I want all these young people to be getting a higher education, and I don’t want them loaded up with tens of thousands of dollars of debt just to get an education. That’s how we make America great.
Of course, that means all of you all have got to hit the books. I’m just saying. Don’t cheer and then you didn’t do your homework.
Because that’s part of the bargain, that’s part of the bargain—America says we will give you opportunity, but you’ve got to earn your success.
You’re competing against young people in Beijing and Bangalore. They’re not hanging out. They’re not playing video games. They’re not watching “Real Housewives.” I’m just saying. It’s a two-way street. You’ve got to earn success.
That wasn’t in my prepared remarks. But I’m just saying.
President Obama today, keeping it real (via barackobama)
I LOVE YOU OBAMA PLEASE TAKE AWAY ALL MY STUDENT LOAN DEBTS SO I CAN GO TO GRAD SCHOOL AND GET A MASTERS IN DISABILITY STUDIES LIKE I’VE BEEN DREAMING ABOUT SINCE I WAS SIXTEEN :D
(Image text: Disability Problem #95: When you’re made to feel ashamed for asking for accommodations)
And when people get mad at you, or act like you’re making a big deal when you ask for accommodations because they insist you can “get by” without them.
Or when they say you need to take “personal responsibility” and not expect anyone else to accommodate anything.
Or they say you’re an “extreme minority” so they don’t have to “cater to you”.
When I tried to go to university, I went to this place that was so bad at disability, that the National Disabled Student Union was founded by a pissed off alumna.
My first day, I had to go to an orientation for disabled students. They had one for “physical disabilities” and one for “learning disabilities”. I was put in the second. It was a real hodge podge of people with anything at all not deemed physical. I remember a bewildered woman with schizophrenia raising her hand and saying, “None of this even applies to me. The only accommodation I need is someone to tell me if a voice I heard was real or not.” I felt the exact same way.
They made us watch a video about accommodations. The gist of it was, “We have note takers and extra time on tests. Need help with organizational skills or anything else? You’re an adult and it’s your responsibility to have learned those things before applying to university. If you can’t handle it, don’t go here.
I only made it to class three times in the months I was there. I could not take care of myself except in the most minimal of ways, sometimes not even that. I had trouble initiating anything at all let alone following through. I ended up either stuck in the apartment or occasionally wandering the more beautiful parts of the grounds, the trees on cliffs above the ocean, and wondering why I could do less and less.
I was also in severe pain. I’m talking I have a high pain tolerance and I was writhing on the floor screaming or moaning. But I was also a crazy person who’d gone off my meds. Including lithium which for some weird reason had suppressed nerve pain to a degree. People expect crazy people off their meds to act weird and fail at everything.
My back pain was something that has come and gone many times since then. I have the same pain right now. It starts in the center of my back. Often, there is a “halo” of pain all around the one little spot it seems to start from. Sometimes it hurts from that spot on my spine upward. Sometimes downward. Often both.
And it’s terrible pain. The kind that confines most people to bed. I was trying to walk around and do stuff. It’s no wonder I kept collapsing on the floor. Or contorting my body into weird positions trying to find one that would give some relief.
My doctor said because I was so very flexible, the pain could not be real. (My current doctor thinks my extreme flexibility might be part of the cause.) So I got sent to a transpersonal therapist my dad dubbed the snake lady. The snake lady said my symptoms were due to a kundalini awakening — a snake at the bottom of my spine waking up and lashing around inside me, causing back pain and contortion into weird positions. Oh and to her I wasn’t autistic, I was just born with an active kundalini. The joys of white upper middle class new age Americans trying and failing to be Hindu.
So with all this fluffy misdiagnosis nonsense going on. And everything else. I was just not functioning at all, and in other people’s eyes acting crazy. Because crazy people off their medsdon’t have real physical pain, so watching someone behave exactly as if they’re in pain doesn’t mean they’re in real pain.
