August 24, 2020
EP. 229 — A Special Ed Teacher with Autism
A teacher opens up to Chris about how working with autistic children made her seek out her own diagnosis. She also dispels myths about the autism spectrum.
229 — A Special Ed Teacher with Autism
[00:00:06] CHRIS: Hello to everybody who remembers MS dos. It’s Beautiful Anonymous one hour, one phone call, no names, no holds barred.
THEME MUSIC: I’d rather go one on one, I think it’ll be more fun and I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to know me.
[00:00:29] CHRIS: Hi everybody it’s Chris Gethard. Welcome to Beautiful Anonymous, thank you so much for listening. Thank you guys so much. I asked you a few weeks ago, I said, you know, every podcast’s numbers are suffering that affects all of us as far as this being a job. And if you’re listening and you’re one of these grazers so to speak, that if you could hit subscribe, it really helps. So many of you have been so kind of letting me you know you’ve done that. That really means the world, that people care enough about this show to say, all right, if that helps. So people on Apple subscribing, following on Spotify, whatever you do, wherever you listen, people are making that effort means a lot. I got some outdoor shows coming up in Philadelphia, September 3rd, 4th and 5th. So Philly, South Jersey, Delaware, all those areas you guys want to get out on, get out for a night, have a socially distanced good time, it’s going to be meaningful to revisit that town and those comedy fans. This call, OK, really interesting. Well, there’s a few things you guys need to know going into it. One, it’s a really, really weird situation. A tropical storm hit New Jersey a few weeks back. My house was running off a generator because I moved to the country. Here’s the problem. I mean, and if you’ve been listening to this show for more than eight minutes, you know, I don’t know how to work a generator. I changed the oil on my generator the morning of the call and I broke the generator and my power went down and I was filled with guilt and panic. So the first 15 minutes of this call is on one day and then two weeks later, we picked up with the final 45 minutes of the call. Actually, more than that, I extended the call a little bit because of that situation. And it’s really fascinating. I mentioned this during the call, but those first 15 minutes are just like every other call in that you feel us feeling each other out, figuring out what the conversation is going to be. And then when we get back on the phone, it’s a situation that’s never happened in the history of the show where the caller had two weeks to go, I have 45 minutes of what do I really want to do with it came in swinging, had some things that needed to be said and decided to say them. It was cool. Overall umbrella, I would say is it deals with autism and I learned a lot not just about autism, but there were a lot of things I thought I knew. I realized I was wrong. And that’s one of my favorite things as far as hosting this show, is when I get to learn a little bit more about how things are really working out there for actual people. So I hope you enjoy it. I found it fascinating. Sorry about the technical hiccup. If it’s bugging you, just know if you skip a little further in it picks up and there’s a whole lot of meat on the bones of this call. Enjoy it.
[00:03:12] ROBOT VOICE: Thank you for calling Beautiful Anonymous, a beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
[00:03:19] CALLER: Hello.
[00:03:20] CHRIS: How are you doing?
[00:03:23] CALLER: I am good. Wow. Oh, my goodness. This is actually happening. How are you?
[00:03:32] CHRIS: OK. How am I? It’s an interesting question. Overall, I’m good. Overall, I have a blessed life. I have a lucky life. And I’ve set out to do a bunch of things that I’ve accomplished. And I have a beautiful family that being said a tropical storm hit my neighborhood and I moved out here to the goddamn country. This storm lasted about 20 minutes. My power has been down for four days. It’s not getting turned back on for another four. I got a gas generator. I had to change the oil myself. You probably hear it in the background. For four days, it sounded like…
[00:04:10] CALLER: I don’t hear in the background.
[00:04:11] CHRIS: You’re so lucky because I felt like for 96 straight hours I’ve been listening to someone mow the lawn.
[00:04:19] CALLER: I’m not laughing. I’m laughing in a, I laugh when I’m nervous and I’m awkward. So that’s why I’m laughing. But I know that, yeah. You’re in Jersey, right?
[00:04:30] CHRIS: I am. I have moved back to Jersey, where I belong, where I can feel, you know, every time I step foot in New Jersey, I feel my strength returning. And I do also want to be clear. I am aware that if my biggest problem is that I don’t have power reaching my new house that I’m excited about and I’m lucky enough to live in that I have a very good life.
[00:04:51] CALLER: I completely get it. I’m in the north eastern area of the country, so I know what storm you’re talking about and also lost power for a couple of days. But, you know, I also realize I’m very lucky to have a roof over my head and to you know, there’s this year has just been a shit storm.
[00:05:13] CHRIS: It’s when I’m out there, OK, I’m just going to say this to you. Apparently, the power goes down a lot in this area. So a lot of the houses have these generators that kick in automatically. You never even touch them. I got one of these gasoline ones that you have to drag out of your garage. And what I’ve realized, I’m like, that’s fine, I don’t need those other ones are like way too expensive. I can’t afford one right now. I just bought the house, spent all the money on the house. That being said, every time I got to drag this thing out of the garage, it is by definition because there’s hurricane winds. That’s why the power lines are going down. Trees are falling, winds powerful enough to fell trees. And I got to get out there in this horizontal rain. And it’s, I’m not even complaining about that because I’m lucky. I just bring it up because I think anyone who’s listening to this show for a while can think of the the image of me having to do that. I’m sure people are just like, oh, no. Oh, no. That not that guy.
[00:06:18] CALLER: I’m trying to picture it right now, like what little hair you have. With all due respect, like going out.
[00:06:27] CHRIS: Listen. Yeah. And then here’s the worst part, right? It gives you eight hours at a time. You want an image, you want a sad image in your head? Imagine me because it’s eight hours at a time. So imagine me at eleven thirty at night going out there to refill it with gasoline, with a headlamp on my head, with a strapped on headlamp on my head. As I’m doing it I’m aware well this is so comical and sad. Just extending my life of being like a living version of Charlie Brown.
[00:07:02] CALLER: That’s perfect. That’s perfect. I hope that none of the trees in your area turn into the Charlie Brown Christmas tree like the one outside my window.
[00:07:09] CHRIS: Boy, oh, boy. Now I’ve talked about myself. What’s up, what’s up with you? What are we talking about today?
[00:07:17] CALLER: What are we talking about? All right, let’s see I have a lot of things I could talk about, but we only have, like, you know. Fifty eight ish minutes left.
[00:07:24] CHRIS: Fifty six.
[00:07:26] CALLER: Fifty six. All right. All right. So it was four minutes of you talking about a generator. Great.
[00:07:29] CHRIS: I apologize. That’s a nightmare and I apologize.
