Cardiff Disability Activist is right

I read on Wales Online about a Cardiff Disability Activist, Joe Powell, who has achieved success in terms of securing a management position, despite being told he has “Asperger syndrome.”

I think Joe Powell is on the right track. It makes sense to have people with disabilities working with those with disabilities as regardless of diagnosis they will have a theory of mind of what it is like to have needs that must be accommodated to be equal in ways that those without disabilities are not able to appreciate, however much they think they are able to.

Having someone speaking up for people with special educational needs in Cardiff is desperately needed, and I hope in his new role Joe Powell will be able to ensure universities, the police and other public authorities take their duties to people with disabilities seriously.

Frank Duffy and Tom Hodder – IP Thieves?

In 2011 I presented a poster to a conference in Wrexham on my research into EEG and autism and how it was possible to determine if someone was autistic from their brain-patterns. This is based on a patent I filed in 2010 which is for a device that uses EEG signals to read people’s brain patters and recommend appropriate behaviour.

A year later a researcher called Frank Duffy had a paper published in BMC Medicine titled, “A stable pattern of EEG spectral coherence distinguishes children with autism from neuro-typical controls – a large case control study.”

Even though I told the journal he was replicating work I had done, they did nothing to right the wrong of Frank Duffy not crediting me for the work of mine that he replicated. By Frank a Duffy copying my work without crediting it that makes Frank Duffy a plagiarist. Does Frank Duffy think it is fair that he is doing this?

Earlier this year someone called Tom Hodder placed a job request on PeoplePerHour asking people to present research of patents and EEG research that would effect his use of EEG in motorbike helmets.

When I notified Tom Hodder of my patent and research he wrote two blog posts. One called “patent troll or just troll? I have definitely been trolled.” and another “irrealis mood as an excuse to talk bollocks“.

In these blog posts Tom Hodder admits my patent is similar to the idea he wanted to take to market. Instead of saying how he wishes he thought of it first, Tom Hodder critiques my writing style and my various identities. Tom Hodder like Frank Duffy might not be as clear as they thought they were. In both cases I should be paid royalties if either uses my IP to assist interaction between people.

Does thinking like an autistic give you the right to be autistic?

The trouble with having an autistic personality and being trained in proportionality is not only do you hear the words people say literally, but it upsets you when you work out the meaning of why they said it! I said to someone today how I asked my support worker if she wanted tea and she said “just milk” and I replied how she expected an autistic person to reply, saying “you want a cup of milk then?

This other person said “you are only saying that because…” – Before they had a change to finish I was enraged because I knew they were going to suggest I was “playing the part.” I think like an autistic person, are they saying I am some how “putting it on” if I act on those thoughts as opposed to restraining myself?

The Human Rights Act implements the European Convention on Human Rights and this gives me freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to manifest and express these.

Criticising me for my autistic personality is therefore a human rights abuse!

Suffering from autism is caused by a sick society

From my point of view, today it should be grossly offensive to say being autistic is either a condition or a disorder. Autistic spectrum condition is now used more than autistic spectrum disorder, which even I used 10 years ago, but things need to move on further.

Being autistic is a social orientation that can be accounted for by someone having above average SQ scores and below average EQ scores. In other words it is a bias towards a certain type of personality.

The only time being autistic equates to ‘suffering from autism‘ is when people in society treat an autistic person less favourably for reasons arising out of their autistic personality traits.

I am calling for so-called autism to be taken out of DSM all together – in the same way homosexuality was. Whilst many autistic people have special educational needs, their autistic personality should not be one of them! It is other people that need to better understand the autistic theory of mind, without thinking their theory of mind is somehow superior!

Why people with autism shouldn’t feel disabled

There are these things called ‘Social Stories,’ which are designed to help people with autism understand how they might offend others. I think these social stories should be used to explain to the people who get offended, who I call empathics who suffer from empathism, why they are making themselves disabled by lacking relationship skills – let’s call them ‘Relationship Stories’ in this case.

You did very well – Part 1

Empathic to Autistic: You did every well with your speech.

Autistic: Yes, I know, I thought I was good.

Empathic: [Offended]

You did not do your best – Part 1

Autistic to Empathic: I didn’t think that was the best speech you’ve ever done.

Empathic: [Offended]

You did not do your best – Part 2

Empathic to Autistic : I don’t think that was the best speech you’ve ever done.

Autistic: I thought it was the best one ever.

Empathic: [Offended]

You did very well – Part 2

Autistic to Empathic: I think that was the best speech you’ve ever done.

