My AACC Presentation – And Some Survey Results

I’m not going to go into great detail about the survey I asked for help with (although if you’re willing to participate still – and you don’t have to be autistic – please do!), but I will give some general findings so far:

  • Most of us (autistics) have been abused. This aligns with research, and, as expected.
  • About half of us (autistics) who have had an intimate relationship have been abused by someone in an intimate relationship. I’m not yet aware of research on this.
  • Non-autistics also have seen a lot of abuse, although it’s not as common – their numbers are about half of that of the autistic population.  This aligns with research.
  • A substantial portion of us identify as having a non-binary gender identity. This aligns with research.
  • A substantial portion of women identify as bi, asexual, or other non-heterosexual.  Substantial enough that heterosexual is a minority among autistic women. This is a somewhat surprising finding, although it was expected that non-straight people were more common among autistics, particularly autistic women.  It’s a bit inconclusive for the men so far. There’s some research on this, but it’s also inconclusive (for both men and women).

I’ll put some more results out in a while – I’m still hoping for more responses to the survey.  I really appreciate people taking the time to take the survey and leave comments on it – the comments in particular have been helpful as I prepare the talk. The more people that comment, the more interesting the results will be for the entire community!

At AACC 2014, I’m going to be presenting, “Dont touch me there: Intimacy for Autistic Abuse Survivors.” This will talk about both sexual and non-sexual intimate relationships (obviously for people who want an intimate relationship – not everyone needs to want this), with a focus on techniques, tips, and ways of managing intimacy for people who have faced abuse that may make intimacy difficult. We’ll also talk about our rights in relationships – what things can we expect to have in a relationship with a non-abusive partner. I’m also going to talk about some partner issues for people with abuse – such as the common fear in partners that they’ll do something that reminds the survivor of past abuse, which is certainly not what any loving partner wants to do. I’m also going to include topics on autistic differences, as for autistic abuse survivors, both autism and abuse impact what makes an intimate relationship enjoyable to us. I hope to be respectful of differences people have in religious background, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

I’m really looking forward to this because I feel this is a topic that’s critical for us. We have a lot of hurt people who want to have intimacy (sexual or non-sexual) with other people, but find it difficult because of what has been done to them in the past.

I also recognize that this is only one piece of the puzzle – finding someone for a relationship is another key piece of the puzzle, but I’m not going to spend much time on that, since I don’t have many tips of things you can do (other than being yourself and finding completeness in yourself).

So, if you end up at AACC 2014, I’d love to see you at this presentation. And I certainly would love to know what types of things you’ve found helpful in intimate relationships if you’ve been abused (or even if you just have autism). What techniques or tips or advice do you have for others who might have difficulty in a relationship because of abuse or autism?

Can You Help Out? A Survey.

At the Association for Autistic Community Conference 2014, I will be giving a presentation on intimacy (in the general sense of relationships, not just the sexual sense) and autistic people, with a particular focus on how abuse survivors can honor themselves and enjoy sharing intimacy with someone else.

This is a huge issue in the autism community, and something I feel pretty passionate about – that we can have great relationships as autistic people, even as autistic survivors of abuse. Abuse is a huge issue for our community – if I meet an autistic person, the sad reality is that they’ve probably faced abuse.

If you’re willing and able to answer a survey about (in fairly general terms) your views towards and general experience with intimacy, I’d love you to help me out by answering the survey. You don’t need to be autistic to answer the survey (in fact, I’m hoping plenty of non-autistic people answer so I can compare experiences during my presentation).  Note that I do ask if you’ve faced abuse (but not the specifics), so please don’t go here if it’s going to be too much for you. The survey is anonymous and the results will be used as part of my presentation.  You can get to the survey by clicking here.

Thanks for your help!

Motor Delays and Autism – And Seeking Competence

In the last week, there has been press about a study on very young autistic children. The study claims to show that both gross and fine motor skills are delayed in autistic children. This is neither a surprising finding nor a new finding – although looking at children this young (14 to 33 months!) may be. One does wonder how a 14 month old child can be diagnosed with autism.

