1 pointWell, I feel like I could have made this one long post in hindsight. But, I'm past that point now, so here's the second part of a three part series of blog posts. Autism as a diagnosis has only been around for 70 years, and Asperger's has only been around for 20, so it is kind of expected for society to not really understand what the autistic population as a whole are going through. Not to mention, that in part 1 I mentioned the characteristics of autism. Those characteristics are very abnormal and quite noticeable. Though most people would discount them for awkwardness and obsessiveness, the trained eye is able to see through that. But the thing here is that this part is much more concerned with most people than it is with autists. As a whole, however, I think society is quite unaware, even in comparison to how unaware that I'd think they should be. Why do I think this is the case? Well, here's two reasons (even though there are probably more). Autism is Depicted Inaccurately in Media As I stated in part 1, I would define autism as an umbrella term for a developmental disorder that affects a variety of functions of the brain including the processing of sensory information, communication, motor skills, and also may effect the emotional stability of the affected. Most also affect cognitive skills. The disorder normally shows signs in the first three years, but some milder forms may not be diagnosed until adulthood, due to the fact that it's generally associated with cognitive deficiency, but they will nonetheless show difficulties in specific areas that may become concerning later in life. Going through that piece by piece, I can come to the conclusion that some TV shows, games, and movies try so hard to include autistic characters that they hardly ever get them right. Here's a few examples of them off-hand, and how they're inaccurate. Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory"- He is actually LITTLE like an actual autist and more like extremely OCD person that literally feels for nobody. Which is so far off it's not even funny, just like the actual show he's in. Spencer Reid from "Criminal Minds"- His social skills are way too good, and his interests are far too diverse. That makes for the assumption that people that are a little bit awkward, are savant-like and nothing else have autism. Which is far from correct, honestly. Raymond Babbitt from "Rain Man" - A lot of the traits are overdone to the point where it makes it seem like you have to be seriously impaired to have any form of autism (which is WRONG). Sadly, THIS is the main influence for how society sees autistic people, so people like (potentially) me would be immediately shrugged off. Yes, there have been quite occasional accurate depictions, but for the most part most inclusions just seem like an attempt to say "oh we have an aspie for a character that's really smart! We're diverse!" When the way they portray them actually puts it into question. They usually must be savants and a little awkward and that's really it. No mention of things like struggling with motor skills, abnormal movement, and nothing involving cognitive delay (which happens even with autists with an above average IQ). That's not right, not right at all. Autism is much bigger than a little awkwardness! Also, there are only a SMALL percentage of autists are savants. I do mean a VERY small percentage. Autism Speaks is a BAD Organization to Represent the Autistic Autism Speaks always advertises itself as a group who is legitimately concerned about the autistic... While making it BLATANTLY OBVIOUS that they have ZERO concern for the well being of the autistic whatsoever. Autism Speaks is a hate group that oddly enough doesn't speak for the autistic as a whole. There's plenty of reasons why this is, and I've kept it short enough. NONE OF THE BOARD MEMBERS ARE AUTISTIC!!! How could they know what it's like WHEN QUITE LITERALLY NOBODY THERE IS ON THE SPECTRUM?!?!?! They demonize autism. This is what I meant in my political views blog when I was talking about autistic rights. It's OUR right to be autistic. They don't believe that, and instead it's a disease and a plague. This rhetoric is a big part of what makes them a hate group, as it makes the autistic out to be sub-human. Which is f***ing sick. This is actually ESPECIALLY bad for the autistic because as a group, we are far more prone to depression and anxiety issues, and this is BOUND to cause them! They use Autism Awareness Month and their ads to make the public LESS aware of how it REALLY is to be autistic! Is that intentional? I think the jury's out on that at the moment. But, I must say it's looking like they're going to come back with a guilty verdict. But nonetheless, what does that do for US? They literally partnered with a group that commits VIOLENT ACTS against the autistic! Who am I talking about? The Judge Rotenburg Center. You know what they do to the autistic? They TORTURE THEM AS AN "ATTTEMPT TO TREAT" THEM! They use techniques such as social isolation, physical violence, forced ammonia inhalation, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, and prolonged restraint in this pursuit, and as of the writing of the Autism Wiki article I'm using as a source, they've killed SIX people like this! And it wasn't that recent I don't think! They were going to change