Thursday, August 01, 2019

Edinburgh Festival 2019 blog: Two shows and one theatre company.

It is 6:54am on the morning of Friday the second of August 2019.  I am sitting at my computer, in a hostel that is dead central to the action of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of theatre and performances.  The Cow Gate area of Edinburgh.

Outside the great, huge grey gothic monster that is Edinburgh is waking up.  The cars and lorries glide by like waves on a beach that go sideways instead of forwards and backwards.  Seagulls comment occasionally. Metal clanks as bins empty the treasures of the nights before.

Tonight it gets intense.  Tomorrow equally so.  The weekend brings more noise and revelry.  Joyous humanity, striving for euphoria.  Why not.  It's going to be interesting to share it this closely all these stories above the different ground levels around here.  

Out of the window you can see buildings that start two to three stories below the bridges they are build on, and go up another four or even five.  Many windows, some exposing the lives within.  A grim world of stone cages, hinting of the colourful life they contain.

I sit here in a rented room, my base for sixteen days.  It would normally be 25 but I ran out of holiday time.  Also the period is within my regular budget.  Sadly the usual places fell through as the people who rent them got wise to just how much they could be making if they let them per day.  Accommodation is a viciously priced business at this time of year, around here.  Why not?  What would you do if you owned a place you could rent.

It's a matter of time before the joys of sharing for a short while give way to Air B and B I know.  Or just plain a cheaper private rent.  Last year my friend George from Los Angeles rented an absolute palace off the Haymarket area down the road.  Yeah it cost but someone else was paying as part of his mighty Magic 8 Ball, my life with Aspergers show.  Timing meant I never got to see it as it clashed with my two productions.  But we will meet again.  George used to come round to our apartment round the back of the Pleasant Courtyard to use our washing machines and chat.  A fascinating, brave man.

George Steeves had become one more cutting edge pioneer of an art form that does not entirely exist. Neurodiverse self advocacy theatre.  Although there have been representations such as the West End of London run of Rain Man, I write of when autistic people write, produce and perform their own work.  They started as 'my name is xxxx and I have autism and this is what it is like'.  Tales of hardship ensued.  It was impossible to know where being autistic ended and describing mental health issues and the performers own personal limitations and that of his social world began.  Now things have moved on.

Back in 2015, Cian Binchy and I were the first people to have shows that blatantly gave it away that we were autistic, and what it was like.  They both lasted for many years until my Guerilla Aspies - Become Autistic with Paul Wady, remained to return each year.  For a few years the Ross Hepburn is Beetlejuice'd show on the PBH Free Fringe, revealed it's narrator had Aspergers at the end.  Great hyperactive work it was too.

(Ah, that snob term.  I'm so clever and functional.  Performers use it to differentiate from representing relative mental disability.  Personally I eschew the snobbery of it and just call myself and my work, autistic and representing being autistic.  As usual with Aspies, a term I still paradoxically use, we are all deeply individual).

Eh?  I thought I didn't like it.  Already I've given away the complex paradoxes of language around being autistic.  Or was it having autism.  Or being a person with autism?  There are ongoing and I think, somewhat unsolvable debates around how you say you are autistic.  That statement alone merely contributes rather than resolves.  Look - I gotta say it somehow.  If you are homosexual it is easy - just say you are gay.  But with the spectrum....yep, another term, oh it goes on and on.  Oh, come to think of it we ended up with the ever expanding LGBTI instead of...  Oh, here we go again.

Indeed autistic people tend to argue endlessly about the different terms involved in the different aspects of being NeuroAtypical.  Fine definitions of finer and finer classifications of...a small number of personal characteristics you can have that define you as one of us.  The things we hold in common.  There.  Simple.  Our shared natures.  

From this people like myself attempt to create art that expresses what our lives are like and who we are as people.  It originally centred around what went wrong in relation to an ideal of ability and the infamous but universally used term functionality.  Autism was and still is, usually defined via deficit, or savant genius skills.  I seek to show how many of us are in-between.  Hang on, doesn't that sound like most people?  