Empathic: It wasn’t that good.

Autistic: You could be right.

Empathic: [Offended]

Question: Who is the most disabled?

Is it the autistic person with a ‘physical or mental impairment that has an adverse long term impact on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities‘ or is it the empathic? Should autistic people be ostracised for giving a fair, balanced and accurate account of a situation, rather than be offended at everything anyone says like empathics suffering from empathism do? In all of the situations above, autistic people would not get offended by one another for giving their honest opinion and in fact, the autistic people would be more likely to probe the person giving the feedback empathics find offensive so they know what to do next time.

A rant about autism as a health problem

Being autistic is not a health crisis as some think. The bigots who treat those with an autistic personality like me as if we are a problem are the crisis.

Any parent with a child diagnosed with autism that doesn’t speak should ask themsleves: Would you speak to an adult who made you feel like you were being ciriticised all the time for just being yourself, that you weren’t as important to them as others, or that you don’t appreciate you for who you are and not who you can’t be?

I’d sooner vote for a party who would put these parents on death-row for the inhuman and degrading treatment they subject their autistic child to, than one who would make their children be treated as a problem and not a solution.

Rant over. It was not intended to be menacing or cause apprehension.

Improving social skills of parents of autistic children

Children who are autistic – that is those who score higher on the SQ part of The Children’s Empathy Quotient and Systemizing Quotient than they do on the EQ can have a lot of behavioural problems as a result of their parents making them suffer autism because of their parent’s challenging behaviour.

Children who are autistic have particular personalities – I know because I see my personality as autistic. They like to have a routine, such as eating the same things on the same day of the week, or going to the same places on these same days. When this happens without their parents making a fuss then they are not disabled with autism, but enabled as an autistic.

Sometimes though their parents lack the ability to understand and communicate with them due to poor social skills on the parents’ part. For instance they will change their child’s routine without even telling them, and this behaviour of these insensitive parents has a knock-on effect with their child whose behaviour also changes for the worst.

If parents were to do something about their behavioural problems, such as wanting to stop their child from being autistic and instead be more like them, then their child would be much happier. Parents who refuse to do anything about their own bad behaviour risk causing emotional stress to their autistic child, which can only mean their parents will disable them to the extent that those parents cause them to have autism.

The solution is for parents to undertake social skills training and maybe cognitive behavioural therapy so they can become aware of how their behaviour is affecting their child so that they do not cause their child to suffer from autism. For instance they could learn how to understand their autistic child’s theory of mind, so that they don’t inflame situations by not being able to read their child and respond to them appropriately.

This is a major problem facing autistic children – the inability of others to see where they are coming from.This results in miscommunication, where those who aren’t autistic lack the interpersonal skills to be able to speak with autistic children without getting offended and without treating the autistic person as if they are the problem. It is the people who can’t read autistic children that have the problem and it is them that need to change. By not changing, not only are they causing themselves to have autism – by not being able to interact with autistic people at a normal developmental level – but they are causing their autistic child to suffer autism as well.

 

The cause and cure for your child’s autism

Are you are parent of a child diagnosed with autism? Do you wonder what caused it? Do you wish there was a cure for it? The answer is simple:

  • Neurological differences cause your child to be autistic
  • But it is you and others that cause them to suffer autism!

A. How many times a day do you find yourself doing these things?:

  • Telling your autistic child they shouldn’t wear a jacket in hot weather or wear the same jacket over and over.
  • Telling your child their room is messy and then blame them if you tidy it and they can’t find things.
  • Telling your child not to ‘play with their food’ such as if they’re lining peas up.
  • Telling your child they must not have the same food all the time and try different things even if that is not what they are used to or like.
  • Telling your child you wish they could be like other children and want to socialise rather than spend time on their personal interests on their own.
  • Telling your child they have spent enough time on their interests and should do something else ‘for a change’.

B. How many times do you see your child looking like this?:

  • Their arms are folded and they look angry when you’re yabbering on with a friend and ignoring them, especially in public when they can’t go to their room to focus on their interests.
  • You find them gripping their arms or clencing their fists when you are trying to get them to be the person you want them to be when they would prefer to be themselves.
  • You find their eyes look evil, almost as if they’ll kill you, when you try to change their routine, take something from them, or otherwise change their environment without speaking with them.