A soccer (football) ball. This is something I could not interact with in any sort of interesting way. I still can't. Licensed GNU Free Documentation License 1.2. Credit goes to Sir James and Christopher Bruno via Wikimedia Commons.

A soccer (football) ball. This is something I could not interact with in any sort of interesting way. I still can’t.
Licensed GNU Free Documentation License 1.2. Credit goes to Sir James and Christopher Bruno via Wikimedia Commons.

But, regardless, it’s well known that autistics usually aren’t particularly athletic or coordinated. Certainly, not all autistics (there probably are autistic professional athletes), but enough of us are un-athletic and uncoordinated that it’s part of some diagnostic criteria.

For me, I know I can personally speak of two issues I have – the first is simply getting my body to do what I want it to do, in response to sensory input, fast enough.  That’s always been an issue, which I believe affects my fine motor skills in particular.  But my second issue is something I suspect may be less common among autistics (but certainly not unique to just me) – a general lack of any reasonable voluntary “fast twitch” type of muscle movement.

The first is why it took years for me to handle handwriting (I’ll note that when I started getting the hang of it and started learning cursive, I actually got rebuked by a teacher for learning a letter that I wasn’t formally taught yet – and people wonder why our education system stinks!).  The second is why, to this day, I can’t do anything that requires fast movement, even if it doesn’t also require processing lots of sensory input.  For instance, I can’t hit a punching bag hard or kick something hard.  I certainly can’t throw anything.  I was always last in my class for running.  I can’t jump high or long or whatever else.  Yet, at least for my lower body, it isn’t because I lack strength – I have very strong legs.  It’s because I can’t do anything with muscle movement quickly.  When you combine sensory processing and fast movement – hitting a ball with a baseball bat – I am hopeless (I’ve never done this – and I did try!).

There’s also a third issue – my upper body is extremely weak, and seems to resist muscle mass building (I spent three years lifting weights – never progressing on the upper body, despite good training advice and plenty of change in my lower body).

I was sort of lucky, in that I had lots of what would now probably be called sensory integration therapy as a child to help with coordination and such. I’m not sure how much it did or didn’t help me, but certainly I had lots of it. But they missed something: there were things I was good at.  I wasn’t miserable at everything, just miserable at pretty much everything you might do on recess or in physical education class.

But I was good at some things – I’ve always been good piloting pretty much any type of vehicle. It took me a while to learn how to ride a bicycle (probably because I believed people’s explanations on how to do it – which research has shown conclusively is generally not only hogwash, but which is actually impossible to do – read about countersteering – and never mind training wheels encourage this bad learning). And certainly with other vehicles, there was a learning curve – it’s complicated to learn to drive, for instance. But I learned at a fairly typical pace. And this is true with other vehicles too – I can do basic plane flight (and did a substantial portion of my flight training, but, sadly, ran out of money at that stage of my life!), motor boating, motorcycling, ATV riding, etc.  I can tow – and reverse – a trailer better then most people I know.  Obviously these things require motor skills.  So why can I do this?

Well, a lot of this is stuff that doesn’t require a lot of fast movement. That said, the countersteering movement needed on a bicycle or motorcycle is a pretty quick movement. But, in general, slow and smooth is better for these things. Sadly, I think the common expectation is that someone with poor coordination couldn’t possibly drive a car (and certainly couldn’t fly a plane!). This coordination thing is seen as a global sliding scale, applicable to all areas of coordination. Yet I remember learning to ride a motorcycle in motorcycle training – I had significantly less trouble than many of the other students, despite the fact that it was likely that every one of them would be rated as having more coordination than me, in a general sense.

