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On Autism Awareness Day, I'll be doing my 4th annual 24 hour live stream to discuss autism and bullying within the Minecraft community.

So I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk about autism awareness in general and basically, how we've been doing it all wrong.
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This April 22nd, I'll be in Toronto, Canada on the TEDx Talk stage trying to fit 5 years worth of information into a 10 minute presentation.

For more: http://www.tedxyorkusalon.org

And for more on Autcraft, go to http://www.autcraft.com
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RJ Cyler plays Billy, the Blue Power Ranger in The Power Rangers movie.
Billy is on the autism spectrum.
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I'll be on BBC's World Radio talking about Julia on Sesame Street in just a few minutes.

I'm excited about this and hope she becomes a more permanent character on the show.
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"Children who believe they are transgender 'could have autism', says controversial expert"

Ok so... it's not that this guy is wrong that it angers me, it's that he has it backwards. Here is what it should say:

"Children who have autism are more likely to believe they are transgender."

Do you see the difference?

Let me explain. Keep in mind that these will be generalizations so when I say "children with autism", in your head, think "many people," not "all."

Disconnect from Societal "Norms"

Children with autism are already largely disconnected from the rest of society. That is to say, they tend to feel like an outsider. But this isn't just isolated to small talk and social situations. For many people with autism, "norms" are anything but normal. We understand that My Little Pony is geared towards girls but don't really get why boys should be embarrassed or teased about liking them.

So with this disconnect, children with autism are already resistant to the programming or brainwashing that comes at them from all directions since birth. The "little princess" comments for girls, the "boys will be boys" comments for boys and so forth. When you really think about it, boys are programmed to be boys and girls are programmed to be girls from birth onward... they're not encouraged to think as just a child so much as a specifically gendered child. Autistic children don't generally think this way no matter how much outside sources try to force them to.

This means that they grow up feeling more like how they truly feel rather than how they think they are supposed to feel based on societal input.

Disconnect between mind and body

Secondly, having autism causes a disconnect within oneself just as much as a disconnect with everyone else. That is to say, our minds don't have the same relationship with our body as most other people might. Hygiene doesn't hold the same priority. What we look like to others doesn't hold the same importance.
You don't generally hear autistic people say is "I know it like the back of my hand" because we typically don't have a clue what the back of our hand looks like. It's not important to us, it serves no purpose knowing and so it takes up no space in our memory. We look in the mirror less, we look our own bodies less. We spend less time worrying about it.

This disconnect does serve one great purpose... when our mind is separate from our body, we're more free to recognize that our body isn't the right body. When we think and feel in the way a specific gender thinks and feels, and we look down and see we are not that gender, we recognize the problem.

Generations

All of this is actually remarkable to think about because if you look back 20, 50, 100 or more years... this just didn't happen. Even so little as 20 years ago, most people weren't even being diagnosed with autism simply because there wasn't enough experts that could recognize it much less diagnose it.

To think about being gay or gender fluid or gender neutral... it wasn't very many years ago where, if you weren't straight... then... tough! You basically never told anyone because no one else ever did and even if you did, there was nothing you could do about it. There certainly weren't any sex change operations to speak of.

But today, anyone not feeling they truly belong in their own skin can see other people that are famous or friends or even family who are embracing who they are even if it means going through a sex change procedure. They see those people and then look at themselves and finally understand what they've been feeling! They look at those people who are doing something about it and they realize that they can do something about it too! That's powerful.

Back to that opening statement

So this guy in this article, he has it backwards. But even my own adjustment to his statement isn't entirely accurate. You see, I believe a lot of people, whether autistic or not, are gay, or gender fluid, or gender neutral or transgender... it's just that autistic people could be more likely to recognize that, or at least recognize it sooner, simply due to their mind/body disconnect and the fact that they're less likely to be programmed into social norms.

It's not that autistic people are more likely to be LGBTQ, it's that they're more likely to recognize it and believe it and admit it.

When you think of it in those terms, this is a good thing. A very good thing. Because now is the time when the technology and the information and the freedom is available to truly be who they were meant to be.
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Did 2016 also kill #autism blogs? Why? And what's next?
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Ford Motor Co. plans next year to hire an additional 12 to 24 adults with autism, expanding a program with the Autism Alliance of Michigan that has more than 30 other local companies signed on.
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The bullies aren't always other kids.

This teacher can be seen getting prepared ahead of time, knowing the boy with autism was coming to say his line and she snatched the microphone off the stand in an aggressive way to make sure he didn't get that chance.

You can hear laughter in the crowd from other parents.

The school, in their attempt to down play the event, not only played the part of the bully but showed other kids that it's quite alright to be that bully.
It's situations like this that can leave a life long impression on a child, especially a child with autism who can replay this moment over and over and over again in his mind forever and also on those around them who sees something like this and finds it funny.

Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe there was no "malice" intended. But there are still dozens of ways this could have been handled better. And addressed. And apologies given.

Oh and by the way, there's no way anyone can watch this and still try to tell me that it's autistics that lack empathy.
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This morning I processed a few dozen whitelist applications for the +Autcraft server... among them were 2 trolls. I had a bad feeling about them just from looking at their applications but couldn't find anything particularly bad about them in Google or anything, so I approved them.

A little while later, I saw them both sign on and message each other immediately. I let the other admins know to keep an eye on them and kept an eye on them myself as well.

Player after player welcomed them to the server and showered them with welcoming gifts. To my dismay, one of them messaged the other "Wow, I'm having second thoughts now!"

They actually ended up playing nicely for some time and started building a base and everything. Unfortunately, trolls being trolls, Autcraft wasn't for them. They didn't have autism and they had a nasty streak that would have caused trouble eventually.

They're gone now, not coming back but the best part is that none of the players even know what could have happened, or that they were ever even there.

But to think... their intention was to find a way onto the server solely to troll the people on it and the warmth and kindness of everyone the moment they signed on made them reconsider.

Imagine a world where that happened all the time.
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