Agenda: A First Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks

Hello Mr. Phicks,

mr_phicks_smoking_315x210

Even though it makes it seem cool, this is not intended as an endorsement of smoking. Nor is it a picture of the mysterious Mr. Phicks. Image Credit: Pixabay

Thank you for accepting to continue our conversation later this morning. I realize that now that I’ve given back your client’s laptop, this is all basically volunteer work for you, so I want to do want I can to make it worth your while. Toward that end I will sketch out here an agenda for our meeting, although I hope you will see this purely as a recommendation and feel free to modify it or even just to set it aside in favor of other discussion points that may be more important for you.

  1. For training and quality assurance purposes, I would like to record our conversation and possibly to post either the whole recording or segments of it on my personal blog at autistickish.com. I also wish to write about our conversation and to post what I write there as well. I believe our conversation presents a valuable learning opportunity, not just for the two of us, but for others as well, and I would like to make this opportunity publicly available to others. Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or reservations about my doing this. In order to protect your anonymity (if such a thing is necessary), I have assigned you the pseudonym “Mr. Phicks” and will refer to you as such during our conversation and in my writing.
  2. I’m attaching two documents which I hope to discuss with you. The first is the EEOC mediation agreement I signed on April 24, 2017 alongside MetLife’s contracted Seyfarth Shaw attorney Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith; and the second is the Settlement Agreement that MetLife has asked me to sign last March, 2018 in exchange for $37,000.00. Please note that I have not yet signed the settlement agreement or received any money from MetLife.
  3. Please note as well that in the EEOC mediation agreement MetLife makes at least the following two promises which remain unfulfilled due to the fact that the company fired me for being autistic before they had a chance to fulfill them:
    1. That I would be assigned a new role within 1 to 3 months;
    2. That MetLife would work with my Autism specialist to determine the correct Reasonable Accommodations I needed in order to be successful at my job.
mr_phicks_looking_at_watch_315x210

I know Mr. Phicks is a busy man, but this is not a picture of him looking at his watch. Image Credit: Pixabay

My hope is that the above 3 items will provide us both with plenty of opportunity for an illuminating exchange, but please feel free to suggests other topics you might wish to cover.

I look forward to speaking with you.

Best,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

 

 


Image Credit: (embedded brick statue) Pixabay.

 

 

 

 

Am I Really Autistic? — Towards A Solution to Diagnosis Doubt, Part 1

It was only in November 2016 when I first got diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”, “autism”), and even today I struggle to cope with a weird consequence of that event: my own diagnosis doubt or skepticism about my own ASD diagnosis.

This skepticism usually takes the form of two types of questions. First we have what we might call the “nice” questions, such as:

  • Am I really autistic?
  • Was I somehow misdiagnosed?
  • Did my doctor(s) maybe misread the evidence?
  • But I  have such a good sense of humor!
  • But I can detect and use irony and sarcasm with great subtlety and nuance!
  • Yes, I can be fiercely blunt, but it’s only an accident sometimes; for the most part I usually know when I’m being too blunt, and I only do it when the person really deserves it!
  • How come I have no serious sensory processing issues?
  • How come my memory isn’t that great?
  • What if I am autistic, but autism is not really what’s wrong with me?  What if my real problem is ADD or ADHD? Bipolar Disorder? Etc.

But then we have the “not nice” questions, for example:

  • What if I’m really just an asshole?
  • What if I’m just lazy and stupid?
  • What if I’m just a lazy and stupid asshole?
  • What if all I really need is more rejection?
  • What if all I really need is to be scowled at or scolded some more?
  • What if all I really need is to get fired again?
  • What if there’s really nothing wrong with me that can’t be fixed with a good beating or maybe some jail time?

In particular, I find these latter “not nice” questions to be most revealing. For one thing, they’re all very subjective, value laden, and context dependent. Also, they’re all based on an antiquated theory concerning the value of cruelty and coercion — the preposterous idea that punishment is somehow a performance enhancer. Really these “not nice” questions appear to be grounded in the sort of unscientific world views most commonly associated with laypersons, bigots and other ignoranthropites.

So why am I asking them? Well, how about because sometimes such ignoranthropites can become quite powerful and influential (e.g. our current President), and when they do they invariably abuse their power and influence to control access to certain resources, and I’m seriously worried that when I have to ask these people to provide said resources, they’re just going to start asking these kinds of questions, and if I am to have any reasonable chance of convincing them to share with me those resources, then in theory I need to be able to answer these questions in a way that satisfies their apparent curiosity. Therefore, it would appear that I am asking these questions not because I seriously believe them to be good questions, but because I’m worried I may actually have to answer them at some point even though they aren’t!