Our work, such as Anders Lee's Dummy which is playing this year, focuses on showing character, personality, maturity and yes, individual identity.  The orthodoxy around being autistic (I will use the term and that's that.  I've gone into the endless definitions/predications debates) says that IF YOU HAVE MET ONE PERSON WITH AUTISM, THEN YOU HAVE MET ONE PERSON WITH AUTISM...THAT IT EXPRESSES IN SO MANY INDIVIDUAL WAYS.  Like we don't have characters.  Just that the condition we can be defined as having manifests so individually in each of us.  Oh, so if we didn't have it we'd all be uniform people then?  Like everyone who doesn't have it always is.....  Oh I forgot.  Another cliche is that we don't ' do sarcasm.

Anders was and still is, a New York city based comedian in his twenties.  Then two years ago he came to see both my show and the Stealth Aspies company, went home and produced a frank and brave reveal of his own vulnerabilities that discussed what is normal.  I consider it better and more advanced than what I am performing.  I see Anders as having build on top of our work.  Which is exactly what I dreamed of happening in the field of Neurodiversity self advocacy performance.  

More to come.  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Vaccine/mercury autism conspiracy theorists - do they have inferior and substandard children?

One of my pet fascinations over the years are the likes of Wakefield and Tommey and the Age of Autism website people.  This week Dan Olmstead, lynchpin and editor of Age of Autism was revealed to have died.  No one is saying how so far but I am sure it will be attributed to some great conspiracy by the pharmaceutical industry in general.  There is no fooling those people.
What fascinates me about the writing I find online by such people is that sooner or later, it proves to be far less than it appears.  This very day in The Times, it was revealed that the Curzon cinema Soho pulled a private booking screening of the Vaxxed film.  An article dated last year reckoned that it was supposed to be premiered in the UK last june in the same venue.
Point is, if you just study the behaviour of this actually quite small group and their writings and attempts to connect with mainstream science and the press, patterns emerge.  A constant self view that puts the judgement of the likes of Wakefield above and beyond the medical establishment that stripped him of his doctorate.  An insular community of virtually entirely parents of autistic people supporting them.  Invariably young autistic children, who are problematic rather than 'relatively functional'.  Also some parents defining themselves as 'vaccine damaged' too.  Or rather, if you read their attitude and style, people who reckon they or their children fall short of standards for human ability and function that they set themselves.
Losers in the race of life.  Lesser people because of their neurodiversity.  Abnormal folk with this ever present and shared standard of normality and ability that autism has deprived their children and sometimes themselves of.
Relatively low functioning people.  Brain damaged.  Retarded.  Vaccine damaged.
But thankfully they have their own community of brave freedom fighters that support them in their science fiction quest against mighty evil corporations and the governments they bribe and collude with.
One day President Trumps acknowledgement will lead to proper and unbiased study proving their beliefs RIGHT.  Then the world will know that autism is not just a man made epidemic.  It will also know that neurodiversity is a DISEASE, A PERVERSION AND A SICKNESS.  Humanity will, overnight, earn the right to HATE AND DESPISE the mental disease that has stolen so many children's minds from their families.  Neurodiversity as a concept will come to mean accepting and being nice to the retarded, the damaged and the sick neurotypicals.  There will be no spectrum any more, merely the ill and the well.
Just think about the above frame of reference.  See how cold blooded, facist, ableist and simple it is?  Hate difference.  Want cures to make people normal.  Get your children back to normal.  The way there were before the vaccines.  Eliminate or at least acknowledge brain damage.  For Wakefield himself wrote on line...AUTISM REALLY IS THE MOST TERRIBLE DISEASE.
I assumed when I wrote this that Wakefield used that phrase in an exchange with one of his supporters as a trigger phrase to get on the right side of them.  To bond with them.  This suggests to me that these so called 'parents motivated by love of their children' are actually motivated as much by the hatred of anything that is not what their group considers normal.  which is behind the scenes a very facist and nasty attitude.  I thought this close band of parents where the good guys?  The people who tell the truth and care?  What is all this aggressive and nasty business against autism then?  Oh, but they see it is nothing but a disease and a disorder.  Illness, like plague or the diseases they seek to encourage by stigmatising vaccines.  Which is what they do but always deny.
So by now you see that if you pay as much attention to the personalities involved, patterns emerge.  One comment on the Age of Autism site back in 2011 when they were attacking Ari Ne Man went...YOU CANNOT LEAVE A CHILD IN A STATE LIKE THAT.  I KNOW WHAT THIS NEURODIVERSITY IS?  IT IS EVIL.  At the time the last sentence was what fascinated me.  But later on I considered more and more the first one.  This massive generalisation about autistic children being 'in a state'.  The point blank command that all autistic children had to be cured.  That something must be done about their being autistic.
Question is, what if all these people's parents were functional autistics as I was as a nipper?  Would they be believing all this vaccines/mercury/autism business.  Do you get the feeling they would not?  Yes, exactly my point if you do.  Would they have a vicious and hateful attitude to autism if their kids were able to lead the kind of life I did?  Hey, it was not perfect.  Bullying in school, lots of inability to achieve in any forma academic way.  But still I was relatively okay.  I could work around my weaknesses.
See?  What is the precedent with these parents?  That their kids are dysfunctional by their standards rather than that they are autistic children?  That they cannot compete and achieve and lead normal adult lives in the future (they think).  That's the thing I want to leave you with - the urge to work out just what it is these vaccine/mercury people are fixated on.
Is it either their children lack of competitive ability, or the fact that they do not share the same  neurodiverse nature as they do?  Or, that they have natures that they reject because they make nosies and gestures that their own parents despise and see as inferior, weak and stupid.  Great language to use about your own children, eh?  But tell me?  Whereabouts is the unconditional love and acceptance in all of this? No matter who and what their own children are, do they really love them?
Or are they below standards.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Spaced out and simple minded. Why I am someone to be wary of.