My wife has a theory – and I have to agree: that we’re often good at things that people expect to need to be taught, but bad at discovering how to do things on our own that other people might learn “automatically.” Obviously, I know I can’t be taught some things, and I’ve also made plenty of discoveries – how to walk, for instance (I started walking at a very young age – the only milestone I met early).  Bicycling is another one that I learned by discovery on my own (much like most people do), albeit years slower than my peers (my peers figured out countersteering subconsciously, as I eventually did too, but it took a lot longer). But riding a motorcycle was a quick and easy process for me. So was learning the basics of flying a plane. I did better than average at both.  I could succeed – and actually get quite good at these things.

I think this is where the adults in my life failed when I was a child. There were things I was or could be good at. In Junior High, I remember running a mile and a half in a time that beat the vast majority of my classmates – as a result of personal conditioning I was doing at the time. I wasn’t the fastest kid, but I wasn’t the slowest either. Because the teacher was so used to seeing me in last place in everything, he actually accused me of cheating and made a point of counting laps the next time we ran (he found I was being honest; no, he didn’t bother apologizing). He assumed that because I couldn’t sprint, I couldn’t run longer distances – yet I had plenty of strength, endurance, and an efficient cardovascular system. I had what was needed for long distance running – not at a highly competitive level, but certainly substantially better than average. This was missed. So were so many other possible areas where I could be successful.

That’s part of my concern with the idea that autistics are just uncoordinated. Maybe we are. But that doesn’t mean that we are in everything. I would hope that when parents, teachers, and therapists work with us, they would not only look at our weaknesses, but also our strengths. For children with low confidence and too many failures, having an adult recognize someone’s strong abilities is important. Giving us a chance to, if not win, at least make a good showing is important. I was last in pretty much every sport – because the sports I was good at weren’t what we did in school. That sucks – it certainly (along with PE teachers that shouldn’t have been anywhere near a child) made me hate athletics with a passion.

Fortunately, I made these discoveries on my own – I do have skills that were unrecognized, and which I developed despite neglect by people who should have been able to see them. It’s my hope that one day it will be the goal of adults in the lives if children to not only find things where the autistic child does bad, but also find those areas to grow and nurture where there is natural talent and ability. There is a lot more here than too many adults & professionals think. And of course this is true well beyond simply athletic ability.

Yes, Brooks Gibbs is connected to Izzy Kalman

For more background, see my previous posts.  Basically, Brooks and Izzy claim to have the real solution to bullying – fix the victims.  It’s hogwash.

But, now, it’s transitioned into lies.

A local Lincoln newspaper, when discussing the rules sent home to parents, connected the flyer to Brooks Gibbs.  There is a connection, but despite that, the paper published this “correction”:

Brook Gibbs, a youth motivational speaker, did not co-author a book with national bullying expert Izzy Kalman and said he does not teach any of the rules included in a flier inadvertently distributed to Zeman Elementary fifth-graders this week. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Gibbs co-wrote a book with Kalman.

This correction needs a correction.

Here’s some facts:

Brooks Gibbs and Izzy Kalman are Closely Connected.

Brooks Gibbs is the President of the Kalman Institute for Bullying Prevention.  (Source)

Brooks Gibbs is a youth crisis counselor and bullying expert. He is the president of the Kalman Research Institute for Bullying Prevention and the national spokesman for the Office Depot Foundation’s “Be the Difference, Speak Up Against Bullying” program in partnership with the band One Direction. He will be speaking in Boca Raton on Monday, October 7 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Office Depot Headquarters.

President of the Kalman Research Institute for Bullying Prevention? I could suppose that might not have any relationship to Izzy Kalman but I suspect I’d be wrong.

Gibbs teaches Kalman’s rules.

Maybe he doesn’t call them rules.  But he teaches the same subject matter with the same problems.

From a video now scrubbed from Brooks Gibbs’ website where he used the Kalman Bullying Prevention Program, he teaches, for instance, Rule 9 from the Nebraska brochure sent home with kids:

Rule #9: Learn to laugh at yourself and not get “hooked” by put-downs. Make a joke out of it or agree with the put-downs. For example:

“If you think I’m ugly, you should see my sister!”

“You’re right, and it’s going to get worse!”

“I’ve know (sic) that for a long time.”

“Thanks for noticing!”

