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Autistic Community | No Safe Social Skills Courses of Any Age, Anywhere — John Greally

By John Greally, Autistic Activist and Co-Founder of The Autistic Union


I am awaiting news of an autistic social skills course that teaches autistic skills to autistics.

Taught in context, to all, autistic or not. Inclusively. In context.

If it’s not sharing, it’s not caring. It’s oppression. All take, no give. Just another ghettoed beat-up, victimization.

ALL current social skills courses “for autistics” are abusive, as they are not FOR autistics, either by what they seek to do, or by what they fail to deliver.

No bully is made to go to hour after hour of after-school “courses” to have their anti-social ways corrected, but autistic’s autistically-social or asocial ways are set to be drummed out of them, parsing the message they are broken, they must change, cease to be so themselves, so autistic.

Yet they are not the one’s bringing others to suicide, on the contrary. Let’s face it, bullies get sniggering admiration where it counts, at the top.

BSU (Bridge Social, a provider of such courses) says:

“…the limits of isolated social skills training over brief periods of time have been reached.” (Strain & Hoyson, 2000)

We have found that implementing short-term programmes addresses only the tip of the iceberg of social functioning. Current research highlights poor generalisation and maintenance of skills.“

So what do they want to do? Deepen and lengthen how much of this misery autistics are subjected to.

Having failed for decades to deliver a result with social skills course, they want more, and to go harder on autistics.

Do we trust these pushers of failure? Is their pedigree the one where success if most likely to be discovered? No.

What’s more, their failure has not led them to recognise the cost to autistics who were taken away from developing alternative autistic modalities of interacting with this world, garnishing their own strengths. No apology. No compensation. Why? No respect. Still. And even less respect in the future is what they now propose.

The same people who unfolded that abysmal ‘forced one-sided social skills’ tragedy for so many autistics… a living hell of messages of badness/brokenness/death-via-anxiety… now suddenly expect one to believe they’ve, oh!, fixed it, and it’s just fine now, like roses blooming in a weed patch. Tragedy asking for a second chance at greater tragedy.

My comments here are about part of their Advanced Level, but equally apply to the whole shooting-match. “How can I recognise and respond to bullying attempts?”.

To teach such a skill, in isolation, day-after-day, without the bully present or in another room momentarily discovering why he or she has to pick up litter around the school for 30 minutes, is to load a message of brokenness on the autistic, and the duty to repair on to the person least capable of repair. That’s wicked, righ there.

But any attempted repair by the autistic, is at a cost of their very self. Super-evil, right there.

Not just time away from THEIR autistic pursuits and THEIR autistic developments. Not just autistics reading between the lines that they must have done bad and need to figure out what the correct responses are to questions so the punishment can end as soon as possible. To have to jolly along the course presenters.

Teaching this in isolation is the very same failure as before repeated for a second time, but doubled-down on. It originates in the most insular thoughts of unaffected external money-making parties, designed to meet their income needs by superficially meeting parent’s thinking-errors regarding their child. The needs considered of all, but the Autistic.

It is super-exclusionary, seeking to take a child feeling excluded, to magnify their realisation of just how excluded they are, how excludable they are, and then ramming home that they will keep being excluded if they don’t change to being more like someone they are not, someone more like the bully who is missing in all of this (as an example – because as we know, others harm and exclude us too).

The fundamental principle of inclusion…
is being butchered to bring about such an Anti-Autistic Hate-Course.

The whole reason for disability activists seeking inclusive education, seeking inclusive teaching, is to ensure what is being parsed to one set of individuals (in this case often the victim – always the marginalised) is parsed in a setting that includes [there’s that word again] the victimisers and marginalisers, who have to be present, to get equality going, agreement among onlookers going, learning going for bully/victim/peers in a mutual way, together, not apart, not in silos, or in any micro-special-needs unit as where BSU social skills are inevitably taught, a place of darkness if everyone else is absent but the victim, the victim further victimised.

That is the environment Autistics can learn in, not fake-learn in, one they are valued in, one in which they can solicit care and protection, one in which they can be held-up publically as equal, one in which they can reference with accord and support-assurances from peers, one in which they can grow together with and in.

Imagine an autistic having the difference between pun (easy to be amused by) and idiom (hard to socially figure) explained in front of all, respectfully… the others, you see, they get to learn where an autistic might struggle, where to help, and at the same time, what their strength is, what they could be a ‘go to’ person for… true diversity acceptance and equality works exactly that way… not after-school, down the back of x, in a room with y, doing z, as a punishment for being a victim.

If I offer a free course on “How to Protect Yourself from Racist Attacks”, even if I don’t go as far as teaching POC how to dress or sound “more Whitey”, I instantly become the very deepest (and most hidden) oppressor in the system, without immensely more resources being poured into:
a) addressing racists and their issues, their brokenness, their psychiatric illness, their thinking-errors
b) gaining autistic perspective on how they should be dealt with
c) having autistics check the quality, appropriateness, and overall goodness of any materials in the last and least module of what I might later seek to do, i.e. protect POC from racist attacks that have not been stopped by any real impacts from other modules that come *before* that one.

Why is it they bring out the pea-shooter to take-down the free-time of a bully, and use identity-nukes to take-down the core of the victims, autistics? If you as an autistic, bullied, were operating this course… what else would you include, what would you do differently, how would you address the autistic authenticity of the child in a holistic way?

Like other “providers” they will keep re-treading the old sick tired bad stuff, dressing it in new rags for new parents who do not think hard, to hide the fatal evil at their ‘therapies’ core, like ABA repackaged as PBS without some obvious abusive/coercive/aversive practices, or increasingly softened and watered-down activated bleach enemas, or talk of ‘recovery’ and ‘optimisation’ instead of ‘cure’, and it will keep going on and on

—–> until THEY are broken

away from their anti-autistic fixation ends, until their hollowness ends, until their obsessiveness ends, their psychiatric blindness ends, their perseveration ends, their utter inability to do empathy ends, their black&white thinking ends, their lack of compassion ends, their unwillingness to understand ends.

Autism is the very aching gap between them and us. And currently they seek to strangle that very Autism, not accept it.

Don’t be fooled by the glossy brochure filled with smiling white faces. This is about smacking-down autistics, solely.

~ ʎllɐǝɹƃ uɥoɾ

John Greally

I am Âûtistic. I have an amazing son who is named Luke (18) who is also Âûtistic. Together we Co-founded Âûtistic Spectrum New Zealand and Âûtistic Union (Âû) just for Âûtistics & Allies.

We live in Upper Hutt at the top of a large glacial valley near the centre of New Zealand, not far from ‘Rivendell’ (as in ‘Lord of the Rings’), and from our nation’s Capital City, Wellington.

We are both very welcoming folk who’d love to hear from you. 🙂

By Eve Reiland

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