Naturalistic Neurodiversity

Exploring our differences through science.

Posts Tagged ‘autism

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #59

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Autism & epilepsy.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

I have yet to find a skeptic place that wasn’t all “asshole = autistic”. And the -tard suffix. And people look at me like I’ve got 2 heads when I mention that flash photography often = seizures (I do not, in fact, have 2 heads). And when people post videos of talks and such, they don’t have transcripts, & when I ask, people think it’s appropriate to demand to know why I-or anyone-would possible need transcripts.

I wrote a blogpost about atheism’s ableism problem and the reaction was largely ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK, when it wasn’t IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE. This is a problem. (Actually, you may have read that post if you’re who I think you are…)*

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

Um, stop being ableists?

Restrict the ableist language. Leaders need to actively say that it isn’t cool. Not just quietly say “yeah, I cringe when they do that”, but tell them ASSHAT AND AUTISM ARE NOT THE SAME THING AND STOP USING MY NETSPACE TO SAY THEY ARE or whatever.

Caption shit. ASL interpret shit. If someone asks for an accomodation (ie me and my no flash photography need, the transcript thing) instead of being all defensive and demanding to know why, just say OK, and do it, or find someone who can do it.

Meet places that are accessible to mobility devices & accessible by public transit. My city supposedly has great transit, but many meeting places are over an hour on transit and/or involve a half mile or more walk. I’m in good physical shape & can do that, but a lot of people can’t.

Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?

The ableism issue is enough that I’ve pretty much stopped even trying, & given how much crap I have been trained to tolerate that’s pretty damn bad.

Response #59 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

*I think the post may be this one, but if not, it’s still an eye-opener:  http://timetolisten.blogspot.com/2012/02/skepticisms-ableism-problem.html

Autism study strengthens idea that we “read God’s mind”

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http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21863-autism-study-strengthens-idea-that-we-read-gods-mind.html

This article does have some problems, but it gets the basic message across that atheists have been saying all along: God is created in the image of human kind, not the reverse.

Written by The Nerd

May 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #38

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Undiagnosed. My psychologist thinks it may be on the autism spectrum.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

I’m avoidant and do not much like face to face contact. So technically yes, but … The internet’s good for me. I’d consider it my ramp.

Now I’m worried I’m just justifying the status quo, but I really have no complaints.

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

More general questions in blog posts to encourage rare commenters to join in.

Response #38 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #27

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Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?

Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism and Septo Optic Dysplasia, which leaves me blind in my left eye.

Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?

Yes. Some of the venues chosen for atheist meetups are not really sensory-friendly. For example, bars are VERY hard for people with Asperger’s and Autism because of the large amount of noise and people. (and sometimes smoke)

What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?

Choose a variety of venues for meetups, so that members who are not comfortable at some venues can attend the meetings at others.

The above has been response #27 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.

Written by The Nerd

May 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Casual Ableism from Atheists

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Atheists generally claim to be interested in creating an inclusive space where nonbelievers of every background can feel welcome. Just do a web search for “diversity in atheism” and you see posts from Daylight Atheism, American Atheists, and Friendly Atheist, among others, all about how to open up atheism to a more diverse crowd. Women, blacks, parents, the poor – these people are traditionally left out of atheist conversations, and there’s a growing push to include them. But there’s one crucial area which still is overlooked to an alarming degree: neurodiversity.

Not all people have the “standard model” brain, and a lot of those people are proud atheists and need the support of a freethinking community. But many atheists pride themselves on being “more intelligent” than religious people, and are quick to call fundamentalists “crazy”.

Here are a few comments I’ve read recently in atheist spaces:

“You are so literal as to be autistic. Are you really that stupid?”

“PETA is creating the next wave of young adults with scary personality disorders.”

“Instead of writing a new generation of software to circumvent our filters, maybe they should recruit social misfits with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and write software that amplifies their efforts.”

That last one was from none other than PZ Myers himself.   The message is constantly being sent out by atheists everywhere: if your mind is configured differently than mine, you’re not welcome here. Which is a shame, because I can count many atheists with ADHD, autism, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc, some of them as good friends and terrific contributors to the community.

If we really want atheism without barriers, we have to cut out the ableist language, now. This includes ending the crazy-bashing of Christians, because if an atheist with a mental disorder walks into a room where people are casually tossing around the words “crazy”, “retarded”, “idiotic”, etc, ze’s going to feel under attack.

Discussions which center around attacks or slander of people’s mental states aren’t only harmful, they’re lazy. The fact is, arguments from the supernatural aren’t wrong because they’re crazy, they’re wrong because they’re not supported by evidence. Dangerous people aren’t dangerous because they’re crazy, they’re dangerous because they’re threatening violence. It’s time we started taking pushing the bar higher in atheism. Let’s take ableism seriously.

Written by The Nerd

August 24, 2011 at 8:18 am