“If you think I look like a nerd, you should see my dad!”

The “examples” given are what the victim should say back to his bully.

Here’s a transcript of Brooks giving “Lesson 8: Jokes” from a video that used to appear on Brook’s website (but was scrubbed this week):

Hi, this is Brooks Gibbs and today I’m going to teach you how to respond to jokes.  Jokes are always making fun of something or someone. If you lose a game, don’t get up-tight and say, “No fair, YOU GUYS CHEATED!” If someone jokes on you say (sic) “No fair, that hurts my feelings.”

If you’re on the losing end of a game or of a joke or an insult, lose well. Because nobody likes a sore loser. Take a joke about yourself. Even make a joke about yourself.

Believe it or not, insults are very fun. Compliments on the other hand are never funny. You will never hear a funny compliment. “Hi, you are really a good friend.” (Brooks gives a fake laugh) That’s not funny. That’s not funny at all. What’s funny is insults. When someone insults you. The only way a compliment is funny is if it is said with sarcasm really meaning the opposite then which is made to be an insult.

Insults are healthy. An emotionally healthy student will be able to take a joke about themselves and even make a joke about themselves. It’s important to know that. Humor is always at someone’s expense. So here’s some friendly advice: If someone is making fun of you, calling you a je..calling you names, trying to joke with you. Or lets say you lose at a game, you are playing baseball or something like that, and you lose. And people are making fun of some sort of move you made or something. Here’s what is important to remember. Um, lose well. Because nobody likes a sore loser. Lose well. Be on the losing end of a joke.

(at this point he shows a skit from a Jimmy Kimmel TV show about home video of kids being told that their parent(s) ate all their Halloween candy)

Take a joke well. (there is more stuff here comparing losing a sports game to verbal insults, and being upset about being insulted to being “up tight”)

(Then you see a slide entitled “The Golden Rule Game with Izzy Kalman”, followed by the below)

(Izzy is talking now) I’m going to have a whole group insult me. The first time I’m going to treat them like enemies.

(it’s Izzy and a bunch of kids now. The kids yell insults at Izzy, with Izzy screaming and acting in the stereotypical way a special needs student might respond, complete with an “accent” that sounds something like “Rain Man”)

(Izzy speaking now):Isn’t this kind of fun (kids agree).  Good.  If I do this are you going to want to stop making fun of me?

Watch again. This time, I will treat the whole group as friends.

(kid): Fat
(Izzy): Uh, ya. I could lose a few pounds, right?
(kid): (unintelligible)
(Izzy): You’re talking about my glasses, right? You don’t need glasses?
(kid): (unintelligible)
(Izzy): I know, I know… (and similar affirmation of the insults, then it moves into Izzy asking the kids making fun of his clothing where he should buy his clothes, apparently to look cool)

So even if a whole group makes fun of you, don’t get upset. Treat them like friends and they’ll quickly get tired of making fun of you.

(it goes back to Brooks, who then laughs about how his asthma was a disability, saying he felt like a loser and didn’t lose well)

It goes on for a bunch of other stuff, but you get the point. It sure sounds like Rule #9. And this isn’t an isolated rule he happens to teach. He teaches all 9.

Gibbs Did Write a Book with Kalman

At the very least, they wrote The Golden Rule Solution to Bullying – Teacher’s Guideby Izzy Kalman, Brooks Gibbs, and Shelly Beach (who lists in her bio on the first page of the book (at least the E-book preview online), that she is “married to a retired school superintendent” – apparently that is the same as being qualified).

The book is ISBN 978-0-9914012-0-8.

It is Copyright 2014 by Golden Rule Multimedia.

So this is not ancient history. 2014 is pretty recent.

While Shelly gets credit for the book in the book, she doesn’t in the now-scrubbed Brooks Gibbs webpage (Google Cache).