Some people on occasion encounter this weird, pathetic looking old man.  He appears to be overwhelmed.  Now, when you look like you cannot handle a social situation you are in, the obvious conclusion is that you are not intelligent enough to keep out of the way of it.  Or, if it is understood you had no choice but to be there, some allowance maybe made in the mind of the person encountering you.

Generally people who encounter others who look childlike, overwhelmed and vulnerable assume they are of a lesser intelligence than themselves.  You face someone you can 'handle'.  Someone who is not a threat.  Someone child like and simple.

This is how I have often come across to people.  It is in fact, a lie.  But am I lying and deceiving others with my appearance?  Is this my responsibility?  Also, what exactly is happening in the social intercourse taking place?

Many autistic people dont have the capacity to relate the way the neurotypicals around them do.  We are a kind have universal properties, one of which is a disconnect between how we are within and how we relate externally.  This can get bigger the more stress is put upon us both in the world and as develops within ourselves.  Internal stress is not necessarily due to external stimuli.  It can be a very traumatic business being autistic and you can easily grow up so used to abuse, you miss it.  So you work within to keep it going.

I can recall many social moments when I have been patronised and humoured.  Which is a bit paradoxical if you consider I was aware it was all happening.  Oh, so why didn't I make some sort of indication to the other people involved that I knew this?  That would have been all they needed.  Unless they deliberately played on my weaknesses and wanted to rejoice in that fact by seeing that I knew there was nothing I could do about their actions?

Dark stuff, eh?

So I posted this on Facebook:

Ever had that experience where you have been humoured, patronised and treated like you were simple minded but you knew full well what was happening to you? So how could you be those things when you had awareness?
Am I right that this single experience expresses the reality of being autistic relative to neurotypicals really well? Also that you never thought anyone would state it like this for you to relate yourself to?

Within 10 minutes, three friends had reacted positively, two of which wrote that it was like explaining physics to monkeys trying to make neurotypicals understand this?

The experience of being misunderstood or even seen as something you are not is clearly universal, since at lest one response was not from an autistic person.  It happens to everyone etc.  I would say the chief reason I get upset with myself is my inability to deal with this single issue?  Its the main thing in the real world and I always saw it as 'standing up for yourself'.

Assuming of course, my perception of such situations is accurate?

Maybe the other person or group has me right?  I am vulnerable and relatively feeble minded?  So accept it.  Well, how can you when you are that simple that you think you are not.  Quite a common thing in the Polytechnic of North London I was at I can tell you.

