Dec 5, 2023Liked by River Robbins

My husband had a cat, Darjeeling (1993-2001, R.I.P.) who had that scent-disorientation problem with going to the vet and then not recognizing his brother when he got back. Oddly I think it didn't happen when he went out for social visits. This was a cat who didn't mind getting in the car and visiting people. As long as it was on his terms. He knew.

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I realize the tone of the podcast is to keep things positive and bright, but I was hoping the two of you could tackle some of the more challenging angles to public perceptions of Autistica.

One of the things that troubles me about public perceptions of autism is that my perception is that the following people all present autistically (whether they are actually autistic is irrelevant to my concern) and I worry that they are defining for allists what autists are like:

1. Elon Musk

2. Peter Thiel

3. Ron DeSantis

4. Stephen Miller

5. Mark Zuckerberg

All 5 of these figures are White guys with prominent access to power, who have reputations for being unlikable and for being cruel or indifferent to societal harm or injustice. They are also all - with the arguable exception of Peter Thiel - public figures who have been targeted by comedians for mockery, with special attention to their traits that strike me as autistic.

If you agree that they present autistically enough to merit serious discussion here, how do we as a community reconcile the lack of positive autistic traits on display by these men? Moreover, 4 of the 5 on that list have been credibly accused of being White supremacists or nationalists.

In the same sense that we say that social justice is autistic, is the opposite also true? And, if so, what does that mean? We can't claim that people aren't members of the autistic community just because they do or say hateful things, can we?

I'm feeling a bit stuck on this. Sorry for unloading a dark topic on a Friday.

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We definitely feel like there are enough podcasts talking about the challenges of being Autistic so we try not to talk about these too much. But we do have a couple moments of darkness like our Bad Autism Diagnoses (36) episode and our episode on Autistic Medical Needs (14). We also talk about Temple Grandin who is one of these troublesome Autistic you mention in The Trouble with Temple (24) and Steve Jobs in Apple is Autistic (7). Also we talk about Thomas Jefferson (who was Autistic ) and his racism despite fellow Autistic, friend, and black man Benjamin Banneker begging him to reconsider in Washington DC is Autistic (5). We talk about how Walt Disney and Bobbie Fisher were Nazi sympathizers in episode 26, Disney is Autistic and episode 31, Chess is Autistic. And we touch on how Edward Mybridge, the father of motion pictures had some extremely problematic behavior in episode 37.

I'm not going to do a Trump episode for personal reasons though I have some great examples of how he represents Autistic Culture... but look I would also not be doing a Berlusconi episode if I ran the Italian Culture Podcast, even though he definitely represents some aspects of Italian culture.....

We do have a Tesla Double Feature planned to cover Nikolai Telsa and Elon Musk ... Although I have also been doing Edison research for the episode so I'll either go with Tesla the person and Tesla the company OR Tesla and Edison and the Electricity race. Still working on that.

My answer to your question about the public perception of Autism is that YES - people mostly think we are assholes and we should change (Matt and I address this a lot), but this is largely due to the Double Empathy problem and the way we fix this is NOT by changing and it's NOT by getting Allistics to change. In my opinion the way to change this is by focusing the conversation on how fucking screwed society would be without us. Since the first stone tools to the invention of calculus, the organization of the world's knowledge, the first iron bridges, Autistics have been here using our unique hyperconnected brains to create this world. Allistics could not survive without us. So my mission is to share the incredible contributions we have made to all of human society rather than apologizing for, explaining or trying to extract change around the aspects of our personality which are in some ways formed in trauma.

Any culture will have assholes, right? So I guess if you were doing a podcast on Irish Culture, would you feature Gerry Adams, Domestic violence, and alcoholism or would you feature James Joyce, Grace O'Malley, and Bono?

In terms of how our fierce sense of social justice works... if you were a privileged white guy who benefited from the concept of "meritocracy," I can see how a libertarian orientation WOULD feel socially just. It is actually white supremacy of course, but it's hard to see when you are the one who would lose power by seeing it.

So... in short:

1) Every culture has assholes.

2) People with more wealth and privilege tend to be more likely to see justice as meritocracy over equity and justice.

3) We do cover problematic people and aspects of Autistic culture in small doses.

4) Autistic need more GOOD PR - we are the world builders, the data collectors, the content organizers, the out-of-the-box inventors that have kept and will keep the world spinning, we need to focus on getting more credit for that rather than explaining the assholes among us or indulging allistic people in their empathy challenges. They can do their own work on that. I can't fix it for them.

