Update On Everything

Hey everybody! Ultimate Oddball here. I wanted to put up an update as to everything happening with the channel right now. If you watch my videos you may be aware that I don’t have air conditioning at the moment, which has made recording videos a bit difficult. A few days ago we got a portable unit to use temporarily, but you pretty much have to be next to it for it to help. Recording videos, due to the sensitivity of my microphone, has to be done with fans off to prevent awful background noise. Because of this, making videos has been a bit difficult lately. It’ll be at least a month until I have a an AC unit that can actually cool my living area, so things have to change up temporarily.

I didn’t want to slow down from the five videos a week I’ve been doing for a while, so I decided to mix in some videos of just gameplay without a face-cam over the course of the next month or so. I recently started playing Warframe and love it, so I thought that would make some good gameplay. I am not ceasing use of face-cam in my videos permanently: this is absolutely a temporary thing. I love being able to react to things and discuss elements of the game, though with Warframe I’m often so engrossed that it would probably just be me staring at the screen.

I will be continuing some video series and starting new ones. As series have become stale or if they did not garner interest, I’ve been stopping them and starting new ones. Over time I will cycle back to many of them, though, especially games which are updated over time, like Steam Early access games. I’ve tried to switch to PC games almost entirely because for some reason I get much better video quality on my PC. This is counter-intuitive, as my Elgato should be doing most of the work when I record from my Xbox 360, which makes me think I’ve got the settings wrong. My laptop is in the low to mid range as far as processing, memory, and GPU, so I have to adjust settings and trial and error it a lot to get the right mix of quality and consistent frame-rate. I’ve got my OBS settings good on recording PC games, but I still have to keep working at getting the settings right for capturing from my 360.

 

Recently a friend of mine gave me a bunch of his 360 games, speaking of, which is part of why I have some new series in mind. Included in the list of games I think will make good videos is ‘Sims 3 Pets’, which allows me to control Sims and their animals. I played it for a few minutes after making a house and really enjoyed sending Pasley the puppy outside to bark at the neighbor dogs who came over to say ‘Welcome to the neighborhood!’. Another good possibility is ‘Red Dead Redemption’, a game I really enjoyed playing years ago when I owned it the first time. Also, Xbox Live Games With Gold is giving out ‘X-Com: Enemy Unknown’ from the 16th to the 30th, which always makes great videos and is a game I’ve only played the demo of (though that may have been ‘Enemy Within’). I’ll be continuing the Warframe videos mixed in with the other series I’ve been doing over the next month or so, and hopefully by then I’ll be able to start recording with face-cam again.

There will be a new autism video tomorrow for the ‘Thoughts On the Spectrum’ series. Last week I took off, partly because of this heat/no AC issue and partly because I just needed a little bit of me time. I had planned to take at least one week off from the series this year, so they should be consistent from now on. The plan right now is to continue them until at least October 15th, the one year mark of the channel and the series starting, but that relies on my ability to continue to find topics for each video, which has started to become slightly more difficult. Luckily I realized that I could analyze and discuss studies which have interesting findings or new information and that would provide solid content for the series as well. There are always new studies, so the series may move from general subjects and information which isn’t commonly known, which has been the focus, more into covering new scientific advances and research. This is a very intriguing time for autism research as the scientific community is starting to listen to advocates and self advocates about the language and subjects in studies on autism. This means we may see a shift in scientific focus from the “search for a cure”, which has been at the forefront, into areas which actually help autistic people.

Well, thanks for coming by, and have a great day.

The Fundamental Issues With ‘Me Before You’

Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. In this week’s blog post I want to discuss the recent controversy and protest in response to the film ‘Me Before You’. The disabled community has responded strongly, pointing out the ableist views promoted both consciously and subconsciously by the film and by extension the author of the book and screenplay, Jojo Moyes. I’ll be sharing my thoughts as well as particularly apt quotes which sum up the issues well. This post, due to the nature of the content of the film, has a content warning for discussion of suicide and filicide.

‘Me Before You’ is meant to be a romance. The main characters are Will Traynor, who is a successful well off man, and Louisa Clark, the woman who takes a job caring for him after he is paralyzed in an accident. The two fall for each other in the course of his care. Suicide is a steady theme throughout, with Will eventually choosing to end his life via assisted suicide in Switzerland at the end of the film. The entirety of the given reason for Will no longer wanting to live is him being paralyzed.

I will not be delving into the morals of assisted suicide: suffice to say that I believe each person has the right to choose that if that’s what they wish. But Will is not a person: Will is a character. Further, Will was not written by a disabled person. The author does not have the direct experience and understanding necessary to properly frame this important subject, hence the problematic portrayal. This is made even more troublesome due to use of a common trope in disabled media representation, which is usually referred to as the “Better Dead Than Disabled” trope. It is a perpetuation of the ableist idea that disabled people are so inferior it would be better to be dead. As damaging as the regular and consistent use of this trope is, it is magnified by the fact that there is so little disability representation that media like this which promotes better dead than disabled notions is a significant percentage of the overall amount.