This is the issue with existing in a society that often means you go into situations where people don't know you, don't care about you and why should they do these things anyway?  Do you know personally and in detail everyone you walk past?  See in shops and clubs?  Interact with in lifts and on trains?  Do you want to personally care about them?  Well actually many of us do want to have consideration and respect very much.  So note the paradox?  Being considerate whilst being private from others.

I think it is time for a new slide in my show?

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Aspies who do not relate. Getting reality wrong.

Many of the autistic people I know seem to have a real issue with how to relate to a world containing other people.  Other people's values, attitudes and approaches to everything in life.  In short, consensual reality.

There seems to be this need amongst some of us to operate from motives that do not have to make sense to anyone but ourselves, and which we will use force if necessary to assert upon others.  I really do think some do not even need to understand their own actions.  They do not need coherent motives.  They just do what they feel they have to.

Sound familiar?

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Friday, August 05, 2016

Are you a doctor Mr. Wady? The ethics of aspie 'outing'.

August 5th 2016, the day before I travel to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for three weeks.

Recently I broke a cardinal rule of mine.  I publically outed someone.  Last time I did that the woman involved ended up bringing a show to the Edinburgh Festival about it.  True. 

After the long list I gave of autistic properties that I felt my target possessed, I was asked whether I was a doctor?  The question implied either, did you train at length in a proper medical frame of reference to know what you are talking about, and/or that only such people could make such lengthy judgments.  It does not take into account Asdar, autistic gaydar.  Or that aspies know aspies.  That because we have empathy for our own kind, we know them when we see and experience them.

Making a diagnosis of neurodiversity is usually broken down into elements like ADHD, OCD, PDA and lots of other specific properties.  As an aspie I just see it all as the ordinary and varying properties of an aspie.  Its neurodiversity – everything else is the individual.  Simple.  Actually this week I filmed two experts making a training film in which people where discussed by them property by property to see whether they fitted the profile or not? 

So what have I done apart from be born one?  I have read the books over the years.  (Regular daily access to Nas library helped in the first few years I tell you).  I have read the papers and worst of all I have looked at the dreaded internet.  The home of authority that needs nothing behind it.  Like this blog?  No wonder the anti vaccine movement lives there. 

I think that to all the other kinds of conspiracy theorists as well, the electronic medium of written information that can be accessed (and edited) anywhere in the world is more than a blessing.  It is the perfect base of authoritative expression.  No more soap box standing or long conversations in pubs.  Now you just type it all in and it sits there.  Brilliant.

So…what’s the difference between that and what I wrote?  Simple.  I have spent nearly 12 years diagnosed and over 10 in a relationship and married to another autistic person.  By my 53rd birthday I will have met more autistic people than I can recall. I had a purpose in doing that too.  Before I was an aspie I was a Buddhist, spending all of my 30’s in the same movement.  For me it was all about self awareness.  Meditation retreats (30 over 10 years, from weekenders to two weekers and the buddhafield retreats and festivals on top.  I loved the cold harsh light of stripped down self awareness). 

On the 24th May 2016 I spoke for the Royal College of GP’s at a meeting in Edgbaston, Birmingham.  I can provide the PowerPoint presentation I wrote for them.  I became one of many autistic people who have had the privilege of training doctors. 

I do this kind of thing all the time for my day job with the National Autistic Society, running around the UK making presentations as part of a bigger training day.  But that is not why I assume any authority in making the diagnosis I initially referred to.

For five years, we had an autism rights group based in London.  I was closely involved with it on and off, witnessing both its formation and its ultimate disintegration.  Four men came to rule it absolutely to a degree that would have made Stalin feel like a considerate man to his old friends, or Mao rather inclusive of the opinions of non communists.  You literally could not speak during meetings unless it was on the monthly agendas.  People would turn up and say nothing all meeting.  No slot allocated you see?  You could be just as brutally shut down. 

Eventually the four dictators turned on each other and over the course of two months, two of them expelled the other two.  One each month.  Years before I emailed that it was getting ridiculous and wanted nothing to do with it.  The reply from one dictator was…WE HAVE THE POWER TO VETO YOUR RESIGNATION.  WE WILL SUSPEND YOU INSTEAD.

