Sunday, December 16, 2018

I Get Interviewed by The Movie Mom!, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality


Hello!

I was recently interviewed by The Movie Mom, Nell Minow on my book, Veni! Vidi! Autism! Without further ado, here is the interview!

As I looked at your table of contents, of course the first chapter I turned to was called “Truly the Worst Film I Have Ever Seen.”  Tell me what that film is, why it is the worst, and, if you could have given them advice about how to make it better, what you would have told them. Was there anything in the movie that wasn’t terrible?

The film was an MTV production starring Andy Samberg called “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”. It is a mockumentary based on the various documentaries following musical talents of their journeys of creativity. Andy Samberg’s character is the popstar in question, and his comedy troupe serves as the writers. I would say that the film is in bad taste, but there seems to be absolutely no taste in the film. It is horrifying and humiliating to watch. I am quite ashamed that they would think of putting it on screen. How do we make it better? Well, we can turn it into actual satire of modern-day pop musicians and our fixation with them. I seem to recall other mockumentaries like “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind” which seem to do that quite well. There is even a very entertaining humorous documentary on Tammy Faye Bakker called “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” which could have been used as a more realistic template. From another angle, Penn and Teller used to have a show called “Bullshit” where they satirized idiotic concepts by interviewing those involved in them and catching them in their stupidity. All of these ways of making documentaries or mockumentaries would be preferable to the absolutely tasteless drivel that we got instead. There are a few acting talents in the film that had the potential to be good but suffered from tremendously poor writing or their own lack of interest. In my opinion, the film is utterly unredeemable.

I was very touched by your essay about the Power Rangers. Why did you like them as a kid and what did it mean to you to have an autistic character in the recent film? What did you think about the portrayal of autism in the film?
Billy Cranston, the Autistic Blue Ranger
To be honest, I am not even sure why I liked Power Rangers so much as a kid, other than liking the action and explosions! I stopped watching after a few years, but I grew up with the original cast. I am very thrilled with the new movie, because it is not just adventure, but there is plot development and character evolution as well. I have been around pop culture long enough to know about and critique disability portrayal. After all, a great amount of my book deals with it! I was already at the point where I knew of autistic characters in pop culture; my chapters on Tim Urich, the first autistic superhero from Marvel comics, deal with this major revelation to myself and my desire to share it with others. However, I had not seen a realistic autistic hero or more importantly, a superhero, portrayed in film until I saw Billy in the new Power Rangers film. In many ways, it was like watching myself! Billy displays many behaviors that I have had myself, even his counting of colored pencils, which I used to do in high school. Most importantly, it shows Billy with a group of friends from among his peers. It took me many years to develop friends amongst my peers.

Is there a movie or television show that you think portrays autism accurately?
Vincent van Gogh in Loving Vincent
Aside from Power Rangers, there are a few others. Alan Turing, the World War II code breaker who invented the computer, was homosexual but he was also autistic. The film “The Imitation Game” does not mention the latter but portrays it quite well. “Loving Vincent” is a wonderful film about Vincent van Gogh as told by those who cared for him most. It is also most noteworthy for being the first-ever completely oil painted film. When you listen to the accounts of van Gogh’s friends and family, it is quite clear that he has autism. As I mention in my Without Fear essay, autism doesn’t need to be mentioned in order to be present in a narrative. Of course, people were not aware of autism until the late 1940s, so it shouldn’t be mentioned in most historical narratives. As for television, Sylvia Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery often comes across as quite autistic, but that has not been officially revealed…as of yet. I have yet to watch The Good Doctor, which is about an autistic young man who becomes a physician. I have watched the television series Westworld, and the characters of Dr. Ford and Bernard come across as quite autistic. Forgive me for spoiling the show, but Bernard is actually a robotic host who is patterned after Dr. Ford’s deceased business partner, Arnold. It would make sense if Arnold also had autism. In the case of Dr. Ford, the portrayal is only natural, as he is played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who is autistic himself, and was diagnosed as such at age 70. One of the best portrayals of autism so far in pop culture has been the character of Tim Urich in the Daredevil comics. I cover this portrayal heavily in my book and have talked to some major players at Marvel about it. They brought up my talking points about autism, disability, and comics at their annual planning meeting this year.

What do you wish people understood about autism?

There are many, many things that I wish people understood. I wish that people understood the great variety of people with autism. Some of us are nonspeaking, and some of us speak a lot. There are autistic conservatives and liberals, optimists and pessimists, and people of every race and gender identity. I find myself between extremes. I am not fundamentally conservative, and yet I believe in realism over hyper-politically correct culture. I consider myself an optimist, but I also temper my expectations with past and theoretical experience. Many of the more visible autistic activists are often busy waving placards and getting arrested for political change. Then again, on the other end of the spectrum, some of us stay home frequently. You will find me out and about trying to achieve political and social change by negotiating, meeting, and using diplomacy. I want people to know that autistic individuals are capable of all that I have previously mentioned, that we use a wide variety of methods for being in touch with the world around us.

