Category Archives: Presumed Competence

Do. You. Want. To. Play. A. Game, Superheroes?

This sentence disappears in my blog. Why?

Happy National Superhero Day! This is the ONE time we can use “superhero” without copyright infringement. Did you know that DC and Marvel Comics jointly share the copyright on a word: “superhero?” Today, I’m teaching you how to use your own new superpower, one that functions like x-ray vision!

Augmented Reality Games (ARGs) are small puzzles built into existing, real-life situations. I find ARGs quite compelling and engaging. In fact, incorporating ARGs into comic book script and online social media now overtakes my Hollywood-like D-List celebrity status as a political hack or sociologist. My success lies in authentic comic book creation, not mobilizing more autistic voters. Personally, I’ve disliked hearing actors or fiction writers tell us how to vote or feel; why am I any different? #Done.

Many people extoll autistic virtues of mathematics and puzzle-solving, so I rightfully seek out our audience to play games with us. As with other entertainment, rewards are often available. Maybe it’s easier to show you how ARGs will work in Face Value Comics going forward. Sit back, grab a soda, and pay attention: I promise you’ll be happily surprised!

 

Punch Page 9
SAMPLE SKETCHES FOR STEAMPUNCH’D #1, pg. 9

 

Imagine robots fighting our comic book hero with autism, The Zephyr. One robot might exclaim, “01001000 01100101 01101100 01110000.” This is simply binary code for “Help!” In other words, I think this Easter Egg is (too) easy for our readers. Instead, I insert ARGs into the script without affecting the story. How? Let’s continue!!

Next, another robot might reply to its partner with a series of new numbers. These numbers may correspond to real-life GPS coordinates. Another robot utters another set of GPS coordinates later in the comic book. Collected together, these “hidden” clues relate to a public park near my home. So far, so good?

In this same comic book issue, readers might otherwise neglect background scenery in Michael’s home. This could include a calendar with a month and date circled. Elsewhere, another character might point to a clock (or, more creatively, “2 o’clock”) as the villain’s bomb timer counts down.

Guess what we did? We just invited ALL of our readers to meet our creative team for hot dogs and ice cream at a local park near my home (for my convenience) at 2:00pm on Month, Date of the publishing year. Welcome to ARGs, or games-within-reality. We’ve already begun to drop clues within blog posts and in script scheduled for the future. Some examples include 12 pages of comic sketches and a t-shirt give-away! These are just examples which I would rate as “beginner” level experience. Search the internet for other ARG examples, including an amazing one played by the band, Tool.

Never judge a book by its cover. This advice applies for/to persons with autism, and now to Face Value Comics. Happy Hunting, Superheroes!!!

P.S. I gave you clues in decoding other hints. We began inserting surprise content no earlier than 2017.

Wanna Make a Comic Book? My Invite, Please RSVP

Are you                Yup, I’ve whitewashed this blog post with a secret message! We’re going

Ready?                 to play a game, too. What kind of game? Well, I already gave you a clue…

Grab your pencils, and let’s do this thing!

Have you ever seen a white raven? If you saw a dozen ravens, how many would be white? 100 ravens? 1000 ravens? Hempel’s Paradox highlights problems of understanding based on faulty observations. In turn, these observations skew our perception of reality. Despite our best efforts, you and I are unlikely to see an albino white raven living in the wild, but they DO exist.

Like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects a white raven.

I want to change this social perception. Pffft- I know next to nothing about birds, though. I do, however, have personal and professional understandings about autism, mental health, and comic books. In hindsight, that’s an odd set of tools, huh?

If you have autism or mental health challenges, YOU are my audience. I contend few of us are published artists or writers. When I wrote a simple comic book, I received a disproportionate amount of media and scientific attention. In my mind, writing a comic book as an autistic adult shouldn’t have been international news. I was a white raven in the minds of too many people.

Since it’s Autism Awareness Month, I want to acknowledge how many of us need and still seek positive affirmations from family, friends, loved ones, and society in general. One way we may accomplish this is to do something spectacular and unexpected.