There then followed a macabre series of meetings, some of which were held between one or two individuals and noted in the comprehensive and detailed minutes as ‘secret’ or private.  These were not young men by the way?  One had a family and ex partner.  Some were older than I was.  Finally a huge letter arrived with a 1p stamp on it.  I had to get it from the postal depot.  I had no idea what was going on by then as I was too busy either laughing about it or avoiding it all.

Inside the huge A4 envelope was a big document, carrying various macabre charges.  I still have it somewhere.  I showed it to people to great comic effect.  I should take it to parties?  Anyhow, my point here is that if there is one kind of personality I can relate to, it is the Super High Functioner.  That is, autistic people who don't look sound and act like we are supposed to (Rain Man.  Maths savants who cannot go into public places without having screaming meltdowns etcetera).

I had an autistic father who embodied quite a few of the characteristics I detail below so I know the behaviors.  Hell, I spend my life trying not to be like that myself. 

The four dictators could be characterized thus:

  • ·      Nice guy but really obsessed with a left wing communist organization and prone to lines like WE ARE NOT A POLITICAL ORGANIZATION BUT WE MUST PROTEST ABOUT THIS AWFUL COALITION GOVERNMENT. 
  • ·      Manic.  A man who would spend the entire meeting on minutes arising from the previous ones if unchecked.  All of it.  Prone to literally screaming and shouting if something was not done properly or a point made incorrectly.  A man with an attention to detail that was not humanly feasible to maintain.  In his 40’s and devoutly religious.  
  • ·      An alcoholic in some sort of bizarre and quite brilliant world of his own in which was a CEO, a Political and Campaigning person, A Support Worker and a great savior of the autistic world rolled into one.  Described to me as employing Stalinist tactics where you eliminated people how had helped you get to where you wanted to go, once they where of no further use.  Had the advantage of alcoholic delusion where you believe that what you decide is real, is.  Charismatic and very well read too.
  • ·    Always right.  A very intelligent and educated man who if the books said one thing and he remembered another, knew which was right.  He would literally ignore screaming and shouting at him if he was certain he was right.  Years before in one situation where he met with other autistic people, someone hit him in the face because he was so intractable.  Could only be right.  Often incoherent because he spoke from his own perspective all the time.

People would only last a few meetings before they either left or stayed on as minions.  Really.  Those small dinky yellow creatures?  More or less what you had.  There was always a small crew of such people going along with whatever the gang of four got up to.  I often wonder what they had to say later on about it, but attempts to get sense out of them usually fail.  They just sort of smile and say it was all a long time ago now.  Nice harmless aspie folk. 

This then is my specialty corner of the spectrum.  The folks who don't live and behave as if they are restrained by having stereotypical neurodiverse natures.  People who never get any kind of formal diagnosis and look after themselves, and sometimes others so well, that they never get noticed as being neurodiverse.  Odd, eccentric, brilliant, criminal, problematic and even dangerous yes?  Hiding behind addiction, depression and mental health issues yes.  But not regarded as being autistic. 

Now, if you where involved in the online exchange I was initially discussing, do you see anything familiar here? 

What good does it do to out someone?  To make sense and explain someone’s personality and characteristics?  Well I think the more of us actually know what we are the better.  However, public outing is problematic.  In fact it may be disastrous in the personal work and living scenario closet aspies may have been forced to construct to survive.  Also there is the matter of not having the individuals permission? Someone’s nature is a private business and I for one should not feel I can go around doing things like that to people. 

So should I be going around doing this?  No, and I conceded I may be wrong in the example I started this blog discussing.  However, my tactic in the instant in question was to leave breadcrumbs.  To suggest and actually allow defeat.  To maybe look like I am mistaken.  But I felt I had to do all of this simply to save the poor person in question.  Because I really do think they are going to get hurt.  Rejected and ignored by their own people in the scenario they have personally created and that is clearly deeply important to them. 

I don't think they can let go and that as time goes on, the people around the aspie will simply ignore them and do what they want.  I think the scenario will simply evaporate gently.  I also think the closet aspie will not be able to adjust to and go with this evolution of what is a huge and long standing structure of organization.  Now something of an institution. 