This widespread ableist belief has serious and heartbreaking effects. Filicide is a major issue in the disability community. People murder their disabled family members, often their children, and claim it was in the person’s best interest. Judges and juries in cases like this are often more empathetic to the murderer than the murdered. These views are driven by ableist beliefs like the ones perpetuated in this film and book. I don’t want to seem like I’m singling out the author: these views are rooted in societally ingrained ableism and that’s where they come from. Ableism can occur in anyone because there is so much of it in society that it’s difficult not to be affected by it. That doesn’t excuse ignoring it, though, nor does it justify exploiting the stories of disabled people in damaging and problematic ways. It means that everyone, disabled or not, should always be wary of ableist thoughts because no one is automatically exempt.

As I said previously, ‘Me Before You’ is meant to be a romance. That is intended to be its center. Will’s accident, his disability, the difficulties he has, his connection with Louisa, these are just used as plot points on the way to his death. The only reason any of that happens is so the audience can feel like he’s justified in seeking assisted suicide. And the entire reason for his death is to emotionally manipulate the reader or viewer. While I have no issue with authors tugging at the heartstrings of readers or viewers I do have an issue with exploiting disability representation in a detrimental way to do so. Will could have done anything in this story. Been anyone. The author instead chose to make him someone to pity, and then killed him off at the end for maximum emotional impact. The only disabled character. Sit back and think about the disabled characters you’re familiar with, then think about how many weren’t reinforcing pity and infantilization. Think about how many were full three dimensional characters which can’t be summed almost solely by their disability.

This is the fundamental issue at hand. Abled people use disability in their media in a manner the disabled community feels is thoroughly terrible and inaccurate as far as representation goes, to the point that disabled people are murdered, mistreated, discriminated against, and excluded. When the disability community protests these abled people, we are dismissed because abled society doesn’t think we’re worth considering or respecting. As long as films and books continue to propagate these negative stereotypes and use these tired tropes, we, the disabled community, will continue to suffer. If you care about disabled people in the slightest, please let it be known that you don’t support the perpetuation of these damaging views.

Well, thanks for coming by, and have a good day.

The Overlap Between Autism and Anxiety Disorders (Advance Script)

Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. I decided to take a couple weeks off from my blog as I’ve been a bit swamped lately with various things, but I plan on getting right back at it. Here’s an early look at the script for tomorrow’s ‘Thoughts On the Spectrum’ video.

Today I’m going to discuss a study from 2009 which reviewed forty reports published between 1990 and 2008 referencing autism spectrum disorder and anxiety. The results indicated anxiety is common in autistic children and adolescents. The researchers state that anxiety is likely to express atypically in autistic individuals, and thus assessment should include a variation of methods and information. They also note that there aren’t enough studies on the subject, and provide recommendations for future research. In addition, I’ll be pointing out the irrationality of thinking anxiety is predominantly something which affects individuals considered clinically to be “high functioning” and further share my thoughts on the subject.

This report by Susan W. White, Donald Oswald, Thomas Ollendick, and Lawrence Scahill reviewed forty studies, with results indicating that somewhere between 11% and 84% of autistic children experience symptoms of anxiety. Two of the studies directly looked at individuals with a diagnosis of anxiety disorder and autism spectrum disorder: “deBruin et al. (2006) found that slightly more than 55% of the sample met criteria for at least one anxiety disorder and Simonoff et al. (2008) reported an overall anxiety disorder diagnosis rate of almost 42%.” Compare that to the prevalence of anxiety disorders among the United States population, which the NIMH says is 18.1%.(1) Even considering the likelihood of the national rate being higher due to cases of lack of diagnosis due to stigma or for economic reasons, it’s unlikely to reach the percentages mentioned in the referenced studies seen in autistic people.

Another important topic brought up is the expressional overlap between autism and other disorders. Axis I anxiety disorders, including social phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, are rarely diagnosed in autistic people, they point out, with the symptoms being attributed to the autism spectrum disorder of the individual. There is a lack of agreement among clinicians as to whether various comorbid conditions should be considered separate from or a part of an individual’s autism. Currently there are many disorders which won’t usually be diagnosed in autistic people but would be diagnosed if that person weren’t diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. As we’ve seen time and time again, there is still a fundamental confusion as to where autism starts, where it ends, and what exactly it includes. Unfortunately I think it’s very likely that the persistent focus on getting rid of autism and the accompanying research funding which has been spent on looking for a “cure” is holding us back scientifically from gaining a better grasp of autism.

As I’ve pointed out in the past, the lack of an assumption of competence in non-speaking autistic individuals as well as other bias can potentially skew the perceptions of clinicians during assessment. Because of this, there seems to be an assumption that anxiety and other psychiatric comorbid disorders are far more prevalent in individuals referred to by clinicians as “high functioning. Another study referenced, written by Gadow and colleagues, showed some interesting and relevant results. “The authors reported that severity of ASD appeared to be negatively associated with psychiatric symptoms such that children with AD were generally rated as having fewer and less severe psychiatric symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression) than children with PDD-NOS or AS. Of the three subtypes (AD (autism spectrum disorder), AS (asperger syndrome), PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified), the children with AS were rated by parents and teachers as the most psychiatrically impaired.” I believe these results may indicate that diagnosis is affected by the same misconception which perpetuates the idea that those deemed “low functioning” by clinicians are unaware of the world around them.