[00:07:33] CALLER: It’s OK. No, it wasn’t. It’s actually I’m just still in shock right now. So, yeah. So I’m a special education teacher and with covid and everything, I’m just diving right in here. Bear with me. This is posted and everything. People are just going to have to hear me rambling. So I’m a special education teacher and I’m working in the summer right now with students that are really young, like preschoolers. And it’s been really challenging. And I’m very concerned for the reopening of schools and stuff, especially with covid booming and stuff. I mean, that’s the really wrong word to use.
[00:08:24] CHRIS: Blossom, beautifully blossoming. Yes.
[00:08:26] CALLER: Yeah, yeah, covid really beautiful.
[00:08:29] CHRIS: Inflicting its nightmare.
[00:08:32] CALLER: Yeah, it’s just been very stressful so far, and I’m actually I’m autistic myself. So, like, I have my own challenges with um, you know? Everything. But working with these students and things that are expected of them during this time is just really, really challenging.
[00:08:55] CHRIS: Yeah, I bet, um. I mean, there’s so much to talk about, right? I think one thing that jumps out that I’d love to know so, are you are you working with students who are autistic as well?
[00:09:12] CALLER: I am, yes. Yeah, primarily the students I support are autistic.
[00:09:17] CHRIS: That’s a really beautiful thing for you to choose to do and I have to imagine that for kids who feel different in any way to have a teacher and a role model who represents them and understands their experience, it must mean the world to these kids.
[00:09:38] CALLER: I hope so. I honestly, I didn’t learn that I was autistic until I actually started teaching.
[00:09:44] CHRIS: Oh, wow.
[00:09:46] CALLER: Yeah, I had grown up, like, always feeling like, you know, like the odd not I was never like ostracized or anything like that, but I always felt like I didn’t understand, like I didn’t pick up on things that everybody else was picking up on. But one of the things about autism is I’m a woman I identify with, like, you know, she her pronouns and everything. And the traits in girls are often very different than the traits that are typically presented in boys. And so I really had no idea my whole life. I just thought I was quirky and just a little bit different than everybody else. But it was actually working with the students my first year, my first couple of years and learning like, oh wow, I relate to them so much. And then I sought out a diagnosis and voila, everything kind of came together.
[00:10:40] CHRIS: That is an incredible story. That’s, so you became a special education teacher because it was something you were passionate about. You wanted to study, decided to go for it. And in the course of it, your students actually taught you. About your own diagnosis, that’s a story I don’t think I’ve ever heard.
[00:11:03] CALLER: That’s literally what happened, I just because some of the traditional special education practices, they expect certain things, the students or they teach you certain ways to interact with students based on their behavior and this and that. And a lot of that is determined by I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term neurotypical educators and I just never jived with it. I was like, I don’t feel right doing this. Like, this kid’s having like a meltdown right now. They’re not being behavioral. Like, why are we trying to like bribe them with like a candy, like a piece of candy, like M&Ms to make them stop crying, like, why aren’t we addressing their actual need right now for love and affection and just like, you know, to be treated like a human and not like a dog and, you know, but yeah, I just, that was a tangent. I’ve learned so much from them. And even now that I know I’m autistic, I do know, I continue to learn so much from them every single day. And I wish I could like personally thank each and every one of them. But also I can’t because my nobody that I really work with besides one of my best friends who I work with, knows that I am autistic. I haven’t come out.
[00:12:28] CHRIS: Wow. So you haven’t been in a situation where you’ve been able to, you know, with a child struggling. You’re not at a point of comfort at where you can lean in and say, hey, actually his is something we share, so I get it and I’m with you. You haven’t had those conversations yet?
[00:12:49] CALLER: No. And also, a lot of our students, they don’t know themselves. I mean, I assume that they know that they are different, you know, I mean, when I say different, everybody’s different, but a lot of them are non-verbal or not yet speaking preverbal, some of us like to call it, but yeah, we don’t it’s not my place to tell them to let them know what it means to be autistic or that they are. It’s just really up to their families and unfortunately, a lot of families don’t view autism as something that is, you know, a natural difference. They see it as something that needs to be cured, which is very unfortunate. But you know what? I’m not in the position to say you shouldn’t view it this way. Like you should view it as a difference in neurology.
[00:13:43] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:13:45] CALLER: Yeah, it’s tricky.
[00:13:50] CHRIS: Absolutely, and I think you said you were working with preschool aged kids.
[00:13:54] CALLER: Yes. I’m with three, four and five year olds. Yeah, the littlest ones. I’m like their first teacher. The introduction to the public school system. That’s my role, is to just try to make it better for them, because honestly, the public school system, in my opinion, really does a disservice to students who are not neurotypical. And then also a lot of the students that I work with are, come from, their families are people of color. A lot of them are from Indian families. I don’t know much about Indian culture because I know there’s different cultures within the community. I mean, you know, that’s not the right word. Sorry. Sometimes I am not good with my words, you know, that’s autism here. But the way that they view autism often is not the way that I view it. And that’s not just Indian families either, but, you know, white families and white American families and stuff. And I wish we could just edit this whole part out. I’m not saying what I want to say, the way I want to say it.
[00:15:06] CHRIS: No, you’re doing great. And I understand. I understand what you mean.
[00:15:10] CALLER: You know what I mean? Like, it’s just there’s cultural differences. Well, but also even within. Sorry, no you go actually you go please.
[00:15:21] CHRIS: I mean, what I’m taking away is, you know, I think for a lot of families, it’s a scary thing for your kid to be diagnosed with anything. And when you get into the realm of something like autism, I think for. For many, many years, it’s been misunderstood or misperceived. I feel like within my lifetime, I remember as a kid that word feeling like. You know, almost like synonymous with other types of, would you say, nueroatypicality? Would that be the phrase?
[00:15:58] CALLER: Neuro types. [long pause] Are you there? Hello? Oh no, did I lose you?
[Phone machine noise]
[00:16:09] CHRIS: And that is the perfect time for our first break, because guess what, we took a two week break right there. I’m not a mechanical person. I tried to fix the generator. It took a whole day. I finally called the neighbor, he came over and did it in 10 minutes. OK, we’re gonna take a break. We’ll pick up two weeks later. Same caller and a lot of fascinating stuff.
[00:16:34] CHRIS: There’s the generator break. Now we’re going to hit the ground running, no more natural disasters cutting things off.
[00:16:43] CHRIS: Hello.
[00:16:45] CALLER: Hello.
[00:16:46] CHRIS: We’ve never run into that before where a tropical storm hits in the middle of a call and wipes out not just the connection, but electricity in my neighborhood for five straight days.
[00:16:57] CALLER: Wait, so it was five days after that call, like after it ended, also sorry, I’m in the car so if you hear things in the background, let me know and I’ll park somewhere.
[00:17:07] CHRIS: So far so good.