So with that all going on, I went to the university’s autism center asking for help. Really bizarre experiences there taught me that many world-renowned autism experts don’t know shit about autism.
So I had a keyboard with me and her first thing she said was that she could work on reducing anxiety so I wouldn’t need it. As if my language problems were anxiety. The day I went there I was stiff rather than stimmy. She told me this meant I needed no help with academic work. I couldn’t solve a single math problem they assigned me, but she could still tell I needed no academic help. They decided I needed help with my social skills.
Mind you I, and my cognitive interpreter, were asking for help, explicitly, with self-care skills. We reasoned that an autism center ought to know how to teach me that stuff. They ignored us. Didn’t even acknowledge we had said a single word on the topic. I also wanted help with sensory issues. But I was going hungry because I couldn’t make food at all, or eat it without cueing. I was constantly freezing up, unable to initiate or complete stuff. And I was constantly overloaded, and losing the ability to understand my surroundings or language. But what really mattered, according to them, was my social skills.
They assigned a couple grad students to help me learn social skills. I told them I was unable to meet under fluorescent lighting. I told them I could only talk to one person at a time. They acted as if they had never heard of sensory or multitasking problems in autistic people before.
I was getting more and more desperate. We showed up at their office one day. I was badly overloaded and hungry. We tried to beg them to help us do something about these problens. They shut us down in every possible way. They refused to do anything about the fluorescent lighting or the two on one social situation. I was crying and nonverbal and banging my head. Suddenly they said they refused to speak to my interpreter, only me. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t type, could barely understand what was happening. And they insisted that only I was allowed to communicate with them. I started loudly crying, wailing, and screaming.
They behaved as if they had never seen a meltdown in their lives. Insisted on walking me and my interpreter down to the counseling department. Acted like it was an emergency and I had done something terribly wrong. Got me in another fluorescent lit room. This time there were five or six people besides me. And they went around the circle and told me people with problems this severe don’t belong in university.
Mind you I didn’t belong in university for a wide variety of reasons. But this was simply not their call. They were not even aware of the real reasons. It was just that people who rock and wail and scream and slap their heads don’t belong there.
Years later I read a book by this “expert”. (Her “expertise” is all in behavior mod, not in understanding us but forcing into submission.) She said meltdowns are something autistic people do to manipulate parents and staff. And a lot of equally clueless stuff I don’t remember. She showed no awareness of even the slightest amount of how we really experience things. To people who are all about control, all about manipulating autistic people, anything we do that they are unable to control or understand must be an attempt to manipulate them in turn. Everything is behavior, there are no reasons for it ever except challenges to their power. Literally the only good thing I got out of her was her request that my shrink change my diagnosis from PDDNOS to classic autism.
Disability services were no better. They also told me I didn’t belong in university, that real adults can do all these things ourselves.
And eventually I did have to leave. My health, physical and mental, was collapsing. I also, due to the movement disorder, fell out of a tree for the first time in my life and broke a toe. (My response to being upset or disoriented was to climb a tree as fast as possible. I felt safer up there. I also scaled door frames for the same reason and sat at the top. People are amazing at not looking upwards.)
So yeah. I never got a single accommodation out of them and they behaved like total assholes in the process. But the worst part, for me? They turned me into an example. Later autistic students at the school reported hearing things on the order of, “We tried an autistic person before. She didn’t work out, in a big way. So we are being more cautious about it now.” Even years later, I knew a woman whose son went there and he had the same problems I did getting help.
The only person who wanted me there was my advisor, who said my weird educational history and spotty comprehension meant I was exactly who his program was designed for. He said I understood the material better than the kids who could solve the problems. But he was the only person there who believed in me at all. And in the end that wasn’t enough to make it possible.
Last year, I took a math class, which was horrible enough in and of itself. And then we had to do a project which involved making our own pie chart by drawing the circle with a drawing compass. I approached the professor and explained that using a drawing compass was fairly impossible for me. She seemed receptive and told me she would email me a link to a website where you could generate your own pie chart. She never emailed me the link and I eventually had to google around and find it myself. I turned in the generated pie chart with no problems whatsoever.