Let’s make a comic book(s) together.

(As much as my health permits me,) This week, I’ll be posting some submission guidelines. First, I want to make something crystal clear: I don’t care about an “official” diagnosis. I won’t be asking you for health or insurance information to “prove” yourself. I like you just as you as are, and encourage you to be your best self. Be kind. Be mindful. Be well-read. Be considerate of others’ points-of-view.

My goal is to help build up the confidence and self-worth (not ephemeral ‘self-esteem’) of the next generation of comic book artists and writers. To this end, I’m proposing a comic book anthology of short stories made by our audience at Face Value Comics. Our team will provide editing advice, tips to overcome writers’ block, and content suggestions for no financial charge. I envision a comic book of ?? pages, with art and stories by other “white ravens.” I want the unseen to be seen. I want those of us with autism and mental health to grow as budding professionals deserving of recognition for our talents and attempts. We acknowledge how comic books are a multi-million dollar industry so our collective efforts may become more than idle busy work.

So, is this something of which you’d like to be a part? Please openly share this message with other social media channels. We welcome input and content from like-minded friends. The world already knows me. Let’s use this recognition to open doors for other new talents.

Oh- here’re my initial thoughts of the project:

  1. Pick a real-life historical “culture.” Examples may include, but are not limited to- British Knights, Celts and Vikings, Aztecs, Maori, Maasai, and more. How “historic” is historic? How about this idea: a high school student should be able to write an informative research paper about this group with citational references. In other words, don’t give knights laser guns (yet).
  2. Pick a fictional challenger(s) found in classic literature. Again, some examples include dinosaurs, robots, ninjas, aliens, pirates, vampires, etc. NOTE: “Zombies” are not found in the classic literature; they’re out of scope for this project. Sorry, not sorry- ask Kirkman if he’s doing anything like we propose, if zombies are your groove.
  3. All content must fall under suggestions found for PG-rated movies.
  4. Our team will assemble a good sampling of the content, based on artists’ attention to the initial directions (above). Submissions will fall under ONE PAGE, TWO PAGES, and FOUR PAGES of sequential comic book art.
  5. Next, we invite writers. They will interpret the visual art and craft a story based around it so our heroes win and tell a good story. Again, we will provide editing, suggestions, etc. free of charge.
  6. We’ll collect these stories into an anthology comic book graphic novel and release it as professionally-published content.
  7. “Compensation” and financial discussions must wait- that topic deserves its own post. Actually, so do most of these initial guidelines. Well, at least you know what’s coming later this week, eh?

I’ve been told to mention that Face Value Comics is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization; we can accept donations. I’m leery of this point, though; I won’t be bullied into publishing someone’s content based on a financial donation.

Today, my doctor gave me some not-good news. Rather than whine or beg for sympathy, I ask for your help to distract me from it. Let’s fight social stigmas. Together, let’s make something magical and build stronger skills…to show ourselves to the world how we are MORE than our diagnostic labels.

I hope the world stops defining me/us by what I am NOT, but rather who I AM.

TL;DR: I’m inviting persons with autism and mental health challenges to help make an anthology of short comic book stories.

Playing by Your ‘Elf

Dear Santa Wil Wheaton,

During the holidays, many eager games want new toys. As a gamer myself, I enjoy watching episodes of “Table Top.” We play many similar games, and I wonder what other experiences we share.

At first, I researched what single-player games you might have reviewed. While played with a bunch of friends on Table TopZombie Dice can be a brief yet fun distracting game. Recently, I got Dungeon Roll, which also can be played as a single player or with a small group. Do you review any other single-player games? Next, I began (re)reading your blog. Again, we seem to have similar ideas about civility, government, and, well, hobbies like gaming. I also appreciate your candor in addressing mental health, including anxiety and depression. Do you understand autism, too?

