Friday, July 30, 2010

The train it won't stop going no way to slow down

In the shuffling madness that is Birmingham New Street station, I got on the wrong train today. It would not have been so bad if it had just been the wrong train going in the opposite direction as I would have got off at the next stop and hoped nobody checked my ticket on the way back. However I got on a train totally devoid of passengers going to no station at all.

I suppose it was all too good to be true, I heard the announcement for my train, platform 6a, and got on at the bottom of the steps. The carriage seemed very peaceful and I stuck my head into a book. By the time I noticed the train pulling out of the station I realised something was up, it was going in the wrong direction, not only that the train was totally devoid of passengers, I had got on a train that had made it's last run for the day and was on it's way to the depot.

Now in something of a panic, I avoided the temptation to pull the handle, (penalty for inappropriate use etc.) and instead made my way up the train - well it's better than crawling down the corridor on my hands and knees, that was in the days of steam :) - I dare say the driver got a bit of a shock when someone started banging on his door, a bit like that old Hancock test pilot sketch with Kenneth Williams outside of the aeroplane.

Well I had to wait for the  to pull into the depot and then follow him down to the other end and climb out of the other cab, as there are no platforms at the depot. Fortunately I was able to travel with him in a taxi back to New Street.

What had happened was that the train I wanted was further down the platform, and I had mistakenly assumed the carriage I got on was connected to that.

Oh well at least I wasn't dragged off kicking and screaming like this guy:-

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nothing to do with autism

Yesterday I returned from a conference, which took place in the rather scenic building you see here.

It's the first conference for a while where I wasn't presenting, and the first conference that has had nothing to do with either autism, disability or education so it made a refreshing change.

In fact it was a conference on research ethics in the generality, my interest in attending being informed by my increasing concern over the ethics of autism research in particular, as has been reflected here and elsewhere.

It was certainly worthwhile for me to attend for a variety of reasons concerned with my academic development, career and of course campaigning effectiveness.

Firstly and foremostly I was there to learn, to learn more about what the current discourses in ethics are, from the various philosophical, practical, legal and medical perspectives and to understand them in the context of "doing ethics" that is to say the usual procedure that any research student has to go through in order to gain approval for their particular enquiry.

Secondly it was an opportunity to step back from my current fields (although of course there are the obvious overlaps) and realise here is a new and exciting area for me to take an interest in with a variety of opportunities presented in terms of both future involvement or possible research.

And finally an opportunity to realise that I do not have to remain a "one trick pony" in terms of how I can ultimately progress beyond my doctorate, which having provided me with the tools for academic enquiry and discourse does not necessarily have to progress in the direction of autism. I have much more potentially to offer than that, and indeed given the current climate in the higher education sector I do need to consider as many alternatives as possible when looking for what follows as I certainly cannot ensure getting a post involved in education and autism specifically.

Not that I leave my autism behind particularly, because it is always there for those who have the ability to recognise what they see, and some of them certainly did see it.

The session in the pub afterwards was as instructive as any of the formal sessions (as these sessions usually are) but had to be tempered with a certain amount of curiosity about me. For instance: the following progression of beer fuelled questioning: - "I hope you don't mind me asking but ......  I hope you don't mind me asking an awkward question but .... I hope you don't mind me asking another awkward question but ..." Me: - "no I don't mind because you are obviously going to ask it anyway"

Or elsewhere the inevitable social enquiry as to what one is studying and why one is interested in it, where although it is not my intention to overtly "out" my diagnosis it does emerge as my reason and motivation for having an academic interest in autism to be followed with the sometimes inevitable comment "
"You must be very high functioning then, because you are nothing like x's autistic child I know"

Oh woe is me, out comes a long line of explanation, and the unstated response "Of course I am not like the child you know, you are obviously a very high functioning neurotypical to be at University because you are not like y's neurotypical child I know"

Children and adults, never the same the thing so why the comparison... Ho hum, that I suppose is one thing I will never escape even if I do escape into an alternate academic engagement.

Well I am Larry Arnold, I am autistic (with a better knowledge of what that means than the armchair diagnostician, or the person who has only seen one autistic person)
I am not Temple Grandin, or the rain man, or even Shakespeare's stereotypical infant "mewling and puking in the nurses arms" Have you got that yet?

My success is nothing to do with Autism, it's what I do, and if I didn't would it matter to you ?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Abandoned Cars

I scanned Autismo this morning with a sense of despair. There they are the "usual suspects" going about their business as if there were no progress in the world. Blindly adhering by faith and obstinacy to their pet theories as if they made any difference to the world outside.

"ABA good, anything else bad" as if all one needed for life is one pair of trousers one never outgrew and that ever fitted one, suitable to be worn for weddings, funerals, a saturday night out and mucking out the stables.

"Poor Bugger me, the postman did not call today, nor I did not win the lottery because I have the autism pox" As if there were never any other external factors in ones misfortune and that by wallowing in it one could change it.

And so on and so on.

I think these bloggers are like abandoned cars on the highway in various states of destruction. Long ago ceased to be of use and therefore not going anywhere, just steadily reverted back into the landscape. Landmarks of despair not any hope of a destination.

Don't even bother to comment if you see yourself implicated there, I am not inflating your tyres so your wreck stands any prouder, get yourself a new motor and get back on the highway.

As for me, I have plenty to whine about, always have, I mean we all have now in terms of the coelition government cutting right left and centre, we are all victims there, forced to fight like dogs for the spoils.

If I can get it together for my University fees next year, everything else is on track, so as long as I can gas up my academic motor, it still stands a chance of making to the destination without being abandoned on the highway of despair.

Same goes for my real life motor, which is visiting Kwik Fit today. So long as I can afford the diesel it will be taking me to Wales next month. "In the mountains, there you feel free."