their direction, but no they have NOT. I have seen their ads on TV a few times since one of the chair people died in 2016, and they were replaced by somebody who wanted to change the message as stated by my source, but nothing happened. They still air ads demonizing autism and treating it like t may as well be f***ing AIDS, when IT'S NOT THE SAME! Autism is NOT a disease! It's not something you CURE! Autism is a lot more similar to something like Bipolar disorder (which I think I have a minor form of), where it's something that can be treated, but it's a part of the actual PERSON affected by it. Advocating to change a person's identity over not conforming is f***ing ORWELLIAN! I really hope that someday that THIS won't be the largest "advocacy group" (my a**) for autism in the future, and I have to say that I actually have hope for this. If we speak up and tell the public how evil they are and give them an alternative, we just might be able to take them down. But the only thing is that they have so much funding that it may be a little difficult to take them on. But you know, the bigger they are, the harder they FALL. Though the first step is to STOP supporting Autism Unawareness Month (That is what it really is)! Stop buying their agenda! This is SO important because this is how they raise money to research into forcibly making the autistic normal, and we CAN'T have that! There will be a part 3 on this about how autism as an issue should really be addressed, in more detail than I posted in my political views blog post. To sum it up for anybody who didn't read that post or those who didn't get it from here, I believe the autistic have the right to be who they are. Another note on some of the semantics in my post, switching between calling the autistic community they and us, you know I think I strongly suspect I'm on the autism spectrum myself and that's a show of it. I say "strongly suspect" because I can't be entirely sure, but in my mind I'm as close as could possibly be to 100% positive that I have undiagnosed Asperger's. Just some clarification there.
1 pointWell, I had a stray thought a few moments about making a blog post about autism, and really discuss the topic as a whole. The stray thought was partially triggered by a thought I have circling in the back of my mind that goes something like this: "If I really were to be diagnosed with Asperger's (if you didn't know, it's the mildest form of autism), what would it mean for me?". It came to evolve into something along the lines of "I know I've discussed it a lot before, but . Society lacks awareness of the issue, regardless of how much they may think otherwise. It's not really that much of a black and white topic, as many people who have invested research into it would understand. If anything, autism in general can be pretty complicated. I know plenty about the issue considering I've been researching into it for the past 3 years or so. What is Autism, Really? This may seem straight-forward, but it's not. It can be told a number of ways, as it still isn't truly understood and exactly established how exactly to define it. Here's a couple of examples: one from Leo Kanner, a psychiatrist who was one of the first to study autism, and another from the Autistic Society of America, respectively. "a developmental disability which affects language and communication, sensory processing and motor skills, cognition, and interaction" "Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities." These two definitions aren't exactly conclusive. Kanner's way of defining It is way more to the point, but the ASA's definition has some nuance lacked by the former. Sure, these definitions are clearly describing autism as anybody invested into the topic would know of it, but they aren't entirely congruous with each other. They both properly describe autism as developmental (the disability part isn't necessarily accepted much anymore by the autistic community). Both also describe issues with social interaction, but here's where they split. Kanner describes it affecting sensory processing, motor skills, and cognition as well. The ASA on the other hand describes in more detail how it impacts the affected. It states that it occurs within the first three years of life and that it's a complex disorder that isn't truly understood by the psychiatric community, and that autism in itself is a catch-all term. Both are correct in their own ways. But I personally believe this is the way I would define Autism: "Autism is an umbrella term for a developmental disorder that affects a variety of functions of the brain including the processing of sensory information, communication, motor skills, and also may effect the emotional stability of the affected. Most also affect cognitive skills. The disorder normally shows signs in the first three years, but some milder forms may not be diagnosed until adulthood, due to the fact that it's generally associated with cognitive deficiency, but they will nonetheless show difficulties in specific areas that may become concerning later in life." Wow that was a mouthful. It's basically a combination of both definitions, but a bit modernized as both definitions were a bit aged. In simpler terms, I'm stating that autism is actually a term for several conditions that affect neurological development. That's probably the