Here’s what I want for the holidays, Santa Wil: May we chat about our shared interest of games? Specifically, I’d like to steer the conversation into solo game play, for individual fans of our shared audience who may not easily find fellow competitive gamers, or who otherwise prefer singular play. How many more people with anxiety, autism, and depression could find a healthy outlet by playing more games- even single-player games? Later, we can debate the merits of decision making, organization skills, etc. that some games may offer a single player. Please message us through this blog post if you’d like to continue this idea.

I’ve been a good boy, this year, Wil. I’ve played new games, and am writing more comic books, too. An opportunity to collaborate on behalf of more gamers with mental health social challenges would be a wonderful way to wrap-up 2016.

If any elves might have been reading over Wil’s shoulder (or Wil himself), what other single-player games might you or readers suggestion for their loved ones with autism, anxiety, or depression? This season, let’s presume greater competence for more people to play more games!

Be well,

Dave Kot, Author at Face Value Comics – The World’s 1st Featured Comic Book Hero with Autism

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with any of the games, pictures, or websites linked or referenced; those references, aside from Face Value Comics, are not connected to me and are their rightful owners’ intellectual property, copyright, trademark, etc.

Solving State Budget Crisis with 4th Grade Math (by an adult with autism)

 

[WARNING This post may incite Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder over remembered experiences with mathematical word problems or school experiences the same.]

A train leave Chicago at 4:15pm, travelling 120 mph.

Another train leaves New York at 5:25pm, travelling 90 mph.

At what time will Pennsylvanian legislators resolve their political rhetoric to decidedly vote on a balanced budget, as promised?

We already have an untapped revenue stream that would certainly add immediate funds to our resource pool. Instead of cutting special needs education or laying-off social service agency workers, we can exercise better safety while building a sizable revenue like never in history.

We do this by adding a small usage fee to known, speedy racers on state turnpike roads.

It’s simple math we learned in fourth grade, folks.

The distance between Place A and Place B is 60 miles along the turnpike.

The posted speed limit within this distance is 65 mph. With some advanced mathematics, we can determine how acceleration, deceleration, weather, etc. means a typical average speed of 60 mph.

If, driving an average of 60 mph over 60 miles’ distance means we could arrive at our destination within one hour. Is everyone still with me?

Sure, I may stop and use a public washroom, or eat fast food, or take-in a local attraction. All of these variables only ADD to our overall travel time. This means that my estimated, expected one hour drive will take longer by as much as I want. There is no need to worry about these drivers. In fact, they contribute to the local economies with their patronage.

I want to address the willing speeders. I want a safer road and travel.

I want a small ‘pay-to-play’ fine immediately assessed on turnpike/state-paid toll roads. The system partially exists. When we enter the turnpike, we get a date-and-time stamped ticket. We present this ticket to the toll booth operator upon exit, and pay the cost of travel from known Point A to Point B. Alternatively, we can use an electronic debit system that assesses the toll tied to our bank.

We also know an average, safe rate of speed for that trip. Again, if I pull-off road for an overnight stay at a commercial hotel, so be it. My time spent on road is more difficult to calculate. We won’t bother about these variables, and instead focus on the known speeders.

If a driver speeds in excess of the known variables, and exits Point B a few minutes sooner than expected, we begin to see my strategy unfold. Again, if someone was expected to be driving just 5 mph (or less) faster, so be it. What if they drove the distance in HALF of the anticipated time?

We assess a fine, to be paid immediately via deductions from electronic debit systems like E-Z Pass, or ask toll booth workers to assess the penalty. For drivers who may be short on cash, we extend sympathy and an envelope in which they may place their fines within a certain time frame. Failure to pay these assessed fines could be easily bypassed, but I wish good luck to such skipping drivers the next time they exit a toll road.

Fines do not be to be large sums of money. Maybe assigning a value of a mere dollar for speeds 5-9 mph over expected arrival times will suffice. I doubt most people would notice a dollar ‘fine’ or ‘tax’ for their speedier driving. For larger speed differentials, we assess larger fines or taxes.