More research needs to include all autistic people, rather than allowing bias to dictate the format of studies. We need a fuller understanding of autism and the comorbid conditions associated with being autistic in order to better help and find accommodations for autistic people in general. Hopefully as research priorities shift alongside shifting social perceptions, we will see more of a focus on these things and less on eradicating autistic people from the Earth. Well, thanks for coming by, and have a great day.

Anxiety in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders’ Susan W. White, Donald Oswald, Thomas Ollendick, and Lawrence Scahill: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2692135/pdf/nihms113987.pdf

(1) http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml

FDA Proposes Ban On Electrical Stimulation Devices For Self Injurious Or Aggressive Behavior

(The following is the transcript of Monday’s upcoming video in my ‘Thoughts On the Spectrum’ series. I want this subject to get attention so I’m putting it here as well. Below is the embed of the video if you’d prefer that.)

Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. Today I’m going to talk about the recent proposal by the F.D.A. to ban the use of “electrical stimulation devices” to shock the wearer in order to treat aggressive or self-injurious behavior. These devices are being used on autistic people in the Judge Rotenberg Center on a regular basis despite what the F.D.A. characterizes as “numerous short- and long-term risks” associated with their use. The F.D.A. also points out that there is only one facility which uses E.S.D. for self injurious and aggressive behavior, and that’s the Judge Rotenberg Center, reflecting the severe decline in their usage in recent years.

The use of E.S.D. has been strongly protested in the autism advocacy community. It has also been criticized by the United Nations. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez, appointed by the U.N., said in 2013 in a report to the Human Rights Council that use of punitive electric shock treatment and extended periods of restraint is “tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Medicare and Medicaid announced they would no longer pay for any treatment at the J.R.C. shortly after the F.D.A. sent a letter to the program in December, 2012, warning them the devices were unapproved and needed to be removed.

The use of electric shock as an aversive technique brings with it many inherently damaging effects. It not only causes physical pain, but also produces psychological trauma. In 2002, Andre Mccollins, who was in the care of the J.R.C., underwent thirty one electric shocks in a seven hour time period while in restraints. The given reasons were that he refused to take off his jacket, and then said ‘No’. Twenty nine of the shocks he received were for “tensing up” or “screaming”. He and his mother, Cheryl, filed a Medical Malpractice suit against the J.R.C. which went to trial in April, 2012. This was the first time video of the electric shocks being administered was publicly released, which lawyers for the J.R.C. had attempted to suppress. It seems likely that this was a large part of what spurred the F.D.A. into action.

One of the driving forces in bringing about this change is self advocates like the amazing ‘Autistic Hoya’, otherwise known as Lydia Brown, who does wonderful work in this area and writes excellent informative things which I highly recommend you check out. Things are in the hands of the F.D.A. now, though, and it’s up to them to make the ultimate decision. They are listening to the public, though, and accepting comments to consider. That’s why I’m going to ask you to go to the site in the description and write a quick comment saying that you think the use of Electrical Stimulation Devices to treat aggressive or self-injurious behavior should end for good.

This is especially important because the Judge Rotenberg Center stated publicly that it hoped parents who were in favor of electric shock treatment would comment. The right of a person to not be subjected to painful electric shock, however, is not dependent on the views of their parent. There is no allowance for actions which the United Nations and many others consider akin to torture. The scientific evidence does not back up the claims that E.S.D. is beneficial. In actuality, it’s much more likely that the overall effects are negative. Together we can end these practices.

Well, thanks for coming by, and have a good day.

Comment on F.D.A. proposal:
https://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2016-N-1111-0001

Sources:
http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm497194.htm
https://autistichoya.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/fda-announcement-25-apr-2016.pdf
http://healthland.time.com/2013/03/06/u-n-report-suggests-some-autism-addiction-treatments-are-akin-to-torture/
https://autistichoya.net/judge-rotenberg-center/

Youtube Content I.D. Changes And Update On #WTFU

Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. Today I’m going to talk about an announced change in the Youtube copyright Content I.D. system which will have Youtube hold disputed monetization revenue until the dispute is resolved. While I feel this is a step in the right direction, I’m going to talk about why it’s only a small step, some of the potential problems which may arise because of it, and the larger picture looming in the background.

One of the biggest issues with the Content I.D. system brought up by Youtubers has been the potential for abuse of this system by corporations which produce and profit off of media. There have been situations involving censorship and attempted censorship of commentary and critique. There are examples of rightsholders seemingly ignoring potential Fair Use and the protections which come with that. And until this new change kicks in monetization revenue will still be up for grabs to anyone willing to claim a video.