From the author descriptions, Izzy trains the professionals while Brooks trains the students:

Izzy Kalman

Izzy Kalman is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist who has been working in schools and private practice since 1978. He has developed fun and effective methods that use role playing to teach basic psychological principles for solving bullying, aggression and relationship problems. He has trained more than 50,000 mental health professionals how to protect kids from bullies and reform America’s failing anti-bully movement.

Brooks Gibbs

Brooks Gibbs is a youth crisis counselor and bullying expert. He is the author of the best selling book “Love Is Greater Than Hate”. He presents more than 300 school assembly programs each year and is considered a master teacher of the Golden Rule.

 

More Lies

This is from Brooks Gibbs, in response to someone on Twitter asking about the flyer:

From: @BrooksGibbs – Apr 17
@PegAKeller I had nothing to do with the LPS flyer fiasco. I’m not the author. I’ve never worked with that school. Be well.

What exactly is the “fiasco?” Perhaps that people wrongly don’t like it? Or that you aren’t associated with it? I’m not going to answer that – I’m going to answer the other part of that, the “I’ve never worked with that school.”

I’ve Never Worked with that School

Maybe not that school.

But certainly other Lincoln Public Schools.  From a Lincoln Public Schools web article about a visit to Lefler Middle School (another school in the same district as Zeman Elementry School, the school involved in the “flier fiasco”):

The next day, internationally-known speaker Brooks Gibbs told Lefler students a similar message with a different twist: Treat the bullies with kindness, and understand not everyone is going to want to be your friend.

About his own youth experiences, Gibbs humorously said, “The more they would make fun of me, the more upset I would get and the wierder I would look and the more fun they would have.”

So Lefler students recited, “Don’t get upset” back to Gibbs over and over again.

There will always be bullying, he said. Schools, workplaces, homes and about anywhere else you go, someone will try to make you feel bad.

Here’s the schedule from the Office Depot Foundation website – Lefler wasn’t the only Lincoln school he spoke at:

9/04/2013 4 Kilgore ISD Kilgore TX 1455
9/04/2013 1 Carthage ISD Carthage TX 421
9/05/2013 3 Fruitvale ISD, Edgewood ISD,
Grand Saline ISD
Fruitvale/Edgewood,
Grand Saline
TX 582
9/05/2013 1 Van ISD Van TX 538
9/09/2013-
9/10/2013
4 Beeville ISD Beeville TX 1300
9/10/2013 2 Mathis ISD Mathis TX 382
9/11/2013 3 Zachary Middle School San Antonio TX 1000
9/11/2013 2 Rawlison Middle School San Antonio TX 763
9/13/2013 3 Smart Middle School Walled Lake MI 1020
9/13/2013 2 Millenium Middle School South Lyon MI 850
9/17/2013 3 North Andover Middle School North Andover MA 1088
9/17/2013 1 Wood Hill Middle School Andover MA 400
9/18/2013 3 Dedham Middle School Dedham MA 700
9/20/2013 1 Greenfield Middle School Greenfield MA 500
9/24/2013 2 Hauppauge Middle School Hauppauge NY 640
9/24/2013 1 North Shore Hebrew Academy Great Neck NY 180
9/25/2013 3 Garfield Middle School Garfield NY 951
9/25/2013 1 Our Lady Queen of Peace Staten Island NY 330
9/25/2013 1 St. Claires School Staten Island NY
9/26/2013 4 Crossroads Middle School North
(South)
South Brunswick NJ 2200
9/27/2013 3 Conewagon Valley School District New Oxford PA 1300
10/1/2013 1 Raymond Middle School Raymond NE 185
10/1/2013 1 Seward Middle School Seward NE 403
10/1/2013 1 Crete Middle School Crete NE 501
10/1/2013 1 Norris Middle School Norris NE 497
10/2/2013 1 Scott Middle School Lincoln NE 200
10/2/2013 1 Goodrich Middle School Lincoln NE 250
10/2/2013 1 Lux Middle School Lincoln NE 1000
10/2/2013 1 Lefler Middle School Lincoln NE 500
10/2/2013 1 Culler Middle School Lincoln NE 670
10/3/2013 1 Milford High School Milford MI 359
10/8/2013 3 Omni Middle School Boca Raton FL 1500
10/9/2013 3 Estridge Middle School Boca Raton FL 1500
10/17/2013 2 Timber Ridge Middle School Plainfield IL
10/18/2013 2 Channahon School District Channahon IL 500
10/18/2013 1 St. Phillip the Apostle Catholic School Addison IL 150
10/21/2013 5 Racine ISD Racine WI 2600
10/22/2013 2 Pilgrim Park Middle School Elm Grove WI 800
10/25/2013 2 Highlander Middle School Howell MI 900
10/25/2013 2 Parker Middle School Howell MI 850
10/28/2013 1 Walled Lake West High School Walled Lake MI
10/29/2013 2 Geisler Middle School Walled Lake MI 850
11/4/2013 3 Carmel Valley MS San Diego CA
11/5/2013 2 Hillsdale MS El Cajon CA
11/6/2013 3 Woodland Park MS Escondido CA
11/7/2013 3 Meadowbrook MS Poway CA
11/12/2013 1 Kennedy MS Stockton CA
11/12/2013 1 Hong Kingston MS Stockton CA
11/12/2013 1 Bush MS Stockton CA
11/12/2013 1 Rio MS Stockton CA
11/13/2013 1 Washtington MS Stockton CA
11/13/2013 1 McKinley MS Stockton CA
11/13/2013 1 Stockton Skills MS Stockton CA
11/13/2013 1 Hoover MS Stockton CA
11/14/2013 1 King MS Stockton CA
11/14/2013 1 Marshall/Taylor MS Stockton CA
11/14/2013 1 El Dorado/PYA Stockton CA
11/14/2013 1 El Dorado MS Stockton CA
11/15/2013 1 Van Buren Stockton CA
11/15/2013 1 Hamilton/Monroe Stockton CA
11/15/2013 1 Madison MS Stockton CA
11/15/2013 1 Pittman MS Stockton CA
11/20/2013 2 Linden Middle School Linden MI
11/21/2013 2 Mt. Morris Junior High School Mt. Morris MI
11/22/2013 2 Sarah Banks Middle School Wixom MI 850
11/22/2013 2 East Middle School Farmington Hills MI 950

There’s more.

Izzy is going full damage control, complete with a messiah complex (we don’t understand his message, apparently, and are thus unethically crucifying LPS and Izzy – interesting that the word “fiasco” is used, just as Brooks used, to describe the response to the flyer) and Brooks is frantically scrubbing his online videos, schedules, and website. But we’ve come to expect nothing less from people caught in lies.

It’s fine to hold an unpopular (and even wrong) view, but the cover-up and hiding is disingenuous at best. At worst, it’s a huge violation of the Golden Rule and the philosophy of personal responsibility espoused by Izzy and Brooks.

More on Brooks Gibbs & the Kalman Bullying Prevention Hogwash

I wrote a bunch yesterday.

I’m not going to go through that again, but I do notice that the Brooks Gibbs’ program page is now returning a page not found (as it appears the rest of the site is also doing).

So I’ll give a new link, so long as it remains up.

And I’m going to do something I pretty much never do: I’m going to warn you that these videos are decidedly unplesant and you probably don’t want to watch them if you’re not somewhere that you can yell at your computer. You also don’t want to watch them if you can’t, right now, deal with teaching and role playing that reflects what too many victims are told when they are told that they, not the bully, is the problem.

Here’s the link to the videos.  Remember, Brooks Gibbs is paid by schools worldwide to “teach”. Also remember his qualifications – Brooks Gibbs went to a right-wing Christian unaccredited (edit: nationally, but not regionally, accredited, which isn’t a great thing – regional is generally what you want) college that doesn’t have degrees in education, childhood development, or psychology.

In “Lesson 5”, you’ll even see a guest appearance of Izzy Kalman, the person who designed this “Buddies to Bullies” thing.  I confess I didn’t watch all of them.  Lesson 5 was awful enough.