Pennsylvania has more paved roads within its borders than all of New York and New England combined. Surely, we have speeders who may willingly pay pocket change for the freedom to travel just a little faster than expected. We exercise the same serious tone with speeders as they who brazenly and willingly think they can justify speeding on public roads with lots and lots and lots of potholes.

How much money could this enterprise bring? This formula can be done with your own state.

Calculate mileage of toll roads. Determine distances between entry and exits. Predict various speeds, like entry acceleration or exit deceleration. Include factors like weather, if needed. Assign thresholds of speed accountability (i.e.: Is 5mph over limit too generous? Is 10mph over limit too generous?), and fees for those speed rates (i.e. Is $1 too much or too little? What dollar amount would you assess a speeder who drove 120% of the speed limit?). Direct accountability in billing or fee assessment. Build computation infrastructure to do repetitive fourth-grade math. Promote. Market. Advertise. Implement. Sit back and get paid by speedy drivers at a proportional rate to non-paid speeding tickets, but whose fees could be deducted automatically via electronic debit systems already in use. Enjoy safer, less speedy drivers on toll roads. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Of course, the cost of educating people, building collection systems, and other factors may exists that I do not yet realize. This isn’t a perfect system. However, it uses something largely in place, with a system that many of us expect already (read: You mean there ISN’T an obligatory fine waiting for me when I get clocked for speeding?). It also reduces the number of police force dedicated to solely speeding on toll roads. Police can be better utilized, since the basic math already implicates speedy drivers’ deeds.

What about speedy drivers who realize their lead foot, and just duck into the local rest stop before their exit and cheat the system? Well, we now have an individual frequenting a place of business along a toll road. What are the chances they buy something that may cost as much or more than the anticipated fine? I suspect someone will drive like lightning, hoping to stop and buy a candy bar at Zero-Hour near the exit ramp. However, if you are speeding, I doubt that you will want to ruin your great track record by making a pit stop. You drove fast for a reason, and unless you are driving without a speedometer, you also know just how much faster you are driving over the posted speed limit. You gambled, and until now, you won. You beat the system. You dodged other drivers, including police officers. You broke old land-speed records in your attempt to visit your Great Aunt. Congratulations, speedy drivers, but your time in the Victor’s Circle comes to an end.

How much money could we net as a state or nation if we- shockingly- held people accountable for breaking laws on toll roads? How many people do you think use the PA Turnpike daily? How many of them speed, do you think? Multiple this last number by as little as $1 USD and see how we can prevent political bias in promised budget reformation.

This is my second idea to end the PA budget stalemate in the same day. What have our elected officials offered today? Remember, most people will dismiss this idea just because I am an adult with autism, and therefore automatically presume I have less public value. What do you think? If you like this idea, please share it. Honestly, I don’t even care if I get credit for this work; ‘business as usual’ shouldn’t mean massive layoffs…

…while the politicians still get paid to merely debate with no real offers on the table. I’d like to ask all PA Congress to work without pay from TODAY until they pass a balanced budget; we’d have amendments flying off desks before tomorrow, I expect. Also, no congressional representative can vote for increased salaries for two years, making their lives more typical to our own, with just a modest, meh, 2% cost-of-living increase (maybe).

Maybe you dislike my revenue streams or ideas. I am okay with other opinions voiced respectfully, but I do ask for you to come up with some way(s) to make money for our Commonwealth before you throw out the baby with the bathwater.

DEAR SANTA CLAUS

Dear Santa Claus:

This year, I have tried to be a good boy. Our family made some great memories, and the children feverishly write and re-write their Wish Lists with wide eyes. Although I’ve endured some significant health threats, I find myself humbled by the experiences. In 2015, I want to ask you for some very special gifts – gifts for me and for the world.

Will you please bring me solid definitions? Many of our advocacy goals wilt against undefined or misinterpreted words. We fight wars with bullets and words, and inflict more harm with words, especially on social media. Without shared understandings, we risk continued fragmentation in any advocacy path we take.