On a more basic level, I want people to listen to us when making decisions about our lives. In 1505, the Polish Parliament passed constitutional legislation saying that they would have to be consulted in any decision about the public, thus taking the power away from the monarch. The bill was called Nihil novi, and included the Latin phrase, “Nihil de nobis, sine nobis”. Roughly translated, this means “Nothing about Us, without Us”. This has since become a motto for many groups and individuals in advocacy and activism. In fact, it is the URL for my website. As a rule of thumb, any individual or group of people deserves input into any decisions made about them. This includes autistic groups and individuals. Don’t get me wrong! Loving parents should be able to voice their concerns, but autistic individuals should always have power to decide our own destiny.

You seem to have a special affinity for low budget films. What is it about those films that appeals to you?
A Promotional Image from A Grim Becoming, An Independent Film Made in Buffalo, New York
These films do not usually appeal to me any more than Hollywood films. However, for six years, I lived in Buffalo, New York, which has approximately fifty independent film studios. I was an active member of the creative culture in that town, which is absolutely booming. As such, I became very interested in independent films being made there. There were several screenings that I attended, often in support of friends of mine who made or were in the films. It was phenomenal to see such a tangible product of local arts and ingenuity. I have always been in favor of supporting local, independently made products. As such, I wanted to support these films, and I found that the best way of supporting them was by giving honest reviews on my blog and on film review sites. These reviews have since made their way to my book.

You’re a fan of the Twilight series.  People seem very intensely pro and con the series.  What is it that provokes such strong reactions?  Which do you like better, the books or the movies?
The Revelation of Edward Cullen, from the Twilight Comics
You are right. Some people are incredibly appreciative of the Twilight Saga. In fact, I am friends with a great number of them. We hold meetups, attend films together, and interact online quite frequently. These people, who are mostly women, are my dear friends. Some of them are almost as close as family, and I have adopted one in Germany as my aunt and we have visited each other. Our strong feelings for Twilight come from the inescapable romance of the Saga, as well as the characters, plot, and feelings of empathy we have for the said characters. Twilight was never intended to be primarily about vampires. It is primarily a great romance story, with vampirism as a major plot element. Twilight fans, who are called Twilighters or Twihards, understand that. We also understand the great underlying feminism of the plot. Bella, the main character, is very determined to be with her love interest, Edward, and to become a vampire, and she gets what she wants. She even saves his life several times during the Saga. Many of the facets of romance with a vampire are quite different than romance with a human, leading to a different dynamic and different actions, and Twilighters understand that.

However, a great deal of people have an irrational aversion to the series, even going so far as to insult and harass Twilighters. One time when I was quite emotionally distressed, I was told to kill myself because I like Twilight. If I may be brutally honest, in my opinion, many people, including women and people who may identify as feminists, are actually extremely afraid of the Saga because of how brazenly it depicts a powerful, self-determined female character, and because of the great, wondrous romance depicted in the Saga. Many people have an aversion to romance, especially idealized romance, because theirs can never measure up. I would even be as bold as to say that some hate the Saga because they believe that their love is inferior to that shown in Twilight. Furthermore, many people are disappointed that Twilight is not more action-oriented. Action was never the point of the Saga. Many are also disappointed that the mythology in Twilight, particularly the vampire mythology, is not consistent with a great deal of formerly established mythology. Do these people know that the modern concept of the vampire only dates back to Brahm Stoker’s 1897 book Dracula? Do they know that many more established concepts of vampire mythology only date back as far as the 1922 film Nosferatu? Mythologies evolve over time, and Twilight even includes explanations for why its mythology is different. Nevertheless, the most hateful detractors of Twilight seem to be irrational and make it their goal to insult and even threaten those who do like the Saga. These threats, this hatred, this harassment and bullying will not stand. I know that my defense of the Saga is coming on strong, but we fans have been unjustly attacked over the years just for liking a good love story.

I have seen and loved the movies very much. I appreciate the casting choices and the camaraderie between the actors and the filmmakers. As for the books, I have read great portions of the books, but not the entire set of novels, because I have ADD, and my attention can’t hold that long. However, with the advent of the smartphone, I find myself pulled into the world of fanfiction, and I read that frequently. I appreciate the great many possibilities that the Saga allows, and how easy it is for fans to show their love for it by inventing new stories around it.