While it’s good that the revenue from ads will be held by Youtube during disputes, this still creates the opportunity for someone to effectively block revenue on a Youtuber’s videos for up to a month, and there are seemingly no consequences to filing false claims. If the content creator wishes to dispute the Content I.D. claim, however, they risk being sued. This would require the matter be taken to court, however, which is often not the goal of either side in a dispute. A Youtuber risks a potentially long and costly legal process depending on the parties involved, most especially with big companies which usually have lawyers on retainer. Big companies risk the negative p.r. in addition to potential legal precedent which may not fall in their favor. According to Youtube: “..Content ID claims are disputed less than 1% of the time..”. This is unsurpising considering in the past it has seemed that the only one at risk in this process legally speaking is the Youtuber creating content.

This change, which will be released sometime in the next few months, is a good first step towards protecting content creators. Without additional steps, though, this is unlikely to fix the systemic issues which come about as a result of how Content I.D. and copyright law in general operates today. The biggest changes to copyright law to ensure that Fair Use is respected will likely have to come about in either the courtroom or the legislature. I believe stiffer penalties for intentionally false claims are needed, as well as penalties for companies which intentionally ignore Fair Use and especially for companies which use copyright law as a hammer to censor critique and criticism.

It’s likely that the reason we’re seeing this change is not because Youtube suddenly realized there was an issue, but rather because of the tremendous negative p.r. which has come about due to a number of Youtubers having to deal with what they felt to be false claims leading them to create a public campaign, #WTFU or “Where’s The Fair Use?”. In addition, many other Youtubers have voiced their issues with the current system, and all of this has resulted in upcoming U.S. Government Roundtables discussing U.S. copyright law. Doug Walker, also known as ‘The Nostalgia Critic’ on Youtube, the creator of #WTFU, will be a part of that process.

While things are moving in the right direction, this process towards balancing power when it comes to copyright law between large companies and content creators will inevitably face further hurdles, whether that be smear campaigns from p.r. departments hired by large corporations to defend their financial interests, or lobbying by corporations to avoid any substantial change. This process is far from over. When it comes to critique, criticism, and commentary, there will always be attempts at censorship in order to increase the bottom line. There’s no reason to make that process easier by providing weapons in the form of easily abused copyright systems.

Well, thanks for coming by, and have a good day.

Previous post on Youtube and #WTFU:
Fair Use, Copyright, #WTFU and Youtube (OddCast Ep 1 Transcript)

Information from Youtube: http://youtubecreator.blogspot.com/2016/04/improving-content-id-for-creators.html

Video Game Exploits, Buggy Releases, and Questionable Industry Standards (Ultimate Oddcast Ep. 4 Script)

Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. Today I’m going to discuss the current trend of AAA companies showing very little concern when it comes to releasing buggy games and breaking games with updates. I’ll also be going over the recent controversy which resulted from Ubisoft stating they were looking into punishing players who exploited a bug in their game ‘The Division’ in order to benefit by gaining game items at a much faster rate than would otherwise be possible.

Video games operate in a unique fashion when it comes to new releases in comparison with other industries. It’s very common for a game to be full of bugs when it intially goes on sale. Day one patches are also common and usually involve downloading gigabytes of files. Depending on one’s internet, this may take a considerable amount of time and may even cost the consumer additional money in order to have the game they purchased playable in a relatively functional manner. This is already problematic before you consider that game companies don’t have much financial motivation to spend a lot developing patches. Video game consumers have shown that they will put up with some pretty questionable stuff, like pay to win microtransactions which break the meta of games, or putting the end of a game in downloadable content which costs additional money.

Let’s look at a comparable industry: the movie industry. You may find that statement ridiculous, but in 2013 worldwide box office revenue for the film industry was $35.9 billion. That same year, worldwide revenue for the game industry was $70.4 billion (1). Imagine if you went to the theater, waited for the movie to start, and then it started skipping around and stopped. The usher comes in to tell you they need to update the movie, so if you’ll just wait a bit, you can watch your movie then. Now imagine that happens every time you go to the movies, with the biggest budget movies that there are. The idea of releasing broken buggy products when this much money is at play is, in my view, absolutely ridiculous, and would not be tolerated anywhere else.

I’m not saying that we should expect every bug to be eliminated. The nature of game design and coding means that for every problem you fix, you might create three more. There will always be some issues with games due to the complexity involved. The issue here is that these huge budget games spend a ton of money on marketing, on selling the game based on a presentation of the game which is, at best, a “vertical slice”, to borrow a term used in the industry, and at worst, could be seen as an attempt to utilize false marketing and willfully deceive the consumer. The amount spent on quality assurance, bug testing, patching the game, and other similar things could be increased if developers and publishers were willing to utilize organic marketing through new media rather than just throwing money at standard methods of advertising.

Ubisoft is a game developer which has often courted controversy in the past due to releasing games which could be characterized as broken. ‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’, part of their flagship series, had so many bugs and received such criticism that Ubisoft spent nearly the first half of their video introducing the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ game which came afterwards admitting that ‘Unity’ was buggy and negatively received, and pledging to do better(2). It seems to me that when you have to start from a position of basically saying “We’ve heard your negative reaction and we will do better.”, it says a lot about how serious the backlash was.

