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I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary :: Asperger Technical

 

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 Post subject: I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:31 pm 
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Joined: 3rd April, 2007
Posts: 90
I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary McKinnon, says mother of 'funny, handsome and brilliant' Asperger's son

Daily Mail, 22nd July 2009

Recently, I took my seven-year-old son Henry to the park. It was a gloriously sunny day and the park is in one of those expensive parts of London where the cafe sells only organic sausages and the children are clad head-to-toe in Boden.

Henry was happily playing on the roundabout. He was loving the thrill as it whirled around, gleefully calling out 'Faster! Faster!' as other children pushed with all their might.

But I wasn't smiling. Because I could tell already that one child, a little girl with a mean smirk on her face, had already clocked there was something different about the handsome boy with fair hair who was flapping his hands with excitement. Half under her breath, and to his utter confusion, she started to mimic his giddy shouts and his almost imperceptible lisp.

'You can't talk properly,' she sneered. Henry, instead of ignoring her or insulting her back, asked earnestly and anxiously: 'What aren't I saying properly?' I could have cried for him.

Then she started to kick him. I asked her to stop, and she ignored me. Finally, exasperated, unable to think of a way to get her to desist, Henry grabbed the girl's sunhat from her head and threw it on the grass.

At which point the child's outraged mother came running over, her face contorted in fury, bellowing at him for 'bullying' her darling daughter, who was clearly thrilled at this turn of events.

A 'normal' child would probably have retaliated in a more sophisticated - for which read underhand and malicious - way, but that's not Henry's style. You see, he has Asperger's syndrome, a type of autism, and the same condition as that of Gary McKinnon, the UFO spotter who now faces the terrifying prospect of deportation to a brutal U.S. prison for up to 70 years.

The first time I read about Gary and his mother's desperate fight to save him - assisted by a powerful Daily Mail campaign - I felt a chill of fear for him and his future.

While I see that my son is funny, handsome, loving and affectionate, with a forensic brain - he is also naive, eccentric, and, like Gary, fascinated by computers.

Most dangerously of all, like Gary, his condition means he sometimes combines a compulsive need to follow any mission to its conclusion with an almost complete inability to envisage any negative outcome.

When I heard how Gary so readily confessed to his crimes, and how he continues to chatter happily about his alien conspiracy theories despite all the trouble he is in, I felt slightly sick.

It's hard for people who don't understand Asperger's or live with someone who has it, to realise that what we might regard as wrong might not appear that way to an 'Aspie' - as many like to dub themselves.

In common with many people with Asperger's, Henry has an intense belief in truth and justice. I wouldn't dare fib about my age in his hearing, for example, as he will insist on putting me right at the top of his voice.

If he, like Gary, came to believe that the U.S. government was telling lies about alien invasions, or hiding the truth about a new source of power that could provide free fuel for the poor, he, too, might feel it was his duty to expose the truth.

At times, parenting Henry can be exhausting, stressful and frustrating. He is very emotional, easily upset and stressed by things other children take in their stride, such as his sister climbing into the car first, which can lead to floods of tears. Or his leaving his lunch bag on the school coach, which provokes panic. Large parties can overwhelm him with their noise and chaos, so you might find him pottering about or spinning around, talking to himself and ignoring everyone.

He is prone to misunderstanding other people's intentions, is blind to body language and so might talk to us for hours about one of his pet subjects, oblivious to boredom.

He is stubborn, argumentative, determined, extremely impulsive, and has never met a button or lever he could resist pressing.

He is always the first person in the house to master any new technology, be it my mobile phone, a digital camera or, most recently, the new family TV. The other night he happily sat in bed reading the manual that came with it, and came downstairs the next morning knowing every feature.

But, contrary to the stereotypes, he also adores stories and jokes and has an infectious giggle that has often left me and his father in tears of laughter.

Some adults find him baffling, alien, but others find him instantly captivating. To be honest, sometimes when I see other children being snide and cunning, I realise how much I prefer my own son's straightforward and direct nature.

When Henry was first properly diagnosed at the age of four, I was grief-stricken. I had first realised he was different from his peers when he was slow to meet physical milestones, even though he was clearly very bright.

He didn't sit up independently until he was eight months old, he never crawled and, as time went by, he didn't start charging about like my friends' children of the same age.

At his standard two-year check with a health visitor, while he was speaking fluently, recognising all his letters and colours, and counting, he wasn't remotely interested in performing 'on demand' or co-operating with all the little tasks she set him.

I was used to his independent ways and thought little of it, but it was clearly a red flag for autism.