Later in the semester, we had a complicated assignment which involved, among other things, drawing a net (flattened 3D shape) of a box, cutting it out, and folding and gluing it so it forms an actual box. Yeah. I’ll pause here while you shudder.
So I gritted my teeth and attempted it myself. And it came out looking like crap. But I turned it in anyway. Got it back with a grade that was so terrible, it even shocked me - 2 out of 25. So after spending an entire class period with my heart in the vicinity of my spastic ankles and anxiety consuming me, I got up the courage to approach my professor and explain how my disability affects my motor skills and depth perception, and therefore, how that project was extraordinarily difficult for me.
"Why didn’t you come to me earlier?" she asked. I stood there wishing I could sink through the floor while trying to search for an answer. How could I tell her that my own stupid internalized ableism convinced me that I could do it? How could I explain that I had already asked for "special" accommodations once and didn’t want to be demeaned for seeking accommodations more than once? Eventually, she said she’d figure out an alternate assignment for me. She never did. I’m convinced that’s what brought my grade down to a B. As you can probably tell, I have a lot of anxiety/internalized ableism about asking for accommodations.
The United States of America on college education
- Student: I'm not going to go to college because I don't want to go into debt.
- USA: YOU USELESS PIECE OF SHIT. YOU'RE GOING TO AMOUNT TO NOTHING YOU FUCKING SCUMBAG. YOU'RE THE REASON WHY MY TAXES ARE SO HIGH.
- Student: I'm just going to attend a small community college instead.
- USA: HAHAHA YOU WERE TOO STUPID TO GET INTO A GOOD UNIVERSITY. ENJOY YOUR MCDONALD'S DIPLOMA.
- Student: I attended a four year university and received a diploma in a field I am interested in. Now I am $50,000+ in debt.
- USA: YOU DUMBASS. WHY THE FUCK DID YOU GO TO COLLEGE WHEN YOU KNOW YOU COULDN'T AFFORD IT? YOU DIDN'T EVEN CHOOSE A USEFUL MAJOR EITHER. GOD PEOPLE LIKE YOU MAKE ME SICK.
- Never not reblogging this.
Oh, I'm sorry, did you mean MY LIFE??
- Non-disabled person: Oh you poor, poor disabled person, you must be so miserable! After all, you can't do the same things that WE can. It's so tragic!
- Disabled person: Oh no no no, it's okay, really, as long as our needs are accommodated we can do just as much as --
- Non-disabled person: ACCOMMODATIONS!? FUCK THOSE
- Disabled person: !?
- Non-disabled person: WHY SHOULD WE BE EXPECTED TO BEND OVER BACKWARDS FOR YOU
- Disabled person: Wait, weren't you just saying --
- Non-disabled person: DON'T YOU KNOW THE NEEDS OF THE MANY OUTWEIGH THE NEEDS OF THE FEW
- Disabled person:
- Non-disabled person:
- Disabled person:
- Non-disabled person: But it's okay, I totally know how awful your life must be.
- Disabled person: Please go hurdle yourself into space.
tw: ableism, talk of mental illness, depression
Today in my Intro to Psych class we started the unit on mental illness. I guess this is something that the class has been excited for. “This is the fun stuff,” said my professor. ”Just be careful not to diagnose your friends and peers!” This remark drew laughs from the class.
She outlined the chapter and a few disorders, talking about the symptoms, what “they” might exhibit. The whole class period seemed to revolve around this idea of they, some magical group of people with disorders, as if none of the students in the class could possibly have mental illness, or know someone who does.