[00:17:08] CALLER: But wait, five days?
[00:17:09] CHRIS: Yeah, it was for I think about four and a half days I was running back and forth to gas stations, putting gas in a generator and then, well, we were on the generator on our call, and I changed the oil and I did it wrong. It turns out that’s what happened, I messed up. And now my driveway is covered in motor oil stains and I feel guilty. I feel bad. I’ve been sitting around we talked two weeks ago today, and I’ve been sitting here wracked with Catholic guilt about the fact that our call got cut off. And I’m glad that you’re back.
[00:17:42] CALLER: Well, thank you for having me back. Don’t feel guilty. I mean, I can’t tell you how to feel, but there’s nothing to feel guilty about. You can’t control the environment. And just, there’s a lot of shit we can’t control so sorry Sally. It’s OK. I’m here.
[00:17:59] CHRIS: And of course, I get that. And also to our listeners, I know that that leaves a weird, there’s like a weird moment in the episode you just sat through but also I have found throughout the course of my career that people enjoy watching me sweat through disaster. So I’m glad you can imagine. Everybody can just imagine when the generator goes down and I’m sitting there going, oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. So I’m glad you’re back.
[00:18:22] CALLER: And I think we were at, like, a really interesting part, too. When I was talking to you, I think you could ask me a question and then I went to answer it and then you, like, stopped responding. And I was like, great. I’m like the first person he’s gonna hang up on on the show.
[00:18:38] CHRIS: No way. I was gripped. I was gripped. And then unfortunately, Mother Nature said, you shall not talk if I remember right. I remember right we left off you were telling me how you teach a lot of kids from different backgrounds and you have a lot of students of Indian backgrounds and how there’s just cultural differences in how autism is treated. And that’s what we were talking about.
[00:19:06] CALLER: Yeah. Basically, I’m here to just like for any of your listeners and for you to, just to kind of speak about what autism really is. And there’s so many misconceptions. We would actually ideally need way more than an hour. I could talk about this for days, but there’s a lot of stigma, stigmatization about it, and that’s very negative and harmful for the autistic community.
[00:19:35] CHRIS: So talk to me. What is it? What do you know about it that most people don’t?
[00:19:42] CALLER: Actually, can I take that question and actually ask you, like, what do you know so that I can kind of tailor my response to like, what you know, as somebody who I assume, you know, is not autistic, I know you have mental health stuff, but like, what do you know about autism?
[00:20:01] CHRIS: I love that you flip the script on that one. Very crafty. Very crafty.
[00:20:08] CALLER: See, there you go. Creative, creative, autistics are creative.
[00:20:11] CHRIS: Well, let’s see, because, I mean, here’s the thing about you asking me that question is I’m sure I’m going to say some things that are close to on target. And I might put my foot in my mouth and say some of the things that you step in and go, that’s a thing that I don’t like hearing. A stereotype, so apologies ahead of time.
[00:20:32] CALLER: That’s why we’re having this. That’s why I’m doing this.
[00:20:35] CHRIS: Yes, it’s really smart. It’s a really smart way to do it. Let’s see. I know that there is this the spectrum, as they say, and that there’s a wide, wide berth of where you land on that spectrum, both in what exactly that means as far as your diagnosis and your level of functioning. I know that, you know, one of the things you hear is, like you say, there are people who maybe have difficulty in certain areas, but they might be very creative or they might be very good at certain subjects in school to a degree that’s actually like blows most people of their age level or experience level out of the water. I think for a handful of years there, I think there is a very, very common usage of the word Asperger’s, I have heard that that’s now out of fashion, that it’s a thing that people would like to stop having tossed around so often that it’s doing more harm than good. I’m not exactly sure why, but that is something I’ve heard.
[00:21:47] CALLER: I’ll tell you, don’t worry but keep going.
[00:21:51] CHRIS: Good, good, good. And I know here’s one thing I know is that I have patronized two different businesses that make a point of hiring autistic workers. One is this fantastic book store called Word in Maplewood, New Jersey. And if I remember right..
[00:22:09] CALLER: What’s it called?
[00:22:12] CHRIS: Word. Yeah and if I remember right, the family that owns it has, I believe, a child who is autistic. And they found that there was a lot of stigmatization in the job market and that people didn’t realize that autistic people are more than capable of doing the jobs and they need a chance. And those are some things I know. Those are some things I know. I feel like my impression and I might be wrong about this is that sometimes you might look at a person and have no sense that they’re autistic. There’s other times where you might notice some physical effects or in language you might pick up on the effects that something is like a little off kilter compared to conversations you’re used to having and you have to get a little used to that in certain ways. Those are the things that come to mind. Those are the things that come to mind.
[00:23:06] CALLER: Well, let me just tell you, like, you actually know a lot more than most of the general public. And just thank you for being honest and just answering with what you know and what you’ve heard and and all that jazz. So where do I start? I actually made a list. I’m out driving cause I didn’t feel like being at home today because I live with my parents still. So, like, I made a list of, like, talking points, which is a very big thing to do.
[00:23:34] CHRIS: I’m being told that the quality is not awful, but if you could pull over, it might help a little bit. So just if you find a safe spot.
[00:23:43] CALLER: Ok, I am pulled over and now I just have to figure out in my car, how do I, switch from… Can you hear me on my phone now?
[00:23:48] CHRIS: Oh baby, that’s better.
[00:23:52] CALLER: OK, great. I did pull over. I pulled over to an abandoned old blockbuster.
[00:23:56] CHRIS: Amazing, amazing imagery. And the sound quality is like one hundred times better. So maybe finally at long lost this call will no longer be plagued by technical difficulties.
[00:24:07] CALLER: Let’s hope so. Yeah. So I was talking to a friend of mine who is also autistic and lives on the opposite coast as me. I did tell her that I was going to be part of this, so I asked them. I was like, what should I talk about? Because I want to really just, you know, talk about autism, which I, I am autistic, but I cannot speak for every autistic person out there. And I just want to preface that for any of your listeners who are autistic themselves, that I do not speak for everybody. I’m just speaking from my perspective. And regarding the spectrum, a lot of people see the spectrum as like this linear spectrum that ranges from like high functioning or low functioning or low functioning to high functioning, which is a complete myth. It’s not a myth. It’s a poor representation of what the spectrum is. In general in the autistic community we see the spectrum as more or less less of a linear spectrum and more of like a like imagine like the color wheel. So you may have and that’s how you are functioning, quote unquote. On that day or during that during any moment can vary using like that color wheel like image. If you know what I’m talking about. Nobody is high functioning or low functioning really. It’s more like for me on any given day I’d probably be considered what people call high functioning because nobody knew I was autistic. I didn’t know I was autistic until I was twenty four years old. I’m twenty six now. Like it wasn’t even on the radar for anybody. I was just this sort of interesting person. Not that you can’t be interesting and not as somebody who’s not autistic. So yeah, it’s really like it’s more like a color wheel than it is like a linear spectrum, because what happens when people use that whole high functioning, low functioning, you know, language is that they end up placing people in boxes. Oh, like you’re, you can talk and you’re really smart in school and you don’t say flap your hands or rock back and forth. So you’re less autistic than the kid who’s sitting in the corner and banging their head against a wall and who can’t talk and it’s like, no, we’re all still autistic, does that makes sense? Like there’s no like less autistic or more autistic is just autism is autism.