What is AvatarMeet?  What do you like best about it? What are you hoping for in the next movie?
Me on Pandora at Disney World
AvatarMeet is a group of people including myself who meet up each year to celebrate James Cameron’s film Avatar. We have a thriving online community, and I have been to two of the meetups. One year, we met up in South California and went to Lightstorm Entertainment, where we were given a tour of the studio, and got to interview the filmmakers. The next time I went, last year, 2017, we went to the theme park in Florida, where we were given a tour by the head of public relations for Disney Imagineering. While there, we also went to the Kennedy Space Center, where I had a truly moving experience. You can read more about both experiences in my book. What I like best about AvatarMeet is the wonderful group of friends all over the world who love this film universe, and the ideals that it promotes. I have met truly kindred spirits through AvatarMeet. In the future films, I hope that we continue experiencing the messages of diversity that were in the first film. In the that film, the main character had a disability. While I was at Lightstorm, I got to personally question producer Jon Landau about diversity and the messages of the film, and he assured me that these facets of storytelling would be promoted in the narrative going forward, and we have already seen results. I include my interview with Jon in my book.

Why was Love, Simon especially meaningful to you?

A Promotional Image friom Love, Simon
Love, Simon was especially meaningful to me and to millions of others because it mainstreams LGBTQ romance. It is the first mainstream teen romantic comedy about a gay person falling in love. There is absolute love for this film and endless positive feeling amongst those who have watched it. There is a Facebook page dedicated to fans of the film which has optimistic followers around the globe. Many people in the world do not yet have the freedom to love who they wish in public. This helps give them hope. In addition, watching the film with one’s family members and friends helps open the dialogue about coming out, and I have heard that hundreds of people have come out to their families while watching this film. This is truly feel-good way to start conversation about a very important topic. The motto of the film is, “Everyone Deserves a Good Love Story,” and finally it is out in the open for everyone to see.

I should mention that my family and friends have all been extremely accepting of my coming out, and I realize that I am lucky in this way. In the film, Simon has many moments with his family that remind me of moments with my own. In addition, despite initial bumps, his friends are very accepting of him, as mine have been. Heck, my friends have been known to introduce me with the following sentence: “Yeah, this is our gay, autistic friend Alec. He’s weird, and very smart! Once you get to know him, he’ll be your dear friend, too! He’ll never betray you.” Yes, someone once actually said that. Actually, multiple people have said some variation of that sentence. As an autistic person who did not have authentic friends for much of his life, I treasure my friends’ opinions of me greatly!

What is Autistic Reality?  What are your priorities?  What are you proudest of?
Alec Frazier Speaking in front of the US Capitol Building
Autistic Reality is my advocacy firm. Through it, I focus on advocacy via public speaking, peer mentoring, lobbying, and other consulting services. Soon, Autistic Reality will have a podcast as well. In it, I will be interviewing people from many walks of life, including disability advocates, actors, artists, and others, about their points of view on the disability cause. In addition, we are getting set up as a publishing imprint, with the goal of getting works by authors with disabilities into the world at large, something we, the disabled population, have usually struggled with. Currently, I am working on this last point with BBDO New York, the world’s largest and most prestigious advertising agency. As part of that job, I am the managing editor of Stories About Us, which is beginning the work of publishing disabled authors, so that I may continue it afterwards. In addition to all this, I promote my book in meetings, such as with Marvel editorial, and at various pop-culture conventions. Soon, I will be giving a talk at a creative writing conference on turning disability into a creative asset. I am always looking for wonderful new opportunities to present and share disability advocacy and information.

I consider myself and my firm’s work to be quite liberal, but still relatively moderate compared to some disability rights activists. For myself, I actually prefer the term “advocate” instead of “activist”. Although I can sometimes support more radical work, I am not one of the people who tends to get arrested or make a lot of public noise for our cause. Sometimes making a spectacle of yourself can decrease your credibility with certain parties. I prefer negotiation, diplomacy, and a sharing of ideas. Even with the people I disagree with most, I try to understand them, and how they think. In this way, we can better promote the disability agenda.

On a side note, I do not believe in posting politics or much religion on Facebook. I post relevant politics on my firm’s Facebook page, or on my book’s Facebook page, but the lack of politics on my page has made my relationships more cordial and my discourse much more civil for years.

These factors help inform my firm’s priorities, by approaching disability advocacy and advocacy in general with a realistic yet optimistic eye towards what can be achieved, and how to achieve it. For example, I do not get hung up on whether people say, “disabled person” or “person with disability”. This is not a huge priority for me. Solving problems like transportation access, access to benefits, education, workforce reform, and representation in the arts are much more important to me.

What am I proudest of? I really do not like to toot my own horn very much. Every time someone tells me I have improved the conditions of their life, I feel like I am achieving my goal. Awards do not mean much to me. Making a noticeable difference does.


