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What Makes Institutions Bad

Mel Baggs ballastexistenz.wordpress.com Buffalo State Hospital, closed in 1974. Photo © Shannon O’Toole[image: A dilapidated interior hallway of a former state hospital.] Most people don’t have the foggiest clue what’s bad about institutions. What’s bad is something you pretty much never hear about, which is the violence it does to people’s insides at a very deep level. And that can’t be stopped by just removing the things that LOOK bad and throwing a layer of glamour on top. Please, please, please everyone who talks about this in the past tense—STOP. This is still going on. Everywhere. I think too many people get the wrong kind of idea. They will think that this is over. It’s not. They will think that the awfulness and cruelty of an institution is measured by the size, the shape, the physical beauty or lack thereof, the amount of money funneled into it. And those things are…

No You Don’t

Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com We’re grateful to Autistic advocate Sparrow for letting us publish her essay, which inspired our previous contributor, parent Beth Ryan, to write The Cost of Compliance is Unreasonable. Please know that Sparrow’s essay may contain triggers regarding autistic girls and conditioned compliance. When I meet parents of young Autistic kids, especially after they find out how much I was like their kids when I was their kids’ age, many of them say “I hope my kid is like you when she grows up!” ~~ I used to say, “I hope she’s much better off than I am,” or simply, “No, you don’t,” but over time I learned that parents refuse to accept that answer. Maybe they think I’m doing that social thing where someone compliments you and you are expected to refuse the compliment a time or two, finally accepting it but maintaining your veneer of humility.…

On “Quiet Hands”

Julia Bascom juststimming.wordpress.com Explaining my reaction to this: means I need to explain my history with this: 1. When I was a little girl, they held my hands down in tacky glue while I cried. 2. I’m a lot bigger than them now. Walking down a hall to a meeting, my hand flies out to feel the texture on the wall as I pass by. “Quiet hands,” I whisper. My hand falls to my side. 3. When I was six years old, people who were much bigger than me with loud echoing voices held my hands down in textures that hurt worse than my broken wrist while I cried and begged and pleaded and screamed. 4. In a classroom of language-impaired kids, the most common phrase is a metaphor. “Quiet hands!” A student pushes at a piece of paper, flaps their hands, stacks their fingers against their palm, pokes at…

Headlines: Abuse and Empathy

Zoe illusionofcompetence.blogspot.com WARNING: this post discusses child abuse We are two weeks into Autism Awareness Month and I count three casualties so far. Two stories in the news this week, of three autistic children murdered or abused by their parents and caretakers. In Washington, two autistic boys (ages 5 and 7) were discovered locked in a cage, where their father and his fiancee kept them every day, in unsanitary conditions. They weren’t allowed to walk around the house or to go to school. I don’t know their names. Their father, John Eckhart, told police, “What am I supposed to do? Let them run around the house? They’re autistic.” In Massachusetts, Kristin LaBrie was found guilty of “attempted murder, assault and battery on a disabled person and a child, and child endangerment,” after she withheld chemotherapy drugs from her 9-year-old autistic son, Jeremy Fraser. This actually happened years ago, but was…