[00:26:38] CHRIS: It does.
[00:26:40] CALLER: It just presents itself differently in everybody and, you know, and you know, when people are told that they’re high functioning, then often like their struggles, the challenges that they do have are minimized or they’re seen as like they’re not actually real struggles because, well, you’re not banging your head against a wall. And it’s like, I know that. But do you know how much effort that I have to put into every single interaction that I have in order to appear less autistic or appear to be neurotypical? It takes a lot. In the community we use the word masking to represent like when and if you want to interject at any point, please let me know. I tend to just go off.
[00:27:26] CHRIS: I’m happy to listen.
[00:27:27] CALLER: So we use this term. Thank you. Not many people are, but we use the term masking. It’s sort of like we cover up or hide aspects of our autism in order to make other people more comfortable with us, so you can imagine the the emotional and just general toll that can take on somebody. Yeah, I do it every day. I just try to I’m doing it during this call and it’s unconscious. Like, I don’t even realize it until after the fact that I’ve used so much of my energy to try to fit what other people are expecting of me. And then hiding my actual like who I am when I’m alone in a room by myself, if that makes any sense at all.
[00:28:16] CHRIS: It does, so much of what, it’s like, the idea of a color wheel is very fascinating, because if you know, if you ever messed around with, like a Photoshop or an app that uses a color wheel, I have to do it sometimes to, like, make show promotions on Instagram or whatever. And it’s such a different way to think about it. It’s not a line where it’s like this is severe. This is not severe. It’s like, oh, this is right on the edge of yellow and green. And there’s some orange over there and it’s about where you’re landing on and something different. It’s it’s a much more interesting way to think about it. And then you said that you’re even masking with me right now. So does this mean that when you are relaxed and you let your guard down that you see actual differences in your own personality as far as what you’re presenting to the world?
[00:29:08] CALLER: Yes, and I’m not, I’m not intentional. I’m actually trying to not mask with you right now. But I know that there is some sort of, like, subconscious like because it’s been just ingrained in me my whole life. I’m not, like, intentionally like nobody’s ever tried to make me be a certain way. It’s just sort of like I picked up on it, like how to behave and how to act, which, you know, everybody does. It doesn’t matter if you’re neurotypical, neuro diverse, whatever your. However you are, we all we all do it to an extent, it’s just like the toll it takes is a lot more from my experience and from my fellow autistics that I have connected with over the past couple of years. The it takes such a big toll on us at the end of the day. So anyway, I actually just kind of forgot your question. Wait, you asked?
[00:29:58] CHRIS: I was just wondering how you describe, when you say you’re a different person at home versus when you’re out there dealing with the world. I’m wondering if you could and it might not be an easy thing to sum up, but what are the differences in who you are in those moments?
[00:30:15] CALLER: Sure. Well, so one of the things with with autism is and this isn’t true for everybody, but eye contact can be a real trouble, like really hard for us. So when I’m out in the world, I have learned to force or fake eye contact with people. It’s painful unless I’m really, really comfortable and close with somebody like, say, if it’s like a really close friend or romantic partner, those are the only times where I can really look into somebody’s eyes. But in general, I’ve learned that people expect eye contact. It’s a sign of being polite. So what I do is I look at the bridge of their nose or I kind of look through it, not through them, but like past them. And when I’m doing that, it takes a lot of like when I’m doing that, I’m actually having a hard time listening to them when I’m at home by myself or with my family, like, I don’t need to do that. Like, I don’t need to look at them to show that I’m listening. So a lot of us do engage in what’s called stimming, which is like self stimulatory behavior. It’s like when you think about, you know, the stereotypical autistic child or individual, you know, rocking hand flapping, maybe waving their hands in front of their face. I don’t, I never have stimmed that way. That is still a very valid way to stim. But oftentimes educators try to, you know, suppress that stimming because it makes other people uncomfortable. And it’s like f that because if it’s not harming the person, then it should not be suppressed. That’s just part of who they are. But my stims tend to be like like I will twirl the hair on the back of my neck to the point where, like, I pull it out. And it’s not the same as, say, like the condition trichotillomania, where, like you compulsively pull out your hair. It’s more like I do it because it soothes me. It calms me. Biting the insides of my cheeks. Also something that non autistic people do.
[00:32:31] CHRIS: I do that.
[00:32:32] CALLER: Yep. It’s a calming thing. It helps me focus. It helps me sooth myself. But and one of the things I do, one of my stims when I’m alone is, is to like rub like really soft things against my face. Like really like I have like stuffed animals. Yeah, I’m twenty sixl I have stuffed animals, no shame. And they’re really, really soft and I’ll rub them against my face to help me like help me regulate, help me ground myself. It’s like stimming is not exclusive to autism at all by any means. It’s just like the need for it is I think different. But also I know a lot of people like I also have like generalized anxiety disorder, depression, OCD. So I know that like and ADHD. And I know that like other people with different, you know, conditions and neuro types also stim. So I don’t want to make it like this is only an autistic thing. Because that would not be right.
[00:33:32] CHRIS: You know, you brought up the idea of masking and I really hate that. I really hate hearing about that because I was probably in my 30s when I had, you know, it kind of hit me that there’s this idea of normal. And like you said, when we’re kids, we’re very often trained to be, quote unquote, normal. You’re doing something that’s making other people uncomfortable. You get trained to stop it by teachers or other adults in your life and this idea that you have to kind of suppress who you are for the comfort of others, I just hate it so much and I can’t think of any groups that’s been forced to participate in that, where it’s fair or healthy, you know, because there’s versions of that that deal with race. Right? With the idea of like you read about people, quote unquote, passing with people hiding their sexual preferences, sexual identities, gender identities, all of these things and apologizes for anything I miss phrased along the way, but it’s never been healthy and I’ve never liked it. And I felt my own versions of it as a kid. And it filled me with a lot of anger. And if anybody sitting out there who is feeling normal, who are these people who are normal? If anybody, if I ever ask anybody to describe yourself, and they’re I’m kind of a normal person who has a normal life. I go, you’re either a liar or you’re dreadfully boring. Nobody’s normal. So let’s stop pretending we all got to bend towards normal. What is normal? Normal is garbage.
