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Why Elon Musk Being Autistic Isn’t That Great For Autistic People

“Elon Musk oveseeing the construction of Gigafactory”  by jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0[image: Elon Musk, wearing mirrored sunglasses and a reflective chartreuse safety vest.] Sarah Kapit twitter.com/SarahKapit Elon Musk announced to the world that he’s autistic on Saturday Night Live. Some people have claimed that this represents a noticeable step forward for autistic people in public life. But I’m not celebrating. My interest here isn’t to rehash all of the reasons why Musk is an obnoxious public figure who has done damaging things to his employees and the world at large—although I hold this opinion. Other people have already written about the litany of his misdeeds. Instead, I want to consider Musk’s shortcomings in the specific context of autism and disability politics. First, Musk did not describe himself as an autistic person. He said he had “Asperger’s,” which is a term that is rooted in ableism. In the U.S., “Asperger’s” is…

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Towards Autism Acceptance: An Interview With Researcher Desi Jones

Non-autistic people harbor assumptions about autistic people, whether they’re aware of them or not. And those biases can get in the way of autistic people being included both socially and professionally. We talked with Desi Jones, a Doctoral Student at the University of Texas at Dallas, whose recent paper Effects of autism acceptance training on explicit and implicit biases toward autism examines how autistic acceptance efforts both succeed and fail in addressing stereotypes about autism, and what this means. We also discussed her work on structural racism in autism research, and how institutions can do better by their autism researchers of color—and why that doesn’t merely mean recruiting more POC. Photo courtesy Desi Jones [image: Desi Jones, a smiling Black woman with curly shoulder length purple-tinged hair.]  TPGA: Can you tell us about your background, and what drew you to autism research? Desi Jones: I double majored in Neuroscience and Psychology…

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Things Left Unsaid: “I Am Autism” 10 Years Later

[image: Screen capture from the Autism Speaks video I Am Autism, with an African American child sitting on a slide, facing away from the camera. The YouTube video toolbar is visible, above title text reading, “I Am Autism commercial by Autism Speaks”.] Zephyr Ash Ostrowski thefilmroom.org “Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” –St. Francis of Assisi “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “Where ignorance exists, myths flourish.” Norman Begg and Angus Nicoll It doesn’t take long for a hurtful word or comment to make its way across the globe. The media eagerly reports on officials’ latest xenophobic remarks within minutes. Protesters will gather and complain for a corporation to sever ties with a controversial program or person. But this outrage somehow doesn’t happen with organizations that are directly tied to “helping” certain groups of marginalized people—and when…

CinemAbility: A Review

CinemAbility poster via Amazon.com [image: Movie poster featuring a shadowy photo of a person in a wheelchair, seen from behind. Headshot of the actors Jane Seymour, Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Marlee Matlin, William H. Macy, and Geena Davis are arranged in a diagonal over the wheelchair user, above large white text reading “CinemAbility The Art of Inclusion.”] Maxfield Sparrow unstrangemind.com CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion (2018) Directed by Jenni Gold, Leomark Studios Closed Captions I recently and eagerly watched the new documentary CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion via an Amazon rental. Although I have a couple of complaints, I don’t want to lead with them because the documentary overall was amazing and has been sorely needed. For those who only read articles’ opening paragraphs: you must see this film! You will not regret it. The documentary was filled with interview clips—actors, directors, casting directors, academics. I apologize in advance because I won’t…

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Sesame Street’s Julia: What An Inclusive World Should Look Like

[image: partial view of Sara, who has dark hair in pigtails and is wearing a dark pink shirt, smiling. She sits with a Julia doll, holding onto the doll’s hand. The Julia doll has bright orange hair  in pigtails and green eyes, looks happy, and is wearing a pink shirt.] Sara Liss I wish that Julia the Muppet from Sesame Street had existed when I was a toddler and first learning (not very successfully) to interact with other kids. I was desperate to play with someone other than my baby sister, her baby playmates, and our family friends. I didn’t know how to connect with the other kids my age, and most of them preferred for me to stay away. One or two of the girls at my preschool either liked me or took pity on me, on their own or with adult encouragement, and were my sometimes-playmates. (I don’t…