Letter to Toni Braxton Regarding Diezel’s Autism Status

Letter to Toni Braxton Regarding Diezel’s Autism Status
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Toni Braxton with Diezel at the premiere of “Motown: The Musical.” Courtesy: Essence

Dear Toni Braxton,

Recently, you have announced in an interview with Access Hollywood that your youngest son, Diezel, “is no longer autistic,” giving credit to Suzanne Wright–in light of her death from pancreatic cancer–for his ability to “overcome his diagnosis.” I’m sorry to have to say this as a fan of your music, but…

Wave LMETYWTBS
Wave the Swallow resting on her hoverboard in issue #22 of “Sonic Universe.” The original speech caption, “LOOKS LIKE MY SENSORS WERE RIGHT AFTER ALL!” has been edited to be replaced with, “LET ME EXPLAIN TO YOU WHY THAT IS BULLSHIT.” Courtesy: Archie Comics

To say that your son is “showing no signs of autism” is to say that he has been taught to mask every trait that comprises his neurology in order to pass as a normal, average person. In other words, you and the therapists Wright referred him to have taught him that being autistic is frowned upon by society–and it shouldn’t be. Diezel may be a social butterfly now thanks to the speech and language therapy he received in school, assuming he wasn’t referred to a therapist outside of an academic facility, but that does not stipulate that he’s transformed into a neurotypical person.
Oh, and the “my son Diezel suffered from autism” line? The word “suffered” should only apply to cancer patients, NEVER autistic kids. God only gifted Diezel with the ability to think differently from everyone else.

I know all of this from my experience as an autistic woman–or an Aspie, as I like to address myself. At 18 months old, I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. Translation: Autistic. Most boys are given a specific autism diagnosis, like Asperger’s syndrome or severe autism. Since I was a girl, the doctors didn’t know which end of the spectrum to place me, so they slapped PDD-NOS on my psychological record. I was enrolled in special education classes and mainstreamed from kindergarten until 3rd Grade, when the powers that be decided that I was intelligent enough to attend regular classes. However, I walked back and forth between my regular class and a special ed class for extra help in math until the 5th Grade. I maintained average to above-average grades, but I was forced to repeat the 3rd Grade based on my low scores on the standardized test formerly known as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). I even had to go to a speech and language therapist until the 8th Grade, although I didn’t attend a lot of sessions in 6th Grade. My teachers treated me with the utmost respect, but how my peers treated me was a different matter. While some kids were friendly with me, others just bullied and teased me for exhibiting some of the traits that came with my autistic brain, such as taking their jokes too literal, expressing interest in things that either everyone else has supposedly outgrown by the 5th Grade or earlier is strange to them, and attaining a higher GPA than most students in my class. To put it lightly, I was a glutton for verbal punishment. I even thought of being autistic as a curse because of everything I did–singing and listening to J-Pop songs, whispering to myself (both privately and publicly), expressing my love for the Sonic the Hedgehog video game franchise despite all the production problems some its games endured, and avoiding school dances (even prom, but that’s another story). Eventually, I learned that if other people don’t respect my interests, then that’s their loss.

I may have received help in learning to be sociable, but that doesn’t mean I’m “cured of autism.” Absolutely not. Society shouldn’t expect me to be less autistic, nor should they punish me for living my life differently. Just because I show some of the aforementioned quirks, doesn’t make me a bad person. My family and friends love me unconditionally for who I am. I expect you do the same for Diezel.

And for the love of God, stop supporting and working for Autism Speaks. Suzanne Wright may be gone, but the organization’s mission is still a gargantuan farce.

 

Your fan,

Cristina Alexander

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Zootopia Roars Powerful Message on Inclusion

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Officer Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde talk to Flash the Sloth at the Zootopia DMV.

Disney, you have proved once again that the storytelling in your animated films can worm their way into an Aspie girl’s heart and mind, especially with your recent story Zootopia.

Zootopia (or Zootropolis for most of Europe) tells the story of Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), a small-town rabbit who dreams of becoming the first rabbit police officer in the big titular city where prey and predator animals of every breed and species live together in peace and harmony. Judy trains very hard to achieve this goal, and thanks to the Mammal Inclusion Initiative, she is awarded her badge and enlisted in the police force. Unfortunately, Judy’s small-minded boss, the cape buffalo Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), assigns her the task of writing up parking tickets as he does not believe that the small rabbit could catch up with the big guys in the missing animals case. During her first time out on the job, Judy encounters con artist fox Nick Wilde (the lovable and incomparable Jason Bateman), and they find themselves on a wild goose chase to crack a missing animals case and, in the process, uncover a conspiracy that could upset the social balance of Zootopia.

