Hear me out: please stop responding to ADN and that Karen woman

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  Awful poem.  Untrue.  Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if a certain speech and language pathologist has those words tattooed on her butt.  The trouble is, with how the glorious internet works, we’re not gonna hurt her by hurling words at her, we’re gonna end up helping her (and a certain news site) go laughing all the way to the bank.

If this means nothing to you so far, no worries, move right along 🙂

I love t’internet, social media, blogging.  In my current guise, I am a stay-at-home Mum to my gorgeous un-ABA’d autistic daughter, who writes a sometimes crass, sometimes more elevated, blog.

In a past life, I used to work in media; in another, I got paid money to make people climb up Google rankings without spending too much money, mostly by creating content that people wanted to share because that really, really works.

I don’t know it all but I know a bit.

I wrote a poem that went viral once… I’ve been hiding from past clients asking for refunds ever since.

Seriously though, I know enough to ask everyone on Twitter and Facebook and all those who blog about autism to shut the F up about Little Miss Perky Bully and a frankly pretty cheap, low grade not-much-beyond-aggregator news site.

I would never advise people to ignore real-life bullies, that is not the way to go.  I would however ask people to ignore, in social media terms:

  1. a poor quality media site whose main revenue stream is advertising so trade on monthly visit volumes and newsletter audience size, they live for links and shares…
  2. an awful woman who has been blasting sites like the one mentioned above with various useful ignorant “thought pieces” over the last few months as she is flogging a really, really bad “let’s get autistic kids talking better” app…

If you must mention them, please don’t use their full Googleable names and please, please don’t link to them.

I know many who have blogged already have angsted over whether to link to the site or individual concerned to further promote them – your gut feel was right – go back, edit your piece, remove the links, it’s worth the effort.

However small a media outlet, I believe there is a responsibility over what you publish.  Flagging an article as “someone else’s opinion” (as has been done in this case) is the same as standing by and watching the bully kick the kid’s head in.

Sadly that works for most of the UK tabloid press so I cannot argue that ill-judged and offensive content is enough to stop a publication in its tracks.

However the website in question is small and amateurish.  I doubt that their regular audience is that large or influential.  They may showboat their stats on an Advertising info page but more telling is the lack of premium advertisers on the home page: none in fact.

More importantly, one of their autistic contributors has recently pulled her support – to be clear: for other reasons but I believe would have definitely done so after this anyway – and hopefully other contributors may now do the same, reducing the publication to just a regurgitator of press releases, and ultimately obscurity and closure.

It doesn’t take much to implode when your revenue is reliant on Google Adwords (I’ve been there and done that too).

The offensive article that they published has garnered in just a few days the same amount of social media shares as their home page has had in its lifetime.  The article has about 400+ times the shares and publicity of any of their other content: a perfect example of “any publicity is good publicity”.

This is a perfect example of how sometimes, technologically, it is best to silently turn the other cheek.

As for that terrible woman, any linking to, featuring of, promotion of that sweetheart is way more insidious.  She’s got a whole career ahead of her, torturing autistic kids via their ill-informed well-meaning parents.  She’s not going away so easily.

Looking at her social media footprint, the flurry of submitted articles to various sites over the past few months, she’s on a mission to make a whole load of money out of her iPad app and become the latest celebrity “professional” in this field.  She is going to use the bullying angle over and over to catch attention.  She’s been featured in some publications already and I would imagine she’s determined to continue her media assault.

Theoretically I’m neurotypical and I can already feel myself starting to perseverate about her.  Honestly: advice on how to have better conversations in the lunchroom?  One of the most overwhelming sensory environments that many autistic kids have to bear.  Really?  My head is filled with nothing but obscenities at the ignorance of it.

…but I’m not going to blog about her, however frustrating that will be.  I am not going to give her any link-love or good Google juice.  I’m not going to follow her, bookmark her, anything.