This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Disability Defense of George H.W. Bush, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality

George H.W. Bush just passed.

He did many bad things. He also saved my life. When I was in second grade, my elementary school wanted me locked up for the rest of my life. Institutions have NEVER been good. I was in one temporarily in 6th grade. There were isolation rooms, barbed wire, and endless lockdown. It was prison, not mental health. My elementary school wanted me in that for life. Plus, that was in Massachusetts, where at least one institution electrocutes people in the name of mental health. I almost spent my life like that...

Except I didn't. George H.W. Bush had signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, giving dignity, peace of mind, and legal recourse to the largest minority in the nation. Immediately prior to the passage of this act, people like me were chained to the radiator and left in our own excrement (check out horrifying YouTube videos of a place called Willowbrook).

I am aware that, at the time of his presidency, Bush I did not tolerate homosexuality. By the end of his life, he embraced it, and even served as an official witness at a gay wedding. I am aware that Bush I used to shun people with AIDS. Around 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that AIDS was covered by the very act he signed into law, the ADA. Later in life, he took part in endeavors serving the AIDS and HIV communities.

Earlier today, I encountered a gay man with CP on Facebook who ranted and raved. "George Bush was a complete ASSHOLE!!!" No, George Bush was a complex man. He was compassionate, and learned as he grew. You, young man, do neither. In fact, without Bush I, you'd be dead.

George Herbert Walker Bush was a moderate conservative in the days when they still existed. He had some big faults, but he also saved my life, and those of millions of others in the largest minority on earth. I accept his faults, but I am alive due to his great compassion. I am indebted to him, and I will never forget that.

This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Letter Concerning the Close of Abilities Expo DC, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality


Hello,

I tried to attend Abilities Expo “DC” two years ago. I can completely understand why the exhibitors feel there is a lack of interest. The event was nowhere near Washington, DC from a transit standpoint.

I traveled all the way to the end of the subway line, and then waited for hours for a cramped van to the event with no seating and no signs indicating where I would be picked up. I was bruised quite badly when trying to sit on the floor of the van all the way to the event. When I approached staff members about holding the event closer to DC, they were not interested in doing so. When I told them that their transportation was dangerous and inadequate, they did not seem to care.

There is a large population, one can even claim overpopulation, of disability rights advocates and activists in the Washington, DC area. Almost all of us have issues that prevent us from driving. Most of us live in the district or just inside of Maryland. By holding the event in suburban Virginia off of the Metro and bus lines with only an occasional and quite frankly dangerous method of transportation, you cut off at least 80% of your intended audience. Not only is this not wise, but some would consider it foolish.

Abilities Expo DC is dead not because of the vendors or because of the lack of guests, but because you killed it by not holding it anywhere near public transit or the District of Columbia. There are many, many venues in the district, and I am flummoxed by your unwillingness to move into a more convenient location or to fix your transportation situation.

I know I am coming across as quite harsh, but you must understand that your decisions in placing this event in a quite inconvenient location and defending that despite pleas from consumers and exhibitors indicate that you do not want to hold an event in the area. It is a shame, really, as I know many, many, many people in the DC area who would go to one if you actually put it somewhere near the District, and somewhere accessible by public transit.

Please do not try to blame exhibitors or lack of guests for the closing of your show. This is all on you. You had an option to make this one of the most popular accessibility events in the United States of America, and instead chose the perfect circumstances to make it fail.

Your loss.

Regards,

Alec Frazier
Director
Autistic Reality
Editor
BBDO New York


Update! The Responses

Alec,

We appreciate your comments. If we were in your position we’d probably feel the same way.

Not that it is going to change anything, but with your permission, I’d like to provide some context/background for our decisions:

  1. Our first preference was for the DC Convention Center. Despite the fact that it was nearly twice as expensive as any other venue we use around the country; its location is ideal. Our issues were:
    1. The center was unwilling (or unable) to guarantee us an annual date pattern so we could, with confidence, book an annual expo. They were only willing to give us one year at a time. That made it pretty much a non-starter.
    2. The other shortcoming of the venue is that don’t have ANY onsite parking (accessible or otherwise). Anyone wanting/needing to park their personal vehicles would have been sent to neighborhood office buildings and/or hotels with average parking rates (at that time) over $40/vehicle. And, most of the available parking is underground and a challenge for anyone with full size vans (which are quite popular with our Community).
  2. We next tried the Gaylord property. But they refused to offer us dates because our group doesn’t use enough hotel rooms.
  3. We tried the Baltimore Convention Center, but they were also unable to offer us a forward date pattern. NOTE: Most major convention centers in the US prefer to book “trade” events vs. “consumer” events due to the larger number of hotel rooms required and the economic impact on the local economy. That’s why they tend to only accept consumer reservations 12 month or less in advance if they’re unable to find a trade event to fill the dates.
  4. The only option we could find that would offer an annual date pattern was in Chantilly. We knew that public train transportation would be a couple of years away (until all the way to Dulles), but we hoped we could bridge the gap with shuttle service. As you know, the service we retained fell short of our expectations which simply made matters worse.