[00:35:02] CALLER: Exactly. And I think it just been like this idea of like what is what is. And I think that if we are just were more accepting and embracing of like our individual struggles and differences and, you know, there probably be less need for maybe not. But, you know, people wouldn’t be like you said, like feeling like I don’t know, I feel like we wouldn’t have so many people probably on medications or using harmful substances to, you know, cope with things because they’re just trying to find their own ways like mask and be who they think everybody else wants them to be, let’s embrace people as they are. If we just did that, instead of trying to meet and fit this whole fake idea of normal, we’d probably be a lot fucking happier sorry Sally. Overall, not that mental health conditions would not exist. They still would. But it’s just like people would feel like less stigmatized and there would be just more acceptance and embracing people for just who they are as they are, because we’re all different. And there’s a reason why we are, you know, I mean, granted, it is 2020 is a year from, it’s the worst year, in my opinion. But like we, the world would be a better place if we were just more accepting of everybody as they are and stop trying to make people fit into certain molds. Basically.
[00:36:36] CHRIS: I’m with you and, you know, that thought has me thinking. And I want to get the phrasing right on this and discover…
[00:36:47] CALLER: It’s OK if you don’t.
[00:36:48] CHRIS: You well know, because it’s like you think about the idea of diversity, right? And I’m just, you know, my hometown was beautifully diverse. I’ve, you know, said on the show a thousand times, I lived in Queens, beautifully diverse. And you think about like you send a kid into a classroom, in my opinion, if you get if you raise a child or you go, oh, I can tell right away that person looks different than me. Cool. This person loves differently than me. Cool. And right down the line. If we can get people thinking, oh, cool, this is an opportunity. This is enrichment. This is an ability for me to learn more about myself by figuring out where our Venn diagrams cross what would be you know, I just said looks different, loves different. What would that word be for someone who’s autistic? Would it be thinks different? Would it be connects differently?
[00:37:44] CALLER: Yeah, I mean, because there’s a variation and in the autistic community, too, you know. Being autistic is not like exclusively limited to one race or one gender or, you know, any sort of identity, but anyways, so we. You could say communicates different at the same time, like there are like I communicate like I communicate in a way that is pretty, I pass as neurotypical or I should say allistic, which is somebody who is not autistic but who may also have like another, say, neurotype say like ADHD or other neurodiverse in some other way. But anyways, so think of, OK, this is one of the things that like and in the past couple of years when I’ve learned about being autistic myself, I’m sort of just embraced it and learned to accept it. One of the things that people in the community often say is like think of like having like a Windows computer and then like a Mac or like Apple Computer. Right? So say most people are operating on like the Mac, like iOS or whatever, but we’re operating on Windows. So it’s like it’s just a different operating system.
[00:39:14] CHRIS: Let’s go ahead and take a break there. That’s a stunning analogy. We’ve all seen operating systems evolve and grow over time and we might even remember using those old ones and now you don’t even remember how they made sense. We’ll talk about that and more when we get back.
[00:39:32] CHRIS: Everybody, buckle up. We’re finishing the phone call.
[00:39:42] CALLER: Most people are operating on the Mac like iOS or whatever, but we’re operating on Windows, so it’s like it’s just a different operating system. But like we do the same things. It’s just like we have access to the same things, just like the way that we process them and see, I’m not a tech person, but it’s just like a different operating system basically is how it’s made sense to me. Or like= you have like a standard or like an automatic for a car, like it’s just maybe most people are automatic. But we were standards like we have to intentionally shift all these different gears in order to do or communicate or fail or learn or, you know, just exist. It takes a lot more intentional thought.
[00:40:29] CHRIS: It’s funny. It’s I almost feel like the the tech analogy would be less Mac to Windows and more like I remember when I was a kid. I’m old enough that I used to mess around with computers and it was MSDOS and used to have to basically know this language like C colon, backslash, backslash input dot exe and you’d be like, other people would look at it and go, I don’t know how you’re getting from point A to point B, but then you’d have other people who already had Apple products who do, I just click on this thing and the word processor opens like, oh no, I got to type in a whole bunch of stuff you don’t understand to get there. But we get to the same place and it seems like there’s maybe some validity in that comparison.
[00:41:14] CALLER: That’s perfect. That’s perfect. You actually just explained it better than I did. So thank you. Yeah.
[00:41:21] CHRIS: That’s just too much because I’m older than you know.
[00:41:25] CALLER: Yeah. You’re not old. You’re not. You’re what thirty nine?
[00:41:28] CHRIS: Forty, forty, walking midlife crisis. Yeah. Walking, breathing. Midlife crisis. It’s not about me. Let’s keep talking about you. Let’s keep talking about you.
[00:41:37] CALLER: OK, I feel like I’m in my quarter life crisis still. So that’s kind of been happening for like the past ten years. But like I’ll get through it eventually, maybe, you know. Yeah. So one of the things to with autism is, you know, like I said, I teach I work with primarily autistic preschoolers, which I mentioned in the first 15 minutes before the generator issue and that’s how I learned I was autistic, was through working with them. I’ve always felt different. I’ve always been diagnosed with all these things. And, you know, I’ve been told that I’m too emotional, too sensitive. All the stuff which is also like, you know, just being a girl, I guess a lot of the time. But through working with these kids its like, I feel like I owe it to them for me to have figured out that I myself am autistic. And so I found my community. And then I’ve been able to refine my practice in my teaching because there’s a lot of and this is going to be very controversial so if you post any of this like if you post this or whatever, there’s going to be a lot of comments I know that are going to probably come out and bash me and I’m OK with that. I’ll accept that. There’s some therapies out there, one particular therapy for autism. That is super duper, incredibly, I’m putting it lightly problematic. Usually it’s provided by allistic, aka non autistic folks and it’s the equivalent of human dog training and it’s linked to conversion therapy. And it’s called ABA.
[00:43:29] CHRIS: Hmm, I see what you mean, there’s probably gonna be people who hear that and go, well, someone in my family went through that and it allows them to function day to day a little bit better. But…
[00:43:42] CALLER: Yeah, the thing is, it’s the therapy itself. It’s based on science, you know, but science is not perfect and it’s seen as the highest, like most evidence based treatment for autism. What bothers me most about it because I worked in it. That’s how I got into this like into education. I started as an ABA technician.
[00:44:15] CHRIS: Really?
