It’s been a while since my last post so sorry about not blogging often enough.This is due to having a lot of personal commitments.These include:looking for jobs/oppourtunities that’ll get me my dream job in TV,volunteering,getting myself out there,trying to plan for and sell off things to help with the big move. So this’ll definately be a busy month for me.
I write this post because I was touched by Kevin Healey’s campaign to make bullying (and all forms of harassment online/offline) against people with Autism illegal in the UK (and hopefully the wider world).
My experience with social networking is a mixed bag because I’m affected by ASD.Twitter and social media has enabled me to meet and make friends with new people so that’s a great plus for someone who is generally rather busy with his work.I love almost everything about social networking except for a few things and I’ll get to that in a moment.
Most people can say without a doubt that social networking has really transformed the way we conduct business with other people,how we keep up with the latest news from almost anywhere in the world (except Syria as Assad keeps switching off the internet to stop people getting stories out),we can even meet people and celebrities we admire-sometimes they even reply to people and their fans.
As much as I like social networking I’ve found quite a few issues with it in terms of how some people conduct themselves towards other people,including those with autism and disabilities.
I’ve had a very difficult experience with contacting someone on Twitter (she won’t be named here to avoid a possible lawsuit even though she’s a BBC staff member/presenter).The issue would be that I send tweets with questions I had about her work and the TV industry in general but she always keeps ignoring them.This situation started since last october and has been ongoing.This has left me very distressed as it seems to be that if I have ASD,I don’t feel welcome even though this person readily replies to everyone else very quickly which is by definition of discrimination (treating one person less favourably than another due to race,religion,disability,etc).
Well I don’t wish to get into too much detail (as I find the whole affair too distressing) but when a by stander noticed my tweets,it was hinted that my tweets came across as offensive or questionable even though I never meant them to be this way. That’s when he realised that I had ASD (as I struggle with how I come across and I can’t really read into the context of conversations with all written forms of communication).
It is thanks to the numerous difficulties caused by stereotypes,discrimination,myths and ignorance of Autism (and ASD) that my life was made much more difficult that it ought to have been (I can detail many examples but they are for a separate topic). I have many questions to ask this person (The BBC staff member):
1.Is it against the law to be happy? To be born with a condition you can’t do anything about?
2.Is it fair to be ignored just because of my condition online and in real life when I talk to you about straightforward things?
3. Why does Autism have to be misunderstood and ignored? Why treat people with disabilities as second class citizens?
4.To the so called ‘healers’ who think autism is treatable in rural communities/online,why promote dubious and questionable ‘cures’ that allegedly ‘treat’ things you have little to no understanding about instead of encouraging members of society to make reasonable adjustments for people with ALL disabilties and not to promote a discriminatory attitude?
5.Why is it ever ok to ignore the messages of a person with ASD who never wrote or said anything offensive to you at all just because he came across as ‘different’?
6.Just because some people with ASD ‘seem ok’ doesn’t mean that they aren’t suffering in silence of all sorts of unaddressed issues.Can you please reach out to these people,actually understand and learn what people with Autism and disabilities go through instead of just saying ‘…you seem fine to me when we talk…’ (reference to a recent conversation with a friend on Kik messenger a while ago)
7.Why is it that when people with ASD complain of unequal treatment form some people,groups and companies that our complaints are ignored and readily dismisssed,instead of actually tackling the problem and creating a brighter and more equal future for all with or without any kind of disabilities? This references conversations that my online friend Julio Henze made when talking to the BBC,BBC Three,Curtis Brown (TV agency) and another person when trying to help me on my behalf with resolving issues like this between myself and that same person (TV presenter).
8.Why is there no clear mechanism to report incidents on online abuse that takes place on Twitter and various other sites against those with disabilities/other people? Twitter claims it doesn’t moderate message but I’m sorry,this is exactly the kind of permissive attitude that has lead to causing great misery,trauma and distress to all victims on online bullying.In fact I know of two cases where people with Autism who ended their lives as a result of online bullying that took place on Twitter as it went too far.
9.Why is it that I get rejected for jobs and work experience oppourtunities just because I wasn’t given tailor made help for my ASD to uderstand and fill out these applications,even though I can more than easily express my talents with a showreel or a portfolio of my work for film and TV industry? I rang the BBC several times over this,only to be greeted with a message telling me that they’re improving the recruitment process to account for people with my condition after being told several times before that it was perfectly suitable. I raised a point saying that asking disabled applicants to apply for their Extend scheme is not good enough as the application process for all their advertised jobs/work experience oppourtunities MUST account for disabilities instead of paying lip service and saying disabled people should apply for this scheme. I hope you’re reading this and taking notes BBC.
I don’t do this to cause you trouble.I do this because I care about working with you at the BBC and other TV studios and to help build a fully equal and brighter future for everyone which is what many of your charters and manifestos say.
10.Can we please have an equivalent of cultural sensitivity training from the US in the UK but expanded to teach people how to work with people with mental and physical disabilities on top of all anti-discriminatory topics? This training should be mandatory for everyone from primary school to university in the UK and the wider world to remedy all outstanding issues in regards of discrimination as well as a clear,fair and reliable framework in all countries to report and tackle discrimination.
Which raises many questions for me,how much can we as a society allow ignorance and continued discrimination of people with autism in society and online before we say enough is enough? I must make a personal appeal to all of you.I’ve been working hard on several film projects and many other things throughout my life.Is it possible for all people to be more accommodating (especially on part of public figures,TV presenters and wider society online) and understanding towards people with ASD and to be treated fairly with dignity? Is that so much to ask?
If you like my article or have an opinion on anything expressed her,please feel free to comment (comments are moderated to stop internet trolls from upsetting people who should have the freedom to express their opinions without fear of harassment).Thank you.