But is that even possible? I see good reason to doubt it. These are not typically the kinds of questions people ask in search of objective answers — those would be the “nice” questions in the first group above. Really the “not nice” questions are just empty rhetorical devices, and their only value is that they reveal the poser’s prejudiced answers: “you’re just an asshole”, “your just lazy and stupid”, “…need a good beating….”, etc. When a boss seriously wonders whether all you need is to be fired again, then he or she has surely already decided to fire you, and is just looking for the right excuse to do so.

I can see no good reason to prepare oneself to answer questions that aren’t actually questions to begin with. I do think some kind of preparation is needed, but it doesn’t involve answering any questions. Rather, I’m pretty sure that the best and really only way to prepare for these kinds of “not nice” questions is to train yourself not to need whatever resources you think you need and which are currently being held hostage by the potential posers of the “not nice” questions in question.

I’m pretty sure that no matter what you think you need, if it can only be obtained with the validation, approval or permission of an ignoranthropite, then you are probably much, much better off with out it.

To be continued…

[Note: when Part 2 is published, I’ll post a link to it here.]


Image Credit: Shutterstock

 

The Zipper Merge

I just came across this video. For years I have been “that guy” who actually drives the full length of the remaining available right lane before merging into the left. I’ve never been able to articulate why this is actually the correct and polite thing to do, but this video does a great job.

Or Should I Say: Autism Is Like When Your Car’s Steering Wheel Is Perfectly Balanced, And All The Roads Are Curved…

…and whether the roads curve a little or a lot, you must always adjust for their curvature, and nobody should be shocked if sooner or later you land in a ditch.

Sincere Apologies For Yesterday’s Ableist Version

I wish to apologize for yesterday’s ableist version of this post, which by  putting the source of the need for adjustment in the “unbalanced steering wheel”, suggested implicitly that there’s something wrong with being autistic. Although I must admit that I was aware of the problem even when I posted it yesterday, I’m frankly so enamored with the analogy, and believe it to be so useful that I thought it was worth posting anyway.

In any case, I hope you will agree that today’s version of this analogy actually does a much better job at what it’s supposed to do — illustrating some core and problematic issues with autism (it’s is only a “problem” because all of the roads are curved), while simultaneously pointing toward effective solutions (i.e. straight roads!) , and it does so without the implicit ableism.

However, I’m not going to take down yesterday’s post, because I think that a comparison of the two does a nice job of illustrating some core issues with ableism. I will, however, add a disclaimer to that post.

I sincerely beg your pardon for my confusion.

🙂

Autism Is Like When Your Car Has An Unbalanced Steering Wheel…

…whether it pulls a little or a lot to one side, you must always adjust for the pull, and nobody should be shocked if sooner or later you land in a ditch.

Disclaimer

Although I think the core analogy is sound and quite useful, this version of it, by putting the source of the need for adjustment in the “unbalanced steering wheel”, suggests implicitly that there’s something wrong with being autistic. The day after posting the above, I wrote a much better, non-ableist version of the analogy. I have decided not, however, do delete this version, because I think a comparison of the two does a nice job of explaining some core problems with ableism.

Calling All Slackers: How to Get Paid and Save the World by Being Lazy, Ignorant, and Self-Entitled

two_boys_poverty_316x210Do you need money? Do you want to help save the world? Are you lazy, ignorant, and self-entitled? If so, then today is your lucky day, because I have recently invented an easy way to re-purpose your currently worthless and embarrassing slackritude into a powerful world-saving money-machine.

[Note: if you are just too educated, hard-working and humble to qualify as a slacker, then don’t despair. You can still use this method, but you probably won’t make as much money. But then again, you probably don’t need money because you have a real job, and in any case you can still feel good about helping to save the world.]

Slackers have always been a persecuted minority. Most of us despise slackers and see them as merely human-ish. They are forced to live in a world that reviles them, marginalizes them, insists that they work for a living like everybody else. Everywhere are advertising messages, movie characters, and other constant reminders that all so-called “real” human beings are hard-working, educated, and humble; and that slackers are somehow defective, inferior sub-human beings. Slackers are systematically denied opportunities to relax, enjoy, love, and really for no other reason than that they earnestly believe that the rest of us owe them a luxurious lifestyle.

If you are lazy, ignorant, and self-entitled (or simply want to save the world), then get ready to transform your life, turn the world on its head, and become the envy of everyone who is too proud to accept charity.