[00:44:17] CALLER: But I did. Yeah, because I didn’t know. I thought it was, I thought it was great. You know, I started my master’s degree in it and then I backed out partway through because I was like, this is so messed up. Some of the stuff that they expect, it’s basically it I don’t know if you know anything about it, but so I’m just going to go off on a little tangent again, that’s pretty much, we’ll call it, me just tangenting. That’s not a word. But so imagine just not, I don’t want you to look, I’m going to have to say this, think about your son, right? So imagine in a couple of years and he’s like three, right? He’s like one right now. Right? OK, so imagine he’s three years old, OK. And you’re sending him to preschool and, you know, he’s sitting and three year olds have a hard time sitting for a long period of time and say, like, you know, a lot of three year olds of all neurotypes, they tend to wiggle a lot. So imagine sitting next to him is another three year old who’s wiggling a little bit more or who is standing up and walking away from their circle time and following him is an adult who’s holding a piece of candy in front of them and saying, do you want this? Go sit down. Sit down. Quiet, quiet body, calm body, like telling them, like you moving the way that you need to is wrong. And then once they sit down and they sit for like 10 seconds, they get a piece of candy. Like training them to fit what the whoever the therapist or technician or behavior analyst wants them to be. It’s all about like manipulating from and I hate using that word because I have friends who are BCBA’s, which are board certified behavior analyst. They kind of oversee people who practice ABA, who are great people, like one of my closest friends is going to be a BCBA and I love her. But it just makes everything that a child does contingent on pleasing the adult, which can therefore groom children to accept abuse. And ABA, in my opinion, is abuse.
[00:46:41] CHRIS: Yeah, I mean, when you put it like that right away, you’re like, if you have if you have some sort of attempt at science that’s based around adults giving kids candy for obeying them. Yeah, I can see right there how it’s like. I mean…
[00:46:56] CALLER: It’s not just candy either, it’s there’s other things, but it’s like I just wanted to just mention that because I don’t want people to think that I because I know that there are different ways that it’s all about reinforcement and reinforcement is good. We need reinforcement. But also ABA typically values external reinforcement. So reinforcement provided by somebody other than the individual themselves. As if the individual themselves is unmotivated to learn. Because we just aren’t meeting them, helping them learn in the way that they learn best. So we expect them to learn the way that we want them to. And that’s what really irks me.
[00:47:44] CHRIS: Well, yeah, I mean, it’s immediately concerning when you break it down like that, right? In two ways, which is, one, you compared it to conversion therapy, which is just torture, but it is connected. Well, it’s shared in that thing of, hey, and if someone’s a real little kid to a lot of this might be subconscious, which is arguably more dangerous of like, hey, if you can learn to act against your own instincts, you get positive reinforcement for that. Very concerning, right? Asking someone to suppress their instincts, especially from a young age, it’s confusing. It might have long term psychological stuff, I would imagine. I don’t know. I haven’t read up on it.
[00:48:22] CALLER: There’s PTSD. There’s a lot of links to adults who have been through it who have PTSD from what they went through as a child. But they didn’t know at the time because they think, oh, like, you’re really nice. And like you bring me candy and you bring me these good things and like. And I don’t think that in my heart and I want to say this to all your listeners, I don’t think that any parent wishes any harm upon their child when they put them into this therapy. I don’t. And I don’t think that any practitioner goes into it thinking I can’t wait to abuse children. Absolutely not. They like have the best intentions, but it’s also thinking like, what would you be comfortable receiving this type of treatment for yourself or a different child? You know, I mean, we all we all rely on we all, you know, why do I go to work every day? I mean, yeah, of course I go cause I love the kids but also I go to get my paycheck. That is reinforcement. You know, that is without a doubt reinforcement. But like, it’s about, it creates a for most for many, many children and so many autistic adults could speak to this, I never went through. It creates like causes like that masking and that need to like I need to please everybody else and not put myself first because I am not valuable as I am. I am only valuable if other people if I can please other people.
[00:49:53] CHRIS: I do just also want to underline what you said right there about pleasing other people. As soon as you start to connect the dots and that you’re like, OK, you’re building a system where kids who aren’t always apt at communicating are training, being trained to please adults, which immediately set off huge red flags of like, oh, predators might be attracted to that environment. Predators. Oh, I get to give kids positive reinforcement for obeying me. And these are kids who are not able to communicate necessarily if something bad happens or they might be terrified to communicate it. It’s vulnerable. That’s vulnerable members of society. I don’t like it. I don’t like it. Again, like you said, there’s people going here’s links to scientific journals that say it’s good and I might read those and go, OK, I’m seeing a different side of it but when you put that out there, I’m like, yeah, that’s bad. That’s bad.
[00:50:47] CALLER: Well, the thing is, those journals, they whenever a lot of times when people speak out against it, they say, well, look, here’s the evidence. And I’m like, I get it. But like, there’s also so much evidence against it. So it’s kind of like they just pick and choose what they decide to believe in because it fits the narrative because they don’t want to think of themselves as like possibly having caused harm to children. And I know for a fact I was an ABA therapist, like I definitely and I honestly like I’m trying not to cry right now I probably have caused harm to children, not with intent, but upon reflection, I think about it sometimes. And I’m like, wow, this child, it could be, I can’t take it back, but I can just continue to grow and move forward and you know. Hope that, uh, sorry.
[00:51:41] CHRIS: No, of course you can let it go. Move on.
[00:51:45] CALLER: Yeah. Hope that going forward that they feel validated and accepted as they are because nobody should have to try to be to fit into a certain mold. They should be allowed to be themselves and be respected as who they are. But what you said about, you know, the predator, the predator thing, that’s a big thing, you know, especially with with children who say struggle with having reliable communication. They might not be able to communicate no, or when they do, and I’ve seen this with kids who can speak and who are highly verbal when they do say no, they’re told you can’t say no to this, and then they’re coerced and into complying with the adults and their attempts to say or communicate no whether it be verbally or them pulling away or running away, are disrespected andit just it’s not OK with me.
[00:52:43] CHRIS: No, no way. And when you bring up my son, which is you know, it’s always hard. It’s always hard.
[00:52:49] CALLER: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get you to think about it.
[00:52:51] CHRIS: But listen, it puts it in a real human perspective that I wouldn’t have had two years ago. Right? But I’m sitting here and thinking and it’s so hard because let’s say anybody out there with a child. Winds up realizing, OK, my kid is not neurotypical. This is a thing that our family is going to have to figure out how to navigate, and then as you’re saying, all these things about, you know, basically saying so much effort in dealing with this is through correcting it, quote unquote, and it’s not necessarily a thing that should be corrected in the same way that other, you know, vulnerable or marginalized groups don’t want to be corrected for who they are. And then I’m sitting here and I’m thinking my instinct and I bet so many parents instincts is I want my kid to learn how to connect with other kids. I want my kid to avoid bullying, to avoid judgement and I’m doing this for my kid. And then when you bring up all the issues you bring up and I’m taking a deep breath thinking about Cal I’m going would that really be for Cal or would that be for me? And that’s a really tough question, right? That’s a really hard question for a parent.
