The Fictional Spectrum: Entrapta

Up until now, my Fictional Spectrum series has been focused on heroes. This time, I’ve chosen someone who isn’t a hero. At least, not yet.

Netflix has been airing a reboot of the 80’s toy-driven cartoon She-Ra: Princess of Power that is being created by Noelle Stephenson. I was interested because I grew up with the original series (and its distaff counterpart), and I wanted to see what new possibilities she could bring. 

When Entrapta was introduced, I suspected right away that she was on the autism spectrum. (And now thanks to leaked character designs, it’s been confirmed by Stephenson herself) The Princesses try their best to sway her allegiance, but she really doesn’t seem interested. She only joins out of curiosity.

If you isolate the caption, you see the phrase “as an autistic”

Entrapta has difficulty making friends. In fact, when we meet her, the only true friend she has is her robot Emily. A few episodes later, the Rebellion accidentally leaves her behind in The Fright Zone, the headquarters of the Evil Horde. Even though she helps the Horde, she does not truly believe in their cause. All she’s interested in is all the ancient technology they’ve acquired. She’s only interested in science for science’s sake, not for good or evil.

 It’s only at the end of season 3 that she starts to realize the consequences of her actions. When she sees the damage the portals can do, she tries to stop the Horde. She realizes the portal will rewrite the fabric of reality itself, and wants no part in that. But it’s too late, and Catra exiles her to Beast Island. It is here that she is reunited with the Rebellion. She learns that Adora never gave up on her. Not that that is what convinces her to change sides. Nope, in true autistic fashion, they have to play to her interests and entice her with their own ancient technology.

I think it’s cool that She-Ra has introduced an autistic character in this way. I definitely want to see how she evolves further. This is how you represent a disability, not by checking off a box, but by fully realizing how multifaceted a character can be.

Sesame Street Has Betrayed Autistics

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In 2015, Sesame Street introduced an autistic Muppet named Julia, their first new Muppet in years. When I saw this, I was cautiously optimistic. They had aligned themselves with two groups, ASAN (the Autism Self-Advocacy Network) and Autism Speaks. This was a cause for concern, as one company is actually run by autistics, for autistics. The other is a hate group. Let’s not mince words, that’s precisely what Autism Speaks is.

It seemed at first that ASAN was the group they were listening to the most. Julia was made into a girl, which was a great idea. Most of the time when an autistic character is depicted, they are usually boys. This would be an ideal way to show the audience that both boys and girls can be autistic. Having her be friends with Elmo, Abby Cadabra, and Big Bird was also a great idea, as all three characters are popular with the children who watch. They showed both the strengths and weaknesses of autism, and did not seem to depict it as something terrible, just something that made Julia unique. Her puppeteer was even someone who had an autistic child. And she also had two rods for her arms so she could stim by flapping them.

Continue reading “Sesame Street Has Betrayed Autistics”

Bookworm: To Siri With Love by Judith Newman

boycotttosiriMy mom gets Reader’s Digest each month. In the October 2017 issue, they published an excerpt from Judith Newman’s book To Siri With Love. The excerpt piqued my interest, so I borrowed it from the library. On the exact day I started reading it, I saw a campaign on Facebook using the hashtag “#BoycotttoSiri” I read the articles about the book and was heartbroken.  This mother can’t be this bad, can she? Spoiler alert–she is.

There is a type of mother in the autism community called the “autism mom.” This is a mother who sees herself as a martyr because of the “suffering” she goes through for her child. She will complain endlessly about how terrible it is to raise a child. They rarely, if ever, celebrate the joys of motherhood because they don’t see it as joyful. They see it as a burden.  That is my first problem with this book. She even has the audacity to ask if her child is thinking and say she is unsure if autism should be cured. (The correct answer to that question that should never even be asked is NO! Not yes, or maybe, or unsure–NO!) The reason this is a problem is that these parents don’t seem to realize that EVERY parent has difficulty raising children, even the ones who aren’t autistic can be difficult! This does NOT make you a martyr.