Most children like to impress adults and do what they are asked. Henry just liked to do what was interesting to him. He also didn't point in the orthodox way by using his index finger. Instead, he'd either not point at all, or use his thumb or third finger if he couldn't make me look at something he wanted to know the name of, or wanted me to fetch. This is another early sign of autism.

There were, however, various indicators that Henry never displayed: he's never lined up anything in rows in his entire life. Neither is he tidy. In fact, he is as chaotic and untidy as I am, and loses everything. His scatty memory doesn't help. Half my life is spent finding things that Henry has mislaid.

He was first diagnosed with dyspraxia, a condition that affects co-ordination - his handwriting is terrible and he cannot ride a bike - and then shortly after with Asperger's syndrome.

The paediatrician was pretty brutal in his manner, and sent us away with a stack of hideously depressing leaflets from the National Autistic Society, full of doom and gloom, and which seemed to suggest our son was some kind of robot who would amount to nothing.

Henry has a younger sister, Cecily, who is four, and they are much like any other siblings. They fight ferociously, are shockingly competitive, make each other laugh, watch hours of telly companionably, and are fiercely loyal to each other.

Henry doesn't like being parted from her, would always prefer her to come with him to parties, and wouldn't dream of getting a bag of sweets and not saving half for his sister. If I encourage him to eat them up, he tells me in no uncertain terms that this would be unfair.

Cecily admires her big brother's cleverness and ability to find her favourite programme on the telly in an instant. And no matter how much they argue, if anyone dares pick on Henry in the park or at a play centre, they soon find they have a tiny blonde spitfire to deal with.

It is impressive to see her squaring up to a much bigger kid, her hands on her hips, eyes blazing, yelling: 'You leave my brother alone!'

Though I hate the terminology of Asperger's 'sufferer', sometimes having Asperger's syndrome does make life hard for those who have it. The statistics on depression, bullying in schools and suicide rates are, frankly, terrifying, though I hope and believe things are changing.

Luckily Henry, unlike Gary McKinnon, was diagnosed early and qualified for special help in the classroom. But though he seems popular, and several little girls in particular adore him, to his sadness and mine, the playdates and parties his classmates' lives revolve around seem to happen for him far less often.

It is isolating for him and for me, and the struggle to get him the provision he needs to do well at school is exhausting, though we are one of the 'lucky' families. Henry has learning support assistants at his state school, without whose help and guidance he would probably sink like a stone in a mainstream classroom.

I have to admit that initially the idea that my beautiful first-born was somehow 'damaged' sent me into a spiral of depression, which I think, looking back, lasted about a year. I was unable to think or speak about his diagnosis without crying. I was so scared for his future.

But now I refuse to think of him - or his Asperger's - like that. The human race owes a huge debt to autism. The autistic mind very often works in ways that are dazzlingly creative and original, and as he grows up, I want Henry to be proud of his Asperger's identity.

Isaac Newton almost certainly had Asperger's, as did Alan Turing, the extraordinary genius who saved the world from fascism by breaking the Enigma code in World War II, and who, to Henry's delight, shared his 'gift' of appalling handwriting.

Henry fully expects to go to university, and plans, he says, to 'write books, make films and be on the television when I am grown up'.

He enjoys writing scripts and dreaming up plots, so who knows?

Certainly it is being recognised more and more that students with Asperger's have a lot to offer, and universities are giving more support than ever.

I worry about his immaturity - he seems younger than his age and is rather 'uncool' compared with his more streetwise peers - but he will get there in the end, and I think he could be very happy one day with a nice, extrovert and bossy wife, just the type of girl who already tends to take him under her wing at school.

I have never written about Henry's Asperger's before, but I've been stirred to do so by anger.

As a mother and a voter, I feel nothing but loathing and contempt for those cowardly, two-faced Labour MPs who signed up to this newspaper's campaign for Gary McKinnon, then, faced with pressure from their own party, caved in and voted to sacrifice him - and any other UK citizen the U.S. happens to take a dislike to - for their own craven ambitions.

One, Denis MacShane, even sneeringly challenged McKinnon's diagnosis.

What a useless, spineless bunch they are. How dare they expect our vote? Their contempt for the electorate, will, I believe, rebound on them in the next election, and their defeat will be richly deserved.

Believe me, I never thought I'd write that. My decent, hard-working grandfather was a lifelong member of the Labour Party.

One of my ancestors was Joseph Edwards, a prominent early socialist and editor of The Labour Annual.