Gender and racial identity seems as fluid as a rushing river. Too many people cling to words like “man” or “woman” or “marriage” or “race” or “special needs” without an acknowledged definition, or dangerously presuppose their definition reigns supreme. Perception becomes reality. A lot of our words used to describe a human condition take root in medical definitions. Laws try to reinterpret these definitions with little success. Worse, some words pre-date codified laws yet have semi-religious or spiritual connotations which not everyone shares. We lack cohesive, shared goals on topics that divide us because of unclear definitions. Will you please help us acknowledge language barriers within a shared spoken tongue? While we may still disagree about action or outcomes, we may do more good works if we can first recognize glaring deficiencies in our vocabulary.

Will you please bring me more compassion, too? We seem to be running low, as a society. Some groups seek racial or spiritual equality by tearing down non-members. Sometimes they recruit young people into their campaigns of prejudice despite new laws or better understandings of scientific fact. For example, a lot of information exists to discredit a long-standing argument about vaccinations’ link to autism. However, a parent of a newly-diagnosed child with autism needs compassion and support, not scientific pie charts and lectures. Despite any amount of overwhelming evidence, I cannot flaunt data to a parent whose child talked and walked prior to a vaccination; they deserve and need answers to solving their own bereavement of a childhood that may not be as typical as planned. They need solutions to new challenges in communication, in education, in self-care, and maybe many more areas. We need definitions, Santa, but also the compassion to wield those definitions. Children need more compassionate adults who stop behaving like entitled children themselves.

Without sounding greedy, may we also have more leadership who better understands these first two requests? It would be great if such a leader were also autistic, because we lack representation. Our Founding Fathers fought a great war because of such gaps in government; we cannot expect neurotypical leaders to fully understand the economic and social variables influenced by an autistic life. Maybe having equal representation could mean the same moneys get shared. A recent study now suggests that autism impacts 1 in 45 people. Knowing that only 1-in-10 autistic adults is currently gainfully employed should draw more eyes into long term planning.

Instead, we go to Twitter to decry how #BlackLivesMatter using 140 characters or less. Again, because of definitions, even this social movement finds itself mired in confusion and political trappings. Too many people misread the slogan as: “ONLYBlackLivesMatter.” Conversely, nobody would hashtag a phrase like: TooManyBlackLivesHaveBeenLostToNonBlackPoliceBrutalitySoWillSomeonePleasePayAttentionToQuestionableGovernemntalSponsoredGenocideBecauseBlackLivesMatterToo. Although cumbersome, this statement more accurately describes the Black Nationalist movement rooted within #BlackLivesMatter. When an unarmed 6 year old boy with autism was murdered in his car by police, I hoped that #BlackLivesMatter could be an ally. Since the boy was non-Black, I can expect no help from Black Nationalists, according to their own website. Add to the fact that the alleged murderer IS Black, I cannot expect help from #BlackLivesMatter, regardless of their mission against armed and reckless police with personal agendas. When #BlackLivesMatter hashtags claimed recent Parisian terrorism was a white-on-white crime, I recalled Malcolm X’s response to President Kennedy’s assassination. I also remembered a great poem about segregated victimization and abdicated defenses during World War II. When will they come for people with autism, and who will be left to stand with us? Honestly, we should rally as human beings when any threats seems to come for any one of us, regardless of height, weight, pigmentation, or self-realized identity. Somehow, by misappropriating now-ambiguous words like “white” or “woman,” we dehumanize the situation where HUMAN rights are concerned.

Black. White. Autistic. Person with Autism. Boy. Murder. By itself, each word may solicit a call to action. Blend these same words together in any combination, and some people will deny help they could give. Some people will be confused by what we need when we ask for help. Again, Santa, we lack shared definitions and enough compassion to supersede or suspend our mortal-made definitions. This Christmas, will you please bring me better operative definitions and shared compassion? I promise to share!