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Dec 8, 2023Liked by Angela Lauria

Thank you for taking the time to respond in detail. Again, I apologize for yucking people's yum on a Friday. When you had that episode on John McEnroe and revealed that he had once been among the most hated public figures in a poll conducted during his heyday it was a gut check for me and caused me to think more about the added burden the neurospicy community bears due to polarizing figures who are arguably representing us in the public's view.

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Yeah it's definitely something I spend a lot of time thinking about myself. For a long time I wanted to argue and plead our case, but when I got the idea for this show (which is inspired by the show "You're Wrong About" and the way Michael Hobbes did the early reporting for that show) I realized the best way to change minds is to show all the positive ways we have and do contribute to society. My favorite episode in this regard is Fairy Tales are Autistic. For decades (centuries?) Hans Christian Andersen has been maligned for these same reasons. We are so misunderstood and misinterpreted in general, but then when you combine that with the fact some percentage of any community are just jerks it's hard to separate the REAL jerks (aka Trump) from the misinterpretations that all or at least most of us are jerks... but that's the project and we are giving it the ol' college try. I appreciate having you along for the ride!

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Not sure where else to put a suggestion---I listened to this episode earlier today and realized I must have a very neurotypical cat, but anyway---I was thinking, if you guys ever did a Dragons are Autistic episode, I have some topic suggestions:

How to Train Your Dragon: Hiccup is very autistic (monotone voice, monotropic focus on dragons and inventing things, strong sense of justice, social awkwardness, probably more I can't think of) and his talents and innovations improve the whole viking world; also all the different dragons are very collectible!

The dragons from the novel Seraphina by Rachel Hartman are worth taking a look at...

And finally, Dragonology must be THE definitive sacred text. No denying that. And what is it about dragons anyway? I just love them so much and I have no idea why. Please do this episode. I have a feeling it's already on your list.

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How to Train Your Dragon is my favorite movie of all time!!!! I love this idea! It is not on the list but I will add it now for sure. Thank you!

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Spyro the Dragon might be a good pick as well. [and some of their friends/companions].

I had been thinking on those lines since some young ladies introduced me into their Spyro the Dragon fanfiction world in 2011 and 2012. Thank you L and C!

A good mate wrote about Western dragons and Eastern dragons:



[accessed 8 December 2023]

The author of SPRINGHOLE has some great dragon references [and generators]

WHY STORIES ABOUT DRAGONS SUCK - https://springhole.net/writing/whydragonstoriessuck.htm

a more general piece about MYTH AND LORE


and back to the European dragon concept


I would also go with PETE'S DRAGON


Now Puff is grounded in Autistic history and culture.

Author and advocate Donna Williams used to call her father "Jackie Paper" [the name he was known by was Jack].

And there's this very Sixties and Seventies vibe.

Yes - a lot of the -ology texts are sacred, aren't they, Bailey?

[especially the ones that went through the students and children as home books in the library].

Even though the -odoxy texts are more to do with rules and norms and practices.

Which would be closer to my own working definition of sacred.

[Ology is encoding and decoding WORDS and LOGIC].

[And sacristy might be good to put somewhere on the list].

I think of the dragons of the forest/jungle and the dragons of the sea. And indeed UNDER the sea.

The sea dragons are very serpentine.

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I was always so jealous whenever Dragonology was checked out to someone else in my elementary school library. I finally received it as a gift though when I was 18 or so, which made me just squeal in joy. I was pretty enamoured with all of the -ology books I came across, but Dragonology was always my favorite (the runes! the samples! the diagrams!!), a close second was maybe Egyptology since Ancient Egypt was one of my spins as a kid.

Pete's Dragon and Puff the Magic Dragon! Yes, I didn't even think of those! And that's a very good point made in Why Stories About Dragons Suck---I've noticed that too, but another example of great storytelling that's actually ABOUT dragons is Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. And the dragons (who can turn into humans) are VERY autistic: some obvious traits include missing social cues, not showing emotion, sensory issues (with clothes), and highly logical thinking. So maybe autistic people are just dragons in disguise! I like that better than aliens.

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Thanks for all the great resources here. I'm already looking forward to doing this episode! I'll keep you posted when we get it on the calendar.

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Thank you for showing WHY SERAPHINA is a good look - especially as it is about dragons-as-dragons.

Of all the things Autistic people are disguised as...

Then I think of cultural allusions like The Dragon Lady - we might call a teacher or administrator this when they are being "firm but fair".

Runes! Samples! Diagrams!!

So excellent receiving a valued gift like this as an adult.

Australia seems to be heaven for Egyptologists at the moment - and it will be over the next few months or year.

Ramses the Great is coming to one national gallery or museum.

Then Egyptian death and burial practices and associated art are being highlighted in a state gallery; and something closely related in another state.

I will say something about those pyramids. And the Sphinx.

Just the iconography...

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