Introducing: Diversity Acceptance Consulting

Diversity Acceptance Consulting is a totally new profession that I am currently inventing  by myself (but only because I haven’t yet been able to entice anyone else to invent it with me). It is nothing less than a way to fix everything wrong with you by re-purposing or up-cycling it into a professional credential. Although in this post we are looking at the particular credential package of laziness, ignorance, and self-entitlement, literally anything and everything about you that may be viewed by others as weird, strange, foreign, yucky, gross, offensive, unattractive, inappropriate, or somehow undesirable can be used by you to do Diversity Acceptance Consulting, if you so choose.

Here’s how it might work if you are lazy, ignorant, and self-entitled:

Whenever a so-called “normal” person — educated, hard-working, humble — becomes aware of your lazy, ignorant, and self-entitled ways, they are presented with a wonderful opportunity to practice and develop their own ability to become aware of, understand, and accept someone they currently despise. But that way of describing it suggests that you as a slacker are somehow constrained to the role of passive bystander. With that way of viewing it, you’re just sort of there by accident, slouched on a couch littered with candy wrappers, binge watching Downton Abbey, and waiting for your soul-mate to break into your home and kidnap you; and whether the so-called “normal” person is even aware of this opportunity, and actually sees it as such is entirely up to him or her.

But you don’t have to be so passive. Even though you are a slacker, there is really nothing stopping you from taking an active role in the encounter. You can literally choose to take control over the situation and guide it proactively toward success. For example, you can simply tell the other person that your own slackrositous magnificence is an opportunity for them to practice and develop their ability to be aware of, understand, and accept boorish space-wasters such as yourself. For example, you might say to them something like,

poor-child_210x224Hello. I am a professional Diversity Acceptance Consultant, specializing in raising awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people who are lazy, ignorant, and self-entitled like I am. Basically, it’s my job to help hard-working, educated, and humble people such as yourself to become aware of, understand, and accept that people like me are perfectly normal human beings who just happen to be lazy, ignorant, and self-entitled. If you see value in your own ability to be tolerant towards people who are different from yourself, then you may wish to become one of my clients and pay me to help you further develop your own awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people like me.

Now, that’s really a hypothetical example. Here is the real deal:

If You Like This Idea, Please Pay Me For Sharing It With You

dscholten 8-8-15Hello. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”, and I am a professional Diversity Acceptance Consultant, specializing in halitosis acceptance. What that means is that it is my job to help people such as yourself to become aware of, understand, and accept walrus breath as a perfectly normal part of the human experience. If you value your own ability to be tolerant towards people who are different from yourself, then you may wish to become one of my clients and to pay me to help you develop your own awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people struggling to survive with breath that can ruin photographs while living among people who can be french-kissed immediately upon waking.

If you would like to pay me for this service, which I provide to my clients in part by refusing to brush my teeth and by chewing plenty of fish oil capsules and raw garlic, then please visit my How to Hire Me Retroactively! page and follow the instructions there.

If You Really Like This Idea, So Very, Very Much That You Too Want To Get Paid And Save The World With Whatever Is Unique About You

If you love as much as I do this idea of Diversity Acceptance Consulting, and you want to get started in this profession, then this is your invitation to do so. And here is one basic way to do it (you are welcome to invent your own way):

  1. Identify your own specialty or specialties: make a list of everything you’re ashamed of, embarrassed about, etc. — the stuff that makes you weird, offensive, or otherwise rejectionable. These are your credentials as a Diversity Acceptance Consultant; this is your platform, your own unique area of expertise. Note: If you really can’t think of any reason that someone might reject you for, then you can use “in deep denial about how others see me” or maybe even manufacture the aforementioned halitosis credential by refusing to brush your teeth and chewing fish oil capsules and cloves of garlic on a regular basis. There are surely other credentials you can simply adopt as well.
  2. Take a proactive role in presenting your credentials to others as opportunities to increase their awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people who share your credential or credentials.
  3. Ask them to pay you for this service.

A few additional points: I view the development of the Diversity Acceptance Consulting profession as an open source project, by which I mean that nobody actually owns this amazing idea it, and anybody is free to contribute to its development and evolution, provided she or he does not try to take control over the project and turn it into some closed source thing.

Have fun, and let me know what you think!

diversity_heart_small

How to Get Paid and Save the World with Halitosis

man_blowing_smoke_315x210Do you need money? Do you want to help save the world? Do you have breath that sets off smoke alarms? Then today is your lucky day, because I have recently invented an easy way for you to turn that denticulated stink-hole beneath your nose into a powerful world-saving money-machine.