When a fan visits us at a comic book convention and identify themselves as “high-functioning,” what am I supposed to do with this abusive identity? Should I hold up a picture of Albert Einstein and correct their interpretation of “high-functioning?” Should I point out how, despite my own autism diagnosis, I’ve sold more published books and received more international awards than 90% of the people coming to see me? While harshly accurate, this approach does nothing to build our community, yet perpetually bragging how people should automatically presume more competence than our peers is equally damaging. Again, definitions and lack of compassion to use those words is harming our people, our country, and our shared world. We find ourselves grasping at any words to individualize us, and neglect our own self improvements. We expect words to clearly define who, what, when, where, why, and how we are…but not everyone uses these same definitions. Santa, my health and time spent understanding more about advocacy has sorely impacted our own production of comic books and toys. I need better understanding of socially-divisive words, and more compassion and humility to use words that forge real progress. I apologize in advance if I mis-spoke (mis-typed?) words that elicit anger, contempt, disgust, or fear. I am just a man, and am trying to describe what I want for the holidays- a better world, but forgive my fumbles with ambiguous words.

Thanks, Santa Claus. Please be safe when travelling this year! We’ll set out some cookies and milk for you, as always.

Re-introductions

“Who am I? Why Am I here?” – Admiral James Stockdale, 1992 Vice-Presidential Running Mate

This quote seems appropriate for me. For several months, I’ve been noticeably absent from social media. Friends and family have given me space and support. Still, I needed to address some things, and share some of those things with you now, in no particular order:

  • My father had a stroke and subsequent heart surgery, and he continues to recover.
  • Due to some health concerns, I’ve been battling lingering effects of at least one concussion sustained in a fall(s).
  • At a holiday celebration, I had to advocate about autism acceptance because,
    • A young man rejects his autism diagnosis because he believes himself “too smart” to have autism, and
    • (Too) many (family) members treated a young lady with autism like Lenny, from the book “Of Mice and Men,” when she wanted to play with new kittens; no kittens were harmed.
  • I’ve reviewed a LOT of internet chatter and direct inquiries about the comics’ utility, including inquiries about its academic merit and curriculum suggestions.
  • We’re in a state of growth, including adding new writers, artists, and equipment like a phenomenal printer.

What does all of this mean for you, as fans of the world’s first-featured comic book hero with autism? Stay tuned, because I will begin to break-down how these events have galvanized my resolve. I promise to be honest with you even if I don’t know what direction to take.

Follow me. Walking arm-in-arm for advocacy suggests a patient pace, right?

Welcome to Philadelphia, Jahlil Okafor!

Last month, the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) held its annual draft selection. This event had nothing to do about autism advocacy.

The Philadelphia 76ers made the third overall lottery selection. This event had nothing to do about autism awareness.

When 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie chose Duke Freshman Jahlil Okafor, fans booed. This event has a LOT to do about autism acceptance.

phillyselectsokafor

To the best of my knowledge, Jahlil Okafor is NOT autistic, nor has any publicized ties to autism. He doesn’t need these connections to understand his uphill battle for acceptance in Philadelphia. Everything he does for the 76ers will be magnified unfairly under a high-powered microscope. Fans do not presume competence in Jahlil Okafor while most of society presumes no faith in autistic individuals.

Despite leading a collegiate championship team at Duke University under Hall-of-Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski, fans won’t accept ANOTHER tall (6’10”) player to their roster. Forgive me, but aren’t tall people usually welcomed to play basketball? Didn’t the 76ers win the 1983 NBA Championship with their twin towers of Julius Erving (6’7”) and Moses Malone (6’10”)? Wasn’t Okafor a powerful offensive weapon, capable of scoring 20+ points and/or rebounds in a game; aren’t these skills that translate well into a professional sport like basketball?

dunk

Instead of asking questions about how the Philadelphia 76ers will use Okafor’s talents, fans automatically feel disparaged by the team management. For years, owners encouraged outright failure in order to secure top lottery picks to unearth new talent. Now, they have some of this coveted ability with duplication and opportunity. Yet, nobody trusts ‘em, and that distrust becomes disproportionately shelled at a ninteen year-old rookie.