Ubisoft released ‘The Division’ in March of 2016. It had a day one patch of two gigabytes. Despite this, there were many bugs reported online by various individuals even after patching(3). Recently, a mode was added which had been hyped considerably called ‘Incursion’. Many players felt that it did not live up to expectations. More problematic, however, was the existence of a number of bugs which allowed players to go through a wall and win the mission without actually defeating all of the enemies. The reward for completing the mission included a piece of high-end loot, or gear, which the player is able to equip in order to improve their attributes in some way. The exploit in this mission, combined with another bug, allowed players to repeatedly glitch the mission in order to gain said loot. In some games this wouldn’t make a difference in the bigger picture of the game world, but a considerable portion of ‘The Division’ is player versus player fighting in a part of the city known as ‘The Dark Zone’. This effectively broke the game in this area due to a glitch which seems to be entirely the fault of Ubisoft. It required legitimate players to also exploit the bug if they wanted to stay alive in ‘The Dark Zone’, which is a sizable portion of what ‘The Division’ consists of and was a major selling point.

Ubisoft has responded to this in what I would characterize in my personal opinion as the worst possible way you can respond to issues like this in your game. A community manager wrote the following on the game’s official forums: “Obviously it is against our Code of Conduct.. The team is looking into what can be done in terms of punishment for those who have exploited.”(4). Keep in mind that the only reason players feel the game is imbalanced, due to some exploiting the glitch, is because the glitch exists in the first place to exploit, and the glitch exists because Ubisoft released ‘Incursion’ that way, even if it was inadvertently. The idea of punishing players for utilizing a bug which allows others to gain a serious competitive advantage in the only competitive portion of the game seems ridiculous to me. The average player is only trying to maintain their ability to play the game they payed for. Ubisoft responding in this way seems to indicate they will be putting time and resources towards trying to punish players which theoretically could have been put towards making sure there weren’t such apparently problematic bugs in ‘Incursion’ mode in the first place.

A later comment from the same representative, Natchai Stappers, made clear that they are banning what they call “cheaters”. From the Ubisoft forums: “Cheaters is an entirely different subject, and I understand you’re all frustrated with it, but do understand that we are actively dealing with cheaters, we are banning them, permanently as well, but because so far it’s been a decision not to communicate on numbers and the likes, this has gone largely unnoticed and makes it seem like we’re not doing anything.”(5) It’s unclear from the posts which players are considered “cheaters”, and whether everyone who uses the exploit risks being permanently banned for doing so.

My personal opinion is that there are a number of practices in the gaming industry which are inherently anti-consumer. I have a serious issue with the fact that the status quo in the industry is to release games which don’t work out of the box. In what other industry do we accept paying for a product which is broken or buggy right out of the box? As I said earlier, bugs will always occur in some fashion. There will always be issues when it comes to something as complex as coding a huge interactive world like those in many AAA big budget titles. But at some point developers and publishers seem to have mistook our acceptance of this fact of life as a willingness to put up with less than thorough QA testing. Whether the main causes of this are rooted in too short of development cycles, or in a lack of motivation to make sure the game isn’t full of bugs, or whatever the reasons may be, it’s something I personally view as undefendable. I think the consumer deserves better.

(1) https://www.quora.com/Who-makes-more-money-Hollywood-or-the-video-game-industry
(2) http://www.polygon.com/2015/5/12/8593359/ubisoft-mess-assassins-creed-unity
(3) https://www.reddit.com/r/thedivision/comments/49z720/bug_report_megathread/
(4) http://www.polygon.com/2016/4/18/11449994/the-division-falcon-lost-glitch-exploit
(5) http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/1436965-To-Natchai-Just-some-questions?p=11625424&viewfull=1#post11625424

Anxiety, Depression, and Their Interaction With Autism (Ultimate Oddcast Advance Script)

Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. In this episode of ‘The Ultimate Oddcast’ I will be discussing depression and anxiety, both in general as well as speaking to my own personal experiences, with a content warning for mental health content and references to suicide. I started experiencing depression and anxiety very early on in life, which started to get bad when I was around eleven. If you’ve watched my ‘Thoughts On the Spectrum’ series, you may know that I was medicated with anti-depressants and had a suicide attempt not long after that.

Long before I was diagnosed with autism at twenty eight years old I experienced a lot of depression for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons was that I felt different from everyone else, knew that I didn’t fit in, and that bothered me a lot. I had spent years honing my abilities to mimic the behavior of others, but even though I’d put a ton of time and energy studying other people and learning about human psychology, I still struggled to fit in. This is part of why I was relieved when I was diagnosed. I’d always known there was something that made me different, and the more I read about autism the better I was able to understand certain difficulties I’d experienced. I had struggled to attain the goals that most people consider important, and that probably fed in to my depression as well. Not to mention how society views you when you don’t fit in line with norms and general expectations.