[00:54:17] CALLER: I can. Yeah, I can only imagine I’m not a parent. You know, I think what’s important is that instead of trying to correct these children’s quote unquote behaviors or whatever is to instead educate. And embrace and, you know, I’m all about inclusion and meaningful inclusion, like teaching other kids, neurotypical kids, like about neurodiversity and about how we are all different and it’s OK. And, you know, this person might communicate using an iPad. This person might communicate using pictures, this person might communicate with their words, whatever, and that it’s all valuable and valid and that is what ultimately will lead to a more accepting, you know, embracing and inclusive, you know, future for everybody. And that transcends just, you know, neurodiversity that goes for people of different backgrounds, different races and cultures and genders and sexual orientations, all of that. But it starts with teaching kids that it’s OK to be who you are as you are.
[00:55:34] CHRIS: Now, I’m going to say something. This conversation is fascinating. We have about three minutes left. I’m going to go ahead and see because of the generator issue, that momentum we’re just going to let this one roll a little bit longer. I don’t know how long but we’re going to let it roll.
[00:55:47] CALLER: OK, thank you. I appreciate that. Of course, that means a lot actually. I feel like in the history of the show, I’m like one of those people who gets to go on a little longer.
[00:55:56] CHRIS: Yeah, for sure. I mean, part of that is tropical storm gifted you that. But part of that is also there’s a really interesting thing with this call, which is that when we were talking, it was very much the standard form of another call where we’re feeling each other out and figuring out how the conversation is going to go. And your revealing stuff to me. And then you have two weeks to go, I’m going to get that back and I’m going to sit here and think about what I want to say. And you get to come in with some fire in your guts. And I love that. So I feel like it deserves more time. I want to say something that might sound trite. I think it’s really, really true. I’m going to go ahead and say and I think any comic book fan would agree with me, I think every kid and probably every adult, especially parents, should read X-Men comics. You should go back. You should read some of the ones, not the early ones that were weak with the original five. Right after when it became Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus. Because I am telling you that comic book, their whole ethos, the whole reason it’s so amazing is that the way they got their powers is they were born that way, they were born that way and the world fears and judges them. And I think there are so many marginalized groups who have found some kid, you know, kids from those groups who have found comfort in those fucking comic books. And I was born I got this crazy skeletal thing where I have these giant elbows that stick out and my hands don’t work right, i have top knuckles. I remember I was in third grade and I found those X-Men comics and I used to always want to wear long sleeves so kids wouldn’t make fun of my elbows. I always felt weird about kids would go, you walk a little funny. And I read those comics and I remember going, Oh, I’m a mutant. I’m like Wolverine, I’m like Nightcrawler man. Like, Oh, and over and over again I remember reading a letters page, I was going back rereading some really old xmen on the Marvel App that they have. There’s a character called Nightcrawler and he’s blue and he’s got three fingers on each hand, three toes on each foot. And I remember reading, you know, they had a device that he could use where he’d walk around looking like, quote unquote, normal person when he could go out. And then he just stopped using it and he would go out. And somebody else in the X-Men goes, why aren’t you using the thing? So we can go to the store and you don’t have to have people looking at you cock-Eyed. He goes, I’m not going to hide who I am. And this is in like the 70s or 80s. And I read a letter and a letters page from if I remember right, it was a girl who said, you know, I’ve been in a wheelchair my whole life and reading about a superhero who just said out loud, I’m not going to apologize for being different. I’m not going to apologize like people, you know, Nightcrawler had yellow eyes and blue hair. People thought he was a freak. And to read this letter from a girl going, I feel like a freak and to see somebody say, I’m proud to be a freak, I’m not gonna hide it. Xmen goes a long way. That should be required curriculum in every American school, in my opinion. You’d love it.
[00:59:05] CALLER: Well, you know, I just, I did just, I am not that familiar with X-Men, but I did just interview for a middle school teaching position. So like if I get it. I’ll make that part of the requirements for the kids that I work with if I get it.
[00:59:20] CHRIS: It helped me get through and they have characters today who are, you know, have, you know, characters who are young kids, high school age kids who have physical characteristics that mark them as different, who have all sorts. They’ve always had great analogies for race relations, for I think a lot of people would agree in recent years that there’s a huge analogy to the gay rights movement to pride, really beautiful the work they do. Now, I want to ask you a question that I bet you’ll have a strong opinion on. And it’s a trap I’ve fallen into, I’m not going to lie. I feel like a trend that has developed in recent years and sometimes it’s said out of genuine concern and sometimes it’s unfortunately said out derision as you talk with someone and maybe the person comes off in, in your view, as a little weird, and then you say to somebody else, when that person is not around, man, I think they might be on the spectrum. As we talked I’m realizing that that might be a hurtful thing to say and I don’t know that I ever realized that. I think people throw that one about or think it’s funny.
[1:00:34] CALLER: And yeah, they do that.
[01:00:35] CHRIS: I don’t know that that is a nice thing as I’m talking to you.
[1:00:36] CALLER: Yeah. I mean, here’s the thing, because believe or not also another stereotype that society is like, oh, you don’t have empathy. I have so much empathy, more empathy than like probably ninety nine percent of neurotypicals. Actually I consider myself an empath because I feel things so strongly. So here I go, noticed how my tone has changed? It’s cause I’ve got feelings. Autistic people tend to be really good at kind of identifying other autistic people who may not know that they’re autistic. With that being said, we’re not perfect at that. But also, yeah, it’s sort of like and it’s not comparable to the R word to be like, oh, I think you’re on the spectrum, but it’s kind of like the root like what’s cause, what leads you to say that? Just because somebody is a little bit different than you and it just kind of creates more stigmatization towards autism and stereotyping what it is like to be autistic. You know, or what autism looks like. It’s inaccurate and I don’t like that when people say things like, oh, like they’re on the spectrum or like we’re all a little bit autistic. It’s like, no, that’s not how it works. You know, like we’re not all a little bit autistic because that just takes away from the yeah, like you might be socially awkward. Cool, but that doesn’t mean you’re autistic, but you also could be. So it’s more like it. I don’t know how to really expand upon that, other than that, just like when people say stuff like that, it’s really. It just it hits me in a way, but I can’t really verbalize fully what I want to say.