My second problem is how she treats autism advocates. She is very condescending about them, almost as if she doesn’t value their opinion. In fact, when autistic YouTube personality Amythest Schaber called her out for calling her a “manic pixie dream girl” (a derogatory term for overtly cheerful women. Because autistic women can’t possibly be cheerful), Newman didn’t apologize–she gaslighted her! She made it seem as if, by not asking for her permission to be quoted, she was doing her a favor. A “nice surprise”, she called it. She then called her a brat because Schaber still persisted to criticize her dehumanizing book. In short, if you don’t share her POV, you’re not worth her time.

Continue reading “Bookworm: To Siri With Love by Judith Newman”

One Faith, Many Paths: Jannah Leah

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This is my first interview with an Eastern Orthodox Catholic. Thank you, Jannah Leah.

1) How was your childhood?

Fairly average, I guess. About the biggest thing that impacted me was my parents’ divorce when I was six. I was also bullied all throughout school, which affected my self-esteem. To this day, I still suffer from self-esteem issues.

2) How did you become a Christian?

Really it was a combination of a few factors. I have suffered from depression for most of my life and in some ways faith has aided with that.  I also have an interest in history, theology, etc.  Religion is a subject that I’ve always found quite fascinating despite my family’s own irreligious background.

To give the short answer, I chose to become Christian because the messages were appealing to me.  I also found the historical evidence for Christianity, particularly Orthodoxy, to be overwhelming. No other religion can claim their historical figures performed public miracles.

3) How has your family taken your conversion to Christianity, given that they do not share your beliefs?

It’s been mixed. My mother is of the mindset that it’s a good thing if it’s what makes me happy. Others still don’t really know since they’re not particularly fond of religion.

4) You said that you used to be somewhat of a troll. What led to the change?

I guess the easiest answer would be that I simply grew bored of it and matured.  It also got rather tedious to have to constantly create new Facebook accounts.

5. When were you diagnosed as autistic?

I was fourteen I believe. Somewhere in my early teens.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Jannah Leah”

One Faith, Many Paths: Trevor Justin Gawthorne

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This month for my “One Faith, Many Paths” project, I decided to interview one of the members of my Autistic Christians group on FB. Here’s Trevor Gawthorne from Down Under!

1. How old were you when you became Christian? When I was 16. I got bullied a lot over it.

2. What was your childhood like? It was all right. Most of it was decent. Eight years old was the last time I remember it being good.

3.When were you diagnosed with autism? Did you receive any help? I was diagnosed at 6 with autism and ADHD.

4. What is your current job? Unemployed.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Trevor Justin Gawthorne”

The Child Behind the Glass

autism-kid-behind-glass

As someone who uses Facebook, I see many articles about autism shared around, and often from an ableist perspective. One way to tell if the article you’re reading is going to be full of misinformation is if you see the image above. I hate it. HATE IT! Allow me to explain why.

First off, it conveys the image that autistic people are isolated from society. They are not. Yes, many are extremely introverted, or in some cases they may even be non-verbal. But neither should be a barrier to communication. There are more ways to communicate than with words: hugs, handshakes, giving someone a “high-five”, waving, etc.

Continue reading “The Child Behind the Glass”

The Death of Suzanne Wright

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I opened my Facebook this morning and discovered that Suzanne Wright, one of the founders of Autism $peaks, has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 69. I knew right away that I had to make a blog topic about this.

I am not sure how I should respond to this. Autism $peaks is an organization that is misunderstood by the press and vilified (and rightfully so) by the autistic community. Despite their motto being “It’s time to listen”, they have not once listened to the people they claim to represent. Their platform has always been not helping autistic people, but curing them of autism. They see autism as a disease. They do not wish to understand us. The only way to truly “cure” a person of autism is for that person to not exist at all.

Suzanne Wright started her organization because her own grandson was diagnosed with autism. She felt as though autism had taken her grandchild away from her. But that’s the thing–people like her do not realize that EVERY child is difficult to raise. Would it have been better if her child was born without autism? Not necessarily. Her grandchild would still have difficulties and struggles. And the child would have been a completely different child. Continue reading “The Death of Suzanne Wright”