Just as Frozen promoted feminism in the most unorthodox way possible, Zootopia promotes, through the allegorical use of the new anthropomorphic animal characters they have created, the acceptance of diversity and the avoidance of prejudice–a topical message that the entire world needs to hear and take to heart right now, especially in the United States. We all need to learn that the minority groups we’ve been taught to fear from early on mean absolutely no harm to anyone and that they deserve just as much human rights as everyone else.

Especially people in the autism community.

Even before the word “autism” was coined by psychiatrists in the early 20th century, people were afraid of us, our neurology, and our way of viewing the world. I mean, just because we autistic people have a little bit of trouble with verbal communication doesn’t mean we don’t have a voice at all. While some of us on the spectrum are verbal, such as myself, there are others who find other ways to get their messages across to people. We may use an iPad, a computer, or even sign language to communicate our wants and needs to others, and that shouldn’t prevent us from getting the jobs of our interests.

Just because we see and think about the world–or some aspects of it–differently, don’t punish us for sharing such views with you. While you may say that a college degree is the key to lifelong success on the financial front, I may say that there are people in this world who are successful even without a college degree, proving that there are others to make achievements that doesn’t have to include college because it’s not for everybody anyway. Should I be punished in any way, shape or form for saying that? No. I will respect your opinion and way of life as long as you respect mine.

Just because we’re exhibit obsessive interests in areas of art, literature, science and technology, don’t punish us for that either. I have a great taste for anime and video games, and would like to write about my experiences in the anime/video game community someday. I also wear shirts that display my favorite anime/video game characters sometimes. Should I be punished in any way, shape or form for exhibiting my inner child and my interests in those art fields by wearing such attire? Absolutely not. If I want to wear a T-shirt with Sonic or Hello Kitty printed on it, don’t tell me that I’m a woman-child for doing so.

And just because we’re introverts doesn’t mean we’re incapable of making friends and maintaining friendships. We may like to spend time by ourselves or with our families, but we still have the desire to spend time with people we played and went to school with. I know I do, and I’m trying my best to be with them every chance I get. [Thanks to Facebook,] I recently made four new friends from my high school, two of whom I went to see Zootopia with last Friday night. They’re all really nice, and I’m happy to be a part of their group.

Zootopia has done a fantastic job advocating for diversity and the inclusion of people from different walks of life, and I applaud them for shining a spotlight on the issue. I hope this movie put Autism Speaks in their place.

And may I just say that Shakira’s new song “Try Everything” is sublime? It’s my new anthem.

 

P.S. You may have noticed that there were no birds flying or walking around the city of Zootopia. The producers did talk about placing avian species in the movie, but cut them out completely due to time constraints.

 

 

 

 

Why I #BoycottAutismSpeaks

I’ve written about Autism Speaks twice in the two months I’ve been on WordPress, calling them the Nazi Party of the 21st century and ranting at my favorite magazine, PEOPLE, for secretly betraying me by interviewing Bob and Suzanne Wright for their Heroes Among Us panel in one of their recent issues (you know the one with the Kennedys on the cover?). Today, I’m gonna tell you exactly the reason why I boycott Autism Speaks.

It was my freshman year of college, and I was sitting outside of my campus library waiting for my mom to pick me up after I finished my Algebra tutoring session. It was Thursday, November 14, 2013.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across John Elder Robison’s tweet with a link to his blog post regarding his resignation from Autism Speaks’s science board that he wrote the day before. His reason?
Two days earlier, Suzanne Wright published a damning op-ed piece in which she voiced her over-dramatic and hateful views on autism to Washington, D.C., saying that we autistic people are causing so much trouble for our families financially, physically, and emotionally .
After reading Robison’s resignation post, which included a letter to Autism Speaks president Liz Feld, my jaw dropped. Holy shit! No wonder I was verbally bullied constantly in grade school, I thought to myself. I guess I should’ve paid close attention to the sentence ‘Autism spreads faster than cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined’ in their advertisements.
In my purse, I carried two adjusting bracelets bearing the wooden light blue puzzle piece logo from the Autism Speaks walk I attended at Nova University with my stepdad when I was a Sophomore in high school, a walk I now regret attending to this very day. I held both of the bracelets in my hands–I was going to give one to my mom, because she loves me, and the other to my boyfriend (at the time) Jack, because I loved him. Now my view of the light blue puzzle piece shifted from a symbol of hope to a sigil of hatred and discrimination against me and everyone else on the autism spectrum. I had no choice but to throw the bracelets in the trash. I shouldn’t have gone to the Autism Speaks walk had I figured out earlier that the organization’s only goal is to drive me and my people to extinction.

