Updated: Feb 18, 2020
by Audrey L. Hollingshead, former Content Producer, Verge of Independence Project
Hello Everyone! We have swam past summer, fell deep into fall, and are just a few flurries away from a frosty winter. So lets get to the blog!
Suppose a woman in Staten Island can’t find work near home to support her three kids. So, every night she boards a ferry to Manhattan for a minimum wage job. She always takes the early morning ferry home in time to get her kids up for school. One night however, she was late for the last ferry and had to walk. Along the way a deranged man murders her. Who is to blame? The poor working woman? Or her murderer? The murderer of course. But now lets twist this a little.
Suppose that, instead of going to Manhattan each night for work, the woman goes to Manhattan to meet new lovers-often dumping one man for another after a date or two. She has a loving husband at home who takes very good care of her three children and she always gets home in time for him to get up so no one is the wiser. One night, however she is late and the ferry leaves without her. She tries to catch a ride with one of her recent lovers who says,
“You just dumped me! Why would I help you?” After getting this response a few more times she decides to walk. Along the way a deranged man murders her. Who is to blame? The cheating woman? Or her murderer?
When I was given this hypothetical question in college a large number of my classmates and I agreed it was the cheating womans fault. She should not have been out so late, we all said. But as our professor pointed out, we were doing what a lot of people do every day: Blaming the Victim. We allowed her wild adultery to cloud the fact that the deranged man didn’t have to kill her. Just as the parents of Jaelen, Faith, Issy Stapelton, and Alex Spourdalakis didn’t need to murder them because of their behavior.
As the Autism Self Advocacy Network will tell you the media and many others are all too willing to blame the murders on the behavior caused by the victims without realizing that they didn’t need to be murdered. What's worse is that they’re disregarding the fact that people with autism, as you wonderful VIPers know, DO have feelings. Just because they are expressed in your own magically unique way does NOT mean they don’t count!
Take the story of Carly Fleischmann for example. For years her Autism made it hard for her to communicate with the outside world. Her parents often talked in front of her like she was not there, believing that she might never be fully aware. But then, one amazing day at her therapist’s office, she grabbed a nearby laptop and typed “HELP. TEETH HURT.” Those three words started a key clacking journey that finally allowed Carly to express herself. She is now able to talk to her parents in ways that was never thought possible and it is through this method (that she refers to as communication by spelling) that parents learned that she DID have feelings all along. What’s more is that she is able to explain her tics and habits-something that was a complete mystery before.
What this story shows us is not just that technology can open up the hearts of millions, but that-even if you can’t tell us-YOU DO have feelings. YOU ARE a human being and you ALL (no matter what magic your autism brings out in you) have the right to a harmless life. But this also shows us that having other liked minded people to talk is crucial. They will know exactly what you’re going through and can help you in ways you never thought of before.
Which is why the world needs more sites like The Verge of Independence Project. With us, we can not only connect you to the people who can help you, but to the services that can help you. Because with us, connections DO matter and as the recent weeks have shown us, those connections could be life saving.
Your supporter always,
Audrey L. Hollingshead.