I have already had first hand proof that a small number of people involved in this entity can be found to be using it to mitigate mental health issues.  Awarding themselves with power and authority, and the chance to do what they really want to do.  Whereas anywhere else in any other situation, they would not be able to do this.  Using the scenario to stand tall and believe that others acknowledge and relate to them as having strengths and abilities and authorities they are desperate for. 

I don't think that is a bad thing actually?  Why not if they don't hurt anyone and perform their roles okay?  Sadly such a person was very harmful to me.  (I bet you where just waiting for that one?)  Although they where also responsible for bringing me into this ‘world’, which this year I am yet again cheerfully entering.  I am certain that although the first time ended badly, the third this year will be like my second.  Great fun and an adventure.  Although surely I am getting too old for all this….

Or not.  I see my work in all of this is to positively represent my kind.  A hybrid of my Dharma/Buddhist aspirations and practice, and the skill set I developed as a teenager and in my early twenties as a would be actor (I cringe to write this but its true.  I performed in a huge amount of plays between the ages of 18 and 24, ultimately spending a year in the East 15 drama school and not completing the 3 year professional acting course.  Just as well one way or another).  Nowadays I go out in front of audiences and I relate what it is to have experienced, read and seen so much of my own kind whilst being one myself. 

I try to be a sort of Rosetta stone.  Someone who spent all his life up to the age of 41 not knowing who and what he was, then ended up married to someone in the same position.  My working and private life coupled with my past all focused on this one time of my life.  To go out there and tell the truth, whilst forever acknowledging I maybe wrong.  When I do a show, I invite the audience to join in?  Correct me if you will?  Come on, let us all create an aspie space and share?

At the end of the days training in Birmingham, two of the GP’s came out to me as being on the autistic spectrum, let alone having children who where.  I made a comparison with gay people that was commented on when I was writing online, outing the man I have mentioned.  Yes, I responded, I do indeed see the spectrum of sexuality as being a perfect parallel and metaphor for our kind.  Aspies are on a neurodiverse spectrum in relation to being non autistic – which is as relative as sexuality.  It is not an absolute.  Only when you have enough properties occurring at once can I notice you in that special way, and know you are one of our tribe. 

Sound familiar?  Well if it does, maybe best not say anything.  ;)

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Why I rarely blog

The reason I rarely blog is because I am too busy enjoying my life.  I have things to do in the real world.

So if you can read this, why don't you go and do things that do not involve computers?  

It is a bad sign if you have enough time on your hands that you take stuff like the internet seriously.  Everyone does now of course, but at the same time, the world exists outside of it.  Very much so, and always will.

It is something people don't realise these days that if you remove the safety of communicating versions of yourself electronically in this limited typed lines form, I am afraid what you are left with is all you really are in the flesh.

Think about that.  I'm off to be interviewed by friends and to be put on the spot to think on my toes, which is how my life has always been.  


Friday, October 10, 2014

My blog is on my website - PAULWADY.COM

I have not looked at this thing since 2005.  Blimey.

In that time I have gotten married, and been working for the National Autistic Society since the start of 2006.  Shortly after that I started coming into work 'looking tired' due to sleep deprivation.  We marred at the end of 2007.

We still are.  Poor woman.  We have a cat, which I am convinced is using some sort of telepathy to control the household.  Thank fully his demands are few, such as food, clean water and someone to fight with every now and then.  He sits on our laps, reading our minds and dubtless finding them pointless and without worth to a cat?  He sits on the window sill, broadcasting commands that create scenario's of great love and peace in our world - or grim conflict in different parts of the planet.

Either way, I don't trust him and he has never, ever smiled at me.

He is always about his own business or resting from it.  This involves murder.  So far, only tiny birds and mice.  But what if he learns to use a knife, despite not having thumbs?  Someone has to think of these things.  A cat with a switchblade, or a balisong knife?  Well no, that would be tricky to open.  I figure one night he will appear in the kitchen on the draining board, brandishing our sharpened cheeseknife with both paws whilst standing up vertically and snarling as if to say YES, YES YOU WERE RIGHT AND HERE I AM...?

Or not.

Anyhow, main Blog is on my website.

Thank you, and be kind to animals.