Here’s a playlist of songs that best describes my anger towards Autism Speaks and how much I want them to go out of business for persecuting me and my autistic friends via their Nazi-esque propaganda brainwashing our neurotypical friends, families, and health care providers–not to mention some of our favorite celebrities–into believing that autism is a disease when it actually isn’t.

1. “Call Me When You’re Sober” by Evanescence

2. “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy

3. “Haunted” by Disturbed

4. “Oceans” by Evanescence

5. “Black Water” by Nobuo Uematsu [from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children]

6. “Edge Of A Revolution” by Nickelback

7. “Awake and Alive” by Skillet

8. “Colors of the Heart” by UVERworld

9. “Don’t Say Nuthin'” by The Roots

10. “Freak On a Leash (2006 MTV Unplugged version)” by KoRn ft. Amy Lee

11. “The Night” by Disturbed

12. “Headstrong” by Trapt

13. “His World (E3 2006 version)” by Crush 40 [from Sonic the Hedgehog 2006]

14. “This War Is Ours” by Escape the Fate

15. “Breakn’ a Sweat” by Skrillex and The Doors

16. “Numb” by Linkin Park

17. “Meant to Live” by Switchfoot

18. “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence

19. “Shadows” by Red

20. “Shatter Me” by Lindsey Stirling ft. Lzzy Hale)

21. “Scream” by Michael Jackson ft. Janet Jackson

22. “Massacre” by Escape the Fate

23. “All Hail Shadow” by Magna-Fi [from Shadow the Hedgehog]

24. “Simple and Clean (PLANITb Remix)” by Utada Hikaru [from the Kingdom Hearts series]

25. “Going Under” by Evanescence

26. “99 Problems” by Jay-Z

27. “Devil’s Cry (Shall Never Surrender)” by Bentley Jones [cover song from Devil May Cry 4]

28. “Faint” by Linkin Park

29. “Don’t Stay” by Linkin Park

30. “Tony’s Theme” by Giorgio Moroder [from Scarface]

31. “Stronger” by Kanye West

32. “From Yesterday” by 30 Seconds to Mars

33. “Question!” by System of a Down

34. “Vim and Vigor” by Yoko Shimomura [from Kingdom Hearts II]

35. “The Way I Am” by Eminem

These days, every time I think about Autism Speaks I fantasize about grabbing my Keyblade and fighting Suzanne and Bob Wright–especially Suzanne–for broadcasting such propaganda about autism and for researching ways to rid the world of us autistics, who have actually done a much better job at improving society than the Wrights ever did. They have no right to tell us that we’re broken, diseased, and unintelligent because we’re actually very gifted people. Autism Speaks has been spreading fear, hate, and injustice to us for the past decade, and they need to be stopped.

I hope my mom will understand what I’ve been trying to tell her about Autism Speaks’s wrongdoings against my kind when she reads this and other posts about my views on the organization in the foreseeable future. Or, rather, when I read them to her as the circumstance may warrant.

An Angry Aspie’s Letter to PEOPLE Magazine

On the eve of my fourth ever driving learner’s permit exam–which I passed, thank God–I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across a tweet by @AskAsperboy that reads, “What is this about @people and the Wrights (even though they’re clearly wrong about #autism)? #BoycottAutismSpeaks?” @AskCisco replied, “@AskAsperboy It’s because @people published some article calling them ‘heroes’ for ‘crusading against #autism.'”

It turned out that PEOPLE published their interview with Autism Speaks founders Bob and Suzanne Wright on their Heroes Among Us panel entitled “Crusading Against Autism.” The synopsis read, “After their grandson [Christian] was diagnosed [with autism], Bob and Suzanne Wright launched a battle against the disorder.” Included was a picture of Autism Speaks’s founding couple, with Bob looking down on his now 13-year-old grandchild with what everybody on the spectrum deems a smile of deceit.

Because I was too focused on studying for my learner’s permit exam and passing it with flying colors the other night, I couldn’t write a letter to PEOPLE explaining my anger towards them for interviewing autism Nazi couple. Now, I have the chance to tell them on this very blog post.

Dear PEOPLE,

I’ve been a loyal reader of your magazine since I was 15, if not younger, and I’m extremely angry and disappointed that you published an article about the founding members of Autism Speaks in your Heroes Among Us section of your most recent issue. Are you out of your f***ing minds?! How could you betray your autistic readers, myself included because I have Asperger’s syndrome, by interviewing the very people whose main goal of their organization is to exclude everybody across the spectrum from mainstream society and bring them to their extinction with their Nazi-esque propaganda and their invasive therapies designed to make us less autistic? Autism Speaks claims to have helped autistic people and their families achieve a better quality of life, but in reality only 4% of their budget goes towards family services while 44% is invested in research into the causes of the disorder and how to best prevent it before it occurs. They even go so far as to call on every city in the world to light their buildings blue every year on April 2nd to get everybody feeling so damn sorry for us when they shouldn’t be. We’re alive and well, not missing and dead like Autism Speaks suggests. 