In hindsight, perhaps we shouldn’t have tried to enter the great DC/Baltimore market if we couldn’t secure a major venue. But at the time, doing “something” in the region seemed preferable to just giving the market a pass. So you are correct…the decision was on us.

Sorry to have disappointed you and the regional Community.

David

PS  I know you said that you shared your comments with “staff members”. I don’t who you addressed, but I know it wasn’t either of us. If you had, we would have had a more productive conversation.

David Korse

President & CEO

My response:

Thank you for the explanation, and for accepting responsibility. Hopefully it will work out better in the future.

Alec Frazier
Director
Autistic Reality
Editor
BBDO New York

His Response:

Thanks.

David Korse
President & CEO

Update 2.0:

Response from the Chairperson of the Conference, Lew Shomer:

Alec, this is Lew, and we feel the same frustration as you. We thought the transportation to Dulles and from Dulles to Chantilly would be completed before our first event and that did not happen. 
As David said, the convention center basically would not give us dates that were consistent from year to year. And the parking and accessibility of the center were a nightmare for our attendees. 
If you have any suggestions of venues we are not aware of we would welcome your ideas, or if you have any relationships with the City or the center to help us out we would be most appreciative. 
We do take your comments seriously and would rather you tell us then telling friends that we don’t care as we really do care. 

Lew

My Response:

Hello,

The prior staff member I talked to via Facebook gave the impression that they did not care. I am very glad to hear that you do. I am seeing a concerted effort on your part to fix things, and so I have decided to help you out. This response is being sent to you folks, but also to Mat McCullough the Director of Disability for the District of Columbia. In short, he is in charge of everything disability related for the district. I really do hope you can work with him to help secure a better venue within the district.

Regards,

Alec Frazier
Director
Autistic Reality
Editor

BBDO New York

This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

My First Twilight Fan Meet Up, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality

I have had two wonderful experiences with the Twilight Fan Meet Up. The first was in Boston, Massachusetts. I took Amtrak from Buffalo, New York to the Meet Up . I stayed with a friend in North Haverhill whom I had met when he was my teacher’s aide in middle school. Each day, I commuted by train into Boston.
The world-famous oyster bar at the Union Oyster House.
 The first night, we had an excellent dinner at the Union Oyster House. Up until then, I thought that I hated shellfish. But, the Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in North America, so I simply had to try their signature food, and I fell in love with shellfish on the spot! I also took plenty of photos, and had a fun time educating myself about the profound history of that location. Did you know that the Union Oyster House building was a pay station for the Continental Army during the revolution? George Washington certainly was there! Abigail Adams held a feminist women’s club there. After the restaurant opened, abolitionist legislator Daniel Webster ate there every single day, having no less than six platters of raw, freshly shucked, naturally raised oysters for lunch. Many presidents have eaten at this restaurant, including my favorite, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy turned it into a hotspot for his presidential campaign, and you can still sit at his booth today.
A smiling whale on the whale watch.
The next day, I headed out on a whale watch. I had tried to host a get together for the whale watch, but the others were pretty busy with other group activities. It is sometimes difficult coordinating with such big groups. Now, normally when you see whales, you see one or maybe a couple on an outing, and you can consider yourself lucky. However, on this particular day, the sea was boiling with whales. They were doing everything, from showing their tails, to feeding right in front of us, and even lying on their backs and flipping their fins in the air, which is no small feat when each fan is fifteen feet long! Afterwards, I went to Legal Seafood, and continued my seafood kick by having some delicious softshell crab!
The clock tower of the customhouse.
From there, I walked to the site of the meet up, while seeing the sights on the way. I took photos of the exterior of the customhouse. The customhouse, now a hotel, is pretty far in land by now, but when it was first built it was right on the shore. It consists of an old, Greek temple style building with a much later Gilded Age tower rising out of it. Many years after that, a professional restoration artist shook Boston by demanding why the tower clock had not been working for years, and volunteered his services to fix and restore this neglected landmark.
The stage in the interior of Faneuil Hall with Webster’s Reply to Hayne.
After that, I went to Faneuil Hall, a wonderful old building that has served as Boston’s common meetinghouse since the mid-1700s. It was greatly expanded by one of my favorite architects, Charles Bulfinch, the first professional architect to be born in the United States of America. Bulfinch has a number of wonderful projects to his name, including the Massachusetts State House, the Maine State House, and the Old Connecticut State House. He was a public servant as well as an architect, and also built the very first memorial to the American Revolution, which you can still see on the Massachusetts State House Grounds. The highlight of his work is his completion of the United States Capitol Building under its original design. There is some push to rename Faneuil Hall, since its donor and namesake was a slaveholder. It is ironic, then, that the building was the site of some of the most fervently abolitionist meetings of all time. The main focal point of the interior is a massive painting called Webster’s Reply to Hayne, depicting Daniel Webster when he was a senator in Washington, DC defending the Union against “states rights” secessionists who were in favor of slavery.
Me and my Aunt Betti Gefecht.
After this, I met with my Aunt Betti Gefecht and our friend Born on Halloween. Aunt Betti Gefecht is an absolutely insane German fanfiction author whom I have informally adopted. We share our insanity in common, and I have gone to visit her multiple times. We love each other very dearly, and I was thrilled to learn that she was coming to the Meet Up in Boston. I had never met Born in person up to that point, although I love her dearly as well. Together we went to Quincy Market, and also chatted at a nearby hotel.
The Meetup!
That night was the highlight of the Meet Up. There were at least fifty women from around the world, and I was the only male, but I do not care. We had drinks and dinner and wonderful discussion of writing, editing, publishing, and fandom. I was absolutely thrilled to be there!
Punchy punching me!
The next morning, we went out to breakfast, and had a wonderful time. The highlight was when I got the author nicknamed Punchy to pretend to punch me! After that, we went on our way.
Me and Jay Ruderman at the Ruderman Family Foundation.
However, this was not the end of the road for me. I am a disability rights advocate by trade, and the next day, I went to Newton, Massachusetts and had a very productive meeting with the leaders of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a group that donates much time, money, and effort to disability-related causes.
Me and Nick Savarese at Special Olympics Massachusetts.
The next day, I went to Special Olympics Massachusetts in the town of Marlborough with the friend who was hosting me who was, at the time, the vice president of Special Olympics Massachusetts for public engagement. I am a former Special Olympics athlete, with a number of medals in state-level competitions. I gave a speech to their staff, recorded a podcast, and guest lectured at a college class via video. I also got to tour their facilities, which are noteworthy because Massachusetts is the only state with its own purpose-built Special Olympics headquarters.

The next day, I went home, content with my wonderful new friends and business prospects. This one Twilight Fan Meet Up definitely changed my life for the better!

This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

For the Anti-Vaxers, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality


Throughout history, people have feared what they don’t understand. One of the fastest-growing diagnoses is autism. In my own personal opinion, autism kicks ass! Yes, my childhood was difficult, and learning to live on my own and finding employment was, at first, a chore. However, since then, autism has led to some truly remarkable advancements in my life. I have an amazing, high paying job where I get compensated to go to theme parks, write books, and meet celebrities. I have my own beautiful home, filled with wonderful belongings and original artwork that symbolize who I am today. I have far too many friends to count, from your general “friends next door” type of person to a United States senator, authors, and even a nuclear scientist. My life is fantastic.


In 1998, British scientist Andrew Wakefield published an article in the scientific journal, The Lancet stating that a vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella caused autism. Wakefield was lying, of course, and later admitted that fact, and went to prison. Nonetheless, many people refuse to admit that he was lying, and seek external causes for autism. I have endlessly encountered people who say that there must be “something in the water”, or something in vaccinations, or something else to be cured.

There is nothing to be cured. There is nothing wrong with us. There is nothing you can do to vaccines, “the water”, or any other substance or factor on this planet to make us go away. And that’s what you want to do, underneath it all. You want autistic people to disappear. Don’t try to deny it. You are bigoted and hateful, no matter how much you wrap it up. I cannot convince all of you to stop thinking the way you do, but I can hopefully convince some of you.

One of the worst things about all of this is that those of you who believe that vaccines cause autism would clearly much rather that people have horrible conditions like measles, smallpox, polio, and many other deadly diseases. All of you who believe that vaccines cause autism clearly believe that these horrible conditions are much better than having autism. Think about that. That’s extremely messed up. Thanks to you, there are now increased cases of all of these diseases and more, putting millions and risk of death, all because of your bigotry.

In fact, although its diagnosis was broadened by recent standards, autism has existed throughout history, including such individuals as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Nikola Tesla, all of whom would not have been able to contribute what they have to society without their autism. Imagine no Mona Lisa, no United States of America, and no use of electricity. You want that? Imagine the current people with autism who are changing the world for the better. People like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, amongst others. Want their achievements to go away?