Depression can be particularly difficult to live with as an autistic person because many of us also experience a condition called Alexithymia, which is characterized by the inability or difficulty to express and gauge emotion in one’s self and in others. I often don’t recognize my emotions until they reach a higher threshold than what non-autistic people seem to notice their emotion at. This may be part of why so many autistic people have emotional outbursts in what seems like a sudden fashion. There have been times when I get frustrated and slam a controller or other object down, and only later do I realize how many things contributed to me being upset in that moment. It takes me being able to literally analyze the situation from a logical perspective afterwards utilizing information and insights I’ve gained from studying people and subjects like psychology, sociology, relationship dynamics, and other similar things in order to get any grasp of it. My ability to intuitively grasp emotion is simply a relative area of weakness.

In the past this has resulted in me going through periods of severe prolonged depression without being totally aware of just how depressed I was. That isn’t to say the signs weren’t there. Typical indicators like lack of motivation, feeling like life is pointless, not wanting to interact with anyone, and other similar things were still present. Over time I learned to analyze myself and my behavior from as objective a perspective as possible, and this helped me notice when my unconscious behavior indicated I was depressed or anxious. Anxiety is something I deal with every day to some degree, though it is at its most severe when I’m in public, especially around large numbers of people.

I have a few subconscious behaviors which help to reduce my anxiety. These are commonly called “stims”. The things I often do when I’m anxious is to pick at my nails or massage my hands, which often hurt. I tend to like keeping my hands together and up, not hanging at my side. I’ve always had no idea where to put my hands, and I didn’t like forcing them to my side, but that was what everyone else did so I made myself do the same for years. There are a lot of movements or similar behaviors which I used to repress and now no longer do. Sometimes it’s a spin or it’s rocking but it could be any type of seemingly random movement. Repressing these movements increases my anxiety, and thus I refuse to do so.

There are a few things I do when I find myself starting to get overly anxious. I try to busy my mind with other things, which can be anything but is most often my Nintendo 2DS handheld video game system. I take slow, deep breaths, utilizing breathing techniques which slow heartrate. If possible, I remove myself from the situation temporarily and get some fresh air. The best, and sometimes only, solution is often to leave the situation entirely. At a certain point anxiety can get to a point where, coupled with a meltdown and sensory processing overload, things go past the point of being able to get by on a quick recharge by stepping away temporarily. The location of this point depends on the variables of the situation, as well as the anxiety levels of the person in said situation.

But, as I said, alexithymia means that I and other autistic people may not recognize that emotional tipping point until we hit it, and sometimes not even then. I’ll give you an example. A month or so back I asked my mom to take me by a game store. She said she would but she wanted to go by the grocery store after and get some chairs. It was supposed to be a relatively quick trip, but the furniture set wasn’t available and my mom had to pick a different one, and because of this it ended up being over an hour that I was waiting there. I was prepared for a short trip, and because of this I hadn’t eaten before I left. Eating tends to be an issue for me because of gastrointestinal issues and pain, so I’m not able to do so often. In this case my blood sugar was low and I was very tired, and I got frustrated when the car was being loaded up and was a bit short with my mom. I tend to internalize everything, so things like this are most damaging to me, but I also don’t like being rude to my mom because she supports me in a lot of ways. At the point that I made the comment to her about the car not having enough room for the furniture, I was so overloaded and anxious that I didn’t care if what I said upset her. I put a lot of thought and effort into many things, and trying to avoid hurting other people is fairly high on the list.

In that situation, I didn’t realize just how annoyed and frustrated I was until it got to be too much. When I get upset I usually shut down rather than meltdown. I just stop engaging, and if someone is really upsetting me, I won’t make eye contact with them at all. I retreat into my own personal world when the outside world becomes upsetting, which I think is fairly common among autistic people. I think it’s important for people who have autistic individuals in their life to remember that we may not react in the same way as everyone else, but that whatever things seem on the outside, that doesn’t indicate anything about what’s going on inside that person’s mind.

It’s important we discuss these subjects further and destigmatize them. The stigma surrounding mental health issues means that many people don’t consider getting help until they’re basically suffering daily, and sometimes not even then. No one deserves to suffer alone: there is help available. Well, thanks for tuning in, thanks for coming by, and have a good day.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal ideation and is seeking help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to call toll-free:

1 (800) 273-8255

Tribeca Film Festival To Screen ‘Vaxxed’ By Andrew Wakefield (*Updated)

(Edited to Update: Tribeca Film Festival announced on March 26th they reviewed the film after the backlash and subsequently pulled it from the festival. Mr. Deniro said: “My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”

( http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/movies/robert-de-niro-pulls-anti-vaccine-documentary-from-tribeca-film-festival.html?_r=0 )

The information in this post is still important, not only as a record of what occurred, but also because Mr. Wakefield will undoubtedly attempt to continue claiming there is a link between vaccines and autism despite his claims being thoroughly debunked.)

Tribeca Film Festival recently announced it will be screening a film from Andrew Wakefield, a former doctor from England who released a now retracted study claiming a link between vaccines and autism. This “documentary” film, and I use that in the loosest term of the word, is titled ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe’ and in it he attempts to further claim the debunked connection between autism and vaccines. The trailer, which is available on Youtube, attempts to frame the information he provides as some type of breaking conspiracy, when in fact it has been thoroughly debunked. Wakefield says in the trailer: “Right now I am sitting in a very pretty position in terms of providing you a lot of information.” To me, the trailer seems to frame the film as if it is coming from an outside perspective, when in actuality it’s directed by Wakefield himself.