I am sitting right in front of you.I’m wearing a green t-shirt and I don’t talk much, but I’m fighting back tears. Because, as a person with mental illness, this isn’t a fun chapter in a textbook for me. It’s not a what-if situation, a game, a research paper. This is my life. This is my daily struggle to stay alive and functional, to get out of bed and talk to my friends and put on clothes and attend class.
I looked around the class and noticed 2 or 3 other students shutting down like I did. I don’t know them and I could be projecting, but the reality is this: there are people with mental illness in your life. We exist. You might not know it— many of us, myself included, have passing privilege. But we’re out there. And I, for one, am sick of having to be invisible.
This is one of the reasons why even though I want to teach kids like me, I sometimes reaaaaaaaally hate my major. Because everyone acts like there’s NO WAY an ACTUAL disabled person could be sitting in the class right now. We’re just these mythical beings.
Basically my life.
- What most people do on the weekends at college: DRINK ALL OF THE ALCOHOL AND RUN AROUND SCREAMING ALL NIGHT SLAM DOORS LIKE YEAH HAVE LOTS OF SEX DO DRUGS OR SOMETHING MAYBE GO TO A CLUB OR GO INTO THE CITY THROW UP ALL OVER THE PLACE and then sleep in until midafternoon with a hangover. eat food, recover, repeat.
- What I do on the weekends at college: wake up in the midafternoon just because I can and because I don't sleep during the week, too lazy to go to the dining hall and/or dining halls are all closed, eat oatmeal and drink tea, look out the window, go on tumblr, more tea, tumblr, more tea, youtube, more tea, read a book, more tea, facebook, realize it's dinner time, find some friends who have probably also been in their rooms on the internet all day and go and eat dinner, go back to their room, perhaps take some sidewalk chalk and write nerdy phrases all over campus once it's dark, watch Once Upon A Time/Sherlock/Doctor Who and discuss nerdy things until 2:30 am, take the safety bus back to dorm, sleep. Repeat.
[Image: 6-piece blue colored background with a Siamese cat with blue eyes. Text reads: “Professors demand a doctor’s note for every absence. Days on which absence occurs are days you are too ill to get to a doctor, not to mention a doctor can’t help you.”]
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this bureaucratic nonsense.
Reblogging for my two college besties who both have chronic health issues and have experienced this kind of nonsense <3
Initial thought process:
- I want to Do Stuff in life.
- In order to Do Stuff and not end up a quivering lump in my bed, I will need what are called ‘accommodations’.
- Fuck, apparently I espouse a political standpoint by the basic facts of my existence.
- I wanted the opposite of this
If I do make a second attempt to attend university away from home, ideally, I will not need academic accommodations; what I’ll need is a boatload of other junk that will enable me not to need academic accommodations.
- “well I pretty much need my own bathroom”
- “why, do you have some kind of medical condition that —”
- “no it’s just otherwise I will have to constantly maintain the particular cognitive sleight of hand that I require to use public bathrooms, and if I might have to say hello to someone every time I need the bathroom for anything, just accounting for that will sap about 50% of my daily cognitive energy, and I assume you’d rather I used that energy for schoolwork, and besides I tend to stand in front of bathroom mirrors and ravage my facial skin and I’ve been told that’s not socially optimal”
- “… what”
- “also I need enough room to pace around constantly without bothering anyone”
- “haven’t you been in places that don’t permit that before”
- “well yes but if I am consistently unable to pace then I’ll go crazier than I am and will be unable to think at all and won’t go to class and will fail out of your school”
- “how can pacing be that intrinsic to your well-being”
- “also I pretty much cannot live in a dorm unless it’s a secluded segment of one where I see a maximum of 4 people regularly, but I am wary of dorms in general because my last dorm was a scary borderline-psychologically-abusive hivemind populated by well-meaning institution workers”
- “I assure you, none of our dorms are psychologically abusive hiveminds”
- “that’s what they said at my last college”
- “also I need most people not to be enormous douchefucks”
- “gurl the ADA does not cover that”
haahahaha just the title of this post is epic.
Page 1 of 2