Autism is a gift God has given to people of His choosing to make life in this world more fascinating and interesting. Take Satoshi Tajiri, for example. If autism had not given him the love of entomology and video game design, he wouldn’t have begotten Pokémon, the most popular video game franchise in the industry. And Mozart–were it not for autism, he wouldn’t have become a renowned musician from a very young age. The world would be very boring if autism hadn’t touched the people I mentioned in this letter and others.

You guys should be so damn ashamed of yourselves for interviewing Bob and Suzanne Wright about their fight against autistics–not to mention their own grandson–and publishing it in your magazine, angering me and everyone else on the spectrum who read it. You need to understand that autistic people are the most intelligent people of our species, and we really have so much to offer in this world. Autism Speaks should be put out of business so that we may live in peace without fear of persecution for being ourselves.

Sincerely,

Cristina Alexander

Autism Speaks: The 21st Century Nazi Party

In early 2005, Bob and Suzanne Wright founded Autism Speaks with the intention of giving autistic people all across the spectrum a better quality of life. I was 11 years old and in the middle of 4th Grade when I first heard about this organization, and I thought that they were going to help me and my kind teach neurotypical people to accept us as we are so that we can live in harmony. Now, ten years later, we are in the middle of Autism Awareness Month, which should be rewritten as Autism ACCEPTANCE Month because guess what. All Autism Speaks wants to do is “cure” autism by wiping us off the face of the earth.

I know it sounds very dramatic–I can be quite the drama queen at times–but allow me to explain what’s going on here.

For the past decade, Autism Speaks has been advertising propaganda in which they claim autism is a “growing health crisis”; autism is a disease that “spreads faster than diabetes, cancer and AIDS combined”; and that children with autism and their families “are alive but they’re not living.”

What’s more, Autism Speaks calls on every country in the world to Light It Up Blue–from the Empire State Building in New York to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Their so-called autism awareness campaign makes it all the more reason for me to call Autism Speaks the Nazi Party of the 21st century. All they’ve been doing is adding more fuel to the fire of persecution that we thought we’d leave behind after graduating public school, where the bullying of autistic students is rampant simply for being lions who don’t concern themselves with the opinion of the sheep–in other words, not acting or behaving the same way as everyone else.

Even worse, Autism Speaks had famous celebrities sponsor their campaigns–Toni Braxton, Tommy Hilfiger… Shit, they even dubbed Yoko Ono, widow of “Imagine” singer John Lennon, their Global Autism Ambassador! Need I mention that, in 2009, they got future Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón to create the ever controversial short I Am Autism? In the short film, a narrator personified as the Grim Reaper gives the audience a negative portrayal of what life is like for children and families with autism, with statements such as “If you’re happily married, I will make sure your marriage fails,” “Your neighbors are happier to pretend I don’t exist–of course, until it’s their child,” and “I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams,” among other awful things.

So, now that I got those facts out, I got a few things I want to say to Suzanne Wright, the female Nazi leader of Autism Speaks:

First, autism is NOT a growing epidemic, obesity is.

Second, autism is not as terrible as diabetes, cancer and AIDS, the real diseases that require the most medical attention.

Third, autistic people like myself and their families are alive and well and living in Paris, London, Tokyo, Miami, the world over.

Lastly, I lived my entire life believing that autism is a curse. Now I see that the only thing that makes autism a curse is people like you who endlessly persecute me and everyone else on the spectrum with your damn propaganda brainwashing neurotypicals into thinking that we should be dead in order to be relieved of our “disease.” Autism is a gift that makes whoever it chooses to use it to their advantage to achieve greatness on their own terms. Here’s a list of famous autistics (confirmed or debated) who are living proof of that statement:

– Satoshi Tajiri, game designer creator of the Pokémon series (which I’m an avid fan)

– Heather Kuzmich, contestant on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 9 (she still models but is now studying video game design)

–  Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University

– Daryl Hannah, actress

– John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In the Eye and engineer

The last person on this list, Robison, resigned from Autism Speaks in November 2013 after you published an op-ed piece in which you laid out your views of autism that were severely different from his. And for that, I applaud him for standing up for his own people.

We don’t need to be cured. All we need is ACCEPTANCE, not awareness along with persecution.

Thank you.