simplest it could be made, really. What are the Symptoms of an Autism Spectrum Disorder? Whoa. Back up. ASDs have a multitude of complex, sometimes even contradictory symptoms.Nobody diagnosed with autism really crosses off every single box. It's always been more about an interpretation of a variety of symptoms that are indicative of an ASD. Here's some of the characteristics that are usually present in most autists. Note that the way these are presented aren't very specific, and in fact can allude to a vast array of symptoms. I will put them down here, and then relate them to myself to sort of explain what they're supposed to mean. Atypical movements. I have a consistent need to pop my knuckles, a very odd gait that changes from time to time (to explain, it's sort of a limp, sort of a long stride, and sort of a march), I also will occasionally rock back and forth in chairs, especially if I don't feel secure in them (in other words if I can't lean back far enough in it...) Communication issues. I don't think I really need to explain this one. Just not being able to communicate in an effective manner. Unusual responses to sensory input. I have always had issues with the sound of vacuum cleaners, I find them torturous and loud. So when one's going I usually have a habit of making weird noises in imitation of it to block the noise from them out. Unusual development for age. Well, considering I watch quite a variety of cartoons and enjoy them when most people around me my age would just cringe, the fact that I am quite the fan of Pixar, and that I still retain a borderline obsession with video games (particularly "unusual" in this category a love of the Pokémon and Mario franchises). Not to mention that I couldn't tie my shoes until I was 10, and I wet my bed until I was about 14. I also wet myself in public more than once, but that was more of a social anxiety issue. Specialized interests. Well, I feel the need to constantly discuss League of Legends and Paladins related things whether it be with somebody else or (99.99% of the time) myself. Also, my interest in game development kind of falls into this as well. Potentially having problems with the following: anxiety, depression, ADHD, epilepsy, dyspraxia, et cetera. I can check two of those boxes. I have had unchecked anxiety and depression issues for years now. As for ADHD, I don't think I have it but I do sort of fit the bill, albeit to a smaller degree. (Most Forms) Cognitive Delays. I actually had some. I was in special education classes until I was in the fifth grade. Even though I excelled in math, I was slow with reading initially. I had a kindergarten reading level in the third grade... That's pretty bad. But by the fifth grade, I had gotten ahead of the curb there as well, so I guess that's where it ended. By the sixth grade, I was able to read the entirety of Watership Down in a matter of a week (trust me, it is long. By long, I mean like the book was in excess of 400 pages... But the book is definitely a good book I'd more than definitely recommend to anyone with the patience to muddle through the beginning 40 pages or so). These are generally what psychiatrists and psychologists look for in diagnosing somebody with an autism spectrum disorder. They look for problems of those varieties, and if qualified professionals observe you and believe that you check enough boxes, they will diagnose you with a form of autism depending on which you check and don't. It's a bit more complicated than it seems, because different people have different requirements for what they'll diagnose as autistic... I'll release a part 2 and maybe a part 3 in the future. Maybe not too soon, but likely after a few days or so. I've really been spamming out these blog posts lately, and there's a chance I may not be able to post for a little while... Oh well... People are probably tired of me just posting more and more s*** anyways. *shrug*
1 pointRight, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted to this particular blog so let’s do one that has been simmering in the back of my mind for quite some time. As before, let’s start with what we know: In the MLP: FiM cartoon, Starswirl the Bearded is mentioned several times. In Luna Eclipsed, Twilight dresses up as Starswirl in a stereotypical wizards hat and cloak, complete with stars and moons (instead of the more common astronomical glyphs), but with the addition of bells all over the hat. Interesting, and annoying choice for anyone who decides to cosplay. Nobody in Ponyville recognized the costume, except for the visiting Luna who compliments Twilight on the costume’s accuracy. Twilight mentions Starswirl having created hundreds of spells, including an entire category of magic called ‘amniomorphic’, and having a shelf of books dedicated to him in the Canterlot Library. Just as a note, there's some dissent on what exactly Twilight said in this episode. Some saying it was Amniomorphic, and some saying Anniomorphic. There is a big difference. Those that support Amniomorphic say that Amnio means bowl, and morphic means shapechanging, and combined with Bearded makes Starswirl a 'Hairy Potter'. Which is cute, and might actually be what the writers were aiming or, but unfortunately Amnio doesn't actually mean bowl as far as I've been able to tell. It's Greek for 'cowl' as in a hood, and shows