If you found you have said yes to many of these things, then it is likely that it is you causing your child’s autism by trying to change them from being autistic to being like you. There is nothing wrong with them wanting to do the above things, just because you wouldn’t do them. You wouldn’t force a Black person to change the colour of their skin just because everyone around them is White would you? You are treating your child like an ugly duckling, when if you let them be themselves and actually supported and tolerated their autistic personality then they could grow up to be a very beautiful swan.

The person that needs to change is you:

  • Allow your child to have a routine to keep their life ordered and disciplined. If they want things in a certain order, such as for things to be lined up in a certain way or at a certain time, don’t stop them
  • Have a clear set of rules they can follow, and don’t change or deviate from them
  • Make use of their autistic personality, ask them to solve problems and ask their opinions
  • If you want to watch soap operas without them interrupting, then make sure one of your rules is that you must have some ‘me time’ to yourself. But make sure, equally, you don’t interrupt them when they are enjoying their special interests without warning!
  • Stick to the same food each week and each day of the week. Find out which healthy foods your child likes and ask them to plan a rota of when they’d like to eat them. Respect their choices.
  • If they are expecting something, like to come home and play, give them advance warning if you plan to change, and make sure you give clear and understandable reasons why the change needs to happen.
  • If your child prefers a specific type of clothing but you don’t want them to be the same all the time, ask them if they would mind them in different colours or designs. If they want the label taken out then do it.

The Psychopathology of Empathy – A disorder killing humankind

Many people say having autism is a disablity – They could be right, as being denied opportunities because others cannot easy communicate or appreciate your point of view is disabling.

When Hans Asperger used the term ‘autism’ he was referring to a particular aspect of schizophrenia that causes social impairment. This is why I laughed the other day when so called research claimed a link between autism and schizophrenia – the link is only there because Hans Asperger defined it!

But, being autistic is not a disability – in many cases it is an advantage. I would say being empathic can cause a worse kind of autism – one that damages relationships rather than makes then easier to repair. I would argue that autism therefore can come from either having an empathic personality or an autistic one. The fact that people who claim to have empathy say they cannot understand autistic people proves they have autism – an impairment in ones ability to communicate with others and see their point of view.

Empathics can have some major flaws that autistics don’t have:

  • They need to “get to know someone” before entering into dialogue with them. Autistics can speak to anyone and treat them equally however short or long their relationship.
  • They seek out people who have “things in common” with them; such as same race, same interests, same party. Autistics like being individuals and different.
  • They attack people who are different from them even if they agree with them inside or would do the same thing as them in the same situation, just because they are in a different group or other faction to them. Autistics on the other hand have an internal consistency, they are not afraid to tell others they disapprove of their actions because they are in the same faction, not say they approve of others who are in a different faction if they honestly think so.
  • They will break rules or codes of ethics because they feel sorry for someone who would face a fair detriment from them, or will ignore them if someone will face an unfair detriment if that means one of their friends or other members of a faction they are in won’t face a fair detriment. Autistic people on the other hand will follow the rules, providing they think they are fair to everyone.
  • They will find it difficult to understand the theory of mind of those from different cultures or with different beliefs to them. Autistics on the other hand, because they see things from their point of view, can easily “map on” different cultures to their worldview by consciously seeing how others a different to them, both as individuals and a group. Empathics need to be around people similar to them whereas Autistics do not.

So as you can see there is a clear type of ‘empathic spectrum disorder‘ (ESD) in the world today, which can cause ‘autism’ as much as autistic spectrum conditions (ASC). Someone with an ESD might let off a murder if they are on a jury, even if they believe they are guilty, because they feel sorry for them. There was a highly publicised case in UK where a juror, Joanne Fraill, contacted the defendants in drugs trial, causing the £6m case to collapse, the Guardian reports.

Does Joanne Fraill, a juror who contacted defendants in a drugs trial, suffer from an empathic spectrum disorder? Courtesy: The Guardian

A nurse or doctor with an ESD might not expose a colleague’s mal-practice because they will be concerned about betraying them, which would mean one or more members of the public could be harmed. On a number of occasions in the last year where a member of staff at an organisation has done something wrong, the manager, a colleague or someone in an allied profession has stuck up for them, without considering the whole facts. ESDs get in the way of a fair and just society based on objectivity and merit. They are probably a worse impairment than an ASC, as they lead people to divide one another and not unite and tolerate one another.