The Google algorithms are ever-changing and complex and I’m no expert but to all of you autistic bloggers and tweeters out there, with growing audiences and voices, the sites and people that you choose to link to, individually and en masse, will increasingly benefit from that.  As Google’s algorithms “learn” over time that you are an expert voice with regards to autism, as your authority grows, so does the importance of everything you link to.

An awful article, an awful woman, but we must stop fanning the fires that could allow her reputation to grow.  On the internet where ‘attention to’ can almost be synonymous with ‘celebration of’, please don’t give her a voice.

Bullying is just awful, devastating.  The mis-treatment of autistic kids through widely promoted and seemingly accepted “therapies” is still rife, and sickening.  Those conversations need to continue, I don’t disagree with that, but imagine we all managed to kick up such a Twitterstorm on a topic that someone in the popular mainstream media picks up on it: if you had one chance to share one message this year, would it really be this?

Speaking as the mother of an autistic child – don’t tell me what not to do and leave me hanging – tell me what to do.  Give me the positives, the right way forward.  Tell me the things that help you, I’m neurotypical, I think I’m one of the good ones but I’m still learning that my best guess probably isn’t enough.  Give me direction, inspiration and strength to ignore these awful recommendations that bombard me all the time.

She says “I Can Have Conversations With You!™ ” (yes, she even trademarked it, say no more) but we can all say, “No, not on the internet, you can’t”, we’re too busy talking up the good stuff, sharing our success, celebrating neurodiversity, forging the way forward to a positive equal future for everyone.

8 thoughts on “Hear me out: please stop responding to ADN and that Karen woman

  1. Thankfully I have no idea who you are talking about. Mainly, I think, because I am extremely selective about who I read regarding ASD and also because opinions on T’internet don’t interest me that much. But then I am beginning to suspect that I have a level of spectrum traits anyway. Inspite of my lack of interest I get how such things can garner “support” and agree with you whole heartedly. Our media loves trolls and they give plenty of them airtime and cyberspace as it is. I find the off switch is the best defence against their dark arts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed, I’m all for the off-switch, I just felt compelled to comment on this one as it was achieving such a groundswell of attention.

      The saddest thing is that this woman is not technically a troll, she is a fully qualified speech and language therapist with 20years professional practice under her belt, awful!

      But you are ultimately correct, one must be very selective about what you read… and to whom you listen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suspect I am in the happy position of not wanting my boy to “get better” as I don’t consider him to be ill or disabled, just different. However his sensory issues have far less impact on daily life for the family and are much more restrictive for him. Though outsiders often impose their value judgements on his choices and assume that he is disadvantaged when he avoids certain situations. I don’t get this, as he is quite happy with the choices he makes even if they may appear limiting to another person. Ah well such is life with ASD in all its glorious shades; maybe I would be less sanguine if his sensory overloads were more impactful on all around him.

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        1. Yes; if I could describe my daughter as I see her I would say that she is on the autism spectrum with sensory processing disorder.

          Early on, in one of her various prod, poke, discuss sessions, a doctor/therapist/can’t remember who exactly said “I only really consider something a disorder if it interferes in daily life and stops the person doing something that THEY want to do” e.g. Who cares what anyone else (including parents) think or expect, it should be measured from the individual concerned’ perspective.

          In which case I don’t believe any autistic person would describe themselves disordered for having an autistic brain other than perhaps the sensory challenges.

          My daughter definitely views those as a disability, they restrict her daily (hourly even) and cause her much distress… Interestingly she herself often says “I am not disabled but I have a disability”, i see this as making a distinction between the whole and a part… She defines her “whole” as autistic with no sense of that being lesser or negative but she can’t reconcile the sensory challenges in that. I know she wrestles with her self image and describing herself correctly “as she feels”… But her sensory defensiveness is particularly acute…

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  2. As hillsofnottingham said above, I am also thankful that I have absolutely no idea who you are talking about! Sounds like a person Katie Hopkins would get along well with!