up in modern times referring to things that interact with the Amniotic sac that a fetus develops in. So by this term we're saying Starswirl was responsible for a series of magic spells that help with pregnancy. Which actually might be valid now that I've taken the time to think it over. The alternative, Anniomorphic, is a lot more obscure and deals with a fifteenth-century Dominican friar and 'historian', Annio da Viterbo, who was famous for making shit up. Which, as we'll see later also makes sense. In Hearth’s Warning Eve, Twilight exposits how the main character of the panto they’re putting on was mentored by Starswirl. The panto being set in what appears to be a time before Discord, Celestia, and Luna. In It’s About Time, Twilight, Spike, and Pinkie go to a supposedly secure wing of the Canterlot Library (which might be specifically the Castle library, or the library for the Exceptional Unicorn school Twilight was attending before the first episode, or all of the above, it’s not clear), that is named after Starswirl and contains archives of his work, supposedly dangerous stuff in the wrong hands, at least one time travel spell and a giant sand clock. This is a little more than a single shelf, so we can assume that the shelf Twilight referred to previously was in the public library, not the secure wing. Then in Magical Mystery Cure, Twilight gets mailed a book written by Starswirl, sent by Celestia, containing an incomplete spell that is capable of manipulating the Elements of Harmony even in its partial state. This book had also appeared at the end of The Crystal Empire, but it was just foreshadowing there and had no explanation. Celestia mentions that Starswirl didn’t understand the magic of Friendship, so couldn’t complete the spell. In Three’s a Crowd, there is a travelling Starswirl museum, where several other ponies are wearing variations on the Starswirl costume, including several ponies that were present in Luna Eclipsed, so we can assume that in the years (?) since Luna Eclipsed there’s been a renaissance in the Starswirl the Bearded Fandom. In Twilight’s Kingdom, Starswirl appears in a storybook, described as being ‘young’ by Celestia and interacting with Tirek and Scorpan at about the same time as Celestia was. That's more than we usually get for theorizing and worldbuilding, but really it's still not much. For more info, we have to look at secondary sources: In Rainbow Rocks it’s shown that Starswirl banished the Sirens to the Equestria Girls alternate dimension. In the comics, Starswirl has appeared on the covers (not helpful), and in tiny cameos with no relevant info, but in the storyline Reflections in the main comic, Starswirl is shown quite a lot in flashbacks. He’s depicted as the classic bumbling professor type, and is responsible for discovering the means to travel to alternate dimensions using Crystal Mirrors created from the Crystal Caves below Canterlot, and bringing back a variety of objects (magical and otherwise) to the main dimension. There’s another comic in the Fiendship line where the banishment of the Sirens is shown again, and yet one more making Starswirl responsible in a very vague way for the Changelings as well. In the Journal of the Two Sisters, Starswirl is said to be the leader of the group of unicorn mages responsible for the sun and moon movement before Celestia and Luna took over. Plus more details about his time travel experiments, mentioning that his age shifts around a lot, nominally because his spells and possibly energy expenditure are causing him to grow younger or older somewhat randomly. In interviews with the FiM staff, there have been several mentions that Starswirl was meant to be the Equestrian Merlin analogue, with all the complexities and incongruities that brings along with it. Such as multiple conflicting origins and inconsistent mythologies. However, according the M.A. Larson at some Q&A’s at conventions, several of the original scripts for the episodes listed above didn’t mention Starswirl. He was added in to them by request by Hasbro. Which is odd as there is a Gen 4 toy released by Hasbro for Starswirl… but as an Earth Pony mare. This matches all the prior generations of the toy line, each one having a Starswirl as a regular Pony mare, not a unicorn. The toy also changes appearance and cutie mark for each generation. In G4, the mare is blue with a purple/pink mane. G3, the mare is white with a dark pink mane (no G3.5 version). G2, the mare is white with a white mane. And G1, the mare is striped pink and blue with a purple and blue mane. This is pretty standard for multi-generation toys, with the appearances rarely being stable. But each is described within their generation as being highly magical in some way. So what can we pull from this? Apparently Starswirl was a big deal historically, but a big deal that was obscure until recently. He was involved in a lot of the major turning points of Equestrian history, but in the background and not as a major player. However, now he’s being used as the go-to explanation for everything magical even if he wasn’t necessarily responsible. The not-so-wise mentor figure, non-evil mad inventor, the bumbling professor, etc. Like Gandalf, Merlin, and so on, he’s more a caricature than a character. He’s being marketed to the ponies of Equestria in some kind of advertising