[01:02:23] CHRIS: Well, let’s make this your conversation is making me realize maybe that’s you know, there’s a lot of words that used to get tossed around and as society advances, we realize, oh, that’s not a thing to just say casually. And I’m not even saying in the sense that it’s offensive, which it might be, but also more in the sense of no, you know, that’s a serious thing. That’s a serious thing. And the idea that there’s this sort of phrase that’s almost like a you know, like a buzzy thing, like it felt like everybody was just saying that, like it was in fashion for a while and it was almost a joke. And it’s like, no, it’s actually a diagnosis and people got to take it seriously. So maybe we got to think hard about that.
[01:03:04] CALLER: Exactly, I think a lot of, like media portrayal of autism, too, has contributed to that. You know, we have shows and movies out there. You know, everyone thinks like autism. They’re like, oh, look, Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, which they never actually said he was autistic in that they just said he had savant syndrome, which people often attribute to autism, but they actually are separate. But they do also overlap sometimes, and that’s very, incredibly rare, but then there’s like, you know, there’s and I love the show, The Good Doctor, that’s one that’s out where I don’t know if you’re familiar. But like Freddie Highmore, he’s an autistic doctor who also is a savant. And then the show, atypical where I forget the actor’s name, but there’s the representation of an autistic teenager named Sam, and just like a lot of the stereotypes that they play to in those shows is kind of, I think, contributes to why people say the things that they do. And I think that if they actually had more autistic actors playing these roles instead of neurotypical actors playing these roles the language and the phrases would, the way that people view autism would be different because those roles and those characters are based on stereotypes.
[01:04:39] CHRIS: You know, we’re going way over.
[01:04:43] CALLER: You know the autistic guy.
[1:04:44] CHRIS: Of course, of course
]1:04:45] CALLER: Where autism in girls is often very different.
[01:04:47] CHRIS: Yeah, that makes sense. Makes sense.
[01:04:51] CALLER: I could talk about this for days and I didn’t even get to talk about autism and girls and woman and you know. I didn’t even have time to talk about that, but it’s a big thing.
[1:05:04] CHRIS: I mean, we are going way over time.
[01:05:06] CALLER: I know we are.
[01:05:07] CHRIS: Well, there’s a thing, there’s two more things I want to talk about, because at this one I want your opinion on, but I don’t even know. I don’t even know if you have an opinion, but I don’t want to say too much, but there is someone in my life very close to me who I grew up with who had massive trouble connecting with other kids. And got progressively more and more viewed as like a weird kid, and you could see the effects, you could see bullying, you could see that inability to connect, creating like wariness and therefore loneliness. And I’ve I’ve wondered for a while, I wonder if this person was undiagnosed and on some level autistic because I also think man that person was brilliant from day one, like really, really brilliant, and I always think, man, if they weren’t in like the public schools in my working class neighborhood, if they got sent to some private school, that knew how to harness that brilliance some where maybe the other kids wouldn’t have judged so hard. It would have been a whole different life, but who’s to know it’s like an armchair diagnosis, which I don’t think is healthy. But yeah, I wonder if you see that with kids, you teach kids and I wonder if you’re sitting there going, oh, this kid’s brilliant. Put them in an environment where that’s the focus.
[01:06:41] CALLER: Mm hmm. I do. I do sometimes. I mean, I’m all about, I love the public school system, like the ideas that we have about like, you know, like I mentioned earlier, about promoting and teaching kids to value and embrace differences in others and I think that is something that has just been not at least when I was in school and I still see it, it’s not really valued diversity, but I do know that a lot of people who are autistic, cause I’m in like a lot of like online forums and stuff like Facebook groups for autistic people, that they say that their autistic children have actually thrived better in, you know, schools that can support them and their uniqueness, their differences and stuff, and honestly, I connect best with other autistic people. And other neurodiverse people. Actually a really close friend of mine who I’ve never actually met in person, she’s going to listen. They are going to listen to the podcast sorry, pronoun pronoun. I have to remind myself
1:07:55 CHRIS: I do it too.
[01:07:55] CALLER: They’re going to listen to this podcast. I do it all the time. I just want to correct myself so that when they listen to this, they know. They live in California. And I met them on like a Facebook group online, like an autistic like led Facebook group online. And I was texting them right before this podcast. Let them know that I was doing it. I hope that’s OK. But cause I’m not identifying myself, so I connect better with other people who. can kind of see me and understand me and in that way, other neurodiverse people, not that neurotypical people can’t. It’s just,there’s like when I see the kids, I work with them, like I see you, I get you. And you get me, it’s just the sort of innate connection. And so maybe that child or that kid or that man now, you know, maybe would have been better in that type of environment.
[01:08:53] CHRIS: We got to wrap it up, this one is going long.
[1:08:57] CALLER: We do. I’m sorry.
[01:08:59] CHRIS: No apologies, I want to say one thing, though, just so you hear it, which is that, you know, you expressed some guilt about having participated in a form of therapy that you didn’t know was as damaging as it was. And this was even before you realized that this was actually, you know, there’s that phrase, find your tribe like these were your people. And I just want to say that everything you’ve shared today, a lot of people are going to hear it, and I think it’s going to do a world of good. And it sounds to me like you do not plan on quieting down that as you, you know, embrace more and more who you are and having these conversations. Like I said, I can hear the fire in your gut to really dispel myths, to correct longstanding stereotypes and I just want you to know that it already sounds like you’re intent on doing more good than that therapy did harm and I hope you can let that side of it go, because this was a really fascinating eye opening conversation that affected me in a positive way. And I hope a lot of listeners are going, I’m thinking entirely different about something I’ve known about my whole life. So I thank you for it.
[01:10:15] CALLER: Thank you for having me. Like I said, I could have talked about this for hours but if one person can gain something from this, then, you know, I’ll feel good about it, you know, and, yeah,
[1:10:33] CHRIS: Well, you already got one, you already got one. And I bet you’re about to get a lot more.
[1:10:39] CALLER: Thank you so much, Chris. I really appreciate it.
[1:10:40] CHRIS: Thank you.
[1:10:41] CALLER: Thank you for taking the time. Alright, take care.
[PHONE RINGING SOUND]
[01:10:49] CHRIS: Caller, you kept saying that you could have talked for hours about this and I could have to you and I thank you for that. My gears are turning. I feel like I know a little bit more about the world, a little bit more about how I have to learn to treat people. And I thank you for that, because that’s part of growing and it’s part of being a well-rounded human being. For those of us who don’t know how to be revolutionaries, I think that is how we get to sort of make these small steps that might help the world be a better place. Thank you for that. Thank you to Jarred O’Connel, Anita Flores, thank you to Shellshag for the music. Chrisgeth.com if want tickets to my shows, remember I got some shows in Philly, September 3rd, 4th, 5th. Follow us on Spotify. Follow us on Sticher. Follow us on apple and if you want to check out the back catalog of the show, Stitcherpremium.com/stories. All the details are there. Thanks so much for listening.
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