooks to grab the listener's attention like all their other albums, and it's just plain boring -- but I've enjoyed the latest from Boards of Canada, Tomorrow's Harvest, a hell of a lot more, so that offsets the disappointment at least. ^_^;

Also, [livejournal.com profile] edge_chan was interviewed by a big art supply website (exciting!), and even though I don't collect vinyl LPs and hardly care for collecting them at all (unlike some music fans), this ultramarine-colored LP of Young Galaxy's latest album (which is also really good, BTW!) is so cool and I want one. *grabby hands*

[livejournal.com profile] kattidya, I got your birthday card in the mail a couple of days ago. Thank you very much!! :D

All right, on to the links, since they've piled up yet again and it'd be nice for my browser to work faster again:

POLITICS
--Does the NSA really need to spy on us?
--The tangled web of empire (more on the recent NSA spying controversy)
--Who Is Afraid of Big Brother? (a somewhat reasoned defense of PRISM)
--Why the NSA Needs Your Phone Calls
--Washington Is Trapped in Its Own Prism of Data-Mining Self-Defense
--Of Course Apple Avoids Billions in Taxes -- And It Should
--Connecticut Boy Scouts Chapter Defects, Welcomes Gay Members to Serve Openly (this includes adults, unlike the BSA's recent decision -- plus this was the council I was a part of when I was younger, so YAY!!!!!)
--The Impossibility of Being Barack Obama
--How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America
--Don't Hold Your Breath Waiting For Public Opinion to Turn Against Obama (this was published before the NSA scandal broke, but IMHO the article's central thesis is still relevant)
--Here's Why the Government Went Ballistic Over the AP Leak
--The EMPire Strikes Back (on why the "threat" of electromagnetic pulse is practically nonexistent)
--Top 10 warning signs of 'liberal imperialism'
--Fear Factor (a defense of drone strikes in foreign countries)

SCIENCE
--We've Found the Molecule That Causes Itchiness
--The effect that explains why you regret posting in anger
--You Didn't Have Any Lions to Run From, So You Clicked on This
--Butterflies remember a mountain that hasn't existed for millennia
--We're Only Beginning to Understand How Our Brains Make Maps
--5 Reasons Cold Fusion Is Bunk
--Study: Science Can Change the Sexual Orientations of Mice
--No need to eat like a caveman -- just eat your damn veggies!
--Giant fluorescent pink slugs found on mountain
--Amnesia and the Self That Remains When Memory Is Lost
--How many people really went through with the Milgram Experiment?

ENVIRONMENT
--So this is where all our greenhouse gases come from
--How Antarctica Would Look Completely Naked

SPACE/ASTRONOMY
--Can Space Tourism Save Earth?
--Could we find alien civilizations using infrared light?
--When it comes to exoplanets, science fiction lags way behind science
--How will space colonists access the Internet on Mars?
--Opportunity Finds More Hints of Mars Habitability

TECHNOLOGY
--The Video Game Helmet That Can Hack Your Brain (on the growth of brain-computer interfaces and its potential consequences)
--Gorgeous Floating Buildings Around the World

EDUCATION
--An Open Letter to Science Students and Science Teachers (on how much needs to be done to improve science education in the U.S.)
--The 12 Most Controversial Facts in Mathematics, and its sequel 9 More Super-Controversial Math Facts That People Refuse to Believe Are True

SOCIETY
--Masturbation Is at the Root of the Culture Wars (Hugo Schwyzer generally isn't someone worth listening to when it comes to feminist issues, but this is a good article nonetheless)
--If You Think Like an Imposter, You'll Be an Imposter (good advice for everyone to read)
--"You are all going to die": Joss Whedon's Wesleyan commencement speech (on making peace with contradictions, and the need to look at "both sides" of everything)
--When Men Experience Sexism (on finding a middle ground between militant feminists and MRAs)
--The Questions People Get Asked About Their Race
--Charles Ramsey and the Racial Language Barrier
--What Should I Do With My Life?
--Advice For College Grads From Two Sociologists
--What About the Guys Who Do Fit the 'Gay Stereotype'?
--Why Suicide Has Become an Epidemic -- and What We Can Do to Help
--Survivorship Bias (on the pitfalls of ignoring stories of failure)
--Sex After Dementia
--Why Is It So Hard to Understand What's Wrong With Rape Jokes?
--"The wonderful and frightening thing about Tumblr and Twitter..."
--On Horse Racing, "Break Downs," and Our Humanity
--Optimism Is Not Insane

GEOGRAPHY
--22 Maps That Show The Deepest Linguistic Conflicts in America

MEDIA
--Elementary Demonstrates the Right Way to Update a Classic Hero
--The Problem With Celebrating Straight Actors in Gay Roles
--New York PBS station criticizes reality TV with fake subway ads
--The Government Can't Stop Our Heterosexual Love: YA Dystopia From a Gay Perspective
--6 Ways to Survive an 'Internet Drubbing'
--You Won't Finish This Article (no, that's not a challenge)