[Note: if you don’t already suffer from halitosis, you can still take advantage of this amazing opportunity simply by refusing to brush your teeth and chewing fish oil capsules and cloves of raw garlic on a regular basis like I do.]

People who suffer from chronic halitosis are still and always have been a persecuted minority. They are forced to live in a world that oppresses them, marginalizes them, reviles them. Everywhere are advertising messages and constant reminders that they are somehow defective, deficient, inferior sub-human beings. They are denied opportunities to work, play, and love, and really for no other reason than that they can cause gagging and eye-watering when surrounded by other people in an enclosed space such as an elevator, waiting room, or hockey arena.

horse_mouth_315x210If  you suffer from chronic halitosis (or simply want to), then get ready to transform your life, turn the world on its head, and become the envy of everyone who can’t knock a bird from the sky by yawning.

Introducing: Diversity Acceptance Consulting

Diversity Acceptance Consulting is a totally new profession. It is nothing less than a way to turn everything wrong with you into a professional credential. Although in this post we are looking specifically at the halitosis credential, literally anything and everything about you that is viewed by others as weird, gross, offensive, unattractive, inappropriate, or somehow undesirable can be used by you to do Diversity Acceptance Consulting, if you choose.

Here’s how it might work with halitosis. Whenever someone detects your bad breath, they are presented with a wonderful opportunity to practice and develop their own ability to recognize, understand, and accept someone with halitosis. But that way of describing it suggests that you are somehow constrained to the role of passive bystander. With that way of viewing it, you’re just sort of there by accident, stinking up the room, causing the paint to peel on the ceiling (melting the polar icecaps, etc.), and whether the person is aware of this opportunity, and sees it as such is entirely up to him or her.

But you don’t have to be so passive. There is nothing stopping you from taking an active role in the encounter. You can literally choose to take control over the situation and guide it proactively toward success. For example, you can simply tell the other person that your stinky breath is an opportunity for them to practice and develop their ability to recognize, understand, and accept people who have halitosis like you. For example, you might say to them something like,

walrus_cartoon_280x210Hello. Allow me to introduce myself. You can call me The Walrus, and I am a professional Diversity Acceptance Consultant, specializing in halitosis acceptance. What that means is that it is my job to help people such as yourself to become aware of, understand, and accept halitosis as a perfectly normal part of the human experience. If you see value in your own ability to be tolerant towards people who are different from yourself, then you may wish to become one of my clients and pay me to help you develop your own awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people who suffer from halitosis.

Now, that’s really a hypothetical example. Here is the real deal:

If You Like This Idea, Please Pay Me For Sharing It With You

Hello. Allow me to introduce myself. You can call me The Walrus, and I am a professional Diversity Acceptance Consultant, specializing in autism acceptance. What that means is that it is my job to help people such as yourself to become aware of, understand, and accept autism as a perfectly normal part of the human experience. If you value your own ability to be tolerant towards people who are different from yourself, then you may wish to become one of my clients and to pay me to help you develop your own awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people who struggle with autism to survive in a world that has been largely designed by and built for people without autism.

If you would like to pay me for this service, which I provide to my clients by writing and promoting this blog, then please visit my How to Hire Me Retroactively! page and follow the instructions there.

If You Really Like This Idea, So Much That You Too Want To Get Paid And Save The World With Whatever Is Weird About You

If you love as much as I do this idea of Diversity Acceptance Consulting, and you want to get started in this profession, then this is your invitation to do so. And here is one basic way to do it (you are welcome to invent your own way):

  1. Identify your own specialty or specialties: make a list of everything you’re ashamed of, embarrassed about, etc. — the stuff that makes you weird. These are your credentials as a Diversity Acceptance Consultant. If you can’t think of anything, then you can easily create the halitosis credential by refusing to brush your teeth and chewing fish oil capsules and cloves of garlic on a regular basis. There are surely other credentials you can simply adopt as well.
  2. Take a proactive role in presenting your credentials to others as opportunities to increase their awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people who share your credential or credentials.
  3. Ask them to pay you for this service.

A few additional points: I view the development of the Diversity Acceptance Consulting profession as an open source project, by which I mean that nobody actually owns it, and anybody is free to contribute to its development and evolution, provided she or he does not try to take control over the project and turn it into some closed source thing.

Have fun, and let me know what you think!

diversity_heart_small