Wakefield created a study which is now discredited. Because of this, I have a serious issue trusting any more information coming from him, especially more information claiming the same link between autism and vaccines which was entirely debunked and caused him to lose his medical license. From CNN:

“”A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an “elaborate fraud” that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.

“It’s one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors,” Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor-in-chief, told CNN. “But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.”

Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May. “Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues, fueled by unbalanced media reporting and an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals and the medical profession,” BMJ states in an editorial accompanying the work.””

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/

The article goes on to say that after the study was released there was a decline in the number of parents vaccinating their children. This is not simply an issue of presenting a point of view, as Tribeca and Robert Deniro have claimed. Mr. Deniro, who co-founded Tribeca Film Festival, has publicly stated his support for the inclusion of the movie in the festival and may even be the primary reason it is being screened. He has come out in defense of the film being in the festival, and has even shared that he has an autistic son. He states “”Grace and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening VAXXED. I am not personally endorsing the film, nor am I anti-vaccination; I am only providing the opportunity for a conversation around the issue.”” ( http://variety.com/2016/film/news/robert-deniro-vaxxed-anti-vaccination-autism-tribeca-1201739552/ )

The problem here is putting a film like this in your festival is an indirect endorsement that at the very least the information provided in the film is accurate to a reasonable degree. I don’t expect them to fact-check every film they screen. I do expect them to consider whether it’s a good idea to use their platform to screen a film created by a man who lost his medical license due to his actions during and after a study on THIS VERY SUBJECT. The idea that they’re trying to provide an opportunity for conversation ignores two salient facts; they aren’t screening a film with the science discrediting these claims, and there is no reason to provide a platform for every single message, especially one which seems to be based on debunked and dangerously inaccurate information. There are plenty of messages they would never allow into their festival, and it’s ridiculous that this isn’t one of them.

Since this was announced many people in the autism community and the scientific community have criticized it and called into question the ethical problems of promoting a film with such a dangerous message. As an autistic person this is especially important to me, as the stigma surrounding autism is being exploited and at the same time reinforced by the propagation of the idea that vaccines cause autism and thus it’s better to not vaccinate than risk having an autistic kid. Refusing to vaccinate can have serious health implications, potentially even resulting in death, so the idea that one shouldn’t vaccinate in order to avoid your child being autistic unconsciously implies that severe illness or death are preferable. None of the claimed links between autism and vaccines have been substantiated, and the research has been done. Vaccines go through even more stringest testing than prescription drugs before ever being released for public consumption. It’s common for that process to consist of ten to fifteen years of development and various levels of safety and efficacy testing.

There are some individuals attempting to frame the protest against the screening of this film as censorship. This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what censorship is. Here’s an example that might help: If the government calls you and says “You can’t screen this movie”, that’s censorship. This is America, though, and that would be a first amendment nightmare in court for anyone trying to do so. If, on the other hand, people stand up and demand that a dangerous film which seems to be full of fraudulent information not be screened as it is likely in our opinion to result in direct harm to the public, that’s not censorship. That’s us demanding that Tribeca Film Festival consider the ethical implications in intentionally promoting a film which seems to perpetuate inaccurate information dangerous to the general public.

I hope Tribeca reconsiders this decision. I don’t know about you, but I think I would have trouble sleeping at night if, theoretically speaking of course, I promoted a film which ended up causing children to die or become very ill. In my opinion that would be pretty hard to live with.

Breaking News: Digital Homicide Sues Jim Sterling

(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. The following views are my opinions based on my understanding of law in the United States, and should not in any way be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with an attorney.)

Hey everyone, Ultimate Oddball here. Today I’m going to talk about the lawsuit filed by Digital Homicide against Jim Sterling in Arizona District Court for ten million dollars claiming, among other things, defamation and copyright infringement. Jim Sterling is a video game reviewer who critiques games, especially a variety of Steam titles, on his Youtube channel and website. He is well known for not holding back in sharing his feelings if he feels a game is subpar in quality and/or in the level of effort put into it. He has had a public feud with a developer called Digital Homicide for quite some time now. In his videos discussing the games made by Digital Homicide, Jim has been thoroughly critical of what he feels are bad design and business practices. He has also talked about other companies which seemed to him to be Digital Homicide selling games under a different name.

The actions of Digital Homicide have been, in my personal opinion, highly questionable both in their game development practices as well as in filing this lawsuit. I think it is very unlikely that this lawsuit will turn out the way they hope. They are, as of my writing this, representing themselves in court. This is generally considered to be a bad idea unless one has a law degree. I believe Jim Sterling was already aware that this lawsuit was a possibility based on previous statements from Digital Homicide. I’ve been following the interactions between Jim and Digital Homicide for a while and haven’t seen anything from Jim that I think could be deemed libelous or slanderous, but by no means have I heard or read everything Jim has written or recorded. The language in the filing by Digital Homicide seems to illustrate a lack of legal understanding in my personal opinion. There are also a number of actions seemingly taken by Digital Homicide which appear problematic to me.