Stopping Employment Discrimination – Learning from my civil servant prejudices

I’ve wanted 2012 to be my best year ever, and so far it is. Along the journey this year I have had to deal with civil servant after civil servant, and I now hold some legal prejudices about them:

  1. They will not do what is in the public interest, but what is most expedient for them
  2. They don’t have initiative and will do anything to get out of doing more work or thinking creatively
  3. They care more about increasing their salary and pension than help out of poverty those they have power over
  4. They will go to extreme lengths to deny members of the public a benefit or make them subject to a detriment
  5. They will sooner treat a member of the public with a complaint as a ‘trouble maker’ than a individual who needs help.

I’m sure you’ll have come across a number of civil servants who are like this. They are in my view an embodiment of the ‘computer says no’ sketch on Little Britain. I have even set up a website that invites people to expose them.

Being an employer I always want the best person for the job. While it is not illegal to discriminate against former civil servants, I thought I’d see what would happen if I put myself in the position of the people who have discrimianted against me as someone with a ‘protected characterstic’.

I want the best person for the job. If I get the CV for someone who worked in the civil service at Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council I might immediately think they have all the attributes in the list above, and more likely then not I would probably be right. But believing this to be the case without evidence is prejudice. Denying them a job solely based on this prejudice is discrimination – though in the case of civil servants it is not illegal.

If I were to ask them at an interview whether they had those characteristics, even if they did they would likely deny it, or use their well toned skills as subterfuge to avoid answering the question. But unless I was able to prove they were lying, it would be clear discrimination to deny them them job, even if it was not illegal.

These are some untrue reasons given to me for not being given a job which were based on prejudice and therefore amount to discrimination:

  • Newport University; “You say you want to do a PhD, so clearly can’t want to do the routine duties with video editing” – I have a degree in multimedia and spent most of my life doing multimedia!
  • The Labour Party; “You […] lack communication and team working skills and would be no good on Question Time” – Within 5 years of that time I have become a successful social entrepreneur and Internet trolling expert and proved that prejudice wrong, and now I can speak without notes, which I see most Labour politicians including Ed Miliband find it difficult to. It is really amusing watching these people and knowing I am more skilled than them – through practice, practice, practice!
  • An unnamed university: “[C]learly you can’t teach and we need your medical records to check whether you can before letting you, even if you use a support worker” – Within a year of this I was delivering speeches without notes as above.

So, my opinion is now this. If an employer gives a reason why someone should not get the job, which is not based on any evidence they have, as opposed to don’t have, then that should be a clear case of discrimination. Any ‘reservations’ an employer or similar has about why someone may not be up to the job should not be valid forms of dismissing someone’s application if there is no evidence to support them.

So on this basis if I declined an application because I thought a civil servant met one of those criteria and in fact they didn’t then that would be discrimination – although not illegal. I therefore think that if employers or similar have any concerns about someone that might make them think they are not the “best person for the job” when they could be, they should be made to test the competencies they have concerns about.

In the case of my discriminations above this might be:

  • Newport University; To have asked me, and other applicants, to have done 2 hours and video editing and seen how we enjoyed it. When I applied for a job at Barry College, they did something similar by making me take a programming test in the library to ensure I was comfortable around the students.
  • The Labour Party; To have asked me to deliver presentations to branch or constituency meetings, or get involved in chairing a party conference session.
  • An unnamed university; To have given me the chance to have delivered a lesson in front of a live class. A colleague who became the art teacher at Hawthorn High School did this, as did my sister-in-law when she applied to a school.

So in the case of the civil servants, I might use ‘dead-zones’. These are the time periods before and after an interview where employers set up circumstances to see if the employee will fit in. So it could be used to see whether they have the initiative or concern for others that one might want. For some reason, most of the dead-zones I have been in people ask “do you drive” or “how did you get here”, which could land them up in Court, as it is indirect discrimination.

So in essence my view is that any employer or similar who denies someone a position for a reason based on prejudice and not evidence should be considered to have committed discrimination.

In my view, regardless of whether an employer thinks one has a medical condition, if they deny someone a position for a reason that is a symptom of their disability then they should face the most severe penalty under the law. Equally, there should be a strong case for discrimination if the reason someone is turned down is for a reason that is false, even if the employer or similar thinks it is true.

So the question we need to ask is that would it be better to have ‘honest references’ rather than ‘good ones’? Would it not make sense that if an employer has reservations about an applicant that they be allowed to contact their referees to see if this is true? If it were the case that a referee who misled an employer was open to legal action for any loss then they would give truthful references. The only trouble is there would have to be  measures to prevent ‘fishing expeditions’ where someone may ask a referee a series of questions to make it easier to eliminate a candidate they have prejudices against rather than seek to include them by having concerns refuted.