things that can be over now

things that can be over now: the whole “disability simulation via youtube video/ipod/other weird shit” trend. that can be over.

you see, i get that this video (below) is nice and all. and that it draws attention to sensory sensitivity, which somehow gets lots in the whole “your child has no soul” tone of things, nowadays.

but that doesn’t mean i have to think this is either constructive or appropriate. and so now i’m going to make a list of all my annoyed thoughts about this video, because i can. also because i’m in a bad mood today. so there.

  • i love how this person’s vision supposedly stays completely clear and functional while also being so over-loaded that the surface of the couch is blurping. yes, that’s a word.
  • i have no idea why this bothers me, but i find it random and weird that all the sounds are being synchronized. as if for some reason sounds being predictable and symmetrical and covering each other up would be more stressful than a fucking unpredictable chaos of weird noises?
  • the fuck is this kid? some kind of magic being who can project himself and walk around a room in ghostly form while his actual body sits at a table? they literally pan the whole room and like zoom in on feet. how do we know he can even see the feet? like ugh.
  • also, by the way, given that this video is supposed to be an example of how sensory stuff is so stressful, i’m confused as to why this dude is just chilling at a table like it’s no big deal. that might actually be the least realistic aspect of this video; it’s a video about the struggles an autistic guy has with sensory sensitivity in which said dude sits calmly at a table while his family watches cartoons.
  • on the subject of the family: why the hell is this kid like, sitting at this table alone in a room full of shitty sounds and visual patterns while his mom and sister sit and like watch cartoons together with their backs to him? OH RIGHT i forgot autistic people live in exile within their own homes because they’re incapable of relating to others. GOTCHA.
  • i feel relatively comfortable speaking for at least most of the variously disabled people i know when i reply to this (and any number of other) random half-assed simulation by saying “not only is this like, not a very good simulation at all, but like…if you did this and thought ‘oh my god that’s soooo hard! i feel soooo bad for them now!’ then congratulations on being kind of a giant condescending wuss? i mean seriously.”
  • i love how they drag it out for you. you’re just waiting and waiting and wondering and waiting and YEP the autistic kid is being played by everybody’s favorite stereotypically nerdy, pimply upper-middle class white boy. great. thanks. lovely.

in pre-emptive response to the guaranteed question that comes in response to rants like this–the “but doesn’t it serve some purpose? it helps people understand? what else could they do?”–my answer is that the only purpose this serves is that of allowing people to pat themselves on the back for “widening their horizons” by watching a two minute youtube video. i can’t come up with a single thing that you could take away from this video and use to strengthen/start a relationship or interaction with an autistic person.  literally nothing. other than like “sounds are sounds sometimes and ugh sounds” or “don’t cover your household in really terrible prints” or “if you’re a couch, please don’t blurble.” and the reason you don’t learn anything besides that stuff in this video is because you’re not supposed to. hence why we don’t even see the fucking autistic person himself until the last frame. he’s a side note. a “p.s. here’s what they look like.”

at the end of the day, the worst part about disability simulations for me will always be that they’re a method for promoting disability “awareness” that aggressively centers the non-disabled person. it reinforces their presumption that all the things they need to know about disabled people they can learn on their own, from other not-disabled people. as well as their presumption that a disabled brain/body is just a messed up version of their own brain/body. and their presumption that it’s possible to understand what it’s like to live a moment in someone else’s place without taking into account their actual life. their childhood. their history. their growth.

at the end of the day, the only appropriate answer to “but what else could people do to learn about disabilities?” is to tell them that they’re asking the wrong question: it should be “what could people do to learn from disabled people?” and the answer to the better question would be: “live and share and communicate with them, because they’re people and that’s what people do with each other.” the. friggen’. end.


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