campaign. This is not the first time we’ve seen someone put forward a disinformation campaign for a historical figure. The whole ‘Nightmare Night’ thing looks suspiciously like an attempt to desensitize the population for Nightmare Moon’s eventual return. It’s possible this Starswirl mania is something similar. To continue the conspiracy theory stuff, the fact is that Hasbro has done something weird here with the toys. This is the only pony from prior generations that changed gender from mare to stallion, and even then the change only happened in the cartoon and comics. Hasbro has put at least some effort into making their Gen 4 toys vaguely resemble the characters in the show. Except Starswirl, which they have left as a mare. Plus there’s the interesting thing about his name. Starswirl the Bearded. It’s rarely just said ‘Starswirl’, almost always the full name. This is common in some cultures that don’t normally use modern Western-style family names, to use identifiers like that. This could indicate that there were multiple historical Starswirls and the one we are interested in is defined by his beard. Or his beard was in itself more extravagant and luxurious than other ponies were capable, or desiring, to have making it part of his indentification. Or… Here’s something that you may not know. The term ‘Beard’ in LGBT circles has an interesting meaning and history. Originally many gay men who were in the closet would grow beards to demonstrate overt masculinity, as a disguise of sorts. This term, being ‘bearded’, expanded over time to refer to any visible demonstration of masculinity in a someone who was not necessarily classically masculine. A wife of a gay man would be called ‘his beard’, women wanting to appear male would put on false mustaches, beards, or even just five-o-clock shadows to enhance their apparent maleness. So on and so forth. Combine this with the toy line, and you get that despite first appearances they may in fact be the same character. This might be MLP’s first Trans character, with the ‘Bearded’ indicating that Starswirl is in fact a Mare who identifies as a Stallion. Putting aside the conspiracy theories, there is also the disconnect in his apparent age; being present as an experienced and wise figure before Celestia and Luna took over the moon and sun, yet being described as young when dealing with Tirek while Celestia and Luna were in power. All easily explained by the time travel spells and his magical experiments as mentioned in the Journal. This also matches some of the mythology of Merlin where in many stories he is said to have ‘lived backwards’, getting younger over time. It’s very possible that what Celestia and Luna wrote in their journal was the work of an unreliable narrator, and what they put down was what they perceived rather than what actually happened. Meaning that the time travel spells were more responsible than they believed, with Starswirl actually being ‘out of order’ relative to the royal pair, travelling back and forth through time. Another parallel with Merlin is the crystal caves of Canterlot. Well, Canterlot/Camelot being obvious, but the crystal caves specifically. In many versions of the Merlin mythos, the stories end with Merlin being trapped in a tree, or in Stonehenge, or in a Crystal Cave by Nimue, a character that might be his love interest, his student, or his nemesis depending on the exact story. In any case, he’s stuck there, effectively immortal but never to return to the ‘real’ world. Some of those stories do put in an escape clause though, that Merlin is free to go to other worlds. With this concept, Starswirl might not be Equestria’s analogue of Merlin. He might actually *be* Merlin. And the Crystal Mirrors his attempts to find a way back to the world of King Arthur and company. Which brings up the final, and what I find the most amusing theory. There is another fictional character who is said to literally be Merlin in his franchise. Who travels in time, who ages inconsistently and who can radically change appearance and theoretically genders. And who has an MLP analog which has appeared multiple times in the show with call outs and fanservice referring to both his classic and modern shows as well as references to apocryphal stories such as the 1965 feature films. I speak of course, of Doctor Who. In the episodes collectively called ‘Battlefield’, broadcast in 1989, the Doctor discovers that some time in his personal future he will be known as Merlin, advising the now long-dead King Arthur and his Knights who turn out to have been be dimension jumping crusaders fighting a war against Morgaine and Mordred. In this episode it is implied that all the stories of Merlin, including the one about being trapped in a Crystal Cave, were real and have happened/will happen (time travel is tricky that way). As a minor, but interesting coincidence is that in pride of place within the Starswirl the Bearded Secure Wing of the Canterlot Library, is a giant sand clock. A massive hourglass. Just like Doctor Whoove's Cutie Mark. And every picture or representation of Starswirl has his flanks covered. It's assumed that the symbol on his spellbook is his actual cutie mark, but maybe... So, Starswirl the Bearded might not just be the Merlin of Arthurian legend. But he might be some future or past incarnation of Doctor Whooves…