Thursday, April 03, 2008

Being aware of autism has a price. Being aware of what a "standard cure" looks like.

The aptly-named "Judge Rottenburg Center" is the logical extension of all "compliance based" approaches toward "behavior issues;" the "get a bigger hammer." It is the "summa logica" of authoritarians who have shaped our dominant culture - if I may use the term loosely.

The presumption - amusingly enough - is that it's quite literally insane to resist, or even question authority. Objectively, the more rational it would seem to question, the more doctrinally rigid the response is - and both covert and overt violence is to be expected as one of the first responses.

It's no accident that such programs spend as much time on modifying the behavior of parents (h/t Ballastexistenz ) as of the students. When you have to create a video that "explains" to parents Why Students Complain To Families, with such patronizing gems as these, anyone who was not utterly desperate (and kept in that state by the industry literature) would run screaming - their child under one arm and a random example under the other.

The following transcript and commentary comes from the inimitable Ballastexistenz (Article Link above) who does a pretty thorough deconstruction of language used and probable intents, from an experienced perspective.

From Chapter 5:

Some other concerns that we come across quite frequently involve general complaints about the program. Students will complain that they are physically held or restrained for no reason, and they will claim that they didn’t do anything to justify or provoke this. They will claim quite often that their behavior contracts were broken, also for no reason, or for no good reason. (Dr. Paisey)

And usually the problem is that the students don’t connect their own behavior with the consequences or structure of the program that has been put in place for them. (Dr. Paisey)

And that’s where you hear the complaint of “Staff are too strict” or “I was restrained for no reason,” because they’re not initially making that connection. (Dr. Rivera)

Of course, being restrained and otherwise punished for no reason, and then having it written up otherwise, is an incredibly common experience in institutions. It is convenient for them to have such a facile explanation for the whole thing.

From Chapter 8

Now young people complain about food all the time, in fact young people complain all the time in my experience, about everything. (Dr. Paisey)

This is true. (Dr. Rivera)

So if they weren’t at JRC, they’d probably be complaining about different things in different places… (Dr. Paisey)

Actually, the JRC imposes a strict diet on the “students”, regardless of their prior dietary preferences, and while it allows “other food” sometimes (sometimes contingent on good behavior), this is still an unreasonable restriction.

Chapter 9:

Nonetheless we will have students who do report to families that they are going crazy, or that they are going to hurt themselves, or they’re gonna run away, or they will make claims that staff abuse them, or they will say that they have marks on their bodies as a result of a restraint procedure. And they will sometimes claim that they were hurt by other people on purpose. (Dr. Paisey)

Because things like this happen in every institution I’ve seen.

And here is the big one, the one that explains everything:

If you have a telephone call or a face to face meeting during a visit with your son or daughter and they make some complaint, the first thing to do, I would suggest is to ask yourself, “Is this one of the complaints mentioned on that video I saw?” And then perhaps that will guide you towards the next step, which might be to listen briefly to the complaint. If you can, try to minimize your reaction to it. You can ask for specific details, specific contents, briefly. And then move on. Move on to something more appropriate and positive. If you think you need more information, contact the case manager. (Dr. Paisey)

See, the first thing to do is see if the complaint is mentioned on this video. If it is, then obviously it’s not a valid complaint, or something.

But as compelling as this analysis is, it's also quite ordinary and conventional - a putting into words, as it were, of what Amanda first picked up from the body language of the video presenters themselves. She presented this first, but as I'm speaking about her analysis, more than the idiocy she's examining, I reverse the order.

There were two people near each other, a woman on the left and a man on the right. When one was talking, the other was backing them up through movement. Their movements were coordinated with each other and sort of bouncing off and reflecting each other all the time.

The movements of the woman were quite often something I don’t know all the words for but know when I see it. There were some incongruous movements in there that were presumably to mask something or other. The rest of the movements and noises she was making were quite often to convey a sense of “I’m superior to these students, they are doing all these, sort of silly kid things, and I am laughing in exasperated tired adultness as they go through all these different things.” This is a knowing sort of movement, designed to convey a connection to the person watching it, sort of like, “We all know what this is like,” inviting the viewer to join in the knowingness.