Okafor will earn and likely spend millions of dollars by the end of the year, paid to him by a team that distrusts him before donning a uniform. Among all of my personal friends with autism, we won’t likely crest above the average poverty level with all of of incomes combined. A disliked Okafor will have a palatial residence, while many individuals with autism peacefully and quietly exist on the fortunes of their families and friends for as long as humanly possible; only one-in-ten autistic adults find meaningful work. Fans cannot presume competence in Jahlil Okafor or the Philadelphia 76ers, so neither starts with success in mind. Similarly, our struggles for acceptance hinge on society presuming more competence. In the (near) future, Okafor could request a trade to a team who wants his talents. He could sign as a free-agent and earn MORE money or a chance to contend for a title. For autistic individuals, where do we go when society really doesn’t want us? How receptive to being integrated should we be, when we fear electrocution-as-therapy, earn less than minimum wage dollars for unimportant work, and face disproportionate unemployment statistics? Why does society tolerate negative media campaigns about how autism destroys jobs, marriages, and families? Why do scientists seek a genetic “cure” for autism without telling us what will remain after their so-called “cure?” Why do people desperately reach for bleach as a drinkable cure for autism unless they gravely fear the myths about autism?

The problem facing Jahlil Okafor is the same problem facing autism acceptance: lack of presumed competence. Nobody has faith in the team managers’ abilities to use talent. Nobody has faith in Okafor’s own perseverance or maturity into a powerful basketball presence. Nobody has faith in at least three tall men being able to win basketball games.

In autism advocacy, too many professionals presume no competence in autistic individuals: we cannot use the telephone to call home from school during a difficult day; we cannot carry a volunteer position without constant supervision from support staff who seemingly know less about autism than we do; etc. Like Jahlil Okafor, many people with autism have exceptional talents and are presumed incompetent or a poor fit for their business. This mismatch has nothing to do with individual abilities, but is an artificial organizational barrier created by misinformation and misunderstanding.

Like many with autism, Jahlil Okafor must fight for acceptance. He must prove doubters wrong, and thrive in a place that doesn’t seem to really want him. There is almost nothing short of an NBA Championship to quell doubt. For individuals with autism, there exists no easily-substituted Holy Grail to grasp. We walk around with invisible disabilities, but when we do something close to good or “normal,” we get pitiful praise. An alarming percentage of our fans treat me like a show-dog at comic book signings. Some feel happy that the poor autistic man wrote a big book, yes he did. Who’s a good boy? You are, Dave, you are a good boy. Some fans introduce themselves as “high-functioning,” in an odd way to build familiarity. Instead, attempts to align with “normal” by using “high-functioning” automatically throws “low-functioning” individuals under a bus. Am I supposed to like you MORE because you appear more “normal?” Will you wear a t-shirt boasting your IQ to avoid further comparisons to “low-functioning” individuals with autism? How do our peers in other minority communities respond- do people talk about their cancer diagnosis by disparaging another form of cancer? Obviously, we can celebrate fluidity in gender and marriage, but cannot accept racial self-identification any better than we can accept identity-first language without harsh criticism. In the absence of real-world awareness, acceptance, and compassion, I invented a fictional world within our comic books to show at least one positive alternative.

championship

Jahlil Okafor won’t find acceptance in Philadelphia for a long time, until his business world dismisses what they think he CAN’T do and focus more on what he does well. Individuals with autism won’t find social acceptance until we find more patience and tolerance to develop our skills in contributable ways. Okafor will win ANOTHER championshp, this time in the NBA, before my friends or I find traditionally-meaningful work, where our abilities and talents are celebrated naturally within a well-suited organization without forced-fabricated “acceptance.” Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong, but unless you’re offering me a suitable “normal” job, then I reaffirm my claims and will rabidly root for Jahlil Okafor and the Philadelphia 76ers in the meanwhile.

GO 76ers! GO 76ers! GO 76ers!