ART/CREATIVITY
--Belgian Man Made His Own Samurai Armor (and it's very impressive!)
--Short film "Captain T&T": Boy tries to become a superhero in the violence of Trinidad and Tobago
--Sweet Mother of Assassin's Creed III... (I know zilch about this franchise and fandom, but I'd totally wear something like that too :D)
--"So Dark": A short film that proves even noble vampires can be horrifying


quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
--Tiny new (?) spider species creates large spider puppets to scare away predators
--24 places that look not normal, but are actually real  (I believe I shared some of these on Tumblr before, but I've never seen some of these before, and here they are, all in one place ~_^)
--AP Credit Will No Longer Be Accepted at Dartmouth  (I really don't know how I feel about this; on one hand, I get where they're coming from after reading this article and realizing it lined up really nicely with my experiences with AP classes in high school, but on the other hand, the issue is a lot more complicated, as the comments to this article prove. The only benefits I got from AP at college was that I was able to skip one of my required classes for my major, and I started off with 5 credits so I could take 3 classes some semesters instead of the usual 4. I really didn't feel like my AP classes prepared me that much for college at all, but a part of me is still glad I took them.)
--Glowing full moon credenza  (I'd like something like this too, even though it must be ridiculously expensive :PPP)
--How Forks Gave Us Overbites and Pots Saved the Toothless
--How Facebook affects your memory
--10 false facts most people think are true
--How Game Theory Explains Washington's Horrible Gridlock
--Kendrick Lamar's Forever War  (on hip-hop and the myth of "noble violence")
--The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots
--Why You Can't Cry in Space
--Violence and Mental Illness in Middletown, Connecticut
--Amateur Astronomers Discover 42 Alien Planets
--Dr. Carin Bondar's "Wild Sex"  (NSFW obviously)
--Should science fiction and fantasy do more than entertain?
--Anonymous and encouraging message posted in university restroom
--Antarctica takes out its frustration on the children of the 1%  (I'm only sharing this for the comments, which [strangely enough] are far better than the article)


quadruplify: Amon (from the Legend of Korra) speaking at an Equalist protest, fist raised in the air ([LoK] Amon - revolution)
••• So my thoughts on the election can be summed up in these GIFs:





Let's see, we had Obama re-elected, a large number of women and progressives elected to Congress (including a Buddhist and a Hindu), Tea Partiers and rape apologists and anti-abortion freaks defeated, same-sex marriage passing by popular vote in three states (and marijuana legalized in two more), a hardcore video gamer getting elected to Maine's state senate, and overall at least half of Americans waking up and realizing this country needs to get out of the dark ages? Consider me impressed. :D

I might do a politics-related linkdump at some point, but for now I'm sure this will do. ^_^;

••• As for Hurricane Sandy, we got our TV and Internet back on Friday 11/2; my sister was ecstatic because during that whole week it was like living with a drug addict going through withdrawal. And it didn't help that she was out of school a total of four days, too. :PPP I managed to survive by starting to watch Ao no Exorcist (which I've actually been rather enjoying!), as well as a few movies I'll review later because it's 2:30 AM as I'm writing this and I'm hoping to get some sleep soon. XD

But it's long gone now -- no major damage around here, just a few tree limbs falling on power lines here and there (and Halloween getting cancelled, if that counts). I know the coast got hit really bad, though, as well as everywhere south of New York City; I don't know exactly how bad the damage was, and if we're going to be completely honest I kinda don't want to -- I feel like it'd depress me too much. But yes, we're all perfectly fine around here, as I've mentioned before, so no need to worry about us!

If you do want to read something interesting, though, there's this article about the skeleton that was unearthed when a tree toppled over in New Haven, if you're into that sort of thing. (The link contains pictures of the skeleton [though it's kinda hard to make out], in case you don't want to see it or you find such pictures disrespectful.)

••• I'm about 21,000 words into NaNoWriMo, which I'm really impressed by since I wasn't expecting to get that far by now at all. I've always seen myself as a slow writer; when I was writing papers in school and college, it took all the effort I could muster to stay focused and concentrate on what I needed to get done, which meant writing the damn things felt like pulling teeth. A lot of these hangups I developed about writing as a result have stuck around, which has definitely made it a struggle, so I guess being ahead of schedule is my way of compensating for that. :3 But whatever, even though those 21,000 words are total word vomit (as all first drafts are, I suppose), I'm using the advice of some famous writers to power through it, I'm proud of where I'm at right now, and I'm excited that I might actually make 50,000 before the end of the month, so yay! 8D

(And of course, you can add me over there if you haven't already.)

••• The Twilight Sad concert was Tuesday night, and it was as excellent and mind-blowing as I was hoping it was going to be.

Details under the cut... )

••• I've changed the layout of my LJ blog! ---> [livejournal.com profile] quadruplify The last one was more of a temporary thing because it was kinda ugly, so I hope y'all like this one more. ^_^;

Anyway, that's about it from me. How's everyone else doing?
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
Of all the nights I really want to stay up really late, tonight's the night I can't. Fuck. =_=

Anyway, I have some good news to share:

You have to click the cut to find out... )

* I'm thinking about doing NaNoWriMo this year. I do need a kick in the butt to get myself writing again, and since I still don't have a job and I have plenty of free time, why not? Good idea y/n?

* The reason why I have to go to bed early is because I'll be spending the weekend in Boston with my mom and sister, and we're leaving early in the morning. :P We're going to see my cousin at college because this weekend is their "Fall Family Weekend"/"open house," so we should definitely have a good time. The only thing that's gonna really suck about it is that Ex-Uncle and his ugly-on-the-inside wife will be meeting us at points, which is a huge DNW. But it'll be great to get to travel and see my aunt and cousin again! I'll be gone until Sunday night EDT; I'll still check LJ and (as much as possible) Tumblr on my phone, and if you want to get in touch with me I can PM you my contact info, but FYI I'm going to be a little bit more sparse this weekend than usual. (I also have AIM and Skype on my phone, but I'm not sure if I'll try that just yet.) Expect an awesome summary of everything when I get back, though. ;-)

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quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
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