But this isn’t about them, is it? This is about your precious child. You are willing to take the word of someone who was a part-time nurse several years ago, or some doctor who lost his license, or even a porn star like Jenny McCarthy, so long as they reinforce your narrative that something is wrong with your child. I repeat, nothing is wrong with your child. May I suggest, that if you continue thinking so, something is very wrong with you. Even if you do not have children, if you think that there is some external factor such as “the water”, vaccines, pollution, which causes autism, then you wish to disbelieve science and instead believe that something is wrong with people with autism.

There are studies on external factors which can be taken seriously, but they are few and far between. Almost every single time I see someone sharing one, it is a crackpot study shared simply to reinforce their own very incorrect viewpoints. The clear majority of the scientific community agrees that autism is a naturally occurring phenomenon, and that there is nothing external which causes it. I honestly don’t care what your nurse friend has to say, when your discredited doctor friend has to say, or what a porn star you have never met has to say. They are very, very wrong.

But you don’t care about that. You look for something that can hopefully “cure” us. I don’t care if that “us” includes your child, or your student, or your brother, or whatever. The very notion of wanting to cure us insists that there is something wrong with us. Because if there is something wrong with us, then your fear of us or our condition is justified. Stop being afraid of us. You may not admit to being afraid, but you clearly are. Instead, try to understand us, accommodate us, and love us for the wonderful, unique individuals we are. There is nothing wrong with us. If you believe there is, then there is clearly something wrong with you. I suggest you try to cure yourself.


This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Rantings on Technology by an Elderly 32-Year-Old, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality

You could read a book! Pictured is Thomas Jefferson's library in the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson building.

I am old. I am so old, in fact, that when I was born, we thought there were only nine planets in the entire universe, all of them are in this solar system, and one of them was Pluto. Now we know there are thousands, millions, or even billions across the entire universe. How old am I? I am thirty-two years old. I have used the previous example to illustrate a point: that great amounts of change can take place over short amounts of time.

Yesterday, I went to see Bo Burnham’s film Eighth Grade. The film is being regarded as a highly realistic depiction of life in that absolute hell hole of a year in one’s existence. There is bullying. There is the beginnings of a sexual awakening. There are mean people. There are misunderstanding parents. There is low self-esteem, and so much acne. Apparently though, all any eighth-grader does anymore is look at their smart phone and their computer.

You could see a museum! Pictured is the Temple of Dendur at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
As I mentioned, I am thirty-two years old. I graduated high school in 2004. I started three years of undergraduate experience in 2010. I switched to graduate school in 2013. I graduated with my master’s degree, very heavy in social theory, in 2016. I got my first “dumb” cell phone in junior year of high school. I got my first smart phone in 2011. I got my first laptop that I actually owned in senior year of high school.

Throughout the film, we are treated to teenagers who focus on their electronics to the excess of all else. They don’t pay attention in class, they don’t pay attention to friends, and they don’t even pay attention to family during meals. At one point, there is a moment when the main character is that dinner with her father, and he doesn’t even see anything wrong with her being on her cell phone with headphones in all throughout the family meal. True, there is some bonding between some of the kids over electronics: the main character uses her cell phone as an excuse to flirt with a guy, and later on makes a friend who watches her YouTube videos. But don’t get me wrong, this film actively tells you that it is better for you to endlessly hang out online instead of making actual friends.

You could visit a historic site! Pictured is a cannon going off at a fortress in Germany.
I must be particularly old and senile, and cranky, too, because my reaction is extremely stereotypical. Get a life! Yes, it is true that I hang out on my computer a lot, but it is never turned on before 9 AM, and is always turned off by 4 PM. In addition, I routinely go out on the town, seeing architecture, tourist sites, museums, and hanging out with friends. I hunger for the world around me. I make excuses to travel.

In fact, in senior year of high school, I liked to hang out on the computer a lot. So much so, in fact, that I did that instead of hanging out with my family. This ended up really hurting me, and contributing to massive depression. It is not a coincidence, in my opinion, that the most depressed people I know are also the most solitary.

You could see nature! Pictured is a whale saying hello in Boston Harbor.
Look, I got by in school just fine without endless technology. I am now horrified to learn that everyone is being handed iPads by their schools. Don’t! Teach the kids yourselves! Go on a field trip! Do a class activity! I am asking the kids not to hang out on technology during class, but I am also asking the adults not to enable the destruction of our educational fabric by making yourselves dependent upon technology in order to teach.

I definitely understand that technology has a role in life. I am frequently looking at my smart phone for Facebook posts, and I sometimes spend hours a day on my computer. However, the key is to do this in moderation, and not all the time.

