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What the Fidget Spinners Fad Reveals About Disability Discrimination

Aiyana Bailin restlesshands42.wordpress.com Traducción al español incluida a continuación de la versión en inglés Photo © Robert Couse-Baker / Creative Commons [image: Hand holding a spinning fidget] I’m angry about the sudden popularity of fidget spinners, but probably not for the reasons you think. I’m not mad that they’re disruptive in class, or obnoxiously trendy. I’m furious because of what they reveal about societal power structures, and the pathologizing of disabled people by non-disabled persons. Autistic people (and others with developmental disabilities) have been fighting a war for decades. It’s a war against being forcibly, often brutally, conditioned to behave more like neurotypicals, no matter the cost to our own comfort, safety, and sanity. And those of us who need to stim in order to concentrate (usually by performing small, repetitive behaviors like, oh I don’t know, spinning something) have endured decades of “Quiet Hands” protocols, of being sent to…

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When Chairs Are the Enemy

Photo © Just Dining Chairs  | Flickr / Creative Commons [Two taupe suede dining chair with blonde wood legs on a white background.] TPGA is observing Autism Acceptance Month by featuring accounts from autistic people about the differences accommodations (or lack thereof) make in their lives. Today’s example is from Aiyana Bailin, about how small accommodations changes, in this case choices regarding chairs, can have “huge results.” Aiyana Bailin restlesshands42.wordpress.com Once, at a convention of (mostly) autistic people, I observed a peculiar phenomenon. Chairs were arranged in a large circle, and perhaps 100 attendees gathered and sat. A handful of people, myself included, took their spot in the circle, but sat on the floor in front of their chair, rather than on the chair itself. This floor-sitting evoked no signs of disapproval; after all, most autistic people know that comfort doesn’t come in one-size-fits-all. But I’m used to people being…