As a local councillor, my grandfather dedicated the last part of his life to helping the poor, the elderly and the weak and he taught us to be proud of the Labour Party's heritage. God only knows what he would make of this nasty lot.

There's one thing I know for sure, I'd take my moral, clever, square-peg little boy over any number of them.


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     Post subject: Re: I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary
    Post Number:#2  PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:55 pm 
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    Joined: 1st July, 2007
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    Location: UK
    The government are lackeys to the interests of Uncle Sam. It has always been the case since the formation of the Special Relationship by Churchill and Rooseveldt.


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       Post subject: Re: I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary
      Post Number:#3  PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:13 pm 
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      Joined: 3rd April, 2007
      Posts: 90
      2 plus 8 wrote:
      The government are lackeys to the interests of Uncle Sam. It has always been the case since the formation of the Special Relationship by Churchill and Rooseveldt.


      I have discussed this in more detail on another AS forum. Bully boy tactics are at the bottom of it.


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         Post subject: Re: I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary
        Post Number:#4  PostPosted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:54 pm 
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        Joined: 11th May, 2010
        Posts: 62
        Location: Leamington Spa, Warks, UK
        Canopus wrote:
        I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary McKinnon, says mother of 'funny, handsome and brilliant' Asperger's son

        Daily Mail, 22nd July 2009

        ....

        Certainly it is being recognised more and more that students with Asperger's have a lot to offer, and universities are giving more support than ever.

        I worry about his immaturity - he seems younger than his age and is rather 'uncool' compared with his more streetwise peers - but he will get there in the end, and I think he could be very happy one day with a nice, extrovert and bossy wife, just the type of girl who already tends to take him under her wing at school.


        What about female Aspies? Are we supposed to be eminently capable of looking after ourselves without a significant other? Not that I've had much choice in the matter... :(


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           Post subject: Re: I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary
          Post Number:#5  PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:46 am 
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          Joined: 7th June, 2010
          Posts: 3
          Gary MacKinnon's case just emphasises how much the greater world still doesn't understand the Asperger syndrome. My own son was diagnosed late (17) and this was after a series of painfully distressing incidents that made me wonder what the heck was going on in life. I took it on myself to start reading up all about it and discovered many elements of the condition were manifested to lesser degrees in myself as well. Whether "experts" have just got better at diagnosing it, or whether there are truly more youngsters with it being born into the world, I can't say with accuracy; but whichever it is, the condition is here and clearly manifested in a wide spread of people.
          I listen to what my son says about how society doesn't yet have the right kind of education conditions for teaching these "new" children; many of them thrive on visual input, rather than our standard and well-defined methods of lecture/books/blackboard and similar. He should know; he went right through school with the condition undiagnosed; informing us later on that certain elements of his schooling had been a real struggle, but he decided to work at overcoming it.
          Universities and colleges seem to be recognising the condition and moving towards organised assistance, however; the last three years I think he's been reasonably well treated. He's just completed a physics degree; havent got the results yet but he knows he hasn't been able to perform to the best of his ability in some areas of it, because of his condition. Whatever the outcome, he now faces the aspects of "where to go next".


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             Post subject: Re: I feel such contempt for the spineless MPs who betrayed Gary
            Post Number:#6  PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:18 pm 
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            Joined: 11th May, 2010
            Posts: 62
            Location: Leamington Spa, Warks, UK
            bluermum wrote:
            Gary MacKinnon's case just emphasises how much the greater world still doesn't understand the Asperger syndrome. My own son was diagnosed late (17) and this was after a series of painfully distressing incidents that made me wonder what the heck was going on in life. I took it on myself to start reading up all about it and discovered many elements of the condition were manifested to lesser degrees in myself as well. Whether "experts" have just got better at diagnosing it, or whether there are truly more youngsters with it being born into the world, I can't say with accuracy; but whichever it is, the condition is here and clearly manifested in a wide spread of people.
            I listen to what my son says about how society doesn't yet have the right kind of education conditions for teaching these "new" children; many of them thrive on visual input, rather than our standard and well-defined methods of lecture/books/blackboard and similar. He should know; he went right through school with the condition undiagnosed; informing us later on that certain elements of his schooling had been a real struggle, but he decided to work at overcoming it.

            Slightly O/T, but I'm currently reading Survival Strategies for People on the Autism Spectrum by Marc Fleisher. The author was born in 1967 and diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at age 11, apparently. That would have been, at the latest, 1979. I was under the impression that the term "Asperger's syndrome" wasn't even used until Uta Frith and/or Lorna Wing's studies in the 80s, and not officially recognised by shrinks until the 90s.


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