    Although the ‘off button’ is often the best defence against people like that, sometimes forewarned is forearmed, so do not feel at all that you shouldn’t have posted.

    Whilst I don’t have children to worry about, never mind one with autism or other ‘special’ needs, I can appreciate how much someone supposedly competent in speech therapy etc may get a lot of ‘hits’ from parents / carers desperately searching for something that may just help their child / brother / sister etc and then, stumbling across something such as you mentioned, feeling totally inadequate (probably for the umpteenth time) or that they’re doing something wrong.

    How dare these ‘experts’ do that!?

    I saw someone on BBC Breakfast (within the last month, but can’t find the link right now) who had a book out and was speaking about autism more in terms of getting acceptance for people within society as they are, rather than trying to change their patterns of speech etc. That sounded to my unknowledgeable but caring mind as a better way?

    I’ve also read (about 7-8 yrs ago) in an IT Services publication about some Swedish employers favouring people on the autistic spectrum for their skills in documentation or code review, given their ability to spot inconsistency, errors or omissions (particularly where e.g. a project has various documents such as Business Requirements, Functional Spec, Technical Spec, not to mention code, test scripts etc, all of which can miss something or be contradictory).

    That sounds to be to be something where the very ‘dis’ ability autism is supposed to be could actually be a valuable ‘ability’ (skill) in some areas and something to be encouraged in business thinking.

    Perhaps, in some areas, people are starting to move forwards in their thinking about people who are ‘different’ (I kind of prefer that term to ‘disabled’, but I know terminology is just that) and starting to think more positively about what people can do rather than what they can’t.

    The biggest shift will be when every single human being is considered as exactly that – an individual – with gifts, talents, skills, strengths, weaknesses – alongside everyone else in exactly the same way (mobility should only be a consideration in a small No of specialist areas).

    We’re a long way from that, whatever the London Paralympics etc did. In terms of physical ability, that probably had a good impact on peoples’ mindsets but I don’t remember much attention being paid to anyone with learning difficulties.

    And there’s still the issue of mental illness that so many experience in one form or another for long or short term periods. Depression is the biggest one and has myriad forms – sadly, like ‘autism’, ‘depression’ is a catch-all phrase that labels people the same way regardless of whether they have (what used to be called) manic depression; event-triggered depression (happens to many on e.g. death of a friend / relative etc) which is usually fairly short-lived; post-natal depression (tends to be slightly different to other event-driven depression); other cyclical forms of depression, often confused with manic-depression or bi-polar as there are many and various forms of cyclical depression and most GPs (never mind mental health professionals) are sadly lacking in any knowledge in this area.

    Sorry to have gone off on one, but it gets me angry when I see injustice or misinformation being put out there as truth and then the people having to deal with stuff ‘on the ground’ having to deal with the fallout of all that.

    Good luck out there and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The biggest shift will be when every single human being is considered as exactly that – an individual – with gifts, talents, skills, strengths, weaknesses – alongside everyone else in exactly the same way ”
      – could not put it better, this is everything and all of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I write from the heart and try to express what I believe.

    Sometimes I get the words right: perhaps I did this time 🙂

    Mostly, I write as my dog on his own blog as I find it easier to write life observations as him than as me directly.

    But, sometimes, I just find I have to say what I think directly as me.

    Your posts often make me think about things that I’m not directly connected to but have an opinion about.

    Sometimes, I just have to reply…

    He (my dog, Bobby) has a great ‘voice’ (on his blog) and demonstrated his real voice very vocally last night watching X Factor alongside playing with a squeaky toy!!! He added his ‘wolf howls’ to every singer he liked but sat with his paws over his ears to the ones he didn’t like!

    Didn’t exactly look or sound like the ‘Super Hero’ he’s purported to be… and I know him to be from personal experience when I broke my leg earlier this summer, but who’s questioning his credentials right now?!!! he’s still my super hero 🙂

    Dogs are great aren’t they?!

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