The man moved in more subtle ways, but they conveyed precision and confidence, very much the way many psychiatrists or scientists move. He moved in such a way as to say, “We know what we’re doing, we do not even need to be forceful in arguing anything, because we know exactly what we’re doing.” His voice reminded me strongly of something a friend calls the “male human services accent,” and also conveyed a great deal of precision in the way that he pronounced words. Sometimes it acquired condescending tones, or his equivalent of the woman’s “knowing” tones.

The overall effect is, “We know what we’re doing, even you ought to know what we’re talking about a good deal of the time, and we agree with each other totally on this stuff, seen it all before. We’re not only in control, but it is only natural that we are in control.”

An AS person isn't supposed to "pick up on" social cues. Well, not so much from faces, no. Facial expressions lie and we find that utterly disorienting. Complete body language is much, much MUCH harder to mask. I know, I've had several forms of training in doing just that, and the consequent understanding of how to penetrate the obscurity, and how to reply to it appropriately.

However, it's at that point where my sense of "appropriate" and the expectations of the NT world tend to diverge. But perhaps another post would be the place for that, other than the observation that the fact that I come to a different conclusion about what is "appropriate" does not mean that I misunderstood. It means, quite often, that I understand quite well. I GOT it. I just didn't WANT it.

Anyway, Amanda demonstrates the skilled observational abilities and insight into dominance driven hierarchal manipulation as well as any hunted animal who studies their predators with an eye toward evading their clutches. My abilities are similar in that respect, but Amanda - as usual - says it better.

It seems that non- participation in a social structure, including being visibly un-shattered by exclusionary behavior, is something that strikes immature neurotypicals - particularly - as a visceral threat. The idea that it's perfectly possible to refuse to "go along to get along," to not participate in the ongoing "Stanford Experiment" that is school in this nation, is to put the lie to everything these people found their personality and self-worth upon. Fitting in, a place in the pack, is more important than whatever one might have to do or risk in order to "earn" that place.

I accept this as being natural to neurotypicals, it's not toxic by definition, though in practice it often is, mostly due to perps who ruthlessly manipulate the social instinct. See example film above. I'm certainly glad to benefit from their skills when they can be made to understand that I want to benefit without any desire to participate. I've had NT friends, and generally it relied on a mutual exchange of strengths. I am not so arrogant as to think that my mind or way of doing things is superior - but I'm damn sure it's not inferior; I know this because I'm able to cope with situations and achieve things that would for sure drive anyone on the NT end of the spectrum stark, raving mad. And if I'm high-maintenance, which in many ways I am, I'm also worth it, due to my relative scarcity. For instance, I can see the behavior as Amanda did, above, and often, I've helped NT friends avoid pitfalls based on their "superior socialization." The favor, of course, was often returned.

None of this was not something I learned as a child, in school. There I learned that to be "non-compliant" was to be useless, irrelevant, or in other contexts, cowardly for not doing something stupid and dangerous because everyone else was. I "learned" to trust authority and obey without question. Or rather, not being a complete idiot, I learned when I had to pretend, and to what degree and under what circumstances compliance really mattered.

One of the most depressing things I learned was that NT's expect to be manipulated emotionally and by social dominance that some cannot even comprehend that one might actually just mean the words they just said. That there might not be any "subtext" or "hidden agenda" or indeed any implication other than what was communicated in actual words. Therefore, they refuse to take the plain meaning at face value.

I will bet you five bucks this is one factor in "autistic regression." What's the point in using words if words get you an unexpected and often painful result, for no reason you can comprehend?

That, and ... well, some people just can't stop talking, worse yet, they don't prioritize in any way between "oo, a butterfly, isn't that pretty" and "that car is going to hit us!"

And yet they are insulted if you find that filtering for content is more work than their information content is worth. I suppose it is insulting - but alas, not inaccurate. And at fifty years of age, with the prospect of thirty to fifty more to get through, I have less and less patience for putting up with walking wastes of time.

C/F "Dilbert."


JacobP81 said...

You can watch the JRC video's using the Wayback Machine ( It's interesting hearing JRC say the things that are bad about there program, and then try to justify it.


JacobP81 said...

You can watch the JRC video's using the Wayback Machine ( It's interesting hearing JRC say the things that are bad about there program, and then try to justify it.

The full url to the vids is:


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