After some back and forth between Jim Sterling and Digital Homicide over his coverage of their game ‘The Slaughtering Grounds’, Sterling claims that Digital Homicide filed a D.M.C.A. (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) claim against the video to take it down. Copyright holders have the capability under the current Youtube system to file copyright claims even if they don’t actually believe the claimed work to be infringement. While I am in no way saying that this is what happened here, it is worth noting that the system allows this type of censorship. I personally feel that the business practices of Digital Homicide do not reflect a genuine desire to make high quality work, but instead reflect a desire to make a quick buck. Thus, I have trouble giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Defamation is something that a lot of people tend to get confused about. The crux of defamation is whether the statements are true or not. If I say that you, the reader, are a bank-robber, and you have never been convicted of robbing a bank, that would be defamation. I would be making an untrue statement about you which could damage your reputation. However, if you have been convicted of robbing a bank, or if I have proof you robbed a bank, then that’s not defamation. Opinions, views, beliefs, and thoughts, when stated as such, do not qualify as defamation.

Defamation laws exist to protect people from having others make false statements which might damage their reputation. They do not exist to alter or censor critique. When a person, especially a professional reviewer, is critiquing and commenting on something, their views are unlikely to qualify as defamation unless they specifically say something untrue or misrepresent the work. However, when a work is considered by numerous other reviewers to be subjectively bad, it’s hard to make the claim that their opinion is untrue and thus that it could be called defamatory. This is why you don’t often see lawsuits claiming defamation against critics by the companies which they critique.

Another part of the suit appears to allege copyright infringement against Jim Sterling. This also seems, in my personal opinion, to be unlikely to hold up in a court of law. Fair Use, a subject which Jim is very familiar with, allows for the use of copyrighted material when it’s for specific purposes, including critique, commentary, and review. Jim’s work is generally considered to fall firmly into fair use territory. It seems especially strange to me that both copyright infringement and defamation are included in this suit. As far as I know, this isn’t particularly common.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court and what kind of precedent it sets. Based on all the details I’ve read and my understanding of the law, I don’t think this will work out well for Digital Homicide. Jim Sterling has made it clear in the past that he will not back down from a fight, and this legal battle may be the biggest he’s faced so far.

Well, thanks for coming by, and have a good day.

The Importance of Autistic Inclusion (Script For Upcoming Video)

Hey everybody, Ultimate Oddball here. Today I’m going to talk about the importance of autistic inclusion. While we have come a long way from the days of doctors recommending institutionalization at the point of diagnosis, there are still a number of major issues as far as inclusion goes. Two of the biggest are the lack of autistic inclusion in organizations which advocate for autistic people in a myriad of ways, and the other is segregated workspaces/subminimum wages for autistic people and disabled people in general.

There are many groups which claim to represent autistic people while simultaneously refusing to employ or consult actual autistic people. This is likely rooted at least in part in an expectation that we autistic people have nothing to contribute. Internalized ableism can affect anyone, even the people who wish to advocate for disabled and autistic individuals. Indeed, these individuals as well as disabled and autistic people must be extra wary of internalized ableism, as their position, experiences, and desire to advocate might interfere with their ability to be unbiased in examining their own actions and thoughts.

This lack of inclusion in advocacy is a huge issue for a variety of reasons, one of the biggest being that when you lack personal experience of something, it’s easy to make mistakes in representation. It’s easy to get things wrong. When you haven’t gone through something yourself, you have to be very careful when speaking about it. Autism is a fundamental difference in neurology, and no matter how many autistic children a person has, unless they themselves are autistic, they cannot speak to the experience of being autistic.

Non-autistic people should not be attempting to represent autistic people, especially when doing so drowns out autistic people’s point of view, whether intentionally or not. It’s hard enough to self advocate as an autistic person since many of us, including myself, dislike confrontation. However, some of us have enough spoons to advocate anyways, not just for ourselves but for all autistic people, so we fight through those feelings. Having a non-autistic person argue against views that a lot of autistic self advocates and organizations which include autistic self advocates are very much for is not only dismissive, it’s also disrespectful of our fundamental right to self representation.

Another major issue in inclusion is segregated workspaces and subminimum wage for disabled and autistic people. Many of the autistic people who work are kept in segregated workshops where they are paid below minimum wage due to companies being allowed to pay subminimum wage under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This practice is inherently discriminatory and is often used to exploit disabled and autistic workers. A recent opinion issued by the Department of Labor found that a workplace in Ohio which paid its workers less than minimum wage would have to pay backpay to make up the difference as well as pay minimum wage from then on. Hopefully we will see changes to the law to end these antiquated practices.

When we talk about inclusion, it’s important to understand that this isn’t just an idea or a notion. Inclusion is a fundamental necessity in the movement towards equality for autistic people and disabled people in general. If you’re going to be an ally to autistic people, you have to recognize that you cannot simply place us into little boxes to make things easier or more convenient, whether that box is meant to make us invisible, or to exploit us for labor or objectification for the sake of generating inspiration.