You could enjoy good food! Pictured is a bucket of corn, potatoes, sausage, and mussels in Baltimore, Maryland.
Don’t obsess over technology! Live your life! It can be amazing, and you’ll be glad you did!

This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Alec’s Independent Living Tips: A Home of Your Own, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality

My Apartment

Please move to a safe, reliable, livable home. I know many people who suffer because they live in subpar apartments. This essay will assume that you will be renting, rather than owning. Ideally, you can live in a good apartment for years on end. In fact, in most of the world, people rent properties over the course of decades, and even generations. You need to know what to look for. That is where I come in.

It will never cease to amaze me how many people with options choose to live in slums or bad apartments. A number of these people have defended themselves by saying that this gives them the freedom to party. I know that I have never been one for much partying, but the freedom to party is, in my mind, not a proper excuse for lack of safety, comfort, financial security, and many other factors. Many of these slumlords are gougers. In one case, I knew people who were being charged over $2,000 a month to rent a house that was so bad that inspectors had appraised its sale value at $500.

Many, many slumlords run absolute disgraces, and rent them out to the public. I have seen some amazingly bad things. I have seen sinks which are made of materials that poison the water that comes out of them. I have seen doors made from cardboard and cheap plastics. I have seen houses where more windows are broken than intact. I have seen pipes made from what is supposed to be posts for chain-link fence. I have seen bullet holes, lack of insulation, lack of three-pronged wall outlets, lack of heating, lack of basic fixtures, and many, many other travesties. It is a shame that anyone would want to live in such disgusting conditions, but many people do not know what to look for. I am trying to help.

In addition, negotiating a lease agreement on time is incredibly important. Please negotiate your lease agreement approximately a month in advance of planned occupancy. You need to make sure that the place is ready for you to move in on time. In addition, not signing a lease in advance gives the landlord an opportunity to back out of the deal, and I have known of landlords who have done this at the last moment. It is far better to be prepared.

Please make sure that you have a kind, responsible landlord. A proper landlord will have maintenance take care of issues, and will, in fact, have much less issues to take care of, if they are constantly looking after the place properly. I tend to recommend apartment buildings above all other kinds of apartments, as they are much harder for both landlords and tenants to mismanage and abuse. Please try to move to a nicer neighborhood, nothing super fancy or expensive, but not a slum or unsafe area. I discourage moving into apartments divided out of pieces of houses, as there is less incentive for a landlord to be responsible, and because these units tend to be in bad neighborhoods more often than apartment buildings. The perfect landlord has a website for online payment and maintenance requests, although not everybody has this.

Even if you drive, please look for a place near public transportation. I do not advise moving to a place without it, especially if one has disabilities. If your town doesn't have public transit, then I wouldn't advise living there. Also, sign up for Uber or Lyft. Buses are useful, and subways are amazing, since they usually run on a preset schedule. If you have mobility impairments, please make sure that you move to an area with transit stations that are accessible. Please do not overuse Uber and Lyft. They should only be used when there is no other option. This will help save the bank. If there is a public transit card for your area, please get it.

In fact, please make sure that you have an easy or at least simplified way to get to the greater world outside of your city by public transit. For example, to get anywhere in the United States, all I must do is take the subway few stops to Union Station in Washington, DC, and I can take Amtrak or other train services virtually anywhere in the country. For those distances a longer way away, I take the subway to either one of the two local airports. Remember, it is best not to deal with long-term parking and your own vehicle when traveling out of town, whether by train or plane.

Please move somewhere close to a reasonable grocery store. In fact, the more food options, the better. There is something in geography called a food desert. A food desert is a place where you must travel a way to have access to proper nutrition and nourishment. Ideally, there should be a good grocery store within walking distance, even if it is a longer walk. The idea is to be able to access your food easily, even if you do not drive. Even if you do drive, please keep this fact in mind. In the modern technological age, it is good to sign up for a service like Instacart. Ideally, they will cover your local area. Instacart and other services like it allow you to order delivery of food from grocery stores online, or over a mobile app. This will help you shop when you are unable to leave the house. Be aware that services like Instacart do not accept food stamp benefits, though.

Please make sure that your apartment or home is also reasonably close to other shopping as well. It is good to be in close distance to clothing stores and places to get basic electronics, such as power cords for your devices, or Internet connection. It is also a great idea to make sure that you can easily get to a home supply store and a furniture store. Make sure to take note of your other needs, and to move to a place where they are within reach.

Don’t forget about fun! The perfect place to live will have areas within access which have restaurants, at least one movie theater, hopefully a bookstore, and places to meet and hang out with friends.

These are my basic independent living tips regarding places to move into. I hope they are helpful! More tips on other areas will follow in future posts!

This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!